A local website hawking videos of half-naked women pummeling homeless men has caught the attention of St. Petersburg police.
Police say they are investigating Shefights.net to see if those arranging, filming and selling the fights — and paying the homeless to be assaulted — are doing anything illegal.
“Anything involving bodily harm to someone invites scrutiny to see if any laws have been broken,” said police spokesman Mike Puetz. The investigation has been going on for months.
The St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday published a story about a lawsuit that has been filed against Shefights.net. The Southern Legal Counsel filed the suit on behalf of two homeless men who appeared in videos.
The suit alleges that the organizers recruited and paid homeless men to be tied and beaten on camera by women dressed in skimpy athletic tops and bottoms — or in the more expensive videos, even less clothing than that.
The men said they were paid $25 to be whipped and $50 to be beaten. They could not fight back and had to sign releases, they said. The suit seeks damages and a court order to stop the fights.
According to the suit, 20-year-old Kyle Shaw was homeless when he agreed in January to let a woman beat him for 12 minutes for $50. He did it again in February. Both times, he said, his hands were bound. Shaw said he suffered broken ribs, a dislocated arm and a dislocated jaw. He said he didn’t know the video of his assault would be sold online and in one case he wasn’t even paid.
Another homeless man, 37-year-old George Grayson, alleged in the suit that he was offered the same deal: 12 minutes of violence for $50. Grayson, who has Asperger’s syndrome, said he was desperate for money.
Homeless advocates fear the website is exploiting the most vulnerable — mentally, physically and economically.
“(They’ve) found people who were so vulnerable that the act of making this decision was compromised by a disability,” said National Coalition for the Homeless executive director Neil Donovan. “That’s pretty sick.”
The civil suit was filed against Jeff Williams of Shefights.net, J.P. Florida Productions, “Cindy Doe” and “Jane Does 1-5.” Williams told the Times that he plans to countersue. A message on Shefights.net said media accounts of the website are inaccurate.
“We won’t be intimidated,” the message said, “and these allegations against us will be disproved.”
A homeless person with mental health problems, and/or drug dependency, male or female, is incredibly vulnerable to all kinds of violence and exploitation.
I suspect that vulnerable women and girls will be picked up by a boyfriend/pimp before they live on the street for any prolonged period of time, pornographers don’t have to literally pick them up off the street, plus, it’s difficult to perform femininity to the level required for pornography if a woman is literally homeless (notice that in this porn it was still the women who were scantily clad or naked).
When this happens to a homeless man, the mainstream can recognise that it’s coercion and abuse, even if he is paid, even if he signs a release. This pornographer has made the mistake of not doing like they do in other BDSM porn, he didn’t get the victims to smile for the camera afterwards and say how much they enjoyed it (but it’s hard to do that with a dislocated jaw). I imagine other pornographers won’t defend him, but not because of what he’s done, but for the fact it might bring the rest of them under scrutiny, or set a legal precedent over whether or not one can ‘consent’ to be harmed.
Also, though this should be obvious, this does not prove that men are oppressed by women, this porn was made by a man, a man will be profiting from it, and I’m willing to bet all the consumers are men, the women were token torturers (not that I am excusing them at all for their behaviour. Unless they were coerced with the threat of violence, they have no excuse; and being fit and strong enough to dislocate a man’s arm or jaw implies they are adult women who have spent time at the gym, which itself implies a certain lack of poverty, and also implies they wouldn’t have been desperate drug addicts either – so no excuse.)
Thanks to Hecuba in the comments thread here for bringing this to my attention