Flat White

Pornography: neither a culprit nor a cop-out

9 September 2019

5:00 AM

9 September 2019

5:00 AM

Jaymes Todd, the Melbourne man given a life sentence last week for the cowardly rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon in Carlton’s Princes Park last year had a preoccupation with violent pornography depicting rape, erotic choking and even snuff.

Todd has been referred to as a ‘sexual sadist’ in countless newspaper articles.

Like violent porn, mental health issues are also blamed when blokes rape and murder women. Just think of any number of recent high-profile cases.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are over 1.5 million men suffering from a mental health condition in this country yet the majority of those aren’t doing a Ted Bundy.

The same applies to male consumers of violent porn. For the bulk of these blokes, it’s just a sexual fantasy — nothing more, nothing less.  In their day-to-day lives, they’re decent and civilised members of society.

And about the gender bias in the media when discussing violent pornography? It’s not only men who consume this type of porn yet the anti-porn activists would like you to think so.

To suggest that a woman cannot be aroused by pornography that depicts degrading and hardcore acts obliterates her sexual agency. This fictive narrative does a disservice to women.  It keeps them cemented in traditional gender roles of being sexless and passive.

Pornography is fictionalised sexual fantasies.  It’s a bit hard to show “consent” in a pornographic rape fantasy because it would defeat the whole point. Plus many women (and men) who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual assault, (I’ve journeyed through a brutal rape and childhood sexual abuse) consume this type of porn as a way to take back their power over a “real life” situation where they lost all control.

But it’s not just consumers of this type of porn that need to be defended. The performers who star in these films deserve our respect too.

This jaded adage peddled by anti-porn activists, that all women who work in the porn industry are somehow exploited and coerced is a fallacy.  Society doesn’t approve of women having sex for cash, while sex for marriage, commitment and babies is okay.

People like myself have the right to watch hardcore porn without being censored.  We have the right to enjoy our painful kinks with other like-minded consenting adults.

Human sexuality is essentially about power dynamics, and it’s erotic and empowering to explore dominant and submissive role play in a safe and secure environment.

It’s time we stopped using porn and mental illness as an excuse for why men rape and kill and hold these repulsive perpetrators entirely responsible for their action, not offer them a cop-out.

Vanessa de Largie is a freelance journalist and sex columnist who divides her time between London and Melbourne. You can find more of her work here.

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