writing by renee

By Deidra Sullivan: Dear Women’s March Organisers – Name the Problem of Pornography

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This letter can be edited or sent as is to Women’s March organisers in your area. Suggested Subject line heading: Name the problem: Pornography is male sexual violence against women.

Dear Women’s March organizers,

Thank you for the time, energy and effort you have put into organizing the women’s march initiative, and in advocating for women’s right to be free from male violence in all aspects of our lives. The strength and power we collectively gained from the January 2017 march was inspirational.

This year, I implore you to specifically name the sexual violence committed by men against women in pornography as part of the problem. We cannot separate the violence committed against women in pornography (and prostitution) from domestic violence, stranger violence, or other forms of sexual violence perpetrated against women. To identify this violence is not to blame women for the situations they are in: it is to identify and hold accountable the men who commit and perpetuate this sexual violence through their support of the pornography industry.

Bridges et al (2010) found that 88.2% of popular pornography contains physical violence, and that 94.4% of that violence is committed against women. Sun et al (2016) argue that the more a user watches a particular media script, (i.e., pornography) “the more embedded those codes of behavior become in their worldview and the more likely they are to use those scripts to act upon real life experiences.” They argue “pornography creates a sexual script that then guides sexual experiences.” What these studies indicate is that internet pornography frames sexualized violence as ‘normal’ and that consumption of pornography shapes male and female sexual expectations and behaviors. The implications for women are horrific.

These studies, and recent research by Gail Dines, Robert Jensen, Suzzan Blac, Melinda Tankard Reist and others, demonstrate internet pornography is creating a generation of male porn users who find sexual violence arousing and require increasingly extreme pornography to gain ‘satisfaction.’

At the same time, Pornhub’s ‘Sexual Wellness Centre director’ and resident ‘sex therapist’ Dr Laurie Betito recently said data indicating more women watch porn suggests “women were now more empowered in all areas of life…. 2017 seems to have been the year where women have come forward to express their desires more openly…. women are feeling more empowered and they have found their voice”. Pornhub employing a woman to espouse their propaganda is disingenuous, and I also take issue with Dr Betito’s notion of ‘empowerment’. Popular Pornhub searches include: ‘punished teens’, ‘exploited teens’, ‘painal’, ‘ass to mouth’, ‘crying anal’, ‘crying gangbang’, ‘facial abuse’, ‘abused teen fuck’, ‘abused schoolgirl’. How is this ‘empowering’? Did Dr Betito get her qualification from a cereal packet? Is she delusional?

Telling women that their pain and humiliation is synonymous with ‘empowerment’ is nothing more than gaslighting. It is grooming women to accept sexual subservience; it is naturalizing sexual violence. The ubiquity of violent pornography teaches men that sexual violence against women is exciting and teaches women that men’s sexual violence against them is inevitable.

We need to start naming the problem, and certainly, women’s march organizers have that responsibility. Please name the problem, and identify porn violence as sexual violence against women in the upcoming women’s marches. Men who consume pornography are bolstering and perpetuating a trade in violence against women, and they are significantly more likely to commit sexual violence themselves. This is evident in our homes, our communities and our high schools, where girls are under more pressure than ever – we can no longer afford to ignore this issue.
● Encourage women to signpost it.
● Encourage women to fight against it.
● Tell men we won’t accept it.

Yours sincerely,

YOUR NAME HERE

Suggested reading:

Dines, G. (2010). Pornland: How porn has hijacked our sexuality. Boston: Beacon Press.

Jensen, R. (2007). Getting off: Pornography and the end of masculinity. Cambridge, MA: South End Press. http://robertwjensen.org/…/02/Getting-Off-by-Robert-Jensen.…

Reist, M.T. and Abigail Bray (eds). (2011). Big Porn Inc: Exposing the harms of the global pornography industry. North Melbourne, Vic: Spinifex Press.

Bridges, A, et al. (2010). Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update. Violence Against Women. Vol 16, Issue 10, pp. 1065 – 1085: https://www.researchgate.net/…/47566223_Aggression_and_Sexu…

Sun, C et al. (2016). Pornography and the Male Sexual Script: An Analysis of Consumption and Sexual Relations. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 2016 May; 45(4), 983-94.

Email addresses:

United States:
tamika@womensmarch.com TAMIKA D. MALLORY, CO-PRESIDENT
bob@womensmarch.com BOB BLAND, CO-PRESIDENT
carmen@womensmarch.com CARMEN PEREZ, TREASURER
Linda@womensmarch.com LINDA SARSOUR, ASSISTANT TREASURER
janaye@womensmarch.com JANAYE INGRAM, SECRETARY
breanne@womensmarch.com BREANNE BUTLER, DIRECTOR OF STATES & GLOBAL
mrinalini@womensmarch.com MRINALINI CHAKRABORTY, HEAD OF FIELD OPERATIONS & STRATEGY
emma@womensmarch.com EMMA COLLUM, HEAD OF FIELD OPERATIONS & STRATEGY
mariam@womensmarch.com MARIAM EHRARI, HEAD OF OPERATIONS & PARTNERSHIPS
cassady@womensmarch.com CASSADY FENDLAY, HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS
alyssa@womensmarch.com ALYSSA KLEIN, HEAD OF SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
sophie@womensmarch.com SOPHIE ELLMAN-GOLAN, DEPUTY HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS
jackson@womensmarch.com JACKSON HYLAND-LIPSKI, HEAD OF WEB DEVELOPMENT

United Kingdom:
womensmarchlondon@gmail.com
womensmarchpress@gmail.com
womensmarchvolunteers@gmail.com

Canada:
michelle@womensmarchcanada.com Michelle Brewer, Executive Director
sara@womensmarchcanada.com Sarah Bingham, Executive Director
amanda@womensmarchcanada.com Amanda Best, Digital Content Manager

Australia:
Send this letter via their contact page: http://womensmarchsydney.com/contact/
Email: womensmarchsydney@gmail.com

Aotearoa/ New Zealand:
Copy and paste this letter to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchnewzealand/
Or contact them through their website: http://womensmarch.co.nz/contact/

These emails are just a start!
PLEASE SEARCH FOR MARCH ORGANIZERS SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA!

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