Pornography in the Media

It started by way of messengers and scribes, evolved through
the presentation of newspapers and radio, brought us together with
television, and now serves us world-wide via the ever-popular
Internet. It is the mass media, and even from the earliest days of
its existence, it has contributed greatly in ways that both enlighten
and enrich society, and ways that deteriorate and perplex it. It is
not a surprise to learn, then, that the mass media is the most
powerful source of information we have, and nothing else in today’s
world influences public perception quite as heavily.

Unfortunately, however, most of what is broadcast or
transmitted in the news today is with reference to the chaotic
condition of our planet, or something else that society as a whole
sees as detrimental or damaging. But the news on television is not
the only type of media taking the criticism of society. Other forms
of mass media, specifically movies and television programs containing
pornography and violence have been heavily criticized. The underlining
concept to be debated here is that society is negatively influenced,
specifically, by these images of pornography and the result is
increased violence against women. This assumption, and it is indeed
only an assumption, is completely fallacious, however, as no concrete
and completely conclusive evidence has ever been formulated in
support of the theory. The key premise here is that the mass media
does not cause undesirable social behaviour and in actuality, the
media people should not be dubbed as the “bad guys”. They simply use
their power in the most constructive ways possible in order to promote
their ratings and popularity. One way to do that is to concentrate on
what sells: sex, violence and disaster.

Having said this, why is it then, that many in society still
believe otherwise; why do they continue to believe that pornography is
“evil” and is a major cause for violence against women, specifically
rape? There are many reasons for this misinterpretation and through
the following few points, an attempt will be made to show that
pornography has very little to almost no correlation with violence
against women (of course nothing is “absolute” in society). In order
to demonstrate this, it must be made evident that pornography is not
“evil” and does not cause undesirable social behaviour by displaying
nude women in sexually explicit circumezces. Thus, it is important
to indicate that women are not treated only as sexual objects through
the media. This is done in an attempt to quash any traces of “evil”
in pornography. Subsequently, a second point, that some may consider
to be completely bizarre, can be addressed; that pornography actually
reduces the amount of violence against women.

For thousands of years, sex itself has been considered “evil”
and revolting. This is exactly why the concealment of the sex organs
and teaching feelings of shame toward human sexuality is so common
worldwide (Christensen 1990:4). These same feelings of shame are the
chief reasons that sex is considered a personal and private matter.
Contrary to the beliefs of many, the mass media did not create these
settings; society creates this image. In some societies, women have
no reservations with regard to living their entire lives completely
naked, while in other societies, females cover themselves from head to
toe, only revealing their eyes. The media has been bombarded with
criticism, overwhelmingly from the female community, relative to the
amount of sexually explicit material that is published in magazines
and that appears on television and in the cinemas. A common argument
against pornography is that the media portrays women as being nothing
more than sexual playthings and objects to satisfy male sexual
desires. As before, the media once again, is not to be held
responsible for creating this image; these views are products of
society.

It would be downright absurd to assume that women in this
society are treated as sexual objects only because the media releases
or broadcasts pornographic material. A magazine associated with
make-up and skin care, for example, will quite obviously not be
concentrating on much else. Such a magazine would not display
pictures of women who mountain-climb or women who water-ski; only
images of make-up and text referring to skin care would be relevant.