Testimony in Minneapolis: “Pornography is frequently stated as a hobby of the abuser”

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.152-153).

Some of the testimony below describes sexually explicit events that may make some people uncomfortable.

Testimony of Donna Dunn, Women’s Shelter, Incorporated (Rochester, MN)

Women’s Shelter is a home for battered women and their children. Women’s Shelter has operated as a shelter for five years. In that time over 800 women have stayed with us. An additional 500 women contact the shelter each year in need of assistance, advocacy, and/or support…

While doing our intake procedure and in the ongoing close contact with shelter advocates, pornography is frequently stated as a hobby of the abuser. We would like to give you three examples of how pornography encouraged the ongoing beatings and rape of women we know.

Number one, one woman known to us related that her spouse always had a number of pornographic magazines around the house. The final episode that resulted in ending the marriage was his acting out a scene from one of the magazines. She was forcibly stripped, bound and gagged. And with help from her husband, she was raped by a German Shepherd. His second wife became known to us when she sought out support because of the magazines and bondage equipment she discovered in their home.

Number two, another woman spoke of her husband’s obsession with tying women up. She said he had rape and bondage magazines all over the house. She discovered two suitcases full of Barbie dolls with ropes tied on their arms and legs and with tape across their mouths. She added, “He used to tie me up and he tried those things on me.” But she also stated that she had not recognized this as sexual abuse. This statement from her reinforces our…contention that she did not have the freedom to identify sexual assault because she felt no ownership of her own body.

Number three, Penthouse and Hustler were always a part of the literature in the third woman’s home. Occasionally her spouse would add Cheri, Oui, Swedish Erotica to the collection. His favorite form of abuse was bondage. He enjoyed playing what he called a game of whipping and slavery. She knows that what he did to her was directly related to articles about bondage and sex lays which he read. He wanted to involve a second woman, her friend, in the scenarios. Her refusal to comply with his demands resulted in her being violently anally assaulted…

12 thoughts on “Testimony in Minneapolis: “Pornography is frequently stated as a hobby of the abuser”

  1. Will you be posting from this book any of the testimony from professionals about the lack of a direct link between pornography and aggressive sexual behavior? Or testimony from those who believe that anti-pornography ordinances, such as the one being debated in Minneapolis, should include perfume ads?

  2. The kinds of claims of the researchers you speak of have been well rebutted in our blog and elsewhere, are contradicted by a clear preponderance of the evidence, and are not worth rehashing.

    As for the solution to the problem, we do not advocate censorship or the particular ordinances proposed in Minneapolis. There are many other solutions, such as adult-use zoning, awareness-raising and boycotts.

    You participated in a fundraiser against domestic violence last year. Your apparent lack of concern about the testimony of victims and counselors in Minneapolis, and the many links between porn and violence against women, baffles me. Perhaps you might speak with some victims of domestic violence and ask them what they think of your notions of the harmlessness of porn.

    Wouldn’t you agree that the messages of porn directly contradict the messages of Safe Passage, the organization you raised funds for? If the messages of porn don’t matter, why does Safe Passage need to advise women that it’s wrong to be threatened, called names or be blamed for their own abuse?

  3. I think you missed my point. My apologies. I was wondering when you were going to present a complete picture of what’s in the book you’ve been quoting so regularly. You have been consistently giving only a partial picture of the sources you’re using, and I’m just wondering if it’s intentional or not.

  4. The goal of our blog is to present a fair and accurate case for the harm of porn. We have no desire or obligation to reproduce or discuss discredited, misleading, or meritless claims from the other side. If you’re interested in true balance and fairness, perhaps you could present more anti-porn information at the Prospect Perspective.

    The reality is that we have engaged our opposition’s arguments with candor, relevant counterarguments, and factual information. The opposition typically responds to us with baseless speculation, logic games, blind insistence on yet more evidence, or personal attacks. With respect to Capital Video itself, they have misled the community on at least two occasions. First, when they promised a bland, non-offensive exterior to their store, and second when they said they were willing to engage with the community about its concerns.

    By the way, I notice that you never responded to my observation that your claims that porn shops don’t put communities at risk were almost immediately disproven by developments in Springfield and Raynham.

  5. Please forgive my delinquency in responding to your post on 1/25; I don’t read your blog all the time and didn’t realize you were waiting for a response.

    Regarding the situation in Springfield: I think it’s worth asking, when examining the secondary effects there, what the area was like before this store opened. I’d also be curious about what happened at the license hearing, if it was ever held. By the way, I think the idea of licensing adult businesses, as Springfield does, is a good one.

    As for Raynham, I believe that store has video booths? I think that video booths are a completely different animal, but then again, the store capital video is opening in Northampton won’t have video booths, so I don’t really see how it’s relevant to the discussion. However, you should take the time to read this editorial (http://enterprise.southofboston.com/articles/2006/12/20/news/opinion/opinion01.txt) in the Enterprise which appeared the day before the article about you did. It doesn’t seem like everyone in Raynham is as upset as you might think. It also doesn’t appear that the video store in question is as overrun with crime as you make it seem.

    One thing I’ve learned in reading your blog over the past few months, and in doing some of my own research, is that the issue of secondary effects is not as clear cut as you make it seem. As you know, Northampton has stores that sell pornography, yet I haven’t seen the evidence of secondary effects that you imply is inevitable with adult businesses. Hadley didn’t seem to suffer the effects you’ve mentioned either. You will probably say that this is because these stores aren’t–and weren’t, in Hadley’s case–operated by Capital Video. I would suggest that perhaps secondary effects are not as inevitable as you say they are and maybe it’s worth investigating why some towns experience them and some don’t.

    Other questions I have about secondary effects: Are they permanent? Are they inevitable? Are they instantaneous? Can they be mitigated in any way?

    Any information you can give me or point me towards to answer those questions would be appreciated.

    Two final notes. First, your suggestion that I don’t care about victims of domestic violence because I don’t blame pornography for all of the world’s ills as you do bothers me, but I can’t say that it surprises me, as you have shown a depressing tendency to cast aspersions on anyone who challenges any of your points. I guess I have the dubious distinction of being insulted by you twice now.

    Second, I find your claim that you want “to present a fair and accurate case for the harm of porn” a bit perplexing. I’m not sure how you can do that while editing evidence to fit your purposes. Your selective quoting from the Gazette article about online pornography is an example of this. There’s a fine line between presenting your point of view and manipulating evidence.

  6. Excuse me, folks, but your own reliance upon dubious studies and testimonials and your editing out of information which may not fit exactly with your views invites distortion of the truth, to the extent we can ascertain it, wherever it lays, and which likely leads to unintended harmful consequences of its own. Recently, for example, you insinuated that a man should have been convicted of child molestation solely because he had porn in the house (it was not stated whether or not it was adult or kiddy porn – but as there was no mention of conviction for possession of kiddy porn …). Was the man using the porn to normalize sex to the child to induce her to have sex with him? We were not told. If not, then why is it relevant to the issue of what he actually did or did not do to the child? A hearing outside of the jury trial may have been conducted on this issue – it would have be nice for you to ascertained that and what transpired at the hearing before you convicted the fellow in the print. It’s not hard for me to see innocent defendants being convicted in a tide of anti-porn hysteria, caused by your riling up the public without in depth and critical inquiry into the facts. A criminal defense attorney I know, who is very much against sexual abuse of any kind, laments often to me how often the DA charges or continues sexual abuse charges based upon not only weak facts, but flat out exculpatory facts. In this climate foster by the likes of your website, refusing to charge or continuing a charge of sexual abuse is a risk a DA cannot take. Recall the recent case against the Duke undergrads. Further, I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why you undermine your own credibility by doing failing to make the appropriate inquires and asking critical questions, instead of merely assuming the facts based upon a short newspaper article. I really don’t think you need to restore to such tactics. In fact, I think it hurts your cause more than helps. The people you need to reach, the abusers, will write off your rhetoric if what you say doesn’t ring true to them, and leaving out facts which they are just as likely as anyone to know, if not more likely, will cause them to write you off and not listen. Porn is not entirely a black and white matter, and by disrespecting the spectrum of grey areas, I believe you are great risk of disconnecting with the ordinary Jane and Joe, and certainly with the actual sex abusers.

  7. I would agree viewing booths make it more likely that a porn shop will become a public health hazard. However, my impression was that you opposed all the proposed zoning regulations last fall, including the one that requires a shop with viewing booths to be at least 500 feet from homes and schools. If you reply that you trusted Capital Video would never install such booths in their Northampton shop, I would say that’s unreasonable, considering Capital Video’s long track record and the profit potential of these booths.

    While we’re at it, do you support our proposed health regulations for viewing booths?

    I don’t claim that you don’t care about domestic violence. I do claim you have a gigantic and inexplicable blind spot when it comes to secondary effects and the harm of porn.

  8. It was improper to withhold evidence of the presence of porn from the child molestation jury in the Jaundoo case. The legal gambits employed in that case, if practiced on a wide scale, could help many molesters escape justice.

    So far the public seems to like what we’re offering. Today’s count of article views has already exceeded 6,000, has set a new record, and the day’s not over.

  9. I think the traffic comes more from the morbid curiosity of your ill logic than interest in your message. It’s like rubbernecking a trainwreck, watching your arguments get flimsier and flimsier with every day.

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