9. Feelings of Inferiority and Degradation

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
1

Some individuals described situations in which pornography had been used to instill feelings of racial inferiority. For example, one women testified before another body:

In thinking about coming here today to speak, I realized that my life would be in danger. As a woman of color these dangers seem many and great, an absolute loss of credibility and respect, wrath and disgust, potential violence both verbal and physical, and ridicule and harassment to name a few. I also realized the dangers to my life if I did not come. These dangers being complacency, letting go of my rage and terror about pornography and its impact on my life, accepting that the shame is mine, accepting that I am the slut and the whore that deserved what was done to me, believing that I am usable. I have no illusions about men not seeing me as a slut, they do.[881]

Witnesses also described the pornography was used to degrade them as women. For example, a woman whose husband used pornography to abuse her testified:

As a result of this I developed a very low self-esteem. I felt emotionally isolated because of the fear and embarrassment.[882]

Another woman said:

He showed me art books and also books, magazines of pornography. And as he was showing me these works, he was doing a critique of women's bodies, of their facial expression, of parts of their bodies and of their dress. Following this was a critique of my too athletic, too muscular body. I was seventeen, it was very devastating to me that my body was being torn apart in this way.[883]

Another woman testified:

Once he insisted that we go see an X-rated movie at a theater that showed pornography exclusively. I remember feeling humiliated and frightened being the only woman in the room while the men around me sat masturbating openly. I kept my eyes glued to the top of the screen and prayed for it to be over soon. When we got home, he demanded sex.[884]

A witness who appeared before the Minneapolis City Council described feelings of inferiority and inadequacy:

When we arrived, he informed me that the other men at the party were envious that he had a girl friend to fuck. They wanted to fuck too after watching the pornography. He informed me of this as he was taking his coat off.

He then took off the rest of his clothes and had me perform fellatio on him. I did not do this of my own volition. He put his genitals in my face and he said, "Take it all." Then he fucked me on the couch in the living room, all this took about five minutes. And when he was finished he dressed and went back to the party. I felt ashamed and numb and I also felt very used.

This encounter differed from others previous, it was much quicker, it was somewhat rougher, and he was not aware of me as a person. There was no foreplay. It is my opinion that his viewing of the pornography served as foreplay for him.

* * *

... this usual treatment did result in feelings of low self-esteem, depression, confusion and a lot of shame.[885]

The Commission received reports from individuals who described feelings of exploitation through a partner's use of pornography in an intimate relationship:

He was a lover. He'd go to porno movies, then he'd come home and say, I saw this in a movie. Let's try it. I felt really exploited, like I was being put in a mold.[886]

A young man who had been forced to engage in sexual acts for the production of pornography testified that he and other boys who had been exploited by a sex ring felt stigmatized by the publicity surrounding the investigation and prosecution of the offenders:

Those of us who were involved in the ring never talked about it. We wanted to forget the experience. But since my name became public I couldn't escape the stigma of being involved in the...sex scandal. I started taking drugs heavily at age twelve to try to cope with the situation.[887]

A woman who had herself been forced into prostitution and the production of pornography testified:

My first husband was always withdrawn and had very little self-esteem. He was a sad young man. People often felt sorry for him. He died before his twenty-fifth birthday in a drunken car accident. lust a few months ago I learned something that helped explain his low self-esteem, his alcoholism, and his avid consumption of pornography. I saw a picture of him as an adolescent in a child pornography photograph in a Women Against Pornography display.[888]

Notes

  1. Public Hearings before Minneapolis City Council, Session II, (Dec. 1983), p. 47.
  2. Chicago Hearing, Vol. I, p. 25.
  3. Public Hearings before Minneapolis City Council Session II, (Dec. 1983), p. 58.
  4. Washington, D.C., Hearing, Vol. I, p. 186.
  5. Public Hearings before Minneapolis City Council, Session II, (Dec. 1983), pp. 54-55.
  6. Public Hearings before Minneapolis City Council, Session I, (Dec. 1983), p. 65.
  7. Washington, D.C., Hearing, Vol. II, p. 48.
  8. Washington, D.C., Hearing, Vol. I, pp. 186-87.