In the aftermath of the Stanford rape case, in which convicted rapist Brock Turner received a sentence of only six months in jail and three years of probation, the national dialogue on campus sexual assault has been tragically re-ignited.
Understandably, this case has left many wondering what factors might have contributed to this crime.
It must be asserted again, and again, that the ultimate cause of every rape is the rapist’s decision to violate and harm another for their own pleasure. There is no excuse, and no way to shift the blame.
However, in an effort to prevent future cases of sexual assault, it is vital to recognize that porn culture is feeding rape culture on college campuses.
How do we know? Well, aside from the research and countless personal anecdotes, the pornography industry is blowing the whistle on itself.
The pornographic website xHamster recently announced that it is instituting what it calls the “Brock Turner Rule,” blocking any videos depicting rape or non-consensual sex, in an effort to discourage its viewers from acting out on those themes.
It makes sense that pornography depicting rape sends harmful messages about the importance of consent. But the truth is that the negative impact of pornography on sexual assault doesn’t stop there.
All genres of porn, not only those simulating rape, perpetuate rape.
A 2011 study published in Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity analyzed the effects of pornography use on sexual attitudes and behaviors of fraternity college men. It found that 83% of those who used “mainstream” pornography expressed greater intent to commit rape, should they be assured they wouldn’t get caught.
This change in attitude towards rape among college-aged men remained consistent across all genres of pornography. Men who used sadomasochistic- and rape-themed pornography were significantly more likely to report belief in rape myths.
Further, even in mainstream pornography, many performers experience coercion.
Pornography performers have reported that if they protested against doing something in a scene, they were often threatened with physical abuse or other forms intimidation and manipulation. During filming it is common for performers to be given drugs and alcohol in order to keep the scenes going regardless of the physical trauma to the women’s bodies. Despite signing contracts restricting which acts they were or were not willing to perform, many performers report the contracts were ignored, or they were pressured into performing the exact acts they didn’t want to do. Even when a pornographic scene is not intended to simulate non-consensual acts, it may depict an individual who is being coerced in real life.
Pornography makes women ‘rape-ready’ in the mind of its users, because it portrays conquering and using female bodies as the ideal display of masculinity.
The only suitable course of action for xHamster, and the myriad of pornography sites like it, is to shut-down immediately. It’s time for colleges, and culture at large, to address the linke between pornography and rape.