In Hedges book, Empire of Illusion, he writes about the Illusion of Love. He specifically targets the pornography industry in the United States by exposing how insidious, degrading and violent pornography is and continues to be.
The 1980s set the stage for a new way for men to dominate women – the pornographic art form of anal sex. This only led to a downward spiral of increased physical violence and degradation towards women in pornographic films.
Robert Jensen who wrote, Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, states that, “Increasingly, women in pornography are not people having sex but bodies upon which sexual activities of increasing cruelty are played out. And many men – maybe a majority of men – like it.”
Although the women in the pornography industry are portrayed as celebrities and stars, they are nothing but a mockery to those who produce, film, direct, watch, and support porn. Many women in the pornography industry are prostitutes and can only succumb to the physical, psychological and violent degradation on camera with the aid of drugs and/or alcohol.
Pornography has and will continue to become increasingly violent towards women as the division between torture and eroticism blurs. As the resentment and anger in society continues to build up for lost and broken relationships, a thirst for self-righteous justice and vindication increases. Pornography fills the initial lust for retribution and at the same time evokes a sense of erotic gratification, since women in pornographic videos are expected to act as if they “like” the degradation that is happening to them.
In his book, Hedges draws a parallel between pornography and the use of sexual humiliation as an interrogation tactic. He specifically refers to the degrading images of prisoners held in Abu Ghraib. The exercise of control by US military personnel (men and women) towards the Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib reflects the ultimate degradation of human life. Moreover, it reflects a society that is becoming increasingly complacent and calloused to oppression through sexual perversions and practices.
Although it is debatable as to whether viewers of pornography actively seek out prostitutes to enact the “glorified” acts porn stars are subjected to endure. What is apparent is these acts of degradation and sexual violence against women already occur behind closed doors, and will only increase with legalized prostitution. Therefore, how does decriminalizing the operation of a common bawdy house in Canada increase the safety of prostitutes?
William Margold, an ex-porn star has been attributed to saying, “My whole reason for being in the industry is to satisfy the desire of the men in the world who basically don’t much care for women…we come on a woman’s face or some what brutalize her sexually: We’re getting even for their lost dreams. I believe this. I’ve heard audiences cheer me when I do something foul onscreen. When I’ve strangled a person or sodomized a person or brutalized a person, the audience is cheering my action, and then when I’ve fulfilled my warped desire, the audience applauds.” If Margold is admitting, point blank, that pornography is a form of degradation and oppression against women, why would we allow this industry to thrive by promoting the decriminalization or legalization of prostitution?