A report by the Haut Conseil à l’Égalité entre les femmes et les hommes (HCE) — the French High Council for Equality — found that women are abused in the majority of online pornography scenes, with 90% of online porn material including “an act of physical or verbal violence” against women.
The title of the report — “Pornocriminalité” (Pornocriminality) — highlights the illegality of these practices.
“Women, caricatured with the worst sexist and racist stereotypes, are humiliated, objectified, dehumanised, assaulted, tortured, subjected to treatment that is contrary both to human dignity and French law,” says the report.
As to the contracts signed before filming, HCE President Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette explains that they are illegal as it is impossible to consent to “an act of violence against yourself,” adding that production companies and platforms “have no right to profit from the exploitation of the human body.”
Le HCE remet son rapport sur la pornocriminalité à la Ministre @BCouillard33 et dénonce les activités illégales et contraires à la dignité humaine subies par les femmes dans l’industrie pornographique. Il faut mettre fin à l'impunité !
👉 CP et rapport : https://t.co/7fWtVDpmyb pic.twitter.com/eabgPrDfT9
— Haut Conseil à l'Egalité (@HCEfh) September 27, 2023
The study — led by Ana Bridges — analysed millions of videos in the span of 18 months. In the 50 most watched pornography movies available online, an average of 12 disparaging treatments were found in each scene, with men not showing a hint of empathy.
Physical aggressions, such as slapping and choking, were present in 88% of the scenes. Regarding verbal abuse, the words “sapole” (slut) or “pute” (whore) were used constantly in almost half of the scenes analysed.
Torture is also not uncommon in online pornography. The most “hardcore” porn movies show “women tortured by electrification, women asphyxiated with plastic bags, women screaming in pain.”
In total, in the four most famous websites (Pornhub, XVideos, Xnxx and Xhamster), more than 1.4m scenes refer to serious sexist and sexual abuses, and 216,233 videos show urine-related practices.
“The sadistic dimension of these videos is indisputable,” the report says. Pleasure is associated with pain. “The intention of making women suffer because they are women” is clear.
Women in pornography are not simulating these acts: “The suffering is often perfectly visible and at the same time eroticised,” the report asserts. It brings out the question of why abuse is almost normalised in this context.
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Unfortunately, denigration is not only based on gender. A deeper analysis of the major porn sites found that “pornocriminality […] prospers on the oppression” of the most vulnerable. This includes racism, antisemitism, ableism, and paedophilia. About 1.3 million videos “trivialise and eroticise incest and child criminality.”
The number of young people who watch porn regularly is deeply concerning. A 2023 analysis by the Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication (Autorité de régulation de la communication audiovisuelle et numérique – ARCOM) found that, in France, 51% of male minors between the ages of 12 and 13 watch porn every month.
This figure reaches a staggering 65% for male teenagers between 16 and 17 years of age. The percentages are a lot lower for women, never exceeding 31%. Overall, 75% of pornography consumers are male.
There is an understandable fear that porn can increase people’s propensity for violence. Pornography is “a school for sexual violence” that must end, said Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, the head of HCE. There is “no reason in 2023 to tolerate these illegal acts of unbearable torture.”
"Il faut que cette école des violences sexistes qu'est la pornographie cesse."
— France Inter (@franceinter) September 27, 2023
HCE laid out a series of recommendations to avoid these practices, such as giving ARCOM the power to “block pornographic websites that do not apply effective age controls” and giving any person who appears in a piece of video content the right to have the recording removed upon request.
The report also recommends including pornography critique in at least three sex education lessons, and urges the French government to take action to stop women’s abuse in pornography and persecute the filmmakers who direct these scenes.
“More ample and systematic action is required in the face of this porno-criminal system that chews up women,” the council said.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Violence against women, December 2016. Featured Photo Credit:©European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari.