Testimony in Minneapolis: Role of Porn in Child Sexual Abuse; Pornographers Perpetuate, Profit from Dysfunction

Minneapolis city officials received testimony about peoples’ encounters
with porn, those
who consume porn and those who produce it at a hearing of the
Minneapolis Government Operations Committee in December 1983. These letters are published in In Harm’s Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings (p.238-248).

Letter of d.c., VOICE, Inc., December 5, 1983

…VOICE is a national network of incest survivors. For the last four years, we have communicated with thousands of sister survivors from all across the country. Whenever the subject of pornography comes up in correspondence or discussions, it is almost universally acknowledged that the perpetrator used either magazines or photographs that portrayed the sexual subjugation of women in their attempt to justify their actions against their daughters…

Letter of Trudee Able-Peterson, December 1, 1983

Recently, while lecturing on the issue of sexual exploitation/victimization of children, in a small Wisconsin town, a judge posed the following question: “Ms. Peterson, how would you counsel a twelve and a nine year old boy who, simultaneously, anally and vaginally raped a three year old girl, and when asked in court, why they did this, they responded, ‘it’s okay, we saw it in Hustler magazine.’?”

To those of us across the country who work with sexually abused children, it is common knowledge that adult pornography is often used to introduce children to this warped sexuality and then they are encouraged, coerced, or forced to simulate these sexual positions…

Playboy ran one cartoon of a little girl getting dressed and saying derisively to an old man in a robe, “and you call that being molested!” The old man standing there looking very inept and foolish, INADEQUATE.

This cartoon accuses the little girl of being the seducer, and gives her all the power, and believe me, a 10-year-old girl who attempts suicide, sometimes successfully, rather than sleep with Dad or Uncle again, has no power.

I have worked in the field of sexually abused children for eight years. I have been a sexually abused child. I have been behind the porn camera. It has affected my whole life; my self-image, my sexuality, my relationships, my body, my mind, and, last but not least…my heart.

Letter of Katherine Brady, November 29, 1983

My father incestuously molested me for a period of ten years when I was ages 8 to 18. During the early stages of the molestation, some of the things he used to coerce me into having sex with him were pornographic materials…

When I was age 10, he verbally told me about pornography and then sneaked it to me for explanation when my mother was at work and when he had sent my little brother off to play. Like most small children, I was naturally curious about what seemed to be an intriguing part of life, especially because my father seemed so excited when he talked about the pornography with me…

Because I was afraid of his physical power and verbal authority, it never occurred to me to challenge his use of pornography. It scared me, it confused me and yet it excited me and I felt trapped. My only escape was to send my mind off, a habit which has taken years to correct. I became, in essence, trained to respond to the porn for the sexual satisfaction of my father…

[M]y father introduced magazines such as Playboy and Hustler in addition to the prisoners’ man-made pornography [he worked at a reformatory], so that I would, as my father put it, “Be prepared for sex in life.”

Over the last 10 years as I have spoken out across this nation as a survivor of incest turned child-abuse-prevention activist, and as I have counseled countless women, men and children about their own sexual victimization, I have learned that the use of pornography in the perpetration of sex crimes is alarmingly common. I can’t speak for that legion of victims, but I can say that, for me, the use of pornography in the early stages of the fondling and set up of incest and then during the long-term genital molestation period has caused me over 30 years of sexual anguish, the break up of my ten-year marriage to my high school sweetheart–the father of my two daughters, the loss of emotional support from my family and extended family, and, of course, the loss of my natural relationship with my father. In addition, I’ve spent (and my father has spent) hundreds of thousands of dollars in various therapies to patch up the damages of incest in our family. The use of pornographic materials tended to give me a negative image of myself as a female. It made me think of my body as an object for sexual abuse which caused (sadly) the deterioration of what could have been a joyous emotional and sexual relationship with my now ex-husband.

Letter of Louise Armstrong, December 8, 1983

I am the author of Kiss Daddy Goodnight: A Speakout on Incest (Hawthorn, 1978; Pocket Books, 1979). This was the first book to document–to listen to and validate–the experience of women who had been repeatedly molested as young children by fathers and stepfathers.

Apart from giving a voice to the millions of women of all generations in current American society who were sexually exploited as children within the family, the book has been widely used by mental health professionals–both those working with incest survivors, and those working to “sensitize” offenders (meaning to re-socialize them to see women and children, their victims, as humans)…

[F]ew would claim that if you eradicated child pornography, you would eliminate child abuse.

There is evidence, however, of a direct linkage in an as yet unquantified number of cases…

Several psychiatric experts I’ve spoken with recently, including child sexual abuse expert Dr. Roland Summit, Harbor General Hospital, Torrance, California, have referred to the growing incidence (that is, the greater number of cases coming to their attention) of men making private sexual-pornographic use of their children, exchanging and selling the photographs (and sometimes the children).

Within the last month, I have heard from a woman whose former husband was, as her four-year-old son testified, molesting the child during visitation, photographing him in pornographic poses, and sharing both the child and the pictures with friends…

Although child pornography is illegal, it remains available. And any diminished availability is more than compensated for by the proliferation of homemade pornography. And by the rampant infantilization of women in adult pornography–their graphic representation as child-like, in pigtails, with lollipops…

Whether or not pornography is causative of real abuse practices, it is fully and profoundly supportive of them… Pornography “de-sensitizes” men to the real and gross violation of a human being involved…

What is key to the issue is that permission, societal permission, is at the core of real paternal child molestation; and at the core of most marital and stranger rape.

Pornography is a blatant and powerful manifestation of that permission…

The permission to sexually abuse, exploit, and do violence to, women and children, is a historical one. Pornography, too, was, historically, available. Now, however, it has greater prevalence and greater power: it threatens to irradiate the public, and alter even what moral genetic structure we may have had.

What distance is there between the depiction of children “begging” for sex in pornographic display, and Maggie’s father (in Kiss Daddy Goodnight) saying to then-three-year-old Maggie, “Tell me you like it. No, tell me you really like it. No, tell me like you mean it”?…

The major effort of therapeutic programs for rapists and child molesters is “sensitization”: the effort to personify, to de-objectify, in these men’s minds, their victims.

Psychologist Jonathan Ross, co-director of the Forensic Mental Health Center in New Lon
don, Connecticut, which treats child molesters, says, “These guys are responding to a blanket permission[.] Kids are sexual[.] There’s nothing wrong with it.”

…Pornography is a heavy duty, all-pervasive part of that permission. And for the most part it carries the extra-heavy-duty, sin-free sugar coating that the women and child victims are really loving every minute of it.

Bridgeport, Connecticut, attorney Cecilia Rosenberg is a member of the Masters Panel for Family Court, and has a degree in psychiatric social work. She says there’s so much child molestation, “there’s enough of it to be routine. It is something fathers feel they have a right to do. The underlying assumption is that females and children are available to them. If they don’t use them sexually, it’s an act of forbearance.”

Letter of Anne-Marie Eriksson, NYC Probation Officer, and Erik A. Eriksson, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.), Incest Survivors Resource Network International, December 7, 1983

Many incest victims have difficulty establishing a satisfactory sexual relationship with a peer. Many of the male incest victims, out of loneliness, turn to masturbation. For many of these, pornography appears to fill the need for masturbation fantasies. The industry also grinds up immature incest victims of both sexes and stuffs them into the sausage skins of pornographic films…

We observe that pornographers appear to have a financial interest in perpetuating molestation and breaking up marital relationships. This creates more customers for porn. The underlying philosophy is despair that one’s sexual needs can be met through a healthy, balanced, faithful relationship between two real people. One can see this at work in films on sale at Capital Video, for example:

Wonderland
This DVD features a story-driven title
that mixes drama with hardcore sex. Wonderland tells the story of a man
obsessed with his stepdaughter’s friend when she visits during
Christmas break. Gary sacrifices everything in his traditional suburban
existence for a single moment of ecstasy with a femme fatale.

Deviant Housewives
In this world nothing lasts
forever and it looks like Kelly Erikson’s husband Van needs some space.
Kelly decides to invite all her friends going thru the same problems to
stay and support each other. But all of Kelly’s friends have an empty
void in their lives they need filled and it’s from a younger man!

See also:

Jenna Jameson’s Tragic Backstory; Seeking Virgins with Paris Hilton
[S]he was raped a second time when she was still only 16–this time by the biker uncle of her first long-term boyfriend [the uncle denies it]. She then prised the braces off her teeth with needle-nose pliers and successfully auditioned to become a stripper, making thousands of dollars a night. She was spotted by a scout for pornographic photo shoots, which led to her having sex on film for the first time. She was 19 and became an immediate sensation in the small world of the porn industry…

TMZ reported in December 2006 that Jameson separated from her second husband, Jay Grdina.

Lizzy Borden: We don’t shoot “all the lovey-dovey stuff that there’s not a big market for” (explicit language)
Porn producer Lizzie Borden: “This is for people who watch porno all the time, and they’re sick of the husband and the wife making love with candles… When I was a child, my step-father was an alcoholic. So I think I had deep issues, and this is kind of therapeutic for me, to take my aggression out on other people. So in a way, I’m exploiting people, taking all my inner demons and aggression on them. But it’s good for me. So I guess that’s all that matters…”

Exposure to Pornography as a Cause of Child Sexual Victimization

Hustler Cartoons: Racism, Misogyny, Anti-Semitism, Homophobia, Pedophilia, Incest, Ridicule of Disabled People… (explicit)

Some Porn Hard to Distinguish from Training for Pedophiles (explicit language)
Movies sold by Capital Video and its affiliates include “Amateur Initiation 29”, “Bubble Gum Virgins”, “Early Entries #4”, “Forbidden Cherries”, “Home Schooled #3” and “It’s a Young Girls Thing”.

——————— (added on 2/25/07)

“Unfortunately, when individuals who have survived human rights abuses as a result of pornography speak out, they are most often attacked again for having the nerve to speak out. For example, after pornography survivors appeared before the City Council in Minneapolis to describe their personal stories [of] horror and torture, a nationally distributed pornography magazine published an article identifying the women by name, using their direct quotes and highlighting the graphic testimony of sexual violence. Without exception, these women were harassed by obscene phone calls, followed, spied on, tormented, threatened by letters.”

(“Censored Truth” by Ann J. Simonton, Media Watch)

4 thoughts on “Testimony in Minneapolis: Role of Porn in Child Sexual Abuse; Pornographers Perpetuate, Profit from Dysfunction

  1. Regarding the treatment of those who spoke out against pornography: that’s kind of like when you accuse your opponents of working for Capital Video and not being who they say they are.

  2. False. We threaten no one. We make no personal attacks. We don’t abuse anyone’s image (unlike Peter Brooks) [corrected]. We don’t stomp on the feelings of victims. We do support the journalistic principles of transparency and accountability.

    You appear to be referring to the conflict of interest inquiry we made with Andrew Shelffo. We invite our readers to look over our dialogue with Mr. Shelffo and judge the merits of the issues we raised and his responses. Mr. Shelffo, of course, ultimately did deny that he is being compensated by Capital Video, but he appeared to display a powerful resistence to the notion that those who enjoy the privileges of blogging on MassLive have responsibilities to their readers.

  3. “Conflict of interest inquiry” may be the funniest phrase I’ve heard in a long time. You can dress it up all you want, but the fact remains that you called me a pornographer, something you have never apologized for.

    Just because you have such a strong belief in the rightness of your position does not mean that you can treat people poorly.

    In fact, here you go again suggesting that I “stomp” on the feelings of victims–the second time you’ve suggested this. I have never stomped on the feelings of victims. I have never abused anyone’s image–and shame on you for suggesting either of these things without evidence.

    But sure, go on believing that you never threaten anyone.

  4. Andrew, as a blogger on MassLive, your lack of respect for the principles of transparency and accountability is disturbing.

    I don’t recall ever calling you a pornographer. Please tell me where that happened.

    It does look like I confused you with Peter Brooks when I referred to the abuse of my image. It is to your credit that you have not participated in this particular game at Mopornnorthampton. I apologize.

    As for stomping on the feelings of victims, I primarily had in mind the many pornographers and others who have dismissed, minimized, or made light of the harm experienced by victims of sexual abuse, such as the fraternity brothers who chanted ‘Bruises, Bruises, Bruises!’ during a showing of Deep Throat.

    That said, you certainly showed little concern for my feelings after a representative of Capital Video menaced and cursed at me in City Council chambers. Despite your aggressive attempts to minimize Capital Video’s actions, these things matter.

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