Pornography Essay

This essay has a total of 9012 words and 30 pages.

Pornography



Pornography Nick Baker 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.


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
Continues for 15 more pages >>