It’s just the daily assault of sexism that leaves me, for one, profoundly disturbed. The so-called trickle-down effect of porn into our culture is now nothing less than a tsunami and I would argue that we’re in a state of emergency, or a human rights scandal as Amnesty International says – and boundaries of acceptability no longer exist.
The rise of the sex industry in the Eighties and Nineties mean porn and prostitution is respectable to an unprecedented degree in human history and hence the infiltration of the sex-industry into the work-place and media. We are in a culture that relentlessly sexualises women. Selling sex acts is like making a cappuccino. 75 per cent of prostitutes started selling sex acts before the age of 18 and were abused in childhood. 70 per cent in England have spent time in care. In a study of 110 men in Glasgow two-thirds had attitudes that were tolerant to rape. 22 per cent said that once they had paid, it wasn’t possible to rape a prostitute .
If porn is filmed prostitution, then our media is PORNIFIED and as porn has become more relentlessly violent and aggressive, the prevailing attitude is “they like it when it hurts”. It eroticises the dominance of men over women. Millions of women’s lives are caught up in stripping porn and prostitution. It is an epidemic. 88 per cent of pornographic scenes that men masturbate to contain physically aggressive acts towards women – slapping, gagging, choking, amongst many others. 68 per cent of women in prostitution have post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of the work they do.
Porn is everywhere. Girls say they feel embarrassed, awkward – does it affect their idea of sex? Shaving pubic hair, getting breast implants, requesting labial surgery seems to say yes. Girls may feel that they are expected to be treated as sex-objects, and that they just have to live with it. Explicit material is way too accessible and the extreme has become normal. Rape is OK. When I spoke to my daughter about this – she was about 16 at the time – it became clear that of her generation, who have been so exposed to so much hardcore material, quite a few of her peer group were saying they were “bisexual” for safety, as if they felt they were expected to perform some of what they had seen. The links in the media, and on TV, to abuse in the playground and then straight to domestic abuse is NOT DIFFICULT TO SEE. School is the most common setting for sexual harassment. Humiliating and degrading girls at an early age is commonplace, and sexist bullying an integral art of school life. Anti- sexism activist and filmmaker Byron Hurt says that feminism is the solution to countering the masochistic culture which is so prevalent amongst young people in London and leads to the terrifying knife crime that kills mostly black boys. “Men are drip-fed through media, religion, sport, family, culture, porn, prostitution and TV to devalue, exploit and stereotype women and girls. Men are in denial about the level of violence against women.”
Rape isn’t entertainment, it’s a never-more pressing outrage that is not to be enjoyed with a glass of Merlot and a few cheese straws as you watch your “edgy” TV drama. There are more refuges, more sexual assaults and women are now seen as sex objects on an unprecedented scale.
This is a small cry, a call to arms. Anyone who has been awakened to the unprecedented violence against women in our culture, take your own personal steps and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.