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Through the scenes: pornography and violence against women

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SCORSATTO, Andressa dos Santos [1], LANGARO, Flávia Nedeff [2]

SCORSATTO, Andressa dos Santos. LANGARO, Flavia Nedeff. Through the scenes: pornography and violence against women. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year. 07, Ed. 01, Vol. 04, p. 48-88. January 2022. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


Pornography has undeniably become part of Western culture, constituting narratives that discuss the way in which subjects are seen in the social imaginary, including the relationship between men and women. Considering that such relationships are marked by male domination, which often naturalizes violence against women, the present study started with the following guiding question: how does mainstream pornography reverberate violence against women and what are its psychological consequences in this group? In order to do so, a bibliographic research was carried out in order to retake certain historical and social moments that illustrate how violence against women was instituted, becoming legitimate, and the influence of gender differences in the maintenance of men’s power relationship over women. women, linking the information obtained to psychoanalysis. Therefore, this research aims to understand how mainstream pornography reflects violence against women and what are the possible psychological impacts on women as a result of this discourse. The data suggest that pornography portrays violence against women, so recurrent throughout history, in order to promote sexual arousal. This is partly because mainstream pornography is produced from a patriarchal perspective, revealing the culture’s unconscious perceptions of the role of women. However, in addition to a simple reflection of the subjectivity of the subjects, the narrative produced by pornography contributes to the legitimation of violence against women, generating psychological impacts related to the propagation of a hate speech, insofar as it promotes silencing and maintenance of these gears. Furthermore, the productions impose stereotypes and behaviors that generate suffering, functioning as a new form of oppression on women.

Keywords: women in society, violence against women, pornography.


It has recently become notable that discussions regarding the role of women in society, violence against women, the objectification of the female body, among other topics that concern the dynamics between men and women, have grown and consolidated an increasingly urgent agenda. . The reality is that the relationship of male domination over women shows regrettable outcomes, as evidenced by a CNN article (2021), pointing out that at least 5 women were murdered or victims of violence per day, in 2020, adding up records of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Ceará and Pernambuco. Although the violence faced by women is clear in many spheres, some are very subtle, but they are potentially harmful.

The roots of violence against women go back to a remote past, based on a misogynistic and patriarchal society, with all the implications that these qualifications are capable of containing. The crystallization of these aspects in the collective imagination is noticeable, showing itself in the reproduction of a way of thinking and acting in the face of being a woman that crosses the unconscious of the subjects, as a destructive inheritance. The forms of violence resulting from these perceptions may be more or less veiled and masked today, but they continue to exist, including in pornography. Thus, the discussion about pornography is part of this context, proving to be extremely complex, since in addition to the content producing different effects on subjects, it has indisputably become part of Western culture. Given the above, the question is: how is mainstream pornography capable of reflecting violence against women and what is its psychological impact on these subjects? Aiming to understand how mainstream pornography reflects violence against women and what are the possible psychological impacts on women as a result of this discourse

Although pornography can affect both genders, as it creates standards and stereotypes to be followed, Ribeiro (2016) states that it affects women much more, since it naturalizes violence and reproduces misogyny. Therefore, the present study aimed to understand how mainstream pornography reflects violence against women and what are the possible psychological impacts on women as a result of this violence. Therefore, a bibliographic review was carried out that sought to explain the historical and social phenomena that underlie this scenario of violence, as well as to understand how violence against women becomes legitimate – being transmitted between generations – and how differences between genders can contribute to the maintenance of power relations, articulating the data collected with psychoanalytic knowledge.



Aiming to deepen the understanding of the phenomena that permeate violence against women, one must analyze not only the current and individual contexts that involve this problem, but historical and social facts that support these phenomena today. History is the basis for understanding the factors that the present study aims to scrutinize, given that the social and psychological causes that configure a scenario of violence against women are consequences of historical circumstances, present in the social scenario. As the Freudian analysis points out: “In the psychic life of the individual, the other is, as a rule, considered as a model, as an object and as an adversary, and therefore individual psychology is also, at first, simultaneously social psychology […]” (FREUD, 1921, p. 137). Therefore, even though it is possible to deal superfluously with a content full of complexities, it is necessary to rescue, even if briefly, some clippings related to the history of women in the present work.

If today maternal care is essential for human survival, in the periods that preceded the creation of institutions in civilized society the role of the mother represented the power of life and death. According to Lerner (1986), it was essential that women dedicate their lives to having children and raising them, aspiring to the survival of the group, which was in everyone’s interest. Therefore, the first sexual division of labor possibly occurred due to biological differences between the sexes, in which women chose occupations compatible with the maternal role. However, this data does not mean that the later sexual division of labor, based on motherhood, has arisen for biological/natural reasons. Indeed, “[…] male dominance is a historical phenomenon because it emerged from a biologically determined fact and became a structure created and reinforced in cultural terms over time” (LERNER, 1986, p. 71). In other words, the inevitable biological differences between men and women would serve as a pretext to demarcate discrepancies built later.

Beauvoir (1949) explains that, when the human species settles down to the soil and becomes a farmer, the woman assumes great importance, which can be explained due to the value that the child assumes in the context of workers who exploit the soil – appropriating of the soil, in the form of a collective property, implies the need for posterity and, in this scenario, motherhood becomes a sacred function. In contrast to the nomadic tribes that were trapped in the moment, agricultural communities venerated totemic ancestors and were interested in their descendants, recognizing their children as their own. Many people didn’t even know or attach importance to the father in conception, while the mother was undeniably necessary. It was in the woman that the clan was propagated and, therefore, it was often to the mother’s clan that the children belonged, through them that property was transmitted and, mystically, the land belonged to women. “Nature in its entirety presents itself […] as a mother; the earth is woman, and the woman is inhabited by the same dark forces that inhabit the earth” (BEAUVOIR, 1949, p. 103).

The conception that female inferiority and male domination is natural can be justified by a portion of subjects who believe that, due to divine factors, women have been assigned a different and inferior biological function and that, for this reason, they are necessarily assigned to them. different social tasks must be assigned. In the 19th century, when the importance of religious explanation was minimized, science sought to explain female inferiority, understanding that their biological constitution did not match certain activities. The prevailing thought of the man-hunter who must protect the vulnerable woman, destined for motherhood, is contradictory nowadays, since, while accepting the cultural changes and progress that freed men from nature, he condemns women to remain restricted to their biology (LERNER, 1986).

In addition to the thought of the hunter-man who needs to protect the women and children of his group being inapplicable today, there is evidence that, in most hunter-gatherer societies, the hunting of large animals was secondary, with the main food came from activities performed by children and women (LERNER, 1986). Although men and women had distinct roles, they were seen as complementary and equally necessary. The myth of the man-hunter, therefore, aims to sustain male supremacy (BOULDING, 1983 apud LERNER, 1986).

The progress of agriculture during the Neolithic Period stimulated the phenomenon of the exchange of women between tribes, in which women were exchanged or bought, as a means of avoiding conflicts and generating more children, future workers. Thus, their sexuality and reproductive capacity were transformed into “things”. However, they still maintained some power and freedom, even if to a lesser extent than men, as today. However, “[…] since their sexuality, an aspect of their body, was controlled by others, women were not only disadvantaged, but also restricted in a very particular way in psychological terms” (LERNER, 1986, p. 263). Furthermore, in intertribal conflicts, women were the first to be enslaved, their sexuality being used as labor and their children as property. Later, in Mesopotamia, poor women were sold by their families into prostitution or marriage. In Ancient Mesopotamia, as well as in Classical Antiquity and in slave societies, the children of women were also acquired (LERNER, 1986).

“Thus, the triumph of patriarchy was neither an accident nor the result of a violent revolution” (BEAUVOIR, 1949, p. 112), but, rather, it was a process that began with humanity, from a biological “privilege” that was never abdicated. Subsequently, the man continued not recognizing the woman as a similar, not understanding her as a worker like him. By becoming the owner of the soil, the man also became the owner of his wife and children, for he needed heirs in order to prolong his own life. From the creation of private property, the notion of heir is constructed, in order to know who will receive the land (BEAUVOIR, 1949).

The condition of women crystallized with the notion of private property. Men, when understanding their role in the conception of a child, perceive the need for relationships to become monogamous, so that it would be possible to know who would be their heir (PEDRO; GUEDES, 2010). Thus, society starts to call itself patriarchy: “In this patriarchal society, based on private property, the family and male superiority, in addition to the female nature that makes reproduction possible, transform women into elements of exploitation and oppression” (GRISCI, 1994 apud PEDRO; GUEDES, 2010). The sexual organ will determine the social functions of the members of society. The attributions assigned to men or women, therefore, should not be considered natural or biological, but constructed. Therefore, if patriarchy began at a point in history, it should not be considered natural, even if the culture proposes to naturalize it. The family stands out in the maintenance of this order which, in addition to educating the children to follow it, reinforces its values ​​and rules (LERNER, 1986).

If, before, the oppression of women existed, but there were no institutions that legitimized inequalities, once patriarchy was established, this scenario was modified, considering that men began to compose codes in general, such as mythologies (BEAUVOIR, 1949). ). The myths of the goddesses of fertility and the Mother Goddess appear in the Neolithic Period. Possibly, the worship of these deities stemmed from the psychological bond between mother and children. As mentioned above, and also demonstrated by Freud (1930 apud LERNER, 1986), the mother/environment favors an interaction that will be responsible for humanizing. The baby’s dependence is extreme and the mother is shown to be a powerful figure, having control over the child’s destiny. Men and women, then, adored her. Goddesses were slow to be demoted, even after the subordination of women during patriarchy. However, their subsequent dethronement by a single male god constituted a symbolic devaluation of women in Western society (LERNER, 1986).

Myths are important sources for understanding the imagination of a particular folk. Holland (2010 apud MOTERANI; CARVALHO, 2016), trying to trace the moment when misogyny was institutionalized, states that its origin possibly corresponds to the 8th century B.C., in the Eastern Mediterranean. Namely, misogyny, according to the dictionary Houaiss et al. (2004 apud MOTERANI; CARVALHO, 2016, p. 168), is defined as “hatred or aversion to women, aversion to sexual contact”; according to the Michaelis Online Dictionary (2020), it consists of “morbid antipathy or aversion to women”; for Cambridge Dictionary Online (2015 apud MOTERANI; CARVALHO, 2016, p. 168), it would be the “[…] belief that men are much better than women”. Misogyny can be expressed in different ways, “including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence and sexual objectification of women” (MOTERANI; CARVALHO, 2016, p. 168).

Holland (2010 apud MOTERANI; CARVALHO, 2016) states that, during the 8th century B.C., stories related to creation were elaborated in Greece and Judea, which narrated the fall of man due to woman, presented as responsible for all human suffering. Greece, considered by many to be the cradle of Western civilization, created the myth of Pandora – the first woman created by Zeus to take revenge on Prometheus, a character endowed with beauty and evil. Carrying a pitcher, a gift from the gods, which contained all the evils and infirmities of the world, Pandora demonstrates that, despite being beautiful, she harbored an inner evil. As the race of women expanded from Pandora, women carried its demerit (SCHOTT, 1996 apud MOTERANI; CARVALHO, 2016).

Orphism, the Greek religion that worships the god Dionysus, also influenced the perception of women as responsible for the world’s misfortune (SCHOTT, 1996 apud MOTERANI; CARVALHO, 2016). Christianity, influenced by Orphism, corroborates the misogynistic portrayal of woman, narrating the expulsion of man and woman from paradise, as she gave in to the temptation to sin, causing all humanity to lose the divine notion. Thus, as a sinner and in a condition of inferiority, the woman seeks to redeem herself, submitting and resigning herself to the man. The modern world is still imbued with practices linked to these symbols, in which women will achieve forgiveness by exercising motherhood, taking care of the home, being docile and submissive, among other customs (BICALHO, 2001 apud MOTERANI; CARVALHO, 2016). “Of the ambivalent virtues that she clothed herself with, the nefarious aspect is mainly retained: from being sacred, she becomes impure” (BEAUVOIR, 1949, p. 116). Eve condemns humans; Pandora unleashes the evils of the world; it is established that woman is evil and man is good.

The fear of the figure of women together with misogyny, always promoted in Christian culture, favored the emergence, in Europe, of a persecution aimed primarily at women: the witch hunt. According to Federici (2004), in a context in which the corruption of the clergy became notorious, in addition to all the problems involving feudal relations, popular heresy emerged as an attempt to resist the monetary economy to create a new society, denouncing aspects such as social hierarchies, the accumulation of wealth and the situation of women. In this scenario, “[…] one of the most perverse institutions ever known in the history of state repression was created: the Holy Inquisition” (FEDERICI, 2004, p. 69). Also known as the Court of the Holy Office, its purpose was to combat any movement that threatened Catholic doctrine (SILVA, 2018).

The Black Death, decisive in the medieval struggles, changed the context of the European proletariat due to the shortage of labor – resulting from the demographic crisis – and the consequent upheaval in social hierarchies. Thus, aiming at the dissolution of the workers’ protests, there was the creation of a sexual policy. One of the measures consisted in the institutionalization of prostitution in Europe with municipal brothels, which were financed by taxes. The Church even saw prostitution as a legitimate activity to prevent sexual practices considered heretical, such as homosexuality, acting as a “protection” for family life. In addition, gang rape became acceptable and common, with groups that invaded homes or dragged victims without fear (FEDERICI, 2004). The effects generated for proletarian women, who were the main victims, are immeasurable, since they had to leave their cities or become prostitutes, due to their ruined reputation (RUGGIERO, 1985 apud FEDERICI, 2004). Unfortunately, the consequences were even more devastating for women in general:

A legalização do estupro criou um clima intensamente misógino que degradou todas as mulheres, qualquer que fosse sua classe. Também insensibilizou a população frente à violência contra as mulheres, preparando o terreno para a caça às bruxas que começaria nesse mesmo período. Os primeiros julgamentos por bruxaria ocorreram no final do século XIV; pela primeira vez, a Inquisição registrou a existência de uma heresia e de uma seita de adoradores do demônio completamente feminina (FEDERICI, 2004, p. 104).

Increasingly, the heretic assumed the figure of a woman, and “[…] more than 80% of the people tried and executed in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries for the crime of witchcraft were women” (FEDERICI, 2004, p. 323) . The witch hunt reached its peak between 1580 and 1630, when the social context was one of popular revolts, epidemics and feudal relations gave way to the institutions of mercantile capitalism. However, the persecution of witches did not arise spontaneously. Before panic set in among people, there was indoctrination through authorities who publicly expressed their concern, relying on advertisements and making the topic prominent in debates among intellectuals of the time. The witch hunt was an attack on women’s sexuality, on the control they had over their reproduction – through abortions and contraceptive methods, which began to be persecuted and distorted during the Black Death – on their ability to heal and as a way of to dominate those that were against the prevailing economic relations. In short, it was also an instrument of the patriarchy aiming to submit them to the control of the State (FEDERICI, 2004).

According to Federici (2004), sexual sadism and misogyny are evidenced in torture, in which women were shaved, pierced with needles (including the vagina), raped, could have their limbs ripped off, bones crushed, be hanged or burned. at public events. Men came to fear the women around them and many considered themselves witch hunters or took advantage of circumstances to get rid of unwanted women. Thus, female sexual activity came to be seen as something demonic, perverted by nature and that should only favor men and procreation. Indeed, “[…] the production of the ‘perverted woman’ was the first step in the transformation of female sexuality into work” (FEDERICI, 2004, p. 345). It was in these circumstances that the ideals of femininity and domesticity began to be built on women. The witch hunt was even taken to America, on the pretext that the devil was expelled from Europe to other territories (SILVA, 2018), justifying colonization and the slave trade. In this way, framing blackness and femininity as signs of bestiality served to naturalize the exploitation of these subjects (FEDERICI, 2004).

When analyzing the different forms of oppression that are imposed on women, the issue of the slavery system stands out, which defined human beings as property. The principle of slavery gave different facets to enslaved women and men: “[…] men were first exploited as workers; women were always exploited as workers, providers of sexual and reproductive services” (LERNER, 1986, p. 264). Centuries later, considering the institutionalization of conceptions alluding to women, history leads to slavery on the American continent.

While femininity was in vogue in the United States during the 19th century, when white women were required to play the role of loving mothers and housewives, most female slaves worked in the fields alongside the men, collecting cotton, cutting cane and harvesting tobacco. The ideology of femininity, popularized through magazines and novels dedicated to the female audience, separated white women from the productive world, instituting even more force a supposed female inferiority. On the other hand, among the slaves these roles could not be incorporated. “Women were not too ‘feminine’ for work in coal mines and iron foundries, nor for cutting firewood and digging ditches” (DAVIS, 1981, p. 22). Housework, a symbol of female inferiority, in addition to not being exclusively female for the slave community, was the only significant one. Furthermore, the exaltation of motherhood, which confined most women to the domestic environment, did not apply to slaves. From the owners’ point of view, slave women were not mothers, but reproducers (DAVIS, 1981).

The productivity required of enslaved men and women was the same, however, with regard to penalties, slaves had the aggravating factor of various forms of sexual punishment. While men were flogged and mutilated, women were also raped. So,

A postura dos senhores em relação às escravas era regida pela conveniência: quando era lucrativo explorá-las como se fossem homens, eram vistas como desprovidas de gênero; mas, quando podiam ser exploradas, punidas e reprimidas de modos cabíveis apenas às mulheres, elas eram reduzidas exclusivamente à sua condição de fêmeas (DAVIS, 1981, p. 19).

Rape was a way of dominating and repressing female slaves, while demoralizing their companions. The function of rape could also be observed during the Vietnam War, when it became “socially acceptable”: the US military command encouraged soldiers to rape Vietnamese women – highlighted for their contributions to the liberation struggle of their people. – because, in the eyes of these men, war was a male issue. Similarly, if slaves became aware of their strength and resistance, sexual abuse would remind them of their condition as females. Even with the advent of emancipation, the various abuses that women routinely suffered in their work environments did not stop. As an aggravating factor, a myth was created referring to the “immorality” of black women, who came to be seen as promiscuous and animalized figures, a fact that further intensified the rivalry between women (DAVIS, 1981).

The construction of femininity was an important aspect that influenced the subjectivation of women. Europe, in the 18th and 19th centuries, built philosophical, medical and scientific discourses about the nature of women, with the purpose of adapting them to a “[…] set of attributes, functions, predicates and restrictions called femininity” (KEHL, 1998, p. 40, author’s emphasis). For most intellectuals of that time, femininity would be typical of this part of the population due to the particularities of their bodies, destining them to the family, domestic space and motherhood. Femininity, therefore, is produced from the masculine position, being a discursive construction that society wants women to correspond to. To perform femininity, some virtues were required, such as “[…] modesty, docility, a passive receptivity in relation to the desires and needs of men and, later, of children” (KEHL, 1998, p. 40) .

This movement dedicated to the production of an ideal to which women should conform indicates that there was a social disorder, a destabilization – among several that occurred in the course of history – of women’s relationship with femininity.

A enorme produção teórica entre os séculos XVIII e XIX destinada a fixar a mulher no lugar ao qual a sua verdadeira natureza a destinou nos faz desconfiar da “naturalidade” desse lugar. Recordemos a advertência freudiana de que onde não há desejo não é necessário que exista um tabu; ou, com Lacan, que o discurso insiste justamente onde não se encontra a verdade do sujeito (KEHL, 1998, p. 49, author’s emphasis).

Kehl (1998) states that this instability began in the 17th century and became dangerous at the end of the 18th century, when the revolutionaries of the French Revolution began to attribute public and political meaning even to issues of life that today are of private interest. In this context, motivated by Enlightenment ideas, white women took to the streets, becoming protagonists in public demonstrations. Later, in England and Germany, women began to contest submission to marriage and motherhood. Few men, even among intellectuals and revolutionaries, accepted the imminent abandonment of domestic life by women. According to Kehl (1998), Enlightenment thinking, which values ​​aspects such as the supremacy of reason and the emancipation of the individual, indirectly influenced the first feminist ideas in Europe.

According to Pedro and Guedes (2010), the feminist movement, which began in the 1960s in the United States and Europe, played an important role in the struggle of women in search of freedom – not only seeking economic and political equality with men, but aiming to mark that women are autonomous, free subjects. A great symbol of the movement was when women from the Women’s Liberation Movement planned to set fire to objects that represent the dictatorship of beauty, such as bras and corsets, bringing to the fore the discussion about gender issues. The authors state that, in Brazilian society, the feminist movement had its peculiarities, considering the country’s patriarchy and conservatism. In the 1960s, women’s organizations began to gather in Brazilian territory, in search of space in the labor market and equality. With the 1964 coup, the women’s movement began to be repressed by the dictatorship, but with great resistance.

The Maria da Penha Law, enacted in 2006, was a major achievement of the Brazilian feminist movement, which was able to clarify the various forms of violence that women could be victims of, given that a 2001 survey by the Perseu Abramo Foundation found that 43% of women have already suffered some violence (PEDRO; GUEDES, 2010). According to the website of the Public Ministry of São Paulo, Maria da Penha, who inspired the name of the law, was a Brazilian victim of two assassination attempts by her husband, leaving her a paraplegic. Although society as a whole has undergone important transformations regarding the condition of women, there are still remnants of a violent culture, which naturalizes the power of men over women, reinforced by institutions that anchor society – among them the family, the myths and even part of the science.


According to the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (1994), violence against women is “any action or conduct, based on gender, that causes death, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, whether both public and private”. In addition to this definition, the Maria da Penha Law (Law 11.340/2006), in its Art 7, defines:

I – a violência física, entendida como qualquer conduta que ofenda sua integridade ou saúde corporal;

II – a violência psicológica, entendida como qualquer conduta que lhe cause dano emocional e diminuição da autoestima ou que lhe prejudique e perturbe o pleno desenvolvimento ou que vise degradar ou controlar suas ações, comportamentos, crenças e decisões, mediante ameaça, constrangimento, humilhação, manipulação, isolamento, vigilância constante, perseguição contumaz, insulto, chantagem, violação de sua intimidade, ridicularização, exploração e limitação do direito de ir e vir ou qualquer outro meio que lhe cause prejuízo à saúde psicológica e à autodeterminação;

III – a violência sexual, entendida como qualquer conduta que a constranja a presenciar, a manter ou a participar de relação sexual não desejada, mediante intimidação, ameaça, coação ou uso da força; que a induza a comercializar ou a utilizar, de qualquer modo, a sua sexualidade, que a impeça de usar qualquer método contraceptivo ou que a force ao matrimônio, à gravidez, ao aborto ou à prostituição, mediante coação, chantagem, suborno ou manipulação; ou que limite ou anule o exercício de seus direitos sexuais e reprodutivos;

IV – a violência patrimonial, entendida como qualquer conduta que configure retenção, subtração, destruição parcial ou total de seus objetos, instrumentos de trabalho, documentos pessoais, bens, valores e direitos ou recursos econômicos, incluindo os destinados a satisfazer suas necessidades;

V – a violência moral, entendida como qualquer conduta que configure calúnia, difamação ou injúria.

Violence against women is still a sad reality in Brazil and in the world. A clear example is the need for the Femicide Law (law nº 13,104, of March 9, 2015), which concerns the murder of a woman because she is a woman, that is, motivated by contempt or hatred of women. According to a report by the United Nations (2016), Brazil has the fifth highest rate of femicides in the world. Having said that, it is necessary to consider that, before the femicide took place, the woman was possibly a victim of other forms of violence. The same scenario is repeated around the globe: a report by Portal G1 (2021) points out that, according to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women suffers physical or sexual violence throughout their lives, with the intimate partner being the main one. aggressor.

Patriarchal relationships are at the heart of men’s violence against women. Such relationships unfold from the power exercised by the dominant party over the dominated party, through threats, whether concrete or not, that punishments can be used if this hierarchy is challenged. With the advent of capitalism, men lost part of the power they exercised over women and their place to impose rules and decide the fate of the family. Thus, male violence in the domestic sphere has become even more “necessary” in order to maintain the illusion that male privilege remains intact and to guarantee the hierarchy of sexual roles (HOOKS, 1984). Patriarchy, like other social events, proves to be highly adaptable. “If, in ancient Rome, the patriarch held the power of life and death over his wife and children, today such power no longer exists, on the de jure plane. However, men continue to kill their partners” (SAFFIOTI, 2004, p. 48, author’s emphasis).

According to Bourdieu (1998), subjects incorporate the structures of the masculine order, making them unconscious perceptions. The division between the sexes, in this context, seems to be assimilated as so natural as to be inevitable, being present throughout the social world. The strength of the masculine order is evident in this fact, denying justifications for its primordiality: “[…] the androcentric view imposes itself as neutral and does not need to fit into discourses that aim to legitimize it” (BOURDIEU, 1998, p. 18). In other words, the androcentric view of the world is naturalized to the point of dispensing with reasons to be, and the social order itself fulfills the function of ratifying male domination where it built its foundations, from the division of labor, to the spaces reserved for men. the place of assembly or market, in opposition to the woman, restricted to the house. The biological reality of the body, which differs between men and women, can be interpreted as the natural justification for differences between genders and the division of labor (BOURDIEU, 1998).

In line with the above, subjects introject the instruments socially created to control and regulate social life, and these attitudes will be transmitted between generations without questioning (CHAUÍ, 1997 apud MOTERANI; CARVALHO, 2016). The transmissions between generations of a world as it is given leads to the crystallization of ideas. Thus, beliefs about the world are disseminated in the social imaginary that are capable of making even sexual and physical violence legitimate. Bourdieu (1998) calls the “doxa paradox” the fact that the world order is respected without transgressions, subversions and “follies”:

[…] a ordem estabelecida, com suas relações de dominação, seus direitos e suas imunidades, seus privilégios e suas injustiças, salvo uns poucos acidentes históricos, perpetue-se apesar de tudo tão facilmente, e que condições de existência das mais intoleráveis possam permanentemente ser vistas como aceitáveis ou até mesmo como naturais (BOURDIEU, 1998, p. 11).

Male domination, in the context described, exemplifies this submission, resulting from the so-called “symbolic violence, soft violence, insensitive, invisible to its own victims, which is exercised essentially through the purely symbolic means of communication and knowledge […]” (BOURDIEU, 1998, p. 12) or, still, of ignorance and feeling. The logic for which domination operates is exercised in favor of some symbolic principle that is recognized by the dominator and the dominated, but which holds the subjects in a relationship of deep familiarity with these traditions, confusing the causes and effects and inducing to perceive a construction social as natural (BOURDIEU, 1998).

In order to understand how male domination is validated and transmitted in an invisible and unquestionable way among human beings through culture – even approving the most diverse forms of violence – it is essential to rescue the constitution of the subject from the encounter with the other. According to Freud (1930), in order to live in society, the subject needs to submit to civilization, renouncing his impulses and repressing his unconscious desires, in order to protect himself from the threat of nature and regulate the bond between all. One of the useful traits for classifying civilization is the way in which relationships between humans are delimited, making the majority of the group more influential than a single subject. Due to cultural evolution, individual freedom was curtailed in a kind of exchange: instinctual satisfaction is renounced, aiming for a safer life, with others. “Through taboos, laws and customs, more restrictions are produced, which affect both men and women” (FREUD, 1930, p. 67). Such restrictions will result in neuroses, as a way that the psyche finds to deal with this clash established in the subject.

As explained above, civilization uses certain mechanisms to contain unconscious desires – mainly the aggressiveness inherent in humans – in order to prevent their disintegration and ensure that human beings can live with each other. At the individual level, initially the ego renounces the satisfaction of its drives due to the fear of external authority, which would amount to the loss of love and, consequently, the loss of protection. Later, when internal authority is established, renunciation is not enough, since desire cannot be hidden from the Super-ego. Thus, fear of external authority is exchanged for guilt. Civilization also forms a super-self, based on the records of previous personalities and instituting ideal requirements. At this point, cultural and individual evolution are intertwined, in which demands of the cultural Super-I are shown to coincide with those coming from the individual (FREUD, 1930).

Thus, at birth, the subject needs to adapt to a context that is already given, dividing himself between his drive and the culture, with repression being the way found to mediate this conflict and guarantee life in society. Each subject will establish a social bond in front of characters who occupy predetermined spaces. For this social bond to exist, the bond of an agent, who dominates, and another, dominated, in an asymmetrical relationship is necessary. These predetermined places are transgenerational and consider that the subjects do not renounce the other, they are places of culture, therefore, symbolic, sustained in the discourses (QUINET, 1951).

Considering that the subject adapts to a position that exists even before his birth, the concept of the Other as a place, a discourse, which postulates for the subject aspects that concern his formation and history, proves to be fundamental.

O grande Outro como discurso do inconsciente é um lugar. É o alhures onde o sujeito é mais pensado do que efetivamente pensa. É a alteridade do eu consciente. É o palco que, ao dormir, se ilumina para receber os personagens e as cenas dos sonhos. É de onde vêm as determinações simbólicas da história do sujeito. É o arquivo dos ditos de todos os outros que foram importantes para o sujeito em sua infância e até mesmo antes de ter nascido (QUINET, 1951, p. 21).

The self and the other are inseparable, they are confused, they resemble each other, “[…] the self is – above all – other” (QUINET, 1951, p. 8). The self is constituted through the image of the other, in a process that Freud called primary narcissism, corresponding to Lacan’s mirror stage (QUINET, 1951). Primary narcissism is an intermediate stage, in the transition from autoeroticism to object love, in which the Self will be developed. It concerns the moment when the child turns his libido towards himself, before he can direct it towards external objects. The parents’ relationship with the child originates this state, in which they revive their own narcissism, interrupting their cultural acquisitions that were once imposed, attributing qualities to the child and hiding all the defects associated with it, that is, elevating it to the condition of His Majesty the Baby (FREUD, 1914). Therefore, for a subject to be constituted, the narcissistic investment is necessary, which will guarantee the essential connections that will give rise to the Self, a process called “transvading narcissism” (BLEICHMAR, 1994).

Subsequently, the subject’s state of narcissism will be gradually abandoned as a result of the identification with the parental figures, characterizing an I that starts to submit to the demands coming from the social. An instance arises that the I used to compare itself, an ideal linked to the external world, which the human will seek to adapt to, fostering repression (FREUD, 1914). It is “[…] a symbolic instance (since it is constituted by the signifiers of the Other), however, it redoubles the subject’s narcissistic demands” (QUINET, 1951, p. 26), called the Ideal of the Self. This instance is the result of the union of narcissism – ego idealization – and identifications with parents, their substitutes and other ideals arising from the collective (LAPLANCHE; PONTALIS, 1982). The genesis of the Ideal of the Self is impelled by the criticism of parents, later by educators, instructors and countless other people who enter the life of the subject – the neighbor (FREUD, 1914).

According to Moterani and Carvalho (2016), it is possible to understand the repetitions of ideas and patterns that perpetuate male domination through the aforementioned concept of the Ideal of the Self. This being a mental structure that arises from the introjection of parental models and their substitutes, it is a reference for the Self to evaluate its achievements, therefore a critical instance that serves for self-observation. The subject who does not conform to the expectations of others – which become the subject’s own expectation – will feel failure. Thus, if an I Ideal is disseminated with a view of contempt for women, it is expected that social agents will identify with this perception, including women themselves. Thus, for those who try to break with the violent model, the feeling of guilt remains, given that it is an attempt to break with what is socially expected and, therefore, internally expected. The feeling of guilt, at this point, derives from a tension between the Self and the Self-Ideal: “[…] the frustration caused by the distance between what we were not […] and the image created by the ego ideal of what we think we are. we should have been (given the social model)” (MOTERANI; CARVALHO, 2016, p. 175).

According to Hooks (1984), violence against women can characterize a “cycle of violence”, in which men who practice it feel that they can subject women to the violence they experience in the external environment, without suffering retaliation. As masculine ideals are centered on the maxim that expressing pain reveals symbolic castration, contrary to masculinity, Hooks (1984) believes that causing pain becomes an alternative. Thus, it appears that abuse is not restricted to the domestic sphere, but extends to other forms of oppression that reveal a culture that allows “superiors” to control “inferiors”, a relationship between dominant and dominated. Violence happens through the naturalization of these places, in line with the psychoanalytic perception that culture establishes a social bond between us and the other, which is already established and with which the subjects will seek to identify. At the same time, men’s violence against women is justified in these places of asymmetry:

[…] o patriarcado é entendido como pertencente ao extrato simbólico e, em linguagem psicanalítica, como a estrutura inconsciente que conduz os afetos e distribui valores entre os personagens do cenário social. A posição do patriarca é, portanto, uma posição no campo simbólico, que se transpõe em significantes variáveis nas distintas interações sociais (ALMEIDA, 2004).

The worldview from a patriarchal perspective begins in the family environment, where violence is often naturalized. Sexist oppression, in addition to being the basis for other forms of oppression, is what most people experience, oppressing or being oppressed. The family has a leading role, in which its role – of welcoming, nurturing and promoting bonds – is distorted, coming to exist as a space in which subjects will be educated to naturalize forms of oppression. While racism and class oppression are usually experienced outside the home, most subjects experience sexist oppression within the family (HOOKS, 1984). In light of the above, when human beings come into the world, their place is predetermined, including the one that differentiates men and women and guarantees their asymmetry. The family, as the first group that will introduce the subject to culture, will respond to the demand to frame the subject in the space assigned to it.

According to Hooks (1984), the culture that legitimizes the domination of men over women reinforces its discourse also in audiovisual productions. With regard to television, as well as other media, there is often a kind of glamorization of violence against women, constituting a climate of eroticism aimed at entertainment. This means that society somehow rewards male violence, making it less impactful and wrong. The same scenario can be seen in several popular novels, which suggest that male violence should be exercised to force women into subordination, to correct their “recklessness”, transforming them into submissive beings and “[…] encouraged both to accept the idea that violence enhances and spices up sexual pleasure as well as believing that violence is a sign of masculinity and a gesture of care […]” (HOOKS, 1984, p. 184). In this way, sexist behaviors are reinforced, as well as the romanticization of male violence.

Language, which is prior to each subject, inscribes individuals in the symbolic order, and “[…] ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are the first signifiers that designate the subject as soon as he arrives in the world, before any possibility of choice. , before the infans becomes a subject of desire” (KEHL, 1998, p. 11, author’s emphasis). From a small anatomical difference belonging to the Real and verified at birth – or even before it – different social roles are constituted for men and women, differentiating them in terms of gender (KEHL, 1998). For Saffioti (2004), gender is a hierarchical and unequal system within the patriarchal order, which admits the domination of women by men. Furthermore, different cultures attribute their own particularities to “being a man” and “being a woman”, proving that it is not an innate process, as was suggested in the past, but refers to social relationships (SAFFIOTI, 1998 apud PEDRO; GUEDES, 2010). Based on this reasoning, Beauvoir stated that:

Ninguém nasce mulher: torna-se mulher. Nenhum destino biológico, psíquico, econômico define a forma que a fêmea humana assume no seio da sociedade; é o conjunto da civilização que elabora esse produto intermediário entre o macho e o castrado, que qualificam de feminino. Somente a mediação de outrem pode constituir um indivíduo como um Outro (BEAUVOIR, 1949, v. 2, p. 11, author’s emphasis).

In other words, the idea of the places that men and women occupy is ready when the child is born and will define how they will be socialized, and male or female identities can vary from the rigidity of each society. Therefore, woman or man refers to the anatomy of the body, which, together with attributes of the culture, form the gender. Gender can be articulated to the position of the subject in the discourse, as subject or object – corresponding to the Freudian differentiation “active”, for the so-called masculine position, and “passive”, for the feminine – as well as in relation to the desire for a similar person. . Femininity and masculinity are inserted in the imaginary plane, formed by the identification of subjects to the gender ideals of their culture and relative to the strategies of each individual in relation to the phallus/lack/desire trinomial (KEHL, 1998).

Acreditar-se portador de um falo, por exemplo, e desejar com isto satisfazer e completar aquela cujo corpo parece garantir que a castração está só do lado das mulheres, é uma composição típica da “masculinidade”. Já a feminilidade, costuma organizar-se em torno do imaginário da falta; na feminilidade, a mulher não tem o falo; ela se oferece para ser tomada como falo a partir de um lugar de falta absoluta, do qual só o desejo de um homem pode resgatá-la (KEHL, 1998, p. 12).

However, the impositions of culture are not necessarily a destiny. From the Oedipal crossing, each subject identifies with gender patterns and ideas, however, this same crossing produces differences between individuals, singular responses that move them to the position of desiring subjects (KEHL, 1998). Furthermore, thanks to social changes and, in large part, the feminist movement, many women do not experience the same oppression from men in all relationships. However, it is necessary to emphasize that certain institutions create the scenario that legitimizes inequalities between men and women, as in the case of laws, myths, customs, religions, art, family and even areas of knowledge, producing a cultural tangle that links the constitution of individuals.

Violence against women, therefore, has historical origins that accompany humanity, being a heritage transmitted between generations through manifest and latent discourses. When constituting, the subject comes into check with all this collection that is placed and seeks to fit in the place of the culture that is assigned to him, guaranteeing the love of the other. The places that men and women occupy are already demarcated when the child is born, in the social environment, which will exert its force on the subject. Initially, the family has a fundamental role in the assembly of this puzzle, but soon the function of adapting the subject to the culture will also be of the educators, peers and even the media. When the subject somehow resists this fate, it is not only an external authority that will exert the coercion, but also an internalized authority, the superego.


The word “pornography” comes from the Greek words “pornos”, which means prostitute, and “graphô”, referring to writing, recording. “Pornos” is from the same family as “porneuô” (being a prostitute, living off prostitution) and “pernêmi” (selling, exporting), due to the fact that prostitutes were originally slaves (BARROS; BARRETO, 2018). Little is known about the origins of pornography, however it is believed that it is an ancient artistic expression like the others, even represented in paintings from the Paleolithic era. Adonis von Zschernitz, for example, is about 7200 years old, being considered the oldest pornographic statue (CECCARELLI, 2011). According to the Michaelis Dictionary (2021), pornography means:

      1. Qualquer coisa (arte, literatura etc.) que vise explorar o sexo de maneira vulgar e obscena […]
      2. Tratado acerca da prostituição.
      3. Coleção de pinturas ou gravuras obscenas.
      4. Caráter obsceno de uma publicação.
      5. Atentado ou violação ao pudor, ao recato; devassidão, imoralidade, libertinagem.

However, there is no consensus on the meaning of this word. For the Encyclopedia Britannica (apud CECCARELLI, 2011), it is the “representation of erotic behavior in books, paintings, statues, films, etc., which is intended to provoke sexual arousal”. Some understand that “[…] can be defined as the personification of sexual behavior through images, whether animated or static” (RIBEIRO, 2016, p. 18). Other authors add characteristics of gender hierarchies to this concept. When writing legal texts that protected the civil rights of women in situations of violence due to pornography, the authors Dworkin and Mackinnon, referring to the large pornographic industry, attributed the following meaning to it: “the explicit graphic sexual subordination of women through images and/or words” (DWORKIN; MACKINNON, 1989 apud RIBEIRO p. 22, author’s emphasis). Among other conceptions concerning a term that is difficult to define, Ribeiro described pornography as follows:

[…] exibição gráfica de materiais sexuais, em que haja a subordinação sexual feminina e degradação das mulheres, deflagrada através de comportamentos agressivos, abusivos e degradantes, num contexto de dominação masculina, de maneira que se pareça endossar, encorajar ou normalizar a violência de gênero. Outros elementos, à exemplo da exibição das mulheres como objetos sexuais desumanizados, podem ser acrescidos, de forma a reforçar e intensificar o conteúdo da pornografia (RIBEIRO, 2016, p. 28).

Thus, feminists who took a stand against pornography did so because they understood that the videos are produced in a scenario of exploitation and commercialization of the bodies of the actors involved, portraying sexual relations between men and women in a violent way and exposing women in general in a violent way. pejorative. Therefore, this position cannot be understood as similar to the conservative and moralist ideology against sexual freedom, but rather as a criticism of violence (GRATON, 2019). “For the anti-pornography feminist movement, in general, it’s okay to talk, act, or have sex; the problem lies when the exhibition of pornographic images generates gender violence and perpetuates the oppression of minority groups” (RIBEIRO, 2016, p. 23).

Pornography has become intrinsic to Western societies and influences their cultural aspects (D’ABREU, 2013). For Dines (2010), pornography is so linked to culture that it is becoming synonymous with sex and, in this sense, it is “kidnapping” the sexuality of the subjects, dictating the way sexual relations should be, from a contact dehumanized, generic and performative, not based on personal fantasies. According to an interview with lawyer Izabella Forzani, provided to Revista Carta Capital (2021), despite nudity and human sexuality being portrayed for centuries, from 1970 onwards, with the film “Deep Throat”, there was a great increase in film production. of the genre. For some decades, pornography was under the control of large producers, however, with the advent of the internet there was an important change in the way of producing and consuming pornographic content. If before pornography used to be consumed on VHS, DVD and magazines such as Playboy, today the internet and smartphones have made it possible to popularize specific websites for this material, ensuring ease of access and anonymity (GRATON, 2019).

To understand the dimension of the influence of the Pornographic Industry today, it must be considered that it is one of the most profitable in the world, being multibillion. According to The Telegraph, in an article published in the year 2017, it is believed that online pornography is a sector whose annual turnover is about 15 billion dollars a year. As a curiosity, a Quartz article (2018) reported that Netflix has an annual revenue of 11.7 billion dollars and Hollywood, 11.1 billion. According to the same article published by The Telegraph, Pornhub – one of the most relevant sites in the pornographic genre – revealed that its videos were watched 92 billion times, by 64 million daily visitors, in 2016. Pornhub, in 2018 the site received more than 33.5 billion hits. However, there were significant variations in 2020. According to the platform, in the first half of March the number of people who watched the videos rose 13% compared to February. In addition, the daily average of hits in Brazil is increasing and, until the beginning of July 2020, the use of pornography sites alone had already increased by almost 40%, according to a report by Estado de Minas (2020).

According to Revista Carta Capital (2021), in 2019 Pornhub registered more than 6.8 million new videos. Pornhub and XVídeos, platforms that profit from this business, receive about three billion monthly visitors, being among the 10 most accessed sites in the world, as published by the same magazine, citing data from the Visual Capitalist website. Behind only the United States, Brazil is the second largest producer of pornography videos in the world (ROPELATO, 2013 apud D’ABREU, 2013) and, according to the Portal G1(2018), referring to a study released by the channel Sexy Hot, 22 million people assume they consume pornography in Brazil – 58% of consumers are young people up to 35 years old and 76% are men. Based on the data exposed, which prove the growing reach and visibility of the pornographic industry, several issues related to the impact of pornography are being discussed around the world, such as possible interference in sex education, addiction to pornographic content and violence against women. women and other minority groups.

The strength that the pornographic industry has reached and the proportions it has taken in Western culture can be explained by rescuing the psychoanalytic concept of “scopic drive”. According to Freud (1915), the drive has its source in an excitation coming from within the body itself, which causes a state of tension, of displeasure. The drive’s goal is satisfaction (which can be active or passive) and the object is the one through which the drive can achieve such satisfaction. During narcissism, the drives have autoerotic satisfaction and, therefore, the pleasure of looking takes place in the body itself. From it, the active drive to look develops. With the pleasure of looking “[…] the child develops an investigative activity based on practical life situations, and then goes on to elaborate a series of sexual theories to explain, for example, how babies are made” (FREUD, 1905 apud BARROS; BARRETO, 2018, p. 309). The scopic drive, defined by the pleasure of seeing, could explain sexual curiosity, one of the factors that may have contributed to the pornographic industry taking its current proportions (BARROS; BARRETO, 2018).

Aiming to trace the reason for the emergence and such repercussion of the pornographic industry, Wolf (1991) clarifies that patriarchal religions controlled and destroyed female sexuality, with Egypt’s clitoridectomy, Sudan’s vaginal shield and rod and Germany’s chastity belt being examples. that illustrate this process. Thus, as the second wave of feminism and the sexual revolution advanced in the early 1970s – in which women conquered a series of rights, such as access to higher education, the business world, in addition to breaking old concepts about their social and provide prominence to female sexuality – there was a reaction that assumed the role of social coercion on women, for example, through the images of ideal female beauty to which they were exposed as never before.

In this scenario, Wolf (1991) states that pornography has invaded the cultural context in large proportions, as a counter-attack to the freedom that women were achieving, including sexual freedom. If, with the arrival of contraceptive methods, legalized abortion in countries with great influence and the dismantling of the double standard of sexual behavior, women could count on a freer sexuality, this did not take long to be tempered by the constraints of “[…] beauty pornography and sadomasochism, which emerged to return guilt, shame and pain to the female experience of sex” (WOLF, 1991, p. 194). The emergence of Playboy in 1958, as a counterpoint to the contraceptive pill that was sold in the United States in 1960, exemplifies this process.

According to Ribeiro (2016), as the sexual revolution took place, as a counterculture phenomenon, the pornographic industry appropriated these claims and sexuality came to be seen as a consumer product. For the author, the pornographic industry would be a new form of sexual oppression, in which women are exposed as sexual objects for male pleasure, with their bodies for sale, in a scenario that continued to disregard female pleasure. Instead of portraying female desire for women’s satisfaction, “[…] we see simulations with live mannequins, forced into contortions and grimaces, immobilized and in uncomfortable positions under the spotlight, rehearsed scenes that reveal little about female sexuality” (WOLF, 1991, p. 199), that is, at the service of male institutions.

In the cinema of the 1980s, films depicting sexual violence became common, with a “first person” shot, in which the viewer identifies with the murderer or rapist. The fantasies that attracted the eyes of men and women were those that represented the war of the sexes, reproducing the inequalities of power, including in sexual relations. The 1960s female sexual style, described as “joyful, sensual, playful, without violence or shame, without fear of consequences” (WOLF, 1991, p. 197), was rejected by popular culture, redefining tender, intimate sex as boring. Wolf (1991) argues that allowing sex to continue the way it used to be was to give scope for the destruction of institutions that were already shaken by the feminist movement. Thus, two ideas of pornography are inserted in female culture: the light one, which “only” objectifies the woman’s body, and the heavy one, which violates this body.

Pornography seems to have emerged, then, as a kind of maintenance of the status quo, that is, a way of maintaining women’s place of subordination in the midst of a scenario of strong changes. In this context, Kehl (1996) describes a kind of contemporary malaise that impacts both sexes. The place of women in the social and sexual scenario changed, the differences between the sexes were blurred and the new identifications of women became with attributes that, originally, were considered masculine. In the text Civilization and its Discontents, Freud (1930 apud KEHL, 1996) addressed the “narcissism of small differences”, trying to explain the great intolerances that are accentuated when the difference is minimal. For Kehl (1996), referring to the dynamics between men and women, men feel more prejudiced, not only because they put their power in check, but because they challenge masculinity. That is, there is an approximation of women without, in fact, becoming men, who were once called “witches” and burned at the stake. “The wave of images of sexual violence derived its strength from men’s anger and women’s guilt over their access to power” (WOLF, 1991, p. 201).

Thus, violence against women has been constantly portrayed in an erotic way in pornographic content. In a survey carried out analyzing a compilation of 304 scenes of “adult content”, from the most popular lists according to Adult Video News, it was found that 88.2% of the scenes presented physical aggression, mainly beatings, gagging during oral sex. in men, slaps, hair pulling and hangings. In addition, 48.7% of the analyzed films contained verbal aggression. The perpetrators of aggression were men in 70% of the scenes and women were the target of aggression in 94% (BRIDGES et al., 2010 apud D’ABREU, 2013).

A survey carried out in the national territory came across similar results when analyzing films present in the “Most Viewed” section in Brazil, on PornHub, with about 19 million views. The research aimed to verify mainstream pornographic videos, without focusing on any specific category, totaling 20 analyzed videos. It was found that in 95% of the videos there were violent acts: physical (68.4%), sexual (57.9%) and psychological (10.5%) violence. Among the acts of physical violence, there were scenes in which the man beat the woman’s face, vagina or butt, held her aggressively, pulled her hair, squeezed her throat as if he intended to hang her and, finally, put the penis aggressively down the woman’s throat, which caused choking and shortness of breath. In the videos that contained sexual violence, it was found the representation of a sexual act without consent, coercion to sexual practice, masturbation next to a sleeping woman, among other forms of violence. In acts of psychological violence, the representation of coercion to the sexual act through threats was observed (GRATON, 2019).

According to the aforementioned research, it was found that acts of violence against women committed by men are more the rule than the exception in pornographic videos. It is noteworthy that both researchers analyzed mainstream videos, not paying attention to specific genres that, due to the category, propose to portray violence, such as videos of the BDSM genre – acronym that means bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism. The exhibition of bodies for male pleasure is not a privilege of the 21st century, but the internet has provided a vast amount of easily accessible pornographic content and, consequently, violence has become more frequent. Jensen, an industry director, in an interview with Adult Video News, reported that fans are looking for more and more extreme content and, according to him, it is not possible to guess what the future of pornography is, as the brutality and degradation of women intensifies up (JENSEN, 2004 apud GRATON, 2019).

The violation of consent represented in the films is equally relevant to the purpose of understanding the nuances of violence against women in pornography, given that it would portray disregard, a constitutive ethical failure of men. According to Ribeiro (2016), pornography presents some common scripts that convey the idea of ​​male authority and female subalternity. Among these aspects, the “no means yes” (RIBEIRO, 2016, p. 89), in which the women’s denial appears to mean the opposite, building a scenario of eroticization of the violation of consent. In addition, there is often the portrayal of “symbolic resistance”, in which the woman says no, but behaves as if she wants to, reinforcing myths that female resistance to the sexual act can be softened with male advances and, finally, result in in pleasure (D’ABREU, 2010). For Dines (2010), women are represented as always ready to have sex, regardless of what the man wants to do.

Another point regarding female subalternity and male authority, representing inequality between genders, is in the presentation of the characters in the films. According to a study by Cowan et al. (1988 apud D’ABREU, 2010), in which 282 characters from 45 films were analyzed, it was found that in 62% of cases men were professionals or businessmen, while women, in 58% of cases, were assistants. , housewives or secretaries. In addition, women were often infantilized in their costumes, voices, and hairlessness, depicting naive teenagers. For Dines (2010), women are often used in pornography with the aim of satisfying the man, in which the climax of the scene is male ejaculation. Dines’ statement could be corroborated in the study by Cowan et al. (1988 apud D’ABREU, 2010), in which 97% of the scenes with heterosexual relationships focused on the man’s ejaculation on the woman.

In line with the aforementioned study, Graton (2019) was able to collect similar results: 75% of the women in the videos analyzed by the author appeared to be minors, between 15 and 18 years old, and in 65% of the videos it was not possible to verify the man’s age, for the scene was from his point of view. In addition, terms like “novinhas[3]” and “teen” are every year present in the list of the most searched ones on PornHub, citing schools, with women wearing accessories and childish clothes and carrying teddy bears, often opposite a “teacher”. , in stories based on the fact that the woman is inexperienced, among other scenes that portray a fragile and defenseless woman in front of the man (GRATON, 2019).

Marinho (2017) points out that the formation of the discourse of a filmmaker’s work is the result of an inner reality, which brings together discourses, knowledge and experiences. If the work is structured from the artist’s subjectivity, it is possible to indicate the supremacy of gender in this view, the result of a patriarchal cultural heritage, which assigns gender roles related to domination. Ceccarelli (2011), reflecting on the way men and women are usually portrayed in pornography, considers that the virile position of men in opposition to the humiliation of women results from their position in the cultural imaginary. Thus, it is made explicit in artistic expressions, including pornographic films, how society, in general, understands the relationship between men and women.

The great fascination of the human being for the cinema may be due to the search for scopophilic pleasure, as previously explained. The encounter with the image allows a real impression, capable of producing sensations, which can be explained by the possibility of the spectator being in front of a mirror of his internal world. “The psychoanalytic exploration brings, very clearly, the spectator’s unconscious as identification with the cinema, as if the film were a mirror inside the psychic imaginary” (MARINHO, 2017, p. 183), correlated to the primary identification, in which the child distinguishes itself in the reflection of the other. For Marinho (2017), based on the patriarchal system, the role of women is constructed in order to reflect male unconscious desires. The spectator, then, projects himself to the film, identifying himself with the protagonist’s gaze, making the two gazes one. Thus, there is the look of the camera, imbued with the male bias; the gaze of the man responsible for the narrative, formed to seek the figure of the woman as an object for his satisfaction with the gaze and, finally, the gaze of the male spectator, who reproduces the two gazes.

Mulvey (1991 apud MARINHO, 2017) considers that the objectification of women by the male gaze is a reaction to the castration anxiety that she causes, stripping her of her defiant character and attributing her to a submissive function, being an object of fetish and serving solely for male pleasure. Resuming Freud (1930), at the same time that in order to live in society, human beings had to repress some destructive tendencies, for narcissism it is difficult to tolerate the differences that bring men and women closer and closer, and placing women in an inferior role would neutralize the threat produced by it. Thus, an oppressive narrative is created in pornography, based on violence, objectification and inequality. The narrative of the films reflects the subjectivity of the subjects, which was formed in this cultural entanglement.


Violence against women present in pornography is a reflection of subjectivities permeated by violent discourses, which cross history and place women in a subordinate position in the social imaginary. In the pornographic industry, there are numerous reports of violence against both genders, such as complaints of victims of sex trafficking, broadcasting of videos of rape and child abuse – which even led to the exclusion of millions of videos from PornHub, after a report from the New York Times – a high number of suicides due to the problems faced by these subjects, as well as drug addiction, the high rate of infection by sexually transmitted diseases, injuries in the intimate regions, among other experiences faced by actresses and actors, as Revista Carta Capital (2021). The accounts of porn actresses who suffered violence or other traumatic moments in the filming settings and who, therefore, face psychological impacts, show a clear example of the problems involved in the context of the pornographic industry. However, given the objectives of the present study, the possible impacts of this violence on women in general are highlighted.

Ribeiro (2016) considers that the content present in pornography not only reflects reality, but also has the power to change it and, for this reason, pornography could be considered a form of hate speech against women. According to the author, pornography is a discursive practice, that is, a means of expressing opinions and feelings about certain topics, and ends up “[…] to instigate and/or encourage violence, humiliation, harassment, discrimination and, even more, the oppression of one gender by the other” (RIBEIRO, 2016, p. 119).

According to Gomes (2021), hate speech has unconscious motivations and crosses the history of humanity as a destructive manifestation that hinders organization in society. In agreement with what Mulvey (1991 apud MARINHO, 2017) proposes, which states that the objectification of the female body made by men is in the service of eliminating castration anxiety, Gomes (2021) argues that hate speech is within the scope of a paranoid perception and, in the case of hate speech against women, it is formed because they supposedly constitute a “threat to the superiority of men” (GOMES, 2021, p. 474, author’s emphasis). In this context, the strengthening of an industry that propagates a hate speech against women in the period when they sought to break the ties that kept them in a position of inferiority, demonstrates a kind of silencing, oppression, an attempt to keep the gears as were willing, neutralizing the threat posed by women.

In order to understand the possible psychological impacts that hate speech against women promoted by pornography is capable of causing, in addition to the form of silencing and oppression that is inherent to the formation of the pornographic industry, it is necessary to rescue the process of psychic constitution of the subject. The human cub is born completely helpless, depending entirely on the primordial Other for survival. The one who fulfills the maternal function, paying attention to the child’s bodily needs, will interpret, translate and attribute meanings to internal stimuli to which the baby only reacts and is not able to discriminate them (TEPERMAN, 1999). According to Winnicott (1988), mothers prepare themselves for the task of caring for a baby by developing the ability to identify with the baby and becoming part of a good enough environment. The author points out that, initially, it is impossible to describe a child without including the care they receive, given their importance.

In line with Winnicott, Teperman (1999) highlights that mothers, spontaneously and unconsciously, perform the function of libidinizing and carrying out the symbolic incorporation in the baby. Bleichmar (1994) calls “transferring narcissism” the process that transcribes human beings into a system of signs that, in the future, will give rise to the ego – as in the example of a mother who, by attributing a consciousness equal to hers to her child, opens the possibility that he might feel human. The maternal function, therefore, mostly fulfills the function of linking the drive through the care invested by the adult to the child’s body. Although at first it depends entirely on the one who fulfills the maternal function, the baby will respond in a unique way to the care provided by the caregiver, hooking the parents’ desire and, thus, opening the instinctual circuit, marking the baby’s path that goes from the register from necessity to the field of desire (TEPERMAN, 1999). Thus, the other is essential for the constitution of a subject, leaving marks on the psyche that relate to care, protection, and that the child will be able to identify himself, taking his body and his intimacy as valuable and worthy. to be cared for and preserved.

Starting from the psychoanalytic assumption that the human being is constituted from the other’s gaze, hate speech expresses a view full of negativity, constituting violent narratives that:

[…] são suficientes para criar condições de uma experiência traumática do sujeito-alvo, levando a autopercepções de inferioridade, impotência, inadequação e vulnerabilidade. Isso se potencializa pelo fato de que aquilo que é odiado é algo constitutivo do sujeito, sendo imutável e irremovível (nacionalidade, sexualidade, raça e outros) (GOMES, 2021, p. 476).

Referring to hate speech, Gomes (2021) asks:

Como dimensionar o sofrimento causado por um discurso que diz que o sujeito não é bem-vindo, que é diferente, que é inferior? Ou por leis e regras sociais que decretam que alguém deve ter menos direitos, ou até ser morto, por ser quem é? (GOMES, p. 476, author’s emphasis).

Thus, an important destructive aspect of the hate speech against women present in mainstream pornography is detected – manifested mainly through violence – as it places a body that should constitutively be a place of intimacy, of care, in a position that legitimizes that he can be violated, violated, humiliated and that, intrinsically, due to his anatomy, he has less value, serving only and exclusively for male satisfaction.

Gomes (2021) also highlights the traumatic potential of hate speech in subjects who are victimized. Among his notes, he exposes that the traumatic can be understood as something installed as foreign to the subject, foreign, causing anguish; in addition, he argues that another significant issue regarding trauma concerns the environment that promotes the denial or non-recognition of the traumatic character of what is experienced by the subject, that is, when the legitimacy of the experience is questioned. The author points out that denial, associated with the subject’s inability to name the conflict experienced, results in psychic suffering due to an instinctual excess that does not find a symbolic outlet.

Considering that violence against women is usually naturalized in society, given that it bases its bases on patriarchal relationships, the suffering caused by such violence is relativized by pornography. As previously explained, mainstream pornography proposes to portray violence against women as a contributing element to sexual arousal, and not as something reprehensible, as would happen with the manifestation of violence by one group by another in any other form of productions. audiovisuals or speeches. Thus, in addition to pornography constituting a hate speech in itself, it becomes possible to associate it with the impact of the delegitimization of the experience of violence that many women are subjected to.

Furthermore, Ribeiro (2016) highlights the maintenance of certain gender stereotypes perpetuated by pornography, including standardizing the way subjects should experience their own sexuality. For the author, this fact becomes an aggravating factor, considering that increasingly younger people use pornography as a means of sex education and, therefore, can be affected and influenced by their narratives. Pornography is no longer restricted to a select group of men with the advent of the internet, becoming increasingly part of Western culture, being consumed even among the youngest. According to an article in El País (2019), the beginning of consumption of adult content, among boys, is between 9 and 10 years of age. Taking this data into account, it should be noted that, although the instinct for sexual practice is something inherent to human beings, a large part of sexual behavior is learned, including through films that show an increasingly violent sexual relationship. Pornography in this context:

[…] dita comportamentos sexuais, demonstra como as mulheres e como os homens devem se relacionar em um contexto sexual e também não sexual, externaliza posições sexuais e formas de agir durante a relação sexual. O discurso da pornografia é sempre o mesmo – dominação masculina, inferioridade feminina – e a sexualidade externalizada pela pornografia também (RIBEIRO, 2016, p. 87).

Mainstream pornography, as a discourse that often portrays sexual intercourse between men and women in a violent way, depicting women in a pejorative way and contributing to the maintenance of harmful gender stereotypes, proves to be a dangerous form of sex education among young people, who access adult content at an earlier age. Associated with this fact, referring to studies carried out with adults, Wolf (1991) states that research has shown that the consumption of pornography makes men less likely to believe in rape victims and that they begin to trivialize the severity of violence suffered by women more. , data that will directly impact the reality of this part of the population. However, the author goes further and questions whether the same would happen to women. From what she indicates, there are indications that point out that this may occur:

Wendy Stock descobriu que a exposição a imagens de estupro aumentava o interesse sexual feminino pelo estupro e aumentava suas fantasias de estupro (muito embora não convencesse as mulheres de que elas gostassem de força no sexo). Carol Krafka concluiu que as participantes da pesquisa “sentiam menor indignação com a violência [contra as mulheres] quanto mais viam, e que classificavam o material como menos violento” quanto mais ele lhes era exibido (WOLF, 1991, p. 207).

If before pornography was restricted to an almost exclusively male experience, from the 1970s onwards it expanded, following feminist manifestations, as well as images of “ideal” female bodies. In this way, women were exposed as never before to the perfection with which they should compare themselves, bringing the idea that it would be necessary to have a certain body or face to experience female sexual pleasure (WOLF, 1991), making it, again, more difficult to achieve. In this way, comparison becomes a reason for potential suffering between men and women: the comparison with ideal beauty, with an unrealistic sexual performance and with erroneous expectations about sex, making this a fertile ground for frustrating and performative experiences, in that it is not possible to experience a relationship arising from spontaneity.

The signifier “woman” is often found in the discourse associated with a series of elements that concern a place of submission in relation to man. According to Quinet (1951), at birth the subject needs to adapt to a context that is set. In this scenario, the family is the first contact with the social that the human being experiences, responsible for passing on several symbolic meanings that will frame the subject in the culture. Thus, neuroses are produced, considering that the subject needs to adapt to his and others’ expectations and, for that, he renounces part of his desires, aiming for the possibility of living in society. Bleichmar (1994), referring to the foundation of the unconscious, considers that it is a product of culture, formed from the relationship with the similar.

Therefore, in opposition to essentialist knowledge, which aimed to naturalize the position of women in society, psychoanalysis understands that there is a subjective constitution arising from the encounter with the other, as occurs with femininity. According to Kehl (1998), femininity was a production, from the masculine position, which intensified in the 18th and 19th centuries, but which was so significant that it remains present in the subjectivity of contemporary women, valuing characteristics such as passivity, shyness, seduction, subjection and subordination to male desire (VIEIRA; MOREIRA, 2020). It is in this context that Freud detects hysteria as a female malaise of the 19th century, arising from a scenario of extreme repression, in which hysterical manifestation was the only means of expression in the center of a culture surrounded by such rigid standards of femininity. One of the most important figures for the constitution of this form of femininity was Rousseau (KEHL, 1998). The author, referring to the position that men and women should occupy, says:

Um deve ser ativo e forte, o outro passivo e fraco: é necessário que um queira e possa, basta que o outro resista pouco. Estabelecido este princípio, segue-se que a mulher é feita especialmente para agradar ao homem. Se o homem deve agradar-lhe por sua vez, é necessidade menos direta: seu mérito está na sua força; agrada, já pela simples razão de ser forte (ROUSSEAU, 1762 apud VIEIRA; MOREIRA, 2020).

It is in culture that the subjects find ideals of femininity that will interact with their subjective constitution, the oedipal crossing being essential for the identification of the ideals associated with each gender, which, in an imaginary way, guarantee the belonging of the subjects to the subgroup of women. or men (KEHL, 1998). The discourse of femininity, which continues to serve as an identifying reference for women today, reinforces its bases in pornography, insofar as the productions expose a submissive, passive, fragile, docile, infantilized woman, subjected to masculine desires, being the object of fetish and serving exclusively for the pleasure of the other.

Although the large pornographic industry emerged appropriating aspects of the sexual revolution, it is clear that it continues to reproduce stereotypes, prejudices and violence that have imprisoned women for centuries. With regard to femininity, Freud found, since 1908, its impacts on the suffering experienced by women due to the restrictions imposed by it, which demand an exacerbated repression of the sexual drive. Freud (1908 apud VIEIRA; MOREIRA, 2020) exposed the existence of a double sexual morality that, while granting greater sexual freedom to men, oppressed women to maintain a sexual conduct consistent with the morals of the time, which caused them to succumb to serious neuroses. Therefore, if femininity appeared showing a woman submissive to her husband, home and motherhood, pornography comes to ratify this ideology, insofar as it shows a submissive and passive woman, also in sex, without being able to experience her sexuality in a different way. freer and more egalitarian way.

Women, while breaking with the sentence of being submissive and “inferior”, placing themselves more and more similar to men, and leading a revolution that would allow greater sexual freedom, saw the emergence of a series of mechanisms that operated in order to keep women them in their former position, among them the pornographic industry. The pornographic industry feeds on the guilt of women for not meeting the expectations imposed by the culture, as well as the threat that their mobility represents to men, creating scripts that seem to “punish” them for their audacity in breaking with the current oppression. Thus, the narrative of male domination continues to be fed back, as the subjects receive perceptions that reduce women to places of submission and, later, will disseminate them, including through pornography, which end up directly impacting women. According to Saffioti (2004), patriarchy is adaptable, and continues to update its forms of domination.


The history of women is crossed by violence. Several social events sought to subject them to control, such as through the witch hunt, with the transformation of their sexuality and reproductive capacity into products of exchange and through the function of rape, which served to dominate and repress women in different contexts. Patriarchal relationships constitute the core of men’s violence against women and occur from the power exercised by the dominant party over the dominated party. However, it is not the innate differences between men and women that provide this scenario, but constructed places that continue to be validated through institutions that make inequalities legitimate, such as laws, myths, the family and areas of knowledge.

In this context, the division between the sexes is so rooted in history that it appears as natural and inevitable, and not as a social construction. In order to understand how male domination is naturalized, making violence against women legitimate, it was rescued that the constitution of subjects occurs from the encounter with the other. Initially, with the process called primary narcissism, the I is constituted through the image of the other, in which an adult narcissistic investment is necessary, which makes possible the connections responsible for its origin. Subsequently, the subject’s state of narcissism is abandoned due to identification with parental figures and, later, with other people who enter the subject’s life.

As the state of narcissism is overcome, the I begins to submit to social demands, inaugurating the I ideal. In a scenario where a view of contempt for women is culturally disseminated, subjects will identify with this place and, if they try to break with this perception, there is guilt for not having been what was socially and internally expected. In this way, violence against women is legitimized because it is transmitted through generations in an invisible way and without questioning, considering that the places that men and women occupy are already demarcated when the child is born, differentiating them in terms of gender, in terms of gender. a kind of hierarchy that allows there to be “dominants” and “dominated”. The form that men and women assume within the culture, therefore, is not due to some innate destiny, but rather refers to the social relations that, in this case, constitute a dynamic of inequality.

Emerging in a scenario in which women sought to free themselves from old ties related to their gender role and sexual oppression, pornography has become one of the most profitable industries today. Due to its wide reach, it is possible to consider it an important part of Western culture, constituting a means to propagate perceptions regarding the position that men and women occupy in the social imaginary. The representation of violence against women, as the present study has shown, is more the rule than the exception in mainstream pornography, being constantly portrayed in an erotic way in pornographic content, in a scenario in which women are exposed as sexual objects aimed at only the satisfaction of male pleasure. Thus, violence against women is expressed through the representation of physical, verbal, sexual and psychological aggression, similar to the violence faced by a large part of women in the daily context, as could be clarified through the Maria da Penha Law.

Inequality between men and women and male domination is also represented through recurrent scripts of mainstream pornography. In these scripts, the women’s refusal seems to mean the opposite, creating scenes that eroticize the violation of consent. In addition, there is often the retraction of “symbolic resistance”, in which, despite the woman saying no, she behaves as if she wanted what is being proposed, which corroborates myths that the woman’s word can be circumvented through insistence. male. Furthermore, women are often portrayed as always ready for sex, regardless of what male desires are, portraying a misogynistic perspective that women like to be violated and that their word and desire are not worth the same as the word and male desire.

The subordinate position of women appears in other aspects concerning the script of mainstream pornography. First, it is noteworthy that most of the time men are portrayed as occupying a position considered socially “superior” to that occupied by women. However, what stands out most in relation to female submission is the portrayal of women as childish figures in their costumes, voices and body appearance, eroticizing a scenario based on the fact that the woman appears fragile and inexperienced in the face of the man who will dominate the relationship. sexual. In addition to the representation on screens, the terms “teen” and “novinhas” are present every year in the most searched lists, which indicates that there is a strong identification of the public with the theme. In addition to the eroticization of the subordinate position of women, precedents are opened for a discussion about an apparent problematic representation of pedophilia in pornographic scripts.

Female submission could also be identified in the fact that sexual relations, as a rule, focus on male ejaculation, in which female pleasure is usually seen with less relevance. In addition, the fact that most of the scenes are from the man’s point of view – in which it is not even possible to identify his age – shows who the target audience is, that is, who this material is intended for. In fact, the emergence of a multibillion-dollar industry that appropriated important themes – such as the sexual revolution, after centuries of women’s oppression – misrepresenting them, in order to profit and function to maintain mechanisms of control, presents itself in a different way. violent way, as a silencing and another oppression of female sexuality. Again, it is emphasized that such violence, displayed in pornography in an erotic way, are reasons for suffering for many women in the world, experiences that cross the history of humanity.

Regarding the possible psychological impacts on women as a result of violence represented in mainstream pornography, it is first emphasized that it can be understood as just another reflection of a culture that is already highly unequal and violent in terms of gender relations, but it is also possible to consider it a discourse capable of interacting with reality and modifying it, configuring a “hate speech” that promotes silencing. Considering the importance of the other in the constitution of the subject, if the look of the similar is perceived as full of negativity, it can lead to self-perceptions of inferiority and vulnerability. In addition, the traumatic experience of hate speech can be enhanced with the naturalization of violence against women promoted by society and corroborated by pornography, which delegitimizes the suffering generated, eroticizes the various forms of violence and, often, attributes suffering solely to the target, disregarding the social environment.

Furthermore, considering the pornographic industry as a cultural product, able to interact and change the medium, it is possible to discuss the identifications that it is able to arouse in the audience, especially in women. Considering that there is a feminine guilt for achieving positions that are increasingly symmetrical to men, the identification of women with submissive figures, who need to “castrate themselves” for masculine satisfaction, is feasible. What corroborates this perspective is the fact that violence in mainstream pornography is naturalized and apprehended by the audience – formed by young people, in general – as an increasingly possible experience of sex. Furthermore, the domestication of female sexuality has been shown to generate suffering since the severe neurotic manifestations studied by Freud, and is corroborated by pornographic discourse, showing women submissive to male desires. In addition, the comparison with ideals of beauty, with unrealistic sexual performances and with distorted expectations about sex, can favor potential suffering and constitute frustrating sexual experiences for women.

Misogynistic conceptions of women, as well as violence against women, predate pornography. However, it works as an “amplifier”, spreading and reinforcing even more violence against women, harmful gender stereotypes, among other conceptions and myths regarding the place of subordination that women occupy in reference to men and that underpin such violence. . Although many studies are being carried out in different areas of knowledge regarding the effects of pornography, it is necessary to deepen the discussions regarding the psychological impacts on men and women, in view of the difficulty faced in collecting data on the topic corresponding to this theme.


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3. Teenagers.

[1] Graduated in Psychology at the Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences of the University of Passo Fundo. ORCID: 0000-0002-2458-7884.

[2] Advisor. ORCID: 0000-0002-4476-6177.

Sent: June, 2021.

Approved: January, 2022.

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