Rape Culture #13: Rape Culture and Pornography

By January 29, 2019Uncategorized


Part thirteen in a series by Joy Pedrow Skarka 

In 2017, the world’s largest porn website reached 28.5 billion visitors, an average of 81 million people per day. The country with the most web traffic? The United States. Why is this important? Research shows that porn is linked to acceptance of rape culture. People who blame rape victims are more likely to use pornography. They watch hours and hours of porn that shows rape as normal and exciting. Porn users are more likely to think negatively about women, become desensitized to sexual images and messages in the media, and endorse rape myths. In porn, sexualized women are less human—they are objects.

            Violent porn: Those who consume violent pornography or media behave in the ways portrayed. Pornography consumption is linked with sexual aggression. One study resulted in the support of the associations between frequent pornography use and sexually aggressive behaviors, particularly for violent pornography and/or for men at high risk for sexual aggression. Violent sexual crimes existed before pornography; thus pornography is not the main problem, but it does perpetuate the crimes and rape culture.

            Soft porn: It’s not just hardcore porn that is causing damage. One study found that even soft porn negatively affects people. Soft porn includes movies, television shows, advertisements, magazines, or erotica that show or describe sex, but not in a violent or detailed way. Today’s softcore porn is what was hardcore fifty years ago. The study examined the relationship between frequency of exposure to softcore pornographic images of women to attitudes towards women and rape myths. The results indicate that people who were desensitized to these images were more likely than others to endorse rape myths. Women are large contributors of soft porn, especially erotica. Women perpetuate rape culture too. 

            Some people argue that porn prevents abuse by allowing for a “safer” option for people in which to let out aggressive sexual energy. Instead of raping someone, it is reasoned, a person can just watch porn. This might sounds logical, but the brain is wired to repeat what it sees and hears. The more a person watches porn—the more likely he or she will desire it in real life. Porn changes the brain, causing it literally to rewire itself and create new neurological pathways, even to the point of changing reality. Such watching and rewiring is how people get addicted.

            Leading experts studying sexual violence are arriving at these same conclusions. Dr. John D. Foubert, a professor in an endowed position at Oklahoma State University and a leading expert on sexual violence, stated, “The secret ingredient in the recipe for rape was not secret at all . . . That ingredient, responsible for giving young men the permission-giving beliefs that make rape so much more likely and telling young women they should like it, is today’s high-speed internet pornography. Pornography itself is a recipe for rape that has rewritten the sexual script for the sexual behavior of the millennial generation and is currently rewiring the brains of the generation to follow.”

In this report, Dr. Foubert went on to argue that porn today is nothing like it was historically. He points out that in porn today, 88 percent of the scenes include verbal or physical aggression, usually against a woman; and the woman is shown either liking it or having no objection to it. For example, one common porn scene includes multiple men ejaculating on a woman’s face and she “likes” it. Pornography is perpetuating rape culture by teaching boys and girls false messages. Boys are encouraged to hit girls and use them for their own selfish sexual desires. Girls are encouraged to enjoy the abuse and not fight back.

            Another problem is that children are starting to see pornography at younger and younger ages each year—some argue they are doing so around four or five years old. So porn becomes a child’s sex education—they think what they see is real sex. A sexual-assault nurse examiner at a children’s hospital said, “To sexually assault someone else, that’s a learned behavior.”

Our children are being trained at the age of four or five to be rapists. The same children’s hospital at which this nurse works is finding cases on boys ages eleven to fourteen years committing sexual crimes. The nurses said that they had young perpetrators tell them they’ve watched pornography and acted it out on someone else. When a child has been watching porn since he or she is four years old, that child has been training the brain and body for sexual perversion and learning to take pleasure in it. Porn is affordable, available, anonymous, and aggressive—the four A’s of disaster that we must stop.

To learn more about the dangers of porn, check out Fight the New Drug.

14: Rape Culture and Race

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