|WARNING If you open the red torture photo link directly below this paragraph, you will see two photographs of people being tortured. One is the widely-circulated photograph of a hooded figure with electrical wires of man being tortured at Abu Ghraib. At the same link, you will also see a photograph of a woman being tortured. This photograph of torture is from the website kink.com. The woman’s face is masked and unrecognizable and she has on a thong that covers her genitals. Her breasts are concealed here. She is shackled by the ankles and hung with her arms tied to the wall over her head. The woman is being electrically tortured by someone off-camera with what looks like a cattle prod. All you can see is his arm with the cattle prod. There is also what appears to be an electrical outlet or battery in front of her.Click here to view torture photo|
kink.com is a torture pornography production company. In January 2007 kink.com purchased a large building in San Francisco, in the Mission District, a community that is in need of affordable housing, that has many at-risk youth, and that for many years has been identified as the Latino heart of San Francisco. In February 2007, the Mission Armory Community Collective demonstrated against kink.com’s use of a large and valuable piece of San Francisco real estate – for torture pornography production. Instead of using the block-long building for torture pornography, the Mission Armory Community Collective has proposed that we use of the Mission Armory for affordable housing, a community center, and a space for community nonprofits.
Torture and humiliation are commonplace in pornography. Kink.com is where women and some men are filmed for pornography named Men in Pain, Wired Pussy, Hogtied, Water Bondage, Ultimate Surrender, Fucking Machines, Sex and Submission, and Whipped Ass. Pornography like that on kink.com is real action taken against real women. Observing the making of torture pornography at kink.com, author Stephen Elliott commented: ” This is not fake. Satine and Donna are truly in role. Satine is feeling submissive and Donna is definitely on top. Donna is hurting Satine; Satine is being hurt.”
kink.com advertises filmed prostitution. Prostitution is advertised online on sites like kink.com where it is indistinguishable from pornography. Pornography is a specific type of prostitution, in which prostitution occurs and, among other things, is documented. The women whose prostitution appears in pornography are prostituted women. The Internet is one way that women are trafficked into prostitution.
Another reader of Elliott’s Salon.com article said the site was reminiscent of African women’s genital mutilation. Why is there such a great silence regarding the torture of women in prostitution during the making of pornography? Here in San Francisco some embrace torture pornography as hip, sexy, liberal. Lots of folks are afraid to criticize pornography for fear of being labelled fundamentalist, antisex, or homophobic. “Yet when we criticize McDonald’s for its unhealthy food, environmentally destructive business practices, and targeting of children through manipulative advertising, does anyone ask whether we are “anti-food”? Of course not, because no one conflates McDonald’s with food; we recognize that there are many ways to prepare food, and it’s appropriate to critique the more toxic varieties. The same holds for pornography; pursuing a healthy sexuality does not mean we have to support toxic pornography.” Bob Jensen and Gail Dines http://www.alternet.org/story/47677
The existence of state-sponsored torture is decried by social critics on the Left, yet the identical treatment of women in prostitution is ignored by those same analysts. Many view torture by the United States of prisoners at Abu Ghraib with shock and horror, yet at the same time consider the identical acts perpetrated (and photographed) against prostituted women to be sexual entertainment. Condemning the Bush administration’s tolerance for torture in the war on terror, one journalist noted the gleeful sadism of guards at Abu Ghraib. Yet political pundits maintain silence regarding the same gleeful sadism of men toward women and gay men like that seen at kink.com.
Specific acts commonly perpetrated against women in prostitution and pornography are the same as the acts defining what torture is according to international conventions: verbal sexual harassment, unwanted sex acts, sexual mocking, physical sexual harassment such as groping.
The sex industry is driven by pornography. Men learn how to use women by looking at and masturbating to pornography, developing a taste for prostitution. In the case of kink.com, men are conditioned to sexual arousal by torture. Pornographers are indistinguishable from other pimps. Both exploit women and girls’ economic and psychological vulnerabilities and coerce them to get into and stay in the industry. Both take pictures to advertise their products, suggest specific abuses for johns to perpetrate against women, and minimize the resulting harms. Pornography is a documentary of specific women’s abuses in prostitution, and its consumers obtain pornography as a document of humiliation. Yet in order to conceal the harms that are documented in the picture, the pornographer disconnects the picture from the person. The pornographer and his allies then name what is happening to her in the picture, “speech” or “adult entertainment,” rather than torture or sexual abuse.
For example, the filming of 251 men’s prostitution of Grace Quek (called Annabel Chong) was sold as “The World’s Biggest Gang Bang.” After being edited down to 4 hours, the film became hardcore pornography. The filming of johns assaulting Quek was stopped after 10 hours because she was bleeding internally. For Quek, the film was not an idea, it was not a narrative, it was not a representation. Real johns perpetrated real sexual assaults on her resulting in real physical and psychological injuries.
(Melissa Farley, 2006, Prostitution, Trafficking, and Cultural Amnesia: What We Must Not Know in Order To Keep the Business of Sexual Exploitation Running Smoothly. Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 18:109-144)