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Archive for the ‘Links’ Category

2257 (from the “Let’s Think About This for More than 30 Seconds” file)

Posted by A birch tree on July 20, 2008

It has come to my attention that certain parties are attempting to silence Stop Porn Culture‘s new slideshow (which I will not link to, as I have been informed it contains explicit images) by using US Code Title 18, Section 2257 to declare it and other such anti-porn information and demonstrations by activists such as Gail Dines (who has a great non-pornographic presentation viewable here) illegal.

2257 says:

(a) Whoever produces any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, or other matter which—
(1) contains one or more visual depictions made after November 1, 1990 of actual sexually explicit conduct; and
(2) is produced in whole or in part with materials which have been mailed or shipped in interstate or foreign commerce, or is shipped or transported or is intended for shipment or transportation in interstate or foreign commerce;
shall create and maintain individually identifiable records pertaining to every performer portrayed in such a visual depiction.

It goes on to talk about specifics and penalties. In a nutshell, this means that anyone who produces pornographic shit needs to have records verifying who the victims are and how old they are (because remember, porn magically becomes a safe industry after a woman turns 18).

The parties opposed to antipornography activism, in a full-out defensive breath-holding temper tantrum, are claiming, with much mock indignance on the part of pornography victims performers, that people who put together such slideshows that include pornography for demonstrative purposes are in violation of 2257 in that they don’t have the aforementioned identification documents on site.

I smell Male Logic(tm)* at work. Taking a clear, valid law and messing around with the meanings of words and the original spirit in which the law was intended in order to punish the people that they are opposed to, but whose goals the law was intended to help along, while at the same time not insisting on the same application for industries and activities they favor, is pretty classic. They use a process I like to call “I couldn’t find a flaw in the first thirty seconds on thinking about this idea, so it must hold water”. It’s the same kind of thinking that gives us “Men are hardwired by evolution to love big breasts” and “Women are underrepresented in science and engineering and other high-prestige, high-paying fields because they just don’t like math.” It scratches the surface of an issue, creates a soundbite, and sends the soundbite around the world to make it gospel.

To wit: I imagine said parties would not insist that x-rated movie theatres, so-called “adult” bookstores, or pornographic video stores are noncompliant with 2257 because they don’t have the requisite identification documents on-hand. Furthermore, if 2257 were as strictly applied as some with a porn addiction and/or a financial stake in the sex industry claim they would like it to be, it would subject a dude who gets his buddies together to watch his latest porno to criminal charges and fines, since he doesn’t have the documentation in his bedside table, and would therefore be liable for presenting it to his pornsick friends.

I might accept that trade-off. Anti-porn radical feminists and radical pro-feminists are no longer allowed to show an audience an informative slideshow or video as long as individual dudes are not allowed to show an audience a titillative slideshow or video, and “adult” bookstores are no longer allowed to include peep booths, and X-rated movie theatres and video stories must get copies of all the relevant documentation for every movie they show or carry.

Of course, the pro-porn crowd (including the odd male pro-porn feminist) doesn’t promote that particular set of stringent applications because (A) those consequences only show up in the brain at around 32+ seconds of thinking and (B) they only want to use the law to protect their interests, not thwart them.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that I have not seen Stop Porn Culture’s slideshow, nor any of the pornographic ones Gail Dines is reputed to be responsible for, nor do I necessarily agree with that particular method of education. The efficacy telling people to stop using pornography via showing them lots of pornography is, to my mind, rather arguable; at least in that most people (men especially) who profess ignorance of the content of modern pornography are probably liars, seeing as our society is pretty much being pickled in a barrel of porn-brine. Having said that, a number of activists, including some I personally respect, consider it to be a viable and effective method of education and communication, and it appears the pro-porn lobby agrees with them, elsewise they wouldn’t be going to the trouble of trying to selectively misapply parts of US law to lever said tactic out of Stop Porn Culture’s hands.

I suppose what really ruffles the finches’ feathers is that the pro-porn lobby seems to show so much concern for the “rights” of porn participators when it comes to using their images without proper documentation, but not when it comes to, say, their terrifyingly high rates of PTSD or the fact that 80% of them don’t even get the courtesy of a condom, much less how they tend to discount the stories of any woman who has been horribly abused by the porn industry. No no, their (arbitrarily applied) concern is over documentation. That’s obviously the important issue.

-a birch tree

*[Male Logic(tm) is merely a reference to the skewed and often idiotic twisting of actual logic that is often used by men trying to justify the un-justifyable, but its use is no longer constrained by gender. I mention this so that nobody gets the idea that the subjects of this post are exclusively male.]


Posted in Feminism, Links, Sex Industry | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Back, Kinda

Posted by A birch tree on June 26, 2008

So my discharge went through, and I’m home with my family, which is really, really good news. It gets better every day I’m home.

I really feel like I dodged a bullet, in spite of my ambivalence. While I bristle a bit about being offically labeled as nuttier than squirrel shit in the mental health department (I went nearly 30 years and never noticed, as I may have mentioned once already), watching world events and reading Heart’s post about Navy rapists, I can’t fight the feeling that had I managed to stay in the Navy I would have ended up just as bad as all of the people I wrote about in A Hall of Shame and/or slowly rotting in at the bottom of the sea at the start of the next world war. Fortunately, I’ll never know.

Being home again after all this time has a lot of challenges, like finding a Real Job(tm), re-integrating into civilian life, getting to know my family and my role in it from a new perspective, and so on and so forth. That’s made posting a bit more of a hassle than I’m ready to tackle on a regular basis. I’ve put up a couple of things, but nothing substantial.

I’ve got some ideas that are formulating, though, and I anticipate a couple good, meaty posts coming in the next week or two, after Aria and I get back from our backpacking/camping trip.

In the meantime, here are a few things I’ve been reading that I recommend:

Updates on the New Jersey 4 Dandrige and Hill have had their convictions overturned! Rejoice!

A discussion of women’s choices over at Feminist 101. I cannot for the life of me find it, but I’m reminded strongly of a post put up a very long time ago by one of the UK feminist bloggers (I think); she said she always believed it was her free choice to shave her legs until she did an experiment to prove it, and didn’t shave her legs, and after a couple weeks, her boyfriend had a complete fit and she realized that she had less freedom of that choice than she thought. I wish wish wish I could remember who posted it, and could find that post again. I think it was called “Pressure” or something similar. It was pretty eye-opening for me.

From Our Bodies, Our Blog, an analysis of Abstinance Only sex education when put up against Comprehensive sex education.

And now I’m off to help make homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing. And I don’t even have to worry about making weight for any upcoming physical readiness tests! JOY!

Posted in Feminism, Links, Miscellany | Leave a Comment »

Update to Fact Dump – Pornography and the Sex Industry

Posted by A birch tree on May 25, 2008

Just a note that a new statistic has been added to the April 14th, 2008’s “Fact Dump” post. Under “Prostitution: Working Environment”, I have added the following.

The workplace homicide rate for prostitutes as of 2004 was 201 per 100,000. Compare to the “Most Dangerous Profession” as of May 2008: Mining, with an occupational death rate of only 30.1 per 100,000.

And under “Prostitution: Effects on Prostitutes”, I have added

The average age of death for a woman in prostitution is 34 years old.

The primary sources are Mortality in a Long Term Open Cohort of Prostitute Women and NYT: Miners Found to Have Highest Death Rate On the Job (which, serendipitously enough, came out just today), but I’d like to give a hat tip to Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog for linking the study. You should check the place out; I’ve literally done nothing at all today beyond eat, smoke, make a blog post earlier this morning, and read that blog.

Something to keep in mind next time some dork dude pulls out the “Men work in all the most dangerous jobs!” canard… apparently, they (and the New York Times) don’t think of prostitution as a “job”.

Oh, and one thing I found interesting and scary and depressing all at the same time, but which doesn’t belong in the fact dump, was this quote from the NYT article:

Among female workers, 42 percent of all on-the-job deaths were because of homicide, compared with 11 percent for males.

Wow. Ok, guys? Seriously? I don’t ever want to hear any fucking nonsense about dangerous, demanding jobs in which lots of guys die, ever again Among all the other things we don’t have to worry about because we have a penis, we also don’t have to worry as much about being murdered on the job as women do. 42% of all on-the-job deaths for women are murders. What. The. Fuck.

I can’t get over how disturbed this has made me. When I started the Fact Dump, that’s, shamefully, all the were: bits of facts that were good debate points but which didn’t really manage to cross the dude-brain barrier. The more I read about feminism, the more they start to come out in living color as events, not statistics, that actually have an impact on real people every single day. Reducing women’s tragedy to a list of numbers is just as privileged as ignoring the tragedy altogether. It’s a lot easier to exercise male priviledge and dissassociate those numbers from the women they represent, than it is to actually think about the atrocities involved, and it’s wrong, and I apologise for engaging in that kind of avoidance-based thinking.

Posted in Feminism, Links, Studies | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Fact Dump – Pornography and the Sex Industry

Posted by A birch tree on April 14, 2008

[Updated on 25May08 – Prostitution: Working Environment and Prostitution: Effects on Prostitutes]

Ok, so I lied. One more post about pornography and the sex industry.

I figured, since I’d been gathering so many links, lots of facts weren’t finding their way into my posts, and the ones that were, well, they were getting scattered amongst several posts.

So I’m going to take a moment to compile a bunch of research on the topic of the sex industry. Hopefully someone might find this helpful, in some context. Information can be a powerful tool.

Also, I need a bit of help locating a quotation I can no longer find. I read somewhere that at least one group of researchers was so successful in demonstrating the harmful effects of pornography that many univerisy ethics boards will no longer approve studies that expose subjects to pornography. I really need a source for that claim before I start trying to use it, however, so if anyone has heard the quotation I’m talking about, I’d really appreciate a link to it!

Effects of the Sex Industry on Women Employed Therein:

Prostitution: Entry Factors

  • More than 90% of prostitutes suffered childhood sexual abuse.1
  • At least two-thirds of prostitutes began before their 16th birthday; the average age of entry into prostitution in the USA is 14.1 2
  • 96% of child prostitutes surveyed were runaways, and said they had no other way to make money.1
  • Two thirds of prostitutes were sexually abused as children, with the average age of first victimization being 10 years old. More than 65% of those were sexually abused by either natural, step-, or foster fathers. 90% of prostitutes surveyed reported that they lost their virginity through sexual assault. 70% cited those events as influencing their entry into sex work.1 2
  • Approximately 400,000 women are trafficked across international borders for the purposes of forced sexual exploitation yearly. 50,000 of those are brought into the USA. 4 5 6

Prostitution: Working Environment

  • 82% of prostitutes reported being physically assaulted while on the job. 83% were threatened with a weapon.1 2 3
  • 68% reported being raped while working. In 27% of rape cases, there were multiple assailants (4 being the average).1 2 3
  • Two-thirds of prostitutes report being beaten by pimps. Half were kidnapped by pimps.1
  • Hunter, 1994, found that prostitutes in Portland, Oregon were being raped approximately once a week.2
  • 84% reported being homeless.1 3
  • 80% stated that customers used pornography and photographs to demonstrate which activities they wanted the prostitutes to perform.1 2 3
  • At least 90% of prostitution is controlled by pimps. Pimps routinely employ rape, physical abuse, and torture to maintain control of prostitutes, and many hire “catchers”; thugs tasked with patrolling the edges of the pimp’s territory to apprehend prostitutes who attempt to escape.2
  • [Update: 25May08]The workplace homicide rate for prostitutes as of 2004 was 201 per 100,000. Compare to the “Most Dangerous Profession” as of May 2008: Mining, with an occupational death rate of only 30.1 per 100,000.16 17

Prostitution: Effects on Prostitutes

  • 75% of prostitutes have attempted suicide.1
  • 15% of all suicide victims are prostitutes.1
  • Baldwin, 1992, reported that women and girls involved in prostitution had a mortality rate forty (40) times higher than the Canadian national average.2
  • As many as 84% of prostitutes suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 2
  • Of those prostitutes suffering from PTSD, the average severity rating was higher than that of Vietnam War veterans who requested treatment. 3
  • 88% of prostitutes in the USA report wanting to leave prostitution. 3
  • [Update: 25May08] The average age of death for a woman in prostitution is 34 years old.16

Some quotations from the studies:

Any distinction between prostitution of children and prostitution of adults is arbitrary, and obscures this lengthy history of trauma. The 15-year-old in prostitution eventually turns 18, but she has not suddenly made a new vocational choice. She simply continues to be exploited by customers and pimps.1

A number of authors (e.g. Barry, 1995; Hoigard and Finstad, 1992; Leidholdt, 1993; Ross et al., 1990; Vanwesenbeeck, 1994) have described the psychological defenses which are necessitated by the experience of prostitution, and which frequently persist: splitting off certain kinds of awareness and memories, disembodiment, dissociation, amnesia, hiding one’s real self (often until the nonprostituted self begins to blur), depersonalization, denial.1

Traffickers sell the women into the prostitution network for $4000 – 5000 for short-term contracted work. The women are then forced to pay off the fee for their “owners” by free “servicing” of up to 500 men, in 12-plus hour shifts, seven days a week, before earning a low fee for sexual services. 5

Pornography: Entry Factors

  • Entry factors into pornography are essentially identical to prostitution. 7
  • Pornographers often use fraudulent job advertisements for “models” or “actresses” and then are coerced into sexual acts at their “interview”. 7

Pornography: Effects on Actresses and Working Environment

  • The PTSD rates affecting porn actresses are similar to the rates affecting prostitutes. Further, prostitutes who were forced by their customers or pimps to perform in pornography had significantly more PTSD symptoms than prostitutes who did not have pornography made of them. 7
  • The use of condoms in the American porn industry is less than 20%. 7
  • The average pay for a single porn scene, which includes oral, anal, and vaginal penetration, is $500, which must be stretched between periods of no work. Actresses in amature productions are rarely paid at all. 7

Pornography: Effects on Viewers

  • Donnerstein, 1983, discovered that after only 10 minutes of exposure to agressive pornography, males were significantly more likely to report the believe that an average of 25% of the women they know enjoy being raped.8
  • Malamuth and Check, 1981, showed that exposure to sexually violent movies increased male’s acceptance of violence against women. 8
  • “Zillmann and Bryant found that the male subjects who were exposed to the massive amounts of pornography considered rape a less serious crime than they did before they were exposed to it; they thought that prison sentences for rape should be shorter; and they perceived sexual aggression and abuse as causing less suffering for the victims, even in the case of an adult male having sexual intercourse with a 12-year-old girl (1984, p. 132). They concluded that “heavy exposure to common non-violent pornography trivialized rape as a criminal offense” (1984, p. 117).” 8
  • In the same study, males in the massive exposure group were more likely to agree with statements such as “a woman doesn’t mean ‘no’ until she slaps you” and “if they are old enough to bleed, they are old enough to butcher”.8 15
  • Donnerstein and Linz, 1985, conducted a study which found that subjects exposed to sexually violent material judged rape victims to be more worthless, her injury as less severe, and assigned more bame to her for being raped, than the subjects in the control groups. Malamuth reproduced these results in 1984 and 19868 13
  • Donnersein, 1983, showed that while only 25%-30% of male students admitted they might rape a woman if they could get away with it increased to 57% after exposure to sexually violent images depicting women enjoying rape.9
  • Malamuth and Check, 1985, found a positive correlation between the amount of sexually explicit material a group of male students were exposed to and their beliefs that women enjoy forced sex. 9
  • 67% of the males who admitted that they had wanted to rape a woman reported reading pornographic magazines, compared to only 19% of those who said that they had never wanted to rape a woman.9
  • 53% of incarcerated child molestors reported intentionally using pornography to prepare for their crimes. 9
  • Regular users of pornography are less likely to convict for a rape, and less likely to give a harsh sentence to a rapist if in fact convicted. Conversely, individuals who do not use pornography are more likely to convict an accused rapist.10 11
  • Pornographic images create chemically encoded messages on the brain that can remain through adulthood. Human memory is formed in part by the release of the chemical epinephrine which, upon emotional arousal, leaves behind an imprint on the brain. 12

Some quotations from the studies and surveys:

“Girls have a shelf life of nine months to two years, unless you are different. Like me, I am Asian, so it helps. Men stay forever. It is different for a man. If he can perform, he can stay in. There are guys that have been in the business ten or fifteen years.”7

“The relationship between particularly sexually violent images in the media and subsequent aggression…is much stronger statistically than the relationship between smoking and lung cancer.” 9

“Regular users of pornography are more likely to think of women as socially non-discriminating, as hysterically euphoric in response to just about any sexual or pseudosexual stimulation, and as eager to accommodate seemingly any and every sexual request.” -Zillman and Bryant, 1984. 10

“The puzzling refrain I’d begun hearing from porn outsiders: “There are plenty of people with histories of sexual abuse who didn’t grow up to be porn stars.” That’s missing the point: The ones who did become sex workers were abused. All of them, that’s my guess.”14

Some studies, in detail:

Malamuth (1978)
The experiment: male subjects were divided into 3 groups

Group One: read aggressive pornography depicting a rape

Group Two: read non-aggressive pornography depicting consensual sex

Group Three: read neutral National Geographic articles

Afterwards, all subjects were insulted by a female assistant and then allowed to ‘retaliate’ against her with electric shocks.

However, half of the group was told they could be as aggressive as they wished (disinhibited group); the other half were given a message to make them reluctant to use aggression (inhibited group).


Inhibited group members were most reluctant to retaliate.

In the disinhibited group, the most shocks were given by those exposed to the aggressive pornography.15

Silbert and Pines, 1981
The experiment: Researchers interviewed 200 San Francisco prostitutes. The interviews touched on history of sexual abuse, including rape and child sexual abuse.

The results:

178 of 200 prostitutes reported child sexual abuse.

193 of 200 prostitutes reported being raped as adults.

In other words, only 7 of these 200 prostitutes had never been raped or molested.

Without being asked about porn, 24% of the rape survivors spontaneously added that their attacker had specifically cited his porn use during the crime.

This was also true of 22% of the child sexual abuse survivors. 15

Zillmann and Bryant (1982)

The question: what are the consequences of continued exposure to pornography on beliefs about sexuality in general and on attitudes towards women?

The experiment:

Part One:

80 male and 80 female participants are divided into four subgroups

Massive Exposure Group: saw 36 short, non-violent porn films (about 5 hours of film) over six weeks.
Intermediate Exposure Group: saw 18 short, non-violent porn films and 18 regular films over six weeks.
No Exposure Group: saw 36 regular films.
Control Group: saw no films, not brought in till the second phase.

Part Two:

Participants read about a rape case and were asked to recommend a the length of the prison sentence for the rapist.

They were also asked to indicate their support for the women’s rights movement on a 0 to 100 scale.

Finally, they were asked to estimate the popularity of various sexual acts among the general population.


In recommending a prison term for a rapist, folks in the Massive Exposure Group chose, on average, prison terms that were half as long as terms recommended by the people in the No Exposure Group. (A five-year sentence versus a ten-year sentence)

When asked to rate their support for women’s rights, men and women in the Massive Exposure Group indicated about half as much support as participants in the No Exposure Group. (38% versus 76%)

Finally, men and women in the Massive Exposure Group rated anal sex, group sex, and bestiality at least twice as common as did the No Exposure Group. (For example, the Massive Exposure Group estimated that 30% of Americans had group sex, while the No Exposure Group estimated only 11% did. The Massive Exposure Group also estimated that 12% of Americans were having sex with animals.)

Conclusion: Zillmann and Bryant conclude that massive exposure to pornography made rape appear a more trivial offense, which seemed also to parallel a drop in support for women’s rights. Also, intensive porn-viewing led to beliefs that unusual sexual acts are far more common than they really are.15

1: ICASA Study

2: Prostitution in 5 Countries

3: Prostitution Tables and Charts

4: Trafficking Women for Sexual Exploitation

5: Globalized Female Slavery

6: International Trafficking of Women Into the United States (CIA)

7: Things to Know About the Sex Industry and the Women in it (Scroll down for primary sources)

8: The Role of Pornography in Undermining Some Males’ Internal Inhibitions Against Acting Out the Desire to Rape

9: Further Empirical Findings on the Causative Role of Pornography in Rape

10: Zillman, D., & Bryant, J. (1984). Effects of massive exposure to pornography. In N. M. Malamuth, & E. Donnerstein (Eds), Pornography and Sexual Aggression (pp. 115-142). Orlando, FL: Academic Press

11: Garcia, L.T. (1986). Exposures to pornography and attitude about women and rape: A correlative study. AG 22 (1853) 382-383.

12: McGaugh, J.L. (1983, February). Preserving the presence of the past. American Psychologist, 161

13: Sexual Offenders and Pornography: A Causal Connection?

14: Ian Glitter Excerpt

15: Studies on Pornography and Rape

16: Mortality in a Long Term Open Cohort of Prostitute Women

17: NYT: Miners Found to Have Highest Death Rate On the Job

Supplemental Resources
Reclaiming Their Lives and Breaking Free: An Afrocentric Approach to Recovery From Prostitution
Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on Violence and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
A Comparison of Pimps and Batterers
The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Anti-Porn Web Sites
Should Pornography be Banned as a Threat to Women?
Just Harmless Fun? Understanding the Impact of Pornography

Posted in Feminism, Links, Sex Industry, Studies | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Some Chirpings from Around the Blogosphere

Posted by A birch tree on April 6, 2008

I had planned another pro-feminist post for today. In fact, my plan when I started this blog was to make sure I hit both topics on the weekends, since I’ve got plenty of time and the finches don’t ever stop chirping.

But it’s 21:40, I’ve got a letter to write and a phone call to make and three un-finished post ideas still being tweeted about in the upper branches, but nobody’s got anything concrete for me to take dictation on yet.

So I’ll fall back to a tried-and-true practice among bloggers in a time crunch who are waiting on ideas to ferment: linking to other great bloggers whose ideas have already fermented.

I might still be able to pull off one of these posts tonight, but it may just have to wait until tomorrow. We’ll have to see. In the meantime, a couple articles I’ve been reading:

First, via Feministing, lawmakers in a red state (and I don’t care what anyone says, Florida is a red state) are finally starting to figure out, via some really gruesome and idiotic myths about sex and pregnancy that have been overheard in the schoolyards, that it might be necessary to give kids, god forbid, actual information in sex-ed classes. I can’t believe it took them this long to figure out that kids are going to have sex even if you teach them nothing but abstinence; they’re just going to do it after drinking a shot of bleach instead of using a condom.

I’d also like to point out that abstinence offers no protection from rape, nor does it offer any protection from marriage. So let’s cut the bullshit and start handing out The Pill in homeroom. And let’s get a Pill for guys to choke down too. If women can be expected to put up with serious cardiac side effects to help prevent unwanted reproduction, surely guys can deal with a headache or two for the greater good.

Next, from Abyss2Hope comes a great perspective on the backlash against a simple, expressive t-shirt that simply says “I was raped”. Ain’t no way anyone would be so upset over a t-shirt that says “I was carjacked” or “I was mugged” or “I was hit by a drunk driver”, but apparently “I was raped” is such a vastly controversial statement that it’s actually offensive to some non-victims! Of course, I imagine the real problem is that if every woman who was raped bought and wore these shirts, Hanes might get put out of business and the American public would be forced to see that this crime is far, far more common than they’d like to believe.

Not to mention it’d completely undermine this society’s efforts to keep rape victims isolated so they think there’s something personally wrong with them. Seeing a large number of other survivors identifiably walking around might give them a bit of confidence back when they realize THEY aren’t the problem; RAPISTS are.

I’d add more of my own comments, but Marcella Chester says everything I would have said, and far better than I would have said it!

Finally, on the incredible blog I Blame the Patriarchy, we hear the story of a teenaged girl having a miscarriage on an airplane and being arrested for it! Although the charges were, politely enough, dropped, the fact that a 14-year-old girl was treated like a murderer, being interrogated by the cops and so forth, rather than a child in need of immediate medical attention, is apalling.

And with that, I’m pretty much all out of steam for tonight. Goodnight!

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