Mystery story: Why do you think so many women equate porn with ‘harassment?’

Calling all detectives! We have a MYSTERY on our hands! OooOooOOoooooo.

How can porn, on one hand, be a totally neutral and potentially empowering space for women while also being widely understood to constitute sexual harassment?

It’s weird because despite what all these liberal feminists will tell you about porn being totally sexy and empowering and a personal choice for personal persony persons, women continue to feel harassed by it. WEEEEIRD.

A firefighter named Candice Buckner is suing the city of Jacksonville for sex discrimination, saying “she had been subjected to a hostile work environment in the fire station to which she was assigned due to the presence and volume of sexually explicit and pornographic materials, and inappropriate behaviors, in the fire station.”

After she complained about the porn, things got even worse (It’s almost like this lady thinks she’s people! You tell her, boys.):

a male lieutenant named Dobson “approached Lieutenant Buckner and stated that Buckner’s teenage daughter would soon be of legal age for some fireman to ‘f—.’ Buckner told Dobson to knock it off, and he grabbed her arm, spun her around, and repeated his comment.” The two pushed each other, and Dobson continued harassing Buckner while Battalion Chief Neal White looked on and “did nothing to mitigate or stop the incident,” Buckner’s suit alleges. Later, White promised other Station One firefighters that he would get rid of Buckner “if it’s the last thing I do.”

The situation deteriorated from there, with coworkers trying to freeze Buckner out by not speaking to her at all, referring to her as a “crazy bitch” and “piece of pussy” among themselves, telling other men in the house to stick to the same story denying the harassment had occurred if department higher-ups asked about it, and nitpicking her uniform and work performance in ways that “no other personnel were subjected to,” the suit alleges. (via Think Progress)

When Buckner confronted Lieutenant Carrow, supervisor of another firefighter who had posted “negative and derogatory remarks” on Buckner’s social media page, Carrow responded, saying: “This is Station One, and we aren’t changing because you’re here. In fact, we come here to get away from our wives and girlfriends, and we can’t do what we want because you’re here,” adding, “we aren’t changing 150 years of tradition just because there’s a bitch in the house now.”

I’m pretty confused because it feels like the same writers/publications who will report on women either being harassed through porn — whether it be in the workplace or through revenge porn — or abused in porn, are unwilling to write or publish critiques of pornography and the porn industry or even consider that maybe, just maaaaybe, women feel “harassed” by porn because porn degrades women! I DON’T KNOW CALL ME CRAZY.

You’ll notice that it is in traditionally male-dominated workplaces — fire stations, the police force, construction sites — that pornographic imagery is the norm. This functions as a means to ensure these spaces are for men and to make clear that women are not welcome unless they are also there for men.

Rebecca L. Eisenberg writes, in a paper entitled “Pornography, Equality, and a Discrimination-Free Workplace”:

Pornography instills fear and humiliation in countless women. Women who have been raped or otherwise sexually abused suffer even more profoundly from forced exposure to pornography, largely because it validates and celebrates the criminal behavior of which they have been victims, and thus they are unable to dissociate themselves completely from the women in the photographs. It seems clear that women, far more often then men, are likely to identify with the subjects used in the production of the materials…

… Pornography may also harm women by thrusting upon them insulting and degrading views of their societal roles and their sexuality. Indeed, Robin West has argued that pornography’s greatest harm lies in its ability to define narrowly the way in which women (and men) see themselves. Pornography enforces and legitimates images of sexuality that exclude the perception of women as in sovereign possession of their bodies and their own sexuality, and these images carry over to a social structure of gender inequality as a whole. Pornography degrades and objectifies women; some reports suggest that women find nonviolent degrading pornography more upsetting than the violent kind. Pornography conveys a message to women of how the dominant (male) society views them; it is not surprising that surveys reveal women to have far more negative views toward pornography than men. To many women, pornography is hardly “harmless” and “fun.”

Y’all feeling liberated yet?

Even the law understands pornography in the workplace “to be the primary offensive conduct in the creation of a discriminatory environment;” yet so many feminists can’t bring themselves to admit that the porn industry is not a site of empowerment for women.

We’ve seen, over and over again, that porn and misogynist attitudes in the workplace are deeply connected. Why are so many liberals and feminists still afraid to call a spade a spade?

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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