I’m very angry today
Yesterday I went to the women’s march. It was great. It felt a little shallow, some people had signs with memes or fandom things in them. There was a guy with a sign that said “real men respect women” which lol.
But there were young women, a collective of old women who had knitted a whole sign out of yarn, a collective of romani women dennouncing discrimination and misogyny they face, little girls with their moms, there were marxist women, women fighting for education, there were some people with trans flags too, and also many signs making a symbol out of their female bodies and making chants referencing it, there were marxist women, there were women pro and anti hijab/forced modesty, and women pro and against prostitution. It was a very plural experience, and that felt good, to have us all screaming against sexual violence and sitting down in honor of the women murdered in 2019. It was a good reminder that we’re very plural, and that the people who would demand to control the narrative really don’t control all of what feminism is. Too much difference of opinion weakens a fight, but in such a time when any difference among feminism is severely punished, it’s important to realize that yes, different opinions can coexist. Because that’s the important thing, the march I attended was peaceful.
That was not the case in Madrid or Barcelona. In the later, they had “kill terfs” signs. In the former, a group of women who are prostitution and gender abolitionists had a really big sign demanding an end to sexual slavery and explotation and people tried to cover their sign, when that failed, they tried to cut it up, with A KNIFE, people took one of the signs down and tried to break it and stomp on it claiming it was “transphobic” (all the sign said was “stop misogynistic violence” but you know, it was made by a group that supports the abolition of prostitution so, they’re Satan) the feminists in question were pushed around violently, one was punched, someone tried to threaten an old woman and her dog. The people who did it? Some were part of THE MARCH ORGANIZING COMMITTEE, others were trans activists with pink bands on their arms meant to signify and “inclusive march”.
So I read that this morning, and I’m very very angry, but for once, that anger feels good. It feels righteous, like anger I can turn into something. Because I went on Twitter, and there were so many women talking about this, and not just random gender critical women, but women who have been historical figures of Spanish feminism for decades. Important activists. Journalists with a very big following. People who had no real clue what was going on but the violence didn’t sit right with them. A deputee of our Congress just casually rting gender critical articles. There has been a lot of talk on tv here over the last few days over the divisions among feminism especially when it comes to self-id and prostitution/pornography, and it is very clear whose side the mass media is on. But our perspectives were brought to the forefront, and they were listened to somewhat. And after yesterday’s circus so many more people are speaking out about who the problem is and who actually causes these so-called divisions. I don’t know if this means that we have a chance to influence things, we’re gonna have our own gender self-id row very soon (also our Minister of Equality said, about the proposal to make a law that deals with sex trafficking since we have so many cases of that, that she’s “for the complete abolition of sex trafficking but she has friends who are for the regulation of prostitution so :(” and so many people are calling bullshit, but there’s being talk of a law tackling trafficking by activists groups, the conversation is out in the open, now we must move our pieces)
I don’t know if this new notoriety is gonna make anyone listen, but we’re here, we’re condemning the absolutely despicable behaviors promoted by liberal feminists and trans activists, and so many people with a big following are doing it. For once it really feels like they won’t shut us up.
Ok I’m gonna tell you what they did in France and Belgium.
A prostitution survivor named Fiji was holding a sign that said : I am a survivor of incest and prostitution and I am an abolitionist. «Abolitionist» is what we call anti-prostitution feminists in France.
As she was bravely marching, the liberals kept following her, laughing at her and taking pictures to identify her. Then some girls came behind her, one of them asked : «are you against prostitution ?» she replied «yes», the girl said «I am pro sex» and, still smiling, tried to steal the sign from Fiji’s hands. All the feminists that were supporting her held on to her sign and protected her. The liberals were laughing. The feminists were outraged «how are you not ashamed ? How dare you do that to a victim ? How dare you speak of feminism ?» they asked. The liberals laughed some more and started chanting «DEATH TO ABOLITIONISTS».
The liberals kept following them and laughing… feminist survivors were not safe… in a march for women’s rights. After a while, the liberals took out their own sign it said : transfeminists. You can see them behind Fiji on the picture I posted above.
Anti-prostitution activist Joana and her group (which included ex prostituted women) were attacked and punched in the face by men and women wearing masks.
«They saw us preparing for the march, taking out our banner and they jumped us, kicked us, hit us». Their big anti-prostitution banner was stolen. Joana tried to run after the thieves to get her banner back. As a result 5 people wearing masks beat her up in the middle of the street. The police had to intervene to stop the beating.
Later that day a local «anti-fascist» group wearing masks posted a picture of themselves proudly posing with a racist banner they had stolen. On the ground is Joana’s banner that says “survivors, feminists, abolitionists fighting” and “collectif abolition porno prostitution” which I don’t need to translate I think.
After realizing that Joana’s banner was visible the “anti-fascist” page changed the picture.
Too late. They have been reported to the police.
Several survivors of prostitution have reported that as they were marching some liberals/trans activists were chanting «death to abolitionists» and «death to fascists». A prostituted friend of mine added : «there were no fascist near us, yet the trans activists were looking at us, they were menacing and trying to provoke us, you could tell they wanted to beat us up». One liberal screamed “no feminism without whores !”, others were getting close enough to whisper “death to abolitionists” in women’s ears and then disappear into the crowd like some sort of sick game.
On facebook, prostitution survivor Emma wrote this post:
«I just came back from the march for women’s rights in Bruxelle. We had abolitionist signs. We were booed several times by women who chanted «death to abolionists, death to fascists» looking us straight in the eyes.
So I had to endure the violence of a pimp, the discrimination that goes with prostitution and now I am told to die during a march for women’s rights because I am speaking up about the suffering I’ve been through.»
She added a video to her post in which we can see and hear liberal women chanting «death to abolitionists».
All that being said and speaking from my experience in France, liberal pseudo-feminism is more of a cult than anything else. They are a minority who have built an echo chamber for themselves, mostly on the internet, and when out in the real world, facing their limits as an idiotic and self centered little cult they shout and threaten and grin and kick but normal people don’t understand a word they are saying. They remind me of skinheads actually. Dangerous and pathetic at the same time.
Anyway, nothing can stop actual feminism and sisterhood.
Lisa is one of a number of young women who have told the BBC they have been pressured into acts of violence in the bedroom.
She says she willingly “got together” with a guy she “kind of knew” at a house party but was shocked when he began repeatedly biting down on her body.
“When he pulled his mouth away, his teeth were still clenched. I thought he was going to tear chunks out of my skin,” she says.
Lisa, which is not her real name, said there was no conversation beforehand about whether she wanted to be bitten and she was physically shocked by it.
She says she was crying and asked him to stop “but there’s only so much you can do when somebody is a lot larger and stronger than you are”.
Online culture is changing behaviour in the bedroom and what was once regarded as strictly fetish is rapidly becoming the norm.
BBC Disclosure and BBC 5Live commissioned a survey of 2,049 UK men aged 18 to 39 to assess how so-called “rough sex” was being navigated.
In the survey, 71% of the men who took part said they had slapped, choked, gagged or spat on their partner during consensual sex.
One-third (33%) of the men who had done this said they would not ask verbally whether their partner would like them to do it either before or during sexual activity.
What is driving this interest in so-called “rough sex”? Our survey of young men pointed to a big factor – pornography.
More than half of the men (57%) who had said they had slapped, choked, gagged and spat on partners said pornography had influenced their desire to do so.
One in five (20%) said it had influenced them a “great deal”.
A man called George – not his real name – told the BBC Disclosure programme A Question of Consent that he had tried choking and slapping during sex.
“You see it in porn and think, ‘oh, that looks class’ and you try it,” he says.
However, George says it can be disappointing when re-enacting what you watch on free pornography sites.
“It never turns out the way it looks in porn,” he says. “Obviously, they are actors, even though you watch and you like it, when you try it in real life you are disappointed quite a lot.”
Dr Fiona Vera-Gray, from Durham University, researches the clips, titles and thumbnails found on the front pages of the world’s most popular free pornography sites.
She says she found evidence on the first page of the sites of all kinds of videos that would not be allowed to be uploaded under their stated terms and conditions.
Dr Vera-Gray says she even found evidence of videos that “promote, endorse or glorify sexual violence, such as rape”.
She says: “Porn has changed the landscape of what’s going on for kids and so if you think your 12-year-old hasn’t seen pornography, I’d really question that.”
BBC Disclosure approached the most popular free pornography sites for an interview. None agreed.
Lisa, who is in her 20s, told the programme how she felt after her encounter.
“I was just in shock,” she says.
She says she felt a bit guilty because she had “gotten with him”.
“Could I have done more? Could I have said more? Could I have left?” she says.
She asks herself: “Did you do enough to stop it?”
Brenna Jessie, from Rape Crisis Scotland, says that feelings of guilt are really common among victims of abuse.
“I think there will be a lot of women who have consented to sex but who have not consented to violence who won’t necessarily recognise their experience or understand their experience to be sexual violence,” she says.
Ms Jessie believes that society is to blame for those feelings.
“We live in a society that really shames victims and blames them for not doing more to keep themselves safe rather than asking the perpetrators – or the people, who have committed these acts – why they have done that?”
QotD: “For some male students, treating a sexual partner — especially one who was not suitably hot or selective — with roughness or disinterest and then bragging about it the next day became a form of image management”
There are two contradictory trends identified in reports about young people’s sex lives. One is that they are virtually celibate, too busy playing Fortnite, watching porn, scrolling through Instagram or otherwise living screen-mediated lives to actually connect with another human being. The other is that “hook-up culture” and a plethora of Tinder-type swipe apps have made sex so accessible that everyone is bed-hopping in a nonstop, booze-fuelled bacchanal. The truth lies somewhere in between. School and university students are, in fact, having less vaginal intercourse than they were 25 years ago (the studies quoted in the press, though, don’t ask about oral or anal sex, both of which have become more common), but that’s partly because the context in which they indulge has shifted.
In a relationship, couples tend to have intercourse regularly; students who engage primarily in hook-ups, even those they consider “consistent”, do so only sporadically — an irony, given the dissolute presumptions about hook-up culture.
“Hook-up”, a word adolescents bandy about incessantly, is intentionally vague. In reality, about 35%-40% of student hook-ups include intercourse, which means 60% or more do not. Because of the ambiguity, however, students tend to radically overestimate what their classmates are up to (not to mention allow others to draw inflated conclusions about their own exploits). This can fuel feelings of inadequacy and Fomo, contributing to pressure to keep pace through undesired sex, coerciveness or aggression. According to the Online College Social Life Survey, which encompassed more than 20,000 students across America, close to three-quarters of both male and female students will hook up at least once by the time they are 18. The average number of partners? Seven to eight. Not exactly the fall of Rome. A full quarter never hook up during their time as a student and 40% hook up fewer than three times, though 20% of students do hook up 10 times or more.
Boys in my interviews were less likely than girls to express anger, betrayal, resentment or feelings of being “used” in hook-ups. That’s partly because hook-up culture aligns with the values of conventional masculinity: conquest over connection, sex as status seeking, partners as disposable. The Online College Social Life Survey found that 29%-53% of girls climaxed in their most recent hook-up, as opposed to 56%-81% of boys. In the words of one boy: “It sounds bad, but in a one-time thing, I don’t really care.”
For some male students, treating a sexual partner — especially one who was not suitably hot or selective — with roughness or disinterest and then bragging about it the next day became a form of image management, a pre-emptive strike against potential ridicule, the loss of social currency. So, when boys assured me that their friends and classmates would never sexually assault a girl (it was always those other boys), that felt like a very low bar: having sex that is technically “legal” is hardly the same as sex that is ethical, mutual, reciprocal or kind. “Casual sex can be great,” observed one student. “But you can forget to treat the other person as a human being.”
It’s no secret that today’s children are guinea pigs in a colossal porn experiment. Whereas (mostly) boys of previous generations might have passed around a filched copy of Playboy, today anyone with a broadband connection can instantly access anything you can imagine — and a whole lot of stuff you don’t want to imagine.
Some boys felt that their porn use had no effect on them, many of them asserting: “I can tell the difference between fantasy and reality.” That, as it happens, is the instinctive response people give to any suggestion of media influence — none of us wants to think we’re so impressionable, though we’re quick to recognise that others are. But decades of research show that what we consume becomes part of our psyches, unconsciously affecting how we feel, think and behave.
Porn use has been associated with boys’ real-life badgering of girls for nude pictures. Both boys and girls who consume porn at younger ages are more likely to become sexually active sooner than peers, to have more partners, to have higher rates of pregnancy, to view sexual aggression more positively and women more negatively, and to engage in the riskier and more atypical behaviours porn depicts.
Male porn users report less satisfaction than others with their sex lives, their own performance in bed and with their female partners’ bodies. There is even speculation that because of its convenience as well as low physical and emotional investment — porn never rejects you, never makes demands of you, never wants you to talk about your feelings — the rise in porn use is partially responsible for the lower rates of intercourse among millennials. That reduction of pleasure in partnered sex was what concerned most of my interviewees.
One student called Reza believed porn increased his awareness of real women’s physical imperfections. “I’ve got things narrowed down to a very, very specific body type that turns me on,” he explained. “It’s probably not all driven by porn, but I figured out what I liked from that and I think I wouldn’t have otherwise. It doesn’t ruin my relationships, but it’s not nice when I’m trying to talk my girlfriend into liking a part of her body, but I’m secretly thinking, well, actually, I would prefer …” And Kevin, a school pupil, said that after watching “all those skinny white women” (he’s Caucasian), he was having a hard time becoming aroused by his black girlfriend’s body.
Some boys fretted more over their own bodies’ contours than their partners’, especially (and perhaps not surprisingly) their penis size. A few boys were so concerned about size that they avoided sexual situations. “I had a girlfriend at 16,” said Mitchell, “and as we started being more sexual, I became very nervous about being … sufficient. I couldn’t perform during our first real sexual experience because that was so much on my mind. And once you feel like you can’t, you can’t. You’re done.” With time, and maybe a little maturity, he got past it. In retrospect, he said: “Comparing myself to porn was obviously ridiculous. But, you know, it’s also kind of understandable.”
Like every boy I spoke with, Mitchell claimed to know that, of course, porn wasn’t realistic. But that line between fact and fiction was not clear; after all, porn is depicting something, and what other point of reference do young people have? “If you’re a teenage guy and you don’t have much sexual experience, and you’ve been watching porn for the past six or seven years, you can develop almost a … fear, really,” said another university student. “A fear that you would not be able to perform up to those standards, though, of course, no one really can. But maybe the starkest contrast is your perception of the kind of feedback that you’re going to be getting from a girl. Like that they will be moaning and having orgasms all over the place. That’s obviously not the case.”
“I don’t consider the porn I watch to be representative of the person I am,” said Daniel, a lantern-jawed student with hipster glasses. “The whole category of ‘Unwilling’ [women who say no to sex, then change their mind when forced]. It’s very appealing to me, even though I know it’s wrong. And I do truly believe it’s wrong. I would never do it. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy watching it.”
In real life, Daniel was consciously trying to curb his use of the thoughtlessly sexist, homophobic language that had been common at secondary school. He also said he considered any form of sexual interaction to have “spiritual significance” and claimed to prize intimacy over “raw sex”.
But that’s not what got him off. Real sex with his school girlfriend wasn’t stimulating enough. “I felt like I was never really satisfied,” he said. “There was always more to try. Like, ‘Oh, this is pretty good, she’s letting me do a lot, but we haven’t done this yet, we haven’t done this, done this, done this.’ ”
As another boy put it: “I think porn affects your ability to be innocent in a sexual relationship. The whole idea of exploring sex without any preconceived ideas of what it is, you know? That natural organic process has just been f***** by porn.”
Internet companies must do more to tackle “an explosion” in images of child sex abuse on their platforms, a UK-held inquiry has concluded.
The panel also said the technology companies had “failed to demonstrate” they were fully aware of the number of under-13s using their services and lacked a plan to combat the problem.
It has called for all images to be screened before publication.
And it said more stringent age checks were also required.
Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat were identified as the most commonly cited apps where grooming was said to take place.
And the industry at large was accused of being “reactive rather than proactive” in response to the issues.
“Action seemed driven by a desire to avoid reputational damage rather than to prioritise protection of children,” the inquiry said.
The report follows a series of public hearings, between January 2018 and May 2019, during which the police said they believed the UK was the world’s third biggest consumer of live-streamed child sex abuse.
Facebook was one of the first to respond.
“[We] have made huge investments in sophisticated solutions,” said its European head of safety, David Miles.
“As this is a global, industry-wide issue, we’ll continue to develop new technologies and work alongside law enforcement and specialist experts in child protection to keep children safe.”
Microsoft also promised to “consider these findings carefully”, while Google said it would keep working with others to “tackle this evil crime”.
The report said some steps should be taken before the end of September.
Leading its list is a requirement for screening before images appear online.
The report noted technologies such as Microsoft’s PhotoDNA had made it possible for pictures to be quickly checked against databases of known illegal imagery without humans needing to look at them.
But at present, this filtering process typically happened after the material had already become available for others to see.
Users might be frustrated by a delay in seeing their content go live but, the panel said, it had not been told of any technical reason this process could not happen before publication.
The inquiry also said the UK government should introduce legislation to compel the companies involved to adopt more effective checks to deter under-age users.
Pre-teens were at “particularly acute” risk of being groomed, it said.
The panel recognised many services were officially banned to under-13s.
But it said in many cases, the only test was to require users to fill in a date-of-birth form, which could easily be falsified.
“There must be better means of ensuring compliance,” it said.
The report acknowledged detecting and preventing the live-streaming of abuse was difficult but highlighted a French app as an example to learn from.
It said Yubo used algorithms to detect possible instances of child nudity, which a human moderator would then check to see if action if necessary.
The panel also noted existing anti-abuse technologies did not work when communications were protected by end-to-end encryption, which digitally scrambles communications without giving platform providers a key.
The inquiry highlighted WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime already used the technique by default and Facebook intended to deploy it more widely soon.
However, it did not say how this should be addressed.
One day, just after I had dropped my son off at school, I was sent a horrific video on WhatsApp. It made me question how images and videos of child sex abuse come to be made, and how they can be openly circulated on social media. And I wanted one answer above all – what happened to the boy in the video?
It may sound strange, but the woman who sent me the video was a fellow mum at the school gates. A group of us had set up a WhatsApp group to discuss term dates, uniforms, illnesses.
Then one morning, out of the blue, one of these mums sent a video to the group, with two crying-face emojis underneath it.
It was just a black box, no thumbnail, and we all pressed play without thinking. Maybe it would be a meme or a news story. Maybe one of the “stranger danger” videos some of the mums had started to share.
The video starts with a shot of a man and a baby, about 18 months old, sitting on a sofa. The baby smiles at the man.
I can’t describe the rest.
If I tell you what I saw in the 10 seconds it took to grasp what was happening, and press stop, you’ll have the image in your head too. And you don’t want it. It’s a video of child sex abuse. It’s nine minutes long.
I screamed, and threw my phone across the room. It was pinging with messages from distraught members of the group.
I took my phone to the police station. I told them what had happened. I told them I believed the woman had sent it to us as a warning, and that I hoped they would investigate where the video came from. Was it new, or one they’d already come across? Was this little boy still in danger? Could this evidence help save him, or catch the abuser?
The police had my phone for two weeks. I found out the next day that they arrested the woman who sent it and visited other members of the group. And then I didn’t hear anything else about it.
But one question stayed with me. What happened to the boy in the video? And so, a few months later, once I could read my own kids a bedtime story without thinking of him and life had got back to normal, I began to look for answers.
I started by trying to speak to the police officer investigating the video on my phone. But every time I called Wembley CID to speak to him, he’d just gone out.
He didn’t want anything to do with me.
I checked with Alan Collins, a lawyer who specialises in child sex abuse, to see if any of the things I might normally do to track down people would work. Could I, for example, send former police officers a copy of the video to see if they recognised it?
“You could be looking at a prison sentence of 10 years,” he told me. Same goes for taking a still and sending that. Just possessing an image like this on my phone could land me in jail.
So I called a friend of a friend who used to work for the police. He told me Wembley CID would have sent my phone off to one of the digital forensics labs spread across the city. The labs list all the illegal content, and when it’s child sex abuse they grade it: Category A for the most serious, Cat B, Cat C. This WhatsApp video was Cat A.
Next, the file goes to victim identification and my case was passed to the Metropolitan Police’s Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Command. An officer there, Det Sgt Lindsay Dick, agreed to talk to me, but he didn’t want to say much about the techniques used in case it helped offenders work out how to evade capture.
He did tell me about one case, where an officer had got hold of a phone that had images of a boy being abused on it, along with images of the same boy not being abused. In one, he’s standing at a bus stop in school uniform. An officer recognised the bus stop as a Mersey Transport sign, and put a call in to the Merseyside team. They recognised the school uniform. The boy was identified, his parents arrested, and social services took over. Victim-identification police all over the world rely on little clues like this.
Lindsay Dick wouldn’t discuss the details of what I’d been sent, even though he had investigated the case. Then, when I asked him about a suggestion from an editor to take a still from the video of the perpetrator’s face, to help identify him, I started to feel some heat.
“Do you still have a copy of that video?” he asked me, sternly. “No,” I replied. But it was still sitting somewhere on WhatsApp’s server, and because I was still a member of the group, it was still showing on my phone. Even though I’d done nothing wrong, I realised how seriously the police took this kind of thing.
This hit home late last year when a senior Metropolitan Police officer, Supt Novlett Robyn Williams, was given 200 community hours’ unpaid work and threatened with losing her job for failing to report a video of child sex abuse her sister had sent her on WhatsApp. (She is now appealing against the conviction.)
The Metropolitan Police refused to help me any further in my search for the boy in the video. At one point they even told officers in another part of the country, incorrectly, that I’d been cautioned for sharing the video.
I found out later from the woman who sent the video to me that she had been given three years on the sex offenders register. But the investigating officers at Wembley CID took the case no further – they didn’t arrest the friend who had sent it to her, and they didn’t even try to find out who had sent it to her friend. Further up that chain of people sharing the video must be some dangerous people, perhaps an abuser. But nothing was done to follow the trail.
The Metropolitan Police says: “The scale of child abuse and sexual exploitation offending online has grown in recent years. This increased demand on police, coupled with the need to keep up with advancement of technology and adapt our methods to detect and identify offenders, means it is a challenging area for the Met and police forces nationally. However, we remain committed to bringing those who commit child abuse offences online to justice, and safeguarding victims and young people at risk.
“We encourage anyone concerned about a child at risk of abuse or a possible victim, to contact police immediately. Anyone who receives an unsolicited message which depicts child abuse should report it to police immediately so action can be taken. Images of this nature should not be shared under any circumstances.”
I needed someone who wasn’t involved with the case to give me some more clues about where this file I’d been sent might have come from. So I started searching, and I came across news articles about a team in Queensland, Australia with a reputation for infiltrating child abuse video-sharing sites.
Their head of victim identification, former Greater Manchester Police detective Paul Griffiths, told me the file I’d been sent had probably started life on one of these sites.
“What tends to happen is that when a file gets produced like that, it generally stays under cover, under wraps, circulating amongst a fairly small, tight network. Very often people who would know that they need to keep it safe and not distribute it widely,” he said.
These networks of paedophiles use the dark web, a part of the internet that isn’t indexed readily by search engines such as Google. They access sites through a connection called TOR, or the onion router. They use a fake IP address, connected to several other servers dotted around the globe, which makes their location untraceable.
Members of these dark web sites are like sick stamp collectors – they post thumbnails of what they have on dedicated online forums, and look to complete series, usually of a particular child.
Some of them are “producers” – they abuse the children, or film them being abused.
A couple of years ago Paul Griffiths’ team was watching one site called Child’s Play. They had intelligence that two of the site’s leaders were meeting up in the US. Officers intercepted them, arrested them, and got their passwords.
Now they could see everything – each and every video – and they could get to work finding children and perpetrators. They made hundreds of arrests worldwide, and 200 children have been saved so far.
“It’s Sherlock Holmes stuff, it’s following little clues and seeing what you can piece together to try and find a needle in a haystack,” says Griffiths.
The big worry now is live-streaming, where adults can pay to watch children being abused in real time. It’s even harder to detect, because no file containing clues circulates, and the platforms are all encrypted. Just as the police and technology get better at finding victims in stills or videos, another threat emerges.
“There’s a famous story and it often gets told in relation to this area of crime, in relation to the young girl walking on the beach and there’s starfish all over the beach and she’s picking the starfish up and putting them back into the sea and a guy says to her, ‘Little girl, what are you doing? You’re never gonna be able to save all of these starfish.’ And she says, ‘No, but I’ll save that one.’ And that’s really what we’re doing,” says Griffiths.
“You know, we’re saving the ones we can save. And if some magical solution appears somewhere in the future that’s going to save all of them, that’s going to stop this happening, then that’ll be wonderful. But in the meantime, we can’t just sit back and ignore what we know is happening.”
Paul Griffiths is part of a small network of people who travel the globe for meetings and conferences on what to do about the huge numbers of videos and images circulating online.
He told me to contact Maggie Brennan, a lecturer in clinical forensic psychology at the University of Plymouth, who has been studying child-sex-abuse material for years. Between 2016 and 2018 she combed through the child-abuse images in a database run by Interpol, to build up a profile of victims.
She found a chilling pattern that suggested the age of the boy in the video I saw is not that unusual.
“Concerningly, there is a substantive, small, but important proportion of those images that do depict infants and toddlers. And we found a significant result in terms of the association between very extreme forms of sexual violence and very young children.”
Like the boy in the video I was sent, most children on the database are white – most likely a reflection of the fact that the police forces contributing to it are from majority-white countries.
There’s constant pressure, Brennan says, to quantify the numbers of images or videos that are in existence, and the numbers of victims who are being sexually exploited. But it’s impossible. Databases only hold the images that have been found, through police raids or reports. Who knows how many are circulating out there?
Paul Griffiths says it only takes one person to bring a video out of the depths of the dark web and unleash it on the general population.
“Sooner or later it comes into the possession of someone who either doesn’t know how to keep it safe and hidden, or doesn’t really care. And they spread it wider. It can take a few hours, and it’s all over the internet.”
I spoke to one offender who served seven months in prison for viewing child abuse images. He had been offered the files on Skype during an adult online sexual meet-up. He’d opened the first file, seen it was of a child – and carried on opening all 20. Then he tried to share them with someone else. Eventually, the man who sent him the files sent them to someone who told the police. But it’s a telling example of how easily files like the one I was sent spread, from the depths of the dark web, on to platforms like Skype, and then to people’s phones.
Despite the lack of action taken on my case, the UK policing response to child sex abuse images is one of the most robust in the world.
The Child Abuse Image Database (CAID) has seen huge investment over the last five years. When detectives receive the phone or laptop of a suspect, they can run images on it through state-of-the-art software that checks whether images are new, or already known to police. All police forces are linked up, and the database talks to others around the world.
In the 1990s the Home Office undertook a study of the proliferation of indecent imagery of children. There were less than 10,000 images in circulation then. Now there are almost 14 million images on the UK database.
The levels of depravity in videos and images are getting worse, Chief Constable Simon Bailey tells me. He’s been the National Police Chief Council’s lead for child protection and abuse investigations for the last five years.
I am expecting a forbidding character when I go to interview him at his Norfolk HQ. What I find is a man at the end of his tether.
“It just keeps growing, and growing, and growing,” he says. “And there is an element of, ‘These figures are just so huge that just can’t be right.’ Well trust me, it is right. And if I have one really significant regret around my leadership and our response to this it’s that we have struggled to land with the public the true scale of what we are dealing with, the horrors of what we are dealing with. Most people, I would like to think, would be mortified that this type of abuse is taking place.”
When Adam Lazarus complained about a seven-year-old boy putting his hands on his daughter at school, he was told not to cry sexual assault. “They don’t think like that,” the teachers said, “not at that age.” “But it’s power,” Lazarus seethes, recounting the incident. “It’s gendered power, and if you excuse it this kid thinks it’s OK.”
The Canadian performer made waves at the Edinburgh festival in 2018 with his controversial, gut-punch solo Daughter, which he is now bringing to Battersea Arts Centre in London. The show is told from the perspective of a young girl’s father and what starts as a charming and funny quasi-standup set quickly turns into something acidic. Over the course of an increasingly intense hour, Lazarus – dressed in fairy wings, dancing adorably to his daughter’s favourite song – unspools a brutal thread of toxic masculinity. First it’s shrugged off as a joke, then a distasteful comment, until suddenly there’s a metal rod in his hand and we’re wondering how we got here. “Are you OK that I did that?” he asks in the show, as remnants of laughter start to taste like bile.
Having trained at Philippe Gaulier’s prestigious clown school in France, Lazarus makes work that stems from bouffon, the French style of theatre with its roots in mockery. In contrast to his past performances, which involved elaborate costume and character, the father in Daughter is almost indistinguishable from Lazarus himself, and it leaves you wondering how much is true. “We had to ride the line [between reality and fiction] to be sure you couldn’t dismiss him as a character,” he says. “We were trying to get to a point where the room would say, I get it, I understand how a person could think like that.”
With his co-creators Ann-Marie Kerr, Jivesh Parasram and Melissa D’Agostino, Lazarus began developing Daughter after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi. “It blew the minds of Canadians, because we listened to him every morning,” explains Lazarus. Ghomeshi was acquitted in 2016 of four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking involving three complainants.
Daughter is built from real stories, though only some are from Lazarus’s own life. Regardless, audiences frequently believe it’s all him and that it’s all true. In the Edinburgh performances, some people walked out, while lots of others refused to applaud. But silence is not the worst response Lazarus has had; people frequently ask his wife if she’s OK, some close friends believe the stories are his own, and one man threatened to kill him for suggesting men had such a violent streak.
The hardest responses to reconcile are from the people – primarily women – who have been hurt by the performance. “I don’t think everyone needs to see the show,” Lazarus says frankly, when I ask about those who reported crying in the toilets afterwards, wishing they hadn’t seen it. “The show picks at a scab and if you have a trauma or a trigger that’s in there, it’s gonna peel really bad. I don’t know how to prepare people for that.” After every performance the company hold a space to talk, led by producer Aislinn Rose. Lazarus doesn’t attend those sessions; audiences feel more comfortable without him.
Lazarus argues that Daughter is a feminist play. “Pre-Trump I think it was a warning. Now I think it’s a rallying cry.” The show, Lazarus freely admits, is an attack on men, and the behaviour we often excuse. “It seethes underneath everything. These are microaggressions everyone is part of. The ‘good guys’ have a lot of work to do.” He does the quotation marks in the air.
With thunderous impact, Daughter toys with these complex ideas of responsibility and consent, asking how we protect our daughters by talking to our sons. Lazarus’s daughter is now eight, his son five. Scared and hopeful for them both in equal measure, he paraphrases a recent article by Peggy Orenstein. “We have to talk to our sons about sex in the same way we talk about manners: often. Even if you feel like you wanna poke your eye out talking to your son [about sex], if you don’t teach them, porn will.”
QotD: “The portrayal of porn culture as an empowering, feminist win epitomizes the degree to which pop culture feminism has lost its way”
Last Sunday, a number of Pornhub’s most popular Asian performers took to the runway at New York Fashion Week to model the “Herotica” collection from Namilia. The designers behind the label, Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl, described their choice of models as a “feminist statement.” Li explained, “The cosmos of sexual pleasure has been restricted to a few boring and chauvinistic narratives for the pleasure of the male gaze,” adding, “Porn isn’t something existentially male.” With this collection, Li and Pfohl intended to subvert the dominant narrative of submissive Asian women, by using dominatrix-inspired looks — a traditional Chinese dress was deconstructed, and merged with contemporary sadomasochistic porn culture.
The collection is heavily influenced not only by porn, but by sadomasochism in particular — the designers included a schoolgirl-type uniform, with a pink and white pleated leather skirt (a blatant nod to porn culture’s fetishization of girlhood), and printed the phrase “cock wrecker” on a number of items from the collection. During a backstage interview, Li said, “We wanted to take porn into a new context to kind of normalize sex work, prostitution, pornography, and put it in a fashion show context, so there’s not as much shame and taboo,” emphasizing her desire to create a “revolutionary new feminist youth culture.”
The portrayal of porn culture as an empowering, feminist win epitomizes the degree to which pop culture feminism has lost its way, completely abandoning the long-standing feminist goal of female liberation in favour of a faux-feminism that panders to male desire. Far from representing a challenge to the male gaze (the apparent aim of the designers), the show stayed perfectly on script, falling prey to the sleight of hand that has convinced women that our sexual objectification is subversive and liberatory. In a classic marketing move, porn culture and those who profit from it have sold us something that harms us, and convinced us that we wanted it all along.
Pornhub is one of the most popular porn sites on the internet. Alexa, the leading web-traffic tracker, lists Pornhub in 36th place among the world’s most visited websites, out of tens of millions of sites. Rule out search engines like Google, web portals like Yahoo, and shopping sites like Amazon, Pornhub takes fourth place, beaten out of the top spot by Wikipedia, Microsoft, and Netflix. Four other porn sites crack the top 100, including XVideos, BongaCams, xHamster, and xnxx. Between these five porn sites, their combined views per month exceed 6 billion. That equates to over 138,000 views per minute, or 2,300 views per second. Pornhub alone claims 115 million visits per day, and 42 billion specific searches annually.
Over the last year, Pornhub has been implicated in a number of cases of sex trafficking, child exploitation, and rape, as the site hosts an unknowable number of video recordings of sex crimes. In October, a 15-year-old who had been missing for a year was found after explicit photos of the girl were posted online. Further investigation found that she had appeared in 58 porn videos posted on Pornhub, and the man responsible was arrested in Fort Lauderdale. The girl reported that she was forced to have an abortion after getting impregnated during this time.
A few months after being attacked and raped at knifepoint, Rose Kalemba, who was 14 at the time, found several people from her school sharing a link online in which she was tagged. After clicking on it, Kalemba was led to Pornhub and was horrified to find multiple videos of her attack posted online. Recounting her story, Kalemba said, “The titles of the videos were, ‘Teen crying and getting slapped around,’ ‘Teen getting destroyed,’ ‘Passed out teen.’ One had over 400,000 views.” Kalemba emailed Pornhub numerous times over a period of six months, begging for the videos to be removed from the site, but she received no reply and the videos stayed up. The videos were not removed until Kalemba set up a new email address pretending to be a lawyer and threatened legal action against the site.
In a viral blog entry posted last year, Kalemba shared a detailed account of her ordeal, and called for Pornhub to be held responsible for their extended inaction. She heard from dozens of other girls saying videos of their sexual assaults had also appeared on the site. Though Pornhub claims to remove all videos of assault, the reality does not reflect this and Pornhub continues to unapologetically host videos with titles such as, “Teen abused while sleeping,” “Drunk teen abuse sleeping,” and “Extreme teen abuse.” The company’s defence is that they “allow all forms of sexual expression” that do not go against their terms of service, even if “some people find these fantasies inappropriate.”
More recently, 22 women sued the owners of GirlsDoPorn, Michael James Pratt and Matthew Isaac Wolfe, as well as porn actor Ruben Andre Garcia, saying they were coerced into performing sexual acts on film that were later uploaded to Pornhub. The men had posted Craigslist ads for “beautiful college type preppy girls” needed for photo shoots, but when the women arrived, they were plied with drugs and alcohol and pressured to participate in a porn shoot. The victims were awarded $12.7 million. According to a federal indictment, Pratt and his co-conspirators also produced child pornography and trafficked a minor.
These cases demonstrate how dangerous Pornhub is, and how easily the site can be used as a tool to capitalize on the abuse of vulnerable women and girls. Laila Mickelwait, Director of Abolition for Exodus Cry and anti-pornography activist, found that all that is required to upload content to Pornhub is an email address. No government-issued ID is needed, even to become a “verified user.” She found that it took less than 10 minutes to create an account on Pornhub, and to upload blank content to the site, which was immediately live and accessible to all users. If she wanted to become a verified user, she could have done so with nothing more than a photograph of her holding a piece of paper with her username written on it.
Pornhub is a resource for anyone who wishes to upload content, with absolutely no verification needed other than an email address, making it a perfect breeding ground for exploitation — something they appear to be in no rush to prevent, despite claims made in their terms of service.
In her book, Pornland, Gail Dines explains that when you Google the term “Porn,” over 2.3 billion pages show up in the results, generated in less than half a second, with Pornhub being the top search result (hence it being frequently referred to as the “YouTube of Porn”). Based on what comes up just in the first page of links, some of the most common sex acts in mainstream pornography appear to be vaginal, anal, and oral penetration of one woman by three or more men simultaneously, double anal sex, double vaginal sex, gagging, and bukkake, along with regular references to women being “destroyed,” “punished,” “choked,” and “brutalized.”
The three porn performers that modelled for Namilia are Asa Akira, Marica Hase, and Jade Kush. A quick search of these names on Pornhub turns up videos with titles such as, “Japanese Porn Star Marica Hase Fucked Rough in Bondage,” “Marica Hase Beauty Teen Fucked Hard,” and “You Fuck Jade Kush Every Which Way Then Cum On Her Face.” When we consider the amount of abuse that has been hosted on Pornhub, the normalization of such titles is unsettling at best. And the idea that portraying Asian porn performers as dominatrixes will subvert the norm of submissive Asian women is nonsensical.
First, reversing a norm does not necessarily weaken the norm, and in fact could be said to strengthen it. The reversal is an acknowledgment of its power. The idea of a dominatrix is only considered sexy because we have been taught to eroticize imbalances of power; that a dominatrix is treated as a fetish shows that she represents a deviation from the norm of male domination. She is a male fantasy. Second, we do not undo the damage caused by sexist stereotypes by swapping sides in the narrative. A dominatrix is “sexy” because it is not real — that “power” does not extend beyond that moment, in that bedroom or scene. The dominatrix, though somewhat contrary to the social norm of male supremacy, still reinforces the eroticization of unequal power. Being a “cock wrecker” is not a feminist position, and only further perpetuates the idea of violence and abuse as sexy.
This move by Namilia does nothing to liberate women, and instead represents yet another instance of the pornification of pop culture. Pornhub is not a feminist utopia of sexual empowerment, but quite the opposite — it is a resource frequently utilized by abusers of women for manipulation and humiliation. Collaborating with Pornhub to display outfits that fetishize sexual power imbalance, girlhood, and leather is about as far from feminism as anything could be, and indeed, only serves to normalize and bolster the site not only in the eyes of the general public, but for young women specifically, who are being told this is what feminism looks like.
Andrea Dworkin once wrote that “the new pornography is left wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die.” It looks like the corpses will be dressed in pink leather school skirts with “cock wrecker” emblazoned across their chests.
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.
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.