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  • Writer's pictureGINA

Is Porn a “Recipe for Rape”?

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

Note: This article focuses on the impact of pornography on sexual violence & abuse against women - although not explicit in depictions, this controversial and explicit topic of porn is referenced. All views surrounding this topic are personal. However, I would first like to acknowledge that in alignment with GINA's values, while not discussed in this article, porn can perpetuate, condone & profits from violence against women & girls. Upon viewing, porn can influence attitudes towards & distort views surrounding bodies, relationships, consent women & sex.

Groups attempting to deny the link between pornography and sexual violence have claimed that there is no evidence showing a direct link between the two. My response would be that proving this would be impossible; there is no single factor at play when a person subjects another individual to sexual harm. What is clear is that pornography often suggests that men have a ‘right’ and entitlement to women’s bodies. It would be naive to claim that such attitudes are not contributing to a culture of rape and sexual violence.

In the past, I have been told by an abuser that pornography has changed the way that they have sex. I appreciate that my singular experience is not scientific evidence, but I would like to put the research into perspective. It is easy to hide behind the armour of science and claim that there’s not enough evidence to make assumptions about pornography and sex. While these discussions are taking place, real people are being abused in a way that perfectly mirrors the abuse taking place in popular pornography.

It is difficult to find a single statistic about the amount of porn that depicts abuse. One popular study finds that 88.2% of pornography depicts violence, overwhelmingly against women. However, this figure has been disputed, and other prominent studies have shown that just over 40% of pornography depicts sexual violence. Which figure is the closest to the truth is irrelevant. Both are unacceptable. It is difficult to argue against the fact that porn normalizes non-consensual sex and violence against women. The Netflix documentary Hot Girls Wanted claims that “teen” is the number one searched term in internet pornography. For female porn stars, the younger you look, the longer you are likely to last in the industry. Does this not say something worrying about society’s attitude towards young girls? Is pornography encouraging us to view noticeably young women, even underage women, as sex objects?

There is also the difficulty of consensual violence in pornography. I would hate to sound as if I were judging, or condemning, those who enjoy activities such as BDSM. However, I often take issue with the idea of ‘consent’ in pornography. Often, consent is viewed as something verbal. In other words, if a person has said that they want something, that is taken as consent. I have found that there are many situations when a person is pressured into giving verbal assent, even when they are uncomfortable with the kind of sex that is being performed. In the porn industry, to remain relevant, porn stars must continue to surprise their viewers. This creates a pressure to perform sexual acts that many women would be uncomfortable with. This is where consent becomes a grey area. Sometimes a person’s body language suggests that they are struggling even when they have given verbal ‘consent.’ Porn stars are no exception to this rule. Sasha Grey became a figure in mainstream porn after asking a prominent male porn star to punch her in the stomach during filming. Why are women having to resort to these measures to make it in the porn industry? What does that say about the kind of porn society enjoys? Abuse porn and forced oral sex are extremely lucrative for porn sites. They are also a common place for sex workers to launch their careers. If these kinds of sexual activities are normalized, it is logical to assume that young people would expect to perform these kinds of acts. Girls and women may feel pressure to consent to things they would rather not do, because pornography is showing them that violence and assault is normal, even desirable, during sex.

I am not asking people to stop watching porn. It can be an important part of discovering, or expressing, sexuality. However, I do believe that we need to campaign for pornography that depicts healthy sexual relationships. Often, porn does not reflect the kind of sex that takes place between loving partners. This needs to change. Sites like Pornhub need to take responsibility. Porn that depicts sexual violence and abuse is unacceptable and needs to be treated as such.


To explore this topic further, suggested reading originates from Gail Dines, who explores ‘Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality’: “As porn culture has become absorbed into pop culture, a new wave of entrepreneurs are creating porn that is even more hard-core, violent, sexist, and racist. Proving that porn desensitizes and actually limits our sexual freedom, Dines argues its omnipresence is a public health concern we can no longer ignore.”


Run by the charity CEASE, Expose the Harm is a space for you to tell your story, safely & anonymously, of how pornography has harmed you or others in some way.


- Emily Handel

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