published at Feminist Current June 13, 2016
Rape culture is porn culture in 2016 — the two are indistinguishable. Since Hustler famously turned Cheryl Araujo’s 1983 gang rape, on a pool table in Massachusetts as other men watched, into porn, rape culture and porn culture have been merged, quite literally, by pornographers. We could place bets on how many days it will be until porn users are offered pornography themed on the Stanford rape case.
Consequently, it’s not unfathomable that the average porn user and Stanford rapist Brock Turner share similarities in how they have learned to pursue sexual gratification.
People who masturbate with porn largely think they’re better people than the Stanford rapist, but are they? Let’s examine the possibilities of anti-rape porn users sexually consuming the products of prostitution with integrity.
Both the Stanford rapist and men who use porn believe some women are there for the sexual taking, no questions asked. Like Turner, porn users stumble across drugged up, barely conscious-to-unconscious women and assume consent. Testimony from the porn industry confirms intoxication is ubiquitous during production, and even Hollywood actresses like Jennifer Lawrence often admit to using alcohol or pharmaceuticals to get through simulated sex scenes.
Neither Turner nor porn consumers could possibly get sober consent from the bodies they masturbated themselves with, but that hasn’t stopped them.
Porn users and Turner are similarly confident no one will know precisely how they’re getting off, and if details are made public they’re embarrassed by the loss of privacy and shamed by people’s judgments. Liberal feminists who defend pornography as freedom of speech often divulge intimate details of their sex lives and pubic hair grooming while adamantly refusing to name the porn they personally consume. Husbands notoriously keep their porn secret from their sex partners, and divorces commonly result after wives find out what their husbands have been doing when they thought no one would see.
Brock’s victim wrote that, while in the hospital, she “had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs.” Do porn users truly understand what she meant by including that detail? Perhaps some readers thought it “whorephobic” of her to imply there’s something inherently violating about having your genitals photographed.
News reports have revealed Turner took at least one photo of the victim’s breasts after the assault that he shared with friends via text, illustrating again the seamless fusion of rape culture and porn culture. Porn consumers have no way of knowing if the images they’ve seen were captured during rape.
The victim’s letter said no one wants to have sex behind a dumpster, not even with their boyfriend, but why should porn users believe that? There’s plenty of porn showing women fucked behind dumpsters, bent over dumpsters, inside dumpsters. The term “cum dumpster” is so common in porn that Turner himself has almost surely encountered it in his pornographic viewings, along with “jizz guzzler,” “cum bucket,” and “cocksocket.” Porn users don’t ask themselves if they would accept having sex in the gross places the women they stumble across on the internet are presented as accepting.
Turner said he didn’t know the name of the woman on the ground beneath him. How many porn users do you think know Jenna Jameson’s real last name is Massoli? Most porn users couldn’t even tell you the fake name of the last porn actress they masturbated themselves to while watching her be prostituted. The voyeuristic consumption of anonymous women’s sex is considered completely normal.
Pine needles up the vagina is downright wholesome compared to the things men have shoved inside women to make porn (multiple penises, animal penises, feces, etc), but the same common-sense-conscience porn users admonish Turner for not employing doesn’t get applied to porn.
Like Turner’s victim, women in porn will retain no memories of specific porn users getting themselves off with their bodies. Many prostituted women who have had their rapes filmed said it affects their lives to know their suffering is remembered and continually masturbated to by men who have seen their naked bodies and what was inflicted upon them in the name of “sex.”
The victim’s statement includes a reference to popular porn series Girls Gone Wild: “To listen to your attorney attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild [sic], as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me.”
Through all my years of anti-prostitution activism, the idea that prostituted women are wild girls who willingly put themselves into what everyone knows is a dangerous situation remains the most common excuse porn users make. Turner and porn users both insist their belief that, “She wanted it” makes the “it” she got the “it” she should have expected to get and, therefore, her fault.
Everyone wants to believe they would be like the Swedish bicyclists in this story, but porn users haven’t shown a willingness to intervene in what they’ve seen so far. Before those Swedes stopped and acted, there were likely a few people who walked along the path, saw what was happening, and found excuses not to intervene. Those of us who choose to interfere with pornographic sexual exploitation no longer watch porn.
If there are any porn users reading this, here’s an experiment for your next pornsturbation session: Ask yourself the question you expected Brock Turner to ask: “How can I know for sure if this woman has genuinely consented to this sexual activity?” If you don’t know more about the women in front of you than the Stanford rapist knew about the woman in front of him, consider how porn culture might be influencing your ostensible anti-rape culture ethics.
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