Violent Porn Inspired Copycat in UK Sexual Assault Case and He’s Not an Anomaly

There is a prevailing message in pornography that people welcome aggressive actions, particularly in a sexual context. This message supports a connection between pornography and sexual violence because the medium is likely to influence viewers to commit sexual violence. A recent investigation into an attempted sexual assault demonstrates the influence that pornography can have on acts of violence.      

On September 8th, 2019, Lizzie Dearden, a Home Affairs Correspondent for The Independent, reported on an attempted sexual assault case where the perpetrator allegedly attempted to reenact the violence he viewed in pornographic videos. 

Dearden shared that on the early morning of April 27, 2018, the perpetrator, Jamel Nwokoye, stalked and assaulted a 28-year-old woman near the entrance of Shoreditch Park. Dearden reported that Nwokoye dragged the victim into the park after grabbing the victim’s hair. Then, Dearden revealed that Nwokoye kicked and punched the victim after the victim resisted the assault.  

In their investigation, Dearden reported, the police found that his phone contained “an ‘excessive’ history of extreme pornography depicting forced sex and violence towards women.” There’s little doubt that Nwokoye’s access to these pornographic videos possibly influenced the motive and means of his attempted assault.

Unfortunately, aggressive and violent porn is not a fringe tangent among the pornography industry’s products. In fact, it is one of the most popular and common themes. A study that reviewed aggression in popular pornographic videos reported that “popular pornographic videos contain high levels of both verbal and physical aggression.” The report explained that the aggressive actions in the popular videos include actions such as the kicking, punching, and hair pulling that Nwokoye used in his assault.

While the victim in the Nwokoye assault resisted the attack, defiance is not often depicted in pornographic content. Specifically, the study’s researchers discovered that 95.1% of the “targets” in these videos responded to aggression with “either expressions of pleasure […] or neutrally.” The researchers argued that these depicted reactions in pornography teach viewers “that aggression during a sexual encounter is pleasure enhancing.” 

Eran Shor, a Professor of Sociology at McGill University, has studied the impact of pornography on the youth. Shor explains that “individuals learn various behaviors by observing others” and that pornography “may influence their [viewers’] sexual fantasies and behaviors.” Shor explained that the “sexual dominance” depicted in porn “increases the risk of rendering aggression against women normative and invisible.” 

Schor explained that a large portion of pornography also portrays “reinforce[s] the idea that women desire and deprive pleasure from aggressive and degrading sexual practices” because porn depicts intrusive sex as “consensual.” 

As discovered in those studies, pornography has a strong connection with sexual violence because mainstream pornography offers viewers a positive outlook on aggressive behaviors during sex. 

Like other public health issues, not all exposed to pornography have the same response. However, for many, repeated exposure and use is correlated to problematic sexual behaviors that can lead to sexually aggressive and violent behaviors, as well as porn-induced erectile dysfunction, divorce or failed relationships, increased STI rates, and more.

To learn more about the public health harms of pornography, visit endsexualexploitation.org/publichealth

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