I’d like to really show what I believe the men want to see: violence against women. I firmly believe that we serve a purpose by showing that. The most violent we can get is the cum shot in the face. – Bill Marigold (a veteran porn star & producer)
Both Rich (“Compulsory Heterosexual and Lesbian Experience“) and Caputi (“Sexual Politics of Murder“) blame pornography for perpetuating the cycle of sexual violence against women. It is no coincidence that heterosexual men dominate the viewership of pornography and that most victims of sexual murders are women. Male heterosexuals are handed their fantasies on a silver platter every day not only in pornography but in our sexist media culture. “Femme-looking” lesbian porn stars are fetishized while straight porn stars are usually placed in submissive positions that allows their sex partner to dominate them. This is the “norm.” These supposedly “normal” images of the male as the dominant and the woman as the submissive upholds the unequal sex roles that heterosexuality enforces and thus pornography is a way of conditioning men and women alike to fall into these structured roles of heterosexuality.
Studies from UCLA show that a majority of American men who watch pornography are not associated with high levels of sexual aggression. But among those with the highest “predisposing” risk level for sexual aggression those who are very frequent pornography users have sexual aggression levels approximately four times higher than those who do not frequently consume porn.
The most pernicious message relayed by pornography is that women are natural sexual prey to men and love it; that sexuality and violence are congruent… – Adrienne Rich
Women are routinely depicted as dehumanised, sexualised commodities who can be bought and male sexual violence/coercion against women is depicted as an important aspect of the normal male heterosexual script. –TheFWord
“Femicide” or “gynocide” continues to sweep our nation. The most recent and illustrative example I can think of is of the Long Island Serial Killer or “Gilgo Serial Killer” (our modern-day Jack the Ripper. Caputi notes that the mythologizing of Jack the Ripper is “to terrorize women and to empower and inspire men).” This killer, who is presumed to be a white male, is suspected to have murdered 10 to 14 victims, most of which were female sex workers. Why is it always sex workers? Because they are the embodiment of the the easily conquered, the willing, the inferior which is very much the image that is solidified by pornography.
Caputi further writes about Ted Bundy,notorious hater of women:
…[Dr. Diane] Russell argues that pornography predisposes or intensifies a predisposition in some men to rape women and that it can undermine some men’s internal or social inhibitions against acting out sexually violent behavior. [Ted] Bundy’s testimony clearly supports that model.
Then and Now
Thanks to technology, violent images can be shared easily, instantly and, thus, in excessive amounts. We are so inundated with these images that we are desensitized. We no longer care, in any shape or form. It’s the by-stander effect.
With that in mind, we need take into consideration that Caputi’s “The Sexual Politics of Murder” was published in 1989. Caputi’s assertion of the US being a society obsessed with the sexualized images of murdered women obviously does not take in account the amount of technology we have at our fingertips in 2012.
I believe the US, as a patriarchal society, is not obsessed with sexualized images of the murder of women. I believe we are now indifferent. And indifference is just as terrifying.
Or, perhaps, more terrifying.