Minneapolis city officials heard testimony about peoples’ encounters with porn, those
who consume porn and those who produce it at a hearing of the Minneapolis Government Operations Committee on
December 13, 1983. This account appears in In Harm’s Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings (p.149-151).
Testimony of Wanda Richardson, Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter
If you look at a lot of pornography, it shows women being beaten, humiliated, tied up. It shows women tied and stabbed, poked, prodded and abused by devices, assaulted by several men or animals, and many ugly and degrading things. When you see a woman being battered, you see a lot of the same ugliness and violence at the same time. Not only do they portray women as liking and deserving this sexual abuse, it shows them as enjoying it, deserving it. And that is what one of the great myths of battery is, is that women deserve to be battered and that they enjoy it. If they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t stay…
I would like to say we have many, many examples of women coming to the shelter who have cases of combined sexual and physical assault where the violence and the sex is intertwined, but you can’t tell the difference–closely intertwined. They are a target not only for violence but also seen as sexually appealing. And a lot of times this is acted out at home where men will beat a woman and find that very sexually arousing. Many of the women come and say that immediately after battering, or shortly thereafter, the man wants sex and they said, how could he want me after he has done this to me, how could he expect me to not be upset, like nothing has happened. And to them, nothing has happened. To the woman it has been a degrading experience, and to the man it has been sexually exciting.
If you look at any pornographic magazine, you will see the answer to those questions that women are asking. We had two recent cases that I would like to cite, one in which a woman was taken repeatedly by her boyfriend to the Rialto Theater and made to watch “X” rated movies. And then he would take her home and force her to act out with him these movies. Of course, a lot of these movies contain extreme violence. After one of these episodes, she ended up in the hospital. That is how she came to our shelter.
In another case, a woman was imprisoned in her house by her husband. He had a video cassette recorder and he would bring home pornographic movies and tie her to a chair and force her to act out what they were seeing on the screen. Of course, she was eventually severely injured and, again, came to our shelter. These are just two examples. They are not by any means unusual ones. These things happen all the time…
I would also like to point out that a lot of this information that we have gotten from women of the shelter has not been looked for. We don’t have specific questions on our intakes about sexual abuse and violence. Most of this comes out during the discussion that we have when the woman first comes. And as we have seen it over and over again, the women saying the same things, where you have many separate incidents itself, but a lot of similar occurrences. You start seeing a pattern, and you start saying, where is this pattern coming from?
Well, it is coming from socialization from cultural images. And the strongest influence that we have been able to find on this type of treatment of women is pornography. Many of the women said that pornography is around their house. They say, he has been to the theaters, he does this and he does that and he sees these things. He comes home and he acts it out on me, or he makes me act it out also. We think that pornography is probably the most extreme example of anti-women socialization that men receive in this society. We don’t believe that men are born to be sexually and physically abusive to women. They learn this. And the main place they learn this is through pornography. We see the victims of this every day.
See these related items:
Sample Hustler cartoon: A man watches TV while a woman looks on. On the wall, there’s a baseball bat in a case with this sign: “In case the bitch gets mouthy, break glass”.
Sample Hustler cartoon: The police are called to a home with domestic violence. On the wall are portraits showing women in bandages and smiling men. One cop says, “Yep, it looks like another family with a history of wife abuse.”