Violence and Pornography



Pornography -- Sex or Subordination?



In the late Seventies, America became shocked and outraged by the rape, mutilation, and murder of over a dozen young, beautiful girls. The man who committed these murders, Ted Bundy, was later apprehended and executed. During his detention in various penitentiaries, he was mentally probed and prodded by psychologist and psychoanalysts hoping to discover the root of his violent actions and sexual frustrations. Many theories arose in attempts to explain the motivational factors behind his murderous escapades. However, the strongest and most feasible of these theories came not from the psychologists, but from the man himself, "as a teenager, my buddies and I would all sneak around and watch porn. As I grew older, I became more and more interested and involved in it, [pornography] became an obsession. I got so involved in it, I wanted to incorporate [porn] into my life, but I couldn?t behave like that and maintain the success I had worked so hard for. I generated an alter-ego to fulfill my fantasies under-cover. Pornography was a means of unlocking the evil I had burried inside myself" (Leidholdt 47). Is it possible that pornography is acting as the key to unlocking the evil in more unstable minds?

According to Edward Donnerstein, a leading researcher in the pornography field, "the relationship between sexually violent images in the media and subsequent aggression and . . . callous attitudes towards women is much stonger statistically than the relationship between smoking and cancer" (Itzin 22). After considering the increase in rape and molestation, sexual harassment, and other sex crimes over the last few decades, and also the corresponding increase of business in the pornography industry, the link between violence and pornogrpahy needs considerable study and examination. Once the evidence you will encounter in this paper is evaluated and quantified, it will be hard not come away with the realization that habitual use of pornographic material promotes unrealistic and unattainable desires in men that can leac to violent behavior toward women.

In order to properly discuss pornography, and be able to link it to violence, we must first come to a basic and agreeable understanding of what the word pornography means. The term pornogrpahy originates from two greek words, porne, which means harlot, and graphein, which means to write (Webster?s 286). My belief is that the combination of the two words was originally meant to describe, in literature, the sexual escapades of women deemed to be whores. As time has passed, this definition of pornography has grown to include any and all obscene literature and pictures. At the present date, the term is basically a blanket which covers all types of material such as explicit literature, photography, films, and video tapes with varying degrees of sexual content.

For Catherine Itzin?s research purposes pornogrpahy has been divided into three categories: The sexually explicit and violent; the sexually explicit and nonviolent, but subordinating and dehumanizing; and the sexually explicit, nonviolent, and nonsubordinating that is based upon mutuality. The sexually explicit and violent is graphic, showing penetration and ejaculation. Also, it shows the violent act toward a woman. The second example shows the graphic sexual act and climax, but not a violent act. This example shows the woman being dressed is a costume or being ?talked down? to in order to reduce her to something not human; such as a body part or just something to have sex with, a body opening or an orifice. Not only does ?erotica? show the entire graphic sexual act, it also depicts an attraction between two people. Her research consistently shows that harmful effects are associated with the first two, but that the third ?erotica?, is harmless (22). These three categories basically exist as tools of discerning content. Although sometimes they overlap without a true distinction, as in when the film is graphic in the sexual act and also in violence, but shows the act as being a mutual activity between the people participating.

In my view, to further divide pornography, it is possible to break it down into even simpler categories: soft and hard core pornography. Hard core pornography is a combination of the sexually explicit and violent and the sexually explicit and nonviolent, but subordinating and dehumanizing categories, previously discussed. Soft core pornography is thought to be harmless and falls into the category known as ?erotica?; which is the category based on mutuality. In hard core pornogrpahy,