The UK Ministry of Justice recently released a comprehensive survey of research on the impact of porn, with a focus on “extreme pornographic material”. We would like to call particular attention to the section on “Studies of victimised women” (p.18-19):
The majority of research on the effects of pornographic material depicting explicit serious sexual violence and explicit serious violence in a sexual context on sexual and violent offending has been with rapists in the criminal justice system. However, a further source of evidence of harm associated with pornographic material of this nature comes from research with women who have been victimised through their partners’ use of this material.Here is more detail about the studies referenced above (p.56-58):
The REA [Rapid Evidence Assessment] identified three studies involving such women. Sommers and Check (1987) surveyed 21 battered women from a shelter and a comparison group of 21 women from the university to investigate the role of pornography in the physical abuse of women. They found the partners of the battered women read or viewed significantly greater amounts of pornographic materials than the partners of the comparison group, and the ‘battered women experienced significantly more sexual aggression at the hands of their partners than did women in the comparison group’ (p 189).
Cramer et al. (1998) conducted a prospective cohort study of 198 women attending a public clinic who were pregnant and reported having been abused by their male partner in the year prior to or during pregnancy. Almost 41 per cent indicated that their abusers used sexually violent pornography, and the severity of violence used against women was highest for those women who reported that the abuser asked or forced them to look at, act out or pose for pornographic pictures (p 329).
Cramer and McFarlane (1994) conducted a survey of 87 ‘battered women filing charges against their male partner at the district attorney’s office in a large metropolitan city’ (pp 268-272). Pornographic material involved rape with physical violence. The study found a statistically significant association between men’s use of violent pornography and physical [and sexual] abuse of women (p 271).
Silbert and Pines (1984) conducted a survey with 200 street prostitutes. Pornographic material included snuff (i.e. sexual murder) and rape with extreme physical and sexual violence. Out of 193 cases of rape, 24 per cent of victims mentioned allusions to pornographic material on the part of the rapist [who typically] referred to pornographic materials he had seen or read and then insisted that the victims not only enjoyed the rape but also the extreme violence.
These studies of women’s real life victimisation associated with men’s use of sexually violent pornography corroborate the findings of the experimental studies and the case study with sex offenders about the role of pornography in their offending behaviour. The difference is that the men in these studies were not a sample of convicted sex offenders, but partners of women purposively sampled through community settings.
Sommers and Check (1987) conducted a survey of 21 ‘battered women drawn from a shelter’ and 21 women in a comparison group drawn from the university to investigate the role of pornography in the verbal and physical abuse of women (pp 189-209). The study found that:Also relevant is this study on the influence of the messages in porn (p.45):
Cramer and McFarlane (1994) conducted a survey of 87 ‘battered women filing charges against their male partner at the district attorney’s office in a large metropolitan city’ (pp 268-272). Pornographic material involved rape with physical violence. The study found ‘a strong association between men’s use of violent pornography and physical [and sexual] abuse of women’ (p 271) and specifically that:
- the partners of the battered women read or viewed significantly greater amounts of pornographic materials than the partners of the comparison group;
- thirty-nine per cent of the battered women in contrast to three per cent of the comparison group had been asked to do what was portrayed in the pornography; and
- the ‘battered women experienced significantly more sexual aggression at the hands of their partners than did women in the comparison group’ (p 189)…
Cramer et al., (1998) conducted a prospective cohort study of 198 women attending a public clinic who were pregnant and reported having been abused by their male partner in the year prior to or during pregnancy. They were assessed for severity of abuse and their partners’ use of pornography and then assigned to a control group and followed until the baby was 12 months of age. Pornography was defined as ‘sexually violent scenes where a woman is being hurt, e.g. held or tied down’ (p 326). The study found that:
- forty per cent of the battered women reported that the men used sexually violent material, and 26 per cent said this was referred to during their abuse;
- fifty-three per cent of those women had been shown pornography and then asked or forced to re-enact the scene or to pose for pornographic pictures; and
- forty-one per cent reported being raped, with nearly three-quarters of these saying the rapist used pornographic material…
The sample in the study conducted by Silbert and Pines (1984) comprised 200 current street prostitutes (70% under 21, almost 60% under 16). Pornographic material included snuff (i.e. sexual murder) and extreme violence. The study found that: ‘Out of 193 cases of rape, 24 per cent of victims mentioned allusions to pornographic material on the part of the rapist [who typically] referred to pornographic materials he had seen or read and then insisted that the victims not only enjoyed the rape but also the extreme violence’.
- 40.9 per cent indicated that their abusers used sexually violent pornography;
- one-quarter of abusive men forced their partner to participate with them in their use of sexually violent pornography; and
- the severity of violence used against women was highest for those women who reported that the abuser asked or forced them to look at, act out or pose for pornographic pictures (p 329)…
In 12 per cent of the 193 cases, the victims told the rapists they were prostitutes and received more violent abuse with rapists referring to prostitutes in specific pornographic films. One rapist was quoted as saying: ‘you were in that movie…You know you want me to kill you after this rape just like [in that film]’. That woman was raped at knifepoint with threats to kill‘ (pp 364-365).
This study did not set out to research pornography, and all of this information was provided without the subjects having been asked any explicit question about pornography. This suggests that the levels of rape and physical and sexual assault involving extreme pornographic material may have been considerably higher if the question had been asked. The authors concluded that: ‘many of the references to pornography indicated that the rapists were imitating abusing males in pornographic materials, and believed that, as the victims of pornography, their victims must enjoy the abuse’.
Check and Guloien (1989) compared the effects of exposure to pornography defined as sexually explicit material which is violent or non-violent but dehumanising and degrading, or non-violent and non-degrading. Subjects were 117 male college students and 319 male non-student city residents. The sexually violent material used in this study was primarily rape suggesting the woman enjoyed the experience. For the dehumanising and degrading category the ‘woman was portrayed as hysterically responsive to male sexual demands, was verbally abused and dominated, and portrayed as enjoying whatever abuse she experienced’ (p 163).
The study found that by comparison with subjects in the no exposure condition, ‘exposure to both sexually violent pornography and to non-violent, dehumanising pornography fostered the perception in subjects’ minds that they might rape and force women into unwanted sex acts’. More than twice as many men who had been exposed to sexually violent or to non-violent dehumanising pornography reported that there was some likelihood that they would rape compared to the men in the no-exposure condition. Significant differences were found between subjects exposed to non-violent, dehumanising pornography and subjects in the no-exposure condition, in terms of reported likelihood of rape (p<.013) and likelihood of forcing a woman into unwanted sex acts (p<.05). Significance was also found between subjects exposed to violent pornography and those with no exposure on reported likelihood of rape (p<.018) and likelihood of forcing a woman into unwanted sex acts (p<.027). “The analyses revealed significant differences between subjects exposed to sexually violent pornography and subjects in the no-exposure condition” ( p 171).
Gazette: “As deaths rise, state works to defuse domestic violence” (12/6/07)
It’s shaping up to be a record year for domestic violence in Massachusetts, with the number of deaths related to the phenomenon at the highest they’ve been since 1992…
According to Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, 38 people have been killed this year by someone with whom they’d had an intimate relationship, whether a spouse, significant other or parent…
In another outreach effort sponsored by Jane Doe Inc., people around the state will be invited Feb. 14 to take part in an event meant to raise awareness about domestic violence among young people.
Participants are asked to wear a white ribbon and make this pledge: “From this day forward, I promise never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women, sexual assault and domestic violence.”
…”When more people recognize that stopping domestic violence is everybody’s responsibility, that will be the beginning of the ending of domestic violence,” Lett-Brewington said.
Fourth Annual Mayor Higgins’ Hot Chocolate Run
We encourage folks to turn out for Northampton’s Fourth Annual Mayor Higgins’ Hot Chocolate Run on December 1. The proceeds will benefit Safe Passage, which serves women, children and families affected by domestic violence.
Amnesty International USA: “16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence”
During the 16 days between November 25th, International Day against Violence against Women, and December 10th, International Human Rights Day, the call to eliminate all forms of violence against women will reach a fever pitch. Women’s rights advocates from around the world will be taking action to highlight the violation of women’s rights as an abuse of human rights.
Porn Use Correlates with Infidelity, Prostitution, Aggression, Rape-Supportive Beliefs
In 1995, Human Communication Research reported on a meta-analysis of 33 different studies. Researchers found that “Exposure to pornography increases behavioral aggression. While there are many factors that influence this effect (for example, the content of the pornography viewed), the researchers conclude that a connection between exposure to pornography and subsequent behavioral aggression exists.”
Testimony from Northampton Shelter for Battered Women: Half of Abusers Use Pornography as a Part of the Abuse (explicit)
We have recently begun to formally ask the battered women who call us whether the abuser uses pornography and from this we conservatively estimate that at least 1/2 of the abusers use pornography as a part of the abuse. Battering is based on an issue of power and control, with the abuser using all kinds of methods to continually assert his power and control over the woman. Throughout, he is persistently working to deny her of her ability to make informed decisions about her life and through threats, coercion, and continual terror succeeds at clearly establishing himself as “in control”. We frequently hear a woman say that she feels like a prisoner in her own home, and in fact, she is.
The use of pornography is but one means that an abuser uses to degrade and humiliate the woman. The stories that I hear are horrific and just when I think I’ve heard it all, I hear another horrifying story that sends me reeling…
Everywoman Center Coordinator: Porn Damages Women; Porn Addiction
Stacey Roth, coordinator of an educational outreach program at Everywoman Center, a women’s advocacy group at the University of Massachusetts, said that, based on accounts of area women speaking about their experiences with domestic abuse, she agrees with recent arguments that pornography damages women.
“Typically, a woman will say that her boyfriend is into very violent forms of pornography and likes to act out specific aspects of that, and she doesn’t know how to stop it,” Roth said, “or a battered woman might perceive a connection between the pornography in her household and the bouts of violence…
“In no other case [of media communications] are people so quick to discount the argument about the human cost, which I think reflects how low protection of women ranks in our priorities. We’re quicker to protest media (material) that depicts the mistreatment of animals than of women,” Roth said. “A society does need to make choices about what attitudes it wants to condone.”
Northampton Shelter Coordinators: Porn a Factor in Many Cases of Domestic Abuse
“People say pornography doesn’t hurt anyone. Real women are being tied up to produce this. Men seeing it think it’s all right,” [Roz] Cuomo said…
Testimony in Minneapolis: Porn and the Death Spiral of a Marriage
…we would have incredible arguments with each other. I would tell him I loved him, I only wanted to love him, I wanted to be a good wife, I wanted our marriage to work, but I didn’t want to be with these other people. It was he I wanted to be with, and no one else. He told me if I loved him I would do this. And that, as I could see from the things that he read me in the magazines initially, a lot of times women didn’t like it, but if I tried it enough I would probably like it, and I would learn to like it. And he would read me stories where women learned to like it.
Statement of Rev. Susan Wilhelm: “…the sex became especially abusive after he started using pornography” (explicit language)
The Impact of Internet Pornography on Marriage and the Family: A Review of the Research
…according to data from the General Social Survey in 2000 (N = 531), people who report being happily married are 61 percent less likely to report using Internet pornography compared to those who also used the Internet and who had completed the General Social Survey in 2000…
…the following observations were made by [the 350 attendees of the November 2002 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers] polled with regard to why the Internet had played a role in divorces that year…56 percent of the divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites…
A Review of Pornified: How Pornography Is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families
“Spousal Use of Pornography and
Its Clinical Significance for Asian-American Women”
Testimony in Minneapolis: “Pornography is probably the most extreme example of anti-women socialization that men receive in this society”
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…
Abusive Relationships and Porn: The Similarities (explicit language)
Punishment Porn: “Whether-She-Wants-It-Or-Not” (explicit)
Video Presentation: A Content Analysis of 50 of Today’s Top Selling Porn Films (explicit language)
Ana Bridges: “…I’m going to begin to talk about what it is that we found after looking at these 304 scenes in these 50 top selling pornographic films. In total in the 304 scenes we coded a total of 3,376 acts of aggression. That ends up averaging…to an aggressive act every minute and a half. The scenes on average contained eleven and a half acts of verbal or physical aggression…
“So how many scenes didn’t contain aggression? About 10%…
“For verbal aggression, by far namecalling and insulting were the most common types. They were seen in almost half of scenes…
“Gagging and choking were much, much more common than any of us thought when we first walked into this project…
“Slapping happened 30% of the time… Most of the aggressors in these films were men…73%. By far the most common recipient of aggression was a woman. Even when women were aggressing, they were generally aggressing other women…
“How did the person respond when they were aggressed?… In 95% of these 3,000 and some acts of aggression, the person was either neutral, as in no change of facial expression or verbal expression, or was sort of saying, ‘That feels great. Keep doing it. Right on.’ And in only 3% did we see some overt expression of displeasure or pain. Again, it seems to be very important to the people who are watching this to believe that the recipient of aggression is fact enjoying it, is choosing it at some level…
“…Less than 10% of the videos showed any kind of a positive act, and that included kissing… caressing happened maybe twice. Something like a verbal compliment, ‘Gosh, you look pretty’, not, ‘Slut bitch, come over here,’ that happened maybe five times in the 304 scenes. So we have a ratio of positive to negative behaviors of 1 to 9, which is not a sustainable, happy relationship.”
Capital Video’s Magazine Rack: Bondage, Racism and More
“Because her body is beginning to ache, she writhes on the carpet. It makes watching her even more arousing.”
Military Still Selling Porn on Bases Despite Law (explicit)
We invite you to look over these samples from Playboy and Penthouse and judge if you feel their messages are harmless or not.
Hustler Cartoons: Racism, Misogyny, Anti-Semitism, Homophobia, Pedophilia, Incest, Ridicule of Disabled People… (explicit)
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”.Robert Jensen: When Examining Complex Social Phenomena, Scientific Method Has Limits; Listen to the Stories of the Victims (explicit language)
Businessmen at a meeting discuss a new doll product, “Baby Kick and Bleed with Bandage and Crutch”. The child is shown saying, “Please no!” The caption reads, “…And we pitch it toward the battered-child market!”
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.”
A man is shown pointing a jackhammer at a woman’s vagina. She looks alarmed. He says, “Ya know-w-w-w, t-his would-d-d p-p-probably b-be better-r f-for y-ou if y-you’d just l-l-learn t-to r-r-relax-x-x!”
Ms. X, a Native American woman, described how she was raped by two white men who made reference to a pornographic video game called “Custer’s Revenge” in which a white Army officer scores points by raping Indian women:
They held me down and as one was running the tip of his knife across my face and throat he said, “Do you want to play Custer’s Last Stand? It’s great. You lose but you don’t care, do you? You like a little pain, don’t you, squaw?… The only good Indian is a dead Indian… A squaw out alone deserves to be raped.”My Boyfriend Loves Porn – What Should I Do?
Women internalize the man viewing porn as if there was something wrong with them. It is not true. You are fine… You appear wise by not wanting this in your life. I would be highly cautious having a relationship [with] this man if porn has been such a part of his life… You do not want to marry a porn addict and then suffer the consequences for years to come.