Porn corporations: stop selling rape fantasies

Liberalism has a blindspot when it comes to pornography. Liberals see it as a freedom issue – adults should be free to watch porn if they want, so long as no-one is harmed in the making of it. Adults should also be free to make porn if they want. Companies should be free to sell porn. No one wants to oppose pornography, for fear it will make them look Victorian and repressed, like Mary Whitehouse. To oppose porn might be seen as ‘weird’ – to accept it and giggle at it is normal.

In fact, just about the only male journalist I can think of who has raised any concerns about the massive global pornography industry and its effect on all of us is Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent who has become something of a moral voice in journalism. In his 2008 book, Empire of Illusion, he asserted that porn is a particularly vicious form of corporate slavery, in which women are commodified, abused and traumatised for the pleasure of male consumers and the multi-billion-dollar profit of corporations. You can read an excerpt here.
When I was a teenager at boarding school, there was – as you can imagine – a fair amount of porn around. This was in the days before internet, when the porn industry was dominated by top-shelf magazines like Hustler or Playboy. Now, a teenager has instant access to aggregation sites like PornHub or YouPorn, which directly promote hardcore or ‘extreme’ porn. That’s what teenagers are growing up on now: extreme, often violent pornography. It’s no wonder they get into things like sexting, where they text photos of themselves naked to their partners (often regretting it if their partner shares it with their friends). Pornography is the darkside to the YouTube culture of narcissism. You’re only valued if someone is watching you, clicking on you.
Sites like YouPorn have moved the mainstream of pornography to the extreme. The mainstream now would have been considered extremely hardcore 20 years ago. Go onto one of the main hub sites, and there are adverts on the homepage showing women being violently abused – choked, strangled, slapped, thrown across the room, forced to crawl on all floors. Their faces show they’re clearly in agony and distress, because that’s what apparently gets the consumer off. I thought Japanese cartoon pornography, with its rape and even murder fantasies, was pretty sick – well, it’s become normal in our culture too. The sites are called things like PunishTube, Pornstar Discipline, AbuseWeb. They sell rape fantasies, pure and simple, right on the homepage of the biggest porn websites in the world.
You might think ‘well, it’s the internet, we can’t control it’. But we can. There are two ways we can control it. By putting pressure on the companies who create the content and websites, and by getting governments to change the regulation of internet porn.

[Update: since writing this piece, I’ve discovered that the British government made ‘extreme pornography’ – including the glamorisation of rape – illegal in 2009. So YouPorn should be shut down in the UK for taking advertising from sites like PunishTube ]
Much of the violent content is made by a company called Brazzers, whose slogan is ‘Our girls like it rough’. The same company also owns sites like YouPorn and RedTube. It’s perhaps the biggest porn company in the world.
Brazzers was set up by some Canadian students in around 2005: Ouissam Youssef, Youssef and Stephane Manos, Feras Antoon and Matt Keezer. The name was a joke of their mainly (Christian) Middle Eastern origins – Brazzers as a foreign pronunciation of ‘Brothers’. They then set up the sites PornHub, YouPorn, RedTube and others, and before long these 20-something geeks were the kings of porn – their sites were the number one Google search result for ‘porn’ and ‘sex’, and were in the top 100 websites in the world.
Brazzers moved porn from the Hugh Hefner ‘old duffer in a velvet jacket’ model of pornography to a Porn 2.0 version made by younger IT nerds who knew what IT nerds wanted: more cartoon fake boobs, more hardcore sex, more older women with younger men fantasies, more ‘reality porn’ or ‘Gonzo porn’ where frat-boys ‘pick up’ women off the street, put them in van and screw them; and more violent and abusive sex. The flipside of the frat-boy solidarity (‘hey, us guys are all ‘brazzers’, right? High five!’) is a fear / hatred of women, a sense they must be made to kneel, suffer, submit.
But these young guys saw themselves as internet entrepreneurs first and foremost, and they were clearly concerned about their reputations. Ouissam Youssef’s website, for example, makes no mention of his success in the porn industry, but does declare his support for charities – perhaps revealingly, he wants to set up a foundation for autism, and he also supports World Vision, a Christian charity. Matt Keezer says he supports Unicef, the children’s charity. Stephane Manos is a member of a strange Christian organisation called AHEPA, and also supports a bipolar association and a ‘children’s telethon’.
Obviously somewhat conflicted souls. Perhaps because of this, they sold all their businesses – Brazzers and the sites like YouPorn – to a 32-year-old German called Fabian Thylmann (shown on the left), for an estimated $140 million. All the porn assets are controlled by the appropriately-named Manwin, now one of the biggest web companies in the world, and probably the biggest porn company (it recently signed a deal to take over the running of Playboy’s TV channels). Thylmann has been called one of the ‘global power brokers’ of the porn industry. Once again, the company makes a big thing of its ‘social responsibility’, and support for child protection laws and safe sex. You would never guess, looking at its sleek website with its image of a gleaming glass skyscraper, that the company makes profits from rape fantasy sites like PunishTube. If ever Patrick Bateman ran a company, I think it would look and act like Manwin.
Well, here’s some social responsibility for you Fabian. Stop making money from the glamorisation of rape. Cut that shit out. Close down and stop advertising sites like PunishTube – they’re dangerous, they’re immoral, they’re toxic. Tweet Fabian to tell him to #banrapeporn, email Manwin’s media team here to tell them to take those sites down, and to take down any videos that glorify violence against women. Extreme pornography is illegal under UK law – this company should either clean up its act or be closed to UK ISPs.

Comments:

  • Gappy says:

    Brilliant stuff Jules. It's so refreshing to see a man speaking out against this kind of pornography.

    The majority of women now leaving the porn industry suffer from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of their experiences. I find this statistic so distressing and yet, as a woman, if you criticise the porn industry you risk being simply dismissed as a prude, as anti-sex, as an uptight shrew who just wants to spoil mens fun. However this sort of pornography actually has nothing to do with sex in my opinion, and everything to do with male expressions of dominance and hatred, which is something else entirely.

    Can I also say as well, at the risk of giving away a bit 'too much information', that as a single woman who is actively dating, I can see how much male sexual desire has been influenced by this type of pornography. When I was a much younger woman no man would have dreamed of asking for some of the things a lot of men now seem to expect. This pornography is distorting our sexuality. We are confusing power and dominance with genuine desire and pleasure.

    It isn't doing anyone any good.

  • …Third, it's not at all clear that rape porn actually does any harm. Actual rape is a bad thing: it's an act done to someone without their consent, which violates their right to control their body. Simulated rape, as in porn, takes place between consenting adults, for a viewer who consents to watch it.

    You're extremely vague on who this porn harms, and how it harms them. You talk about "sexting", but it's hard to see a link there. Why should rape porn in particular increase "sexting"? Why not non-rape porn? Should that be banned too?

    You talk vaguely about a "fear / hatred of women", but does porn really encourage this? Do cultures with a lot of restrictions on porn, such as Victorian England or modern-day Saudi Arabia, really have a better attitude to women?

    In summary then, this is a bad idea for the following reasons:

    1. It impairs the right to free speech
    2. It provides a mechanism for censorship that historically has been abused and overused.
    3. It puts the power of censorship into unaccountable, undemocratic hands.
    4. It attempts to forbid something which has not been demonstrated to be harmful.

    [NB: had to split comment into 2 because of character limit]

  • Anonymous says:

    First, most of what I wanted to say is covered by Neil Gaiman's
    "Why Defend Freedom of Icky Speech":

    http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/12/why-defend-freedom-of-icky-speech.html

    He points out that it's very difficult to draw dividing lines. He's mostly interested in comics, but there are movies like "The Baby of Macon" and "A Clockwork Orange" which contain graphic rape scenes. Some people might find these movies pornographic, some artistic. But you need to be very careful who you give authority to to draw these lines

    Another point is that some people strongly object to things like homosexuality. If companies easily stop distributing content based on protests, maybe movies like "Brokeback Mountain" would be the victim of fundamentalist protest.

    Free speech isn't just an excuse: it's an important principle. If you believe in free speech as a principle, you can't just defend speech you like, you also have to defend speech you find objectionable.

    Second, it's strange that the word "profit" keeps appearing here. We live in a capitalist economy. Most production, most services, most distribution takes place with profit involved. Why should profit make things more or less offensive?

    Suppose two S&M; fans make a rape porn video themselves, and upload it to the Internet entirely for free, with no profit involved. It's hard to see why this video is better or worse than a for-profit video.

    One curious thing about mainstream economics is that there is very little discussion of companies/firms/corporations. Most economic models prefer to deal with a large number of individuals instead. In theory, this should be the most efficient kind of market.

    Yet in the real world, most economic activity is carried out by firms, especially very large corporations.

    One effect of this is that these large corporations have a hegemonic power. The effect of decisions by a few senior managers of large corporations can have a vast impact on society.

    If we look at how censorship has taken place in the real world, it's very often implemented by the hegemonic power of corporations, not by government.

    The "Hays Code" that notoriously censored the US film industry with its often arbitrary rules (including odd-shaped swimsuits that had to conceal the apparently-obscene female navel) was an industry standard, created in response to (mostly Christian) pressure groups:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Production_Code

    The Comics Code that censored comics, and the British Board of Film Classification, are also corporate/industry bodies, not implemented by the government:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bbfc
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comics_code

    The Internet Watch Foundation, which censors the Internet in the UK, is a similar body, a registered charity funded by corporations, not a part of the government:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Watch_Foundation

    This has controversially censored Wikipedia pages as well as actual porn sites:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Watch_Foundation_and_Wikipedia

    It's not a radical new idea to use the hegemonic power of corporations to implement censorship: it's common practice today and has been in the past. But is it a good idea?

    Based on history, it doesn't seem that it works terribly well. In practice, it often results in bland, homogenous art; where anything that is offensive to any loud group is banned: homosexuality and navels as well as rape.

    It doesn't seem to me to be very democratic either, to give corporations such power. If free expression is so important, why leave it to pressure groups exerting power on corporations? It's hard to see why this more democratic or accountable than official government censorship, which at least comes from an elected body.

    [This is part 1 of 2, had to split it in two for length limits, and the first part has vanished -Theophile Escargot]

  • anonymous says:

    the existence of extreme pornography makes me really depressed. i found some stuff as a child and was unable to assimilate and digest it. it totally messed up my view of the world and made me sort of give up. at the time i was going to a very strict christian girls school. i sort of became addicted to it, even though i was very young. i guess it fulfilled something in me – perhaps to counteract boredom and a lack of love and hey, who knows, maybe i am latently gay. but i lost respect for women who would do such things – and i am now hyper sensitive to any kind of perceived humiliation of myself. my view of the world also became hyper sexualised. this combined with other 'run of the mill' sexual encounters, such as being abused as a child by male 'family' relations, being persuaded to have sex when a virgin as i had gone out with the boy for 'over 3 months', plus a black guy turning up at my door one evening when about 20 who was an ex-husband of a friend of a friend of a boyfriend. i had danced with him at an impromptu party at my boyfriend's parent's house, to show that i wasn't racist as much as anything – and then he turns up at my front door. again, i didnt want to look racist, plus i was pretty passive, so i let him in. 5 minutes into talking, he suggested we both take our tops off …. after the event, i decided to pretend i had wanted the experience, and i even invited him to tag along to a festival. i was scared and didnt want people to pity me for the experience. i also thought it was my responsibility to deal with the situation, as if, somehow, i had invited it.
    what i am trying to say is that women, evidently, are much more complex than most men and it is very easy to mess up a female with inappropriate sexual experiences. the reason pornography makes me depressed is because it seems to give evidence that men dont pariticularly like women, except as occasional sexual partners – i find this monumentally saddening. some may say that men have greater drives – that may be, but does it have to lead to women only being viewed as sexual objects (or, firmly classified as non-sexual ones and therefore socially alienated)? if this is the only dynamic that leads to men and women seeking out each other's company, what consequences does this have?
    lastly, i think where extreme pornography is especially destructive is when it is provided to cultures that do not esteem females and the traditional female values of caring and compassion. it has a kind of exponentially bad effect on male:female relations, i think.
    im not sure whether to publish this or not: by exposing this history, males may get the wrong message: that it's easy to talk about such things/that you get over such things/that females should talk about 'intimate' things with all and sundry – because they are only females, therefore they should not be too proud to speak about their deep and private humiliations.

  • Jayarava says:

    This is one side of the porn story, told from a politically correct feminist perspective. Which is not say that I endorse porn, only that I think there are hidden ideologies at work.

    You characterise the porn industry as "corporate slavery" – but in fact men and women who act in porn make a lot of money. So just factually they aren't slaves. It is the great feminist theme to see women as victims of men. Just as Marxists see everything in terms of class struggle, and Freudians in terms of sexual repression. We can see that they all have a point, but we don't need to go along with extreme ideological views.

    The people who pay for porn are mostly men. I think it is men who are being exploited by porn companies. The dynamics of pleasure is such that regular use of porn, or even pornographic fantasy, reduces sensitivity to sexual stimulation – which is what the porn companies exploit. This blog post from ScienceBlogs sets out some of the issues. Like all types of expectation/reward/pleasure stimuli, porn is addictive and produces tolerance. On the whole it is men who are enslaved by porn, not women. One can see why porn has become more and more extreme given the gradually decreasing ability to respond to stimulation. Like the demand for drugs, without education of the users the consumption will only ever go up.

    On the other hand if you want to really put a dent in the objectification of women, then to my mind the place to start would be the fashion industry and women's magazines. These above-the-board industries definitely do objectify and women, and exploit women's anxieties – anxiety too affects expectation and reward. They do it out in the open, and they do it with impunity.

    We may bitch about size zero models, but it hasn't changed the underlying mode of operation of these industries. And even if we wound up the porn industry tomorrow, women would still buy the same magazines which are all about objectifying women.

    It's a bit like the alcohol vs drugs debate. No one is arguing that heroin is a good thing, but it's clear that alcohol constitutes by far the greater public health risk, and yet alcohol is cheap and ubiquitous. The attitudes of society are irrational.

    I agree that porn is distorting our sexuality. It does so through the over-stimulation of the pleasure circuits of our brains which then require more intense, and/or more frequent, stimulation to achieve the same effect. It's just like heroin. And it should be treated as a public health issue. And it is true that women do suffer as a result, but the targets, and the victims of this industry are primarily men. Though let us not forget that women's magazines have made a contribution to this by their input into women's sexual expectations as well. As a teenager a copy of Cosmopolitan was the next best thing to Playboy!

    The underlying rationale for all of this is that pleasure equals happiness. We all want to be happy and aside from drugs few things are as pleasurable as orgasm. So we pursue sexual pleasure not realising that it doesn't equate with happiness. All the evidence suggests that moderation is the key to satisfaction. But we are educated by these industries that we can have as much as we want… so we end up getting less and less of it!

    If the reality of the impact of porn on men's health and well-being were brought to the fore (it makes you impotent!) then to my mind this would have a greater impact on the industry as a whole.

  • Anonymous says:

    The spam filter keeps eating my part 1 comment, presumably because it contains forbidden keywords. I've posted the full version here:

    http://www.hulver.com/scoop/story/2012/3/2/17510/95563

    Theophile Escargot

  • anonymous says:

    just to be more accurate, i dont think i was addicted to the pornography, just sort of fascinated by it, which is why i looked at it, let us say, more than once. but i was a child. i was curious. i think it was damaging, because it disrupted what i was learning at school, about the way the world worked functionally, apparently.

    i think that jayarava is implying that it is only men who suffer the consequences of pornography, because they are manipulated by it, whilst women in it simply make money. i think this perpetuates the myth that women are life's great maternal 'sponges' who can mop up all unpleasantnesses for puerile men, so that the latter can be happy in their molycoddled unconsciousness. thus, women aren't really human beings, psychologically. you can see that this premise doesn't stand up.
    jayarava suggests that education may help men, but i would say the problem is more macro, ie, cultural/politico-economic.

  • Jules Evans says:

    Theophile, I agree that one has to be careful with state censorship – the main thrust of my article is an attempt to put moral pressure onto individuals and corporations engaged in a business I believe to be unethical.

    These websites I mentioned are some of the most viewed websites on the internet, and right there on their homepages is this rape porn – this is bringing rape porn into the mainstream of our culture. I think we should criticise that and resist it.

    Jayarava, I am not making this argument to be 'politically correct' and what ideology do you think I am hiding? You've read this blog for a while – do you think I say things to be politically correct?

  • Gappy says:

    Theophile I really must take issue with your claim that rape porn is something that always takes place between consenting adults.

    Many many women are forced or in some way coerced to act in pornographic films, and much rape porn is not actually 'simulated' at all. A simple google search will provide you with evidence to back this up, both statistical evidence and first person evidence. In my first comment I said that the majority of women now leaving the porn industry suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. Does this suggest happy consenting actresses to you?

    By all means continue to tell yourself that all porn actresses are consenting if it helps you to feel better. But it's not true. And you have no way of knowing if the woman in the film you're watching is consenting or not. That goes for any porn, not just rape porn.

    As for Jayavara's claim that men are in fact the ones being exploited by porn because they are the ones parting with their money, oh please. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Pornography is created mostly by and for men. The women involved are completely expendable.

  • Anonymous says:

    Gappy. I find it hard to believe your claim that "much rape porn is not actually 'simulated' at all". But if it's true, then the way to combat it is to prosecute the producers of porn directly for rape and sexual assault, which are serious crimes.

    Jules. I think we largely agree that government censorship is bad. What we disagree on is corporate censorship, of which I cited several examples (Hays Code, BBFC, Comics Code, Internet Watch Foundation). Do you think corporate censorship is OK but government censorship is wrong? If so, why?

    It seems peculiar to me. There are lots of functions that many people think should be reserved for government but not corporations (e.g. warfare, policing, justice). Why is the function of censorship reserved for corporations, but not for government?

    TheophileEscargot

  • Jules Evans says:

    I think Gappy has a point – these women sign up to make a porn movie. but once they sign up, they lose a huge amount of control and i think often times they are unprepared for the kind of abuse and hostility they are going to encounter when the cameras roll – and they're too frightened to stop. thats why i think there are cases of traumatisation among porn actresses.

    anyway, as to corporate censorship – right at the beginning of our conversation, Theophile, I suggested that culture is a conversation in which a society decides what is finds acceptable and what it doesnt. what I am trying to do is say i find this unacceptable, distasteful and unethical. im not saying make it illegal, because that is a tricky thing about what is simulated, what is consensual S&M; and so on. Im saying this stuff is in really bad taste and i think it is unethical for a corporation which claims to care about social responsibility to be in this line of business – and to bring it into the mainstream of the porn business via sites like YouPorn.

    of course, the corporation in question, Manwin, could choose not to give a damn about social responsibility, in which case i wouldnt have any leverage over it. but i think human beings do want to be ethical and to be thought to be ethical by others – even porn entrepreneurs like the CEO of Manwin. So i think if you say to them 'this is a bad line of business to be in' , and enough people say that, they will leave it and stop bringing it into high traffic sites like YouPorn.

    • Anon says:

      “I think Gappy has a point – these women sign up to make a porn movie. but once they sign up, they lose a huge amount of control and i think often times they are unprepared for the kind of abuse and hostility they are going to encounter when the cameras roll – and they’re too frightened to stop. thats why i think there are cases of traumatisation among porn actresses.”

      In that case, shouldn’t the response to this situation be to force the makers of porn to be clearer about exactly what the videos they’re making will entail, and empower the women involved to set clear boundaries and enforce them legally? Shouldn’t we be cracking down on the policies and systems that allow this kind of abuse, and the people who commit it? As an actress, whenever I sign up for any kind of booking service, I have the option to put down what sorts of things I am and am not willing to do in terms of nudity, simulated sex scenes, etc. When I go to work for an employer, I know what my job will entail and they know what they can and cannot ask of me. There needs to be a similar system for porn actresses, and it needs to be universal. I don’t find it hard to believe that this stuff can be traumatizing, but I do find it hard to believe that such trauma cannot be prevented by any other means than censorship.

      Furthermore, I believe that illegalizing rape fantasy porn would not only fail to stop it from being made, it would only serve to further disempower the women involved, since they would be unable to seek legal protection if anything went wrong. It’s the same problem there is with prostitution today. Prostitution may be illegal, but people are still doing it, and sex workers are currently at far greater risk than they would be if they could go to the police without incriminating themselves.

      And just on a side note, I find it offensive the way women are assumed to have no agency in these scenarios. Some women have rape fantasies, some want to act them out, and some even want to do it on camera. Hell, some women watch rape fantasy porn. We could sit here and argue for days about why these women are turned on by this kind of stuff, and the societal forces at work, and yada yada yada, but it wouldn’t change the simple fact that for whatever reason, those women’s sexualities respond to these ideas. You can’t much help what turns you on. Do try to bear in mind that, although there’s a lot of messed up stuff that goes on in the porn industry (probably in large part because of how taboo porn still is in our society), women are capable of making their own decisions as to whether or not to participate in these things. What we need to do is not try and take that choice away from them, but enable them to enforce their own choices and boundaries.

  • Anonymous says:

    First, you still don't seem to be answering my basic questions: "Do you think corporate censorship is OK but government censorship is wrong? If so, why?"

    I think it's pretty reasonable to ask a philosopher what he thinks and why.

    Now, the position that government censorship is bad but corporate censorship is OK, is a common one but it usually comes from the right wing. At a simple level, the reason can be that governent is bad but free enterprise is good. At a more sophisticated level, the reason can be that free-ish markets are a better way to reflect public opinion than representative government. But you don't seem to hold either of those views, you don't generally seem to favour corporations over government, so it seems a very odd position coming from you.

    Now you state that "culture is a conversation in which a society decides what is finds acceptable and what it doesnt."

    I say this is untrue. Society consists of a large number of people with very different opinions about what is acceptable. Some people think rape porn is unacceptable. Some people think abortion, homosexuality or mixed-race relationships are unacceptable. There is no single thing called society that decides what is acceptable.

    This "conversation" is a matter of deciding which individuals win and which individuals lose over what is acceptable.

    So, why is a system where corporations decide in accordance with maximizing their revenue by minimizing boycotts, a better system than a vote by a democratically elected government?

    The obvious difference is that with the corporate system, the richer you are the more influence you have. Someone who spends £1,000 per year has a hundred times the influence on an industry than someone who spends £10 per year. Is that what makes the corporate system better?

    Theophile Escargot

  • Jules Evans says:

    What do you mean by 'corporate censorship'?

    You wrote: 'Society consists of a large number of people with very different opinions about what is acceptable. Some people think rape porn is unacceptable. Some people think abortion, homosexuality or mixed-race relationships are unacceptable. There is no single thing called society that decides what is acceptable. This "conversation" is a matter of deciding which individuals win and which individuals lose over what is acceptable.'

    >>>

    It's also a matter of deciding what you think is right, and then trying to persuade others. thats what im trying to do.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've given a number of examples of corporate censorship several times already: the Hays Code, BBFC, Comics Code, Internet Watch Foundation.

    Economies of scale mean that large companies are more productive than small ones:
    http://www.economist.com/node/21548945

    Most industries therefore do not follow the idealized, theoretical economic model of a large number of competing small firms / individuals. Instead a small number of large companies, or even just one large company, dominate. (E.g. Google in the search engine industry).

    Therefore, it's possible to censor media, content, and telecommunications by influencing these corporations. This is corporate censorship.

    Now you say this:

    "It's also a matter of deciding what you think is right, and then trying to persuade others. thats what im trying to do. "

    But what you said originally was:

    "There are two ways we can control it. By putting pressure on the companies who create the content and websites, and by getting governments to change the regulation of internet porn. "

    That's not trying to convince other individual human beings of your case. That's trying to convince institutions: corporations and governments, to use their power to enforce a view that you already hold.

    Theophile Escargot

  • Jules Evans says:

    Thank you, Theophile, for making me think my arguments through.

    I am OK with both government censorship and corporate censorship of material that is harmful.

    I think violent pornography is harmful to men's attitude to women and to sex – and I also think it is physically and mentally harmful to the women involved in making it.

    I object to the normalisation of this material on mainstream pornographic websites like YouPorn, which is easily accesible by teenagers, and which is one of the most visited sites on the web. I think YouPorn's normalisation of violent porn will have a harmful effect on millions of male teenagers as they learn attitudes towards sex and women, and through that have a harmful effect on the women they encounter.

    Here is some evidence that violent porn shapes violent and abusive attitudes towards women:

    The Attorney General's Commission on Pornography in the U.S., which submitted its final report in 1986, found that the clinical and experimental research ‘virtually unanimously’ shows that exposure to sexually violent material increases the likelihood of aggression toward women; and that "the available evidence strongly supports the hypothesis that substantial exposure to sexually violent materials…bears a causal relationship to antisocial acts of sexual violence and, for some subgroups, possibly to unlawful acts of sexual violence" (Mappes and Zembaty 1997: 215).

    Here's another study:

    Violent pornography and self-reported likelihood of sexual aggression. Demare,D. et. al J. Res. Personality 1988 22: 140-153.
    Abstract: 222 undergraduate males were administered an attitudes survey examining pornography use, attitudes, and self-reported likelihood of rape (LR) or using sexual force (LF). Nonviolent pornography was used by 81% of subjects (Ss) within the previous year, whereas 41% and 35% had used violent and sexually violent pornography, respectively. 27% of Ss indicated some hypothetical LR or LF. Discriminant function analysis revealed that use of sexually violent pornography and acceptance of interpersonal violence against women were uniquely associated with LF and LR. It is hypothesized that the specific fusion of sex and violence in some pornographic stimuli and in certain belief systems may produce a propensity to engage in sexually aggressive behavior.

    Here's another:

    Sexually violent pornography, anti-women attitudes, and sexual aggression: A structural equation model Demare, D. et al, J. Res. Person. 1993 27:285-300.
    Abstract: Using data provided by 383 male university students, several structural equation models were developed and tested to asses the interrelationship of pornography use, anti-women attitudes, and propensity for sexual violence. The model best fitting the data is one in which use of Sexually Violent Pornography and Anti-Women Attitudes are exogenous latent variables predicting self-reported Likelihood of Rape and Likelihood of using Sexual Force, as well as self-reported history of having achieved sexual intercourse by use of Coercion and Force. A variation of this model that includes use of Nonviolent Pornography as an exogenous variable was also tested. Use of nonviolent pornography was not uniquely associated with potential or actual sexual aggression. The findings suggest the potential roles of both attitudes and sexually violent pornography in the occurrence of sexual aggression.

  • Ben says:

    I'm not going to discuss whether porn should be legal or illegal.

    What I do want to discuss is that porn use can be analogous to drug use. As Humans, our brains are hardwired for pleasure. It encourages us to do things that should theoretically be to our benefit and avoid things that aren't.

    Watching porn releases a ton of dopamine. Much more than you'd normally get from having sex. A man might look at 100 women before he finally orgasms. That's a lot of dopamine being released. His bring thinks he's having an orgy. When the guy goes to have actual sex, the act isn't going to release as much dopamine and he isn't going to enjoy it as much. Whether it's because there aren't enough people or real sex usually isn't as extreme as what porn shows. This can result in both delayed ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Not physical ED mind you, but mental. Most of sex is mental.

    Not only that. But today's generation will have had access to hardcore streaming Internet porn practically from the time they're old enough to sit at a chair. How is someone who's main experience with the opposite gender (usually men) going to ever have normal romantic relations with women if they grew up watching porn? I remember being really young and when we were in school, we'd get all excited when a medical textbook in the library had nude pictures of women or Nat Geo did a special on African tribes where everyone went naked. That was our "porn". Today, instead of young boys first experiences with girls being talking to the girl next to him in class, hanging out after school, kissing, and so on. It'll be watching five guys gangbang some women. Plus, childhood is a very critical time in the brain's physical development. If their brains start getting wired to associates sex with sitting in a chair while looking at a screen and masturbating, what does that mean for when they get older?

    Psychology Today had some many-an-article on what I've just mentioned. That's notable because PT is a very liberal magazine. Certainly not a prudish right-wing Christian magazine.

  • Anonymous says:

    Jules: good answer! That seems consistent.

    However, I still disagree that individual behaviour should be so constrained on the basis of studies of small collective effects.

    Once you start going down that road, where do you stop? What if studies suggest it would cut lung cancer to censor smoking? Do we ban "To Have and Have Not" because of Humphrey Bogart lighting Lauren Bacall's cigarette? Do we cut the cheeseburger speech from "Pulp Fiction" in the name of fighting obesity? Do we re-ban "A Clockwork Orange" because it allegedly encouraged violence?

    As the original Neil Gaiman link said, I think it's vitally important to defend the principle of free speech, even in "icky" cases. Once the converse principle is established, there's no clear line at all on what should be censored.

    Theophile Escargot

  • gruff says:

    I would be interested in Jules's response to this comment on his original post, and especially interested in his answer to the question posed in the penultimate paragraph: http://headwideopen.blogspot.com/2012/03/olivia-munn-is-sexist.html

  • Jules Evans says:

    Well Gruff, I don't consider myself 'painfully liberal' at all. The liberal position on porn is the one Theophile is taking in the comments – to defend it and argue against people like me who are trying to control, inhibit or censor it.

    Yes, some girls are into rough sex. Personally Id say those girls typically have self-esteem issues and if you dated them you'd discover that quite quickly. You ever dated a girl who's into rough sex? I have…they didn't like themselves much.

    But some people are into it, right? So who am I, or the government, or anyone else, to get in the way?

    Well, firstly I think there is a value in criticising that sort of porn and saying its not OK. I think our sexualities are not set in stone, they're constantly changing throughout our lives in response to different stimuli and media. And you can go down that path of violent sex if you want to, but i think its a pretty damaged path, and i dont think Olivia Munn is necessarily a role model.

    Secondly, I have a problem with the ease of teenagers' access to violent porn. As I said in my post, YouPorn is the main porn website on the net. In porn terms, its WalMart. And its stocking really violent porn right in the main aisle. That means that literally millions of teenagers will be seeing it, and it will influence their attitudes to sex.

    So I think we should seek better protection to stop teens accessing these sites – like you have to give credit card details or something.

    All the best,

    Jules

  • lee says:

    think i’ll watch some porn. it’s more fun than this crap

  • veer says:

    l wnt’ to join……….but how tell me

  • Giovanna says:

    Hi there, great post. I always tend to think those who defend extreme porn are watching a lot of it. It’s very hard I think to make a convincing pro-porn argument as it is now, violent and abusive. We need more men and other people speaking out about this.

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