Pornography Influences the Expression of Identity

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Pornography and the online sex world have disciplined a society slightly more accepting or at least one that turns a blind eye to people exploring their sexuality, fetishes, and curiosities. People who engage in activities like this create a new subjectivity that disciplines how they live and interact with themselves and others. When talking about pornography, it exists on a wide spectrum. It can include softcore, hardcore, BDSM, and different gender/object relationships.

With the internet, the sharing of lewd images/media, and other outlets such as cam girl sites are more accessible meaning the presence of sex and sexuality in society has become more prominent. This presence in our ads, shows, social media, virtually everywhere makes it difficult to ignore, resulting in an influence on how we are as individuals whether we accept or reject it.

Foucault’s “repressive hypothesis” states that in attempting to free ourselves from sexuality having power over us, we give it power. When we are more accepting of our sexuality, more open to its discourse in public and our community, we are giving it power to discipline our lives and identities. Many of the beliefs and views we have on these particular topics surrounding sexuality are socially constructed from what we watch, how we identify, to what we enjoy. Society and sexuality shapes and in a way disciplines our identity as individuals and it influences our perspectives.

Some argue that pornography disciplines and promotes misogyny, discrimination, and a culture of violence toward women. On the other hand, it can also be viewed as something that is empowering for women. It promotes choice, exploration, and acceptance. Even though we live in a world where so much of what we’re surrounded by is sexually charged because sex sells and is highly profitable when it comes to pornography it is still slightly criminalized or looked down on in the public eye.

Our political, familial, and social views and values discipline how we view sex and pornography whether it be in a positive or negative light. In turn, how we identify sexually disciplines how one may act and portray themselves in society. Of course, however one may identify, they do not necessarily have to fit or assume the role certain stereotypes place on individuals in society. These stereotypes, especially in the context of sexuality, greatly discipline how someone may dress, the activities they may participate in, and even how they act in public.

Although society telling us that something is wrong, often times going as far to make it illegal, doesn’t stop people from engaging, practicing, or expressing whatever this immoral matter may be. In the relationship of women to pornography, Marion Bower, a psychiatric social worker, takes note how homosexuality still existed “in societies where the penalty for its expression is death.” While certain sexualities such as homosexuality are discriminated against since it deviates from the accepted heteronormativity ingrained in society largely due to religious influence, when it comes to pornography, it is interesting to see how lesbians are greatly fetishized among men who identify as heterosexual.

Even with the social construct of homosexuality being demonized for so long to an extent and still not accepted in the capacity it should be, homosexuality in relation to women and pornography is accepted. This demonstrates how the hyper sexualization of women has limited boundaries in today’s society. Furthermore, this over sexualization, which creates a toxic culture, is not always seen negatively in society since it is ever present in the context of pornography, but even beyond extending into our daily life. The hyper sexualization of women in porn and society in general leads to self-objectification which can escalate into issues ranging from depression to eating disorders in women of all ages. This is an example of how not only pornography, but society as a whole influences our identity, and individual perspectives of ourselves in what mostly turns out to be negative and harmful.

It’s interesting to look at how the consumption of something such as pornography which is a private thing can become and has become in some instances a public problem. This is society framing how we view something such as pornography, attempting to construct and discipline our lives by creating a perspective that says it’s immoral. These views by society are also heavily influenced by religious ideals and politics.

From the religious perspective, the views against pornography and the expression of sexuality in general are very negative. It is considered in some communities to be a secular problem and described as having corrupted individuals and ruining marriages. It is important to recognize how pornography, while it is something people should be able to view and keep private, there are issues with addiction and moral issues surrounding how it influences people psychologically and thus their actions, but this is an issue to be considered with virtually any controversial topic or idea.

In a paper discussing the effects of pornography on different aspects of society, Dr. Patrick Fagan discusses how pornography “distorts an individual’s concept of sexual relations by objectifying them, which, in turn, alters both sexual attitudes and behavior.” He attributes this to be a threat towards individual happiness, marriage, and family. He further elaborates on the effect pornography has on our brain chemistry by altering the tolerance for abnormal sexual behaviors and aggression, its addictive effects on the body and influence on the body’s hormones and emotions. In addition to this, he comments on the desensitization of individuals viewing pornography in society, signifying a shift from the culture of shaming in society.

Gender construction in relation to sexuality is disciplined by societal pressures and expectations. Increased sexualization of people in general including children. One could make a claim that the surge of pornography, cybersex, and sex work has contributed to this. However, it could also just be a reflection of how we are as a society. When it comes to victim blaming, we see the actions of the victim for instance how they chose to dress or present themselves is attacked instead of focusing more on the actions of the abuser or harasser.

Society disciplines a culture that says women shouldn’t watch pornography. It is typically dominated by male viewers. Sex is an innate behavior. The drive for it is in all of us. How we express this is a culmination of more than just biological factors. Its expression draws influence from the values of our society, culture, family, and religion. These together dictate how we act, identify, and express ourselves. Eleanor Heartney in her piece on pornography and society discusses how “pornography is a major battleground in the war for control of culture.” She states that pornography influences an “unpredictable nature of power within society and within personal relationships.” and how it is being used to make a stand for liberty in marginal groups utilizing the moral uncertainties of pornography to challenge what we are told is moral in society.

It’s also important to comment on how pornography has disciplined the “hook-up” culture that is so prevalent in young adults today. A study conducted in Sweden on pornography consumption stated that there is a correlation between male pornography use and increased sexual intercourse with non-romantic friends.5 This is just another example of how pornography and sexuality are related to disciplining individuals in society, shaping how they act in response to certain things.

Overall, this is not attempting to determine whether porn is positive or negative since that really is on an individual basis, but rather how it influences the expression of our identity and our relationships with people and society. The increased accessibility of pornography has led to controversial issues regarding its morality and effects on users and their behaviors. Pornography, coupled with our personal values, disciplines how we perceive ourselves sexually, how we interact in both the sexual and social context, as well as what we view as moral and immoral.

Cite this paper

Pornography Influences the Expression of Identity. (2022, Feb 10). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/pornography-influences-the-expression-of-identity/

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