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PORNOGRAPHY AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS WOMEN

For pornography to be harmless, the people who are depicted in its images would have to be unreal - mere symbols of something philosophical and intangible.  However, the women violated in pornography are human beings.  Beyond the glossy pages, the naked and used women are real, as real as all other women who work and live side-by-side with men who sustain a regular diet of pornography.  Pornography makes women chattel, and all women have reason to fear that the attitudes of the men with whom they live and work are transformed by the images of pornography.  Pornography operates in a subliminal way, as a manifestation of the inequality of the sexes and a rationale for sex discrimination and sexual harassment.   Depicting women as anonymous, ever-wanting/waiting, empty sex toys for men, stripping and exposing their bodies for monetary gain and entertainment cannot possibly translate into a message that can exist in harmony with equality, dignity and humanity. 

Pornography "educates" its consumers with information that is not only highly inaccurate, but also misleading and dangerous.  It portrays unhealthy and antisocial kinds of sexual activity, such as sadomasochism, abuse, and humiliation of females, involvement of children, incest, group sex, voyeurism, sexual degradation, bestiality, necrophilia, torture, objectification, and sanction of "the rape myth."   Consumers (including children) learn and will more easily accept the idea of forced sex as reasonable and justified, and could very easily become desensitized to extremely dangerous antisocial behavior.    As such, the dulling of the moral senses can affect the safety of women.  It also creates a culture that trivializes rape and other sex crimes.  Moreover, even non-violent pornography seriously undermines the value of women in real life.  In the porn world, a woman's value is directly linked to her sexual desirability, according to pornography's artificial, glossy, airbrushed criterion.   Without regard to her as woman of dignity, intelligence, political autonomy, wisdom, and personality, pornography reinforces sexual stereotypes and promulgates a demeaning message about the role of women in society.  The addictive nature of pornography creates a self-perpetuating cycle, magnified by the fact that exposure to pornography lessens repulsion to pornography and desensitizes its consumers of its harms.  Properly evaluated, pornography looses its definition as "thought" or "speech" but rather becomes an action, in and of itself.

  • "Whether it incites harm is not the issue - it is the harm."  ("Pornography:  Does Women's Equality Depend on What We Do About it?"  Ms. Magazine, Jan/Feb, 1994 p. 43.   (quoting Kathleen Berry, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.)
  • "The reality for women in this society is that pornography creates silence for women.  The pornographers silence women.  Our bodies are their language.  Their speech is made out of our exploitation, our subservience, our injury, and our pain, and they can't say anything without hurting us and when you protect them,  you can only protect their right to exploit and hurt us."  Diane Russell.  "Nadine Strossen:  The Pornography Industry's Wet Dream."  One the Issues:  The Progressive Women's Quarterly, Summer, 1995.  p. 34.
  • "There can be no equality in porn, no female equivalent, no turning of the tables in the name of bawdy fun.  Pornography, like rape, is a male invention, designed to dehumanize women, to reduce the female to an object of sexual access, not to free sensuality from moralistic or parental inhibition."   (Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will, p 394.)
  • "222 undergraduate males were administered an attitudes survey examining pornography use, attitudes, and self-reported likelihood of rape (LR) or using sexual force (LF).       Nonviolent pornography was used by 81% of subjects within the previous year, whereas 41% and 35% had used violent and sexually violent pornography respectively.  27% of subjects indicated some likelihood of raping or some likelihood of using sexual force.  Discriminate function analysis revealed that use of sexually violent pornography and acceptance of interpersonal violence against women were uniquely associated with likelihood of using sexual force and likelihood of raping."  Edward Donnerstein, Statement made at a public hearing on ordinances to add pornography as discrimination against women, Minneapolis City Council, Session 1, Dec. 12, 1983.)
  • The biases encouraged by pornography "may contribute to the reluctance of many women to report rape and to the relatively low likelihood that such offenses will be classified as 'founded' cases."  L. Clark & D. Lewis. Rape:  The Price of Coercive Sexuality (1977).
  • One study revealed that among 932 sex addicts, 90% of the men and 77% of the women reported pornography as significant to their addictions.  Also, two common elements in the early etiology of sexually addictive behavior are childhood sexual abuse and frequent pornography accompanied by masturbation.  (Patrick Carnes, Don't Call it Love:  Recovery from Sexual Addictions, 1991.)
  • "If you expose a male subject to six weeks worth of standard hard-core pornography...you find changes in attitudes towards women.  The subjects become more callused towards women.  You find trivialization toward rape, which means after six weeks of exposure, male subjects are less likely to convict for a rape, less likely to give a harsh sentence to a rapist if in fact convicted.  (Edward Donnerstein, Ordinances...) 
  • "Subjects with a greater degree of exposure to violent sexual materials tended to believe that: (a) women are responsible for preventing their own rape, (b) rapists should not be severely punished, and (c) women should not resist a rape attack.  Additionally, it was found that exposure to violent sexual materials correlated significantly with the belief that rapists are normal.  Luis T. Garcia, Exposures to Pornography and Attitudes About Women and Rape: A Correlative Study, Vol. 22, 1853, AG, at 382-83 (1986)
  • "Many people--including children and adolescents--learn about sex from pornography; it shapes their beliefs, attitudes, and expectations.  The implications of the role of pornography in forcing sexual attitudes in adolescents is troubling, in light of the current tone and content of hardcore pornography.  The prevalence of violent, abusive, and degrading pornography can induce beliefs that such practices are not only common, but acceptable."  See John O. Mason, Ph.D., Dr. P.H., Assistant Secretary for Health, Address to the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, The Harm of Pornography , at 2 (Oct. 26, 1992). 
  • "[S]tudy . . . results consistently showed a relationship between one's reported likelihood to rape and responses associated with convicted rapists such as sexual arousal to rape stimuli, callousness attitudes toward rape, beliefs in the rape myths, and hostility towards women"  Neil M. Malamuth & Joseph Ceniti, Repeated Exposure to Violent and Non Violent Pornography:  Likelihood of Raping Ratings and Laboratory Aggression Against Women, 12 Aggressive Behaviors 129-37, U.C.L.A., (1985).

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