Stop Porn Culture

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Conference
2015 National Women's Conference
Date
15 October 2014
Decision
Carried

At our National Women’s Conference 2013, for the first time, one of our workshops focused on understanding and challenging porn culture. Almost 100 women attended to hear the realities of the porn industry. That workshop revealed that UNISON women’s conference has yet to set a policy position on pornography.

The pornography industry has pushed its way into our lives, distorting our conceptions of sex and sexuality. Pornography offers people a vision of sexuality rooted in men’s domination of women and women’s acceptance of their own degradation.

Pornography is not simply the sexist, naked Playboy photos from earlier times. Those pin-up-type centrefolds look tame when compared to the cruel, violent offerings in online porn today. Today’s porn is indoctrinating viewers that women are no more than a collection of orifices to penetrate, today’s porn teaches that a woman’s sole purpose is to be used, abused and perpetrated upon for a man’s pleasure. She is to be subjected to body-punishing sex, slapped, humiliated, called vile names, pounded upon and then ejaculated on.

Unfortunately, pornography has significant effects on attitudes and behaviour in the real world. Studies show that after viewing pornography, men are more likely to:

1) report decreased empathy for rape victims

2) report believing that a woman who dresses provocatively deserves to be raped

3) report anger at women who flirt but then refuse to have sex

4) report decreased sexual interest in their girlfriends or wives

5) report increased interest in coercing partners into unwanted sex acts

No one claims that all men who use pornography become rapists, or that rape would disappear if there were no pornography. But being exposed to powerful and sexually stimulating messages on a regular basis affects people. As Catharine MacKinnon has put it “Pornography codes how to look at women, so you know what you can do with one when you see one.”

And women often feel like they don’t measure up to the writhing, oiled, voluptuous female bodies in this pornified culture. Some women report that this self-objectification goes so deep that during sex they are less concerned with what they feel than with how their bodies look.

Many women are nagged or guilt-tripped by their male partners to act more like the women in porn—to shave their genitals, to strip, to have anal sex or threesomes, to be tied up or spanked, to be filmed having sex—in general, to act in ways that feel demeaning, inauthentic, and uncomfortable.

Internet porn in the UK receives more traffic than social networks, shopping, news and media, email, finance, gaming and travel. It is freely available, just a click away online.

Over thirty years ago, many brave women – and a few brave men – began the work of challenging the pornography industry. Today, it remains that there is much work to do to stop this pornified culture.

This conference is pleased to know that revenge porn is to be legislated against. This is a positive step forward but it does not go far enough.

This conference agrees that pornography is harmful to women and to society at large and undermines UNISON’s efforts to campaign for the eradication of sexism and sex discrimination.

This conference instructs the National Women’s Committee to:

a) work with other groups, as appropriate, to raise awareness of the harms of living in a pornified culture

b) Seek discussions with LabourLink to explore options for legal changes and protections from the harms of pornography

c) Actively promote our policy and opposition to pornography on the women’s pages of our website