An epistemologist of the University of Edinburgh, Aidan McGlynn, has recently published interesting literature by comparing harms of pornography to political and democratic propagandas. In his discourse, McGlynn borrows the term, ‘undermining propaganda,’ from Jason Stanley, which means, ‘[a] contribution to public discourse that is presented as an embodiment of certain ideals, yet is of a kind that tends to erode those very ideals.’ Even though Stanley didn’t quite connect his theory of propaganda to pornography, I personally believe that this connection is quite apt and describes exactly how pornography functions.
The orthodox liberal claim on this matter is that pornography is free speech, and pornography women can discover a platform, which enables them, and gives them a status equal to men. A woman’s desires are considered fully, and the game is about her pleasures just as much as it is about his. A pornographic context shows us a strong-willed woman, expressing herself without any societal and patriarchal constraints, breaking all chains and doing what she loves, expressing herself to the fullest. If things are being done to her in these videos, then it is only because she allows that and enjoys that. She is portrayed his equal in terms of desires and appetite.
The functioning of pornography is no paradox or puzzle but apparently it doesn’t take much to confuse a liberal. It is a pity that the clear misogynist elements of pornography are not apparent to them. If pornography has anything to do with free speech, it is only that the former silences women’s freedom of speech. Pornography is destroying the concept of ‘consent,’ a woman’s ‘No!’ is considered a flirtatious ‘yes,’ her refusal and consent are losing meaning and her speech is losing the basic freedom, that is her right.
What many need to understand here is that in every walk of life a woman’s journey is incredibly painful. We are fighting for health and safety, for safe abortions, and for authority on matters relating to our body. Our bodies belong to us and no one else. We are using every platform we have to tell the world that rape is not okay. We are telling the world that rape is never ASKED FOR. We are opposing gendered violence, sexual harassment, honour killing, child-marriages, bonded-labour and human trafficking. We are struggling for equal pay cheques, or even nearly equal pay cheques. We are striving for political representation. We are demanding education, we are crying to end female genital mutilation, and in parts of the world we are till confronting femicide. What pornography does is masks this reality, and trivializes our struggle. It gives a superficial picture of our sexual equality and takes away our right of freedom and silences women once more. The women in these videos are depicted as objects of pleasure, when they are humans with lives, lives with stories, stories of struggles, of which many struggles would be against patriarchy. These women are sexual but they are also so much more than that.