Rape Myths in Pornography, and the Book Club

Trigger Warning

What follows are some rape myths that are commonly found in pornography. The selection is taken from _Pornland_ by Gail Dines p 97-98 (emphasis mine).

“Rape Myth: Women don’t know their own minds; men know what women really want and need sexually.
Porn Example: “Lystra is homesick and wants to move back to Korea. Professor Lawrence knows what’s best for his best students—like his cock inside her moist, little hole.”

Rape Myth: A woman might not want it at first, but once she gets a taste of hot sex, she can’t get enough.
Porn Example: “Katie was a bit reluctant at first, but after two hard cocks stretched her tight ass wide open she screamed with joy.”

Rape myth: Women are by nature sexually manipulative.
Porn Example: “Jaclyn Case is pretty smart about how she tricks boys into coming over and giving IT to her. She’s also pretty specific about how she wants her pussy serviced.”

Rape Myth: Women are sluts who get what they deserve.
Porn Example: “Gia is a nasty little whore that can’t seem to get enough cock. We make sure this slut gets what she deserves and more!”

Rape Myth: All woman are whores at heart and want to be fucked by any available man.
Porn Example: “Vanessa might seem like a sweet girl, but deep inside, she’s a whore wanting big white dick.”

Not every man who uses porn will swallow these rape myths whole. To argue such a point does not account for the variations that exist among users and would reduce the effects debate to one effect- rape. But what anti-porn feminists are saying is that such myths promote a culture that will affect men in myriad ways: some will rape but many more will beg, nag, cajole their partners into sex or certain sex acts, and more still will lose interest in sex with other human beings. Some will use women and disregard them when done, some will be critical of their partner’s looks and performance, and many will see women as one-dimensional sex objects who are less deserving of respect and dignity than men, both in and out of the bedroom. Whatever the effect, men cannot walk away from these images unchanged.

My book club is reading _Pornland_, and had a remarkably positive response it, and even asked to cover it again at the next meeting. I had expected some fun-feminist protestations, like “what about feminist porn?” or “porn for prisoners!“. But instead, I participated in an amazing conversation with fabulous women who *got* the harms of pornography, and understood the damaging cultural messages it propagates. They saw that the messages above are harmful lies about women, and that anyone who consumes these messages regularly will be affected. They understood that this doesn’t mean they are “anti-sex”. As Dines says,

Now to assume that if you are against pornography you’re against sex, is to assume that anyone who criticizes McDonald’s is anti-eating. People who criticize McDonald’s are against the destruction of the environment, against the assault on healthy foods, and against child obesity. They are against an industrial product. They are not against eating. So why can’t they see that it is the same thing when it comes to pornography and sex?

These women in my group do not identify as radical feminists. However, the truth about the harms of pornography was clear to them. It is clear that the academic/funfeminist discourses around pornography are counter-intuitive, and are patriarchal reversals. Women who have not been brainwashed *can* see how harmful this material is.

I am motivated to speak to women in the community about how pornography hijacks our sexuality and sells it back to us. I have new hope that someone out there will listen. At the same time, I am *worn out* talking about this subject. Dines and many others are so amazing to be able to fight so hard against something so awful. I’m rather exhausted on the topic, which is why post doesn’t really contain much analysis. Sorry folks- reporting is all I’ve got today.

About smash
Women's liberationist.

8 Responses to Rape Myths in Pornography, and the Book Club

  1. Mary Sunshine says:

    Smash, I know exactly how you feel. I feel the same way.

  2. madradfab says:

    Thank you for mentioning this book. It sounds incredibly useful.

  3. Julie says:

    This post is awesome! Every time I post a porn-culture-critical article on my Facebook, there’s someone who just doesn’t. fucking. get it. Maybe this is finally clear enough for everyone to understand…

    • smash says:

      It is refreshing to see some people get it. At the same time, so many people don’t that it’s disheartening. We must stand up against pornography (among other things)- it is time to be very clear that we won’t tolerate it anymore.

      I post porn-critical articles on my fbook as well, and I rarely get any push-back. I believe that is because people filter me so they don’t see my items in their newsfeed. Maybe some are reading, and listening though-especially women. Maybe some women will realize that they don’t have to tolerate porn use from their partners.

      I did get one hyper-emotional response on facebook from a porn user, and it was fun to point out how testerical he got defending his precious pornography. Hello, MAN, welcome to proving my point for me. 🙂

  4. ball buster says:

    Your post perfectly illustrates how pr0n actually promotes rape, and the psychological power dynamic men use to facilitate it. There is nothing liberating or positive about women as a class being portrayed as rape fodder, or fetishized because of their race or body size.

    And I completely agree that women should NEVER be expected to acquiesce to their partner’s use of pr0n, ever. It’s clearly and specifically dehumanizes women and there is no healthy reason to tolerate it ever. Only rationalizations of male entitlements can excuse such behavior.

    IMO women are emotionally blackmailed to accept their partner’s pr0n use, because the men who use it are already so far entrenched in the rape mentality they see nothing wrong with thrusting their habits on a woman who is rightfully disgusted by it. It’s bad enough that our bodies are the target of rape and violence, men also inflict this kind of mental and emotional violence upon as well; out of their own gratuitous self-importance.

  5. MistressofBoogie says:

    Pornland is pretty convincing stuff I think and is the kind of book – choc full of facts but easy to read – which can really change people’s minds. I’ve found that the biggest single factor in women refusing to challenge porn is this thing that if you don’t like porn, you don’t like sex – i.e. you are no FUN! – feminists seem to really currently be losing the PR battle on that one, not helped of course by pro-porn feminists calling themselves ‘sex-positive’. It’s a real shame because, as you’ve pointed out, once the difference between being anti-porn and anti-sex is pointed out, women happily embrace an anti-porn stance because they can finally speak out about something which they’ve felt, um, uncomfortable with (what is that degradation of women about exactly?)…and still be FUN!! Not dried up old prunes. Or something.

  6. Pingback: Pornland « some of this must be true

  7. Jennie says:

    Pornography and prostitution is PAID RAPE! Women do these JOBS because they need MONEY to survive in a money-based society. Pornography is legal paid rape on camera and prostitution is illegal paid rape behind closed doors. The world’s oldest profession for women, men say? That is sexist and wrong. Men will always pay for it (porn or prostitution) because they can’t keep that little evil worm in their pants..I am never getting married to a man-I’ll be a quote “spinster” with a zoo in her house or hopefully find the right Rad Fem woman for me who understands how I feel about patriarchy at large. The good news is that we don’t have to let men in our homes!! At least we can do THAT! We can choose to have no male friends as well. Thanks again for this blog, Smash! Keep kicking ass!

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