Why no outrage?

Gail Dines wonders why the outrage of what was done to David Dao is so obvious while the outrage of what’s done to women in porn is so obscure.

People saw the video, put themselves in Dao’s place, and came to the very sensible conclusion that what they were watching was a level of callous brutality that is unacceptable in a civil society. Andrea Dworkin would not have found our empathy strange because, despite her sadness and anger at the cruelty in the world, she always had faith in the ability for people to do the right thing.

What is strange, however, is that there is no public outcry over porn. You can type “porn” into Google and in 10 seconds come up with images that are so violent, so brutal, so dehumanizing that they take your breath away. You can see people being raped, tortured, strangled, beaten, electrocuted, and physically destroyed to the point that many must be thinking to themselves: “Just kill me.”

Why no outrage? Why no demands for the companies who produce this brutality to apologize? Because these people are women, and when women are brutalized in the name of sex, the violence is rendered invisible. As long as it is semen, not blood, dripping from her mouth (and usually from every other orifice as well), and she is saying “just fuck me” as she is grimacing, crying, and sometimes screaming in pain, it seems, as Dworkin pointed out, people require an explanation as to why this particular brutality is not acceptable.

If that’s considered sexually arousing…why isn’t the video of David Dao being passed around as porn?

Today’s mainstream internet porn — now a multi-billion, not multi-million dollar industry —  makes the porn I saw in the 1980s look almost soft-core. The level of violence that women on the porn set endure today is akin to what has euphemistically been called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” If it was happening to men, it would be seen for what it is, and we would be asking: How is this possible? How has a global industry built on the torture of human beings been branded as “sex positive,” “empowering,” and “harmless fantasy?”

The answer of course, is that a woman is not viewed as a full human being. She is, as Simone de Beauvoir said, “sex… absolute sex, no less.” And indeed, no more. This is why, when we see pictures of men being brutalized, we see the brutality; when we see pictures of women in porn being brutalized, the culture sees sex.

I’ve never understood this. I don’t suppose I ever will.

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