For those of you who think that radical feminists exaggerate or cherry-pick the worst of the porn industry, I have an experiment for you. Type ‘porn’ into Google and click around the most well-travelled websites that appear. With mind-numbing repetition you will see gagging, slapping, verbal abuse, hair-pulling, pounding anal sex, women smeared in semen, sore anuses and vaginas, distended mouths, and more exhausted, depleted and shell-shocked women than you can count. You will not see two people having sex; you will see images depicting a level of physical cruelty that would not be out of place in an Amnesty International campaign.
One of the only studies of contemporary pornographic content found that the majority of scenes from fifty of the top-rented porn movies contained both physical and verbal abuse targeted against the female performers. Physical aggression – including spanking, open-hand slapping and gagging – occurred in over 88% of scenes, while expressions of verbal aggression – calling the woman names such as ‘bitch’ or ‘slut’ – were found in 48%. The researchers concluded that ‘if we combine both physical and verbal aggression, our findings indicate that nearly 90 per cent of scenes contained at least one aggressive act, with an average of nearly twelve acts of aggression per scene’. [x]
That this is the major form of sex education for men should be taken very seriously by the women’s movement. The same men who get off from women being brutalised and called cunts, sluts and cum-dumpsters are the ones who go on to become politicians, corporate executives, judges, media professionals, policy makers and bankers. In other words, they become the economic and cultural elite that shape the material and ideological world that determines how women – and their children – will live. Most of them will become partners and fathers. To assume that porn is mere fantasy and does not impact on the way men think and feel is to ignore decades of research on how images frame our social construction of reality.