Enjoying porn despite women’s objectification dehumanizes them

Chelsea Boushka

Sportscaster Erin Andrews’ story recently became a news headline after a nude video was taken of her without her knowledge while she was in a hotel room. The footage was posted online and has been viewed approximately 17 million times.

Demand for objectifying material does not exist in a vacuum. While it’s problematic that people are producing objectifying content like this in the first place, viewing pornography of any kind, whether consensual or not, constitutes active participation in degrading women.

The man who illegally took the video of Erin Andrews claimed his motive was to make money by sharing the video. After 17 million views, it’s obvious he anticipated the demand for such a video perfectly. This demand exists despite viewers knowing it was taken without Andrews’ consent. It’s unquestionably been traumatizing and humiliating for her — Andrews revealed that she threw up when forced to see the video, and images of her tear-strewn face in court crowd the web. However, Andrews ended up making money herself yesterday, she received $55 million in a settlement regarding the case.

However, this phenomenon is not just limited to stolen celebrity photos. Scandals in which students were caught sharing other students’ nude photos have occurred in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Texas, among others. It’s horrifying that they enjoy humiliating these girls with this loss of privacy or don’t care that they’re doing it. It’s even more horrifying, though, that these instances are commonplace.

Those who choose to view nonconsensual pornography of any kind are as deplorable as the person who stole it or shared without permission in the first place. They’re condoning and perpetuating the same exploitation of women.

This simple condemnation, however, is not sufficient when the problem is so widespread. Initially, it’s shocking that millions of men could so blatantly disregard the feelings and dignity of another human being. It is much more comprehensible when they’ve already been practicing this apathy toward women in their casual use of pornography.

Robert Jensen, professor in the School of Journalism, argues this is part of a greater demand for images which degrade women.

“When another person [shares nude images or videos without consent] that is clearly not only a violation of privacy… but it’s adding to the number of images of women in the world that are used for men’s pleasure,” Jensen said. “We live in a culture where men routinely buy and sell objectified female bodies for sexual pleasure.”

High school students who objectify their classmates and the millions who have participated in the abuse of Erin Andrews are very similar to the many millions more who are complicit in the exploitation of women via traditional forms of pornography.

In an article in Sexual Assault Report, Jensen explains why this is dehumanizing.

“It hurts to know that no matter who you are as a woman you can be reduced to a thing to be penetrated, and that men will buy movies about that, and that in many of those movies your humiliation will be the central theme,” Jensen said.

As a man who watches porn, reading this article, it will be easy for you to claim that these aren’t your motives, and that your pornography consumption, both of the consensual and nonconsensual variety, has no negative effects on you. Even if this were true about you, you’re still participating in a system that very often dehumanizes women by degrading them to mediums for male pleasure. No pleasure is worth their loss of humanity.

Boushka is a psychology freshman from El Paso.