“That feels like a sexual assault”: Men try to guess if scenarios are porn or #MeToo stories

Trigger warning: sexual abuse.

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A new video shows men presented with a range of sexual scenarios and having to determine whether they are from pornography or a #MeToo story.

“Be Frank” is a seven-minute video project featuring men discussing the recent #MeToo campaign and ways men can join the fight against sexual violence.

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The men are visibly uncomfortable as they read aloud certain scenarios, including the following (*trigger warning*):

“I came home late from a party. My step-dad was waiting in the kitchen. He was mad at me for being late and wanted to punish me. He told me to be quiet and nobody in the house would hear me. He had sex with me in the kitchen.”

 “I was sleeping in my dorm room alone. Two guys walked in and started touching me. I was confused. I didn’t say anything. They both had sex with me.”

The men struggle to distinguish porn scripts from real sexual assault situations. One observes, ”That feels like a sexual assault.” Another speculates that the situation before him is a #MeToo story. At the conclusion of the video, it is revealed that all of the scenarios were taken from pornography.

This does not come as a surprise. Mainstream pornography is dominated by acts of violence against women. Common sex acts in pornography, like fellatio induced gagging, heterosexual anal sex and multiple penetrations, are not enjoyable for many women, but are degrading, painful and humiliating. An analysis of the most rented pornographic films found that 88% of scenes included physical aggression, with perpetrators being primarily men and targets overwhelmingly women. 

What does it mean when pornography, the primary form of sexual education for young people, is indistinguishable from real life sexual abuse of women? What does it mean for women and girls? What does it mean for men and boys watching this content regularly, and from childhood? What is the impact on sexuality, intimate relationships and attitudes towards women when men and boys are socialised to find enjoyment in the abuse of women? 

Defenders of pornography assert that pornography is about freedom. But whose freedom?  

Further reading:

Read more about the abuse and exploitation of women in the porn industry.

Porn performers recount physical violence, STIs and trauma in the industry.

Growing Up in Pornland: Girls Have Had It with Porn Conditioned Boys, by Melinda Tankard Reist


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