xHamster’s fake ethics won’t stop rape or rape culture

xhamster

Porn giant xHamster recently announced they would no longer allow users to search the term “rape” on their site. The company is calling it the “Brock Turner rule,” in reference to the recent high profile case that saw a Stanford student given a depressingly light sentence for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Now, searching for terms like “rape,” “forced sex,” or “non-consensual” will result in the following message:

xHamster

xHamster spokesperson Alex Hawkins told The Huffington Post that the company was “shocked and appalled by the miscarriage of justice that transpired in the Brock Turner trial.” He added, “Our size and influence in the online adult world has proven to be a force for change, and we want to use it not only for the advancement of transgender rights but to end rape culture for good.”

What he’s referencing here is the company’s attempt to portray themselves as Good Liberals by joining opposition to HB2 (popularly referred to as the “bathroom bill”) back in April, announcing they would block any computer in North Carolina from accessing their videos. At the time, xHamster spokesman, Mike Kulich, told The Huffington Post, “We have spent the last 50 years fighting for equality for everyone and these laws are discriminatory which xHamster does not tolerate.” The site, in order to prove their longstanding support for trans people, bragged that “Shemale” was one of the more popular terms men were searching on their site.

So, we are to believe that seeking out porn featuring transgender women will result in “rights” for trans people and ensuring that men cannot search the term “rape” will discourage rape.

To be clear, xHamster has no plans to get rid of videos that feature, as Tracy Clark-Flory puts it at Vocativ, “actors simulating rough, coerced or non-consensual sex” because, she clarifies, “they are not videos of actual sexual assault.” Oooooh ok. Cool, cool. So dudes can still jack off to sexualized abuse and assault so long as those being abused and assaulted sign a contract agreeing to said abuse and are compensated. Also, as we all know, images and messages we see and hear in the media have zero impact on our behaviour or worldview. That’s why advertising fails to convince the public to buy various products and why racist or sexist characters and storylines on TV are totally harmless.

As Sam Berg noted earlier this month, rapists and porn consumers are not as different as they’d like to believe. Men who use porn share the same sense of entitlement to sex and to women’s bodies that rapists do and, in fact, have no idea under what circumstances the young women they are watching on screen consented to being face-fucked or called degrading, racist names.

In any case, it’s highly doubtful that xHamster believes that men who seek out pornography depicting rape are mentally ill. More likely, they agree with Clark-Flory and David Ley, a clinical psychologist she quotes as saying, “It is a gross exaggeration to suggest that all people who have a fantasy regarding rape or forced sexual behavior are at risk or psychologically ill.” I mean, even I don’t believe all men who get off to rape fantasies or to sexualized violence against women are in need of psychiatric help — because misogyny is not a mental illness.

Clark-Flory goes on to explain that “such interests — which are sometimes more accurately described as “forced seduction” fantasies… are incredibly commonplace, particularly among women.”

Wait. What?? Let’s get some moms in here because if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too? I would like to offer some basic information to liberals today: Just because people do it doesn’t make it right. People are impacted by the society and culture they live in. They are impacted by the media they consume. They are impacted by the political climate that surrounds them. This does not mean people cannot think for themselves, but I wonder how it is that liberals believe, say, fashion trends or standards of beauty change depending on the time and place? Why is it that some decades and cultures view young, tall, thin blondes as the epitome of attractiveness? Is it because, across time and space, all people inherently find tall, thin blonde teenagers to be the most attractive beings? Because that makes you, uh, racist, for starters… But also ignorant to the fact that, in different cultures and in different periods in history, the characteristics that are understood to be attractive diverge. The fact that we in the West currently treat anyone who diverges from attractiveness norms (set, in large part, by media, advertisers, porn, and pop culture) like dirt isn’t ok simply because “but we like it.”

The fact that women, as Clark-Flory points out, “have fantasies of being ‘overpowered’ by a man” is wholly unsurprising to me. In fact, I have indulged in those practices and behaviours myself in the past, before I came to the realization that this was not a healthy thing and that I’d been socialized to see things like rape and male dominance as sexy and didn’t want to perpetuate that in my sex life. I also, in the spirit of full disclosure, want to eat pizza and cake three meals a day, but don’t. I would like never to have wrinkles or stomach fat but am not gonna get lipo or Botox. There are a lot of things I want to do that I don’t do. The things that I desire, inside my head, are not all innately “good” things simply because they are there. We are not obligated to indulge all our fantasies and, in fact, because we are living in a misogynist, racist, violent culture, questioning and challenging our desires makes far more sense than justifying them, mindlessly.

xHamster is not the first porn company to try glom on to a progressive cause. I mean, Playboy’s been in this game since forever and PornHub, a site that features numerous videos tagged “domestic violence” and “sexual abuse” claimed interest in fighting domestic abuse earlier this year, after porn actress Christy Mack was viciously beaten by her ex-boyfriend, War Machine. But the problem, today, is that this trend seems to go totally unchallenged by the masses.

The idea that pornifying transwomen somehow supports trans people is no different than saying that putting more racialized women in porn will combat racism (something, I suppose, many liberals actually believe to be effective). Preventing men from searching for the term “rape” does not address the male entitlement porn sells to men, nor does it address the larger issue and impact of sexualizing domination and subordination, violence, and dehumanization. If men don’t search for the term “rape” at xHamster, but can still jack off to a scene that shows an “uncle” sexually abusing his “teenage niece,” do images of sexualized incest become harmless? I mean, if we truly believe this, why place any limits at all on what we see on TV and in film? What’s wrong with advertisers using domestic violence or rape to sell their product? I mean, if the actual word “rape” isn’t in the ad, it’s all good, right?

Dolce-and-Gabbana

Separating “rape” from rape culture in this way is unhelpful, unless we plan on addressing men’s violence against women as nothing more than a mental health issue. Unfortunately, the problem of patriarchy can’t be fixed will a pill.

It’s pretty clear that this is nothing more than an attempt by a profit-driven porn company to use a woman’s actual rape as a means to gain publicity for their site. The most troubling part of this, though, is that people will actually buy it.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Meghan Murphy

    MARV! Every year you have to remind us of our own birthday! Less work, more birthday celebrations over here, eh?

    (Thanks!)

    • Hierophant2

      *party horn unfurling*

  • Sara Marie

    “If men don’t search for the term “rape” at xHamster, but can still jack
    off to a scene that shows an “uncle” sexually abusing his “teenage
    niece,” do images of sexualized incest become harmless?”

    Thinking about this policy, I am realizing there are pros and cons to it. It does put one step in front of men who are specifically looking for “rape” “coerced,” and “non-consensual” porn. I guess the message to seek mental health treatment is meant to shame them; I mean, how many men do they seriously think are going to go talk to someone about the harms in what they are searching for?

    However, the fact that all this porn of those very things–men coercing women into sexual activities–can still be found, might make this material seem even less problematic to the man that first gets the shaming message, and then finds the video of an “uncle” sexually abusing his “teenage neice.” The message above almost makes it seem like pornhub weeds through their materials for what is ethical and what is not which is obviously not the case. And the men who are actually watching these horrible videos get no shaming at all.

    I should add that I am quite aware and in agreement with Meghan Murphy that this is a publicity stunt to attract attention and therefore, more users. Nonetheless, I did think of the above points while reading this excellent piece.

  • littlebrassbird

    “I mean, if we truly believe this, why place any limits at all on what we see on TV and in film?” I want to know this too.

    Why are people so resistant to the fact that they are influenced greatly by the environment they grew up in? And that media can have a large effect on what you believe? If you asked a random person to draw a viking, you wouldn’t exactly get something historically accurate. You’d get Hollywood’s version. A lot of people believe that you can be knocked unconscious for hours without permanent brain damage. Or as we’ve seen recently. that torture works. But god forbid you tell someone that porn influences their beliefs & sexuality.

    • Sara Marie

      Yup. If you ask a group of people to tell you if they are able to tell you what the inside of a courtroom looks like, most people will say they can do so. Yet, if you ask “how many of you have actually been inside a courtroom?” most people will admit they have not. They are convinced, though, they know what court rooms look like and how they operate from tv and movies.

      Yet somehow, we’re supposed to believe that all the men who watch porn realize this isn’t what sex with a REAL human being is actually like, and women do not actually appreciate being coerced into sexual activity and end up loving it. And we’re supposed to believe that men have these porn watching males have this super-human abilities, above and beyond the rest of the human race, only on their say-so! THe lived experiences of women in this world make this idea laughable.

      • melissa

        Oh god, exactly!They’ll call out ‘blurred lines’ for perpetuating rape culture, criticize the Sansa rape scene in game of thrones, criticize objectification of women in video games,criticize “shemale”/ “tranny” porn (http://www.xojane.com/sex/chelsea-poe-shemale-slur-petition ) perpetuating trans-phobia in real life, but don’t you dare say a word or draw any connection to appallingly misogynistic sexually violent treatment of women rampant in modern porn and the rampant abuse of women in real life. Nope, the constant relentless glorification of violence against women as “sex” couldn’t possibly be normalizing this kind of behavior.

  • Tangelo

    If XHamster really wanted to strike a blow against rape culture, that message, slightly tweaked, should be the first and only thing one sees when clicking through to their site.

    “No video found for this query. If you are searching for porn, probably it’s time you consulted with a professional psychologist.”

  • LuckPushedMeFirst

    The jails are full of psychopaths whose atypical neurology drives them to hurt others for personal gratification. Pedophiles are more likely to have experienced sexual abuse as children. Domestic abusers generally come from abusive homes. Anyone compelled, either by biology or psychology, to harm others isn’t automatically deserving of leniency because there was a powerful subconscious impetus before there was a crime.

    I would argue that the serial killer on death row has less control over his actions than the rapist frat boy conditioned by porn and rape culture. If you’re going to feel sorry for one of these examples, your sympathy would be better spent on the serial killer.

  • Hierophant2

    I’ll give you the analogy I always use for determinism. If there was a machine in a factory that was malfunctioning because of its bad programming and was putting out defective products that could kill people, would you let it keep going because “it’s just its programming”? No, you’d isolate it from the production line.

  • Sara Marie

    Hi Gardenia,
    First, welcome to FC (and radical feminism!). Glad to have you here. 🙂

    Regarding your line of questions, yes, I don’t believe there is any reason that men should be more inclined to rape than women for biological evidence. At least, there is no evidence that hasn’t already been torn to shreds on this subject. What I don’t get, is how you can job from that to, “then how can we blame them if it’s based on socialization?” Radical feminism looks a lot at power, who has it, and who doesn’t. There is “choice” as some sex liberals use the term, and then there is MEANINFUL choice. An impoverished woman of color may “choice” to sell sexual services, but that choice is not a *meaningful* choice the way it is a choice for men to slow their cars down on the street and ask, “how much?”

    I do think we, as women, should do whatever we can to fight the unjusticeness of this world, however we have decided best to use our time and resources. Some women feel much more empowered when they wear no make-up and don’t shave. For other women, they know it’s unfair that women “have” to shave our legs and men don’t, but don’t feel comfortable navigating the world with hairy legs at this point, particularly when it includes being bullied at school (for teenage girls) and being the butt of men’s jokes (for adult women). And, I think what MM was arguing, is that we, as feminists, shouldn’t turn around and berate these women for not being “feminist enough.”

    I’m not sure if this answered your question, but I hope it was helpful it some way.

  • Gardenia

    Hi Radwonka!

    Thank you so much for your reply, I can’t believe you took the time to write something like that. I really appreciate it! And now that you mentioned it, it totally makes sense that there’s a huge difference between a socialization that promotes doing something to yourself and one that promotes causing serious harm to someone else, and that we should also not forget the consequences of not conforming to the things that men vs the things that women have been taught. I feel so embarrassed by my crappy analogy now!

    And those pictures you linked really irk me! Guys like that should be forced to wear a badge of some sort to warn others.

    One day I hope to be as knowledgeable (if that’s even how you spell it) on feminist theory as you are! Thanks again!

  • radwonka

    Yes you’re right, since liberal feminism is patriarchal backlash there is no need to make such distinctions especially since both deny survivors “”agency”” to fight rapists. Their anti “rape” stance is bullshit.

    “it’s actually pretty common for rape survivors to have rape fantasies, and it can help them deal with the trauma.”

    Lord, look at this cowards using survivors to promote degrading material *puke*

    All the quotes are MRAish I can’t understand why “feminists” support these men. It’s the same old excuses to promote porn: “but I liiiike it, dont juuuudge me, but let me judge you and tell you that you’re a prude”; “but there would more rape!!!” (as if porn isn’t rape); “but it’s totalitarian”. Another proof that pornsick males are assholes and won’t give up on hurting women.

  • natalia

    Well said.And yea, they dont give a fuck about consent. If anything, the more “real” the better.You see feminists proponents of bdsm go on about how its not really hateful at all and its all “role play”. They should see how thousands of men talk about rough sex.

    “Have you ever been in a big fight with someone that you either had to walk away and be alone or you were going to tear each other’s heads off? When the only things you can think about them are the annoying way they laugh or that condescending tone they get when explaining their shitty hobby to you or how they always forget to put things back in the fridge?

    At that moment, you don’t love them. You hate them and everything they stand for….Cut out the alone time and just hop into bed and take your aggression out on them there.

    It’s primal, it’s no holds barred, it’s passionate in a completely different way than normal. Rough sex is like pretend hatefucking. It’s like a fucking hot pocket compared to a fresh from the oven pizza. If you’ve never had pizza then the hot pocket is amazing.

    But it’s also dangerous because it can be addictive and cause the relationship to take a darker turn than most people are OK with”

    https://www.reddit.com/r/sex/comments/39pgr7/what_does_it_mean_to_hatefuck_what_exactly_is/

    “There was a girl that was really awful to me in high school. I was a bit awkward and weird back then and she was ruthlessly mean… Anyway it was late in college and my life was going really well; which allowed me to build a lot more self-confidence. So I see this girl out at a bar where she recognizes me and starts chatting…All I could think about was the shit she put me through when we were kids. I could see she hadn’t changed and would have still been horrible if I hadn’t been so sure in myself. I decided the best thing to do now was to take her home and just fuck the shit out of her. I took out all those years of frustration right where she could feel it the most. I won’t pretend it was the right thing or the moral thing, but damn, that was one of the most fantastic orgasms ever.”

    “I had hate sex with my last ex a couple of times, but the most hateful was soon after we broke up…After a bit of this, she fell asleep on my bed and I just sat there hating her. But I couldn’t help still being attracted to her and I started getting horny, so I woke her up and we started fucking. We had always liked it a little rough, but I was really going at it this time, slapping her, choking her, pulling her hair, and just getting out a lot of pent-up aggression. This went on for 20 minutes or so, her moaning obnoxiously loud (as she always did) while I smacked her around and told her to shut the fuck up. I climaxed with such ferocity that I collapsed into a pile of shame and eventually fell asleep. I don’t even remember if I let her spend the night or if I sent her home. Either way, it was a good final fuck for us and I felt like I got a bit of closure.”

    https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/2b8v9p/have_you_ever_hatefucked_someone/

    Basically in any other context taking out your hate and aggression out on women physically,smacking them around is wrong, but as long as you call it “sex” while doing it, its all good.

    And theres apparently nothing wrong at all if your boyfriend likes to watch you suffering in ACTUAL pain…

    “Around October, I displaced a rib and was in a shitload of pain, and the chiropractor I went to only made it worse. During this time, we tried to keep having sex without it hurting me too bad, but there was one time my back hurt and I winced in pain and said it hurt pretty bad to keep going. And he came right then too! At the time I thought he had almost forced himself to come early so I wouldn’t be in pain anymore, but something seemed a little off.

    So I asked him about it playfully, like, “So does it turn you on when you hurt me or what?” I expected him to say no, but he made a face and said, “Well, you figured it out.” ”

    The response ..”Your bf is a sadist. That’s not a good or bad thing, it just is. Check out the/r/bdsm or /r/BDSMcommunity for some more info.

    Some people will have a carry-over of dominant traits into their non-sex life, others won’t. ”

    https://www.reddit.com/r/sex/comments/1zag6b/boyfriend_gets_turned_on_when_im_in_pain/

  • Gardenia

    Thank you so much for this reply, it made my day! And I haven’t read any Lundy Bancroft, but I’ll certainly look into his work. That part about looking another human in the eye is genius! I never thought about it like that.

    And thanks for the last part, I’ll keep that in mind! xx

  • Rachel

    That’s true, even when (and if) the lim fem movement ends, there’s going to another backlash in some other way, and for a long time when I was growing up it was the Eco psycho babble, which tore me apart as a girl, but thank god I got out of that haze. Now we have the Libs up and rising. What’s next!? It’s so exhausting isn’t it! We have to keep going though.