Essay, Research Paper: Pornography

Sexuality

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In the late Seventies, America became shocked and outraged by the rape,
mutilation, and murder of over a dozen young, beautiful girls. The man who
committed these murders, Ted Bundy, was later apprehended and executed. During
his detention in various penitentiaries, he was mentally probed and prodded by
psychologist and psychoanalysts hoping to discover the root of his violent
actions and sexual frustrations. Many theories arose in attempts to explain the
motivational factors behind his murderous escapades. However, the strongest and
most feasible of these theories came not from the psychologists, but from the
man himself, "as a teenager, my buddies and I would all sneak around and
watch porn. As I grew older, I became more and more interested and involved in
it, [pornography] became an obsession. I got so involved in it, I wanted to
incorporate [porn] into my life, but I couldn't behave like that and maintain
the success I had worked so hard for. I generated an alter ego to fulfill my
fantasies under-cover. Pornography was a means of unlocking the evil I had
buried inside myself" (Leidholdt 47). Is it possible that pornography is
acting as the key to unlocking the evil in more unstable minds? According to
Edward Donnerstein, a leading researcher in the pornography field, "the
relationship between sexually violent images in the media and subsequent
aggression and . . . callous attitudes towards women is much stronger
statistically than the relationship between smoking and cancer" (Itzin 22).
After considering the increase in rape and molestation, sexual harassment, and
other sex crimes over the last few decades, and also the corresponding increase
of business in the pornography industry, the link between violence and
pornography needs considerable study and examination. Once the evidence you will
encounter in this paper is evaluated and quantified, it will be hard not come
away with the realization that habitual use of pornographic material promotes
unrealistic and unattainable desires in men that can lead to violent behavior
toward women. In order to properly discuss pornography, and be able to link it
to violence, we must first come to a basic and agreeable understanding of what
the word pornography means. The term pornography originates from two Greek
words, porne, which means harlot, and graphein, which means to write (Webster's
286). My belief is that the combination of the two words was originally meant to
describe, in literature, the sexual escapades of women deemed to be whores. As
time has passed, this definition of pornography has grown to include any and all
obscene literature and pictures. At the present date, the term is basically a
blanket which covers all types of material such as explicit literature,
photography, films, and video tapes with varying degrees of sexual content. For
Catherine Itzin's research purposes pornography has been divided into three
categories: The sexually explicit and violent; the sexually explicit and
nonviolent, but subordinating and dehumanizing; and the sexually explicit,
nonviolent, and no subordinating that is based upon mutuality. The sexually
explicit and violent is graphic, showing penetration and ejaculation. Also, it
shows the violent act toward a woman. The second example shows the graphic
sexual act and climax, but not a violent act. This example shows the woman being
dressed is a costume or being 'talked down' to in order to reduce her to
something not human; such as a body part or just something to have sex with, a
body opening or an orifice. Not only does 'erotica' show the entire graphic
sexual act, it also depicts an attraction between two people. Her research
consistently shows that harmful effects are associated with the first two, but
that the third 'erotica', is harmless (22). These three categories basically
exist as tools of discerning content. Although sometimes they overlap without a
true distinction, as in when the film is graphic in the sexual act and also in
violence, but shows the act as being a mutual activity between the people
participating. In my view, to further divide pornography, it is possible to
break it down into even simpler categories: soft and hard-core pornography. Hard
core pornography is a combination of the sexually explicit and violent and the
sexually explicit and nonviolent, but subordinating and dehumanizing categories,
previously discussed. Soft-core pornography is thought to be harmless and falls
into the category known as 'erotica'; which is the category based on mutuality.
In hard-core pornography, commonly rated XXX, you can see graphic depictions of
violent sexual acts usually with a man or group of men, deriving sexual
gratification from the degradation of a woman. You can also see women
participating in demoralizing sexual behavior among themselves for the
gratification of men. In a triple-X movie all physical aspects are shown, such
as extreme close-ups of genitalia, oral, vaginal, and anal penetration, and also
ejaculation. Much of the time emphasis is put on the painful and humiliating
experience of the woman, for the sole satisfaction of the male. Soft-core
pornography, or X-rated pornography, is less explicit in terms of what is shown
and the sexual act is usually put in the light of mutual enjoyment for both the
male and female parties (Cameron and Frazer 23). Triple-X pornography is
manufactured and sold legally in the United States. Deborah Cameron and
Elizabeth Frazer point out that other forms of hard-core pornography that have
to be kept under wraps, made and sold illegally in underground 'black' markets.
These are ultra violent, 'snuff', and child pornography. Ultraviolet tapes or
videos show the actual torture, rape, and sometime mutilation of a woman.
'Snuff' films go even future to depict the actual death of a victim, and child
pornography reveals the use of under-age or pre-pubescent children for sexual
purposes (17-18). These types of pornography cross over the boundaries of
entertainment and are definitely hard-core. Now that pornography has been
defined in a fashion mirroring its content, it is now possible to touch upon the
more complex ways a community, as a society, views or defines it. Some have said
it is impossible for a group of individuals to form a concrete opinion as to
what pornography means. A U.S. Supreme Court judge is quoted as saying, "I
can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it" (Itzin 20). This
statement can be heard at community meetings in every state, city, and county
across the nation. Community standards are hazy due to the fact that when asked
what pornography is to them, most individuals cannot express or explain in words
what pornography is, therefore creating confusion among themselves. Communities
are left somewhat helpless in this matter since the federal courts passed
legislation to keep pornography available to adults. The courts assess that to
ban or censor the material would be infringing on the public's First Amendment
Right (Carol 28). Maureen O'Brien quotes critics of a congressionally terminated
bill, the Pornography Victim's Compensation Act, as saying "That if it had
passed, it would have had severely chilling effects on the First Amendment,
allowing victims of sexual crimes to file suit against producers and
distributors of any work that was proven to have had 'caused' the attack, such
as graphic material in books, magazines, videos, films, and records" (7).
People in a community debating over pornography often have different views as to
whether or not it should even be made available period, and some could even
argue this point against the types of women used in pornography: "A far
greater variety of female types are shown as desirable in pornography than
mainstream films and network television have ever recognized: fat women, flat
women, hairy women, aggressive women, older women, you name it" (Carol 25).
If we could all decide on just exactly what pornography is and what is
acceptable, there wouldn't be so much debate over the issue of censoring it. The
bounds of community standards have been stretched by mainstreaming movies,
opening the way even further for the legalization of more explicit fare (Jenish
53). In most contemporary communities explicit sex that is without violent or
dehumanizing acts is acceptable in American society today. These community
standards have not been around very long. When movies were first brought out,
they were heavily restricted and not protected by the First Amendment, because
films then were looked upon only as diversionary entertainment and business.
Even though sexual images were highly monitored, the movie industry was hit so
hard during the Great Depression that film-makers found themselves sneaking in
as much sexual content as possible, even then they saw that 'sex sells' (Clark
1029). Films were highly restricted throughout the 30's, 40's, and 50's by the
industry, but once independent films of the 60's such as: "Bonnie and
Clyde" and "Whose afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" (Clark 1029-30),
both with explicit language, sexual innuendo, and violence started
out-performing the larger 'wholesome' production companies, many of the barriers
holding sex and violence back were torn down in the name of profit. Adult
content was put into movies long ago; we have become more immune and can't
expect it to get any better or to go away. Porn is here for good. Pornography is
a multi-million dollar international industry, ultimately run by organized crime
all over the world, and is produced by the respectable mainstream publishing
business companies (Itzin 21). Although the publishing companies are thought to
be 'respectable', people generally stereotype buyers and users of pornographic
material as 'dirty old men in trench coats', but most patrons of adult stores
are well-educated people with disposable income (Jenish 52). Porno movies
provide adults of both genders with activities they normally wouldn't get in
everyday life, such as oral pleasures or different types of fetishes. Ultimately
adult entertainment is just a quick fix for grown-ups, as junk food would be for
small children. Pornography's main purpose is to serve as masturbatory stimuli
for males and to provide a sexual vent. Although in the beginning, society saw
it as perverted and sinful, it was still considered relatively harmless. Today
there is one case study, standing out from the rest, which tends to shatter this
illusion. The study done my Monica D. Weisz and Christopher M. Earls used
"eighty-seven males . . . that were randomly shown one of four films",
by researchers William Tooke and Martin Lalumiere: "Deliverance, Straw
Dogs, Die Hard II, and Days of Thunder", for a study on how they would
react to questions about sexual violence and offenders after watching. In the
four films there is sexual aggression against a male, sexual aggression against
a female, physical aggression, and neutrality-no explicit scenes of physical or
sexual aggression. Out of this study the males were more acceptable of
interpersonal violence and rape myths and also more attracted to sexual
aggression. These same males were less sympathetic to rape victims and were
noted less likely to find a defendant guilty of rape (71). These four above
mentioned movies are mainstreamed R-rated films. If a mainstream movie can cause
this kind of distortion of value and morality, then it should become evident
that continuous viewing/use of pornographic films depicting violent sex and
aggression could lead vulnerable persons into performing or participating in
sexual violence against their partners or against a stranger. Bill Marshall,
psychology professor at Queen's University and director of a sexual behavior
clinic in Kingston, interviewed one hundred and twenty men, between the years
1980 and 1985, who had molested children or raped women. In his conclusion he
found that pornography appeared to be a significant factor in the chain of
events leading up to a deviant act in 25% of these cases (Nicols 60). The
results of this study should prove that pornography obviously has a down side to
it. According to Mark Nicols, a psychology professor at the University of
Michigan, Neil Malamuth, concludes quite cautiously that some messages combined
with other factors, including the viewer's personality type, in pornography can
lead to antisocial behavior and make individuals less sensitive to violence. Dr.
Marshall also quotes men in Nicols article as saying, "that they looked at
pornography with the intent to masturbate, but then became aroused, and decided
to go out and assault a woman or child." Men who are drawn into pornography
and use it frequently, have also been proven to suggest more lenient prison
terms for sex offenders" (60). If this previous statement is true, should
we reevaluate how many men serve on juries for these trials? Itzin gives
possible support for these theories. It can be found in the case of an
ex-prostitute who had her pubic hair removed with a jackknife and was forced by
her pimp to be filmed reenacting what they had seen in pornographic movies; she
was sexually assaulted and forced to have intercourse with animals, generally
dogs. Another such case is one of a woman who reports having metal clips
attached to her breasts, being tied to a chair, and being raped and beaten
continuously for twelve hours (22-24). The dehumanizing, degradation, and
reduction of a woman's body isn't just a result of viewed pornography, it is
often inseminated into the production of a pornographic project. During the
making of "Deep Throat", a 1970's pornographic film, Linda Marchiano
(a.k.a. Linda Lovelace), was presented to the public as a liberated woman with
an ever present and unfulfilled appetite for fellatio. What isn't known to the
general public is that during the making of the movie, she was hypnotized to
suppress the natural gagging reaction, was tortured when caught trying to
escape, and also held at gun-point by her boss, who threatened her with death (Itzin
22). Ms. Marchiano did escape and when her story was told, it was repeated by a
number of women in the pornography business. According to D'Arcy Jenish many
children are lured into the pornography industry by choosing first to model.
These young teen's egos are boosted when they are told "[they have good
bodies]",0 and are asked, "if they work out?" More often than
not, they are told "toake off [their] shirts", and then asked "Do
you feel nervous?" (36). These youngsters honestly don't know when too much
is too much, and what they don't know could put them in serious danger. Calvin
Klein, once known for being a reputable clothing designer, is now known for his
racy ads using teens. Some feel he crossed the line when he chose this type of
advertising. Jenish observes that these advertisements "featured an array
of . . . teen-aged models dressed in loose jeans or hiked-up skirts, one showing
bare breasts, others offering androgynous models kissing" (36). If adults
in positions of power act this way, these youngsters cannot expect other adults
to act any differently. Therefore they accept this type of behavior as normal.
Diana Russell claims that tactics like these are being used more often in
advertising and television, which has led media watchdogs and anti-porn
activists to believe that this sort of masked imitation of pornography tricks
mainstream television viewers into having an "everybody's doing it"
attitude about pornography. She also feels that this attitude subconsciously
leads them into seeking pornography out (39). We need to show the younger
generation that everyone is not doing 'it', and that it is all right not to have
sex if they feel pressured. Another problem anti-pornography activists believe
arises from regular viewing of pornography, is the acceptance of "rape
myths". Rape myth is a term pertaining to people's views on rape, rapists,
and sexual assaults, wherein it is assumed that the victim of a sexual crime is
either partially or completely to blame (Allen 6). To help understand the rape
myth a "Rape Myth Acceptance Scale" was established, which lists some
of the most prominent beliefs that a person accepting the rape myth has. They
are as follows: 1. A woman who goes to the home or apartment of a man on their
first date implies that she is willing to have sex. 2. One reason that women
falsely report a rape is that they frequently have a need to call attention to
themselves. 3. Any healthy woman can successfully resist a rapist if she really
wants to. 4. When women go around braless or wearing short skirts and tight
tops, they are just asking for trouble. 5. In the majority or rapes, the victim
is promiscuous or has a bad reputation. 6. If a girl engages in necking or
petting and she lets things get out of hand, it is her own fault if her partner
forces sex on her. 7. Women who get raped while hitchhiking get what they
deserve. 8. Many women have an unconscious wish to be raped, and may then
[subconsciously] set up a situation in which they are likely to be attacked. 9.
If a woman gets drunk at a party and has intercourse with a man she's just met
there, she should be considered "fair game" to other males at the
party who want to have sex with her too, whether she wants to or not (Burt 217).
Pauline Bart reports that studies held simultaneously at UCLA and St. Xavier
College on students, demonstrate that pornography does positively reinforce the
rape myth. Men and women were exposed to over four hours of exotic video (of
varying types; i.e. soft, hard core, etc.) and then asked to answer a set of
questions meant to gage their attitudes of sex crimes. All the men were proven
to be more accepting to rape myths, and surprisingly, over half of the women
were also (123). Once again, the women in these films were portrayed as
insatiable and in need of constant fulfillment. After so much exposure to women
in this light from films and books, it is generally taken for granted that women
should emulate this type of behavior in real life (125). Of all the studies and
examples from real life situations connecting pornography with violent behavior
and sexual aggressiveness, none are more concrete than the activities the
Serbian military are part of every day now in the Bosnian war. Part of the
"ethnic cleansing" process the Serbs are practicing in Bosnia involves
the gang raping of all Muslim and Croatian women. Andrea Dworkin states that it
is mandatory for the Serbian soldiers to rape the wives and female children of
Muslim men. Concentration camps are set up as brothels where women are ordered
to satisfy the soldiers in the most painful and dehumanizing ways imaginable.
The women in these camps are taped with camcorders and the videos are displayed
everywhere throughout the camps to lower the woman's will and need to resist.
Were do the soldiers get the inspiration to commit these crimes, from commercial
pornography. Serbian troops are basically force-fed porn; it is present all
through training and is made readily available to (even pushed upon) the
soldiers. They are basically asked to "watch and learn". After the
seed is planted not much is needed to be done, because they are naturally
instilled with the desire to repeat what they have seen, and are not concerned
with the feelings of the women. They have seen that some women have no feelings
and are meant to be used merely for sexual gratification (M2-M6). To add insult
to injury, some of the tapes of these women being victimized have entered the
black market, being sold internationally, possible infecting the minds of
millions. Pornography has enamored itself as a large part of our modern society.
It is seldom discussed and often hidden as a dirty secret, but porn still seems
to play a major part in the shaping of our morals and behaviors. Although some
say pornography is relatively harmless, a considerable larger group seems to
uphold the assumption the porn works in negative and disruptive ways on those
who view it and participate. Nearly all the research supports this assumption,
so it is evident the topic is in need of much more examination and debate. Even
though the majority of modern society views pornography as objectionable and
sometimes obscene, there are some that do not agree with the assumption that
pornography is guilty of the defamation of women and their sexual roles. Social
observationalists, such as Mary White, at the University of Michigan often agree
with her statement on the part women play in pornography which explains that
"since most pornographic material plays up to male fantasy, women are
usually the aggressors, hence women are given a semblance of empowerment. Also,
the majority of these women in the material are very attractive, therefore seen
as the forms of beauty and desire, something to be respected and worked
for" (72). Although White may not realize it, this statement reinforced
most of the arguments made in support of the notion that pornography is
subordinating and degrading to women. By saying that being sexually aggressive
gives a woman empowerment, she limits a woman's ability to reach empowerment to
sexual activity alone, and by claiming that the use of attractive women in
pornographic material lends to a view of women being desirable, she
inadvertently excludes women that don't fit society's mold of the model physical
female, (i.e. overweight, small breasted, short, etc.). Most of the arguments
similar to White's follow the same line of reasoning, and are easily broken down
in the same manner as hers. In regards to pornography perpetuating violent acts
toward women, pornography defenders claim that the use of pornographic material
can act as a cathartic release, actual lessening the likelihood of males
committing violent acts. The reasoning is that the pornography can substitute
for sex and that the 'want' to commit sexual crimes is acted out vicariously
through the pornographic material (Whicclair 327). This argument, however, does
not explain the crimes committed by serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne
Gacey, who regularly viewed pornography during the lengths of their times
between murders and rapes (Scully 70). By saying that pornography would reduce
harm to women through cathartic effects, pornography defenders display a large
lack in reasoning because through their argument the rise in the production of
pornography would have led to a decrease in sexual crimes, but as has been shown
previously, that simply is not true. Pornographers and pornography defenders
proclaim that the link between pornography and violence is exaggerated and that
the research linking pornography to sexual crimes is inconclusive. They state
that the fundamentals of sex crimes are found inherently in the individuals and
that the sexual permissiveness of American society cannot be blamed on the
increase of pornography's availability (Jacobson 79). David Adams, a co-founder
and executive director of Emerge, a Boston counseling center for male batterers,
states, "that only a minority of his clients (perhaps 10 to 20 percent) use
hard-core pornography. He estimates that half may have substance abuse problems,
and adds that alcohol seems more directly involved in abuse than
pornography" (Kaminer 115). The statement made by Adams and the view that
pornography does not contribute to the act of sex crimes is heavily outweighed,
however, by the various studies connecting violence and pornography. Bill
Marshall's observations on his patients and the examples of individual crimes
originating from pornography show this acclimation to be invalidated. Some also
say that attacks on pornography merely reflect the majority of feminist's
disdain for men, cynically stating that people who fear pornography think of all
men as potential abusers, whose violent impulses are bound to be sparked by
pornography (114). Researcher Catherin MacKinnon says "pornography works as
a behavioral conditioner, reinforcer, and stimulus, not as idea or
advocacy" (114). However, this idea is proven to be false by the use of
pornography in and by the Serbian military. This example shows that pornography
does advocate sex crimes and that ideas of sexual violence can be stemmed from
the viewing of pornography. Pornography has become to most just another one of
those cold, nasty facts of life that cannot be stopped, so some choose to ignore
it. This attitude has to change. After reviewing the abuse and subordination
delegated to women as an almost indisputable result of the mass infiltration of
pornography into modern society, it should be impossible for someone not to want
to do something about it. What can be done is for those concerned to try to
spread the word and educate others as much as possible to the dangers of this
sort of material. If people knew the roots of some of their more violent
behavior, it could be diminished, thus protecting the future and health of our
communities. From its inception, in most cases, pornography is a media that
links sexual gratification and violence together. This fact can only lead a
rational mind to the conclusion that a chain of events will begin, combining sex
and violence further in the minds of those who watch pornography and will ensure
an unhealthy attitude towards women and their sexual identities. Only through
discussion and individual action can the perpetuation of the negative impacts of
pornography be swept from the closets and dark corners of the American
household. Bibliography Pornography Will Wolff-Myren p.6 Pornography -- Sex or
Subordination? In the late Seventies, America became shocked and outraged by the
rape, mutilation, and murder of over a dozen young, beautiful girls. The man who
committed these murders, Ted Bundy, was later apprehended and executed. During
his detention in various penitentiaries, he was mentally probed and prodded by
psychologist and psychoanalysts hoping to discover the root of his violent
actions and sexual frustrations. Many theories arose in attempts to explain the
motivational factors behind his murderous escapades. However, the strongest and
most feasible of these theories came not from the psychologists, but from the
man himself, "as a teenager, my buddies and I would all sneak around and
watch porn. As I grew older, I became more and more interested and involved in
it, [pornography] became an obsession. I got so involved in it, I wanted to
incorporate [porn] into my life, but I couldn't behave like that and maintain
the success I had worked so hard for. I generated an alter ego to fulfill my
fantasies under-cover. Pornography was a means of unlocking the evil I had
buried inside myself" (Leidholdt 47). Is it possible that pornography is
acting as the key to unlocking the evil in more unstable minds? According to
Edward Donnerstein, a leading researcher in the pornography field, "the
relationship between sexually violent images in the media and subsequent
aggression and . . . callous attitudes towards women is much stronger
statistically than the relationship between smoking and cancer" (Itzin 22).
After considering the increase in rape and molestation, sexual harassment, and
other sex crimes over the last few decades, and also the corresponding increase
of business in the pornography industry, the link between violence and
pornography needs considerable study and examination. Once the evidence you will
encounter in this paper is evaluated and quantified, it will be hard not come
away with the realization that habitual use of pornographic material promotes
unrealistic and unattainable desires in men that can lead to violent behavior
toward women. In order to properly discuss pornography, and be able to link it
to violence, we must first come to a basic and agreeable understanding of what
the word pornography means. The term pornography originates from two Greek
words, porne, which means harlot, and graphein, which means to write (Webster's
286). My belief is that the combination of the two words was originally meant to
describe, in literature, the sexual escapades of women deemed to be whores. As
time has passed, this definition of pornography has grown to include any and all
obscene literature and pictures. At the present date, the term is basically a
blanket which covers all types of material such as explicit literature,
photography, films, and video tapes with varying degrees of sexual content. For
Catherine Itzin's research purposes pornography has been divided into three
categories: The sexually explicit and violent; the sexually explicit and
nonviolent, but subordinating and dehumanizing; and the sexually explicit,
nonviolent, and no subordinating that is based upon mutuality. The sexually
explicit and violent is graphic, showing penetration and ejaculation. Also, it
shows the violent act toward a woman. The second example shows the graphic
sexual act and climax, but not a violent act. This example shows the woman being
dressed is a costume or being 'talked down' to in order to reduce her to
something not human; such as a body part or just something to have sex with, a
body opening or an orifice. Not only does 'erotica' show the entire graphic
sexual act, it also depicts an attraction between two people. Her research
consistently shows that harmful effects are associated with the first two, but
that the third 'erotica', is harmless (22). These three categories basically
exist as tools of discerning content. Although sometimes they overlap without a
true distinction, as in when the film is graphic in the sexual act and also in
violence, but shows the act as being a mutual activity between the people
participating. In my view, to further divide pornography, it is possible to
break it down into even simpler categories: soft and hard-core pornography. Hard
core pornography is a combination of the sexually explicit and violent and the
sexually explicit and nonviolent, but subordinating and dehumanizing categories,
previously discussed. Soft-core pornography is thought to be harmless and falls
into the category known as 'erotica'; which is the category based on mutuality.
In hard-core pornography, commonly rated XXX, you can see graphic depictions of
violent sexual acts usually with a man or group of men, deriving sexual
gratification from the degradation of a woman. You can also see women
participating in demoralizing sexual behavior among themselves for the
gratification of men. In a triple-X movie all physical aspects are shown, such
as extreme close-ups of genitalia, oral, vaginal, and anal penetration, and also
ejaculation. Much of the time emphasis is put on the painful and humiliating
experience of the woman, for the sole satisfaction of the male. Soft-core
pornography, or X-rated pornography, is less explicit in terms of what is shown
and the sexual act is usually put in the light of mutual enjoyment for both the
male and female parties (Cameron and Frazer 23). Triple-X pornography is
manufactured and sold legally in the United States. Deborah Cameron and
Elizabeth Frazer point out that other forms of hard-core pornography that have
to be kept under wraps, made and sold illegally in underground 'black' markets.
These are ultra violent, 'snuff', and child pornography. Ultraviolet tapes or
videos show the actual torture, rape, and sometime mutilation of a woman.
'Snuff' films go even future to depict the actual death of a victim, and child
pornography reveals the use of under-age or pre-pubescent children for sexual
purposes (17-18). These types of pornography cross over the boundaries of
entertainment and are definitely hard-core. Now that pornography has been
defined in a fashion mirroring its content, it is now possible to touch upon the
more complex ways a community, as a society, views or defines it. Some have said
it is impossible for a group of individuals to form a concrete opinion as to
what pornography means. A U.S. Supreme Court judge is quoted as saying, "I
can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it" (Itzin 20). This
statement can be heard at community meetings in every state, city, and county
across the nation. Community standards are hazy due to the fact that when asked
what pornography is to them, most individuals cannot express or explain in words
what pornography is, therefore creating confusion among themselves. Communities
are left somewhat helpless in this matter since the federal courts passed
legislation to keep pornography available to adults. The courts assess that to
ban or censor the material would be infringing on the public's First Amendment
Right (Carol 28). Maureen O'Brien quotes critics of a congressionally terminated
bill, the Pornography Victim's Compensation Act, as saying "That if it had
passed, it would have had severely chilling effects on the First Amendment,
allowing victims of sexual crimes to file suit against producers and
distributors of any work that was proven to have had 'caused' the attack, such
as graphic material in books, magazines, videos, films, and records" (7).
People in a community debating over pornography often have different views as to
whether or not it should even be made available period, and some could even
argue this point against the types of women used in pornography: "A far
greater variety of female types are shown as desirable in pornography than
mainstream films and network television have ever recognized: fat women, flat
women, hairy women, aggressive women, older women, you name it" (Carol 25).
If we could all decide on just exactly what pornography is and what is
acceptable, there wouldn't be so much debate over the issue of censoring it. The
bounds of community standards have been stretched by mainstreaming movies,
opening the way even further for the legalization of more explicit fare (Jenish
53). In most contemporary communities explicit sex that is without violent or
dehumanizing acts is acceptable in American society today. These community
standards have not been around very long. When movies were first brought out,
they were heavily restricted and not protected by the First Amendment, because
films then were looked upon only as diversionary entertainment and business.
Even though sexual images were highly monitored, the movie industry was hit so
hard during the Great Depression that film-makers found themselves sneaking in
as much sexual content as possible, even then they saw that 'sex sells' (Clark
1029). Films were highly restricted throughout the 30's, 40's, and 50's by the
industry, but once independent films of the 60's such as: "Bonnie and
Clyde" and "Whose afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" (Clark 1029-30),
both with explicit language, sexual innuendo, and violence started
out-performing the larger 'wholesome' production companies, many of the barriers
holding sex and violence back were torn down in the name of profit. Adult
content was put into movies long ago; we have become more immune and can't
expect it to get any better or to go away. Porn is here for good. Pornography is
a multi-million dollar international industry, ultimately run by organized crime
all over the world, and is produced by the respectable mainstream publishing
business companies (Itzin 21). Although the publishing companies are thought to
be 'respectable', people generally stereotype buyers and users of pornographic
material as 'dirty old men in trench coats', but most patrons of adult stores
are well-educated people with disposable income (Jenish 52). Porno movies
provide adults of both genders with activities they normally wouldn't get in
everyday life, such as oral pleasures or different types of fetishes. Ultimately
adult entertainment is just a quick fix for grown-ups, as junk food would be for
small children. Pornography's main purpose is to serve as masturbatory stimuli
for males and to provide a sexual vent. Although in the beginning, society saw
it as perverted and sinful, it was still considered relatively harmless. Today
there is one case study, standing out from the rest, which tends to shatter this
illusion. The study done my Monica D. Weisz and Christopher M. Earls used
"eighty-seven males . . . that were randomly shown one of four films",
by researchers William Tooke and Martin Lalumiere: "Deliverance, Straw
Dogs, Die Hard II, and Days of Thunder", for a study on how they would
react to questions about sexual violence and offenders after watching. In the
four films there is sexual aggression against a male, sexual aggression against
a female, physical aggression, and neutrality-no explicit scenes of physical or
sexual aggression. Out of this study the males were more acceptable of
interpersonal violence and rape myths and also more attracted to sexual
aggression. These same males were less sympathetic to rape victims and were
noted less likely to find a defendant guilty of rape (71). These four above
mentioned movies are mainstreamed R-rated films. If a mainstream movie can cause
this kind of distortion of value and morality, then it should become evident
that continuous viewing/use of pornographic films depicting violent sex and
aggression could lead vulnerable persons into performing or participating in
sexual violence against their partners or against a stranger. Bill Marshall,
psychology professor at Queen's University and director of a sexual behavior
clinic in Kingston, interviewed one hundred and twenty men, between the years
1980 and 1985, who had molested children or raped women. In his conclusion he
found that pornography appeared to be a significant factor in the chain of
events leading up to a deviant act in 25% of these cases (Nicols 60). The
results of this study should prove that pornography obviously has a down side to
it. According to Mark Nicols, a psychology professor at the University of
Michigan, Neil Malamuth, concludes quite cautiously that some messages combined
with other factors, including the viewer's personality type, in pornography can
lead to antisocial behavior and make individuals less sensitive to violence. Dr.
Marshall also quotes men in Nicols article as saying, "that they looked at
pornography with the intent to masturbate, but then became aroused, and decided
to go out and assault a woman or child." Men who are drawn into pornography
and use it frequently, have also been proven to suggest more lenient prison
terms for sex offenders" (60). If this previous statement is true, should
we reevaluate how many men serve on juries for these trials? Itzin gives
possible support for these theories. It can be found in the case of an
ex-prostitute who had her pubic hair removed with a jackknife and was forced by
her pimp to be filmed reenacting what they had seen in pornographic movies; she
was sexually assaulted and forced to have intercourse with animals, generally
dogs. Another such case is one of a woman who reports having metal clips
attached to her breasts, being tied to a chair, and being raped and beaten
continuously for twelve hours (22-24). The dehumanizing, degradation, and
reduction of a woman's body isn't just a result of viewed pornography, it is
often inseminated into the production of a pornographic project. During the
making of "Deep Throat", a 1970's pornographic film, Linda Marchiano
(a.k.a. Linda Lovelace), was presented to the public as a liberated woman with
an ever present and unfulfilled appetite for fellatio. What isn't known to the
general public is that during the making of the movie, she was hypnotized to
suppress the natural gagging reaction, was tortured when caught trying to
escape, and also held at gun-point by her boss, who threatened her with death (Itzin
22). Ms. Marchiano did escape and when her story was told, it was repeated by a
number of women in the pornography business. According to D'Arcy Jenish many
children are lured into the pornography industry by choosing first to model.
These young teen's egos are boosted when they are told "[they have good
bodies]", and are asked, "if they work out?" More often than not,
they are told "to take off [their] shirts", and then asked "Do
you feel nervous?" (36). These youngsters honestly don't know when too much
is too much, and what they don't know could put them in serious danger. Calvin
Klein, once known for being a reputable clothing designer, is now known for his
racy ads using teens. Some feel he crossed the line when he chose this type of
advertising. Jenish observes that these advertisements "featured an array
of . . . teen-aged models dressed in loose jeans or hiked-up skirts, one showing
bare breasts, others offering androgynous models kissing" (36). If adults
in positions of power act this way, these youngsters cannot expect other adults
to act any differently. Therefore they accept this type of behavior as normal.
Diana Russell claims that tactics like these are being used more often in
advertising and television, which has led media watchdogs and anti-porn
activists to believe that this sort of masked imitation of pornography tricks
mainstream television viewers into having an "everybody's doing it"
attitude about pornography. She also feels that this attitude subconsciously
leads them into seeking pornography out (39). We need to show the younger
generation that everyone is not doing 'it', and that it is all right not to have
sex if they feel pressured. Another problem anti-pornography activists believe
arises from regular viewing of pornography, is the acceptance of "rape
myths". Rape myth is a term pertaining to people's views on rape, rapists,
and sexual assaults, wherein it is assumed that the victim of a sexual crime is
either partially or completely to blame (Allen 6). To help understand the rape
myth a "Rape Myth Acceptance Scale" was established, which lists some
of the most prominent beliefs that a person accepting the rape myth has. They
are as follows: 1. A woman who goes to the home or apartment of a man on their
first date implies that she is willing to have sex. 2. One reason that women
falsely report a rape is that they frequently have a need to call attention to
themselves. 3. Any healthy woman can successfully resist a rapist if she really
wants to. 4. When women go around braless or wearing short skirts and tight
tops, they are just asking for trouble. 5. In the majority or rapes, the victim
is promiscuous or has a bad reputation. 6. If a girl engages in necking or
petting and she lets things get out of hand, it is her own fault if her partner
forces sex on her. 7. Women who get raped while hitchhiking get what they
deserve. 8. Many women have an unconscious wish to be raped, and may then
[subconsciously] set up a situation in which they are likely to be attacked. 9.
If a woman gets drunk at a party and has intercourse with a man she's just met
there, she should be considered "fair game" to other males at the
party who want to have sex with her too, whether she wants to or not (Burt 217).
Pauline Bart reports that studies held simultaneously at UCLA and St. Xavier
College on students, demonstrate that pornography does positively reinforce the
rape myth. Men and women were exposed to over four hours of exotic video (of
varying types; i.e. soft, hard core, etc.) and then asked to answer a set of
questions meant to gage their attitudes of sex crimes. All the men were proven
to be more accepting to rape myths, and surprisingly, over half of the women
were also (123). Once again, the women in these films were portrayed as
insatiable and in need of constant fulfillment. After so much exposure to women
in this light from films and books, it is generally taken for granted that women
should emulate this type of behavior in real life (125). Of all the studies and
examples from real life situations connecting pornography with violent behavior
and sexual aggressiveness, none are more concrete than the activities the
Serbian military are part of every day now in the Bosnian war. Part of the
"ethnic cleansing" process the Serbs are practicing in Bosnia involves
the gang raping of all Muslim and Croatian women. Andrea Dworkin states that it
is mandatory for the Serbian soldiers to rape the wives and female children of
Muslim men. Concentration camps are set up as brothels where women are ordered
to satisfy the soldiers in the most painful and dehumanizing ways imaginable.
The women in these camps are taped with camcorders and the videos are displayed
everywhere throughout the camps to lower the woman's will and need to resist.
Were do the soldiers get the inspiration to commit these crimes, from commercial
pornography. Serbian troops are basically force-fed porn; it is present all
through training and is made readily available to (even pushed upon) the
soldiers. They are basically asked to "watch and learn". After the
seed is planted not much is needed to be done, because they are naturally
instilled with the desire to repeat what they have seen, and are not concerned
with the feelings of the women. They have seen that some women have no feelings
and are meant to be used merely for sexual gratification (M2-M6). To add insult
to injury, some of the tapes of these women being victimized have entered the
black market, being sold internationally, possible infecting the minds of
millions. Pornography has enamored itself as a large part of our modern society.
It is seldom discussed and often hidden as a dirty secret, but porn still seems
to play a major part in the shaping of our morals and behaviors. Although some
say pornography is relatively harmless, a considerable larger group seems to
uphold the assumption the porn works in negative and disruptive ways on those
who view it and participate. Nearly all the research supports this assumption,
so it is evident the topic is in need of much more examination and debate. Even
though the majority of modern society views pornography as objectionable and
sometimes obscene, there are some that do not agree with the assumption that
pornography is guilty of the defamation of women and their sexual roles. Social
observationalists, such as Mary White, at the University of Michigan often agree
with her statement on the part women play in pornography which explains that
"since most pornographic material plays up to male fantasy, women are
usually the aggressors, hence women are given a semblance of empowerment. Also,
the majority of these women in the material are very attractive, therefore seen
as the forms of beauty and desire, something to be respected and worked
for" (72). Although White may not realize it, this statement reinforced
most of the arguments made in support of the notion that pornography is
subordinating and degrading to women. By saying that being sexually aggressive
gives a woman empowerment, she limits a woman's ability to reach empowerment to
sexual activity alone, and by claiming that the use of attractive women in
pornographic material lends to a view of women being desirable, she
inadvertently excludes women that don't fit society's mold of the model physical
female, (i.e. overweight, small breasted, short, etc.). Most of the arguments
similar to White's follow the same line of reasoning, and are easily broken down
in the same manner as hers. In regards to pornography perpetuating violent acts
toward women, pornography defenders claim that the use of pornographic material
can act as a cathartic release, actual lessening the likelihood of males
committing violent acts. The reasoning is that the pornography can substitute
for sex and that the 'want' to commit sexual crimes is acted out vicariously
through the pornographic material (Whicclair 327). This argument, however, does
not explain the crimes committed by serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne
Gacey, who regularly viewed pornography during the lengths of their times
between murders and rapes (Scully 70). By saying that pornography would reduce
harm to women through cathartic effects, pornography defenders display a large
lack in reasoning because through their argument the rise in the production of
pornography would have led to a decrease in sexual crimes, but as has been shown
previously, that simply is not true. Pornographers and pornography defenders
proclaim that the link between pornography and violence is exaggerated and that
the research linking pornography to sexual crimes is inconclusive. They state
that the fundamentals of sex crimes are found inherently in the individuals and
that the sexual permissiveness of American society cannot be blamed on the
increase of pornography's availability (Jacobson 79). David Adams, a co-founder
and executive director of Emerge, a Boston counseling center for male batterers,
states, "that only a minority of his clients (perhaps 10 to 20 percent) use
hard-core pornography. He estimates that half may have substance abuse problems,
and adds that alcohol seems more directly involved in abuse than
pornography" (Kaminer 115). The statement made by Adams and the view that
pornography does not contribute to the act of sex crimes is heavily outweighed,
however, by the various studies connecting violence and pornography. Bill
Marshall's observations on his patients and the examples of individual crimes
originating from pornography show this acclimation to be invalidated. Some also
say that attacks on pornography merely reflect the majority of feminist's
disdain for men, cynically stating that people who fear pornography think of all
men as potential abusers, whose violent impulses are bound to be sparked by
pornography (114). Researcher Catherin MacKinnon says "pornography works as
a behavioral conditioner, reinforcer, and stimulus, not as idea or
advocacy" (114). However, this idea is proven to be false by the use of
pornography in and by the Serbian military. This example shows that pornography
does advocate sex crimes and that ideas of sexual violence can be stemmed from
the viewing of pornography. Pornography has become to most just another one of
those cold, nasty facts of life that cannot be stopped, so some choose to ignore
it. This attitude has to change. After reviewing the abuse and subordination
delegated to women as an almost indisputable result of the mass infiltration of
pornography into modern society, it should be impossible for someone not to want
to do something about it. What can be done is for those concerned to try to
spread the word and educate others as much as possible to the dangers of this
sort of material. If people knew the roots of some of their more violent
behavior, it could be diminished, thus protecting the future and health of our
communities. From its inception, in most cases, pornography is a media that
links sexual gratification and violence together. This fact can only lead a
rational mind to the conclusion that a chain of events will begin, combining sex
and violence further in the minds of those who watch pornography and will ensure
an unhealthy attitude towards women and their sexual identities. Only through
discussion and individual action can the perpetuation of the negative impacts of
pornography be swept from the closets and dark corners of the American
household. BibliographyAllen, Mike. "Exposure to Pornography and Acceptance of Rape
Myths." Journal of Communication. Winter, 1995: 5-21. Bart, Pauline B., and
Patricia H. O'Brien. Stopping Rape: Successful Survival Strategies. New York:
Pergamon Press, 1985. Burt, M. "Cultural Myths and Supports for Rape."
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 38 (1980): 217-230. Cameron,
Deborah, and Elizabeth Frazer. The Lust to Kill. New York: New York UP, 1987.
Carol, Avedon. "Free Speech and the Porn Wars." National Forum. 75.2
(1985): 25-28. Clark, Charles S. "Sex, Violence, and the Media." CQ
Researcher. 17 Nov. 1995: 1019-1033. Dworkin, Andrea. "The Real Pornography
of A Brutal War Against Women." Los Angeles Times. 5 Sept. 1993, M2+. Itzin,
Catherine. "Pornography and Civil Liberties." National Review. 75.2
(1985): 20- 24. Jacobson, Daniel. "Freedom of Speech Acts? A Response to
Langston." Philosophy & Public Affairs. Summer 1992: 65-79. Jenish,
D'Arcy. "The King of Porn." Macleans. 11 Oct. 1993: 52-56. - - - -
"Did Sexy Calvin Klein Ads Go Too Far?" Maclean's. 2 Oct. 1995: 36.
Kaminer, Wendy. "Feminists Against the First Amendment." The Atlantic
Monthly. Nov. 1992: 111-118. Leidholdt, Margaret. Take Back The Night: Women on
Pornography. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1980. Nicols, Mark.
"Viewers and Victims." Newsweek. 10 Aug. 1983: 60. Russell, Diana E.H.,
ed. Making Violence Sexy: Feminist View on Pornography. New York: Teachers
College Press, 1994. Webster's Dictionary. Miami Florida. P.S.I. &
Associates. 1987: 286. Weisz, Monica G., and Christopher M. Earls. "The
Effects of Exposure to Filmed Sexual Violence on Attitudes Toward Rape."
Journal of Interpersonal Violence. March 1995: 71-84. Whicclair, Mark. R.
"Feminism, Pornography, and Censorship." Contemporary Moral Problems.
ed. James White. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: 1994. White, Mary. "Women As
Victim: The New Stereotype." Spin. Apr. 1992: 60-65.
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