Jonathon Van Maren

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Largest study of online porn to date: Thousands of videos depict sexual violence, incest

The researchers only examined the titles, tags, and descriptions, rather than reviewing the content, meaning that plenty of porn videos featuring degrading and violent behavior are not included.
Mon Apr 12, 2021 - 8:48 am EST
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April 12, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — One of the few encouraging cultural indicators these days is that string of exposés affirming, once again, that the porn industry is rife with rape, sex tracking, and sexual abuse is starting to wake people up. Mindgeek executives were grilled by Canadian Members of Parliament; major mainstream media outlets covered the revelations; American politicians began to discuss legislation targeting Pornhub.

The more people are forced to confront the violence and ugliness of digital porn, the more difficult it becomes to ignore the fact that we are a culture having a public #MeToo moment while privately watching women and girls get brutalized and assaulted for entertainment and sexual satisfaction.

In case anyone needed more evidence that pornography is fueling a new, subterranean rape culture, British researchers Fiona Vera-Gray, Clare McGlynn, Ibad Kureshi and Kate Butterby have just published the largest study of online porn to date in the British Journal of Criminology. Titled “Sexual violence as a sexual script in mainstream online pornography,” the study included a survey of 131,738 videos from the UK’s most popular porn sites, Pornhub, XHamster, and Xvideos.

Screenshots were taken every hour for six months between 2017 and 2018, with the researchers recording keywords that fall under the World Health Organization’s definition of sexual violence. Over 8,000 of 131,738 titles contained references to sexual violence, with 5,785 of those referencing incest.

There is a proviso to this, as well. The actual percentage of violent porn videos is much higher, as the researchers specifically excluded BDSM titles that were classified as consensual, meaning that many videos in which violence (the “s,” after all, stands for “sadism”) is perpetrated against women and girls were not included in the researchers’ findings.

BDSM porn has exploded in the wake of the 50 Shades craze, and former porn actresses have reported that rape is common and sexual violence is the norm. This material, regardless of whether the flimsy standard of consent (which the #MeToo movement has us reconsidering in the context of external pressures and coercion) is applied, are mainstreaming brutality against women for sexual pleasure.

Additionally, the researchers only examined the titles, tags, and descriptions of the videos rather than reviewing the content, meaning that plenty of porn videos featuring degrading and violent behavior against women would not have been included in their statistics. The researchers reported being disturbed by what they found using the narrow WHO definition of sexual violence. A more thorough accounting of the violence inherent to the porn industry would have produced even more staggering numbers.

As it was, the pornification of broken families was disturbingly revealed once again with the prevalence of porn involving “stepmother”; doubly voyeuristic videos featuring “hidden cams” and “upskirting” were common, as were keywords such as “forced,” “ambush,” “molest,” and “grope.”

Many of the titles are too vile to cite here, but the researchers also affirmed the prevalence of porn focusing on underage girls, a disturbingly popular trend in porn since “Barely Legal” films hit the market. As Vice put it:

The word frequency analysis further showed that in videos with coercive and exploitative content, the words “schoolgirl” (17.6 percent), “girl” (9.6 percent) and “teen” (8.8 percent) were the most common. A 2019 study found that when compared with adult performers, “teens” were about five times more likely than adults to be in videos featuring [violent sodomy], as well as more likely to be in videos [featuring other degradation]. The study also noted that videos featuring teens might be played by adult actors or those 18 and above, but in some cases, they can include underage actors too. The lack of regulation can also put the viewers in a tricky position — they don’t know how old the actors in the videos are, and the punishment for possession of child sexual abuse material is serious. Furthermore, even if the actors are playing teenage characters in the videos, the storylines often involve an underage person who is often coerced or tricked into sex. Titles like “Daddy, I don’t wanna go to school!” and keywords such as “pigtails”, “braces”, and “homework” often point out the role of a young teenager.

The researchers highlighted the fact that violent pornography is universally accessible to everyone, including children. As sexting becomes an almost ubiquitous practice among young people, revenge porn has also become common. In an interview with the BBC, researcher Fiona Vera-Gray noted that violent pornography has “eroticised non-consent” and is erasing “the boundary between sexual pleasure and sexual violence”; the inescapable conclusion of the study’s findings is that for an increasing number of people, those two things are synonymous.

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The #MeToo movement was a response to the growing prevalence of sexual violence in our society — but relatively few have pointed out the obvious: If the majority of people in our society are viewing, for pleasure or entertainment, the systematic violation, degradation, and abuse of women and girls, what does this say about our culture? How did this become acceptable? How have we allowed so-called “sexual liberation” to liberate the ugliest, vilest instincts within ourselves until we call choking, beating, whipping, and violating women and girls a “fundamental freedom”?

Until we answer these questions and embark on the cultural chemotherapy necessary to treat this cancer, the #MeToo movement will be ineffectually pointing at the tip of the iceberg.


  british journal of criminology, pornography, sexual violence

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