Michael Flood, Associate Professor at Queensland University of Technology, has recently written about the harmful impacts that porn is having on young people.
For many young people, pornography has become the default sex educator. Children and young people are encountering pornography in greater numbers, at younger ages, and with a wider variety of content, influencing young people’s sexual lives.
Research evidence from around the world shows porn has harmful impacts on young people and adults alike. Some impacts are deeply troubling, particularly pornography’s contribution to sexual violence.
Pornography can shift sexual interests, behaviours and relationships. It shapes “sexual scripts”, providing models of behaviour and guiding sexual expectations, with studies finding links between watching pornography and heterosexual anal intercourse, unsafe sex and more.
Watching pornography can lower men’s relationship satisfaction. And for women, male partners’ pornography use can reduce intimacy, feed self-objectification and body shame, or involve coercion into sexual acts.
But these next areas of impact concern me most.
Pornography teaches sexist and sexually objectifying understandings of gender and sexuality. For instance, in a randomised experimental study among young men in Denmark, exposure to (nonviolent) pornography led to less egalitarian attitudes and higher levels of hostile sexism. And in a longitudinal study among US adolescents, increased use of pornography predicted more sexist attitudes for girls two years later.
Aggression, largely by males and overwhelmingly against females, is common in pornography: an analysis of top-selling and top-renting titles found 88% of scenes showed aggression.
Men who use pornography more often are more likely to practise or desire dominant, degrading practices, such as gagging and choking. And women who use pornography are more likely to practise or desire submissive practices.
In fact, longitudinal studies among adolescents find watching pornography is linked to sexually violent behaviour later in life. In a US study, people who watched violent pornography were more than six times as likely to engage in sexually aggressive behaviour. In another, it predicted more frequent sexual harassment perpetration two years later.
In Collective Shout's submission to Senate Environment and Communications References Committee, Harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the Internet we recommended:
- The Australian Government should work with Internet Service Providers to establish a scheme for all existing and new customers to be provided with a default family friendly setting (no pornography) with opt-out only permitted by account holders who can establish that they are aged 18 years or over. Regulations to impose this requirement should be considered as a backup if after 12 months insufficient progress has been made by ISPs towards this goal.
- New programs should be designed with respectful and mutual relationships as the starting point, not just ‘sex education’. Young people want content based on their real lives and experiences – information that empowers and equips them to make healthy decisions about their sexuality.
- All children and young people should have access to comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality and relationships education that promotes respectful and mutual relationships.
- The school curriculum should, in an age-appropriate manner, specifically address the influence of media, including the influence of pornography and the sex industry more broadly. We believe it is not enough to adopt a public health perspective, but that a gender equality perspective is also crucial in understanding these problems.
- School communities – including teachers, wellbeing staff and school leaders – should have access to quality professional learning, support and resources, to support them in implementing comprehensive relationships and sexuality education. This should include specialist support to address the influence of pornography.
- Pre-service teacher training should include learning about the influence of pornography and how to address it through respectful relationships and sexuality curricula, and in other relevant learning areas.
- Parents and carers should have access to information and resources to support them to parent effectively in this relatively new context of easy and anonymous access to pornography. This should include support to understand the issues, and practical advice about how to manage technology to minimise exposure and how to support their children’s reflective and critical thinking.
- Other adults involved in children and young people’s care and education – such as youth workers, doctors, counsellors and health promotion staff – should have access to relevant professional learning and resources addressing the influence of pornography.
We also contributed a submission to Inquiry into Age Verification for Online Wagering and Online Pornography.
Recommendation 1: In light of data verifying the real-life harms of childhood exposure to pornography the Commonwealth government should recognise the potential benefits of an Age Verification system along with other measures to limit porn exposure to children, including education programs and improved ISP filters.
Recommendation 2: An age verification scheme for access to online pornography, drawing from work done to develop the original United Kingdom model and with added measures that address perceived shortcomings in that model, for example, additions that extend application to social media platforms, should be implemented by the Commonwealth Government.
Recommendation 3: Introduce an age verification system that will restrict children’s access to online pornography (and the global porn industry’s unfettered access to children), acknowledging that our obligation to protect children, and the ensuing protections afforded to children by such a system far outweigh the concerns of those with vested interests in the global porn industry.
Recommendation 4: Introduce an Age Verification system that will restrict children’s access to online pornography (and the global porn industry’s unfettered access to children) and so uphold Australia’s international obligations to protect children from abuse, exploitation and developmental harm, acknowledging that exposure to online pornography amounts to abuse, exploitation and harm.
Children need the adults around them to protect them from the harms of porn. Have you had "the talk" with the the young people in your life?
Read the full article here
*Content warning- extreme sexual violence*
“You think about how nice it would be to die. But then you think about how nice it would be to rape Kristina or Ashley before you die.”
Set to be released in April on gaming platform Steam, Rape Day is a game that allows users to assume the persona of a sociopath who rapes women during a zombie apocalypse. Developers describe the content as including violence, sexual assault, non-consensual sex (which is more accurately described as rape), obscene language, necrophilia and incest.
The game features a range of scenarios where the male persona preys on and rapes naked women with cartoonish large breasts, who are positioned as vulnerable and depicted frightened, screaming and in pain. In a scene where the man rapes a non-responsive woman, text appears on the screen: “Because she is no longer struggling against you, you grow bored.” In another scenario, the man puts a gun in a woman’s mouth, threatening to “blow [her] brains all over the dirt” and rape her corpse.
A preview of the game on Steam, including the pornographic and sexually violent content described above, was visible to users aged from 13. Steam’s negligence in exposing children to this disturbing content was further showcased in a brief disclaimer at the bottom of the page that read, “This game is marked as ‘adult only’. You are seeing this game because you have agreed to continue to this page.”
In response to backlash over the game’s blatant promotion of rape and violence against women, distributor Valve pulled the game from the platform. Valve issued a weak, vague statement explaining their reasons for withdrawing the game. At no point did Valve condemn any of the sexually violent material, content that would be illegal under Australia’s classification laws. Instead, their decision to pull the game appears to have more to do with protecting their financial interests than any objection to violence against women:
“After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think ‘Rape Day’ poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam.”
While it’s good news that Rape Day has been withdrawn from Steam, how was this game allowed in the first place? How long was this horrific content visible to children before it was removed? And will it be hosted somewhere else?
Back in 2009, a similar game 'Rapelay' which allowed users to simulate the rape of a mother and her two daughters, was banned after a single complaint by Collective Shout co-founder Melinda Tankard Reist.
In our work against the sexual exploitation of women and girls, we highlight the connections between the sexualisation and objectification of women and girls, and real life violence against them. We cannot address an epidemic of men’s violence against women and simultaneously treat violence against women as a source of entertainment.
"Pornography is now the main sex educator for young people"Read more
Content warning: This piece contains references to rape and violence against women that may be distressing.
This week, Noisey, Vice’s music channel, published a piece in defence of rap artist Tyler the Creator. The article, entitled ‘#FreeTylerTheCreator And Reject Theresa May’s Dumb Logic’ painted Tyler as a victim of racism and ignorance, and presented misinformation about campaigns against him.
The piece opens by describing a “moving” performance by TTC, summed up with the following statement:
"This – a peaceful lover of nature – is an artist who remains banned from entering the UK under any circumstances.”
It's hard to imagine such a “peaceful lover of nature” could be behind lyrics like “rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome”, or a wealth of others glorifying rape and extreme violence against women, murder, mutilating women’s genitals, stuffing them into car boots, trapping them in his basement, raping their corpses and burying their bodies.
The author suggests there is no basis for TTC to be refused access into any country, and that bans were motivated by racism:
"It was a very blatant case of making an example out of someone for no reason other than the fact that he’s black and angry and all the other countries under the Queen’s rule were doing it.”
The author's lack of research doesn’t end there, with the article incorrectly stating that after being banned from entering New Zealand in 2014, TTC became the focus of Collective Shout.
Collective Shout first campaigned against Tyler the Creator in June of 2013, not because he is “black and angry”, but due to his songs advocating rape and violence against women, often defended by his fans as ‘art’. In the course of our campaign, young activist Talitha Stone wrote a tweet accusing Tyler the Creator of promoting misogyny. TTC responded by sharing her tweet with his millions of followers, who predictably jumped at the opportunity to prove their loyalty by threatening to rape and murder Talitha, with police involvement required after one fan tweeted her home address.
Just days later, Tyler launched into an abusive tirade against Talitha who was in the crowd at his Sydney concert, calling her a bitch, whore and c*** as concertgoers cheered. He then proceeded to dedicate the song ‘Bitch Suck Dick’ to her, which contains the lyrics “You dead bitch, I'm hot as f*ck…Punch a bitch in her mouth just for talkin' shit”.
Is this still ‘art’?
‘Beat the p***y up’ – the way we talk about sex with women
By Jessica Eaton
This blog contains a discussion of violent language to discuss sex, sexual violence and porn. It also contains the titles to real porn films that a lot of people may find disturbing. Please take care of yourself whilst reading this and seek support after reading if you need to.
As a massive old skool (and sometimes new skool) RnB, Rap and Hip Hop fan, I often find myself experiencing some pretty serious cognitive dissonance to try to enjoy my music without yelling at the radio or crying into my crisps.
As a younger feminist, I used to tell myself that it was okay that women were called bitches and hoes because that’s the way that artist chose to express themselves (I know, I know, so progressive).
As I got older, I started to resent the use of the word ‘bitch’ in my once-favourite songs. I stopped listening to some artists because I couldn’t stand the way they spoke about women and sex. The next challenge was dealing with the rise of female artists using ‘bitch’ and ‘nasty hoe’ to describe themselves. I thought the rise of female MCs, rappers and writers would eliminate this constant woman-hating but it didn’t. Nicki, Cardi B, Lil Kim, Missy Elliott – they made me wanna two-step and cry at the same time.
(Edit: I would just like to add that misogynistic and rape-glorifying lyrics are found in Death Metal too so this issue clearly isn’t unique to my music preferences, but I have never listened to it so didn’t know until someone told me today! Here’s a link.)
It is often the case in music that women sing about loving men and men sing about f*cking women. And it’s this that I want to talk about.
I noticed recently that the range of ways men sing, rap and talk about having sex with women has become inherently violent. They aren’t talking about ‘getting jiggy’ or ‘having fun’ or ‘doing the deed’ – I mean, they are not even calling it sex anymore. Not only that, but they are not even naming or identifying the woman anymore.
I decided to sit and think about all the violent ways men describe having sex with women these days, and came up with this list in about 3 minutes. I am sure there are many more and people will contact me with others.
List of violent terms to describe having sex with women:
Beat that p***y up
Beat it up
There are two main points here. The first is that sex is being described in very violent terms and the second is that the word ‘that’ is used in place of ‘her’ to objectify the woman they are talking about. These men aren’t saying ‘I would love to have sex with her’ or ‘I would shag her’ or even ‘I would f**k her’ – they are saying ‘I would f**k that’. ‘That’ is not a pronoun. ‘That’ is not a name. ‘That’ is used for objects. I’ll come back to this point.
The first point is the violence in the language. Hit. Destroy. Ruin. Bang. Beat up. Smash. Smack. Hurt. These are words that describe violence and injury. They don’t describe sex. They don’t describe the type of sex any woman wants to have.
When I started to search the terms I had heard and read, I easily found memes, articles, discussions and blogs using this language about women in a completely normalised way. Men saying to their friends ‘The girl next door, I would ruin that!’ or ‘She’s gonna get it hard. Beat that p***y up!’ The image of all of the guys saying they would rape the sleeping girl on the sofa. I found hundreds of song lyrics like the ones I have listened to.
Gucci Mane released a song called ‘Beat it up’ about having sex with women. So did Slim Thug. So did Chris Brown. And no, I’m not talking about one song they all featured on, I’m talking about three separately produced songs about ‘beating that p***y up’.
Here are the lyrics from Slim Thug:
Guess what? I’m f**kin tonight
Whether you know it or not, Ima beat that pussy right
Yeah I’m f**kin tonight, Ima beat it up
In song lyrics, R Kelly says he ‘beats the p***y up like Django’and Lil Wayne says he ‘beat that p***y up like Emmett Till’.
Chris Brown says he f**ks women back to sleep in ‘Back to sleep’. I don’t really know why he would want to make a woman he has sex with fall asleep but the song lyrics are creepy as shit:
F**k you to sleep, wake you up again, I go so deep, beat it up again
Just let me rock, f**k you back to sleep, girl
Don’t say no, girl, don’t you talk
Just hold on tight to me, girl
F**k you back to sleep, girl.
The issue here is that these influential men in our popular culture and music industry are openly using sexually violent references to having sex with women and then every day adults (and children) are singing along to Chris Brown riffin’ about the women he wakes up to make them have sex with him again when they are too tired. We are so oblivious to what we are listening to, this language quickly becomes the norm.
One article I found listed every artist they could find who referred to sex as ‘beating the p***y up’ and they found over 15 current male artists using that term in hit songs. Jay-Z to Lil Wayne – they were all describing sex as harming women.
After searching for evidence on each one of the terms I listed above, I found a website discussing what ‘destroy that’ and ‘ruin that’ meant and was surprised to find how open men were when talking about what they meant. I had thought that maybe it was being used semi-consciously by men who were using it in banter, but they were using it literally. One page defined it as ‘having sex with her so rough that you cause injuries, the more physical injuries the rougher it probably was’. One man said he used it with his friends to mean destroying or ruining a ‘nice girl’ by having very aggressive sex with her or by taking her virginity.
It reminded me of a film I watched (and use in my teaching) about mail order brides and the way white, wealthy guys were buying and sexually exploiting women as servile brides from deprived areas. There was this one guy who used military metaphors to discuss meeting and having sex with potential brides. He made my skin crawl.
He is sat in a dark club when he says to the camera:
“Uh, the search and destroy mission for today is to circulate, work the room, identify a target and go for it. If plan A doesn’t work, I retreat, rally the troops and then go out and then try plan B uhh to capture the target.”
He doesn’t even say woman. He doesn’t even talk about humans. He talks about destroying and identifying targets.
This links to the second point I wanted to make – that this language dehumanises and dementalises women – it reduces them to their ‘p***y’ or their ‘ass’ that the men are going to ‘hurt’ or ‘hit’ or ‘crush’ or ‘beat that up’. They no longer converse about sex in human terms – they talk in metaphors and disconnected, dehumanised language. They refer to women as ‘that’ or they only talk about her body parts. She is there to be used, abused and hurt for their pleasure.
Where is this sexually violent language coming from?
Well, sorry to be the not-the-fun-kind-of-feminist, but its porn and societal misogyny. There is no doubt about where this is coming from. Work by people like Julia Long and Gail Dines has long told us that porn has become more and more violent, with Long (2012) arguing that over 90% of porn now features violence against women including hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, hurting, whipping and deliberately painful and extremely degrading sex acts.
You only have to look at the titles of porn films on Pornhub or X Videos to see the way they describe women in violent and degrading terms to see where this is coming from.
Here are some examples that are on porn sites today (18th May 2018):
‘Passed out slut letting me f**k her brains out’ (this film is of a clearly unconscious young girl being raped on Pornhub)
‘Unwanted painful anal’ (another allowed to stay on Pornhub despite clearly describing a rape)
‘Rip her up’ (the name of a series of videos in which women are raped)
‘Blonde babe gets brutally slapped and f**ked’
‘Beauty humiliated and ruined – BRUTAL’
‘Teen gets anally destroyed – hear her real screams and crying’
‘Heavily pregnant teen used by men’ (Pornhub allows this!)
13 Reasons Why makes a powerful statement about the nature of rape, challenging several widely held myths about sexual violence and what constitutes a ‘real’ rape.
Recently released on Netflix, the TV program 13 Reasons Why has attracted significant media attention for its treatment of sensitive material and themes, including teen suicide and sexual assault. Some have credited the show for sparking a conversation on suicide and its prevention, others, including mental health organisations, have raised concerns regarding the portrayal of suicide and possible promotion of problematic notions around it.
While certainly confronting, particularly in its depiction of rape and suicide, 13 Reasons Why has successfully exposed a culture of objectification, sexual bullying and harassment and sexual assault and how this treatment causes severe damage to women and girls. (Spoilers ahead.)Read more
Sexualised Violence isn’t Alright, Just because a Woman is the Perpetrator
BBHMM revels in the eroticization of total power, control and domination over another woman. But we are expected to see it as empowering, because Rihanna and her henchwomen are the agents of this control
By Melinda Tankard ReistRead more