Last week was Triple J’s ‘Porn Week’, with a special focus on stories about pornography and “discussing all things porn”, promising to examine “every facet of pornography”.
Perhaps a thorough examination of every facet would include a discussion about sexually violent content in pornography, including frequent acts of aggression, cruelty and humiliation of women, the normalisation of a male dominance/female subordination paradigm, or a critical look at the sexist and racist tropes that are commonplace in porn.
Maybe it would include accounts of mistreatment from female pornography performers, citing abuse and exploitation within the industry and being raped during production or high rates of suicide among performers.
It might also include a conversation about the experiences of women and girls growing up in a ‘porn culture’, with growing numbers reporting sexual coercion in their intimate relationships with men and boys, and pressure to submit to unwanted, painful or degrading sex acts.
Maybe a segment would be devoted to the potentially devastating impacts of children’s early exposure to hardcore pornography and how it shapes their attitudes and sexual practices. The quadrupling of child-on-child sexual assaults attributed to pornography, reports of girls as young as twelve requiring medical treatment for sex-related injuries, or more recently, the sixteen-year-old girl forced to get a colostomy bag after rough group sex
But there was no meaningful discussion of any of this.
Rather than engaging with legitimate criticisms of the pornography industry, or a growing body of research documenting how pornography harms women, children and men, Triple J instead promoted pornography use with articles like “How porn can be a positive force in your relationship” and “Porn, kinks and kink-shaming: You're not weird for watching the porn you watch”, just weeks after publishing a piece entitled “So you want to book a sex worker”, with instructions and advice on the ins and outs of purchasing sex.
What could have been a frank and much-needed examination of pornography felt more like a week of free PR for the sex industry.
Viewing rape porn "nothing to be ashamed of"
The article “Porn, kinks and kink-shaming” reassures readers that it is both normal and acceptable to masturbate to rape and incest porn- that these are “kinks” and “nothing to be ashamed of”. Masturbating to the physical abuse of women is framed as a matter of individual preference, and kink advocates quoted in the article warn against “kink-shaming” or “demonising” consumption of this material. Porn is, we are told, “only a fantasy”.
But it’s not just a fantasy. Fantasy occurs in the mind. When acts of sexual violence and cruelty are carried out on the bodies of living women, this ceases to be a fantasy and becomes reality. A porn scene featuring a woman being choked cannot be produced without an actual woman being choked on camera. That’s not fantasy, that’s a man’s actual hands around a woman’s actual neck, actually choking her.
It’s also not merely fantasy when it happens to women outside of pornography. A recent US study found a quarter of women surveyed have felt scared during sex. A number of these said their partner had tried to choke them without warning. Researchers in London studying heterosexual anal sex among teenagers found a climate of coercion, and that young people rarely spoke about anal sex “in terms of mutual exploration of sexual pleasure”.
Eurydice Dixon’s killer Jaymes Todd was this week sentenced to life in prison for her rape and murder. The court heard that Todd watched violent pornography before and after raping and killing the young comedian, and that Todd was addicted to a fantasy of coercive rape, including fantasies of death, and searched for snuff films online, in which people are killed. Was Jaymes Todd’s preference for pornography depicting rape and extreme violence against women, even murder, a mere “kink”? Was it a coincidence that a man who was obsessed with porn depicting the sadistic rape and murder of women carried out these same acts against a real woman?
Triple J promotes "ethical" porn
Another segment was dedicated to ‘ethical’ porn, with a visit to a Sydney porn set. So-called ethical or feminist porn is often positioned as a positive alternative to run of the mill misogynist and male-dominated pornography. But the bar for what constitutes ‘ethical’ porn is very low, and typically only refers to conditions of production, such as fair compensation and labour conditions, representation of diverse body types and sexualities, consent and authenticity.
The actual content in ‘ethical’ or ‘feminist’ porn may be indistinguishable from violent and abusive mainstream porn. Rather than showcasing more egalitarian or non-violent content, degradation and acts of physical violence against women such as slapping, gagging and strangulation are still found in ‘ethical’ porn. Does this sound all that ethical? And if ethical porn truly exists, is anyone interested in watching it?
Dr Meagan Tyler, Senior Lecturer at RMIT, argues that the notion of ethical porn is a cynical attempt to make porn companies look like good corporate citizens.
“It’s a marketing ploy and an exercise in obfuscation,” she says.
"It's for a small segment of consumers who would like to think that their pornography consumption is unproblematic and they would like to think that what they are doing is totally different from what others are doing when, in reality, it all feeds the same commercial sex industry."
“It speaks volumes about how much pornography has colonised our understandings of sex that we can only imagine the possibility of a (potentially) slightly less harmful pornography, not a happy life without pornography at all.”
Were any researchers who have analysed the harmful impacts of pornography, especially in young people in their sexual development, consulted? Or was it only those in favour of porn consumption, including those with vested interests in the industry? ABC is a publicly funded broadcaster, and Dr Tyler says we need to ask questions about who commissioned this discussion, and under what circumstances.
“Triple J ‘Porn Week’ [is a] week long advertorial for why porn is great - we can’t ignore the intersections of men’s violence against women and intimate violation of women and the multi-billion dollar global pornography industry.”
We need to have honest conversations about the realities of pornography and our engagement with it. Porn Week was a platform for pro-pornography indoctrination, and many more women and girls will suffer as a result.
Former pornography performer Mia Khalifa has publicly shared her experience of the pornography industry. Khalifa performed in pornography over a three month period in 2014-2015, becoming Pornhub’s most highly ranked performer. Khalifa is known for filming a scene wearing a hijab.
“A very vulnerable point in my life”
Khalifa described her entry to the porn industry in an interview with Megan Abbott posted to YouTube earlier this month. Khalifa, who was subjected to racial bullying and called fat as a child, had previously undergone a breast augmentation surgery after a substantial weight loss while attending college. She told Abbott that after her breast augmentation was the first time she had ever felt pretty.
Khalifa recounted first being approached when a car pulled over as she was walking down the street. She was asked to consider modelling and handed a business card. The company was a porn production company.
“I was handed a business card, thought about it for a few weeks, went in and was showered with compliments—felt validated for a whole twenty minutes—and I went back and shot a scene, and it was terrifying and temporarily validating, but afterwards I felt a little empty. Though I still had that pit in my stomach where I wanted to chase that validation again.
“I had never had male attention. I was pretty overweight—I lost about 50 pounds in college—and then after I moved to Miami I got a breast augmentation. So before my self-confidence kicked in, I didn’t know what I looked like and I didn’t know or value my self-worth, and instead I left it up to men to tell me what my self-worth was.
“But I think what made me go back and do it again was that the attention I was receiving, I was afraid it would go away if I didn’t do what I was asked to do.” Read more.
Professor of sociology and women’s studies Gail Dines has discussed the experiences of women and girls in a ‘porn culture’ and their need to be validated: “You’re either f*ckable or invisible...And so when young women who have an absolute developmental need to be ‘visible’ have to dress like that and then get slammed as sluts and are then told by some bizarre feminism that you’re empowered because that was your choice...this is like the mind-f*ck of the century because of what you’re having to deal with.”
Khalifa went on to dispel some more widely accepted myths about the pornography industry, and her time in it.
It did not make her rich
Khalifa reportedly made $1000 per scene. Porn production company Bang Bros and Pornhub received the most profit for her videos, and still do.
“No amount of money would make it worth it.”
She said some women who enter the business are vulnerable and taken advantage of by industry producers, while others are looking for a big star turn. “I am not for women getting into the industry. I don’t think it’s an industry that should be respected,” she said.
Backdated money would not change that for her. If she could, Khalifa said, she would burn the industry to the ground, sending all of her videos along with it.
“The only thing I want is for people to stop seeing me naked,” she said.
Khalifa's experience is not uncommon, with many female performers leaving the industry after a matter of months and without having made big money. Just this week, news.com.au has published an article about another former porn performer, Jenni Lee, who is now homeless and living in tunnels under the Las Vegas strip.
She is not in control of her images now
The porn industry continues to profit from women even after they have left the industry, even after they are dead.
Three of the top 10 actresses on the site now are either retired or inactive in the business, an industry veteran said, and have little recourse to claim compensation or remove their videos if they are shut out from the revenue.
“At end of day, whether it’s Kim Kardashian or Mia, they don’t have power to tell Pornhub to take content down,” said the veteran, who declined to provide a name because he still works in the industry.
She regrets her time in the industry
Speaking to Daily Beast, Khalifa said, “I’m still ashamed of it. It’s hard not to be when one decision you made when you were 21 years old entitles the whole world to see you naked, so of course I’m still ashamed of it, and of course I would go back and change things if I could.”
We applaud Khalifa's bravery in coming forward and sharing her story, despite the vitriol she has been subjected to. We wish her all the best in her future pursuits. Her voice matters.
Full article published on Mercury
A retiree has been refused bail after police allegedly found a raft of child abuse material on his laptop and a number of fake identification documents.
Over the past 20 years, police allege Mr Seddon regularly travelled to Thailand and the Philippines, describing him as “well-connected” and a “frequent traveller to high risk ports for child exploitation”.
Police also alleged Mr Seddon recently contacted a computer company and asked them how to use the dark web.
Mr Seddon had also allegedly been using YouTube Kids and had searched for “young boy gay porn” before his arrest.
Police allege they also uncovered an “enormous amount of gay pornography” ranging from children to adults.
“Based on the pornography viewed, the accused has a preference for jail scene encounters…sexual torture,” court documents read.
Police allege Mr Seddon had befriended a woman in the Philippines with two boys aged six and eight, who he often gave gifts to and provided for. Police have documentation which shows payments to the Philippines for unknown reasons.Read more
Young women deserve the truthRead more
The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on 15 July 2019.
- Porn sites must check age of users or risk facing sanctions
- New approach is the first of its kind in the world, and puts in place the same protections that exist offline
- Stricter measures in place to protect users’ data and privacy
The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on 15 July 2019.
It means that commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users, to ensure that they are 18 or over. The move is backed by 88% of UK parents with children aged 7-17, who agree there should be robust age-verification controls in place to stop children seeing pornography online
Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. They have confirmed that they will begin enforcement on 15 July, following an implementation period to allow websites time to comply with the new standards.
Minister for Digital Margot James said:
Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.
Government has listened carefully to privacy concerns and is clear that age-verification arrangements should only be concerned with verifying age, not identity. In addition to the requirement for all age-verification providers to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards, the BBFC have created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of AV providers. The AVC has been developed in cooperation with industry, with input from government.
Certified age-verification solutions which offer these robust data protection conditions will be certified following an independent assessment and will carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol. Details will also be published on the BBFC’s age-verification website, ageverificationregulator.com so consumers can make an informed choice between age-verification providers.
BBFC Chief Executive David Austin said:
The introduction of age-verification to restrict access to commercial pornographic websites to adults is a ground breaking child protection measure. Age-verification will help prevent children from accessing pornographic content online and means the UK is leading the way in internet safety.
On entry into force, consumers will be able to identify that an age-verification provider has met rigorous security and data checks if they carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol.
The change in law is part of the Government’s commitment to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, especially for children. It follows last week’s publication of the Online Harms White Paper which set out clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe online, how these responsibilities should be met and what would happen if they are not.
Read the full media release here.
Collective Shout is calling for implementation of the UK age-verification laws here in Australia.
"A form of pornography"Read more
‘Porn is presenting rough sex and anal sex as something normal, and teenage boys are learning from their screens that it often involves violence and humiliation’ – Nikki Gemmell
How encouraging to read the concerns a number of us have been attempting to raise for close on a decade now, in our national broadsheet The Australian.Read more
Fake-porn videos are being weaponised to harass and humiliate women: ‘Everybody is a potential target’
By Drew Harwell, as published at The Washington Post.
The video showed the woman in a pink off-the-shoulder top, sitting on a bed, smiling a convincing smile.
It was her face. But it had been seamlessly grafted, without her knowledge or consent, onto someone else’s body: a young pornography actress, just beginning to disrobe for the start of a graphic sex scene. A crowd of unknown users had been passing it around online.
She felt nauseated and mortified: What if her co-workers saw it? Her family, her friends? Would it change how they thought of her? Would they believe it was a fake?
“I feel violated — this icky kind of violation,” said the woman, who is in her 40s and spoke on the condition of anonymity because she worried that the video could hurt her marriage or career. “It’s this weird feeling, like you want to tear everything off the Internet. But you know you can’t.”
Airbrushing and Photoshop long ago opened photos to easy manipulation. Now, videos are becoming just as vulnerable to fakes that look deceptively real. Supercharged by powerful and widely available artificial-intelligence software developed by Google, these lifelike “deepfake” videos have quickly multiplied across the Internet, blurring the line between truth and lie.
But the videos have also been weaponised disproportionately against women, representing a new and degrading means of humiliation, harassment and abuse. The fakes are explicitly detailed, posted on popular porn sites and increasingly challenging to detect. And although their legality hasn’t been tested in court, experts say they may be protected by the First Amendment — even though they might also qualify as defamation, identity theft or fraud.
Disturbingly realistic fakes have been made with the faces of both celebrities and women who don’t live in the spotlight, and actress Scarlett Johansson told The Washington Post she worries that “it’s just a matter of time before any one person is targeted” by a lurid forgery.
Johansson has been superimposed into dozens of graphic sex scenes over the past year that have circulated across the Web: One video, falsely described as real “leaked” footage, has been watched on a major porn site more than 1.5 million times. She said she worries it may already be too late for women and children to protect themselves against the “virtually lawless (online) abyss."
“Nothing can stop someone from cutting and pasting my image or anyone else’s onto a different body and making it look as eerily realistic as desired,” she said. “The fact is that trying to protect yourself from the Internet and its depravity is basically a lost cause. . . . The Internet is a vast wormhole of darkness that eats itself.”
Read the full article at The Washington Post.
“When I became a SANE nurse, I thought the typical perpetrator was most likely going to be a creepy old man in his 60s who lured kids into his basement with lollipops, but I was so wrong. The biggest age range of perpetrators that I see in my hospital are children. In fact, for the third year in a row, our biggest age range of people committing sexual assaults are children ages 11-15 years old.”
Why are these children sexually assaulting other children? The answer is not surprising to me but it is devastating to me. “Pornography is often a main factor,” Olson says, “and sometimes the only factor, that influenced a child to act out in a sexually harmful way.” And the children that also and is working with are not isolated. Last year, the Guardian in the United Kingdom published an article entitled “Child-on-child sexual assaults soar, police figures reveal.”Read more
[Warning: this article contains graphic descriptions.]
Melinda Tankard Reist is a writer, speaker and co-founder of Collective Shout. She co-edited Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Porn Industry and Prostitution Narratives: Stories of Survival in the Sex Trade.
"Women must be safe everywhere. On the street, walking through a park, in their homes, at work. We need to ensure that we have a culture of respect of women. We must never, ever, ever tolerate violence against women. Eurydice Dixon - we grieve her loss, we mourn with her family and we say never again."
- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
"Women in Australia have the right to freedom of movement. It is not the fault of women if they chose to walk home from transport to their house. All of this violence is ultimately preventable and we need to tackle the enablers of violence, we need to change the attitudes of men."
- Opposition Leader Bill Shorten
She is on the run. Desperate, frantic. Wearing a head scarf, her deep dark eyes brim with worry and fear. She epitomises woman in flight, the kind of women filling our television screens, the ones with small children clinging for dear life to their mothers.
She is a woman who should evoke pity. Our hearts should lurch, we should fear for her; she is so vulnerable. Will she make it to the end of her journey unharmed?
But now, as though not terrorised enough, she is subjected to an affront so devoid of empathy it is difficult to believe. She is to be turned into porn. Refugee Porn. A displaced woman running from oppression into oppression.
"Tons of free Refugee porn videos!"; "All the hottest refugee porno movies for free!"; pick your preferences: "Syrian," "Timid Arabians," "21-year-old refugee," "Hijab pregnant porn" - and lots more. Unveiling and violating "exotic" women who are normally covered, appears to be a particular turn-on.
Refugee Porn attracts up to 800,000 search requests monthly. Sharp increases in searches for refugee porn in Germany have seen new studios springing up to service this demand, which correlates to the large number of refugees Germany has welcomed.
While some videos use porn actresses depicting refugee women, it is believed that actual refugee women are also used. Either way, the sex industry's aim is to convey and profit from a story-line - or terror plot - based on the eroticised subjugation of refugees humiliated for "dinner money."
While looking into this genre - and trying to remain sane - I noticed the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader in rare bi-partisan agreement following the death of Eurydice Dixon: saying that we must not tolerate violence against women, and that we must tackle the enablers of that violence. We are hearing pronouncements like this more and more. But while there are many enablers of violence against women, there is a particularly monstrous one that rarely rates a mention. It is the global industrialisation of the bodies of women - among them, the most powerless - as fodder for men's consumption. As Abigail Bray writes in Misogyny Re-loaded, porn and rape culture means "inhabiting a paradoxical space where the rape and murder of women is prohibited but everywhere eroticised and the object of laughter."
Enabling sexual violence
Pornhub is the world's largest provider of porn content. It attracts 80 million visits a day. The company, now owned by MindGeek, is headquartered in beautiful Montreal, where its more than 1,000 employees toil day and night to bring you the best scenes of suffering on the market.
Pornhub is both a repository and disseminator of hate propaganda. It hosts evidence of crimes against women for men to enjoy. Popular videos depict brutal sexual violence against women. Sadistic titles revel in women's inability to stop the violent assaults carried out against them. The most violent have views in the millions. Many titles are centred around the sexual abuse and rape of teen and underage girls. Men are fantasising about raping young girls with impunity while government, children charities and advocacy groups try to tackle an epidemic of child sexual abuse.
Cultural norms are taught through pornography. When boys learn early to enjoy, take pleasure in, laugh at, and get off on torture and humiliation videos, when they are fed a diet of rape porn and racist sexual abuse, does the avalanche of violence against women come as a surprise?
James Ogloff, an experienced clinical forensic psychologist, was recently quoted in The Australian: "In serious sexual offending, the motivation is often a deviant sexual interest. It is very much a sexual motivation." That deviant sexual interest has to come from somewhere. Pornhub features in the top five favourite sites of boys aged 11-16, according to ChildWise UK. Rape is on the menu for boys whose sexuality is still being formed. They see, and are taught to be aroused by, girls who are choking, sobbing, vomiting, their eyes popping, having their skin bruised, being called abusive names, slapped, kicked, pounded, hair ripped out.
Tell me this is not enabling.
Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, whose constituency was at the centre of a child sexual exploitation scandal, produced the 2016 Dare2Care Report in which she quotes one young boy who asked: "If I have a girlfriend, do I need to strangle her when I have sex with her?" Indiscriminate porn exposure acts as a kind of social grooming for this generation of boys. Girls morph into porn fantasy sex props.
Thus the number of sexual offences recorded in the Republic of Ireland has doubled since 2003: an increase of 87%, two thirds of which has occurred in the past three years. Authorities in Ireland are linking the sex crimes to pornography - especially among teenage boys. In 2016, one in five rapes in Ireland was committed by a juvenile. Eileen Finnegan is the clinical director of One in Four, a national organization that aids and counsels the victims of sex crimes and also treats offenders. All the sex offenders in treatment began offending at 10 or 11 years of age. They developed what Finnegan calls "a deviant interest" in sexual violence. And they are getting their sex education from pornography. "The escalation is astonishing," says Eileen Finnegan, regarding the rise of rape porn and its access by children.
The UK has also made the connections. In the foreword to the 2012 report Basically ... Porn is Everywhere, Deputy Children's Commissioner for England Sue Berelowitz highlighted violence done to girls by porn-influenced boys:
"The first year of our Inquiry ... revealed shocking rates of sexual violation of children and young people ... The Inquiry team heard children recount appalling stories about being raped by both older males and peers, often in extremely violent and sadistic circumstances, and in abusive situations that frequently continued for years ... The use of and children's access to pornography emerged as a key theme ... It was mentioned by boys in witness statements after being apprehended for the rape of a child, one of whom said it was 'like being in a porn movie'; we had frequent accounts of both girls' and boys' expectations of sex being drawn from pornography they had seen; and professionals told us troubling stories of the extent to which teenagers and younger children routinely access pornography, including extreme and violent images. We also found compelling evidence that too many boys believe that they have an absolute entitlement to sex at any time, in any place, in any way and with whomever they wish. Equally worryingly, we heard that too often girls feel they have no alternative but to submit to boys' demands, regardless of their own wishes."
France is also observing the links between porn exposure and violence against women. "I am surprised that we are astonished at the violence done to women today without attacking the roots of the evil," says Professor Israel Nisand, gynaecologist and President of the French National College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians. On 15 June, with several health professionals, Nisand launched a "solemn appeal" to the government to fight against the mass distribution of pornographic images, to which children are exposed. "We observe a policy inertia," he said. We see the same policy inertial here.
The dehumanization of girls
Personal accounts of the lived experience of women and girls dealing with porn-conditioned boys and men demonstrate pornography's dehumanizing power. I've written previously about my encounters with girls who tell me about boys demanding sexual favours, demanding sex acts they don't like, being pressured to provide naked images, being ranked on their bodies compared to the bodies of porn stars.
As British writer and activist Sarah Ditum has observed, "The pornographic vocabulary of sex as the violent debasement of the female body had seeped out from screens and into the lives of women." And it is no longer only porn "performers" who are taking the hit of porn (whose experiences are shamefully still largely ignored), it is women and girls everywhere, every day.
Growing numbers of young women are saying that their partners are initiating the signature sex acts of pornography: ejaculating on faces and bodies, deep-throating fellatio and anal sex. "Rosie Redstockings" - a young student at an English university - describes her experience of porn-conditioned men. She writes:
"I'm 23. Mine is the first generation to be exposed to online porn from a young age. We learnt what sex is from watching strangers on the internet, we don't know anything else.
"Here are some of the things that I have experienced ...
"Being told that my gag reflex was too strong ... Bullied into submitting to facials. I didn't want to. He said [jokingly] that he'd ejaculate on my face while I was asleep. He wasn't joking - I woke up with him wanking over me ... Bullied into trying anal. It hurt so much I begged him to stop. He stopped, then complained that I was being too sensitive ... He continued to ask for it ... Constant requests for threesomes ... Constant requests to let him film it ... Every single straight girl I know has had similar experiences. Every. Single. One. Some have experienced far worse. Some have given in, some have resisted, all have felt guilty and awkward for not ... giving him what he wants."
Then there's the 16-year-old girl who describes oral sex as "the new kissing":
"When you have sex with a guy they want it to be like a porno. They want anal and oral right away. Oral is, like, the new kissing ... the cum shot in the face is a big thing."
A recent study found girls were being coerced into anal sex they didn't want and which they found painful. The main reason they gave for engaging in the act was that boys "wanted to copy what they saw in pornography." Younger girls who spoke to British MP Sarah Champion for her report, told her they believed it was obligatory to have anal sex or to be shared between a partner's friends if they wanted a boyfriend to remain faithful.
Alison Pearson relays a conversation with a GP who described anal tearing from porn-inspired anal sex, increasingly happening to adolescent girls:
"A GP, let's call her Sue, said: 'I'm afraid things are much worse than people suspect'. In recent years, Sue had treated growing numbers of teenage girls with internal injuries caused by frequent anal sex; not, as Sue found out, because they wanted to, or because they enjoyed it, but because a boy expected them to. 'I'll spare you the gruesome details', said Sue, 'but these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that'.
"Her patients were deeply ashamed at presenting with such injuries. They had lied to their mums about it and felt they couldn't confide in anyone else, which only added to their distress. When Sue questioned them further, they said they were humiliated by the experience but they had simply not felt they could say no. Anal sex was standard among teenagers now, even though the girls knew it hurt ...
"The girls presenting with incontinence were often under the age of consent and from loving, stable homes. Just the sort of kids who, two generations ago, would have been enjoying riding and ballet lessons, and still looking forward to their first kiss, not being coerced into violent sex by some kid who picked up his ideas about physical intimacy from porn."
At a time when the surreptitious filming of women and girls is increasing - known as "upskirting" and "downblousing" - hidden cameras is another rising porn genre. The appeal, as shown in the titles, is that the woman or girl doesn't know she is being filmed: "Girlfriend doesn't know she is being recorded"; "My 19 YO Roommate undressing - My first time spying on her" and so on ad nauseam.
It is a criminal offence to film people when they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, but men are placing hidden cameras in toilets, changing rooms and rental properties. We only hear about the ones who are identified and charged. These men will face court while Pornhub hosts and profits from the videos they created. Meanwhile, Amazon Australia has been exposed for selling a how-to guide for taking "creepshots" of women, implicitly fuelling the practice.
Porn consumption and sexual aggression
There is a growing body of literature testifying to the way that boys who take their sexual cues from porn develop sexist attitudes and aggressive behaviours, which then have "trickle down" effects on women and girls.
Porn use is linked to higher rape acceptance attitudes. A major 2012 systematic literature review found that adolescent consumption of internet pornography was linked to attitudinal changes including acceptance of male dominance and female submission as the primary sexual paradigm, with women viewed as "sexual playthings eager to fulfill male sexual desires." Adolescents intentionally exposed to violent sexually explicit material, the review found, were six times more likely to be sexually aggressive than those who were not exposed. Similarly, in a 2015 meta-analysis examining the link between pornography consumption and sexual violence, the authors found that consumption of pornography was associated with increased likelihood of committing actual acts of sexual aggression.
The evidence of this is all around us. One in four young Australian men believe it is normal for men to pressure women into sex. In the UK, one in three girls have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school, while 71% hear the terms "slut" or "slag" used to describe female students on a weekly basis.
In Australia there has been a notable increase in reports of child-on-child sexual assault, with porn being cited as a key factor turning children into "copycat sexual predators." At the other end of the age-spectrum, a secret Australian Facebook group called "Blokes Advice" deals in porn-laced threats of violence and vilification. The 200,000 male group members entertain each other with graphic descriptions of gang rape, revenge porn, advice on how to force women into anal sex and incitement to bombard women with porn. Men defended the multiple threatening and violent plots against women as "a bit of a laugh."
Likewise, The Red Zone - a 200-page report into the culture of sexual assault and harassment at many Australian university residential colleges, released earlier this year - details decades of institutionalised hazing and misogyny, including male students masturbating into the shampoo of female residents and an initiation ritual involving "male residents breaking down the doors of women's bedrooms, resulting in one student being taken to hospital."
A new documentary titled Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution, is currently screening on Netflix. It exposes the brutal reality of what happens during Spring Break, when American and international students converge on places like Florida and Cancun in Mexico. The sense of male entitlement is chilling. It feels like watching a mass pack assault, with every woman viewed as meat and conquest.
Male students are on the prowl, predators looking for the next girl to grope; they pull down a girl's top (chanting "Tits out for the boys!"), ply another with alcohol, hustle for sex and, in some cases, out in the open in full daylight, participate in gang rape to a cheer squad of men capturing it all on their phones. Young men are not only becoming inured to suffering - they are turning it into home-made ritual humiliation films to share with their friends.
Sadly, the girls have come not to expect better treatment. There's a price to be paid in not complying: when a girl says "no" and walks away, she is abused and derided. (One begs "Help me" as she tries to escape an aroused cabal who are poking and prodding her and trying to relieve her of her bikini). The boys are taken aback by resistance to the imposition of their unwanted hands and grinding penises. The college boys, for their part, make no secret of their porn consumption. They revel in it. And they enact what they have learned on screen on the bodies of real women.
With sexuality increasingly equated with the consumption of cruelty and brutality, with boys learning to equate the dehumanization of girls and degradation of their bodies with pleasure, with girls treated as masturbatory props, there can be little doubt that will see more of what Di McLeod, director of the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence (GCCASV), is witnessing. She wrote to me:
"In the past few years we have had a huge increase in intimate partner rape of women from 14 to 80+. The biggest common denominator is consumption of porn by the offender. With offenders not able to differentiate between fantasy and reality, believing women are 'up for it' 24/7, ascribing to the myth that 'no means yes and yes means anal', oblivious to injuries caused and never ever considering consent. We have seen a huge increase in deprivation of liberty, physical injuries, torture, drugging, filming and sharing footage without consent.
"There is a cost in the trickledown effect that some of us bear witness to every day ... GCCASV has experienced a 56% increase in referrals from emergency departments of local public hospitals in the past year. Women have been hurt, sustained vaginal, anogenital and other physical injuries in the perpetration of forced sexual contact ... It is rare for us to have a recent rape presentation that involves only vaginal penetration. Porn inspired sex signature acts of anal, deep throating, the money shot accompanied by choking and strangulation are the new 'norm'. Despite the sexologist saying rape and sexual assault are not relevant it is central to the women and young women whose lives have been negatively impacted."
Trying to tell boys it is time for a sexual re-assessment, or lecturing them on "consent" and "respect" simply cannot compete with the indoctrinating effect that porn has on boys. They've learned from porn to gain pleasure in violation. As Glosswitch has observed:
"They can sit in a classroom and be informed about the rights and wrongs of [consent]. They can be encouraged to think, in abstract terms, about the Woman as Person. But that is not how they encounter her in the media, nor in the minds of fellow men. Deep down, they know that their 'right' to access hardcore pornography and purchase female flesh is inviolable. The Woman as Person narrative is subordinate to the one telling them that the ultimate human right is a 'real' man's right to f**k."
We need to talk to boys about how pornography depicts sexual violence against women, and explain to them that consuming porn is not only an affront to women and girls generally, it risks hijacking their sexuality and shaping it into something that will affect their ability to experience intimacy and pleasure without violence.
A culture built upon violation
There is thus a disturbing disconnect between condemnations of violence against women that invariably follows horrifying events like the rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon and the utter silence about the role played by pornography in enabling that violence. Failing to address pornography as a driver of male violence gives future porn-inspired perpetrators a leave pass to commit it.
ABC journalist Jill Meagher was murdered in 2012 by serial predator and rapist (and consumer of rape porn) Adrian Bayley. In a Facebook comment posted on 23 June (quoted with permission), Jill's bereaved husband Tom Meagher observed the inexplicable reluctance to locate porn in the "Rape Culture Pyramid":
"It's so frustrating to see this issue ignored in mainstream conversations about male violence against women ... Generally I quite like these type of images [like the "Rape Culture Pyramid"] as a visual tool, but I have to ask, is it through moral cowardice or deference to the profiteers and guardians of sexual capitalism that you never see any mention of any facet of the sex trade in these pyramids? How on earth can anyone with a straight face claim that the ubiquity of violent porn doesn't have as much of an influence on the normalisation of female objectification and of sexual violence as locker room talk or catcalling and how can they fail to see the relationships and interplay between all of these problems (with porn acting as a deeply regressive sexual re-enforcement of the cultural misogyny that all of those other problems exemplify)? And if they do see it, then say it! It's like we can challenge any institution of patriarchy and male violence against women as long as it doesn't impact men's right to sexually access women and dictate the terms of pornographic content through endless male demand for boundary violations and increasingly younger (or younger presenting) women. If we can criticise ordinary men for failing to address violence against women (as we should), then surely we should be criticising the billionaire profiteers of this massive woman-hating industry as well as the millions of men who contribute to its ever increasing violence on a daily basis. This is a sign of a culture refusing to face [its] problems. The huge [pre-ponderance] of violence against women and dehumanising language in mainstream pornography doesn't come from nowhere, so who is it helping to pretend it's not a reinforcing influence on men who use it, the women in their lives and the wider culture that frames it and is framed by it? I'm so tired of hearing 'it's not porn itself, it's our culture' - well of course. Our culture is built upon and sustains itself on violation, porn is informed by that, but also informs and reinforces this ideology. That's how this s**t works. Violations that are mass produced, mass consumed, normalised and specifically tailored to male demand at the expense of women need to be confronted, not hidden from scrutiny for fear of alienating the 'good' men who get off on those violations, citing 'harmless fantasy' as an obfuscating sanitisation of filmed abuse. I'm baffled by intelligent people who defend this behemoth of sexual capitalism with a limp defence of 'some people choose to do it' - I mean, that is not a structural or cultural analysis, it's anecdotal whatabboutery that neither addresses the problem nor even recognise there is one. Why can't people be braver about discussing this honestly?"
If we truly care about confronting the enablers of violence against women and girls, we must tackle porn's role as, in Meagher's words, "a deeply regressive sexual re-enforcement of the cultural misogyny." If we don't, I fear that all the talk about addressing enablers and creating a safe culture for women is mere rhetoric and cant, devoid of meaning.
Melinda Tankard Reist is a writer, speaker and co-founder of Collective Shout. She co-edited Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Porn Industry and Prostitution Narratives: Stories of Survival in the Sex Trade.
'Reprinted with permission of the author' See article here.