There is a distinct difference between male fantasies and what is actually happening to the women used for those fantasies. When men say that porn is “just fantasy,” what they really mean is that the women in it are not real to them. Advocates say pornstitution is a necessary evil, with some going so far as to claim it is a victimless crime. Treating “woman” as a metaphysical concept that exists in the abstract, seemingly invincible and exalted, is superficially empowering. But “othering” women becomes the slope that leads to dehumanization, objectification, degradation, rape and abuse. All exist on a spectrum, not a binary. And while it seems like a great idea to “unite with the Other” (or with anyone who is “different” for that matter) such a task would not be necessary to begin with if women weren’t Othered in the first place.
From the time males are teenagers and even younger, they are exposed to porn. How do they get access to it? Some possible sources are their fathers (whether deliberately shown or by stumbling upon their collection), their peers, and nowadays easily on the internet. Males use porn in order to masturbate. Not that they truly need it, but they think they do – porn to these males is a part of manhood, and initiation into manhood. And women’s bodies are the territory.
Porn’s existence started out as a way of deterring males from peeping on nude women and girls in public; the “peeping” was simply done in private in the guise of entertainment for the males, business for the pornographers who knew that males would still insist on seeing and fantasizing about naked women. For these males then even the unattainable women could still be included in a fantasy where the males did to them whatever they (the males) wanted. After that beginning, however, males move on to using porn in order to get aroused before sex – prostituted women included, who receive the worst abuse for not living up to the fantasies. Also, to not only get aroused for raping children and women but to groom them. The porn is then enacted on females in real life.
Ted Bundy stated that every violent offender in prison he has known, himself included, got started with pornography and became desensitized before moving on to more and more violent acts. To say it is as coincidental as drinking gatorade is to reduce the victims to drinks. I’m reminded of the similar comparison where sex industry advocates say abolition is just like Prohibition – to them, women are alcoholic beverages for entertainment purposes. Or they are tourist attractions. Or anything else besides fully human.
Last but not least is watching porn or fantasizing during the act of sex itself. Hugh Hefner is just an obvious example. Men who fantasize about other women and want to talk about fantasies during sex, or are voyeurs, swingers and exhibitionists, are other examples. They’re not really involved; more importantly, the women don’t really exist for them except as parts to be used. An intimate, egalitarian approach scares them; hence why they want to do things to women that they would never do or have done to themselves, such as oral sex and anal sex, or a threesome with the opposite sex; it’s about domination. Gay men and trans women in the passive position are also seen as being in the position of “woman,” submissive and as conquests. And for them lesbianism exists for their own arousal; so too does having multiple sex partners serve as a way of stroking their egos as some sort of great sex god with a lot of stamina…though they can’t even please the one woman they’re with.
I should also say here that these instances are not completely separate but can and do overlap. Rapists film their acts so they and other men can masturbate to them as porn. Men post images and videos of nude women or sex with women as revenge porn, so porn hasn’t been any sort of effective deterrent against peeping toms and other violators of privacy. Porn itself is a form of revenge against women for the perceived “wrongs” women have committed by simply existing and demanding to be recognized in their own right. Porn says that women exist to be conquered sexually. It is sexual war and women are the casualties.