Pornography in the MediaIt started by way of messengers and scribes, evolved through thepresentation of newspapers and radio, brought us together withtelevision, and now serves us world- wide via the ever-popularInternet. It is the mass media, and even from the earliest days of itsexistence, it has contributed greatly in ways that both enlighten andenrich society, and ways that deteriorate and perplex it. It is not asurprise to learn, then, that the mass media is the most powerfulsource of information we have, and nothing else in today’s worldinfluences public perception quite as heavily. Unfortunately, however, most of what is broadcast or transmitted in thenews today is with reference to the chaotic condition of our planet, orsomething else that society as a whole sees as detrimental ordamaging. But the news on television is not the only type of mediataking the criticism of society.
Other forms of mass media,specifically movies and television programs containing pornography andviolence have been heavily criticized. The underlining concept to bedebated here is that society is negatively influenced, specifically, bythese images of pornography and the result is increased violenceagainst women. This assumption, and it is indeed only an assumption, iscompletely fallacious, however, as no concrete and completelyconclusiveevidence has ever been formulated in support of the theory. The keypremise here isthat the mass media does not cause undesirable social behaviour and inactuality, themedia people should not be dubbed as the bad guys. They simply usetheir power inthe most constructive ways possible in order to promote their ratingsand popularity. One way to do that is to concentrate on what sells: sex, violence anddisaster.
Having said this, why is it then, that many in society stillbelieve otherwise; why dothey continue to believe that pornography is evil and is a majorcause for violenceagainst women, specifically rape? There are many reasons for thismisinterpretation andthrough the following few points, an attempt will be made to show thatpornographyhas very little to almost no correlation with violence against women(of course nothing isabsolute in society). In order to demonstrate this, it must be madeevident thatpornography is not evil and does not cause undesirable socialbehaviour by displayingnude women in sexually explicit circumstances. Thus, it is importantto indicate thatwomen are not treated only as sexual objects through the media. Thisis done in anattempt to quash any traces of evil in pornography.
Subsequently, asecond point, thatsome may consider to be completely bizarre, can be addressed; thatpornographyactually reduces the amount of violence against women. For thousands of years, sex itself has been considered eviland revolting. This isexactly why the concealment of the sex organs and teaching feelings ofshame towardhuman sexuality is so common worldwide. These same feelings of shameare the chiefreasons that sex is considered a personal and private matter. Contraryto the beliefs ofmany, the mass media did not create these settings; society createsthis image.
In somesocieties, women have no reservations with regard to living theirentire live completelynaked, while in other societies, females cover themselves from head totoe, onlyrevealing their eyes. The media has been bombarded with criticism,overwhelminglyfrom the female community, relative to the amount of sexually explicitmaterial that ispublished in magazines and that appears on television and in thecinemas. A commonargument against pornography is that the media portrays women as beingnothing morethan sexual playthings and objects to satisfy male sexual desires. Asbefore, the mediaonce again, is not to be held responsible for creating this image;these views areproducts of society. It would be absurded to assume that women in this society aretreated as sexualobjects only because the media releases or broadcasts pornographicmaterial.
Amagazine associated with make-up and skin care, for example, will quiteobviously notbe concentrating on much else. Such a magazine would not displaypictures of womenwho mountain-climb or women who water-ski; only images of make-up andtextreferring to skin care would be relevant. Clearly, society does notconsider women to bebeings who’s only purpose in life is to worry about make-up and skincare; but why arethe complaints only directed towards pornographic media then? Theanswer to thisquestion may be more complicated, however, what remains obvious is thatthe mediadoes not portray women as only being able to fill male sexual desires. To say thatpictures featuring nudity, etc, are making objects out of women isfoolish. One shouldconsider females who pin-up posters of male rock stars or children whocollect hockeyor baseball cards.
Society, however, does not say that objects arebeing made out ofthese rock stars and sports heroes; pictures of clothed people are noless objects thanpictures of naked people. Many complaints are also made to the effect that pornographyonly offers a one-dimensional view to life; that women are seen as nymphomaniacs who arehystericallyaddicted to sex. It should be pointed out that events such as hockeygames, boxingmatches, horse races and operas all offer a one-dimensional view oflife. One does notattend an opera hoping to see a horse race. The underlying problemhere is that theabove mentioned events are socially acceptable; media displayingpornography is not.
Itis also said that the media reduces women to a collection of body partsthroughpornography. But why then are their no complaints of advertisements inmagazinesdisplaying only ears, for example, or a nose, or feet? The reason is asimple one; societyconsiders certain body parts to be shameful or disgusting and onceagain, the mediacan be let off the hook. Realistically, the only way to prevent women from being seenas sex objects is forthem to be seen as other things as well; but to say that women are notsexual beingswould be misleading because both men and women are very much sexual. Similarly, tosay that women are singled out in the media is fallacious due to themany examples ofmedia where men are seen catering to the needs of women; somethingknown aschivralic sexism.
Take, for instance, a recent television ad portrayingyoung mengroveling at the feet of supermodel Cindy Crawford, almost begging tobe the one tocater to her needs. There were no lineups of men aching to announcetheir displeasurewith the sexist ad; and this is precisely why male stereotyping in themedia often goesunnoticed. Similarly, it is pornography in the media that is noticedand shunned by anti-pornographic and censorship organizations because it seemingly singlesout females fortheir bodies. It should be well noted, however, that paperback romancenovels, whichmake up an incredible 40% of total paperback sales, depicts males assexual objects,performing what is called Sweet Savagery (rape), just as pornographydepicts femalesas sexual objects. But once again, this goes unnoticed.