Sex And Violence


Sex And Violence Essay, Research Paper

Violence and Pornography

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, does the media cause undesirable social consequences with specific reference to pornography and violence.

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 an involved in it, ( pornography) became and 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 alt!

er-ego to fulfill my fantasies under-cover. Pornography was a means of unlocking the evil I had buried inside myself”

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 stronger statistically than the relationship between smoking and cancer.” After considering the increase of sex related crimes, the linkage between violence and pornography needs considerable study and examination.

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 pornography originates from two greek words, porne, which means harlot, and graphein, which means to write. 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.

Now that pornography has been defined in a fashion mirroring its content, it is now possible to touch upon the more complex ways a community, as a society, views or defines it. Some have said it is impossible for a group of individuals to form a concrete opinion as to what pornography means. A U.S. supreme judge is quoted as saying, ” I can’t define pornography, but I know it when I see it”. This statement can be heard at community meetings in every state, city, and county across the nation. Community standards are hazy due to the fact individuals cannot express or explain in words that pornography is, therefore creating confusion among themselves.

For thousands of years, sex itself has been considered evil and revolting. This is exactly why the concealment of the sex organs and teaching feelings of shame toward human sexuality is so common worldwide. These same feelings of shame are the chief reasons that sex is considered a personal and private matter. Contrary to the beliefs of many, the mass media did not create these settings, society creates this image. In some societies, women have no reservations with regard to living their entire lives completely naked, while in other societies, females cover themselves from head to tow, only revealing their eyes.

The media had been bombarded with criticism, overwhelmingly from the female community, relative to the amount of sexually explicit material that is common argument against pornography is that the media portrays women as being nothing more than sexual playthings and objects to satisfy male sexual desires. As before, the media once again, is not to be held responsible for creating this image: these views are products of society.

It would be downright absurd to assume that women in this society are treated as sexual objects only because the media releases or broadcasts pornographic material. A magazine associated with make-up and skin care, for example will quite obviously not be concentrating on much else. Such a magazine would not display pictures of women who mountain climb or women who water ski; on ly images of make-up and text referring to skin care would be relevant. Clearly, society does not consider women to be beings who’s only purpose in life is to worry about make- up and skin care, but why are the complaints only directed toward pornographic media then? The answer to this question may be more complicated, what remains obvious is that the media does not portray women as only being able to fill male sexual desires. To say that pictures featuring females who pin-up posters of male rock stars or children who collect hockey or baseball cards. Society , hows not say that objects are being !

made out of these rock stars and sports heroes, pictures of clothed people are no less objects than pictures of naked people.

Many complaints are also made to the effect that pornography offers a one-dimensional view to life. That women are seen as perverts who are addicted to sex. It should be pointed out that events such as hockey games, boxing matches, horse races and operas all offer a one-dimensional view of life. One does not attend an opera hoping to see a horse race. It is also said that the media reduces women to a collection of body parts through pornography. But why then are their no complains of advertisements in magazines displaying only ears, for example, ora nose, or feet? The reason is simple, society considers certain body parts to be shameful or disgusting.

Realistically, the only way to prevent women from being seen as objects is for them to be seen as other things well, but to say that women are not sexual beings would be misleading because both men and women are very much sexual.

For instance, a television ad protraying young men groveling at the feet of supermodel Cindy Crawford, almost begging to be the one to cater to her needs. There were no lineups of men aching to announce their displeasure with the sexist ad and this is precisely why male stereotyping in the media often shunned by anti- pornographic and censoring organizations because it seemly singled out females for their bodies. It should be also noted that 40% of all sales of romantic novels depict male models as sexual objects just as pornography depicts females a sexual objects.

Having discussed the untruthfulness of the claims against pornography and showing that pornography is not evil, it is now possible to consider the violence issue. Are men who are exposed to pornography more likely to commit acts, such as raps against women, more so than men who are not exposed to pornography?

It is tempting to believe that media influences males and overstimulates them through pornography to the point that they become aggressive towards females is baseless, just as pornography arouses or stimulates . The American Commission on Obscenity and Pornography performed a study in which several college students were asked to spend one and a half hours in a isolated room with a large volume of pornographic media, as well as a large number of non-explicit media such as Reader’s Digest. The study was conducted over a three week period over which time it was discovered that the males involved began to lose interest, or became less interested to the erotic media nearing the end of the experiment, even if new material was added. Four more separate experiments were conducted of which the above was one. Three other experiments came to the conclusion that pornography does not cause violence against women and reported that the number of sex offenders that had been exposed to po!

rnographic material were smaller in number than the amount of sex- offenders that had not been exposed to the pornography. These results can be offered as evidence against the claims that males become overstimulated and thus dangerous when exposed to pornography.

It should be also pointed out that women, and not just men, also enjoy these thrills based on numerous studies. When discussing pornograghy, it is scarcely noted that men are not the only ones who enjoy fantasizing about sex. In fact, most of these fantasies involve some degree of violence or force and are largely driven by the romance novels. The reports published by Nancy Friday, show that the number of female fantasies involving rape far outweigh the number of male fantasies involving rape. What comes as a surprise to many is that n male fantasies, the women rapes the man and conversely, in female fantasies, the man rapes the women.

Having considered the issues at hand, it can be said that since there is no concrete evidence to support, pornography in the media does not cause undesirable social behavior. It is an undisputed fact that feelings of love and happiness cancel out violent feelings and to say that pornography endorses violent feelings fails to make sense, if it did, why would men want to be exposed to it. To suggest that pornography causes men to go over he edge and commit rape is as ludicrous as suggesting that pictures of food cause the hungry to steal more food.

As members of society, we recognize the power of mass media. We understand that public perception can be easily persuaded. But it should be clearly understood that pornography in the media alone cannot persuade men to cause harm to women; it cannot cause men to do things that are socially unacceptable. Pornography only causes feelings of excitement and satisfaction and these feelings overpower those feelings of violence.


1. Pornography, Christensen F.M., 1990, New York, Praeger.

2. Mass Media, Violence and Society, Howitt, Cumberpatch, 1975, London, Elek Science.

3. Role of Pornography in Woman Abuse, Harmon, Check 1988 American Commission on Obscenity and Pornography.

4. Pornography in a Free Society, Hawkins, Simring, 1988

5. Whicclair, Mark. R. ” Feminism, Pornography, and Censorship,


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