Testimony in Los Angeles: Freud Hears of Pervasive Sexual Abuse, Ultimately Decides to Portray It As Mere Fantasy

Members of the Los Angeles County Commission for Women heard testimony about peoples’ encounters
with porn at a hearing on April 22, 1985. This account appears in In Harm’s Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings (p.336-338).

Testimony of Jeffrey Masson

My name is Jeffrey Masson, and I’m a psychoanalyst [who taught] at the University of California at Berkeley, [and was] former Projects Director of the Sigmund Freud Archives…

One defense of pornography maintains that it is only a form of fantasy… The perspective from which this is defended is a Freudian one, and Freud’s discoveries about the nature of fantasy are often called upon in conjunction with Freudian thinking about women and sexuality. But if we subject Freud’s thinking about the nature of sexual fantasies to a more searching examination, particularly in the light of new documents that have recently become available–I’m referring to my edition of the Freud-Fliess letters which was published this month by Harvard University Press–what is most striking is how far removed Freud’s views were from the true state of affairs.

Freud argues that almost all of his women patients’ lives were dominated by the fantasy that their father had sexually abused them. At first Freud thought this fantasy was a historical reality: a traumatic memory from childhood. But later he decided he had been misled by the women, who had been impelled to create these fantasies because of the nature of female sexuality. Let us listen briefly to Freud on the question directly, writing in 1925 in his autobiographical study:

Before going further into the question of infantile sexuality, I must mention an error into which I fell for a while, and which might well have had fatal consequences for the whole of my work. Under the influence of the technical procedure which I used at that time, the majority of my patients reproduce from their childhood, scenes in which they were sexually seduced by some grown up person. With female patients, the part of the seducer was almost always assigned to their father. I believed these stories, and consequently supposed that I had discovered the roots of the subsequent neurosis and these experiences of sexual seduction in childhood. If the reader feels inclined to shake his head at my credulity, I cannot altogether blame him. When, however, I was at last obliged to recognize that these scenes of seduction had never taken place, that they were only fantasies which my patients had made up, which I myself had perhaps forced on them, I was for some time completely at a loss.

Freud’s view expressed in this passage–that women invent, out of sexual needs, memories of sexual seduction–has dominated psychiatric and psychological thinking for eighty years. It has dominated as well most major defenses of pornography. It is only in the last few years that women have begun questioning Freud’s reasoning. Their criticisms have escalated as we achieve an ever-greater awareness of the reality of sexual abuse in the childhood of many women. On top of this growing knowledge of the reality of abuse came the discovery from the Freud Archives, many of which I published in The Assault on Truth [link added], that Freud himself knew that sexual abuse was extremely pervasive in his day, and that it was not fantasy, but reality. However, the theory of fantasy was far more acceptable to the male-dominated medical society of his day. Had Freud stood by his women patients, he would have been totally isolated from his male colleagues, for he would have been criticizing not only their blindness, but also the society they lived in. And in those days, it was simply unthinkable for women who had survived incest to come together and support one another. It was too shameful and deep a secret. But thanks to the women’s movement in this country, women are getting together for the first time and saying that it really does happen, and in numbers that make it apparent that we are dealing with one of the most serious problems of current society.

Freud’s views about fantasy have been, for the women who know about the reality of abuse, totally discredited. While we may not entirely understand Freud’s motivation for his about-face, there can be no doubt that sexual abuse was a reality in his day, as it is in ours, and that the women who came to Freud were not inventing stories, as he claims, but telling him about a painful reality.

Pornography is a record of that same reality, of those very acts that Freud claimed did not exist. By shifting the blame for the reality of incest on the inventive power of the woman, saying that it was her wish, her fantasy, Freud provided many men with a convenient explanation for the occasions that from time to time surfaced. They could be dismissed as the accusations of “hysterical” women, women who were sexually needy, and turned for satisfaction to a perverted imagination. Now that we know, today, that this is not so, what has happened to Freud’s theories about fantasy? They have not been discarded, they have simply shifted ground. Now, we are told, they are helpful in understanding the nature of pornography. But I entreat you to consider that we may be faced with yet another example of men who exploit and harm women attempting to cover up what they really do by calling it something else. It is not surprising that the philosophy of sexual liberation would call upon Freud’s ideas about fantasy, by pretending to protect the rights of women and children to their sexual fantasies. But these were never, according to the historical record, the fantasies of women and children, rather they are the acts of men imposed in reality upon protesting but powerless women and children… Pornography…is a problem of male psychology, and while women may have an obligation to explain it, they are surely under no obligation to tolerate its persistence.

See also:

Porn’s “Verbatim” Accounts of the Pleasures of Child Sexual Abuse Don’t Square with Reality
Researchers estimate that, in our country, about 10% of boys and 25% of girls are sexually abused…

At one point (page 43) she writes, “Wandella was the aggressor, the seducer. She waited until her father was somewhat over his initial grief [at the death of his wife] and then she set her incestuous plan in action, gaining the results she had hoped for. Her father was no match for Wandella, especially since he was in a bereaved and weakened emotional condition.”

What is this, if not the age-old “fantasy” that the child seduces the adult, and where else does this derive except from the imagination of the adult who is burdened with a guilt he will not accept? Of course I am using the words “fantasy” and “imagination” as synonyms of “lies”, which is what they are. The entire narrative is “positive”, that is, Wandella expresses nothing but pleasure and happiness…

These fallacies/fantasies (lies) have a distinguished lineage. For when Freud decided that the accounts of incest (which he first believed) were in fact nothing but the overheated fantasies of adolescent girls, he shifted the onus of responsibility from adults to children. Incest then became a question of wishes, fantasies, and impulses on the part of children toward their parent, not acts engaged in by adults.

Victim’s “Precocious Knowledge of Sexuality” Blocks Child Rape Conviction
His defense lawyer, David Hoose, argued the girl’s precocious knowledge of sexuality created a reasonable doubt as to whether her accusations against Jaundoo were accurate.

“The child was exposed to a lot of information about sex at an inappropriately early age,” Hoose said in a telephone interview Tuesday. How or by whom she was exposed to this information is unclear, he said…

When the victim testified four years ago, she said Jaundoo would sometimes give her a dollar after making her engage in sex acts with him, and showed her a pornographic video and magazines. She also testified Jaundoo said her mother would beat her if she told anyone about the sexual abuse.

Certified Sex Therapist Marty Klein Wants You to Believe Porn Is Harmless
Combining scholarly detail with an engaging style, Heins examines the long history of “protecting” children from “indecency,” from Plato through the Victorians down to the Internet. She presents a history of the idea that young people need special protection from sexual imagery, as distinct from sexual activity itself. She exposes the complete lack of any evidence that such imagery actually harms young people, as well as the ways in which American society has meticulously ignored this lack of evidence…

Soble also shows that most anti-porn feminist and conservative descriptions of pornography are rarely accurate. Describing today’s porn as invariably violent, filled with coercion, mutilation, animals, and cruelty is a common tactic–and dramatically inaccurate. Soble wonders if these critics have ever seen mainstream pornography, or if they’re attacking demons of their own intrapsychic hell…

For now, start remembering the word Sadomasophobia. Connolly coined it to mean, like homophobia, a fear and hatred of a sexual orientation not one’s own. One day, divorced parents warring over child custody will be prevented from using an ex-mate’s S/M practices as evidence of parental unfitness.

Residents and Officials of Berlin, Connecticut Team Up to Resist Porn Shop Planned Next to Homes
“VIP, [attorney Dan] Silver contends…should be considered a ‘romance shop’ rather than a sex shop, because it caters mostly to women and couples ‘who wish to enhance their love lives,’ and not to single men.”

NO V.I.P. in Berlin, CT: Manchester VIP experience

…I decided to see for myself if this “upscale, tastefully designed store” (according to Silver) really is as “romantic” as Dan Silver claims…

Some of the magazine titles inc. “Terrible Teen,” “Young & Tight,” “Barely Legal,” “New C_nts,” “Spanker’s Guide,” “Love Bondage” and a variety of “niche” fetish magazine like plus size women, couples, older, etc…

Here are a few of the “Romantic” movie titles: (These are titles that didn’t have actual swear words in them)

“Torture of Pixie,” “Gag Factor.” ” Teens for Cash,” “MILF’s Gone Anal,” (MILF is an acronym for Mother’s I’d Like to F___) “Labor of Love” this was a series of pregnant porn, “Backend Bi-Boys,” “Gang Bang that P_ssy” – volumes 1-8!!! “Over 40 and Still Gang-banging,” -gang bang is in scores of other titles as well, “Screw my Wife, Please!,” “Interracial Throat Bangers,” “Pain Threshhold,” “Guys Who Suck Their Own C_cks” -I could not make this stuff up!, “Facial Frenzy,” “The Violation of Aurora Snow: A Lesbian Gang Bang,” “Don’t Tell Mommy,” “Little Girl Next Door,”-I think this is the scariest as my 4 year old may wind up being the little girl next door to them!

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