When is pornography a sign of women’s progress?

March 17, 2015
A protester takes part in a demonstration against new laws on pornography outside parliament in central London

A protester takes part in a demonstration against new British laws on pornography outside parliament in central London, Dec. 12, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

When it comes to global progress, not all women are created equal. In fact, one need only look at two media phenomena – each shocking in different ways — to understand the rift that exists for women born in different parts of the world.

It was a jolt to stumble across a debate on pornography recently (on BBC’s Woman’s Hour, of all places, a radio show first introduced for post-war-era housewives). The theme: does pornography empower women? The program was linked to the sweeping success of the book and film”50 Shades of Grey,” which has, despite mixed reviews, filled the cinemas of the world with audiences avid to see the way in which it realized women’s sexual fantasies.

The panel, all women, was severely divided: Two thought pornography did empower, two thought it an abomination, forcing women into a kind of virtual sex slavery, pouting and posturing to serve male lust. The star of the panel was Pandora Blake, who takes part in and produces pornography aimed at women, serving her own fantasies. She had recently returned from the Berlin Porn Film Festival, where, she said, more than half of the films’ directors had been women. She was articulate, frank and funny. And her attitude reflected something profound: That women were taking their share of perhaps the most male-controlled industry on earth.

A large part of those present had been convinced of the empowerment argument, or were discreetly fessing up that they indulged, or wouldn’t mind indulging, themselves.

But for the shifting attitudes among women, the media and sexuality shown during BBC’s debate, other parts of the world remain firmly adrift in the past.

A day after the Woman’s Hour debate, a friend linked me in to the film “India’s Daughter” – made by the British actor and documentary maker Leslee Unwin, which has gone viral on the net and that brought shock and anger  to millions outside India as well as in.

The documentary tells the story of a rape which has become famous worldwide, because of the hideous violence, and the huge demonstrations that followed it. Jyoti Singh, a 23-year old medical student, going home from the cinema with a male friend in Delhi, was beaten and gang raped by six men, an iron bar inserted into her vagina, her entrails bursting out. She and her friend, also beaten, were thrown out of the bus in which the rape took place, taken to hospital and then transferred to the world’s most advanced trauma unit in Singapore. Jyoti died. One of the murderers, on death row with three of his fellows, was clear in an interview for the film that it was Jyoti’s fault. She should not have been out at night, he said, and not been out at all with a non-family member. Being raped, she should not have struggled. If she hadn’t, she would not have been beaten, he said. We were looking for entertainment, he said: “Everyone deserves entertainment”.

The two lawyers for the defense were worse — in that they were educated men, experts in the law. “Women,” said one, “should not be put on the street like food”- or someone will snap it up. “We have the best culture,” said the other. “There is no place in it for women.” After the judgment, one of the lawyers, enraged, said that had his daughter gone out like Jyoti, he would have set fire to her.

Between a merry, spirited argument about pornography for women and the drunken horror visited on a young medical student in a Delhi bus there is more than a gulf. There’s a world of work to be done by a state which prides itself on being the world’s largest democracy.

Our interconnected world brings the two together in the virtual world of the media. At least the shock of the contrast may jolt some change.


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We need to marry only prostitutes.Cashing their money.
Normal,seriuous women?Noooooooooooooooo,only problems

Posted by SteveP | Report as abusive

the image of women is shatered mainly because of the porno industry.women today are seen as mere sex object which need to be changed in todays society

Posted by diamondfdk | Report as abusive

John, women will make progress when they seek responsibility with their freedom. Modern feminism continues them as minors (like infants) incapable of responsible action and offers only benefits at the expense of men. This is how feminism created the “rape culture”, they defined rape as any sex after a women has had a drink. This only applies to women. So let me give you a scenario, a man and a women go out and have a drink, and they later have sex. Feminism defines this as rape, because women who are under the influence of alcohol are not in their right minds and thus the man has raped her. No where in this argument do we assume that a women can make a decision for her self, she is not responsible. So, like I said, women will progress when they accept responsibility for being adults rather than continuing their child role.

Marriage is prostitution, so SteveP is correct, by default, you will be marrying a prostitute, the legal system informed by feminists assures you of that.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

You know John, Rush Limbaugh also cherry picks anecdotal stories as examples of broader trends. How about you look at the statistic that say that rape has gone down, and that there are more false accusations of rape than there are real ones. Oh yes, that is correct, your a demographic whore like Rush Limbaugh, well okay, as long as you get yours, because we all know that money is the one true god.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

Ah yes, I clearly remember the pre-pornography times when women were treated as exact equals to men and rape never occurred.

Posted by MiamiMiamiMiami | Report as abusive

There are different views from the different people from different society. But according my point of view , its not a right way to go on. Every female can do this to earn money in short span of time to become a overnight sex star. But its wrong. Author raised good point to talk, and we should talk on that topic too.

Posted by shubhangel | Report as abusive

as we can see in this images, this women is feeling uncomfortable due to porno industry. As we know the, London’s law are very flexible to porno industry but still something more required to do.

Posted by shubhangel | Report as abusive