Thursday, October 28

Is pornography to blame for the rise of ‘rape culture’? | Gender


The heartbreaking reports of sexism and assault in schools detailed everyonesinvited.uk The website has fueled concerns of a “culture of rape” in educational settings.

The revelations have raised concerns that easy access to porn is part of the problem.

It is a complex issue, and the answer is far from clear. Some experts urge caution when linking, while others say pornography is undermining the notion of consent.

While access to online pornography is increasing, experts say it is unclear whether sexual harassment, abuse and assault among young people is similarly increasing, as can be expected from a simple link between the two.

Roger Ingham, professor of community and health psychology and director of the Center for Sexual Health Research at the University of Southampton, said that increased publicity, greater awareness of what is acceptable and even the feeling that victims will be taken More seriously, they could fuel more reports of rape or other sexual crimes.

What’s more, even if the perpetrators are found to be viewing pornography, it would not be clear whether the blame is on the pornography, Ingham said.

“It could be, for example, that those who are more inclined to commit ‘crimes’ are also more likely to access pornography, so a correlation between the two cannot be assumed to indicate a direct cause,” he said.

Another problem is that even if pornography is having a negative influence, controlling who sees what is difficult, both for governments. and parentswhereas a “culture of rape” is likely driven by many factors.

“There will always be a small proportion of young people with serious problems to maintain[ing] Responsible and respectful social interactions and relationships, ”Ingham said. “It would be very naive to attribute negative behaviors to just one factor, such as access to pornography.”

Mark McCormack, a sociology professor at the University of Roehampton, agreed that there is a lack of evidence that sexual harassment in schools was less common in the past, adding that new technology often causes concerns, such as concerns from previous decades about whether violent movies could lead to an increase in violence among young viewers.

According to McCormack, a key aspect of pornography that needs to be explored is why people view it, noting that while it may be linked to negative outcomes for some, for others it could be an important way to explore their sexual identity.

Also, he told The Guardian, the investigation has found those who view pornography. They are not more sexist than those who are not. When pornography causes problems, he said, it tends to be indirect, for example, tensions with a partner due to the non-disclosure of viewing pornography; it is not necessarily the case that those who view pornography later wish to represent what they see. .

“My concern when we consider pornography as the problem, that it simply focuses, in a sense, on one technology and one thing, and not on the much deeper and broader problems that we must address: sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality.” . he said.

But others say that pornography is problematic.

“Unfortunately, the pornography that is widely available online can be graphic and aggressive, and the women depicted on some of the sites are getting younger, on the verge of being illegal,” said Dr. Elena Martellozzo, associate professor of criminology at Middlesex University.

Martellozzo added that the message that men have a ‘right’ to women’s bodies undermines the notion of consent. “This is the definition of rape culture in a nutshell,” he said.

According to research by Martellozzo and colleagues based on data collected between 2015 and 2016 and published this year, 65% of 15-16 year olds in the UK reported viewing pornography, and pornography is viewed more by children than by girls.

Just over half of the 241 study boys ages 11-16 who had viewed pornography said they thought it was “ realistic ” compared to 39% of 195 girls in the study who had viewed pornography, with the 44% of children and 29%. of girls saying he had given them ideas to try.

Martellozzo added that the concerns are not a “moral panic” and that she and others are working to control what is available online.

“Of course we cannot generalize and say that everyone who watches pornography would happen to want to represent what they have seen, but we do know that some young men want to represent what they have seen and therefore expect girls to do so. respond to their request, respond to their desire to perform, ”he said.

Dr Leila Frodsham, a consulting gynecologist and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said there may be other consequences of young people viewing pornography.

“One knock-on effect that people might not consider is that girls and women feel that their genitalia should look a certain way because that is what they have seen in the media or that is what boys see through. pornography and they tell girls, ”he said. “We are very concerned about reports that labiaplasty (surgery to change the appearance of the vagina) rates are increasing in those under the age of 18, especially since there is no scientific reason to support its practice.”

Experts agree that better sex education is essential.

“What is needed are open, serious and honest conversations about sexual consent, about sex in relationships, and about the larger context and complexities. [of sex]McCormack said.

Martellozzo added that there must be a shift in emphasis from blaming victims of sexual harassment and abuse and instead focusing on the perpetrators. “The emphasis here is really educating the individual and showing them that the effects of their choice of language or action are enormous,” he said.

Frodsham also stressed the need for a better education. “Pornography gives children and young people a false impression of what to expect when they start having sex, and it can set unrealistic goals for boys and girls when it comes to exploring their sexuality,” he said.

“Whether pornography directly influences rape culture is widely debated. What is clear is that the issue of consent and what a healthy relationship looks like must be addressed head-on in the school curriculum, so that boys and girls learn to respect each other and girls know how to raise the alarm if they suffer. abuses. “


www.theguardian.com

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