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Tuesday, March 14, 2006 

When Perversion Becomes Mainstream

Just when I thought I'd seen everything on the covers of mainstream porno DVDs from titles like "Fun on the Farm" and "My Granny is a Tranny". You can just imagine what the viewing content is without even seeing the cover itself. The majority of them are explicit--leaving nothing to the viewer's imagination. Of course, that doesn't keep customers from renting them and then complaining that the subject matter was vile or perverse when they return them. Most likely they feel compelled to complain from some sense of false guilt when they have to return the DVDs to a woman since my husband has said that the only complaint he's ever had from men about porn DVDs is that some of them aren't subtitled in Greek. I just think they know better than to complain to me because I will make fun of them. "Ooooh" and "aaah" are self-explanatory in any language. No translation should be required.

However, I can honestly say that even the 'mainstream' porn DVD industry has hit a new low when I saw today's offering of titles for sale to the rental stores. Two of the many DVD titles offered for sale featured women with bruised faces on the covers. In a world where forced prostitution and violence against women is on the increase, I guess it makes good business sense to them to produce movies which reflect the growing demand for such garbage.

In the past, I've destroyed the DVDs and videos which implied underage sex and incest in the titles or those which glorify rape. I've been accused of censorship by disgruntled customers but I can live with it. The men who find those movies acceptable, I don't want anywhere near me anyway. They should be more worried about their predilection for violent pornography than my attempts at censorship.

The world becomes collectively enraged when a cartoon offends Muslims. We are infuriated if a flag gets burned Iran, cars get torched in France and our leaders are objects of scorn and ridicule. Where's the outrage when it comes to violence against women?

Showing women with bruised faces on movie covers used to be a taboo--relegated to underground sex shops. The fact that these images are now poised to enter mainstream acceptance causes me to examine the reasons behind it and our toleration of it.

Ask yourselves these questions:
  • Do men feel threatened by the social and political advancement of women and resort to viewing violent portrayals of control over women to regain some of their power?
  • Have women even achieved any sort of control over their destiny if violence against women in pornography is increasing rather than decreasing?
  • What will happen to us as a society as these depictions become the norm rather than the aberration they should be?
  • If violent pornography IS offensive to the majority of the population, why are we listening to the arguments of the minority who want it?
  • Is protecting anti-censorship more important than protecting the rights of women?
  • If any other segment of the population were to be constantly depicted as subjects of violence, humiliation and degradation, would we be so blase about it?

Before I comment on your latest blog...I would like to congratulate you on being voted one of the best southeastern Europe blogs (http://fistfulofeuros.net/archives/002168.php#15481)

Also...didn't I see your blog mentioned on the www.msnbc.com site? Please confirm. I like to know if I'm in the presence of holy grandeur.

Now...on to more important things...like the disgusting, stomach-turning porn images your video supplier is peddling. I am not only outraged...I am infuriated and as a woman, scared to death at where this is going. Back in the '50s, porn was mostly Playboy nudes. Take a look at the titles of magazines and videos today and the Playboy magazines seem almost quaint. I believe people who buy porn need more and more shocking images to satisfy their urges. They've become desensitized to merely naked pictures so that the porn merchants have to keep pushing the envelope until all that's left are what I call the "Final Two Taboos" (child porn and snuff/violence porn). I am not at all surprised that we, as a society, are not collectively outraged every time a violent porn video is released. After all, murders and violence against women have become page 12 fodder rather than front page horror. The proliferation of violent porn is so widespread that you can't even find the head of the snake to chop it off. (Pun intended.) If we can't get judges to treat domestic violence as serious...how can we get them to pay attention to porn? Our police departments are underfunded...they don't have enough uniforms to pursue the worst sex offenders let alone pornographers. Women make up 50% of the population. Therefore, 1/2 the population should be screaming about what's happening in the porn industry. Maybe we should just start at home to make a difference. Teach our sons. Educate our husbands. And never accept what's happening. Ever. The consequences are too scary to contemplate.

I'm assuming the suppliers can't force these movies onto you? Can you not just return them?

If other stores did the same thing with these kinds of movies, obviously it would send a message to the supplier that this kind of movie doesn't belong on the mainstream shelves and maybe make them think before buying these kinds of titles.

Bee...Thanks for noticing! LOL the msnbc.com mention was pretty cool though. I guess people outside my family really do read my blog. LOL

I totally agree with every word in your comment. We can't leave this sort of thing up to women's movements to do. Every wife, sister, girlfriend, mother, daughter has a say in this and it's high time we all start voicing our disgust starting with the men in our lives who rent this garbage. I'm sure we've all heard the "you're such a prude" and "it's only actors in makeup who are all over 18 anyway" from males as justification. I've heard that one from clients so many times I'm sick of it and of them. I'd like to see how they'd feel if their wives and daughters only watched porn featuring men beaten and raped on a continual basis. I doubt they'd be so 'free' then.

Ellas...All video stores have a choice over the titles they have in the stores. That's why THOSE titles will never enter my stores. Not in a million years. Any titles that are part of a 'package deal' so that we can get cheaper unit prices, I trash before I even take the cellophane wrapping off them. I have no problem with naked people having sex. I do have a HUGE problem when any titles even imply incest, rape, or violence against women and children.

I guess I don't really see those types of movies in Canada. Maybe its because I don't bother to look at more than what I want to rent, or maybe because they just don't have that here in Canada. But I'd guess that would be popular now which is so sad. Congrats on the vote!

Expat...they do indeed have "those types of videos" in Canada. That's why most provincial and municipal police forces have a task force dedicated to finding and arresting the baddest of the baddest. Unfortunately, there are so many "baddies" that they require huge amounts of money and people. They only have enough to scratch the tip of the iceberg. I think Toronto still has their "Project P" task force. Check them out. I also know these horrible porn videos and paraphrenalia are in this country because the Customs Agents routinely arrest people at the border for accepting these packages or trying to cross the border with them. They're not getting all of them...but they are on the radar. My suggestion...if you see any of these "underground" videos...report them to your local police department and register a complaint with your MLA and the media.

I couldn't find the mention. Please provide a link to the story.

anonymous, a link to which story? SeaWitch is talking from personal experience. She owns a video store. She knows first hand. No link necessary.

SeaWitch, Great post as always. How do you deal with this crap?
Queen bee, yes I agree. We must teach our sons but one of the worst feeling I have ever had is walking past some of the kiosks here displaying hardcore porn with MY SON! I mean stuff with women tied up, close ups of vaginas being penetrated kind of stuff. I don't even know where to start to explain how that makes me feel firstly as a woman and secondly as a mum trying to raise a son.

My son is at an age when he wants to be independant, walk home by himself etc. All I have in my mind is images of perverts who look at child porn and then look at my pretty son and what goes through their mind? It scares the crap out of me. Not just for how men look at me but how they look at my child too.

Where do I begin to teach my son when this stuff is hung out on the street corner?

If anyone has some pointers please let me know.

Anonymous...Check out these links about Canada's policing of the porn industry and pedophiles/pederasts:

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/3.03/canada.html?pg=2&topic=internet_law

http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/landslide/resources.html

http://www.opp.ca/projp/english/

Great article by Naomi Wolf:
http://nymetro.com/nymetro/news/trends/n_9437/

List of porn titles Canada Customs stopped at the border:
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0823041canada1.html

YAY CANADA!!!! We might not be getting it all...but at least we're trying!

DeviousDiva...I'm not sure what resources are available to teach kids about the dangers of pornography...but I do think this website is wonderful:

http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/2594/abuse.html

Since pornography is so closely linked with pedophilia (the pedophiles often use it to "soften" up the child's resistance), it's important that if children are shown it by another adult that it is NOT OK.

I'm not an expert on this subject but I believe children should know that they have every right to cause trouble and report any adult who provides them with access to pornographic material. There's a fine line between educating children and scaring the living tar out of them! Personally, I don't think any child should be exposed to ANYTHING of a sexual nature...but knowing my luck...I'd have a kid that says "So you won't tell me where babies come from?" Then I'd have to backtrack and modify my statements.

A link to the MSNBC story about this blog.

Anon...This is the link to the mention of my blog at MSNBC. You'll find it in the Feb. 26 section.

Here's what it said...
Great insights on movie tastes from the owner of a couple of "home entertainment stores" (which I gather means he rents videos). UPDATE: This item said "American movie tastes" in the initial draft. I saw "Athens" and thought "Georgia" without seeing the obvious "Location: Greece" in the blog header. (And I wouldn't have guessed anyone in the world other than Americans actually watch Steven Seagal... although David Hasslehoff is also popular abroad.) Reader Jay suggests, "Movie tastes same around the world" but part of me is resistant to that. I feel like there's surely a culture that isn't naturally drawn to guns and bikini girls... although, as I write that out loud, I think maybe Jay's right.

Thanks

Apologies to anonymous, I completly misinterpreted your comment. I get so many troll comments on my site I was being over the top. Sorry.

Diva...I wish I didn't find it necessary to blog about such things but I can't keep quiet about it either.
I get sickened when I went to a periptero to buy a bottle of water and my son is asking me if "those ladies get embarrassed doing what they do". We had a long talk about it when he was about 10 and he first noticed them (or first told me he noticed...I'm not sure which). I never got angry with him for looking but I worked on his conscience. I asked him if he thinks women and girls should do those things...If it's something to be proud of...If he thought it was better for women to be doctors or athletes and why...if he'd like a girlfriend who did that for a living. We had a good, long discussion about it--discussing how women get involved in such an industry and reasons why it exists and towards the end he "Is sex bad?"
I really thought I was doing a good job with our discussion till he popped that question but luckily, I found a good answer for him: "No, sex definitely isn't bad...beautiful children like you are a result of sex." He was happy with that answer and said it doesn't matter to him anyway since dogs are better than girls. I sometimes wish he wouldn't grow up. LOL

Yoda...I mean Seawitch...a very wise and astute mom you are. Good answers and a good way to broach the subject of porn. You made your son do the thinking and come up with his own answers. And you managed to convey that sex itself is not bad--just some of the people who write and talk about it are. So does he know that if an adult shows him porno pics he's supposed to rat that person out as soon as possible??? Somehow...I think my nephew would have no problem telling perverts exactly what he thought. *hoping*

zardoz says :

stick it to 'em seawitch....

I'm having my hands full
with the fellahs passing
e-mail
porn around, and when i yell
dont we have somethin better
to do with our time on the net
than to oogle women ,
I usually cause quite a raucus
THEN the kiddin starts
you dont like women ,and so on
and so on ....qyite the
contrary . ANYWAY

THE other day someone , though
thru a team of e-mail senders
had the aydacity to send me
one of those school kids(three girls)
photos were the kids are clothed
but there climbing all over each other, in sexually innuending
postures .nasty.
NOW THIS was send
by a university teacher to aboyt
15 bulk e-mails of friends and
associates. THE KIDS FOR SURE
WERE UNDER AGE .
1) first step i reprimanded
the whole team of reciepents
of this particular e-mail
2) i went to the university and had
my ex-friend reprimand the
idiot who sent it to him,
telling them that if anything of the sort came to my knowledge
i'd take them to the police.
THEN SAT down and had a very long
coversation with my friend
(hes a father of two)
about what if it was he's
daughter of three years old
in someone's sexual preferences
and not some unknown scoolgirls
of 14 to 16 , that he sent out,,
what if they (girls) were his..

MAYBE A MESSAGE SANK IN ,,
I DONT KNOW ,, I WALK THE
STREETS ,,SOME THINGS GET YA IN THE JUGULAR WHEN YOURE PASSING BY
AND THEN AGAIN MORE TIME IS NEEDED
TO GET YOUR HEAD STRAIGHT AGAIN
EVERY TIME SOMETHING HAPPENS
AND MEASURES ARE TAKEN.

its a little personal
story , just thought i'd bring it
up because guys can help out
qyite a bit on the things you wrote
in your article


JUST THE SAME ,,STICK IT TO'EM



=== zardoz ===

I don't usually give porn much thought, my most strenuous objections have always been towards snuff films and child porn, for what I hope are obvious reasons. When it comes to films that show bruised women on the cover, I'm not sure I would have given it much thought, but then again, I'm not looking at porn covers as part of my business, either.

I have mixed feelings about such porn (ie. abusive porn). While it may stoop to the level of a snuff film at times, I assume that most of these productions are simply that, productions, and that the actors involved are not getting hurt (physically, I can't speak to the psychological trauma of being a porn star). But, does living vicariously through watching such films psychologically halt any impulse there would be to actually harm women? Or does it make the impulse stronger? I suppose the answer could vary man to man.

My ideal porn (wow, there is something I never thought I'd say) does not have any type of violent subversive behavior (not including S&M porn, which is usually harmless). In the end, I applaud your decision to not carry certain types of porn, and if customers don't like it, well, I'm sure there is a seedy place somewhere around the corner where they can find it.

Melusina...your "strenuous objections" to snuff films and child porn???? WTF???? I "strenuously object" to raising auto insurance rates. I am HORRIFIED at snuff films and child porn.

If you're living in North America, please talk to your local law enforcement agency and see if they think porn (esp. the hard core variety) is "harmless".

RE: "stoop to the level of snuff films"
I'm not sure if you realize...but snuff films show the real-life torture and death of human beings (most often women). Child porn films the abuse of REAL children.

Please consider this:

The reputable scientific magazine, New Scientist (5 May, 1990), after reviewing the research literature concluded:

It would, however, be an equally serious mistake to dismiss research on pornography as inconclusive and so irrelevant. The weight of evidence is accumulating that intensive exposure to soft-core pornography desensitises men's attitude to rape, increases sexual callousness and shifts their preferences towards hard-core pornography.
Similarly, the evidence is now strong that exposure to violent pornography increases men's acceptance of rape myths and of violence against women. It also increases men's tendencies to be aggressive towards women and is correlated with the reported incidence of rape. Many sex offenders claim they used pornography to stimulate themselves before committing their crimes." [4]

zardoz says :

I STRONGLY BELIEVE

that the QUEEN BEE is

right about the effects

it has on the aggresiveness

on the male population,

and im afraid children

in search thrills on the

internet are in mental


health danger when dealing

with SNUFF type garbage

TRUE OR NOT , it is depictable

for this trash to infiltrate

young minds ,




==== Z ====

I think Queen Bee misunderstood me to the nth degree. I didn't use reactionary language. I'm not one of those "down with all porn" people. Can I say I'm horrified at child porn and snuff films? Horrified implies surprise and I'm not sure I'm surprised at the things human beings can do anymore. Disgusted, yes. Confused, yes. Such things interfere with my search for faith. But that is a whole other story altogether.

I do know that snuff films are real. That was the point I was making - if the abuse in the abuse films is real, then it is not only wrong, but illegal. If it is a production, it is a production. I don't really complain about violence in action movies, so I'm not about to be a hypocrite on that stance. I'm not sure I like the idea of abusive porn (that is acted, again, stressing the acted part) but like I said, I haven't before given it a whole lot of thought. I never used to have objections to S&M type scenarios, but is that the same, or is it different?

I've heard both opinions on the effects of porn on violent men, and I've also heard the opinion that porn or no porn, these men will do what they will do. In the end, that is what I'm more concerned about, I guess.

I'm sorry, I'm reading all these comments but they're not really sinking in cause I can't get over the fact that they actually DISTRIBUTE that kind of porn, NORMALLY!
They DO do a good job in Canada, cause I know that ANY porn film that shows ANY HINT of a woman being forced to have sex against her will, bound or otherwise restrained, is censored. So the only way to distribute them is through 'underground' avenues, where only the people who're already to sick to begin with bother to seek it out.
I guess I just assumed it was the same here.
Seawitch, are you saying this stuff is LEGAL?!?! That it's LEGAL to rent porn with pictures of women with bruised faces on the cover? Or is it that the agencies that are supposed to control it don't do a good enough job at keeping it off the streets, but technically it's illegal.
Because if it is ACTUALLY LEGAL, I'm about to throw a flying fit.
And Devious, I admire your restraint. I have to say I haven't seen the kind of stuff you're talking about hanging up in peripteros - just playboy magazines with pin-up girls on the cover, which are bad enough, but if I saw the stuff you're talking about, especailly if I had a child of mine with me, I think it would be all you could do to keep me from tearing it down and throwing it in the periptero guy's face. Jesus. Have you tried asking these guys if they have kids/nieces and nephews? And how they'd feel if these kids saw it? Maybe you could get through to some of them if you approached it the right way. What neighbourhood is this in??? Is this legal too??!!!
I suddenly feel very naive/like a spoiled and sheltered Canadian, and very pissed off.
I think if this stuff is legal some serious government lobbying has to start to get it banned. It's ridiculous.
And if it is illegal, I'd like to be able to walk up to the nearest cop and get him to take the magazines/videos off the shelf.
And if he wouldn't - well, a lawyer I know told me the only way to ever get anything done in Greece is to get the media to get hold of it and start a bout of mass hysteria. So maybe we should all start wriing hysterical letters to all the TV stations in Greece, and get them to start broadcasting about it?
Let me know and I'll get those TV station addresses.

Kass...If the porn distributors are confident enough to print up their glossy brochures with these covers on them and distribute them to a thousand dvd stores, then I should think that it is legal here. I'm also sure the cops know about them since they're renting porn as well. I can't say if they rent the titles I've just described because I don't have them in my store. I don't know if other stores carry them though.
But you don't need to go dvd clubs to find evidence of questionable content...look at the covers of men's magazines. When my local corner store carried one with the title "Teens!" on the front cover and a pic of a topless girl who looked no more than 15, I told the owner that I wouldn't buy anything from him until he removed those magazines. He did.
A couple of weeks ago I was watching Themos Anastasiadis' show on Alpha TV and he had a 17 year old girl on his show who had posed nude in a popular men's magazine. Now I thought it was illegal for girls under 18 to appear nude but apparently I'm wrong. The age of consent for sexual activity is 15 years of age. In Canada, it's 14 years of age. Are you sufficiently shocked yet? I am. The more I research, the more depressed I become.

It's 12 in some countries.

are you saying this stuff is LEGAL?!?! That it's LEGAL to rent porn with pictures of women with bruised faces on the cover? .....
Because if it is ACTUALLY LEGAL, I'm about to throw a flying fit.


I am glad it is legal and Canada's controls are breaking down. no I don't like pornography that involves fantasies of violence, but I guess I have to wonder if this semtiment means that sports such as boxing ought to be illegal? And of course that the award winning "Million Dollar Baby" ought to have been banned?

How about Gladiator? Or several thousand mainstream films that depict violence against people?

Violence is everywhere in entertainment. Are we saying the violence in "The Sopranos" is only condemnatory of violence? Hardly, the main aspect is voyeristic enjoyment.

A (small) segment of the pornography business is refelcting a much larger aspect of the entertainment business, which is getting more violent all the time.

Seems we are mixing two things; a 19th century prejudice against sexuality with a reaction to violence. The abhorence of violence I can agree with, but censorship never works - most pornography is moving through the internet anyway, where boundary maintainace is impossible.

Yeah well I don't see why we should make it any easier than it has to be for the sick f**** who get off on seeing a woman being beaten to access that kind of material. Yes it'll always exist in some form, but that doesn't mean we should publicly condone it by making it legal. And there is no comparison between a film like Million Dollar Baby and a violent porn film. You could have at least picked a film with gratuitous violence, if you wanted to make a better argument. Depicting violence onscreen to get a story or message across, and depicting violence for violence's sake are entirely different things - especially when said violence is being directed explicitly and intentionally towards women, who experience enough of it in real life.
Similarily, while no fan of boxing, you will note that it sets two equally matched opponents against each other - again no comparison with violent porn.
It has nothing to do with 19th century prudishness either - that's just a cheap attempt to get us to zip it by suggesting there's something wrong with us and our sexuality because we don't approve of these things. Give me a break.
I'm not a huge proponent of censorship either, but I think a line has to be drawn somewhere. If you want to claim that people's freedom to choose is being infringed by censorship, you have to take it all the way and argue that we should be allowed to choose to walk outside and shoot or rape whoever we want, in the name of freedom.
And just because censorship doesn't always work, should we just throw up our hands and walk away? Does the same go for all the other seemingly hopeless world issues people across the world are dedicating their lives to? Should they all just give up cause it seems to difficult?
Moreover, your statement that you're actually glad it's legal, and "breaking down" in Canada, makes me question whether you're being entirely honest in saying you don't enjoy fantasies of violence yourself. It's one thing to say you think censorship doesn't work, or to criticize violence across the media - otherwise worded, these would have been valid points. But glad?????

Seawitch and Devious: I'm hoping to put together a little "propaganda package" to send to the TV stations and get some coverage of the issue, but some illustrations would really help it get noticed and, hopefully, broadcast. SO the next time a set of these catalogues comes across your desk, or you notice some offensive material hanging in plain sight in peripteros, would you be able to take photos of the offending material and e-mail it to me? (link on my blog.) Hoping you guys have digital cameras... I'll keep an eye out too.
Maybe we can pass it around for signatures afterwards as well???? Not sure how those petition things work but will see when the time comes...

Kassandra, great idea and I would love to take pictures for you. Sadly, I don't have a digital camera. If you hope down to Ommonia Square they are on open display. They are at my ten year old's eye level!

I will keep a note of where I see them from now on.

but that doesn't mean we should publicly condone it by making it legal

What a bizzare and frankly incredible point of view.

My guess is you don't live in the US Canada, or the EU, since you have a Stalinist take on legality.

Not making something ilegal has nothing to do with condoning it.

Now I thought it was illegal for girls under 18 to appear nude but apparently I'm wrong. The age of consent for sexual activity is 15 years of age. In Canada, it's 14 years of age. Are you sufficiently shocked yet? I am. The more I research, the more depressed I become.

Well your "research" is garbage. In Canada you have to be 18 to appear nude in a publication. Same in Greece.

Since pornography is so closely linked with pedophilia (the pedophiles often use it to "soften" up the child's resistance)
that has been proven false in study after study.

Hanna...
Well your "research" is garbage. In Canada you have to be 18 to appear nude in a publication. Same in Greece.

I would like to know where you got your information Hanna. From what I've read, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to be depicted engaging in sexual activity but I haven't read anything banning nudity over the age of 14, which is the legal age of consent for sexual activity in Canada.
For a list of the age of consent for countries around the world, you can visit the Interpol's site.
The link for Canada is here:
http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaCanada.asp
From there you can click through to the rest of the countries.

I am interested in any laws which state it is forbidden for anyone under the age of 18 to appear nude. So far, I haven't found such a law. It only covers nudity in relation to sexual acts.

You state, that my research is "garbage" without providing me anything to support your statements to the contrary.

If laws exist in Greece & Canada banning nude photographs of under-18s, I really would like to see the links since many publications in both Greece and Canada (especially fashion and men's magazines) are in defiance of such a law.

What a bizzare and frankly incredible point of view.

My guess is you don't live in the US Canada, or the EU, since you have a Stalinist take on legality.


Hanna: Wrong! I'm from both Canada and the EU. And anyway, who's to say that one is necessarily a product of one's society? You are suggesting that someone raised in a communist country can't be a capitalist at heart, and vice versa. What a bizarre, and frankly incredible, point of view!

Not making something ilegal (sic) has nothing to do with condoning it.

My comment has nothing to do with legality or the legal system, of which I know little, but was merely a matter of logic - and not particularly incredible logic at that. Perhaps the problem is one of semantics. I get the feeling that you are not familiar with the definition of condone, hence the confusion.(Which would lead me to assume that you're not a native english speaker, were I given to making presumptuous assumptions.)

In any case, the Merriam-Webster definition of condone is: "to pardon or overlook voluntarily; especially : to treat as if trivial, harmless, or of no importance".
Is it not fair to say that a government which fails to pass laws regarding violent pornography is voluntarily overlooking the issue, and treating it as though it is trivial or harmless? Thus, according to the definition, condoning it?
Or is your problem not with my take on legality, but rather with the fact that I am coming down on violent pornography as something which should not be condoned by anyone? You managed to sidestep having to share your views on the subject, though you were quite vociferous on other, more trivial ones. So what do you think? Was your discourteous comment in fact a disguised defense of pornography which depicts violence towards women?
I am always amazed by how riled up people get whenever someone contests the status quo...

seawitch: sorry, I know it's impolite to get invloved in long tangential conversations with other guests on someone else's blog, but really, I couldn't resist...

kass...Absolutely no apology necessary. I think your response was well-written, justified and completely necessary. Thanks for posting it.

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