Teenagers are being exposed to graphic images on social media that promote life-threatening sexual acts, such as strangulation and erotic asphyxiation, prompting concerns that this is “normal” for a generation.
An investigation by this newspaper has uncovered hundreds of images of sexualised choking and strangulation on the virtual scrapbook Pinterest, the photo-sharing platform Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, and the microblogging site Tumblr. All three allow children as young as 13 onto their sites.
The images, which include pictures of young women being pinned down and strangled by men, and women with gags over their mouths, are often posted under hashtags such as #daddy, #chokingkink, #breathplay and #strangle.
On Pinterest there were images of children being gripped by the throat. One picture on Tumblr showed a bed with rose petals spelling out the words “bruise my oesophagus”.
Users also post phrases that promote these acts, such as “grab me by the throat and call me yours”, “Netflix and choke me” and “I’d probably still adore you with your hands around my neck”.
Campaigners argue that Fifty Shades of Grey, the sadomasochistic romance series, has helped normalise violent sexual practices. Dr Jane Monckton-Smith, a forensic criminologist, said: “Fifty Shades opened the floodgates to this. Women felt under pressure to indulge in dangerous behaviours.”
They argue that social media are now helping to make these acts mainstream, so that young women feel they cannot refuse sexual partners who wish to strangle them during intercourse.
Fiona MacKenzie, founder of the campaign group We Can’t Consent to This, said: “Social media sites normalise it, so that for young women there becomes an expectation that they may be choked or strangled.
“We hear this from women in their twenties all the time. This was once a very niche practice; now there is a push for young women to accept it as normal — to go along with it because it’s ‘sexy’.”
According to a survey by the research company Savanta ComRes last year, 38% of women under the age of 40 have experienced unwanted slapping, choking, gagging or spitting during consensual intercourse.
Sahana Venugopal, 23, a journalism student, said that she had seen this type of explicit material on Tumblr from the age of 14. “I’d inadvertently see a lot of pornographic material because accounts would use the hashtags of other popular TV shows or media to bring followers to their porn sites,” she said.
“After my experiences with Tumblr, I felt that choking was normalised as a sexual behaviour. It’s shown as an expression of passion and it’s something that girls are kind of groomed into doing, but it’s only recently that I see that being critiqued as something criminal.”
Under their community guidelines, Instagram and Pinterest do not allow images that promote violence on their sites.
MacKenzie added: “People know this practice is promoted on porn sites — they don’t expect it to be on Instagram or Pinterest. Some of what I saw on Instagram was so graphic that I couldn’t sleep afterwards. Strangulation is also a common risk factor for future homicide.”
Some Pinterest users also advertise T-shirts, necklaces and cards on the site that promote strangulation with slogans such as “treat me like a princess and choke me”.
Some of the content — including all the Pinterest posts — was removed after it was flagged by The Sunday Times. Pinterest said it did not allow content that promotes “graphic violence or sexual fetishes”, and Facebook said it removes images that promote “sexual violence or sexual acts which could cause serious physical harm”.
Tumblr said it did allow “some content that may be sexual in nature” but not posts that promote violence.
A senior police officer admitted that his force ignored the sexual abuse of girls by Pakistani grooming gangs for decades because it was afraid of increasing “racial tensions”, a watchdog has ruled.
After a five-year investigation, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) upheld a complaint that the Rotherham officer told a missing child’s distraught father that the town “would erupt” if it was known that Asian men were routinely having sex with under-age white girls.
The chief inspector is said to have described the abuse as “P*** shagging” and to have said it had been “going on” for 30 years: “With it being Asians, we can’t afford for this to be coming out.”
His incendiary language features in a confidential report by the watchdog that upholds six complaints against South Yorkshire police by a former child victim of sexual exploitation.
Its 13-page document, seen by The Times, was issued two days after a critical review of multiple police failings during a botched inquiry into the organised sexual abuse of vulnerable young girls by men of Pakistani heritage in Manchester.
The Rotherham complainant was repeatedly abused over several years from 2003. The IOPC said it was “very clear that you were sexually exploited by Asian men” and upheld a complaint that police “took insufficient action to prevent you from harm”.
Until now police forces across the north and the Midlands have consistently denied that concerns about upsetting community sensitivities or accusations of racism were a factor in their past failure to tackle grooming gangs.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, said last night that the Rotherham and Manchester scandals represented “a failure of the state to fulfil one of its fundamental roles, protecting our children”. “Institutionalised, corrosive behaviour that disregards victims has to end,” she said. “Tackling this abuse is a priority for the Home Office, which is why I have accelerated the delivery of the Tackling Child Sex Abuse strategy that will put victims first. There will be no no-go areas.”
An investigation by The Times into child grooming in towns across the north prompted an independent inquiry. Its 2014 report found that between 1997 and 2013 more than 1,400 Rotherham children were exposed to severe levels of sexual abuse and violence by groups of men who were “almost all” of Pakistani heritage. To date, 36 men have been convicted for crimes related to the scandal.
The watchdog has informed the young woman that its report has been shared with the South Yorkshire force, which “agreed with our findings”. She was told that the IOPC was unable to identify the chief inspector.
It interviewed 16 police officers known to have had dealings with the girl during her years of exploitation but the report said that “none of them could recall their involvement with you”. Operation Linden, its inquiry into complaints of alleged wrongdoing by South Yorkshire officers in connection to such crimes, was launched in late 2014.
Its scrutiny of the young woman’s allegations formed one strand of a larger operation that has featured 91 investigations. It has not been revealed whether misconduct charges have been brought. At the time, her parents’ fear that she was being abused by adults was magnified by a growing frustration that police did not take their concerns seriously and viewed the vulnerable girl as a “naughty kid, a teenager playing up”.
Her father told The Times that this impression was confirmed by his conversation with the senior officer. “She’d been missing for weeks and he was talking as though she was an adult doing it of her own free will. He said it had been going on for 30 years and that in his day they used to call them ‘P*** shaggers’. I told him she was a child and this was child abuse.”
The complainant and her family said they were pleased by the watchdog’s findings but did not believe that any officer would be held to account.
Its final report is yet to be published.
Steve Noonan, the IOPC’s director of major investigations, said that its Rotherham investigation was “continuing to make significant progress”.
“We have completed more than 90 per cent of the inquiries. Our priority has been, and always will be, the welfare of the many survivors of child abuse we have been engaging with,” he said. “As their individual cases conclude, we provide them with a personal update on our findings.”
South Yorkshire police said it recognised the failings of its past and accepted the watchdog’s findings. The chief inspector’s reported comments were “not something we tolerate in today’s force” and it was “unfortunate that no individual officer has been identified”.
“Since 2014 we have developed a far deeper understanding of child sexual exploitation,” it added.
Senior police officers should be prosecuted for mishandling a Greater Manchester sexual abuse scandal that resulted in most offenders getting away with their crimes, a whistleblower has said.
Margaret Oliver, a former detective constable who led Greater Manchester police’s investigation into child sexual exploitation, said the force had spent years trying to cover up its failures.
An independent report published on Tuesday found that up to 52 children may have been victims of the sexual abuse ring, but Operation Augusta had been shut down prematurely partly because senior officers had prioritised solving burglaries and car crime.
Some of the officers involved when the investigation was launched in 2004 are still serving, and the findings have now been passed on to the Independent Office for Police Conduct to decide if there was any wrongdoing.
“I can’t be more critical of what they did. Accountability is the answer, consequences for those failures, changes in the law to ensure that they can be charged with gross misconduct,” said Oliver.
“Based on [GMP’s] track record I don’t have any faith that they will do anything unless they are forced kicking and screaming to do it.”
Oliver resigned from the force after 15 years in October 2012. She had also worked on Operation Span, an investigation into reports of grooming in Rochdale. She later went public with claims that allegations of rape and sexual abuse were not being recorded by police.
Although she said she felt vindicated by the publication of the report, because it “officially acknowledged” the validity of her concerns, she added that ultimately greater action was needed to right the wrongs of the past.
“It’s very easy to talk the talk, what we need is action and not just from GMP, this is a national issue,” said Oliver. “This needs to come from the top of government, they need to be forced to address it properly.”
“Multiple rapes of vulnerable young children – 11- and 12-year-olds – deserve action and those who should take that action are senior police officers.”
The original investigation was launched following the death of 15-year-old Victoria Agoglia, who died from an overdose in 2003 after being injected with heroin by a 50-year-old man.
In an emotional statement on Tuesday, Victoria’s grandmother, Joan Agoglia, said the publication of the report was “wonderful, as I’ve been fighting for this all my life it seems” but emphasised the extent to which authorities had not taken concerns raised about the girl’s wellbeing seriously.
“Vicky told me about what this man had done to her. She was so bruised underneath her private parts, you couldn’t believe it. She told me that she had been beaten,” said Agoglia.
Although the operation was shut down in July 2005 because of a lack of resources, Oliver claimed the force viewed the girls as an “underclass”, adding that “these weren’t the chief constable’s daughters”.
The Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, who commissioned the review, said he had raised the findings of an inquest into Victoria’s death with the attorney general because he felt “uncomfortable” that they did not raise failures of authorities to safeguard her.
Assistant chief constable Mabs Hussain, the head of specialist crime for GMP, said: “We have made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct so that they can carry out an independent assessment to determine if there are any conduct matters that should be investigated.”
“Of course back in early 2000s, the priorities for forces across the UK were very different. This has completely changed and today safeguarding the vulnerable is our absolute priority.”
QotD: “only women seem to have this magical ability to reclaim our power and our bodies by giving men the exact thing that they want from us”
Y’all ever notice how only women are given the line that if we allow more men to buy our bodies for sex, we’re actually gaining our power back from men. that line wouldn’t work or make sense with any other type of capitalist exploitation. you’d never hear a leftist say that a retail worker dedicating even MORE of their life and their time to their capitalist boss is “taking back their power” or a sweatshop worker being worked to death by a capitalist company is “reclaiming their bodies” — only women seem to have this magical ability to reclaim our power and our bodies by giving men the exact thing that they want from us.
QotD: “It’s basically impossible to do ethical porn research in any way that would provide meaningful results”
In undergrad, I was told that it’s basically impossible to get funding on porn research because we know it’s so harmful. You can do correlational studies based on self-report, but you can’t do experimental studies where you expose people to pornography and then study some kind of outcome. The potential harms to participants and the people around them are considered to outweigh the benefits of studying it.
Which… there’s a lot to unpack there.
Basically, there haven’t been any good experimental studies on porn exposure since the 90s. Because, even by that point, research was overwhelmingly converging on “porn is harmful.” Y’all hang out around here, you know the effects – acceptance of rape myths, distorted perception of sexual norms, sexual dysfunction, cruelty or lack of compassion towards women, etc etc etc. These effects were found through both experimental and correlational studies based on self-reported, self-selected porn watching outside of a lab.
The latter is the only thing you’re still allowed to do (mostly). Unfortunately, it is now nearly impossible to perform good research on the subject, because it’s so difficult to find a control group. At least if you’re studying men. Nearly all men watch pornography regularly. In fact, one of the only populations you can still study with a decent control group is teenagers. But research on minors has its own ethical red tape, to say nothing of getting guardians to agree to it, so it doesn’t happen much either. So, with no control group to compare it to, you’re going to get weak results at best. You can compare self-reported volumes or types of porn watching between each other, but that’s really about it.
In some ways, the ethical considerations have become somewhat pointless. If all men are watching porn, what does it matter if they watch it in a lab or not? But since you basically can’t find men who haven’t been exposed to porn, and you can’t guarantee that these men aren’t going home between lab sessions and watching porn, porn-related research will be limited to the immediate effects of exposure. And you’ve still got an uphill battle to explain to an ethics board why your research on immediate effects of porn exposure, which you know will be harmful in some way, is going to add to the existing literature in a way that is significant enough to be worth the harm. Because, regardless of if these people are going home to harm themselves in the exact same way, it’s still generally unethical to expose people to known harms to study the effects.
And because we know porn watching is addictive, that further complicates the ethical considerations. To give a fair analogy, it’s similarly difficult to get approval for an experimental in-lab study on the effects of giving opiates to people. We know what it does, we know it’s harmful, and we know it’s addictive, so unless you have some truly groundbreaking new research idea and some way to significantly mitigate the harm, you’re not going to get approval for that. (Ex: You can get approval for testing a new opiate that you think has a lower possibility for abuse, especially if you plan on testing it on people with chronic pain disorders or terminal cancer patients or something. That’s groundbreaking, there’s a way to mitigate harm, and it has the potential to do more good than harm. You can’t just get approval to give a bunch of Dilaudid to undergrads to test, say, how it affects short-term memory.)
TLDR, it’s not just that scientists don’t care. It’s that it’s basically impossible to do ethical porn research in any way that would provide meaningful results.
Former (for now, hopefully permanent) stripper here. I think a lot of people who don’t have first hand experience of stripping don’t understand that the job is about %10 actual dancing at most. There are some regional differences, club differences, I know girls get tipped more in places like Vegas or Atlanta but if you go just about anywhere else, you do NOT make your money dancing on stage. Stripping is not just being some hot and unattainable things gliding around a pole while awestruck men make it rain.
The majority of your money comes from private dances and from tips. If you are in the industry you know that the best way to ensure your income is to gather regular clients. There are two ways to do this: you can either give them sexual favors or you can play along with their fantasy that you are their girlfriend/will meet them outside the club. Both are objectifying and degrading, not fun. Not sexy.
Aside from having to deal with regular clients, stripping means swimming in a sea of misogynistic assholes. Some men get off on hurting women physically, some men get off on making women cry. You could be a 10/10 and you will still be subjected to abusive treatment by men. No matter how hot you are, there is always some man who feels entitled to list all the “flaws” he sees in your body to put you in your place. Stripping means existing every day in an atmosphere of violence and sexual aggression and having to constantly fend off men who repeatedly try to violate your boundaries.
As rude and entitled as the customers might be, they are nowhere near as bad as club owners/managers can be. Coerced sex is as ubiquitous as you’d expect it to be. Managers can force you to work back to back shifts until you drop or develop a coke habit (so you can buy from them), they can force you to give dances to men that smell like piss and they can retaliate against you if you piss off the wrong client by refusing to fuck. I’ve been called a cunt, a bitch, a whore, literally any insult you can think of – and I was Top Earner for almost a year straight. And I put up with it because I couldn’t afford to stand up for myself and lose my job.
And when i’m saying this, keep in mind I worked in the most expensive, “high-end” club in a major metropolitan city for years. I was one of the hot, “lucky” ones. This is the high end. On the low end you’ve got clubs that are actual no-bones-about-it-lube-in-the-goddamn-sanitizer-bottles brothels filled with trafficked women from Eastern Europe and Asia.
I’m sure some strippers are gonna say it’s not degrading yadda yadda, “I’m empowered!” But I’ve never met a stripper who hasn’t had some sort of emotional breakdown on a shift at least once, and that kind of says something.
The privileged sex worker tourists looking to gain some sort of dangerous mystique/male validation/”self-discovery”/whatever the fuck supplemental identity might never experience this, but who cares about them anyway, they are a joke to the rest of us.
tl; dr – take it from a stripper, it is degrading. What I wrote above is pretty stream of consciousness so i’m sorry if it seems unpolished. I just get scared and frustrated when I see things like this and wanted to get this out of my system so I could go take a bath and chill.
I quit stripping not long after I started because I had an anxiety attack (I didn’t know what an anxiety attack was back then). I was lucky enough that I could quit because I could find money elsewhere and hadn’t been there long enough to get stuck. Not long after that the club got shut down for prostitution.
I assure you, everything she said above is true. The owner/manager is an abusive pimp, the girls are doped up just to get through the night, men try to take advantage of you at every turn, it’s a nightmare.
You know what my appeal was? That I had just turned 18 and was a virgin (I wasn’t a virgin, but that was my gimmick). You know who all of my regular clients were? Men old enough to be my dad or, more often, grandfather, trying to get me to suck their dick for extra cash. They’d try to get my drunk enough to do it, but all my “rum and coke”s were just soda.
Girls who needed more cash or drugs could fuck the boss for it. He would pay us to get a tattoo of the club’s name and logo. There all still girls out there with it permanently on them even though now the club is gone, always reminding them of what went on in there.
This isn’t some sexy emporium of pleasure, it was a stock yard and we were cattle, branded and caged, for men to buy.