PODCAST: Why are we still pretending porn is harmless?

Meghan Murphy speaks with Rebecca Whisnant about the harms of porn and why those of us who challenge it are dismissed so readily.

Porn is everywhere nowadays. It is one of the primary ways young people learn about sex, it is fully mainstreamed — we see pornographic imagery in music, advertising, and young women’s instagram selfies — and it is accepted, generally, as a perfectly normal, harmless (even empowering for women!) pastime. Yet it’s also one of the most difficult things to talk about. Women who challenge or criticize pornography are called uptight, anti-sex, prudish, and jealous. In heterosexual relationships, women are pressured to perform acts their partners see in porn. Men who are avid porn consumers often find their intimate relationships and sex lives impacted negatively. Women who are troubled by their partners’ porn use often feel silenced, as their attempts to discuss this with the men in their lives are met with derision, dismissals, or mockery. But considering how ubiquitous porn is and the vast impact it has had on society and individuals, we do need to be talking about it.

Rebecca Whisnant is professor and chair of the philosophy department at the University of Dayton. She is co-editor of Not For Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography and of Global Feminist Ethics. Her recent articles on pornography include “Pornography, humiliation, and consent” and “But what about feminist porn?: Examining the work of Tristan Taormino.” Rebecca is also a board member of Culture Reframed, a nonprofit organization addressing pornography as the public health crisis of the digital age.  Rebecca will be speaking, alongside myself and Robert Jensen, in Chicago on February 13th, at the DePaul Humanities Center, at an event called, “XXX: Love and Life in a Post-Porn World.” This event is free and open to the public.

In this episode, I speak with Rebecca about the impact of porn on men and women, why it is so readily accepted as harmless, and why it is so difficult to challenge.

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 New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, 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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