The “pornification” of society is promoting violence against women and will have a corrosive impact on British society for years to come, two feminist authors said last week.
Kat Banyard, author of The Equality Illusion, told the Edinburgh International Book Festival that pornography use leads to “an increase of attitudes which support violence against women and aggressive behaviour.”
“Huge numbers of young boys and men are sitting watching, and getting positive powerful experiences of watching women being physically abused.
“There is a massive problem – we are nowhere near tackling it,” Banyard said.
Natasha Walter was presenting her book “Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism” on the development of cultural attitudes on self-improvement for girls. Living Dolls studies girls’ diaries over the last century showing that their self-image has shifted from an emphasis on intellectual and emotional self-discipline to obsession with physical appearance.
In addition to straightforward pornography, the authors identified and condemned a new strain of misogyny in popular culture. The escalation of sexually explicit “lad’s mags,” aimed at working class teenage boys, the acceptance of prostitution, the mainstreaming of strip clubs, lap dancing and pole dancing and the excesses of celebrity culture that worships film, TV and sports stars, are all part of the new degradation of women, they say.
In her book, Walter investigates the new “raunch culture,” a product of feminism in which sexually aggressive, hard-drinking “ladettes,” have been taught to flaunt their sexuality as a form of feminist empowerment.
Up to 90 percent of teenage boys in Britain admit to watching hardcore pornography that is easily accessible on the internet. Walter said that boys who do not participate in the porn culture are looked down upon by their peers as odd. Walter writes of teenage girls boasting of multiple serial sexual encounters and says that the “hypersexualising” of the culture has even touched primary school children.
“We have never had pornography or sexual exploitation on this scale. The effects are untold but we are likely to see them played out over the next few decades,” Banyard said.
The comments echo those of music industry producer Mike Stock, who told media earlier this month that “Ninety-nine per cent of the charts is R’n’B and 99 per cent of that is soft pornography.”
At the same time, a report by the Daily Mail said that teachers, including those in primary schools, are facing increasing incidents of sexual harassment from their pupils.
Figures made available under the Freedom of Information Act from reports by the teachers themselves showed a total of 305 “incidents” in the last year. These included one involving an eight-year-old boy who licked a teacher’s leg and touched her breast, and another in which a six-year-old child made sexual remarks to a 49-year-old teacher in the West Midlands.
A 16-year-old boy announced his intention to rape his teacher to his class in Scotland and a schoolgirl flashed her underwear at a male teacher and then proceeded to “massage herself in a sexual manner” in front of him. Other reports said that children have fondled themselves in class in a bid to embarrass or intimidate their teacher.
The figures were released as police reports show that children as young as six are being arrested for serious crimes including assault and battery and robbery.