There have been studies that suggest that men have less empathy due to elevated testosterone. If these studies are accurate (and not just more biological essentialist BS) and our patriarchal masculine war centered society pumps up the volume on testosterone–promoting it & even worshiping it — then male empathy in said society would be lacking due to these factors. This of course is dependent on many variables. Genetics, environment, primary socialization, secondary socialization etc…. I’ve seen men who are very empathetic and young boys who show emotion and get bullied from other boys because of it–basically they are bullied right out of expressing emotions in a healthy way and promoted to only show it in angry ways. My first husband would yell at my son telling him to stop crying and he told me he did this because he didn’t want him to be bullied in school for showing emotion around other boys (because that is what happened to him).
I think our masculine patriarchal culture frowns upon men feeling any emotion except anger so when a man is hurt he is not allowed to process this hurt (by outwardly emoting) and is instead promoted to externalize it as anger and to process his hurt feelings in the only socially condoned way–by taking it out on women. And since women are seen as sex objects and are the sex class in patriarchy, not considered to be autonomous human beings, but owned by men, the development of pornography makes perfect sense in this unhealthy environment. Pornography becomes the ideal outlet for men to take their anger out on women sexually. It is about cause and effect. The cause is patriarchy and all of its horrific unhealthy mechanisms, including but not limited to; misogyny, gender roles & compulsory heterosexuality. The effect is pornography.
Lately there has been a lot discussion about pornography being addictive for men. That they can’t stop viewing it because they are addicted to to the sexual violence. Although pornography is an obvious symptom of patriarchy, I think it is problematic if not dangerous to focus on pornography as an addiction, because by doing so, we forget about the cause of pornography and its dangers and only focus on the effect–specifically the effect on men. Further, if we don’t eliminate the root cause, another platform for men to act out the misogyny inherit in our society will crop up. Pornography is merely the symptom of a much larger disease. If we claim that pornography is an addiction which then leads to claiming it is a disease (because the USA claims addiction is a disease even though this was never scientifically or medically proven and all other countries do not accept the “disease” model of addiction), then we only focus on the symptom and not on the disease itself, much like most of our medical institutions created in patriarchy focus on treating the symptoms and not the whole person or the disease, we also eliminate any conversation or analysis of the root cause. I can imagine then that we begin to demonize the women in pornography (the actual victims). I can see the headlines now:
“Here ye! Here ye! Read all about it! Pornography is a disease afflicting men around the world! Those unwholesome female porn stars are causing men pain and suffering!! We need to save these men from those heathens!! “
This type of mentality already exists regarding prostituted women. The term “prostitution” is revealing in itself because it only speaks about the act of women prostituting themselves and not the men who drive the demand due to their own misogyny and idea that they can purchase females like commodities to rape for money. Prostituted women are demonized and blamed for tempting men to do evil things. The men aren’t looked at or blamed for their actions and most of the time, they aren’t held responsible legally either. This is a tradition in patriarchy to blame women for male sexual perversions. I don’t know what the answer is within the patriarchal frame, but I do know that continuing to claim that men are victims to their misogynist choices is not the answer. This stance has never helped to solve the epidemic of prostituted, sexually trafficked (including in pornography) girls and women who are used and abused and thrown away like used condoms, but instead has only made it worse for them. These girls and women are the patsies in the bigger scenario, a smoke screen to keep us from looking deeper at the real problem–the socially condoned inhumane treatment of females.
Perhaps we should wake up and begin to realize that we live in a very unhealthy environment, especially for women and children, that perpetuates violence against females due to its hyper masculine, hierarchical, monetarily driven infrastructure. That our ideals are warped and that our disrespect for women is systemic. Perhaps we should focus on criminalizing the making of pornography and help the victims to get out by monetarily and emotionally supporting them? We need to realize that girls and women because of limited financial choices and support and the perpetual ingrained idea that they are nothing but sex objects, that their worth is sex, nothing more, are being coerced into pornography. That especially vulnerable girls and women are being groomed by manipulative pimps into a life of sexual enslavement and despair. They are the victims here, not the men who claim to be “addicted” to porn. Let’s heal the real disease here—PATRIARCHY. If we as a society really gave a shit about women we would stand up and say, enough is enough and stop it in its tracks instead of debating whether or not men are addicted to porn.
If we did not live in patriarchy and its capitalist, military environment and were all born equal regardless of our sex and allowed to be emotional human beings without being forced into gender roles and heterosexuality, both sexes could be healthy, non violent and respectful of each other. Further, the idea of prostitution, trafficking and pornography would be completely frowned upon because the entire society, all human beings would never allow such disrespect. Since we understand historically that testosterone in the peach tree dish of patriarchy can limit empathy in males then we would keep this in mind and never promote the hyper testosterone ideology that we currently do in patriarchal societies. Further, we might also ensure that all leadership has equal amounts of females and males or even better and safer, more females than males because we know that the male propensity towards domination and violence is something we must be leery of. We’ve seen it in action.
Unfortunately, our hyper masculine culture serves the elite and because one of the handy dandy symptoms of hyper masculinity is fear and because fear of violence promotes hyper consumerism this will not change until we dismantle the current leadership which are predominantly males who have all the money. Since at least the USA is completely run by money, this will not be an easy task and further, because pornography is monetarily lucrative, eliminating it will be difficult—-but we must try. If we focus on pornography as an addiction that is harming men, then nothing will change except more pain and suffering for females and more of the same attention on males. If we focus all of our energy on pornography as a symptom of a larger disease and work on dismantling patriarchy, we can save all of humanity.