The texts from the back covers of pornographic
films we quote in this pamphlet are all taken from films that
are distributed in ordinary video rental stores, not from specific porn shops.
"His name is Todd. He is big. He is black. And in his
pants he is carrying a lethal weapon. 30 centimetres and always
at the ready. 30 centimetres of pure terror. So big that it
makes big holes in the wall as he undoes his pants.
With his 'weapon' he gets all
girls on their backs. Or rather on their faces. Because it is
their bottoms he is after. He wants to see the girls sweat beneath
him. Eyes wide open. Clenching their teeth.
And he only chooses white girls.
That makes it even more taboo. A black giant thrusting it DEEP
into a little cute, white girl - he loves the feeling.
His friends want to have a go,
too. But the girls say; 'no, no, it hurts'. Then one of the
guys has an idea. 25 000 dollars to the girl who is the best
ass fuck. And if they don't get the money - so what?!"
Text from the back-cover of the porn film
"Get your rump put, girl!".
Lord of the Creation!
see the sexual violence that
women and children are subjected to in pornography, without analysing
it, probably only causes resignation and confusion. That is why
it is important to understand pornography in its societal context.
When we see the pornography of allusion
and understand the workings of the porn industry, we see also that
child pornography is only the tip of the iceberg. Neither child
pornography nor pornography on the whole are isolated phenomena.
They are linked to all of men's sexual violence against women and
children; rape, women battering, prostitution, incest and other
forms of sexual abuse. And they are linked to sexual harassment
in schools and on jobs, to "sex jokes" and to touching
in buses and underground trains. These are all examples of sexual
oppression. And sexual oppression is a part of the oppression of
In Sweden there is much talk about
equality and sex roles. As if the difference between the sexes would
disappear if only we made some slight changes in the roles. The
question of who benefits from the difference, who has the power,
is not asked. Our society is built upon the premise that men have
power and women are subordinated. Women and children are simply
not worth as much as men are.
The result of this is that men are
the norm of our society; on the labour-market, in the medical service,
in the media, culture, religion, economy, politics everywhere.
The fact that men are the norm gives
men the preferential right of interpretation. That is why child
pornography is not discussed from the perspective of the rights
of the child, but rather the rights of the man. The public debate
is more about the risk of an innocent man being convicted of sexual
abuse, than about the risk that a child keeps being exploited and
is left without legal rights. And that is why society demands more
of the child/victim than of the man/perpetrator even in cases where
there is no doubt about the sexual abuse having taken place. In
Sweden today someone who has raped a minor can be given a more lenient
sentence with for example the motivation that a girl in her early
teens tried to "seem more experienced" than she actually
was. Or with the motivation that two 9 year-old girls had behaved
"seductively". Or that an 8 year-old girl did not make
"enough" resistance. She the child is expected
to take responsibility for her behaviour. From him the adult
society does not demand similar responsible behaviour. How
come adult men accept to be declared incapable and thus not responsible
for their own actions in this
particular context, but not in others? And the argumentation of
the lay assessors, that adult men are expected to think that a little
girl would want to have intercourse with them if she does not make
"enough" resistance where did they get that from?
Pornography helps to perpetuate society's sexual power structure.
The misogyny of pornography is a magnified mirror image of the contempt
for women that permeates the whole of society, but pornography also
influences the image of women. Through pornography men's sexual
violence against women and children is turned into something "normal",
something sexually arousing pornography blunts our perceptions
of sexual violence. The more widespread pornography becomes, the
more we are affected by it. All of us not only the men who
are perpetrators of sexual abuse.
This also makes it less incomprehensible
that neither the Swedish Child Pornography Act nor the Sexual Violence
or Coercion Act are in fact implemented. To dehumanise women and
children, to objectify someone, is the first stage of the violence
process. Pornography shifts the limits for what is seen as acceptable
to do with women and children.
example of how pornography shifts limits is that it has not been
possible to condemn pornographic films and magazines with "fistfucking"
according to the Sexual Violence or Coercion Act. Folkaktionen mot
Pornografi struggled for many years, trying to create public opinion
and calling on authorities before succeeding in getting the Chancellor
of Justice to propose a reconsideration of the earlier standpoint
The American professor of law,
Catharine A. MacKinnon, described it like this, when she participated
in a conference hosted by ROKS (Riksorganisationen fr kvinnojourerna
i Sverige) (The Swedish Organisation of Emergency Shelters for Battered
Women) in Stockholm a few years ago:
"...the problem is that it
is just this that pornography destroys: the ability to see that
violence against women is violence. Pornography transforms violence
"When a society has been drowned
in pornography for twenty years, like Sweden, has a law saying
that we are not to distribute representations of sexual violence,
it is not surprising that this law is not implemented. It does
not matter how much violence a woman is subjected to, it is still
perceived as sexual, it is perceived as if the woman gives her
consent and it is not perceived as violence" (12).
It is not perceived as violence by
the courts, not by the men perpetrating the violence, and soon enough
not by the women subjected to it either. Women too are taught to
watch these representations of sexual abuse of women, to think that
violence is one of sexuality's natural elements and that the subordination
of women is a natural part of being a woman. Oppression of women
Pornography & Racism
Pornography's structure of domination and subordination is also
racist. Just like in the example with the text about "Todd"
(above) black men are almost always portrayed as brutal rapists.
Black women are often depicted as particularly "sexy",
and/or carnal. But the most worthless women in pornography are Asian
Sweden today is a multicultural society
and different forms of racist influences are often discussed, both
in the media and among people in general. In spite of this, so far
nobody has brought up the discussion of the sexualised racism that
& other media
In the media pornography is hardly ever described from the perspective
of the sexual abuse which is the basis for pornography. Pornography
is more often discussed in glossy entertainment shows than in serious
debates on TV, various celebrities' general opinions are substituted
for knowledge. And in newspapers and magazines sexologists answer
letters about pornography, that pornography is only fantasy, a "spice"
for your sex life. Young girls who write wondering what they should
do when their boyfriends are consuming pornography all the time,
are told to consume it together with him, or at least not question
his right to consume women's bodies. S/M (sadomasochism) is described
as exciting play despite the fact that women actually die
as a consequence of this "play".
Pornography is not a marginal phenomenon
in Sweden today. It is not about a small number of sick men. Most
men in our country have periodically consumed pornography, many
do it regularly. Consumers of pornography are everywhere, and in
all social classes. And of course they are affected by the pornography
they consume, just like they are by all other media, information,
commercials or propaganda that they encounter.
In a society where
pornography is everywhere, there should also be an interest in discussing
what message pornography conveys
and what the consequences
of its distribution are. But that is a discussion most people want
to avoid. Pornography tells something about what women are worth
in our society. The American anti-pornography activist and writer,
Andrea Dworkin, expressed it like this:
"When your rape is entertainment,
your worthlessness is absolute" (13).
Pornography confirms to boys and
men that they are masters and that women are utility goods. It hands
down the notion of men's power and women's subordination to the
next generation. Pornography is the sexualisation of inequality.
All over the world men give themselves the right to exploit women
and children. But in Sweden women have been made to believe that
we live in a society where there is equality between the sexes.
That is why women often blame themselves for what they are subjected
to and look upon oppression as something which happens to them as
Only when many people see what pornography
actually is and why it exists can we make things change. Pornography
is simply going to remain as long as not more people protest.
That applies both to pornography
in general and to child pornography. And it is us adults who bear
the responsibility. and the sex traffic taken together constitute
one of the world's largest industries.
12. Catharine A MacKinnon: Pornografi
och jämställdhet (Pornography and Equality) in
Pornografi verklighet eller
fantasi? (Pornography reality or fantasy?), ROKS,
Since we have not had access to MacKinnon's
original text, we have translated this quotation from the Swedish
version of the text back to English.
13. Andrea Dworkin: Letters from
a War Zone, Secker & Warburg, England 1988, p. 279.