Images of Women In Pornography and Media


If a solution is to be found to the culture-wide violence towards women that we accept as part of our normal everyday society, we must first characterize this violence as a problem and then change the attitudes we hold towards men, women, and violence. We can begin to change our attitudes by changing the images with which we surround ourselves that teach, reinforce, and perpetuate these attitudes.

Physical and psychological violence towards women is the norm in our culture. Many men clearly believe that they should commit these acts, whether to enjoy themselves or to assert their masculine identity. But where do these men learn that violence towards women is a form of enjoyment or a way to assert masculinity? Feminists believe that today the primary source of images of such violence is the mass media, especially pornography.

The purpose of the slideshow you are about to see is to help the audience recognize the hatred of women expressed in pornography, and to increase understanding of the destructive consequences of these images. Many feminists believe that portrayals of women being bound, raped, tortured, killed, or degraded for sexual stimulation or pleasure create a psychological association of sexuality and violence, and teach men that women are easy targets and fair game, that women enjoy being pushed around, and that violence itself is a sexual turn-on. In addition, such images teach women to accept victimization as inevitable, and to feel helpless and passive.

The important thing to watch for throughout the slideshow is the repetition of certain themes: the association of sexuality and violence, the macho image projected as appropriate for men, the weak, passive image projected as appropriate for most women, the joking attitude in many of the images of rape or battering, and finally, the constant suggestion that women are less than human. Particularly try to remember what the real-life scene would look like so you can form a mental contrast to the glossy advertising and pornographic images.

Suggested Reading

Panel I: Defund Means Defund Andrea Ritchie (she/her) is a Black lesbian immigrant whose writing, litigation, and advocacy has focused on policing of women and LGBT people of color for the past two decades. She is currently a researcher with