This essay is about why I'm against porn, but since a lot of why I am against porn is because of my personal experiences with rape, I will first write about those experiences.
I have experienced rape four times. Two were attempted rapes. Of these, one involved an ex-boyfriend -someone who'd once said he loved me. He said he "just wanted to come over to talk," and I was foolish enough to believe him. Another attempted rape was by a male acquaintance who had always been very kind and helpful to me - helped me move, etc. Both tried to force sex with me when I clearly was not willing. I managed to fight back and protest loudly enough to stop them.
Two other times I wasn't so lucky, and both of these rapes were successful. One was by another ex-boyfriend - a 40ish computer programmer and dance teacher. He was visiting from across the country and asked if he could stay at my place. I said yes, on the condition that it was just as friends - no sex involved. He cheerfully agreed. Like my other ex-boyfriend, he'd once said that he loved me, and had never done anything to harm me, so I had no reason to doubt him. I let him stay at my place and he raped me. Physically held me down and forced sex on me. I pleaded with him to stop and tried to fight back physically, but was unsuccessful. He was a lot stronger than I was. Later I asked him why he did that - hadn't he said he was ok with just keeping things platonic? He looked at me and said, with contempt that I had actually believed him, "I lied. Besides, you wanted it."
I now realize where he got that idea from: it's what the message of a lot of porn is - that women exist to service men sexually and to be used by them for sex, that "no" may mean "yes", and that women really want to be raped.
Despite these experiences, silly me, I still believed in and trusted men in general. It seemed inconceivable that anyone could ever seriously want to harm me. Why would they want to? I have lived my life as a good person who helps people and would never harm anyone except in self defense. Surely those experiences were just bizarre exceptions and I really had nothing serious to fear from men. Well, I was wrong.
Next I trusted someone who said over the phone that he was a businessman and let him in my house. He turned out to be a 19 year-old criminal, sought by police, who had committed several armed robberies in the past few weeks. I greeted him in a cheerful and trusting manner. He then pulled out a gun, pointed it at me, made it clear he would use it on me, and robbed me of all the money I had. He then forced me to perform sexual acts on him before he raped me in more than one way - all the time with the gun pointed at me, and making it clear he would use it if I didn't comply. I asked him why he was doing this to me, and he said proudly that it was what he did for a living. He was clearly building his resume.
This criminal then planned to take me in my car to my bank's ATM to take out the maximum amount from my account. He didn't say what would happen after that, but what typically happens in such situations is that the criminal takes the victim to a remote location, kills them, dumps the body and then drives off in the stolen car. I'm sure you've heard stories like this in the news. It was very clear when I looked into the eyes of this young man that I was looking into the face of evil - someone who did not have respect for human life. Robbing, raping, murdering - it was all a game to him in a way, except it was one he did for a living. He didn't want to get caught, so he would not leave a witness behind if he could avoid it.
Well, as it turns out, I didn't own a car. I was saving to buy one. He didn't have one either, so there went his plan. And here I am - still alive. He couldn't kill me where I was, as my neighbors would hear. So he just left, and threatened me with violence if I told what happened.
Afterwards, he was caught and is now serving a twenty year sentence. I spent the money I was saving for a car on a really good security system so I'd be able to sleep and feel safe in my own home. Yet I was jumpy and haunted by nightmares. This was seven years ago, and I still jump with fear when startled and feel my heart pound furiously, and my sleep is still interrupted by nightmares. Needless to say, it's hard for me to feel really comfortable around a man, whether it's a friend or a stranger.
So what does being raped have to do with pornography? Everything.
Having learned more than I ever wanted to during the past couple of years about the current reality of porn, I now realize how so many men I'd encountered got the ideas they did about sex and women. I realize why they did the things that they did that seemed so strange and wrong to me. I realized that so many of them had spent their entire lives from childhood being indoctrinated by a secret world of porn that I'd never known. In my naiveté, I thought most porn was like the Playboy magazines I'd seen when I was a child several decades ago. I have now discovered that I was not even close.
I had no real idea of the massive industry that has developed and is saturated with unbelievable objectification, degradation, dehumanization, as well as outright hatred and glorification of violence and torture against women and even children.
Now that I look back and connect all the pieces of the puzzle, I realize that many men have been systematically trained since childhood by porn and sexist media to look at girls and women as non-human sexual objects to use and abuse, and of course to rape as well. After all, rape pornography sends the message that not only is rape FUN and really EXCITING, but that it has no negative consequences, and that women really ENJOY being raped, so much that they even orgasm at the end!!! Of course this is just a pack of lies, just telling men what they would like to believe.
I learned that by so many years of masturbating to degrading and often violent sexual images, that a lot of the men that I had encountered had essentially been programmed to be sexually stimulated by certain fantasies that they saw in porn, and then sought to act out those fantasies in real life. I realized that that's what had been happening to me - when I was raped, and also sometimes when I being sexually intimate with a boyfriend and they wanted me to do certain things that I found degrading and unhealthy.
Someone might say that my experiences are exceptional - that no one should base their opinions on what I have gone through. Well, I used to think that also, and desperately hoped that my experiences were indeed very exceptional. Sadly, after having done so much research from many, many sources (including many people in real life, not just books), I have to conclude that my experiences are not at all that unusual, and are that they are becoming more common all the time. Many women simply never talk about them, and I can certainly understand that. Who wants to relive one's own experiences in hell over and over again? Who would want to live their life with the stigma of being "A Rape Victim"? And who would want to share very personal traumatic experiences with some people who don't seem to have much understanding, compassion, or empathy? (Which describes some of the men I have spoken to about being raped.)
Well, despite it being difficult and unpleasant, I'm sharing my experiences here because I think it's very important that women speak up about what they've been through and what they've learned - especially about porn and how it's affected their lives. Now I can honestly say that the existence of porn, and being constantly assaulted by various forms of it in the media, is as hurtful to me as being physically raped was, if not more so. This is because I feel that my humanity and my sexuality are being raped by pornography and sexist media EVERY SINGLE DAY, ALL DAY LONG. When I see porn or sexist media with women portrayed as less than human, I feel like sulfuric acid is being poured all over my body and soul. Porn's cruelty just eats away at every part of me.
It is also clear to me that this attack against the humanity and sexuality of women is not something that only I am experiencing, but that it's actually happening to ALL girls and women on this planet, by virtue of the sick and unsafe environment that it's creating. Porn is LYING about women, their sexuality, who they are and what they really want and need. As others have said, porn truly is a war against women. And if those people that understand the problem don't fight back, the pornographers will win their war, and more and more women and girls will continue to be raped, in every way possible.
So that's why I continually speak up about porn and let people know that it is in no way just a bunch of pictures or videos containing "harmless fantasies". I regularly speak up publicly and to the people around me. I also regularly educate myself more about the subject, so that I can speak as intelligently and articulately as possible about it. It's important for people to understand the CONSEQUENCES of the existence and use of porn - especially on women and children. I don't want the sick horror of what happened to me to ever happen to anyone else. I feel that if I'm silent about porn, then I'm part of the problem, and I can't live with the idea that I'm contributing to such a disgusting menace to society. I think it's important to be part of the solution instead.
I dream of a world someday where women are safe, respected, and viewed by all men as WHOLE and VALUABLE people - not sexual objects to be used and abused, dehumanized and degraded. I intend to keep speaking up to help accomplish this goal, and I hope others do also.
Are YOU an AntiPorn Star too? Send us your story and maybe we'll publish it here!