Why Do Women Pose for Porn?

Wired for Intimacy book cover

I recently read a great blog post from “husband,” a user’s guide about How Porn Works discussing a book titled Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by psychologist Williams Struthers. In the blog post, “Huz” begins by stating that “Over 25% of all Internet searches performed every day are for porn-related images, videos or websites.” Yikes!

This blog post, Struthers’s book, and plenty of other resources discuss how men crave intimacy and how pornography is a shortcut to that desire for visual and sexual stimulation. Hearing this from so many sources, I believe that pornography is incredibly tempting to men.

What I haven’t ever understood is why women pose for it.

Why are so many women willing to take off their clothes and expose themselves in sexually titillating ways? After years and years of women fighting for the right to own property, to be educated, to vote, to garner some respect, etc., why would any woman willingly become an object of ogling to be picked up and discarded at will?

I started reading stories of ex-porn stars, looking for clues to why anyone would enter this seedy world and publicly expose their most vulnerable parts. I came upon some patterns:

Abuse. Quite a few women who have posed and participated in sex acts for the camera experienced sexual abuse at the hands of family, friends, or strangers. They received a message early on that they were there to be taken, used, and mistreated sexually.

Unstable family background. Most of the ex-porn stars I read testimonies from had incredibly unstable families. They simply didn’t have anyone to teach them their worth or to protect them from abuse or help them heal if it did occur.

Need for money. Oftentimes, women began with stripping and moved to porn or prostitution. The porn industry, in fact, offered better money, so why not? they figured.

Connections to the industry. Someone they already knew suggested getting involved in porn. A friend or acquaintance took them to a set, introduced them to a filmmaker, or touted the advantages of working in the porn industry.

Attention. Now this one struck me. Many of the ex-porn stars related that – at first – they enjoyed the attention. These women liked the idea of getting male attention and being considered beautiful.

Glamor. Having your name known, signing autographs, and attracting larger attention seems glamorous. Porn actresses feel like Hollywood movie stars at times.

What also became clear from these women’s stories is that the porn industry led to more abuse: Often, they experienced forced sex acts, STDs, and mistreatment. It led to further instability: They were used by others to make money and not cared for or listened to.

They did not end up financially better: The money was often gone quickly, as many porn stars abuse drugs and alcohol to keep going.

Moreover, the attention and glamor are illusions. There is nothing glamorous about acting out sexually for someone else’s benefit and a wad of cash. A prostitute is a prostitute, no matter how good the camera work is.

What disturbs me as much or more than these stories, though, are the many women who are not in a porn industry but willingly take off their clothes for any reason or no reason at all. Plenty of gals post nude or scantily-clad images of themselves for freebie viewing on the Internet. Teen girls send suggestive or nude images of themselves to teen boys. Why are they engaging in this behavior?

I think the Attention category comes into play here. God has designed women such they we want to be beautiful and cherished by men. He has given woman a natural bent toward wanting a man’s eyes to hold her in his gaze.

Satan is so very happy to pervert that.

He perverts women with broken hearts to seek the wrong attention of men willing to pay for and praise sexual stimulation. He perverts men with broken hearts to seek the visual stimulation of women willing to pose for attention. In the end, the attention and stimulation each gets is a twisted, inadequate substitute for what God intends with sexuality.

Some people selling or giving away sexual images are purposefully evil in their intent, and some are broken human beings in need of a different message and healing.

Why do women pose? For the same reasons, I suppose, that we continue in any sinful and self-destructive pattern:

  • We have a hole in our lives and are looking for something to fill it.
  • We don’t know our own worth in God’s eyes.
  • We aren’t willing to let go of our selfish desires and surrender to God’s provision.
  • We allow ourselves to be led astray by others.

I wish I could take some of the women I read about in my research into my arms and describe how beautiful they are as daughters of God. And for those men who look at pornography, I would ask them to think about why women pose and what painful experiences they have endured and continue to endure.

Pornography is not a benign business. Many of these women have already suffered in their lives, and they continue to do so. May God bring healing to those ladies who find their way out.

For another heartfelt post on this topic, see Intimacy in Marriage’s My Love Letter to Pornographers.

13 thoughts on “Why Do Women Pose for Porn?

  1. Gregory Donner

    FWIW, there are numerous reasons why men turn to pornography; there are no one-size-explains-all set of reasons for them; everyone is different. Some of the reasons less commonly noted are: genuine curiosity and fascination with female anatomy, frustration/anger at being single, and frankly, just because–at least for a ‘season’–the arousal and stimulation feel good. But it’s sin, and its effects aren’t pretty. Recovery takes years, but thankfully, God does bring redemption and healing from it.

    Women are many things to us; but they are also undeniably beautiful, desirable, and sensual. We notice that all the time. The problem lies in HOW we respond to that. We can choose to respect and admire, or let ourselves be part of their objectification and degradation. Deep down, I’ve always known pornography was wrong, but it’s taken me a long time to see the full magnitude of damage (some much more subtle than others) that pornography causes.

  2. Alecia

    Excellent article and definitely a topic that needs to be discussed more openly and honestly. Many women that I come across have a “live and let live” mentality, choosing not to think about or be affected by what the people involved in the porn industry are really going through. Some choose to believe that their use of porn has no negative affects on them or those around them. Worse yet, they choose to believe that the people involved in the porn industry are not negatively impacted. We are all affected by the making and the use of porn. I wish more people understood that and so appreciate that you are willing to talk about it!

    I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head! Attention is at the foundation of this. I heard it said once that what women want is simple. To be desired. But it is clearly sad when we allow someone to “desire” us for their own selfish pleasure and then disregard us as human beings. That is so not how God intended it to be.

  3. IAAMM

    Agreeing with Gregory, there are a multitude of reasons as to why men partake in porn…maybe it is because it’s is readily available or maybe it is simply to admire beauty.

    Too, women have varying reasons for participating in porn as stated in the post. I am in no position to judge. I can only hope that eventually our society will be enlightened to the point where mutual respect and admiration is given to all.

  4. Anonymous

    I would like to thank you for your honest discussion about this topic.I speak as one who was once a part of that world,and you are absolutely right.I came from a background of abandonment and abuse.My own father made the suggestion that I could make a lot of money working the club scene.The pull was powerful.The money was good,and for once,I felt that I was the one in control when it came to a man wanting me.In that world,they could look,but couldn’t touch,so I could make them pay for the wrong that they were doing because they were forced to leave unsatisfied.Those who thought that they were exploiting me were actually putting holes into their own pockets and food into the mouths of my family.The attention was heady.They made me feel like I was the most beautiful and desirable woman in that place.After a lifetime of being beaten down by those who were supposed to build me up,it made me feel special.I thought,”See, they were wrong,I really am somebody.”But I soon found that the exploitation went both ways.The woman finds herself trapped in the performance,having to share with strangers those things about her which were meant to be private in order to earn that dollar.And the man finds himself ensnared in the lie that he can actually obtain the thing that is missing from his life by buying the attention of one who holds no feelings for him.Underneath it all is a lot of hurt-on both sides.Yes,there are those who are just purely evil and want to use others for their own gain-on both sides.And there are those who are simply deceived into thinking that this is just recreational to them,just for fun.But there are many out there who come there seeking to fill a hole in their souls,and they do not recognize that they are looking in the wrong place.Perhaps it is because God created sex to be such a deeply intimate part of our being,such a way of becoming whole and becoming connected to Him,that we as human beings made to seek Him find ourselves looking in the places connected to sexuality in our quest for this relationship-buying into the lie that sex is just an act,just another”thing”,and we can take it and leave it as we will.Not realizing the deeper meaning behind it,and how it so inexorably changes us,becoming a part of who we are.I got out of that lifestyle over a decade ago,but my heart still aches for those who fall into it.It saddens me to see how quickly people judge these women.I can understand how hurtful it is when a woman finds herself betrayed by a husband who has turned to porn and is struggling with this sin.I have,ironically,found myself on this side of things,as well.It hurts your soul.And it is natural to want to lash out at the woman on the other side of the situation.But those women are also created by God,made in His image, and He loves them and wants to save them just as much as He loves you and wants to see your marriage restored.All sin is sin.The woman who sells herself,the man who looks at it,and the wife who refuses him sex and drives him to it.I am not saying that this is always the case,because I know that it is not.But I talked to many a man who came to those places just looking for someone who would talk to them and show them respect because they couldn’t get it at home.Many of them loved their wives, but they were not finding their needs as men(not just sexual needs)being met by their wives.They needed to be reassured that they were true men,and they sought to have it affirmed in the eyes of a woman.I am NOT saying that this is acceptable-it most definitely is not.But we as people need to recognize that we are ALL affected by this twisting of God’s blessing.God’s heart is for each and EVERY one of us,and He desires that NONE would be lost.We need to see those men and women who have fallen into these traps for the hurting souls that they are.They put on a good act,but inside,their hearts are bleeding from the wounds of their emptiness.

  5. J

    Bless you, Anonymous, for sharing your story. I know that it will help someone to read it. Praise God that you are out of that business and have seen your worth in God’s eyes. It indeed pains me to think of how women allow themselves to be ogled and exploited – even if the attention and money are great. When I see women in that situation, I wonder what happened in their lives that led them there. I’m glad to know that some are led out as well.

  6. J

    I agree, Gregory. In fact, I had a preacher once say that the problem in our church was that the single people were having sex and the married people weren’t.

  7. Sheila

    That is such an awesome quotation, Gregory and J! I’m going to have it use it.

    And yes, J, I think your analysis is right on. And IAAMM, if you don’t mind me saying so, there are some things that we DO have to judge. Saying “I’m not in a position to judge” when girls are being mistreated and abused, and when men are being led down a path that will make real intimacy almost impossible for them, is exactly the sort of thing we HAVE to judge.

    I make no apologies for my view on porn. It is not just wrong; it is evil. That does not mean that the men who are lured to watch it or the women who are lured to act in it are evil. But its effects are evil, and we need to spread the word.

    So many women and men are broken over the one thing. We need to stop saying, “I’m not in a position to judge”, and we need to stand up and say: porn wrecks your ability to respond in real life to a real person. Porn steals your sense of spiritual intimacy in sex. Porn steals your self-worth. Porn makes you live in shame. I hope that’s clear enough!

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

  8. IAAMM

    I appreciate your commentary, Sheila. However, I can not be the judge of another person’s actions or their reasonings. There is No way that I can actually perceive true intentions, though I may assume or speculate with my own beliefs and experiences in mind.

    Porn, like money, is neither good or evil. It is the ACTIONS of those who participate that determines its use for good or evil.

    Many women and men alike are broken, addicted, abused and mistreated. Porn is not the culprit. For whatever reason, if they choose porn as a way of life, then my dear, perhaps they were hurting long before.

    If you want get to the root of the problem, then place blame accordingly…the mindset. If you want to change the world, then try helping one person at a time without ill or misplaced judgement.

  9. J

    Should I get in on this? I will. To Sheila & IAAMM:

    It’s hard to know someone’s past, their heart, their motives – which is why I looked up the histories of women who pose for porn instead of assuming. However, posing for and viewing porn are actions themselves which do not benefit anyone involved. Porn does wreck your ability to engage in healthy sex with your spouse; God’s Word and studies are clear on that. It is not a benign industry. And I am certainly not opposed to men admiring beauty, but the porn world isn’t about beauty but rather sexual titillation. Unfortunately, I hear from wives whose own beauty is largely ignored because their husbands are engaged in looking at porn images instead.

    I do pray that we can help one person at a time. Looking to Jesus as an example, he reached out to those who were misguided and hurting, but he was very harsh on the leaders who misled and abused others. The porn industry giants have a lot to answer for.

    Thank you both for commenting.

  10. themarriagebedcom

    It certainly has changes a lot in my lifetime. My porn was stuff made from the mid 60s to the mid 70s. Back then the only women willing to expose themselves naked were those who has been abused (physically, mentally or sexually) and a very few who were desperate for money. Today women are so eager to show their nudity to the world that many of them do it on their own and make nothing from it.

    I don’t know what has changed in the last few decades, but it’s radical and scary. When a woman’s sexuality is a public thing, how can she enjoy it privately? When it’s a way of making money, how can it be a way of making love?

  11. Patty

    “God has designed women such they we want to be beautiful and cherished by men. He has given woman a natural bent toward wanting a man’s eyes to hold her in his gaze”

    100% agree. Women need to remember our wonderful role as a woman and the beauty of a body without being overexposed.

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