Challenge Porn on International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women

by Rachel Bell on December 15, 2015

Sentencing the murderer of teenager Becky Watts, the judge, Mr Justice Dingemans, broke down and cried. The sixteen year old’s step brother, Nathan Matthews, inflicted over 40 injuries on the school girl and dismembered her body. November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In court, Matthews confessed to watching porn on a near-daily basis and the jury learned of a video about the rape of a teenage girl found on his laptop. The judge flagged up Matthews’ obsession with ‘borderline legal’ pornography showing ‘petite teenage girls’ with older men. How many more girls and women must suffer rape and die before society recognises porn as a form of male violence against women? Culture Reframed is leading the way. It the first public health promotion NGO to recognise and address sexually violent pornography as the public health crisis of the digital age.

Whenever I write about the harm of porn, at least one man will send comments demanding evidence that links porn with sexual violence. They want a study, they want facts and figures. There are plenty of cases around the world in which men have raped and murdered women in attacks that mirror the pornographic images they were viewing beforehand. In one case it was a boy raping his little sister. How many girls and women must suffer and die before such men will desist with their aggressive denial? The people mending the broken bodies and minds of children and women at the NSPCC, at Rape Crisis and any organisation supporting victims of sexual violence don’t demand such stats. They have the human stories in front of them. Still, the NSPCC have collected evidence of porn’s impact on young people. More than four in 10 girls aged 13-17 in England say they have been coerced into sex acts, according to one of the largest European polls on teenage sexual experience. Research from the Universities of Bristol and Central Lancashire found that a fifth of girls had suffered violence or intimidation from their teenage boyfriends, a high proportion of whom regularly viewed pornography, with one in five boys harbouring ‘extremely negative attitudes towards women.’

In the absence of up-to-date Sex and Relationships Education, porn is where kids go to learn about sex. In porn, anal sex is the norm. Many other punishing acts are the norm so if you want to know what the 1 in 10 kids aged 12/13 who think they many be addicted to porn are watching, read my post. Allison Pearson wrote about what pornography is doing to girls in The Telegraph this year. In her article, Pornography has changed the landscape of adolescence beyond all recognition, she quoted a GP treating growing numbers of girls presenting as incontinent and with internal injuries caused by frequent anal sex, participated in because ‘a boy expected her to.’ This backs up another study of British teenagers which found that their first experience of anal sex occurred within a relationship yet was ‘rarely under circumstances of mutual exploration or sexual pleasure.’ Science teacher Carol Perry, who set up theCHAT.org.uk to provide Sex and Relationships education, says, ‘Porn sex is a phrase coined by teenage girls referring to non-intimate/loving, aggressive, all about the boy sex that the girls commonly felt pressured to have. theCHAT campaigns to raise aspirations for girls and all young people to have good, mutually pleasurable communicative sex.

Even without the injuries, trauma, rape and deaths of girls and women at the hands of porn-addicted boys and men, the existence of porn that eroticises violence against girls and women is enough. Why does our society in which one in three women will be a victim of sexual violence at the hands of men in her lifetime do so little to challenge it? To challenge an industry bigger than Hollywood in which 90% of top watched rented scenes have physical or verbal abuse towards the woman? To challenge the eroticisation of child rape within the family? Family abuse is ubiquitous in porn with narratives such as First Time With Daddy. When I open Pornhub, the free and accessible site where the UK’s 12 year old boys go (the typical age a boy will look for porn) these are the videos immediately available: Dad wakes up step daughter in bed; teen slut face fucked so hard she drools; Young Blonde Seduces Step-brother. Categories along the bottom include: 18 and abused; College, Young Teen, Virgin and Exxxtra Small Teens. Becky Watts was murdered by her step brother.

In her lectures, and in her book and film Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, the internationally acclaimed scholar, author and activist, Gail Dines, highlights how porn grooms boys, with examples like this promotional copy for Anally Ripped Whores: Do you know what we say to things like romance and foreplay? We say fuck off. We take gorgeous young bitches and do what every man would like to do.

The pornographers tell the aroused, ashamed and possibly traumatised boy what real men want and do. Porn grooms boys to see violence and power over women as a badge of real manhood. Beeban Kidron’s documentary, InRealLife, enters the world of porn-addicted 15 year old Ryan, who recognises with some sadness that he is unable to see girls as human. They are just bodies. ‘I find now it’s so hard for me to actually feel a connection for a girl,’ Ryan says. Porn harms boys and men too.

To save the lives of women and girls, the solution must lie with educating boys and young men about what it means to be a man. I suggest the Scouts start doing equivalent good work as Girlguiding UK, which produces the largest annual survey of girls’ attitudes and encourages them to reach their full potential. The Scouts could start by promoting masculinity as caring and raise awareness of gender stereotyping. I suggest Pornland is on the national curriculum, as part of compulsory age-appropriate Sex and Relationships Education that challenges porn. According to The Guardian, InRealLife is ‘a film no parent and no teenager should miss.’ Culture Reframed is a multi-disciplinary team of academics and experts developing online education for parents, health professionals and educators to address the role of pornography in sexual violence, unhealthy relationships, Internet addiction, depression and other health problems. 25 November is followed by 16 days of activism. Act.

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