Think Rape Porn Is Just A Kink? Tell That To Victims Of Sexual Violence

By Kathy Parker

Reprinted with permission from the author. 

This week, Eurydice Dixon’s killer was sentenced to life in prison, to serve a minimum of 35 years before he becomes eligible for parole.
During the almost two-hour sentencing, Jaymes Todd sat with his head down and eyes closed as the details of his crime were read to the public; a premeditated crime conceived from the “dark and sick fantasy” driven by the sexual sadism disorder he has since been diagnosed with.

The details of Dixon’s death were shocking and disturbing, however, this particular detail unsettled me in a way I’ve been trying to understand since: hours after violently attacking, raping and killing Dixon as she walked home through a public park, Todd watched "'strangulation porn' -- a depraved fantasy he had become increasingly obsessed with in the months leading up to the attack”.

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Earlier this year, ABC’s Triple J surveyed 11,000 people aged between 18-29 on topics like study, employment, finances, drinking and drugs, as well as questions about sex, relationships and safety. Last week they detailed the response of the survey surrounding porn -- specifically highlighting the details of rape fantasy porn, assuring readers it was a harmless kink:

"The stuff I tend to watch is very male-dominant, has a helpless female aspect, choking, strangers being pushed up against walls, being hit, girls being taken advantage of. The ideal porno for me would be a stranger, someone older and bigger, terrifying the girl, having his way with her," one respondent said.

In the article, sex therapist Dr Christopher Fox said, "Porn itself is only a fantasy. I often equate porn to a TV show: you don't watch a TV show and try to recreate it." Except, Jaymes Todd, who had been watching porn since the age of 11, did recreate his violent fantasy, and because of this, Eurydice Dixon was raped, strangled and brutally murdered.

Which leads me to ask the question, in a society where one woman every week is murdered by her partner, can we continue to claim violent porn is a harmless fantasy and not consider the connection between violent porn culture and rape culture?

While pornography has been part of our culture for decades, the concern we see today is the rise in videos depicting violence toward women, with one researcher finding 88 percent of scenes include physical aggression such as gagging, choking and slapping.

As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges writes, “violent pornography glorifies the dehumanisation of women", with production companies churning out increasingly brutal and debasing content -- such as "aggressive 'throat f**king’ or ‘face f**king’ videos like the ‘Gag Factor’ series, in which women gag and often vomit". The same company "ushered in ‘swirlies,’ in which the male performer dunks the woman’s head into a toilet after sex and then flushes. The company promises, ‘Every whore gets the swirlies treatment. F**k her, then flush her.’”

There are limits in what we can gather about the exact relationship between pornography and human behaviour. To say violent porn directly causes rape isn't accurate as we know not all men who watch violent porn will go on to rape women, just as not all those who play violent video games will embark on a mass shooting spree. But in light of Eurydice Dixon's murder, can we say definitively that it doesn't contribute to the kind of brutality she suffered and other women continue to suffer?

In an article exploring the relationship between sexual violence and pornography, Melinda Tankard Reist says, “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?”

She goes on to mention Pornhub, a website which features in the top five favourite sites of boys aged 11-16 -- one which receives 100 million visitors per day -- and how the sexuality of boys is being formed upon the arousal of girls who are “choking, sobbing, vomiting, their eyes popping, having their skin bruised, being called abusive names, slapped, kicked, pounded, hair ripped out”.

One in Four, an organisation in Ireland that provides professional counselling to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, claims one in five rapes in Ireland are committed by teenage boys who began offending at 10 or 11 years of age, with the organisation attributing the sexual violence to the rise of rape porn and its access by children.

So while watching violent rape porn -- which may feed into and inform viewers' rape fantasies -- may not in and of itself cause rape, can we deny its connection to, and implication in, the rise of sexual violence in our culture?

Regardless of whether we can declare violent rape porn as the catalyst for sexual violence, the exploitation and dehumanisation of women in today’s porn culture still raises an issue we should be concerned about.

Gail Dines, Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at Boston's Wheelock College, says pornography has "socialised a generation of men into watching sexual torture", which normalises, and glorifies, the dehumanisation of women.

When it comes to that kind of dehumanisation, "You are not born with that capacity," Dines said, "You have to be trained into it. Just like you train soldiers to kill. If you are going to carry out violence against a group you have to dehumanise them. It is an old method. Jews become kikes. Blacks become ni**ers. Women become c**ts. And no one turns women into c**ts better than porn.”

While it may never be possible to definitively prove that violent porn culture causes, informs or enables rape culture, we cannot continue to state the two are mutually exclusive. Nor can we continue to rage against the epidemic of violent deaths of innocent women in our country while promoting violent rape porn as an innocent and harmless kink, and refuse to see the connection.

Originally published at 10 Daily. 


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