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 couldnt 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 burried 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 stonger 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 pornogrpahy 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 leac 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 pornogrpahy originates from two greek words, porne, which means harlot, and graphein, which means to write (Websters 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 Itzins research purposes pornogrpahy 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 nonsubordinating 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 pornogrpahy, 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 ultraviolent, snuff, and child pornography. Ultraviolent 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 pornogrpahy 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 cant 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 publics First Amendment Right (Carol 28). Maureen OBrien quotes critics of a congressionally terminated bill, the Pornography Victims 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 wouldnt 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 30s, 40s, and 50s by the industry, but once independent films of the 60s such as: \”Bonnie and Clyde\” and \”Whose afraid of Virginia Woolfe? ” (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 cant 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 trenchcoats, 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 wouldnt 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. Pornographys 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 studie, standing out from the rest, that 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 Queens 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 viewers 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 womans body isnt just a result of viewed pornography, it is often inseminated into the production of a pornographic project.
During the making of \”Deep Throat\”, a 1970s 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 isnt 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 DArcy Jenish many children are lured into the pornography industry by choosing first to model. These young teens 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 dont know when too much is too much, and what they dont 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 \”everybodys 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 peoples 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.