How Porn Can Promote Sexual Violence?

To understand sexual violence in pornography we must first understand what is sexual violence and is pornography inherently violent?

What is Sexual Violence? 

“The World Health Organization has described sexual violence as “sexual activity, attempts to acquire sexual activity, unwelcome sexual comments or progress, or acts contrary to one’s sexuality, or coercion by a person regardless of the relationship with the victim.”

These videos portray men as in charge while women are submissive and obedient, exemplifying unequal power and distribution between men and women; often, this further pushes beliefs of male superiority and female inferiority, this attitude ultimately led to sexual violence against women. 

 All these can impact negative social issues like child sexual abuse, rape, violence against women, crime among youth, and sexually transmitted diseases. 

What is pornography?

The term pornography is “a display of sexual content specifically intended for sexual arousal and may be presented in various formats such as video, movies, video games, writing, magazines, etc.” It is defined as a public health issue. The main controversy over pornography revolves around pornography addiction and its consequences. 

Internet pornography addiction also comes under behavioral addiction. The Internet is used as a source to access sexually explicit material. 

“Most people have convenient access to pornography. It has been estimated that 90% of boys and 60% of girls under the age of 18 have been exposed to pornography, with the average age of first exposure being 12 years.”

Types of Sexual violence 

Sexual violence means forcing or manipulating unwanted sexual activity without the permission of others. Anyone, including children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, can experience sexual violence. Perpetrators of sexual abuse can be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals, or strangers.

Types of sexual violence include:

  • rape or sexual assault,
  • child sexual assault
  • incest,
  • sexual assault by an intimate partner,
  • unwanted sexual contact/touching,
  • sexual harassment,
  • sexual exploitation, and others. 

Statistics related to Pornography  

FACT: Chances are you know someone who has been sexually assaulted. Sexual violence affects people of all genders, ages, races, religions, incomes, abilities, professions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. However, social inequalities can heighten the risk.  

Stats 

  •  At some time in their lives, 1 in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape; more than half occurred before the woman was 18, and 22% before age 12 (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000).  
  • During their lives, 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape; 75% occurred before the men were 18, and 48% before age 12 (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). 

It also revealed that female education and the female population of tribal and underprivileged groups play critical roles in the rise in crime against women. As a result, the employment of women and urbanization negatively impact the rate of sexual crime. 

Pornography and Sexual Violence Against Women in India: A Scoping Review 

Who Does Pornography and Sexual Violence Affect? 

Sexual violence and its detrimental effects on women 

a man sexually violating a woman

Women are directly affected by porn’s ill effects. Many production studios regularly create and profit off of collections that deal with women at work and/or at school, documenting evidence of both being involved in violent sexual activity and being victims. It features women who have had sex. Isn’t it strange to see these signs of violence in these styles of porn-specific sections and across genres, as opposed to real women? 

Consuming pornography frequently also leads to women having to face newer expectations about sexual behavior, which can result in higher divorce rates, infidelity, and feelings of sexual incompetence. 

Adolescent boys who consume violent pornography are more vulnerable to violence, aggression, and sexual assault, and more vulnerable to fellow and adult sexual assault. The age at which men are first exposed to pornography forms a tendency to seek sexual behavior and power over women. 

Conversely, as a result, adolescent girls are more likely to endure emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. What does it say about pornography when its content leads to teaching our children about tolerating violence, coercion, and toxic behavior? 

Trans lives are affected 

A study published in Communication Research Reports was conducted to investigate the relationship between pornographic consumption and attitudes towards transgender people. This study found that sexual shame and attitudes towards transgender people were associated with greater prejudice, and in essence, those who felt embarrassed in viewing transgender porn were more likely to harass people from the transgender community.  

The Influence of Pornography Viewing on Attitudes Toward Transgender People. 

This discrimination is often in the form of harassment, intimidation, “exposure” or outing of transgender people, violence, or revenge pornography.

Revenge pornography (or non-consensual image sharing) is often defined as sharing a nude or nearly nude photo of a person without consent after a farewell or discussion. 

According to a study conducted by CIPHR and the Data & Society Research Institute, the LGBTQ + community is imbalanced in the effects of revenge pornography. They found that 15% of LGBTQ + Internet users are under the threat of revenge pornography. In contrast, the percentage of straight users is 2%. 

Research shows that pornography is linked with sexual shame and attitudes towards trans people. This further shows that violence against trans women is on the rise and the sentiments portrayed in pornography are worsening the issue.  

What is Revenge porn and how is it related to sexual violence? 

Imagery of sexual violence

Revenge pornography is the distribution of sexually explicit images and videos without permission. The material may have been created by a partner who is closely associated with the subject’s knowledge and consent at the time, or without their knowledge. 

Subjects may have experienced sexual violence while recording the material and, in some cases, promoted by narcotics such as date rape drugs, resulting in the decreased perception of pain, participation in sexual activity, dissociative effects, and amnesia. 

Therefore, revenge porn may be filmed with or without the consent of the partner. It is critical to analyze each situation and furthermore the distribution of such material goes against the will of the person involved and hence it is a crime. 

Possession of materials causes the perpetrator to force the subject into other sexual activity, continue the relationship, end the relationship, silence it, damage its reputation, or gain financial gain. This practice is also described as a form of psychological abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. 

The link between exposure to violent pornography and Teen Dating Violence 

Patterns vary by gender, but exposure to violent pornography is associated with all kinds of teenage dating DV (TDV). Boys exposed to violent pornography are 2-3 times more likely to report sexual TDV exercise and damage and physical TDV damage, and girls exposed to violent pornography are threatened.  

The Association Between Exposure to Violent Pornography and Teen Dating Violence in Grade 10 High School Students 

Child Abuse and the porn industry 

Children being exposed to violent pornography

Simply put, the porn industry has a problem of sexual abuse that needs to be addressed immediately. From 2017 to 2018, confirmed reports of images of child sexual abuse increased by 35% (confirmed). 

Child pornography is one of the fastest growing online businesses. There is an undeniable relationship between objectification in pornography and, in most cases, objectification that precedes the act of sexual abuse. 

Pornography that is focused on “almost illegal” acts is ominous because the United States produces 55% of the world’s child pornography and knows what we know about the constant desire for neural pathways and stimuli. It’s logical to think that you’re heading in the wrong direction, and you’re becoming insensitive and your thirst for child pornography is growing. 

Unfortunately, the National Center for Missing and Exploiting Children (NCMEC) has found that 43% of child pornography is created by guardians, neighbors, or family friends. In short, the biggest threat to child safety is the ones closest to you. As parents and adults, it is important to place boundaries with your friends and family members for your children’s safety. Nobody should be as accessible to your children as you are, as a parent. 

The Federal Prison Sex Offenders Treatment Program admits that 85% of child pornography possessors have sexually abused children. This simply means that the argument of ‘child pornography is just for fantasy or for viewing only’ is completely untrue, since sex offenders have acted on this urge and they coincidentally possess child pornography. 

For many, the fantasy becomes less attractive and eventually seeks out the true victims. Further research is needed on the direct link between sexual abuse and pornography, trafficking and pornography, and violence and pornography. Common sense tells us that constant exposure to simulated sexual violence leads to the internalization of these attitudes, but common sense cannot direct policy. 

To protect the most vulnerable people from sexual abuse and violence, research into the abuse of internet pornography must be actively pursued. Especially when internet pornography became available very early on. Education on how this surge distorts the collective consciousness of today’s society must be available and understandable for the necessary changes to occur. 

BDSM and Sexual Violence 

Sexual violence masquerading as BDSM

What is BDSM? 

BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism, and masochism. The BDSM community is known to include roleplaying and non-conformative and non-traditional ways of performing sexual acts. The main rule of thumb while indulging in BDSM is informed consent and setting boundaries and hard limits. 

But cases have arisen where people, use the name of BDSM to commit violent sexual acts without consent. There is no distinction between abuse and BDSM in such cases, this is where the perpetrator in the guise of BDSM goes on to sexually assault the people involved. 

Reliable estimates of the percentage of American adults engaged in BDSM range from 1 to 2 percent (2.5 to 5 million). Adults who are curious enough to occasionally play this way or visit BDSM clubs add an additional 1-2 percent. Therefore, 5 to 10 million Americans participate in this form of sex play, at least in part. 

Why do people watch aggressive porn? 

Fear may actually be the culprit behind the astonishing violence of pornography. As early as the 1980s, researchers discovered that anxiety increased sexual arousal (Barlow 1983), and Gary Wilson established this relationship with violent pornography. Think about the sensations of your body when you are scared: your heart is competing, your palms are sweating, you suddenly feel very alive. It resembles your feelings when you get excited. 

Scenes of danger and shocking violence evoke increased fear and anxiety. Porn violence helps exhausted porn viewers feel excited again. The huge porn industry thrives by engrossing addicts. They understood the secret to spinning an endless carousel of self-destructive behavior  like a clockwork and lining a pocket. 

These acts may increase heart rate and produce adrenaline to create a state of excitement and nervousness. 

What is Rape pornography?

A woman being abused

This is a sub-genre of pornography that includes rape descriptions and depictions. Such pornography may include simulated rape in which a sexually consented adult pretends to be rape, or is real rape. 

Victims of real rape may be forced to forge their consent, resulting in pornography appearing as fake rape or non-rape pornography. Depictions of rape in non-pornographic media are not considered rape porn. Simulated scenes of rape and other forms of sexual violence have been featured in mainstream cinemas, including rape and revenge films, almost since their inception. 

Rape pornography may or may not be filmed in a simulated setting with the consent of the person involved. The biggest concern that arises with porn is,

‘Is it filmed with the consent of everyone involved?

Are the people involved treated right?

Is there sexual abuse behind the scenes?’ 

Why are violent porn categories created? 

According to a recent survey based on an analysis of user data from Pornhub, one of the world’s largest porn sites, Indians are one of the “most prolific consumers” of internet porn, with 14.2 billion times on the site. It accounts for 40% of visits. 

Compulsive porn users often experience a feeling of frustration, which drives them to seek novelty. When porn is no longer excited, obsessive-compulsive porn users look for more extreme things that can be more exciting. But then the effect is lost.  

Gail Dines, who specializes in the study of pornography, believes that the porn industry has caused its own destruction. "Because it's getting hardcore so quickly, you're now increasing your insensitive and boring customer base. They're always looking for something new: something more extreme, something weird. But there are limits to what you can do. You can't really kill them. To be honest, there's not much she can do, but she'll kill her.” 

There is an increasing demand that is created for aggressive, violent porn. 

The Porn Industry and Normalizing Sexual Harm 

a man being abused

According to a survey, “the media has tremendous educational ability.” Excessive media use distorts a child’s worldview, increases dangerous behaviors, and creates successful and sustainable interpersonal relationships, especially if the content is violent, gender-stereotyped, and sexually explicit and can affect your ability to build relationships. 

Dr. Sharon Cooper, a forensic pediatrician and faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, claims that “images definitely affect children,” claiming that children receive unhealthy sexual images from adult pornography. Cooper says that pornography normalizes sexual harm by portraying consensual lack of emotional connections between partners, unsafe sexual contact, and in some cases violence and rape.

Children and adolescents are more likely than adults to have such images because mirror neurons in the brain convince people that what they see is what they are actually experiencing. Mirror neurons play an important role in children’s learning. Children learn primarily through imitation. Their mirror neurons are involved in observing what others are doing and mimicking their behavior. 

Children and youth may be more affected by pornography than by other forms of media because of its higher level of sexual explicitness. 

How does exposure to violent porn videos affect children? 

This includes the link between the use of internet pornography and sexual violence. How do violent and degrading forms of pornography, especially at a young age, affect what adolescents (boys and girls) consider to be acceptable sexual behaviors and attitudes? 

Pornography these days has emerge as a long way greater violent and degrading than it became withinside the past. What is now mainstream in porn is aggressive, violent and dehumanizing. The issues of dominating and humiliating ladies are common, and plenty of what’s out there may be steeped in hatred for ladies. 

By normalizing sexual violence, creating unrealistic expectations for intimate partners and relationships, and increasing the risk of addiction, pornography harms children and youth. 

Some studies have investigated pornographic violence by analyzing the content of pornographic videos, while others have asked how often porn users see certain types of behavior depicted in pornography. Some studies have estimated the spread of violence. 

For example, according to a recent Australian survey, 70% of young people often consider men to be dominant, 34% say women often experience verbal abuse and insults, and 11% against women. He states that he frequently sees violence and aggression. No agreement was reached. 

Another 13% of young people reported seeing “occasional” offensive and non-consensual sex while watching pornography. Thus, overall, the study found that one in four young people were repeatedly exposed to violent and disagreeable depictions of sex within the last year of their lives. 

The level of violence depicted in pornography is annoying, but perhaps even more annoying is the portrayed reaction to that violence. According to one study, 95% of victims of violence and attacks in pornography seemed neutral or responded happily. In other words, pornography conveys the message that sexual violence is only part of sexual pleasure. 

How Porn affects Behavior?

People tend to look for heavier, clearer, or deviant images to feel their initial excitement because they need to raise their dopamine levels to experience the height that pornography initially gave them. The brain associates images with a sense of joy and excitement. 

In this way, people can easily switch to watching pornography that was shocking or disgusting to them. If you look at these types of images over and over, they will look normalized, acceptable, and even mundane to the user.  

Studies show that porn users show more intimidating and harassing behavior towards women, less compassion for rape victims, more violent attitudes towards women, and even lead to actual violence against women.  

For most men, consuming pornography does not change the view of women. However, for those who already tend to be sexist, pornography can reinforce existing dangerous tendencies. As such, it is exactly like any other medicine. 

How pornography affects an adolescent’s mindset?

It is important to address the impact of pornography on adolescent thinking, as pornography is permanent and can be dangerous in most cases. A 2011 study entitled “The Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents” found that adolescents who saw violent and graphic pornography were six times more likely to be sexually aggressive than unexposed adolescents.  

Exposure to pornography is routine among children and adolescents, with many notable, and often disturbing effects. Exposure to pornography can be upsetting, especially for younger children. 

Exposure to pornography contributes to young people’s attachment to sexist and unhealthy ideas about sexism and relationships. And, especially among boys and young men who frequently consume pornography containing violent material, consumption strengthens their support for sexual assault and increases their likelihood of committing sexual assault. 

Pornography is a poor sex educator, and even dangerous, for children and young people, even though they are sexual beings and deserve age-appropriate materials about sex and sexuality. 

Of course, not all pornography portrays physical violence, but recognize that even nonviolent pornography has been shown to be associated with adverse effects such as increased sexual aggression and also includes racism, sexism, incest, and fetishization of minority groups. 

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