BDSM Execs Say Fetish Porn Doesn't Foster Crime
NEW YORK — It was bound to happen. What with recent news stories about horrific sex crimes against women that included kidnapping, torture and cannibalism, speculation is mounting about BDSM websites as possible instigators.
A recent New York Daily News story noting the cases of “Cannibal Cop” Gilberto Valle and more recently sex-slave kidnapper Ariel Castro, asked Kink.com CEO Peter Acworth his take on whether BDSM porn is influencing violent crime, in what the paper said is becoming a ‘hot debate” in academia.
Referring to the case where Valle visited cannibal websites and chat rooms, Acworth said, “I believe this individual would have committed such crimes regardless. If this statement were true [that the sites are to blame], one would have to look closely at the whole horror genre. For instance, I do not believe films such as the ‘Saw’ series cause people to commit heinous crimes.”
Acworth also said he didn’t feel there’s any correlation between content that depicts women chained in dungeons and an increase in sex crimes.
“Many people fantasize about the abduction role-play scenario,” Acworth told the News. “This certainly does not mean those people actually want to be genuinely abducted and raped any more than someone who enjoys being handcuffed by their partner would like to be arrested.”
But some academics and mental health professionals have a different viewpoint, notably UCLA professor and violent porn researcher Neil Malamuth, who believes Acworth’s view is too simplistic. He said men’s attitudes towards women are directly impacted by watching porn and that violent porn affects the myth that women want to be raped.
Acworth countered however, defending the scenarios in some of Kink’s sites like BoundGangbangs.com. “We are very careful to show the negotiation process that goes on before a given fantasy is played out, and this is especially true for an abduction fantasy scenario,” Acworth said. “I believe this demonstrates to viewers that their fantasy can be acted out in a negotiated, safe and legal way. I believe this in turn makes people more likely to explore their fantasy with other like-minded people legally."
Although many of his patients use porn as therapy to address control issues, San Francisco psychotherapist Julian Redwood said the porn industry as a whole often presents unrealistic portrayals of sexuality. He said that for some patients, exploring BDSM “can be playing with fire.”
“Even if it is consensual, pornography can propagate the idea that women, in general, like to be dominated, and men can come away with the idea that they should be dominating, even if that isn't what they actually want either,” Redwood told the News.
In stark contrast, Intersec Interactive CEO Matt Williams told XBIZ, that if anything, BDSM porn has reduced the rate of violent sexual crimes — particularly against women. Some of Williams’ sites are comparable to Kink.com’s in their submissive role playing and include SexuallyBroken.com, HardTied.com, InfernalRestraints and more.
“According to the U.S. Justice Department, since 1995 (when the first BDSM porn sites started popping up on the new Internet), violence against women has fallen by 64 percent. Of course not all violent sex crimes are against women, but we can hope this statistic goes both ways,” Williams said.
He added, “Obviously this can be attributed to a number of factors, but we'd like to think that giving people an outlet for their sexual desires has had something to do with it. People are always looking for an easy scapegoat, especially when it comes to topics that are uncomfortable in our society, but that's certainly not us."