A Note On Recent ‘Scientific’ Studies

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten several links to articles which are reporting that pornography on the internet decreases rape rates. Apparently someone out there has decided that because reported rape rates have fallen it must be due to the vast amounts of pornography on the internet.

Here is one of those articles: How The Web Prevents Rape. I haven’t responded to any of this because, well, to be perfectly honest I really didn’t see the need to. When you take a stance like mine on pornography you start to see some really ridiculous ‘studies’ and this is no exception.

In this ‘study’ what the researchers did was to literally take the reported rape rates and then take reported internet usage, not just porn usage but internet usage as a whole, and when they saw that reported rapes were down, they inferred that it must be due to pornography on the internet.

There are so many reasons that this is a fallacious assumption to make.

1. Nobody bothered to ask what these people were doing online, it is, of course, assumed that people are browsing FreeXXX sites. Apparently these researchers think that men have nothing better than to peruse pornography sites all day.

2. Where is the consideration for the vast amount of work that women’s groups have engaged in designed to decrease rape? In one fell swoop all of the effort, time and money of women’s groups who have begun grassroots campaigns all over the place to prevent rape have been erased.

3. They didn’t correct or account for the fact that perhaps more women are simply not reporting rape. With the recent influx of women who have been charged with a crime when there isn’t enough proof to convict her accused rapist I think that this is certainly an extremely important factor to consider. Indeed, the climate surrounding the Duke case and many others like it has undoubtedly had an impact. I now speak to many women who immediately state that they would not, under any circumstances, report their own rapes.

4. The ‘researchers’ on this study clearly believe that rape is sex and nothing more.

Notice that these studies always compare reported rapes, not actual rapes. There are many problems with studies like this that place them unequivocally into the camp of junk science.

Only one of many problems is the equation of sex and rape. The underlying message beneath all of these studies is that men are seeking sex when they violently rape a woman. In a society which classes porn as little more than ‘naked people fucking’ the only conclusion that said society will come to upon hearing such a claim is that men are simply taking sex from females when they rape them.

This has extraordinarily troubling implications even if we assumed that it wasn’t a load of shit. It implies that men are so dangerous that they must literally be fed a diet of pornography to keep them from harming women. As a class they are so out of control and terrifying that if we don’t let them see women being fucked then they will violently take women against their will.

I know some men who would vehemently disagree with this idea and rightly so. I am often called a man-hater which is always amusing to me because when we really look at what researchers like this are trying to say it is clearly THEM who hate men. I personally believe that men are NOT out of control beasts that require a steady diet of degradation to relieve their terrifying urge to rape women. But this study, and studies like this one, always reduce men to creatures who are incapable of not raping unless and until we give them what they want.

Sex is not rape. Rape is not sex. I have done articles on this before, indeed, I have done many articles on the topic. Rape is violence and control using sex as the weapon. Rape is the action by which a man takes control and autonomy from a woman, sex is the tool. Rape is the culmination of deep seated hatred and lack of empathy by men against women. Penetration is merely one of the most effective ways in which they can degrade and dehumanize us.

To men, perhaps rape is simply sex. But to women who have been raped there is a very clear difference. Rape is about forcing a woman, through a myriad of ways, to succumb to the will of the man. For the rapist it is not penetration that he’s looking for, it’s the ‘kill’. It’s the victory of taking a woman that is the high and the rush. And this entire society condones and even conditions men to use whatever means necessary to get that ‘win’.

Women who experience this are fully aware of it. It’s not about the orgasm, it’s about the ‘win’ that they get when they bend a woman to their demands either by sheer force, threatening body language, taking her other options away or some other means.

So that is just one very large problem with this sort of study. Rape is not sex and sex is not rape. These are dangerous studies because they imply that if every man has his orgasm demands met then he won’t rape and this in turn, implies that to keep women safe we MUST feed men a steady diet of images of women that they can use and orgasm to. Even if we take the same assumption that the ‘researchers’ take and assume that porn is just good clean fun we are still left with troubling facts that are very hard to get around and terrifying to even the bravest of women. That message is this:

If women don’t placate men’s desire to orgasm then men will hurt women.

This mindset sets up a ‘blame the victim’ paradigm. It places the responsibility for male violence onto the shoulders of women. It assumes that women must give men the orgasm they desire or men will rape us to get more of it. In so doing this paradigm also creates a subset of women who will always be ‘fed’ to male desire, acting as a sacrificial lamb to keep the rest of us safe. When this mindset bears fruit it will always be in the form of victim blaming. Male violence against females will inevitably be blamed on females, either on the victim directly or onto females as a group because the theory rests on the notion that men cannot control themselves and must orgasm to real live women in order to be reasonably expected to control themselves.

Therefore a man who rapes a woman will always be held with less responsibility than the female whom he raped or females at large in the society. Because of his ‘need’ for orgasm clearly if she turned him on or did something ‘inappropriate’ it’s her fault.

The male drive for orgasm is likened to the predatory drive seen in large carnivores. We can’t really blame the lion, even if it’s a ‘tame’ lion, for lunging after the goat because that’s what lions do. When we slip into this sort of description for male orgasm then we almost invariably wind up saying, “Well, you can’t blame the guy for raping her because he was taken over by his desire to orgasm and that’s what men do.”

Other flaws in this junk science are that reported rapes reflect actual number of rapes. This particular story even assumes that violent movies curb the urges of men to be violent. It comes to this conclusion by assuming that when violent movies are running in the theatres that violent men are watching these movies instead of being violent against others.

As it pertains to rape however, I find it frightening that any ‘scientist’ would assume that reported rapes are the same as actual rapes. We have recently seen a virtual plethora of rape cases in which the victim is brutalized by the media and the public. Her accusations fall onto deaf ears because they assume that she is a liar. She then morphs into the villain in the media and openly on the internet, in newspapers and so forth. The Duke case is only one of these; many more cases follow behind this one.

Women understand that the moment a rape charge is leveled that the cries of “She’s a lying whore!” are soon to come. Because of this many women are deterred from reporting rape, add this to the basic assumption of people that rape is sex and she becomes even more afraid to report her trauma.

Recently there have been many cases in the media that have gone terribly wrong for the woman who reports the rape. In one case a young woman reported being gang raped by her boyfriend and his friend when she was getting ready for a party. The men, of course, claimed that it was consensual. When the young woman appeared before the judge he determined that she wasn’t “acting like a victim” and he dropped the charges against the men and instead charged her with filing false charges. Based upon nothing more than what he perceived a rape victim should act like.

In yet another case a woman was threatened with jail when she refused to watch a videotape of her rape and be cross-examined about it in front of the courtroom. She said that it would be too traumatic and utterly refused to do it. The woman was very nearly jailed for refusing to watch her own rape on television until public outcry softened the judge’s stance.

In case after case we see young women who have been violated run through the emotional trauma of criminal charges leveled against them if they don’t fit the preconceived notion of what a ‘good’ rape victim should act like. Strippers are clearly not ‘good’ victims, nor are prostitutes, nor are women who wanted to have sex, nor are women who dress provocatively or women who are drunk or women who got willingly drunk, or women who had consensual sex with their rapists in the past, or women who are wives to their rapists, the list goes on and on.

In trial after trial we see every manner of situation being described in the same way. Women watch as the media slashes at women who report rape and public outcry says that it’s a case of ‘boys being boys’. When young men write emails saying that they will kill a woman and then, later that day, they are accused of rape, their actions are still minimized.

When a videotape of young men raping a mentally handicapped girl, urinating on her, lighting her hair on fire and so forth, is brought into the public eye we immediately see the media encourage the sentiment that ‘boys will be boys’.

Women are not stupid and repeatedly watching and absorbing these horrific trials will have a very predictable effect on even the bravest of us. Watching women being called whores, sluts and would be porn stars is terrifying to all of us. Even when the rape has been videotaped we watch, in horror, as the victim is martyred in the community and has her name and image plastered around the town.

With stories like these women are afraid of speaking up and pressing charges. They refuse to be forced to explain themselves, explain why they wore what they wore and why they didn’t do this or that. They refuse to put themselves through even more trauma for the sake of a conviction and would rather try to heal on their own.

So no, ‘studies’ like these that claim that porn is reducing rape rates based upon little more than the observation that reported rapes are down while porn usage is up, are both dangerous and unfounded. I have much more to add to this but I find myself completely out of time for the moment. Perhaps I’ll come back later and add to this later but for now I have a stall to fix.

~BB

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Published in: on May 31, 2008 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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