For many years the prevailing feminist attitude toward pornography was that it was cruel to women because it subjected them to the whims of men and deprived those women of their independence and dignity. Think Susan Brownmiller and her efforts against pornography.
Decades later Nadine Strossen’s Defending Pornography asserted that pornography empowers women. Penthouse Magazine interviewed Camille Paglia in the 1990s, and she echoed that sentiment, saying that strippers, for example, are in control of the men for whom they perform.
Issues of power and control are often very much at the heart of pornography. And they are often illusory. Pornography is a trap.
While a man or a woman may seem to experience power through pornography, it only masks the deeper cruelty of it all, both for men and for women.
Pornography is cruel to women because it takes advantage of a woman’s deep desire to be found beautiful and attractive. The vulnerability to which it exposes women is often physically dangerous. Pornography also sets up a nasty competitive atmosphere among women who will compete with one another in order to satisfy that need to be found desirable.
Pornography is cruel to men also in that it robs them of their masculinity and destroys their legitimate strength. It makes a man feel like a man without having to actually be one.
And regular pornography use by men turns them into either destroyers, who use selfish aggression to satisfy their every impulse, or passive disengaged dreamers who pull away from authentic relationships due to a preference for the world of sexual fantasy.