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Media, sex, sexual violence and gender

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A look at the nexus of media, technology, sexual violence and gender. Contains graphic material that may be considered offensive. Do not view in the presence of children.

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Media, sex, sexual violence and gender

  1. 1. Media, Sex, Sexual Violence and Gender: What’s Porn Got to do with it? TAITU HERON October 25, 2011 CARIMAC Presentation taitu.heron02@uwimona.edu.jm Women’s Media Watch Jamaica & Institute for Gender & Development Studies, UWI Mona 1
  2. 2. WARNING! THIS PRESENTATION INCLUDES SEXUALLY GRAPHIC CONTENT if you are squeamish ....rational thinking is recommended. But remember ...this is an intellectual exercise.
  3. 3. Pornography – the etymology • "description of prostitutes," from Fr. pornographie, from Gk. pornographos "(one) writing of prostitutes," from porne "prostitute," originally "bought, purchased" (with an original notion, probably of "female slave sold for prostitution;" related to pernanai "to sell," from PIE root per- "to traffic in, to sell," cf. L. pretium "price") + graphein "to write" (see -graphy). The word did not enter the English language as the familiar conjunction until 1857 or as a French import in New Orleans in 1842. • "I can't define pornography," one US judge once said, "but I know it when I see it." (Justice Stewart in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 US 184 (1964).) 3
  4. 4. Pornography – so what is it really? • Pornography is any material (either pictures or words) that is sexually explicit. • This definition of pornography may pick out different types of material in different contexts, since what is viewed as sexually explicit can vary from culture to culture and over time. • "Sexually explicit" functions as a kind of indexical term, picking out different features depending on what has certain effects or breaks certain taboos in different contexts and cultures. 4
  5. 5. Definitions continued • Sexual explicitness may be a necessary condition for material to count as pornographic, but it does not seem to be sufficient. What else might be required? • Analysing porn means analysing the gender and power dynamics at play; it means looking at the process of production and consumption and the broader context this occurs in. 5
  6. 6. Definitions continued (2) • Displays of women's uncovered legs count as sexually explicit in some cultures, but not in most western cultures or western-influenced cultures nowadays. • There may be borderline cases too: do displays of bared breasts still count as sexually explicit in various contemporary western cultures? • However, some material seems clearly to count as sexually explicit in many contexts today: in particular, audio, written or visual representations of sexual acts (e.g., sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex) and exposed body parts (e.g., the vagina, anus and penis- especially the erect penis or an aroused vagina). 6
  7. 7. Sexually explicit? 7
  8. 8. Sexually explicit? Magnum calendar girls Katy Perry 8
  9. 9. Sexually explicit? Demi Moore D’Angelo 9
  10. 10. Sexually explicit? 10
  11. 11. Sexually explicit? 11
  12. 12. 12 Sexually explicit?
  13. 13. So do we get the idea of what sexually explicit is ? • Within the general class of sexually explicit material, there is great variety in content. For example, some sexually explicit material depicts women, and sometimes men, in postures of sexual display. • Some depicts non-violent sexual acts (both homosexual and heterosexual) between adults who are portrayed as equal and consenting participants. 13
  14. 14. Sexually explicitness continued • Other sexually explicit representations depict acts of violent coercion: people being bound, whipped, beaten, tortured, penetrated by objects, mutilated, raped and even killed. • Some sexually explicit material may be degrading, without necessarily being overtly violent. • This material depicts people (most often women) in positions of servility and subordination in their sexual relations with others, or engaged in sexual acts that many people would regard as humiliating. • Some sexually explicit material involves or depicts children. 14
  15. 15. So what is it really we ask again? 1. Pornography is sexually explicit material (verbal or pictorial) that is primarily designed to produce sexual arousal in viewers. 2. pornography is sexually explicit material designed to produce sexual arousal in consumers that is bad in a certain way. This definition of pornography makes it analytically true that pornography is bad: by definition, material that is not bad in the relevant way is not pornography. 3. It might be that all and only sexually explicit material is bad in a certain way (e.g., obscene - that it depicts deviant sexual acts that are deemed immoral ): in which case, "pornography" will refer to all and only the class of sexually explicit materials. But it might be that only some sexually explicit material is objectionable (e.g., degrading to women and men), in which case only the bad subset of sexually explicit material will count as pornography. 15
  16. 16. We really need to get to understanding what it really is.... • It might be that all and only sexually explicit material is bad in a certain way (e.g., obscene): in which case, "pornography" will refer to all and only the class of sexually explicit materials. But it might be that only some sexually explicit material is objectionable (e.g., degrading to women), in which case only the bad subset of sexually explicit material will count as pornography. • It is possible that no sexually explicit material is bad in the relevant way (e.g., harmful to women), in which case we would have an error theory about pornography: there would be no pornography, so defined, merely harmless, sexually explicit "erotica". 16
  17. 17. Getting to the gender bottom of it....(no pun intended) • But the badness of pornography need not reside in obscenity. Pornography might be defined, not as sexually explicit material that is obscene, but as that sexually explicit material that harms women and harms the portrayal of women. Thus many contemporary feminist definitions define "pornography" as sexually explicit material that depicts women's subordination in such a way as to endorse that subordination. • And... The badness of pornography is that which has sexually explicit material which harms the portrayal of men in gender stereotypical ways and promotes hyper-domination and false authority. • Objectification on both accounts for both women and men. The idea that the objectification in pornography works to effect sexual violence in society, that it typically involves the depiction of violence, ..women tied up, stretched, hanged, fucked, gang-banged, whipped, beaten and begging for more and men have the strength and stamina to do it. 17
  18. 18. A feminist definition of pornography • .....pornography as the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and words that also includes (i) women are presented dehumanized as sexual objects, things, or commodities; or (ii) women are presented as sexual objects who enjoy humiliation or pain; or (iii) women are presented as sexual objects experiencing sexual pleasure in rape, incest or other sexual assault; or (iv) women are presented as sexual objects tied up, cut up or mutilated or bruised or physically hurt; or (v) women are presented in postures or positions of sexual submission, servility, or display; or (vi) women's body parts — including but not limited to vaginas, breasts, or buttocks — are exhibited such that women are reduced to those parts; or (vii) women are presented being penetrated by objects or animals; or (viii) women are presented in scenarios of degradation, humiliation, injury, torture, shown as filthy or inferior, bleeding, bruised, or hurt in a context that makes these conditions sexual. (MacKinnon 1987:176.) • Dworkin and MacKinnon allow that sexually explicit material that ALSO treats men, children in sexually dehumanising or subordinating ways also counts as pornography. 18
  19. 19. Looking at the consumption of porn (mostly men and who it is targeted to) • The consumption of sexually explicit material has often been thought to be harmful to its (mostly male) consumers: for example, by corrupting their morals or by making them less likely to be able to have long-term, loving sexual relationships. • The creation of porn is geared towards meeting the consumption needs of those who demand it or what is deemed as being demanded, and what is pushed to be demanded. 19
  20. 20. Categories of porn/meeting consumption needs • The two main distinctions of pornography are between softcore and hardcore pornography, while hardcore works may include softcore content, but not the other way round. • Softcore pornography generally depicts naked or partially clothed women and/or men in sexually suggestive situations but excludes explicit sexual activity and sexual penetration. • Hardcore pornography depicts graphic sexual acts and visible penetration. Most of the genres in this list are of hardcore pornography. 20
  21. 21. Categories and sub-categories • Traditionally, pornographic movies are created for the pleasure of male viewers rather than females. A typical porn film would consist of a voluptuous female performer, whom the camera would have the majority of focus on. She would be joined by a male partner who would traditionally have no explicitly striking features other than a large penis. However, given the increase in female viewers over time, there has been a recent increase in efforts to sexualize male performers also. New features such as men with smaller penises, charming facial features and well-built bodies are becoming predominant within the porn scene. • NB: see wikipedia list of categories for porn. 21
  22. 22. The language of pornography • The language is also more direct, forceful and using common and expletive terms for genitalia. Scenes are short leading quickly to the act of sex. In many cases, language used in porn focuses on the body parts and the action required. F...that puss..../ let me feel that cocky....etc. • The language is often violent and/or aggressive and reduces both men and men to objects, cultural others and disembodied sexual body parts. 22
  23. 23. The language of porn 23
  24. 24. The language of porn 24
  25. 25. The language of porn continued 25
  26. 26. The language of porn 26
  27. 27. Language of porn continued 27
  28. 28. Why is porn problematic continued? • According to MacKinnon....”pornography sexualises rape, battery, sexual harassment, prostitution and child sexual abuse, it thereby celebrates, promotes, authorizes and legitimises them." (MacKinnon 1987:171-72). • By authorizing and legitimating the subjection of women, pornography makes the very real harm of women's subordination invisible as harm: rape, harassment and other forms of oppression come to be seen simply as sex. ********* 28
  29. 29. Images 29
  30. 30. Why is porn problematic? • It can be viewed as a sort of false advertising about human sexuality. • It sexualises gender inequality -- Pornography both expresses the view that women exist primarily as objects for men's sexual gratification-that they are men's sexual slaves, and that men should hump, pump, grind and have long, large and sustainable penises as weapons. It propagates this view, by conditioning consumers to regard women's subordination and men’s domination as a sexy, natural and legitimate feature of normal heterosexual relations. • It degrades people of various cultures and ethnicities; • It uses language that perpetuates and encourages violence and disrespectful attitudes towards self and other. 30
  31. 31. The problematique of porn continued • Undermines women's ability to participate as full and equal citizens in public, as well as private, realms. • Pornography may contribute to women's subordination: if not by directly causing crimes of sexual violence, then at least by conditioning consumers to view women as sex objects, rather than as autonomous individuals worthy of equal concern and respect. 31
  32. 32. The problematique continued • ...pornography helps to form and reinforce the view that women are sex objects, which manifests itself in how women are perceived and treated in society and so perpetuates women's inequality. • Among other things, it may increase the likelihood of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination against women, undermine women's credibility in certain contexts, encourage a general expectation that women who say ‘no’ in sexual contexts often do not intend to refuse, and so on. *********** 32
  33. 33. Images cont’d 33
  34. 34. what do you see? 34
  35. 35. Images continued 35
  36. 36. Images continued 36
  37. 37. The problematique and what the research says • A number of studies have found a positive correlation between exposure to violent pornographic images (for example, of rape, bondage, molestation involving weapons and mutilation) and positive reactions to rape and other forms of violence against women. • Studies suggest, among other things, that exposure to violent pornography can significantly enhance a subject's arousal in response to the portrayal of rape, that exposure to films that depict sexual violence against women can act as a stimulus for aggressive acts against women. 37
  38. 38. What the research says continued • ...and that prolonged exposure to degrading pornography (of a violent or non-violent sort) leads to increased callousness towards victims of sexual violence, a greater acceptance of ‘rape-myths' (for example, that women enjoy rape and do not mean no when they say ‘no’), a greater likelihood of having rape-fantasies, and a greater likelihood of reporting that one would rape women or force women into unwanted sex acts if there was no chance of being caught. – Donnerstein, E., Linz, D. and Penrod, S., 1987, The Question of Pornography: Research Findings and Policy Implications, New York: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan. – Dwyer, S. (ed.), 1995, The Problem of Pornography, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. – Cornell, D. (ed.), 2000, Feminism and Pornography, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 38
  39. 39. What the research says.....(3) • The literature suggests a number of negative effects of frequent and long-term exposure to this material. First, it leads to more liberal sexual attitudes and greater belief that peers’ are sexually active, which increases the likelihood of first intercourse at an early age (Flood, 2007). • Second, adolescents exposed to sexual behaviours outside cultural norms may develop a distorted view of sex as unrelated to love affection and intimacy, and a desire for emotionally uncommitted sexual involvement (Byrne & Osland, 2000). • Third, youth exposed to pornography may develop attitudes supportive of ‘‘rape myth’’, which ascribe responsibility for sexual assault to the female victim (Flood, 2007; Seto, Maric, & Barbaree, 2001). 39
  40. 40. What the research says (4) • Pornographic use was associated with demographic characteristics such as gender and socioeconomic status; men and low income individuals were more likely to consume pornography than women and middle class individuals. • Adolescents who report low commitment to parents and family will be more likely to use the Internet to search for X- rated material, and less likely to use this technology for learning skills, seeking information, and communication purposes. • Adolescents who report low attachment to school are more likely to be involved in frequent search for pornographic material and less likely to use the technology for learning skills, information search, and communication. 40
  41. 41. Research continued • a much higher percentage of females expressed negative attitudes, and reported less exposure to, pornographic content on the Internet than males (Troeen, Spitznogle, & Beverfjord, 2002). • Differential socialization to gender roles often implies a sexual double standard, whereby sexual interest expressed by men is evaluated positively and by women negatively (Marks & Fraley, 2005). 41
  42. 42. Porn, the internet and youth vulnerability (2) • Internet allows for easier distribution, and consumption of pornography. • The Internet adult industry 1263 cities with more permissive standards such as Los Angeles and Amsterdam. • Distribution and consumption of adult materials have likewise been prohibited, policed, and pushed to the margins of cities and society. The digitization of its product and the creation of new distribution channels have greatly altered this geography. The transfer of pornographic images can now be accomplished on fiber optic cables over the highly decentralized and largely unregulated network of the Internet. • Consumption of these materials no longer necessitates a trip to a video or book store but can be done with the click of a mouse. • The industry is greatly aided by the digital nature of its products which can easily bypass logistical and regulatory barriers 42
  43. 43. Porn, the internet and youth vulnerability (3) • The internet offers a criteria of communication hitherto nonexistent that the pornographic industry thrives on: – the capacity to send, receive and move/control data and images instantaneously; – interactivity with computing and broadcasting functions, – mobility, that is, freedom from the constraints of location; – unlimited domestic and global reach; – a high level of user control and flexibility; and – in general, anything which creates new human communication and information exchange possibilities – which are not available through a "plain old telephone service" (POTS). 43
  44. 44. Porn, the internet and youth vulnerability (4) • few barriers to the creation and maintenance of simple adult websites, making it relatively easy for individuals in any location to reach the majority of Internet users. • the Internet adult industry provides a “profitable” linkage between areas with high poverty and few prospects. (lower paid models and actors and more websites created). (in the Caribbean – Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas and Jamaica) • the anonymity of the Internet provides an easy avenue to pornography in localities that have outlawed or heavily regulate it and allows people to avoid the potential social stigma of visiting an adult bookstore or DVD/VIDEO store. • The quantity of and access to pornography has grown xponentially since the 1980s along side the growth of the video cassette/DVD and then the internet industries27 while the content has become increasingly more violent, degrading, and harmful to participants and viewers 44
  45. 45. Porn, internet and youth vulnerability(5) • The Internet has been portrayed as conducive to deviant behaviour because of its use in isolation from others, as opposed to consumption of other media, which is in the presence and even with the collaboration with others. • Pornography drives the demand in International Sex Trafficking and the internet and communication technology facilitates it much more • The relative anonymity of the medium may promote activities that an individual does not usually engage in when he/she is part of a group, where members tend to conform to culturally accepted behaviour. • Because the internet is a place where legitimate business is conducted alongside illegal trade, it has the ability to confuse a user about the legality of certain activities or products that can be purchased or obtained. 45
  46. 46. Porn, internet and youth vulnerability(6) 46 • Internet based businesses that promote any illegal or illicit sexual activity contribute to the confusion of teens who may decide to initiate such activity or be less likely to resist adult pressure to participate even when they really don’t want to engage in sexual activity. • For students and teens, however, who have a history or abuse and live in stressful and chaotic environments where money is often earned through criminal or illicit activity, the Web represents even greater danger—it can provide validation and support to a teen who is already struggling or pressured to engage in sex for money.
  47. 47. Statistics and youth vulnerability (in the USA) 47 child sexual exploitation have risen from 4,573 in 1998 to 112,083 in 2004
  48. 48. Internet statistics on porn (2) 48
  49. 49. Statistics continued • there were 1.3 million pornographic websites; 260 million pages (N2H2, 2003). • The total porn industry revenue for 2006: $13.3 billion in the United States; $97 billion worldwide (Internet Filter Review). • Unique worldwide users visiting adult web sites monthly: 72 million (Internet Filter Review). • Number of hardcore pornography titles released in 2005 (U.S.): 13,588 (Internet Filter Review). • Adults admitting to Internet sexual addiction: 10%; 28% of those are women (Internet Filter Review). • More than 70% of men from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month (comScore Media Metrix). • More than 20,000 images of child pornography posted online every week (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 10/8/03). • Approximately 20% of all Internet pornography involves children (National Center for Mission & Exploited Children). • 100,000 websites offer illegal child pornography (U.S. Customs Service estimate). • In 2005, child pornography was a $3 billion annual industry (Internet Filter Review). 49
  50. 50. Statistics for the USA continued • Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography: 11 years old (Internet Filter Review). • Largest consumer of Internet pornography: 12 - 17 year-old age group (various sources, 2007). • Adult industry says traffic is 20-30% children (NRC Report 2002, 3.3). • 1 in 7 children who use the internet have been sexually solicated - 2005. (Internet Filter Review) • 76% of victims in Net-initiated sexual exploitation cases were 13-15, 75% were girls. • "Most cases progressed to sexual encounters" - 93% of the face-to-face meetings involved illegal sex (Journal of Adolescent Health, November 2004). 50
  51. 51. Child prostitution in Jamaica and vulnerability to formal pornography • Categories of Child Sex Workers – street children and working children. small boys, between the ages of 6 and 17 years. Some who were involved in sex work were as young as 12 years old. • Most were from very poor backgrounds and were out of school, although a few attended school irregularly. Lack of support and protection from family or friends, as well as extreme economic deprivation, made them open to exploitation and abuse. Their main clients were adult homosexual males and, to a lesser extent, female prostitutes. Inability to meet their basic needs made these children desperate and often reduced their ability to bargain with ‘clients’. • There were several cases reported of boys engaging in sexual intercourse in exchange for a basic meal of a patty and box drink. Jamaica's strong homophobic culture also means that boys involved in homosexual relations are more invisible and therefore less accessible for rehabilitation and support. 51
  52. 52. Does child pornography exist in Jamaica? Yes /no...but • Children involved in formal prostitution comprised the second category of child sex workers who are not street children. The majority of these were girls, but boys were also involved, primarily in homosexual relations. • Some girls worked in the traditional prostitution sector, operating from established or informal brothels, while others worked from bars, massage parlours or go-go clubs. • A few girls estimated to be as young as 10 and 11 years were found working as prostitutes in tourist areas. • BUT......Internet usage and access in Jamaica is approx. 78% of the total population 14-65. 52
  53. 53. But.... • There has been an increase in the circulation of pornographic recordings - whether by cellphone or email - showing persons, particularly schoolchildren, having sex. • In 2008, an video surfaced depicting two students at a Jamaican high school engaged in a sexual act. The amateur video, which appears to have been recorded with a cellphone by another student, had been circulating via the Internet for several weeks. • The Gleaner first reported the seriousness of the problem in 2006 after a video, featuring a group of boys sexually assaulting a young schoolgirl under the supervision of a church deacon, was brought to the newspaper's attention. • The current patterns in dancehall tend towards sexual explictness and HARDCORE sex. Vybz kartel, Spice, Pamputay etc. ; and the concurrent influence this has on the youth, normalizes the greater possibilities of porn and child porn. 53
  54. 54. Child pornography act 2009 • The legislation makes commercial sexual exploitation of children a criminal offence and will apply to the production, possession, importation, exportation and distribution of child pornography. • Penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment and fines as high as J$500,000 (US$5,622) are included in the legislation. Jamaica currently had no law which specifically treats with or recognises child pornography as a distinct criminal offence. • The offences dealt with in the Bill include: visual presentations with children engaged in sexual activities; audio recordings or written material that has, as its dominant characteristic, the de scription, presentation or representation, for a sexual purpose, sexual activity with a child; and any visual representation, audio recording or written material that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a child. • Thus the new act now covers the new digital environment and use of the internet. 54
  55. 55. References • Dunn, Leith, Child Prostitution In Jamaica, ILO Rapid Assessment. • Guinn, David E.,”Pornography, Prostitution and International Sex Trafficking: Mapping the Terrain” (February 16, 2006). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=885389. • Gustavo S. Mesch, “Social bonds and Internet pornographic exposure among adolescents”. Journal of Adolescence 32 (2009) 601e618. • McKee, Alan. “Positive and negative effects of pornography as attributed by consumers”, Australian Journal of Communication 34(1):pp. 87-104. (2007) • Ropelato, Jerry , Internet Pornography Statistics. http://internet-filter- review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html • Zook, Matthew A. Underground globalization: mapping the space of flows of the internet adult industry. Journal of Environment and planning, 2003, volume 24. • West, Caroline, “Pornography and Censorship", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2003 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2003/entries/davidson/>. 55

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