Porn Week: The partners of sex industry supporters

 

Originally published April 11, 2006

People oftentimes say that the only people who are hurt in the sex industry are sex workers and the men because they have their money taken from them (I know, it’s laughable but true, people honestly DO say that men are victims in this regard).

However, I did say that the sex industry hurts people at every level and that’s what I want to talk about today. Yesterday I wrote about how it hurts the women who are actually in the thick of things. Today, I want to talk about women who are currently with men who actively participate in the sex industry.

These are the wives and intimates of men who use pornstitution (I LOVE that word Sam!) and their pain is every bit as real as the pain of the women who are providing the service.

Women who are the partners of men who use pornography are greatly harmed by the men who use it. There are two levels of harm.

1. The internal harm to women.

2. The external harm to women.

Basically, for the internal harm, I’ve classified harms that are not directly related to the men, things like low-self esteem, self-doubt and so on. In the external category I’ve classified things like rape by men and pressure to do painful things.

I’ll start with internal.

Women who live with men who actively engage in pornstitution suffer many internal harms, one of them is self-esteem issues. Oftentimes women will see their partners watching women that they can ‘never measure up to’. They, rightfully so, begin to wonder if that’s what their partners really want. They look in the mirror and see that they are neither a size 2 with enormous breasts nor do they have blue eyes and blonde hair.

Their self-esteem is further damaged when they ask their partners why they’re looking at these other women this way. Men will often respond with something that they know to be a lie like, “Well, I don’t like any of them, I’d much rather be with you!” The women fear (perhaps for good reason) that their partner is lying to them. Surely, if he wanted to be with them then he wouldn’t be fantasizing about women who are nothing like her…right? The term ‘fantasy’ is often used to refer to something we want. For example, I don’t fantasize about eating rotten eggs because, I have no desire to eat rotten eggs.

So, the patent denial from these men serves to make her question more. She knows that what he’s saying is rubbish. After all, if she’s been with him for awhile and knows anything about pornography she knows that he can get any sort of porn that he wants. If he really wanted her type of body, or hair or whatever, then he could find it. It’s not that difficult to do.

So first, her self-esteem is damaged. She fears that her partner doesn’t find her as attractive and this sets up a ‘competition’ with the women in the sex industry (which will come into play later on as well).

Next, she begins to doubt herself and her ‘ability’ to ‘keep him happy’ sexually. Her self-esteem has already taken a big knock, hell, finding out that you’re not your partners ideal fantasy is pretty heavy shit. And so now, she is in the perfect position to fall into the self-doubt. She begins wondering if she’s any good in bed, she isn’t doing the things that the women are doing in his movies and strip clubs. She doesn’t scream like that, or act like that, or talk like that, or suck dick like that, or take anal sex like that, or any other number of the lies that pornography tells. She doesn’t do any of that. And since, she reckons that he’d be looking up people like her if he really wanted HER then the self-doubt settles in.

She begins to doubt her personality, her attractiveness, her desirability (both emotional and physical). Soon, she’s a wreck; she’s full of self-doubt and low self-esteem which are two great big risk factors for depression.

Often women will say that they feel like they’ve been ‘cheated’ on. That their husband is giving all this attention to a woman she can never be. They feel like they have been ‘betrayed’ and can’t figure out why they hurt so badly when everyone is saying that it’s ‘normal’ for him to watch porn. Hell, she’s probably even being advised to watch porn with him at couples counseling because it will, “help you become more intimate”.

She doubts herself and second guesses her feelings on it. She ‘catches’ her partner watching porn and feels betrayed and cheated on but she isn’t allowed to express those emotions because of the pornification of our society. If she expressed them then her fears will be seen as ‘prudish’ and ‘unfounded’. This creates a rift inside of her, she doesn’t want to feel so badly, but she can’t help it. She tries to minimize her pain and doesn’t tell anyone because she’s probably heard before that, “It’s normal for guys to look at porn”.

Now she is riddled with self-doubt, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way” she chastises herself. “I should be able to understand that it’s normal”, “I should be secure in my relationship” and so on and so forth.

At this point men come into the picture. They have always been in the picture, in fact, it is their sense of entitlement that put her into this position in the first place. His insistence that he has a ‘right’ to porn and thus, in her mind, he has a ‘right’ to hurt her is what brought her here to begin with. But of course, until now he has just been a passive actor. He’s ‘only’ been indulging in his ‘right’ to look at porn. Too bad for her, whatever she feels is her own problems stemming from her own insecurities…right? (clearly, I don’t believe this, but for the sake of this post and keeping it on track I won’t go there)

Now, his actions become active, putting her pain squarely into the ‘external’ category.

Here’s a few, once again from OAG’s site (her site it the handiest I have around, I STRONGLY recommend it to anyone who’s looking for information!)

… I was raped and assaulted on two different occasions by an ex who was obsessed with porn. Also, while we were involved, he constantly made me do sexual things that i was not comfortable doing, such as acting out porn or taping us having sex, and would make me feel like scum if i tried to refuse. The stuff he did to me will be with me for the rest of my life; It doesn’t get any easier and it’s not something you can just move on from. People have got to start paying attention to what porn does to the women who are involved, both on screen and off…

Porn is gross! I believe only sick people at it .I knew someone with a bad porn habit, this person was abusive to me and to my sister, worst of all after looking at this porn he would want to have sex with me and get into things he had seen in the porn. What he did hurt and it still hurts to this day.

..then, i got pregnant..he kept buying magazines especially while i had a big belly… i cried everyday. i still do. i have tried to do things he wants me to do in bed..but he would still look at it.

I was molested by 3 different men throughout my childhood –all of which used pornography as a visual aid in order to get me to perform.

Also, we have some stuff from Dr. Diana Russell

“I don’t need studies and statistics to tell me that there is a relationship between pornography and real violence against women. My body remembers.” — Woman’s testimony, 1983.

A letter was sent to the United States Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography reporting that: “A mother and father in South Oklahoma City forced their four daughters, ages ten to seventeen, to engage in family sex while pornographic pictures were being filmed” (1986).

And these are not isolated examples. Visit an anti-pornography board sometime where people who are hurt by porn and recovering addicts are coming together. The theme of men asking, demanding and taking things that they see in porn is so commonplace as to be ‘normal’. Hundreds of stories, hundreds of thousands of stories, all of them experienced by a woman. All of them referring to their partners using porn to hurt them, it’s not a tiny percentage here.

The simple fact of the matter is that men are asking women to do what ‘those women’ do and by the time they start making her do these thins she has already had her self-esteem severely damaged and there is too much self-doubt flooding through her mind.

By the time he gets around to pressuring her to do things there is little resistance. She has been primed to offer as little resistance as possible. Men are asking their partners to do the same sorts of things that they’re doing in the sex industry. My own experiences are consistent with this theme and I am but one experience in an entire world full of them.

Remember the numbers from yesterday? Do you remember the percentage of prostitutes whose attackers used porn as a guide? Clearly not every man who looks at porn is a violent rapist, however it’s important to remember that these things happen on a continuum. While not all of them are raping women, a good portion of them may be ‘nagging’ her into doing something they see in pornstitution. Telling her, “If you loved me you’d do it” or some other manipulative threat. These experiences are traumatic for women, who simply want to feel good with their partners.

Often, women coming out of relationships with these men have low-self esteem and carry a torrent of stories about rapes that they are only able to define as such later. Many of them talk about being raped in a specific way that they saw in their partner’s pornography.

Other women are incessantly asked to ‘do it like she does’ while being given a pornography as an illustration. The simple fact of the matter is that, for these men, the fact that they are hurting their partners means nothing to them. Their partner’s pain and wishes are thrown to the side in favor of pornstitution.

Pornography does affect men’s ability to relate to women, I’ve done posts on it in the past, specifically For the Number Hounds. That post is chock a block full of numbers, statistics and so on.

Here are a few stats from the post, for example –

Regular users of pornography are more likely to think of women in stereotype, (1) as “socially non-discriminating, as hysterically euphoric in response to just about any sexual or pseudosexual stimulation, and as eager to accommodate seemingly any and every sexual request.” (2)
Allan, K., & Coltrane, S. (1996). Gender displaying television commercials: A comparative study of television commercials in the 1950s and 1980s. Sex roles, 35 (3/4), 185-203.
Zillman, D., & Bryant, J. (1984). Effects of massive exposure to pornography. In N. M. Malamuth, & E. Donnerstein (Eds), Pornography and Sexual Aggression (pp. 115-142). Orlando, FL: Academic Press

Regular users of pornography are more likely to have sexually callous attitudes and accept the rape myth (that when a woman says “no,” she means “yes.”)
Allen, M., Emmers, T., Gebhardt, L., & Giery, M.A. (1995). Exposure to pornography and acceptance of rape myths. Journal of Communication, 45 (1), 5-26; Saunders, R.M., & Naus, P.J. (1993). The impact of social content and audience factors on responses to sexually explicit videos. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 19 (2), 117-131

Regular users of pornography have increasingly hostile and aggressive sexual fantasies.
Malamuth & McIlwraith (1988). Fantasies and exposure to sexually explicit magazines. Communication Research, 15 (6), 753-771.

Regular users of pornography are less likely to convict for a rape, and less likely to give a harsh sentence to a rapist if in fact convicted. Conversely, individuals who do not use pornography are more likely to convict an accused rapist
Garcia, L.T. (1986). Exposures to pornography and attitude about women and rape: A correlative study. AG 22 (1853) 382-383.
Zillman & Bryant, (1984). Effects of massive exposure to pornography. In N.M. Malamuth, & E. Donnerstein (Eds), Pornography and Sexual Aggression (pp. 115-142). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.

With all the drop in the ability to empathize it stands to reason that the men would also be unable to empathize with a woman who doesn’t want to do something she finds painful, degrading or both. The fact is that most women who’s partners have had issues related to the sex-industry have been asked, coerced, nagged and even forced to act out what they see in magazines. This is closely related to the process of turning fantasy into reality that we were discussing a few days ago.

With her self-esteem shattered and second guessing herself, her feelings, her ability to determine what ‘should’ and ‘should not’ bother her, she is ripe for the abuses that invariably come later.

Each and every single woman that I have ever spoken with whose partners engage the sex industry have been subject to abuses in some form or another.

Not only are they victimized by their partners who refuse to care about their feelings while they are actively engaged in pornstitution use. But they victimized again when the partners finally (if ever) decide to stop looking at it. They are told that they need to try to ‘understand’ when her partner ‘falls off the wagon’. Her outrage has no place to go and all of the understanding, attention and care is once again laid at the ‘addicts’ feet.

Even outside of the sphere of immediate influence (i.e. the users female partners) pornography still causes pain. Daughters of porn users have been raped and molested by men who are using porn. They’ve even been raped and molested with their abusers showing them porn, or using porn as a manual. And this is not a small, miniscule percentage of the population. Many survivors speak of their abuse with porn playing an active role in their abuse.

Even if the man doesn’t do something that extreme his ideals of women are shaped by pornography and the daughter, sister and so on is always affected.

Every woman within the personal sphere of a sex-industry supporter is affected by him; from his partner, to his children, all the way to his siblings and mothers. Even if that effect is ‘only’ a change in the man’s outlook on women they are still affected. And that outlook does change; it has been proven time and time again in study after study (check out the sidebar links for more information). When a man’s outlook and ideas about women change then the women in his life are ALWAYS affected.

Sometimes their outlook changes in a large way, in the cases of rape, abuse and so on. Sometimes the change is more subtle, in his demanding for sex whenever he wants it. His reduced empathy for pain, of any kind, that women experience. His ideals of what women are for. What constitutes ‘fat’ or ‘skinny’.

There really is no escape from it. When you have a man in your life that is engaged in the active degradation of women through the sex industry you are going to be affected, in some way.

The fear, the self-doubt and low self-esteem are bad enough but there is also the acts that she’s asked to perform or the acts that he just assumes she *should* be doing. Those thins are horribly damaging. To always feel like you’re never ‘good enough’ even after you try to be like the women that he wants is shattering to the self-esteem. And all of this is done in the name of male entitlement and privilege.

Even more troubling is the fact that men are being exposed to hard core pornography at increasingly younger ages. One of my sons friends actually came to me about 2 years ago, when he was 12 and asked me about fisting. He was TWELVE! He spoke to me because he wanted to know what I thought about porn; he confided that at the age of 12 he was watching 4 hours of pornography a day. Hard-core, no holds barred pornography. He asked me if women enjoy being fisted. I was utterly shocked that this child, this boy was asking me about these things.

I had a very long discussion with him about women, about what they like and what they don’t like. At the age of 12 I was having a discussion about sex with a young boy who believed that women had orgasm through anal sex and that penetration with a baseball bat or a mans fist was pleasurable for women.

Now, it’s safe to assume that this child had not had sex at his age. However, what will his expectations be when he does? What will he be expecting from his girlfriend? And how does one make him understand that a single woman saying, “Umm…no, I don’t like that idea” is important when there are hundreds of them standing up and saying, “Yes, please cause me pain”.

If children can be affected then adults can be affected. The studies show it and every girl that he runs into will be affected by his belief that these things are right and good. If we fast forward I wonder what that boy will expect of his girlfriend? When he was 12 he expected her to enjoy having a man come on her face, in fact, he believed that it would make her orgasm.

With the proof that the studies are showing us, that men are affected by regular use of pornography, then there is little doubt in my mind that his girlfriends will ALSO be affected by his pornography. And the saddest part of all is that these survivors are silenced by the masses. Men scream at them, tell them that they must have wanted it. They make excuses for the men saying, “Well, how was he supposed to know that she wouldn’t like to have his fist stuffed inside of her?”

Men who watch pornography are changed at a fundamental level, their ideas about what women are and what they should be is changed. They accept rape myths more easily and are far less willing to find an accused rapist guilty of the crime. In short, men who watch pornography affect the lives of the women around them and they wander on blissfully sure that they’re not doing anything wrong. Most of them never stop to think about it. Most of them never stop to think about why they unquestioningly accept a woman’s fake screams of pleasure as the real thing.

They are affected, they just don’t know it and, as men, they engage in the male privilege of believing that what they believe must always be true.

Men engaged in supporting the sex industry leave a path of destruction behind them that they are too self-absorbed to notice. When one reinforces the ‘fantasy’ that is presented in porn of a woman enjoying her degradation (through orgasm) then he is reinforcing this very important concept in his life as well. And once this has been reinforced often enough it is simply assimilated as a part of their belief system, it is then that the women in his life will suffer. As his demands for degrading sex continues, she will suffer. As his sense of entitlement grows, she will suffer. As his belief in the rape myths solidifies, she will suffer. And as his dissatisfaction with his sexual life (another effect of porn) grows, she will suffer. In the end, SHE is the one suffering, not him. He is simply too self-absorbed to give a fuck about her pain.

~BB

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Published in: on August 4, 2008 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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