"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography (6/10)

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography / David Loftus


Pornography and Violence

"Antipornography activists routinely link pornography with violence. Porn depicts violence against women, they assert, and it inevitably leads to violence against real women. How do men who like pornography respond to these assertions?

'What violent acts?' asked a 32-year-old. “The producers of porn magazines and videos are careful not to depict anything that a crime victim might say in a lawsuit might have inspired a violent crime. I have never seen violence against women depicted in an adult video, or in magazines. Even men-on-men violence is very rare.” He noted that to listen to antiporn activists, “you would think that most pornography was about violence, rape, and molesting children. Anyone familiar with porn knows this is completely false.” Stories written mostly by amateurs,
posted to the Internet, and therefore not purchased or sold for commercial gain, were a different matter: 'There are stories about rape and sexual torture to be found, and they arc very much a turnoff for me.'

A 41-year-old computer programmer noted that violence of any kind was rare in hard-core porn, somewhat more common in soft-core, but still light in comparison with the violence in mainstream films and literature:

'There is very little violence in visually oriented hard-core pornography. I have personally seen one bondage-S&M video which had very mild violence. I’d give it a PG for the violent content: It had nudity but no sex. The rest of the hard-core videos that I’ve seen had absolutely no violence, just sex and nudity. There is of course some violent hard-core pornographic literature—see some of the writings of the Marquis De Sade for examples These are not readily available; you usually have to special order them. None of the adult book shops that I’ve been to carry this kind of stuff. (My copy of De Sade’s Juliette was special ordered from Barnes & Noble—not an adult book outlet!) Once in a while I will get aroused while reading a violent passage in Juliette; there was a sadistic passage or two in Anne Rice vampire novels that gave me an erection, as well. Usually I prefer hardcore sex and nudity to this sort of tripe. While violence in hard-core pornography is rare, this is not the case in soft-core pornography. The Anne Rice vampire books that I’ve mentioned several times are an extreme. Even the much milder violence in Bret Ellis’s American Psycho is quite extreme for soft-core. More typical for soft-core pornography is a level of violence comparable to the movie The Maltese Falcon, i.e., a PG-13 level of violence. The emphasis is still on sex and nudity.'...

'There is a “lot” of pornography out there, and I suspect if it really did cause people to become more violent, we’d have considerably more violence than we do now.'...

'It's more likely that feminists themselves provoke men to acts of violence!' another man joked. “Seriously, car chases, gunplay, fisticuffs and so forth are way more prevalent [in regular movies], and there’s no movement to ban them.”...

A 20-year-old Canadian student interested in a career in sex counseling challenged the link on the same grounds: “Just because there is a correlation between two factors, like pornography use and violence, does not mean that one causes the other. Feminists want prove that pornography causes harm towards women and when you want to find a certain result, you’ll interpret the data to give that result.

One man said even if a link could be shown, it wouldn’t matter: “People having cars increases the chance of car accidents. Does this mean that when 99.9% of people can drive their car for a year without killing anyone, we should ban cars because of the .1% of people who are incompetent or unlucky? Of course not. It means we should deal with the .1%.”...

“Repression breeds violence. The more sexually liberated countries of Europe have far less rape.” A 33-year old software support specialist, married eight years to his only sex partner, agreed that “pornography can act as a cathartic experience and reduce one’s propensity for violence.” He then added: “One wonders why Andrea Dworkin doesn’t go around killing and raping, since she spends so much time reading/watching and then writing about that devil porn.”...

A 26-year-old writer and administrative employee said: “I’ve seen football players and other athletes bully people and beat them up. So why don’t feminists attack the multibillion-dollar sports industry? Surely there’s a more direct connection in people who beat people up professionally becoming violent than people having sex on film.”...

More than one man recalled reports that pornography drove men such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy to their crimes...

A divorced, 32-year-old computer consultant discounted Bundy as an example of any link between pornography and violence. “Curiously enough, while many use Ted Bundy as a case in which pornograph ‘forced’ him to do his vile deeds, it should be noted that Ted Bundy once claimed Satan himself compelled him to his atrocities. Moreover, when police searched Mr. Bundy’s car, they didn’t find pornography in it, they found cheerleader magazines.” His conclusion? “In my view, people who ‘blame’ pornography for their actions are only seeking to avoid personal responsibility for their actions.”...

Perhaps the firmest dismissal of the porn-causes-violence thesis came from an Englishman, a software engineer with five children:

'I reject the implication that there is some sort of “argument” about pornography put out by feminists. I do not grant them even that minimal level of intellectual honesty or respectability. The “arguments” I have read are a palpable tissue of lies, distortions, non sequiturs, special pleadings, and outright gender-biased hate speech. I don’t believe even those making them actually believe them. To me, they are simply another example of the “Big Lie” technique of the late unlamented Herr Goebbels—that if you yell it loudly enough, and phrase it extremely enough, somebody will believe it. On the other hand, I have read both the report of the (British) Royal Commission on Pornography, and a condensed version of the U.S. report (by Ed Meese, wasn’t it?). These were two serious, detailed, and meticulous studies, and they both concluded what in both cases the majority of the investigators did not want to conclude: that there is no evidence whatsoever that the consumption of pornography is harmful; that there is no good social grounds for regulating it; and that the harm that is sometimes caused by its production or distribution is a direct consequence of its marglnalisation by society. I will not accept, now or ever, the right of any other person, especially women, and especially feminist women, to define or control my sexuality. There is nothing to debate: my body; my self.'...

'I’ve had several partners, including my feminist wife, who enjoyed light bondage and simulated rape. Depictions of those definitely are a turn-on. My experience is that the strongest women are most stimulated by being dominated.'

A 36-year-old male pointed out that much of what appears violent in pornography is actually a very controlled form of fantasy play:

'I get turned on by pictures of classic role-playing such as “bondage,”“S&M,” including people being whipped, etc., and forced” although it Is really fake and they are playing; it is consensual in nature. It even feels good in real life to play around with this type of stuff a bit. This is not wh,it I’d call “violence.”'

Wrote a 23-year-old bisexual who preferred women:

'Violence can be erotic, but I think it’s important to distinguish between consensual and non-consensual. I know I like some violent things to be done to me that turn me on. So, as far as porn goes, there are violent scenes that turn me on because I have a fascination in the physical sensation of pain—I find the tension between pain and pleasure very erotic. But it all has to be in the context of consent. If I see a rape scene where the victim is saying “no, don’t do this,” I don’t like it and it doesn’t turn me on. But most of the “rape” scenes in porn have the victim excited and asking for more. If the acting job or picture is convincing, then it’s a turn-on because I really believe that the person does want that to happen to them.'...

Closely related to the idea of the consensual use of force was the appeal of being the object of such force focusing on the person who chooses to be the “victim,” rather than upon the person who “imposes” the violence. The key word here is “submission”; some men said the 'submissiveness' of one of the performers fired their libido, rather than the violence per se...

The question of consent has been a thorny one for feminists who oppose pornography. Because the activities that occur in pornographic films—let alone in such jobs as nude dancing and prostitution—seem unimaginable to many commentators, feminist criticism has taken some odd twists in order to “prove” that women cannot actually consent to such acts. For instance, it has been argued that limited professional and financial options drive women to this kind of work to such an extent that they do not have free choice. [Ed: Similarly, criminals are driven to commit crimes. Therefore they are not responsible.]...

'Let’s put this in perspective. You’re in a lot more danger of coming to actual harm playing football or other violent contact sports.'...

Some feminists have gone so far as to suggest that to stare at a woman in public is a violent act (or an aggressive and invasive one, at least)...

“In my experience, an erotic thriller means two mm utes of nudity and 60 minutes of violence. I have never been aroused by scenes of violence in pornography, and I doubt I ever will.”...

If there was stress or violence in their lives, a few men said, it could not be blamed on their use of pornography. A divorced public administrator, 48, declared, “There was no violence in my relationship(s). Arguments, tension, misunderstandings, god yes, but to blame this on pornography (which generally depicts pleasure/enjoyment?) is rather farfetched. ‘Sorry we had the wretched misunderstanding yesterday, darling. It’s the pornography,”“Work,” a 26-year-old administrative employee observed dryly, “is a much more direct cause of emotional and physical violence.”...

'The only semi-violent aspect in pornography which is somewhat arousing is when an attractive, strong guy is with a woman who is reluctant to have sex, kind of forces himself on her (not violently, but clearly coercively) and she is overwhelmed by attraction, arousal (of course she was always fight ing this), gives in, and enjoys it. Again, this is not so much violence as coercion. I do not do this myself, because I do believe it is not only un-PC, but not right. No means no means no. Now, occasionally I may have tried to seduce my partner when she has expressed lack of interest, but again, even tually no means no, and I have never been violent or physically coercive.'

If anything in this man’s description of an arousing situation seems improper or brutish, let alone “un-PC,” we might remind ourselves that it describes the sort of encounters that routinely take place in romance novels written for, purchased by, and read by women in the millions, and apparently regarded as “highly romantic.”"
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