Saturday, July 14, 2007

Something I'd like explained.

Here's an excerpt from one of the many "Why I'm An Anti-Porn Star" essays at (how exactly does being anti-porn make one a star?) The author describes her friend's rape by the friend's husband, an avid porn user:

Her husband was a huge fan of pornography. She isn’t and never has been. It went from him wanting her to wear the underwear you see women wearing in porn to actually ordering it for her. He threw out the underwear she did have and tried to fill her drawers with split crotch pants and peep-hole bras, stockings and suspender belts, lace, black and pink. Why? Hello? She’s already told him a hundred times that she won’t wear that. And then she started asking me if ‘everyone’ did anal sex because he says ‘everyone’ does it, it’s ‘all over’ the videos he watches and he wants her to do it. She doesn’t want to do it. I tell her ‘no – not everyone does that’ and she doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to. But then he rapes her.

She was imprisoned in their bedroom for three days and two nights. Repeatedly anally raped, vaginally raped, orally raped and burned with cigarettes – yes, another ‘fun thing’ women are depicted as thoroughly enjoying in pornography – and gods know what else that she still can’t speak about, while her two year-old daughter and six year-old son were in the bedrooms next door.

She escaped (went to buy him a newspaper) sometime on the Sunday. The police brought her to me late that night. She couldn’t go home – it was a crime scene – and her children were with their paternal grandmother so she couldn’t exactly go there either. He was in prison on remand. She couldn’t sit down. Seriously, she couldn’t sit down. He’d hurt her so that she couldn’t even sit down. She was covered in burns, traumatised, and so brutalised she couldn’t sit down.

This man professed to love her. Even now, he still says that he loves her. He can’t love her as a person – he’d never subject her to that, surely? He may well just love her as a breathing enactment of pornography – his true love.

She is still traumatised to this day. She’s kept her life together for the sake of her kids but her self is still in tatters. She has no ‘self’ to speak of. She is broken.

This happened because of pornography.

Apologists might say “yes, but not every man who looks at porn reacts this way”.

I say “one is enough.”

And now my question: Why is the porn the issue? His throwing out her underwear or insisting on anal was somehow not a warning sign in itself. Nope, the porn made him this way. Without porn, he never would have raped.

The assumption is that he was transforming her into his little pornlet somehow, transfixed by what he saw on the pages or on the screen.


Why should we assume that the porn came first, that he wasn't someone who always saw women as worthless and used the excuse that porn stars do the things he likes to force himself on his partner?

Why is his behavior interpreted here as a downward spiral of porn's influence, rather than a cycle of testing behavior? "Will she wear the panties? Ah, she did if I pushed. If I throw out her underwear, will she...? Oh look, I insisted on anal and she said no but acted uncertain when I told her anyone else would, I can get her there..."

This man was testing this woman. He was "getting her ready" for the rape. The rape didn't come from the porn... it came after a series of actions designed to probe what he could and couldn't get away with, and eventually judging her a good potential victim!

Any self-defense class will tell you that stranger rapists "assess." Why not immediately realize that this guy was assessing as well -- assessing what kind of relationship he could create, such that he could progressively push boundaries and eventually rape this woman.

Why is this not blatantly obvious? Why is this "a reaction" to porn rather than extremely common, run of the mill rapist behavior from go? Why is this about the porn giving him ideas, and not about a slow, careful pattern of establishing control?

Where exactly does this idea that people would never harm others if not for porn come from? This person brutalized his victim so that she couldn't sit down: does your standard, run of the mill mainstream porn make people not only think of that, but want to do it? Does gonzo make you want to force people into it? Why? How?

I'm not claiming porn didn't influence this guy. Maybe it did. Maybe he loved and respected women until he first got a hold of girlie mags. I don't know -- though something in me strongly doubts that.

But I am saying that there are more to warning signs than PORN, PORN, PORN.

PORN doesn't make you a rapist. Making a particular choice does: the choice to rape someone.


  1. seriously--is there ever a point where we blame, you know, HIM? HIM HIM HIM?? what if he'd thrown out all her frilly lingerie and replaced it with chaste white underwear, would that be more acceptable? what's the difference what -excuse- he's using to abuse her? He's abusing her. Period. and i mean--well, first of all, i'm not that familiar with whatever kind of porn this was, but even in gonzo/rough sex, is this kind of extended relationship sadism par for the course? is cigarette burning, really? because that, i've never seen.

    seriously, this is -so- much like the Temperance/Prohibition movement(s). Demon Rum. go into the bars and smash the bottles. which feels really satisfying, and hey, no denying where he's spending his money or that the alcoholism is a problem in itself or that he's abusive when drunk, yes--but does that really come from the bottom of the bottle? Who cares; we need to DO SOMETHING. SMASH.

    so okay great. we make the Bad Product illegal. we don't address the underlying problems in: the individual relationship, the socioeconomic milieu which leads to this situation in the first place, the attitudes of the men, of the women, of...Just make a pyre, it'll do. and it's so -simple.- just cut right through the Gordian knot; and say, what kind of moral degenerate are you that you're defending those mens' right to their -pleasure- which -harms women-, why do you hate women so much?

    :headdesk headdesk:

  2. or, so, getting back to the example at hand: let's say that in the early stages, instead of him pressuring her for anal, she's the one who wants to try it, or something that she saw on "the videos," okay. She asks him;

    he turns viciously cold, spits out that she's disgusting and sick, threatens to leave and take the children from her (unfit whore), goes rummaging through her things for any sign of that deviant slutty stuff, forbids her to talk to those slutty friends of hers who might give her ideas, and refuses to touch her or even speak to her for a week.

    the hitting might come later; but meanwhile, is -this- abusive? (and yes, Virginia, such scenarios really happen). and if so, who do we blame for it?

  3. "is cigarette burning, really? because that, i've never seen."

    Me neither.

  4. another example of the root being discounted because the bandaid on top is easier to pull off. Anyone willing to do what he has done has serious problems.

  5. Belle:

    "but even in gonzo/rough sex, is this kind of extended relationship sadism par for the course? is cigarette burning, really? because that, i've never seen."

    No, it's not. All too prevelant in slasher and order...csi....but not ANY gonzo I;ve ever seen.

  6. "All too prevelant in slasher and order...csi....but not ANY gonzo I've ever seen."

    I have a hard time imagining scarring, which is permanent bodily damage, being intentional anyway... even if porn producers are totally heartless sadists, it's not in their best interest to PERMANENTLY mark people up.

  7. Right on! Guns don't kill people, people do!

  8. Wrong blog, nonny.

    and, you cannot DIRECTLY kill someone with a porn DVD, accidentally or otherwise. really bad analogy.

  9. there is also the little matter of, we were just talking about whether the anecdote being used to discredit porn was, you know, true (wrt what it said about porn); way to try to change the subject, though. we're saying: maybe it's NOT a gun, it's a water pistol, and you're all, right on! defend those guns! you go!

  10. "maybe it's NOT a gun, it's a water pistol, and you're all, right on! defend those guns! you go!"

    Oh but a water pistol will make someone WANT A gun!!elevenses!

    Y'know, at my grad school I know a lot of (generally super awesome) feminist professors who are moms or dads, and I frequently see them limiting what their kids play with in ways that are very unlike what my I or my male friends' parents did with us.

    So: no toy guns for the little boy, for example. So this kid comes to the department one day when the folks have no sitter. We're all delighted.

    What's he got with him? A toy sword.

    I ask his parents "okay, no guns, but a sword?" They said yeah. Weren't, from what I gather, please about it, either.

    What's the kid do during a break in the conference when he's bored? Well, he goes on and on about PIRATES!!! drawing pirate CANNONS on the dry erase board, with much red and yellow flame and spume.

    And if I remember right (this is a dimmer memory, but) picks up his toy sword, turns it lengthwise, points it at people. "Bang! Bang! Bang!"

    While his parents fret, beg him at least to tone it down, and bemoan the irresistible siren song of testosterone.

    And I, for my part, wonder: Hormones, or simply the lure of the forbidden?

  11. I vote the latter.

    I don't get guns. I mean, I get why people have 'em, I don't get the appeal, though, collectors and whatnot.