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Commentary

'Ethical Porn' Does Not Exist and 'Feminist' Celebrities Should Stop Advertising It

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A society that reduces sexual intimacy to a casual habit will have no problem minimizing the harms associated with the pornography industry.

Whether people consume it through images or videos, pornography furthers the culture’s desensitization to sex by cultivating a desire to view damaging sexual materials. In addition, it promotes the notion that sex is merely a selfish exchange rather than the culmination of a sacred bond between a married couple.

Despite its many negative side effects, however, that has not stopped celebrities from treating pornography like an exciting trend.

Pornography’s Celebrity Endorsement

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle blog Goop is known for promoting scented candles named after female anatomy and controversial tips about how individuals can improve their sex lives. Apparently, the brand believes that pornography consumption is one such way to do that.

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“The first time you watch porn that genuinely and deeply arouses you is akin to the moment you have sex with another person and experience an elation that makes you think, ‘Oh, so this is what sex can be,” the website reads.

While the blog acknowledged that such an impersonal sexual encounter might repulse some, it assured readers that many believe interacting with pornography is a “powerful exploration of sexuality.”

Paltrow’s blog also speculated that interacting with “lackluster” pornography is the only reason why some feel “ambivalent” about it.

“If you haven’t checked what’s available in a while, you might be pleasantly surprised,” the website reads.

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“There are a growing number of platforms building a body of porn that is compelling and diverse, shown through the female gaze, made by women, ethically produced — and hot.”

The blog then lists various “erotica sites” that it claims are trustworthy, explaining why each one is likely to enhance a couple’s sex life.

But Paltrow and her brand are wrong — there is no such thing as “ethical” pornography, nor can it ever be a healthy tool for improving intimacy in a relationship.

Degrading and Anti-Feminist

Pornography does not validate women’s autonomy, nor does it empower them by allowing them to explore their sexuality. It is an industry dedicated to commodifying the female body for others’ sexual pleasures, and those interested in women’s betterment should reject this objectification instead of embracing it.

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Paltrow’s blog commits another error, however, in its list of recommended porn sites. The blog emphasizes that some of the material is created by women — as if that somehow makes it less degrading.

Even if a woman is behind the camera, the material she produces still earns a profit by sexually exploiting the individuals portrayed. In addition, pretending pornography is “feminist” in any way ignores the trauma that survivors of the industry endure.

As Christen Price, legal counsel for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said in a March 17 interview with The Western Journal, glorifying pornography turns a blind eye to its many harms. This unintentionally enforces a patriarchal view that women’s bodies only exist to stimulate arousal.

“You can’t say that, when you’re talking about a whole system of dominance and inequality, you can’t just say that something an individual may personally enjoy or find empowering is necessarily pro-equality or going to help dismantle that system,” Price said.

“I think, one, there’s such a thing as objective harm, kind of regardless of what you subjectively would say is empowering and enjoyable.”

“And two, you find a lot of people that exit the sex trade, pretty much everyone, who, they will get therapy and they get services, eventually says, ‘Yeah, that wasn’t empowering at all. That I couldn’t even, I couldn’t even really access the fullness of the harm I was experiencing. Because it would have been too devastating in that moment.’”

Detrimental to Relationships

While Paltrow encouraged Goop subscribers to view pornography as a way to “spice up” their intimate relationship, her blog ignored the long-term effects such media often has on couples.

Pornography’s harmful impact on couple intimacy has been highlighted by The Gottman Institue, an organization dedicated to advancing healthy relationships. In a 2016 article titled “An Open Letter on Porn,” psychologists John and Julie Gottman noted that pornography often serves as an addictive, “supernormal stimuli.”

“Supernormal stimuli are everywhere around us, including in advertisements of the idealized and photoshopped female body as well as in junk food laden with unhealthy fats and sugars,” the pair wrote.

Instead of improving couple intimacy, however, the psychologists found that the “supernormal stimulus of porn use” was more likely to decrease men’s satisfaction with their partners as they become used to the stimulation that pornography evokes. As a result, normal sexual activity with a committed female partner is reduced to a dull, unappealing act.

The unrealistic sexual expectations that pornography sets are yet another danger associated with consuming this form of media. Intimacy between a married couple is intended to be a consenting exchange, but porn advertises sex as something that is available on demand.

As a 2009 study commissioned by BBC Disclosure and BBC 5Live found, men who consumed pornography tended to abuse their partners when engaging in “rough sex.”

In a survey of over 2,000 men aged 18 to 39 from the United Kingdom, 71 percent of respondents confessed that they committed some form of violence against their partner during sex. Of those, 33 percent said they did not even ask if their partner consented to the violent sexual acts before or during the rough intercourse.

Many participants were open about what influenced them to behave this way. For example, 57 percent of respondents cited pornography as a reason, while an additional 20 percent said that pornography had influenced them a “great deal.”

Despite Paltrow’s endorsement, pornography is a dehumanizing form of media that demeans men and women while also devaluing devoted relationships between the sexes.

In reality, it cannot replace the rewarding bond created between a married man and woman when they explore one another in a natural, loving way.

It is an experience that cannot be commercialized, and those who support healthy relations between the sexes must reject pornography and its inherently degrading nature.

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Samantha Kamman is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. She has been published in several media outlets, including Live Action News and the Washington Examiner.
Samantha Kamman is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. She has been published in several media outlets, including Live Action News and the Washington Examiner.




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