Just another college girl fightin' the patriarchy

Rape porn is never OK.

The fact that I’m even sitting here writing this is pretty much a giveaway that something went horribly wrong in the past decade. It’s not news that our entertainment media finds endless entertainment in women’s peril, from Dudley Do Right saving Penelope Pitstop all the way up to graphic depictions of violent rape in many hollywood features. Threatening to rape a woman to get what you want is about as common as Tom Cruise running in movies. But something has changed. Rape used to be portrayed as a a horrendous thing, something that would chill and terrify the audience. Now rape is being portrayed almost as something sexy. From high profile designers showing ads that show the woman being forcibly restrained in provocative positions (I would post an example, except whenever I type rape into google I’m flooded with porn) to TV shows where the man uses sex as revenge or restrains the woman while having sex with her until she likes it. So it should be no surprise that there is ample porn to give those movie patrons bang for their buck. But you have to ask, when did rape become OK?

Answer: it didn’t. It most certainly didn’t. But apparently dudez missed this message that regardless of why, getting pleasure from rape is never, ever, under any circumstances OK. Some may weakly attempt to justify it with claims of it’s fantasy, some even go so far as to say it prevents rape by providing an outlet. This is comparable to saying giving someone cocaine will fight off addiction. Not to mention the fact that this assumes that men have a natural tendency to rape, which is very dangerous ground to tread. And selling yourselves quite short. To believe that is to simply give up and take the easy way out.

So what impact does masturbating to rape porn have on people? We can use the obvious examples, that every serial killer in recent history who focused on women (Ted Bundy, the Green River Killer, etc…) said something along the lines of porn was their only sexual outlet. But really, it’s just a fantasy right? What harm can come of it? According to a 1973 study by Goldstein, Kant and Harmon, incarcerated rapists are 15 times more likely to have had early exposure (before age 10) to hard-core porn. In 1980 Malamuth and Check showed that men who were exposed to violent pornography were significantly more likely to believe rape myths (like that all women want to be raped). In 1982 Zillman and Bryant showed the same thing more conclusively, that these men believed rape was a small crime, and that men who watched this kind of porn were not supportive of women’s rights. In 1985, Donnerstein and Linz showed that Zillman and Bryant were wrong. It wasn’t just violent porn, non-violent porn provoked the same negative responses. In 1987, Mayerson and Dalmas showed women what they called “rape myth porn” and found that it caused women to believe rape myths as well, like that some women are just asking to be raped and that secretly most women want to be raped. In 1998, Cramer and MacFarlane talked to 198 abused women. Their study showed that use of violent pornography was significantly associated with violent acts against the women (such as rape, or being forced to pose for pornography). In 2002 Violato showed that even non-violent porn caused an increase in aggression towards women among other negative views and had this to say,

“There has been some debate among researchers about the degree of negative consequences of habitual use of pornography, but we feel confident in our findings that pornography is harmful,” researcher Dr Claudio Violato noted. “Our study involved more than 12,000 participants and very rigorous analyses. I can think of no beneficial effects of pornography whatsoever. ”

“The relationship between particularly sexually violent images in the media and subsequent aggression…is much stronger statistically than the relationship between smoking and lung cancer.”
Researcher Edward Donnerstein

In The Price we Pay by Michelle Anderson, she cites surveys of teen boys and girls, over 90% of whom have recently and/or frequently viewed pornography. The findings? “Forty-three percent of boys and 16 percent of girls think it is okay or are not sure if it is okay for a boy to hold down a girl and force her to have sex if she sexually excites him.”

And “In a 1988 study of 114 undergraduate men, 91.3 percent admitted they ‘liked’ to dominate a woman; 86.1 percent said they ‘enjoyed’ the conquest part of sex; 83.5 percent agreed that ’some women look like they’re just asking to be raped’; 63.5 percent said they ‘get excited when a woman struggles over sex’; and 61.7 percent decided that ‘it would be exciting to use force to subdue a woman.’ In a 1988 survey of young teenage males, 25 percent deemed rape justified if a boy spent ten to fifteen dollars on a girl and two-thirds of them deemed rape justified if he dated her for more than six months.”

Basically to sum it all up for you:
All kinds of porn decrease men’s empathy for rape victims and the severity of the crime of rape, decreases empathy for female victims of domestic violence and the severity of the crime, increases acceptance of rape myths, increases aggression towards women, makes men more likely to agree that they would rape a woman if they would get away with it, increases acceptance of violence against women (things like agreeing that it’s an inevitability that we should live with), decreases support for women’s rights, and alters the perceptions of what’s normal sexually.

Need I go on? Harmless fantasy, I think not. It astounds me to think that anyone thinks rape porn is OK. Or even watching someone “get their asshole wrecked” is OK. These studies were mostly done before internet porn was even available, when hard-core was still defined as showing penetration. Before Gag Factor was on the top 10 list. Seeing as rape rates have stayed the same while other violent crimes decreased, seeing as somehow it’s become more stigmatized for a woman to report rape than for a man to rape someone, seeing as minimum 25% of women are raped in their lifetime, it just leaves me (near) speechless that rape porn is not illegal. I will repeat myself, rape porn is never OK.

*thanks to One Angry Girl for the timeline of studies.

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Comments on: "Rape porn is never OK." (15)

  1. I dun get how people can just erase Zillman, Malamuths, et al’s various studies, and just keep repeating “well there’s no evidence porn is harmful.” As far as I’m aware too, these studies were done in a laboratory setting, making them more able to determine a direct causal relationship than correlation-type studies. It drives me nuts how people do this-any study that doesn’t say porn is harmless fun gets written off as “biased.”

    I noticed that when people talk about porn, if you say the women fake enjoying it, you’re accused of being a prude/denying they can experience sexual pleasure. Yet, these same people will say the woman is “acting” if she looks in pain! It’s a totally circular logic that always ends in the same place: women enjoy everything done o them in porn, whether or not they appear to. Freaky shit.

    I didn’t know about Violato’s studies, although the results aren’t surprising. I’ll have to see if I can find them through my school to look at the full thing. Thank you for this post. ❤

    • Yes, it’s quite absurd and an insane double standard about the acting. It’s what I call ostrich syndrome. Sticking their head in the sand because if they have to think about it logically, they know it’s wrong and doesn’t make sense. So it’s easier to just not think about it. They can only be acting when it’s a negative emotion, but if it’s positive emotion it must be the real thing. Even in a lot of porn where they seem happy, occasionally you’ll catch a glimpse of the actress looking about to cry, vomit, or something. Sometimes she’ll have to hide her face for a second to compose herself so she can smile. But if the men knew she wasn’t enjoying it, it would be a bit of a boner-kill.

  2. princethrash said:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President%27s_Commission_on_Obscenity_and_Pornography

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

    These are two federal studies, which some believe were both out to prove the causal connection but could not. These studies, like Malamuth’s, were not published in journals, however, or peer reviewed in the usual way. Malamuth’s are sometimes criticized for being “attitudinal”.

    For the causal connection to be finalized, an old-fashioned, journal-published, peer reviewed study must be carried out, and as far as I know, it would be the first of its kind.

    Other issues, such as rape rates decreasing among internet-haves rather than have-nots, has thrown a lot of the initial assumptions into doubt. A good study would not be like Malamuth’s — attitudinal — and likely not like the governments (though, both Johnson and Regan were out to prove porn’s harm, yet despite the initial bias of the study, the initial hypotheses of causation was not proven. Another option to look at would be the 1985 Frasier Report in Canada) but at the same time it’s very difficult to study something as hidden as rape, this isn’t a question of “How many high school students will enter university” since that is more transparent. While a large amount of women in our society are raped, rape has decreased over the decades similar to other violent crimes, yet one would have expected it to quintuple or more due to the prevalence and availability of internet porn, combined with men’s attraction to it, assuming a causal connection.

    What is the best method for a modern, causal study? Merely quizzing men’s attitudes, I’m sure you agree, is not enough. We need a harder, inarguable sort of test of action, not attitude, which is scientifically valid, non-governmental, and non-biased from the outset — something which has not yet made an appearance. Studies in other nations have had mixed effects and varying answers.

    • All the studies I listed were peer-reviewed. They collected quantitative data and have statistical backing to them. Malamuth and Check published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, which is in fact peer-reviewed. The study was also repeated in 1983, and the results were the same. The study by Malamuth that people criticize is a recent study he did where he went and asked people to self-report personal harm as a result of pornography. It wasn’t biased fluff, but it was completely qualitative and all it showed was, people mostly don’t think pornography hurts them. The only studies I’ve found that are qualitative and biased as you say, are the ones that rely entirely on surveys and personal reports, and they mostly come to the conclusion that people don’t think porn viewing harms them personally. However, once you look at more methodical and scientific studies, where they have a control group and show a clear cause and effect relationships, it becomes very apparent that pornography is harmful. I don’t know why you are under the impression that these types of studies don’t exist, when there are hundreds of well-executed, peer-reviewed, scientific studies. None of the studies I cite here were “merely quizzing men’s attitudes” they tested over often long periods of time by changing variables and comparing to a control group.

      I certainly hope you don’t try to cite wikipedia in a class, since I could easily go in and add a sentence that says, pornography makes people like pancakes. I hardly think citing two government commissioned reports from 40 years ago, long before the violent internet pornography of today existed, is helpful. Plus do you remember when the government commissioned a report about global warming? It was edited to the point of fabrication to show that global warming didn’t exist, when in fact the report showed it did. Did you even read the Wikipedia articles you “cited?” The Meese report showed a clear connection between pornography viewing and the disintegration of “family values.” When this type of work was repeated in the 80’s without government commission it showed exactly the same thing. That after viewing pornography men were less likely to want to get married or be in a monogamous relationship, men were less likely to want children, and even more so were far less likely to want female children. Also the biggest criticism of the report came from the pornography producers themselves. The other report basically said it’s unconstitutional to try to ban pornography viewing in the privacy of people’s own homes and that to date there was no evidence that there was a direct connection between pornography viewing and crime (reminder, there were no real studies yet).

      As for your assumption that rape has decreased with other violent crimes, where is your data for this? The data mostly says at best actual rape rates have stayed the same while other violent crime decreases significantly, while reported rapes have gone down. In the UK up until the 80’s, there were strict laws against pornography. Ever since those laws were abolished and internet pornography exploded onto the scene rape has increased by 120%, with exponential growth (as internet porn becomes more available). I’m not saying porn causes men to rape, the studies aren’t saying that either. All they are saying is that porn viewing increases men’s aggressiveness towards women and changes the way they view the crime of rape. That doesn’t translate to porn=rape.

      Before you waste my time again, you should do a little more research beyond citing two wikipedia articles that you clearly didn’t even read.

    • Rape hasn’t decreased.

      REPORTED rape may have decreased in some countries. I don’t know about you, but I live in a country which has the third highest REPORTED rape rates in the world, I’m not ready to buy your bullshit.

      http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_rap_percap-crime-rapes-per-capita

      I’ve been raped so many times in my short 21 years of life that I’ve lost count. Every single one of my rapists used pornography regularly.

      There’s also a recent report by the UK government on how there is a strong link between pornography use and raping womyn:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8537734.stm

      And merely quizzing men is not enough no, considering that a recent study couldn’t be undertaken because NO men who had never viewed pornographic material could not be found.

      http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2009/12/02/Study-stymied-by-lack-of-porn-newbies/UPI-40171259794963/

  3. Thank you for sharing these valuable studies elkballet, I’ve always known in my heart of hearts and in my own brain that rape, negative attitudes towards womyn and pornography are all linked. I also did not know that there were so many more recent studies done on it.

    What annoys me the most about men who claim that pornography is *just* fantasy is it never seems to occur to them for their “fantasy” to be acted out, it becomes REALITY for those involved. Fantasy, remains ONLY in our heads, and they never seem to fucking get that.

    So once again, thanks for sharing ElkBallet.

    P.S do you mind if I add you to my blog roll?

    • Of course! When I figure out how to add links and such, may I do the same?

      Also I added in several more studies and quotes from researchers that you may be interested in. The reason there are fewer recent studies is that researchers who attempted to show this connection, especially Donnerstein, were so badly harassed that many were forced to drop the issue. If you can believe it they were treated as harshly as the feminists like those in Women Against Pornography.

      • Sure thing 🙂

        It wouldn’t surprise me either, considering it’s a $96BILLION a year industry (I think that might be just U.S figures for income as well?) they’d hardly like anyone going out and saying that it’s bad for anyone. Thanks for the extra information.

  4. i also think that the purpose of normalizing porn, ie. encouraging women to “spice things up” in the bedroom via porn, is to make women believe that what men are doing to them, and have always done to them, is “just sex” and definitely not rape. nope! because PIV and rape are totally different! yes, lets just keep saying that, and pretending its true.

    now, this COULD have the effect of decreasing self-reports by rape victims, of having been raped. how convenient! dont make rapists change thier behaviors at all: just re-define “sex” to include nearly all acts of rape, and “female pleasure” to include every emotion and sensation a woman might have, while she is being raped.

    and if the reports are actually staying the same or increasing…it only means that men are continuing to cross the line, even as they move the line farther and farther into what is clearly, CLEARLY rape-behavior. that more rapes are happening, but most of them arent considered rape anymore, even by the victims.

    interesting how these trends can be interpreted, ay? and how much people want to believe whatever they want to believe, regardless of what the studies actually say. and definitely dont interpret them with a feminist bent, cause that wouldnt be fair. anti-feminist bents are, of course, allowed.

    • One very outraged MRA who goes by Angry Harry (I don’t recommend you read him unless you want your brain to explode) flipped his shit that researchers who conduct the surveys would count people as saying they’d been raped when they said they hadn’t, but described a rape. Basically the people would say something like, he got me drunk and had sex with me when I would have said no was I sober. But respond that no they weren’t raped. This guy, along with other indignant MRAs thought that so long as the woman didn’t recognize she was raped, it was “unconstitutional” and ridiculous to count it as a rape. This is the same guy who said women need to take responsibility and accept the consequences (the consequences of being raped) when they sexually harass men by wearing tight clothes, or for “being stupid” by being out after dark. Rapists around the globe must be doing a happy dance at the fact that few women can even recognize when they’ve been raped anymore because it’s just so normal now. In Canada a recent survey found that 53% of women up to age 20 had an experience that would legally be rape. Very few recognized that though.

  5. A Shropshire Lad said:

    The male rape fantasies shown in porn are very similar to the ones many women allegedly have. Men fantasize about how the victim will end up enjoying it, while women fantasize about the hot stranger they would have desired anyway desiring them so much that he rapes them. Since “she wanted it anyway” the man frees himself from guilt. Since “he raped me” the woman can free herself from guilt. It’s actually kind of cute how reciprocal the fantasies are.

    Neither fantasy has much to do with grim realities of rape.

    • Neither fantasy has much to do with the grim realities of rape.

      One of those fantasies does, and that is the male one. It’s typical of rapists to imagine that their victim really wanted it or that all women secretly want to be a raped (no woman wants to be raped, it is a horrific act of hatred and violence that ruins lives). A horrible myth that porn perpetuates. It perpetuates a lot of sick myths like that, like that all women struggle over sex and if he just keeps going she’ll like it or just that it’s acceptable/sexy to rape women. If the woman really wants it, then it’s not rape. No woman wants to be raped. “Rape fantasies” from women are not about wanting to be raped, they are about wanting to live in a patriarchy-free world where they will not be shamed and judged for wanting sex. Since men are responsible for almost all rape (even when men get raped it’s mostly from other men), it’s problematic for a man to be positively associating with raping. When men fantasize about rape they fantasize about violence against another human being. When women fantasize about it, they fantasize about being able to experience full human privilege. See how they are different?

      • A Shropshire Lad said:

        “One of those fantasies does, and that is the male one. It’s typical of rapists to imagine that their victim really wanted it”

        Well, obviously these men have a ridiculously inflated opinion of themselves! Off to prison with them, yes!

        ““Rape fantasies” from women are not about wanting to be raped, they are about wanting to live in a patriarchy-free world where they will not be shamed and judged for wanting sex”

        What you say here makes a lot of sense and probably explains a lot of the so-called female rape fantasies, even if I think we now in Western society have reached the point where few would judge a woman negatively if she admitted she wanted to get down and dirty with a particular man.

        NB I admit she might be branded some chauvinistic term like “slut” if this was a man who was known to attract many women, i.e. a guy who was a much bigger sleazeball than herself. If, on the other hand, she expressed a strong desire for some rather random, obscure guy, I think most people would applaud her desire as independent and liberated.

        “When men fantasize about rape they fantasize about violence against another human being. When women fantasize about it, they fantasize about being able to experience full human privilege. See how they are different?”

        OK, I see that the old “for women rape fantasies can mean imagining they are literally irresistible to men” adage probably is some patriarchal detour for women to rid themselves of the guilt of acknowledging their desires, but really, in this day and age, who are the women who are ashamed of saying “That guy, I just want to fling him on the bed and…..!”

        Modern men cannot say the same, because then we are chauvinistic pigs.

    • The actual fuck?

      Kind of cute? Free herself from guilt?

      Do you have any human feelings or understanding at fucking all?

  6. […] saying that there is no proof that porn is harmful. This is quite puzzling, since there has been plenty over the years, from sociologists, psychologists, and now […]

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