OPINION | Censorship of pornography harms marginalized communities

Laura Malagrino, Associate Arcade Editor

Jada Roth

The pornography industry is absolutely massive, raking in around $97 billion in revenue globally. Compare that to the movie industry, which made around $41.7 billion on the same scale. Such magnitude would insinuate that in all the pornography available on the internet, there must be at least one piece of pornographic content that is not as harmful as anti-porn activists make it out to be. Nonetheless, the overwhelming sentiment among such activists is that pornography is a vessel for the degradation and oppression of women. 

While there certainly exists pornography where women are subordinated and depicted as submissive, there is also an entire realm that depicts women in a completely different light. To immediately dismiss all porn because of one individual experience is irresponsible and damaging to the queer and female content creators that are actively working against the narrative. 

I am by no means anti-feminist — I consider myself a staunch supporter of the movement — but the sentiments of certain feminists towards pornography lacks the intersectionality to be inclusive of all genders and sexualities. 

The critique of pornography is largely heteronormative and lacks the nuance to recognize that pornography can be a safe space for many. Particularly in the queer community, pornography is the first step to acceptance of their sexuality.

As is the case in most situations, the heteronormative attitudes of society overwhelm the perspectives of the queer community. Censorship of pornography would essentially be the censorship of queer voices because pornography is one of the key safe spaces for the LBGTQ+ community.

The assumption that violent pornography creates violent behaviors and attitudes — specifically towards women — is also unfounded. While research has been conducted on the matter, the results are largely correlational and lack the statistical significance to determinably name pornography as an influence in sexual violence.

Similar debates have arisen, such as the controversy around the influence of violent video games. But as with pornography, no concrete data has shown that violent video games cause violence. But society’s adamancy in connecting violent media to violent actions has caused a rift in our confidence in the scientific method. We need to consider our preconceived notions when criticizing pornography lest they harm communities that potentially benefit from a vast accessibility to such content. 

While the United States saw an increase in sexual violence following an increase in accessibility to pornography, some statistics revealed an inverse effect. Nations such as Japan, the Czech Republic and Denmark — all with little to no restrictions on pornography, as well as fairly high consumption rates — have statistically decreased in sexual violence over the years

Rather than criticize the industry as a whole, one should consider what factors may play into the visuals they so often come across when consuming pornography. Viewers should take a conscious and analytical approach to pornography: consider ethical porn websites or pornography produced and directed by female and queer creators rather than the usual sites. 

Pornography is by no means a perfect industry, but to villainize it to the extent that certain activists have is incredibly harmful and ignorant of those who rely on the industry as a means of revenue and as a safe space for those whose sexualities do not align with societal norms. The controversy surrounding pornography has revealed a major issue in our communities — most people fail to understand how their internalized biases impact the way they view pornography, not only as a single piece of content but as an industry. 

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