Advocates: Porn becoming more violent

By Stephanie Dickrell, sdickrell@stcloudtimes.com

"I am Heidi and my boyfriend forced me to have sex with him on video. He promised he wouldn't share it. Well, he did. He posted it on a porn site and my family, friends and employers all saw it. People continue to pay to watch my rape on the internet to this day. He continued to force me to make porn after that."

In a country where sexting has become popular and comprehensive sex education is just a vague idea for many, it's not surprising that pornography has become a teacher and trendsetter for sex.

Increasingly, scholars and advocates are drawing a line from easy access to pornography to the normalizing of violence and other crimes against women.


Panelists Gracemarie Tellone Brown, founder and president of Gracemarie's Song and chair of Central Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force, (from left) Rebbeca Kotz, Women's Center human trafficking chair at St. Cloud State University, and Kathy Langer, director of social concerns at Catholic Charities, talk and answer questions during a discussion Thursday at St. Cloud Public Library on human trafficking. Photo by Jason Wachter, jwachter@stcloudtimes.com

"You think about 70 to 80 percent of men 18-35 watch pornography regularly," said Rebecca Kotz, trafficking services coordinator at the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center.

Many people don't see a link from pornography to sex trafficking. But Kotz does.

"Pornography is videotaped trafficking, and a lot of times people don't make that connection," Kotz said.

An analysis of 22 studies from seven countries showed that porn consumption was associated with sexual aggression and aggressive attitudes among men and women. Normalizing violence against women during sex makes it easier for people to justify the use of women for commercial sex.

Thirty years of research shows direct correlations between pornography and increased violence against women, said Chuck Derry, co-founder of the Gender Violence Institute in Clearwater and the Minnesota Men's Action Network: Alliance to Prevent Sexual and Domestic Violence.

"Pornography is not like videotaped sex anymore. It's videotaped torture and sexual assault of women," Kotz said.

A 2010 study in "Violence Against Women" analyzed hundreds of scenes in popular pornographic videos, tracking incidents of aggression and violence.

Of the 304 scenes analyzed, 88 percent contained physical aggression, including spanking, gagging and slapping. Verbal aggression was found in 48 percent of scenes, primarily name-calling.

Perpetrators of aggression were usually men, whereas targets of aggression were overwhelmingly women. The women who received the aggressive acts portrayed responding with pleasure or neutrally.

"That's what is mainstream," Kotz said. "This is not the fringe."

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