Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

Author’s Note

We’ll be covering really explicit content and if you’re not open or comfortable with sexual topics – it’s alright. The writing below reflects my (and some of the internet’s) opinions on content that is considered taboo in most societies.

The purpose is not to present an argument or impose any opinions on you, it’s to logically put well-researched issues into perspective for those who still hold conservations about anything sex-related.

If you shied away from this article immediately, it’s really okay!

This isn’t a topic for everyone. If you didn’t, then please try to be respectful, mature, and keep an open mind while reading. Everyone’s entitled to their own (harmless and respectful) opinions.  

I’ll get straight to the point: women, the BIPOC, and the LGBTQ communities are thoroughly mis/under-represented when it comes to online pornography – and that is definitely causing serious repercussions in terms of gender inequality and oppression against women.

Even though there are more than just cishet males and females affected negatively, for the sake of this piece, we’ll focus on how this impacts women who work in the adult film industry. 

“The Male Gaze” was a term coined by Laura Mulvey (1975), and it applies to most of the sexual media content that’s being fed to audiences even today – the meaning of this term is pretty self-explanatory.

It’s the damn irony of it all – being seen but not understood, being visible to the eye yet invisible because of the way you’re represented to the online world.

This male gaze reflects on-screen, and it unfortunately also applies to what goes on behind the camera. 

Where is the freedom?

Like any other “traditional” workplace, the women get less pay, less creative control and way less freedom when it comes to outlining what they can and cannot do in their line of work. Then there’s the fact that apart from sexism, racism is still rampant within the adult film industry – it’s important to mention this while we’re at it, even though it’s a slightly different conversation, it’s a major form of oppression based on something as irrelevant as skin colour. 

A lot of mainstream pornography seems to be stemming from some seriously backwards mindsets. It still seems as if somebody’s put a permanent lens on the director’s camera (and that lens should probably be called “only for cishet mAnLy mEn”).

Okay, hear me out.

To those of you who have consumed any form of sexual media, or have heard/read about it, doesn’t the presentation of women, people of colour, and non cishet individuals seem problematic? 

To avoid the mental harassment that comes with being a different gender (and more so if you’re a different race/ethnicity), women try to get themselves a more lucrative career with better pay and representation, and so they are forced to take up demeaning or straight-up bizarre roles that sometimes go entirely against their values or consent.

From a financial standpoint, their forced decisions can be respected because it’s perhaps one of the ways to get ahead in this field of work – but what about looking at it from a strictly human perspective? 

Is this fair, subjecting women to make do with the already limited representation they get?

And whatever visibility they do get, it’s a caricature at best.

It may seem like harmless content to the average viewer because “It’s just porn, it’s for fun”, which is a fair point, considering how a lot of mainstream porn cannot be taken seriously and definitely cannot be considered educational.

But one can’t deny that it does have an influence on millions of viewers, it can serve to only add fuel to the dumpster fire called gender inequality and oppression against women.

Violent, aggressive, and regressive material exists out there and it’s an urgent problem that needs to be recognized because there are viewers whose ideas of women might be partially based on what they see online. And the solution to all these perpetrators of harmful stereotypes isn’t gate-keeping, because people can find more than one way to consume whatever kind of media they want on the internet nowadays. 

One shining beacon of hope amidst such a distressing scenario is that there are progressive creatives stepping up to cater to open-minded audiences, making the adult media industry a better place for women who work in the business and for those who are at the receiving end of the content.

I won’t be naming companies specifically so that we can stay focused on the topic at hand. These creators take into account gender equality, inclusivity, and have a realistically fresh take on capturing sexual imagery – which translates into proper representation for women, for people of colour, and for LGBT+ individuals.

Hopefully we’ll see less sidelining and/or blatant misrepresentation in the adult film industry, and that’s a win for women in the ongoing fight against sexual oppression. 

Article by Avantika (Avi) Mishra

These are way more explicit and detailed in nature but definitely eye-opening sources for further reading

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