Is porn getting worse?

// 23 September 2007

The question of the day seems to be: is porn getting more violent and more misogynist? First up, Shalom Auslander describes how the porn popular today differs from the stuff that got him hot as a teenager.

What happened? He loaded up a page on a porn forum that advertised this flick:

I have never had a day where someone wrote the word “Cockwhore” on my forehead with lipstick, tried to shove their entire fist down my throat and then “choke-fucked” me with their penis until I barfed on their testicles. Never, ever had a day like that. Nor have I ever had a day like the blonde woman in the movie that was pictured below it: I never had a day where someone hung a toilet seat around my neck, spit in my mouth and slapped my face as he tried to shove the head of his cock through the back of my skull.

Bad days I have had. But not that bad.

“Jesus. Fucking. Christ,” said my wife.

As he goes on to say, this is now the mainstream of porn. It’s not the porn he grew up with, and, frankly, it’s not the porn I grew up with either.

…because the Gag Factor series of films, in which women are turned upside down and choke-fucked until their faces are covered with drool, semen and barf (Adult Video News Award Winner, “Best Oral Series”), is now up to sequel #22. Because the Slap Happy series, in which a male performer only pauses from asphyxiating the starlet with his penis to slap her repeatedly across the face and verbally abuse her, is up to sequel #13.

It’s particularly interesting to note that Auslander is not anti-porn per se. As he says: “Me and porno are buddies. Me and porno, we hang.”

So why is porn getting more violent? AlterNet steps in with one possible explanation, provided by Robert Jensen in an excerpt of his new book Getting Off.

He has some more horrible examples:

A few men who appear to be in their 20s drive around in a minivan with a video camera. They ask women if they want a ride. Once in the van, the women are asked if they would be willing to have sex on camera for money. The women do. When the sex is over, the women get out of the van and one of the men hands the women a wad of bills as payment. Just as she reaches for the money, the van drives off, leaving her on the side of the road looking foolish. There are trailers for 10 videos on the website. All appear to use the same “plot” structure.

Simply put, his explanation goes like this:

The pornographers are not a deviation from the norm. Their presence in the mainstream shouldn’t be surprising, because they represent mainstream values: The logic of domination and subordination that is central to patriarchy, hyper-patriotic nationalism, white supremacy, and a predatory corporate capitalism.

No doubt this does play a part, but I’m not sure it provides a full explanation. After all, has society got that much more patriarchal in the last few years? Really? It might not have got better, but has it got worse? Or is it a part of a backlash against a world in which a man is more likely than ever to confront strong, independent women in real life?

Photo by flickroli666, shared under a Creative Commons license

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