Feminist Parenting About Sexuality Part 2 – pornography by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

As I said in Part 1 – this topic will be difficult to discuss. As I said, I promise I AM NOT SAYING ALL MEN ARE BAD. Please re-read Part 1 if this post causes you to feel defensive or protective toward males.

Unfortunately, we live in a deeply, horrifically misogynist culture. Our culture is so dystopian that it has normalized a mass butchery of violence against females. I can say these words, and most people either nod or look skeptical, but they don’t actually understand what I am talking about. People do not understand because they have so normalized horrific misogynist violence – they have been so brainwashed – that they cannot recognize brutal attacks against women, even when those attacks are right before their eyes… or happen to their own bodies.

Our culture is also viciously racist. But violent racism is normalized differently from violent misogyny, so while most people (especially white people) do not perceive the horrifying dystopian racism in our society, some kinds of racism have become unacceptable. This analysis can help the invisible misogyny become visible.

Let me give some examples: (****Trigger warning! Graphic misogynist and racist violence!****)

Imagine a genre of videos whose main point was to portray black people as subhuman recipients of abuse, degradation, and violence. These videos depict white people beating, whipping, abusing, injuring, torturing, and imprisoning black children and adults, and speaking to them with racist slurs and degrading, dehumanizing insults. Imagine that the black adults and children are portrayed as either screaming in pain, begging for mercy, or claiming through blood, bruises, and tears that they deserve and/or enjoy the abuse. Imagine learning that many of these videos use unwilling victims who were either tricked/lured into these video jobs because of their poverty, or kidnapped. In addition, imagine a real-life situation in which a black woman agrees to sex with a white man, but partway through the sex, as he is penetrating her, the man suddenly, without warning, begins to call her his <racist slur> slave and to whip her.

Do you think most people would recognize that this genre of videos is obviously horribly wrong, unethical, harmful, and toxic? Even if occasional black people in the videos gave interviews saying they liked being in these videos, they found it “empowering,” and they didn’t mind the violence? Do you think most people would understand that while the (real life) woman had consented to sex, she had never consented to racist verbal or physical violence? Would they understand that the consensual sex had changed into nonconsensual rape?

When we apply these same standards to the genre of videos whose main point is to portray females as subhuman recipients of abuse, degradation, and violence, which depict males beating, whipping, abusing, and imprisoning female children and adults, speaking to them with misogynist slurs and degrading demeaning insults… in which female adults and children are portrayed as either screaming in pain, begging for mercy, or saying they deserve and enjoy the abuse… in which many of these videos use unwilling female victims who were either tricked/lured into these video jobs because of their poverty, or kidnapped/trafficked… Or a situation in which a man and woman have sex, but in the middle of the sex, suddenly the man starts calling her misogynist slurs, or treating her body in ways that cause pain or injury… ?

Modern liberal communities are so eager to reject toxic “purity culture” (for good reasons!) that they have gone too far: liberals have allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by the exploitative, profitable rape industry. The porn/trafficking industry trots out the occasional actor who insists she enjoys these violent scenes, when in reality these girls and women suffer permanent injuries, lasting trauma, and rampant infection.  Our misogynist culture has normalized abuse of females so thoroughly that anyone to who does not nod, shrug, and mutter the word “choice,” invites an avalanche of criticism for such fictional oppressions as “kinkshaming.” (Please do click through and read the excellent article about how the idea of “kinkshaming” has ended up supporting a vast array of violence and letting an increasing number of men get away with murdering their female sexual partners during sex.)

Oh, and speaking of the first genre of videos I described— the one about depicting black people suffering from racist violence and abuse? It is a real, very popular genre… of PORN. Somehow, if something gives a man an orgasm, we are not allowed to question. Even if the thing he finds arousing is horrifying violence, we are all supposed to prioritize his orgasm above every other consideration.

The true human cost of porn is the mass butchery of females. If you can handle graphically violent descriptions, read these survivor accounts or these other survivor accounts from former female porn actors, who describe the reasons these vulnerable girls and women end up suicidal, suffering from long term trauma, injury, and addictions.

Not only does porn fuel the rape trafficking industry and destroy the lives of countless exploited girls and women, it trains men to rape girls and women. Porn trains men to rape by teaching men to feel increasingly aroused by the experience of raping females — either because the porn is of the highly popular “rape porn” genre, or because the porn depicts girls and women who are pretending to enjoy something they find uncomfortable, upsetting, or painful (or are drugged to make them act compliant despite the pain). This excellent article describes how porn trains men to be terrible at sex because men cannot properly understand female pleasure or female cues of pain. This meticulously researched essay by Diana Russell details exactly how pornography causes men to find rape increasingly arousing and to move from simple arousal to rape behaviors. This nonprofit organization contains more research on how widespread pornography use is, and how it is training generations of men to rape girls and women.

The worst news of all is that the vast majority of men (especially men under 35) are watching a lot of porn, on a regular basis, and it is extremely violent content. For more details on what boys and men are watching regularly (disturbing and graphic, though!) read this excellent article. The article also describes exactly how capitalism has shaped this entire public health crisis by commodifying female bodies and training our culture to support this dehumanizing commodification.

So, there you have it. Most men and boys are, on a regular basis, watching the filmed torture and degradation of girls and women, which eroticizes brutal misogyny, destroys the bodies and lives of the females tricked, trapped, or kidnapped into participating, and trains the boys and men to be rapists. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. As I said, we live in a misogynist dystopian nightmare. Feminist parenting — if it is going to be worth anything at all — must accept that the landscape is unbearably, sickeningly horrifying. If we cannot accept that basic truth, our parenting will be laughably weak and ineffectual.

I hope you’ve been able to take this next step with me, painful though it be. Let’s keep going, for the sake of our children.

[This post is part of an ongoing series.]

Bio

Trelawney Grenfell-Muir teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.



Categories: abuse, parenting, Patriarchy, Racism, Rape, Rape Culture, Sex Work, Sexism, Violence, Violence Against Women, Women's Voices

Tags: , , ,

11 replies

  1. Oh Trelawney – I did not know – which makes me complicit – thank you for writing and linking all the articles and evidence – trying to process….

    Like

  2. “People do not understand because they have so normalized horrific misogynist violence” willfully or not. This is the root of these horrors.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, I most definitely do not ‘like’ it. But I hit ‘like’ because I like that you are speaking of it which is the first step towards healing it. Will share on the divine feminine app as well. Thank you.

    Like

  4. Thank you, again, for your powerful Post and bravery. The concept of “women have the right to do whatever they want sexually” / it is their right and choice takes on pathological meaning if we do not consider how we women and girls are raised to understand and express our sexuality in this culture. When females are so divided from our own sexual authenticity/humanity by the very design of western culture that was crafted to destroy it, how can ANYONE truly say they are making a “free choice” when it comes to sexual expression?

    Like

    • You’ve asked a great, philosophical question, Stephanie. What does freedom to choose really mean when all of us have been enculturated (and accepted as “the norm”) any number of ways of being in the world? I don’t know if there is “the answer” to the question, but certainly an awareness that we (humans) act in a wide variety of ways is an important concept to keep in mind. Asking the questions (thinking critically) is crucial–something that takes us in the direction of making “better” (freedom and dignity, liberty and justice for all) decisions.

      Like

  5. Thank you for this brutally honest heads-up for all of us. I have been troubled about this issue since the 1970s when feminists were ridiculed as prudes because we disapproved of violent pornography–and it’s gotten so much worse over the years. Not to mention that young men (my grandsons) are so much more readily exposed to the worst of it. How will they resist? And once initiated into the worst of it, it’s inside a person’s head and mind, having extremely negative effects on developing sexuality. Once you link sexuality to violence (especially for all persons flooded with testosterone) it is almost impossible to unbraid the two. I’m very worried about our young people and this ugly slippery slope facing them. Sexuality is sacred and precious, at the heart of the Goddess path. How shall we protect it from becoming extinct?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. As a feminist from the 80’s onwards all I can say to you is keep on speaking out. The walls opposing you are almost insurmountable. They have been for a very long time. But every now and then a brick falls out and a woman sees the truth. That is the hope that keeps us chipping away.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yikes! to quote Carol. I read posts in reverse date order today and just read Laura Montoya’s post of how women [protesters] are being treated in Columbia – abused, raped and murdered in full view with no regard to consequences, no shame, no ethics, no morality, no basic decent human kindness. (I put protesters in parentheses because some of the women were not even protesting.)

    It is all horrifying. Thank you for the consciousness raising. It is so needed.

    Like

  8. Thank you for your willingness to study, research, and report on just how bad this situation is. That is heavy lifting on behalf of us all and all our children. I know it takes a toll on you. I know you have ways to grieve and release this burden to the Everlasting Arms. I just want to name the burden it is, and thank you for your courage, grit, and faithfulness.

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  9. Heh, as the Mama of a 15 year old, I’m plagued by the culture she is living in these days. So many of her girlfriends are drawn to same sex relationships, I think, because their male cohorts are just so overtly aggressive regarding the normalization of their need for sex over all else, that justifies the total objectification of the female sex. These are bad times for girls. What is the answer? I do not know…..just very sad about all.

    Like

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