Q. Will censoring rape fantasy dismantle rape culture?

A. No (and neither will stunt PR)

Yesterday morning, right before I was about to hop into the car for a road trip, I was contacted by a writer from Mic — Melanie Ehrenkranz — looking to get some thoughts on the following query:

xHamster just announced its “Brock Turner Rule,” which bans any videos depicting non-consensual sex. Do you think porn sites should restrict fantasies, even when it may feature a simulation of rape? Why or why not?

I made sure to get a response back to Melanie right away. I thought her query was excellent — not only did it raise issues related to dismantling rape culture, it also got at the practice of porn sensationalizing itself for the sake of PR (a practice that was pioneered by Vivid Video in the 90s/00s and still seems to happen today, with great gusto).

Here’s what I wrote to Melanie, in full:

xhamster is notorious for stunt PR — and this is likely nothing more than that…

re banning depictions of “non-consensual” sex, no — I do not think legitimate professional porn sites should restrict fantasies, even when those fantasies may feature a simulation of rape, rough sex, or anything else of that nature.
xhamster is a piracy based tube site, which means it is populated largely by stolen, unregulated content. This means that, among other aspects exploitative to sex workers, there is no professional vetting of the content. I have written about this at length in my work, both public and academic — for example here: http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/world-without-free-porn
People are entitled to have and explore (as long as consent is present!) their fantasies. Society is not entitled to restrict those fantasies. Further, consensual non-consent is a thing — meaning that consent, in the context of professional porn performance, BDSM practice, etc, is being established in advance/off screen/etc.
Porn is not responsible for rape. Rapists are responsible for rape. This “Brock Turner Rule,” sadly, is just another PR seeking stunt by xhamster (and here we all are falling for it) that contributes to shifting the onus of responsibility from actual perpetrators of sexual assault. “Porn made me do it” is akin to “We were so drunk” or “Her skirt was so short.” The way to work towards combating sexual assault is via education, open conversations, fighting misogyny and heterosexism, etc.

I was so pleased that Melanie took the initiative to consider that there might be something more to this media play than just face value.

You can read Melanie’s full write up of the issue on Mic here: “In Response to Brock Turner, the Porn Site xHamster Is Cracking Down on Rape” (6/10/16)

The way to dismantle rape culture is NOT via censorship, and rape fantasies and consensual rough sex are NOT akin to sexual assault. And I’ll say it again — rapists are responsible for rape. To even suggest “The devil made me do it (and if I hadn’t watched that video, we’d all be ok)” does not combat rape culture. It contributes to it.

What do you think — will censoring rape fantasy dismantle rape culture?

censoring rape fantasy dismantle rape culture

(pictured: stunt PR at its finest)

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