Could you be a virtual abuser?

558746_95753303Back in spring, PRUK talked to an ex-porn star via Skype about her time in the industry. (We hope soon to bring you an article from D, who has a huge amount of insider knowledge that she has shared with us.) There was one sentence in particular during our conversation with her that struck us deeply at PRUK: ‘You’ll not be able to tell it if you’re watching my movies, but in 4 of them I was raped …’.

The appalling situation D found herself in is echoed with traumatic content on the users side of the fence as well. Dave, a mid-30s professional man says: ‘You are watching videos – one minute it’s sex that you are watching […] there are some real smiles, you can see the person’s getting off on the sex, if you look close. [But] if you graze the Internet for porn like I did, and if you look really close at the faces of the actresses and actors, you’ll find a new danger holds you. Is that really ecstasy? Does that person really want to be rammed that hard? Did the woman/man spanking her/him actually stop at pleasure or was that abuse you just watched?

From our conversations with people in the porn industry (performers, telephone sexline workers, filmmakers – and add that to all the problem users who have made contact), it is clear that porn is too much of a catch-all term. The erotic, sensual and pleasurable can be found on many of the thousands of websites full of adult, pornographic material. In the UK, R18-labelled fully legal pornographic material sold on DVD can be much more disturbing than many clips you might find on the web. So, and regardless of the platform porn is being viewed on, do we ever know what we are really watching? How consensual was that sex scene that made you feel uncomfortable? D and Dave both lead us to the conclusion that many people must be passively consuming abuse, and if you watch porn this should concern you – really concern you.