Violent porn is dangerous to women

Evidence is mounting about the inextricable link between men watching violent porn and men being violent towards women. News outlets report increasingly on women being murdered in brutal attacks, by men obsessed with violent pornography. This disturbing and dangerous trend reinforces the long-held conviction that pornography is a cultural driver of violence against women.

The Daily Telegraph recently exposed a growing list of men who were addicted to violent pornography and committed vicious crimes against women.

Nathan Matthews, the 28-year-old stepbrother of UK schoolgirl Becky Watts, was jailed for her murder in 2015. Becky, 16, was violently killed during this sexually-motivated crime.

Becky had indicated to a child psychologist and friends that she had been terrorised by Matthews for years; him boasting how he’d dismember her. Joan Smith, Chair of the Mayor of London's Violence Against Women and Girls Panel, reported that Matthews “watched a film entitled ‘virgin teen gets raped in own house’ just prior to attacking her.”

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Photo: Becky Watts (centre) was killed by Nathan Matthews - pictured here with girlfriend Shauna Hoare

Matthews’ case is not an isolated porn-fuelled crime. Jamie Reynolds was fixated with a particular type of graphic porn that featured necrophilia and women being hanged and strangled. Reynolds attempted to strangle a young girl when he was 18 and at 23 violently killed 17-year-old Georgia Williams. 

The Daily Telegraph reported that Reynold’s pornographic collection included “16,800 pornographic images and 72 videos of sexual violence” At Reynolds’ (failed) appeal hearing, Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas said, “he had no doubt that violent internet porn had ‘a dramatic effect’ on crimes.”

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In Australia, the rates of domestic and sexual violence are at epidemic proportions. ABC Fact Check data indicates that,

“one in four Australian women experience at least one incident of violence from an intimate partner, since the age of 15.”

Gendered violence has escalated so much that two women are killed each week in Australia. It is very difficult to measure the true extent of violence against women, as most crimes go unreported. But evidence is mounting that violence is on the increase and is well entrenched in Australian society.

What is driving this dangerous and violent culture against women? 

Marlene Goldsmith, the previous Chair of the Legislative Council of Social Issues, NSW, detailed in a 1992 governmental report that

“In NSW, in the period 1975–91, a time during which pornography has become increasingly available, there has been a 90.6 percent increase in the level of rape”.

Disturbingly this upward trend is driven by younger males, with an unprecedented increase in juvenile sexual assault convictions.

While there are no formal statistics on the links between viewing violent porn and committing violent sex crimes, experts in law enforcement have been aware of a strong association for many years. The literature in this area is also substantial and growing.

Research conducted by VicHealth in 2006 concluded that factors that shape men’s violence towards women included:

"Exposure to sexually violent material increases male viewers' acceptance of rape myths, desensitises them to sexual violence, erodes their empathy for victims of violence, and informs more callous attitudes towards female victims ... adults also show an increase in behavioural aggression following exposure to pornography, again especially violent pornography."

While politicians continue to toe the ‘freedom of speech’ line towards porn and the industry and supporters sprout ‘free choice’ and ‘we are in a progressive society’, young males grow up on a diet of violent porn, and women suffer and die at the hands of male partners. In the words of Marlene Goldsmith,

“Political freedom of speech is one thing; the systematic degradation of, and promotion of violence against, half of the population quite another.”

About the Author: Karina Smith is a Gen-X’er who thinks she is a digital native. When she is not dabbling with social media she is pretending she can play the cello, whilst juggling her coffee addiction, feminist frustrations, and four small humans. She loves anything to do with words: she consumes books, edits for various publications and can be found tweeting away @wordysmithy. She writes about things she’s passionate about: the beautiful and troubled country of Cambodian, gender inequity and issues to do with parenting. She has been in deep denial that she could, or would, ever write a book but an idea just won’t go away. Find her writings and more on LinkedIn.  

 

 


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