Is There a Connection Between Porn and Rape?

*Trigger Warning: This blog and video contain written, verbal and visual references to violent and disturbing sexual scenarios.

In 2015, around the same time our team was in Panama City Beach, Florida on a shoot for our film Liberated, shown above, a young woman was horrifically gang raped on the beach in broad daylight, in front of hundreds of party goers. Not one onlooker did a thing. (Our team was not at the location when it happened).

Our film crew had traveled to Florida that year to document the phenomenon of college spring break with the goal of gaining insight about sexuality in our culture, for use in our next film.

What we found was an alarming wake up call to the condition of our current society: utter male entitlement to women’s bodies, and immense pressure for women to just “be ok with it.”

In our own experience and research, spanning three years, we realized that the sexual misconduct we were witnessing was not an anomaly. Rather, it was part of the “normal” spring break experience. An experience in which groping, violence, and rape just come with the territory. It forced us to ask the question: Is there a connection between porn and rape?

College and Spring Break Rape Cases

Six years earlier, in 2009 at Myrtle Beach, 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel had traveled for spring break and tragically never returned home. Brittanee was taken outside her friend’s hotel, gang-raped for multiple days and then shot. It was reported that her body was disposed of in an alligator pit close-by.

In 2010, CBS released an article titled, “Spring Break Rape Epidemic? Six Reported So Far in Daytona Beach.” In just one week, SIX rapes were reported in the popular spring break destination. Daytona Police Chief Mike Chitwood said, “I can’t tell you how many of these incidents aren’t reported.”

More recently in 2021, two men drugged and raped 24-year-old, Christine Englehardt, who was visiting Miami Beach, Florida for spring break. She later died at the hotel where the crime took place.

In just one week, SIX rapes were reported in the popular spring break destination.

And just this year, an 18-year-old college student shared her story of being raped on her first day of university by a man at a welcome party for new students. After coming forward months after the incident had occured, she said sexual assault is ‘rife’ on campus. She also shared that she hadn’t told anybody about what happened at first because, “It was my first night and I was like, ‘Is this what everybody does?'”

The Connection Between Porn and Rape Culture

While each of these cases are deeply disturbing and tragic, they sadly point to a wider belief system that has taken a hold of society at large. A sinister culture of normalized rape and violence, where women are treated like disposable commodities, is disguised as casual hook-up culture where nobody gets hurt.

And it has been incubated and fueled by the 24-hour access to violent porn that a generation of boys and girls have been raised on.

Make no mistake: we will never be able to stop the sexual exploitation of women and children if we do not shift the pornographic culture that fuels it.

Porn culture pervades almost every area of life. More than just the glorification of an extremely disposable view of sex, violent porn is creating predators out of young men and exalting rape and abuse.

Porn presents a world in which women are often humiliated, subjugated, and degraded, (whipped, beaten, spat on, verbally abused and even peed on), while men are the embodiment of power and dominance. Men get what they want, when they want, and women allow it or even welcome it as a false sense of empowered choice. But according to rape porn, even if they say no, they mean yes—so anything goes.

According to a 2011 longitudinal study, 10-15 year-olds consuming violent pornography are five times more likely to be sexually aggressive than non-viewers of violent porn. In males as young as 14, a correlation was confirmed in several studies between frequent pornography viewing and an accepting stance toward raping a girl.

Another Swedish study found that 70% of high school boys who were frequent viewers of pornography, including that which features violence and the sexual abuse of children and animals, reported that porn made them want to try out what they had seen.

To be clear, we know that not everyone who watches violent porn becomes a perpetrator of physical sexual abuse. However, studies show that most people who commit sexual abuse watch porn.

RELATED: Violent Porn Is Shaping Children Everywhere

We recently had a woman send us her story on Instagram, sharing her experience of being sexually abused by her boyfriend. He had forced himself onto her and held her down, even when she tried to get him to stop. She shared, “Afterward, I sat on the ground and cried. He tried to comfort me while I told him, ‘don’t touch me.’ He wasn’t a bad guy and didn’t realize he’d done anything wrong… it turns out he’d seen on porn that women were ‘face f****ed’ this way.”

The author of So Sexy So Soon, Jean Kilbourne, sums it up well when she says, “Most porn ends up with women being not only presented as the victims of violence, but often presented as the the victims of violence who love it.

So girls are learning to be compliant and they’re learning that what’s most important is to be desirable to the boys – not that their own sexual agency or their own sexual pleasure is important at all.”

You could put these rape porn titles next to the spring break headlines and not know which was porn and which was “real life.”

One report states, “About 20%–30% of women students in anonymous surveys report being raped or sexually assaulted (including attempts), usually by a male student they knew beforehand.” According to RAINN, among undergraduate students, 26.4% of females experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. That’s 1 out of every 4 women.

Meanwhile, violent porn has become one of the most popular genres of porn on the internet and millions of hours of “rape porn” are accessible on demand, even on mainstream porn sites.

We recently performed a quick search on Google using the term, “rape porn,” and found 494 million results, revealing page after page of websites advertising not just violent, but racist, underage, and incestuous rape porn.

Some of the first titles and descriptions to be displayed in our search included:

“Real rape videos,” “Cruel rapes,” “Paralyzed girl abused and forced,” “Girl ambushed and gang raped,” “Helpless teen rape,” and “Young girls get raped hard.”

You could put these rape porn titles next to the spring break headlines and not know which was porn and which was “real life.”

Children are discovering porn at earlier and earlier ages with unhindered access from any device they can get their hands on. We must cut off the normalization of sexual abuse and rape at its root. While we rightfully abhor rape when it happens to a young girl at spring break, we cannot neglect to put greater restrictions in place that protect children from stumbling across violent porn in the first place.

In a few weeks, we’ll be releasing a follow-up series to our film, Liberated, that shares some inspiring developments in the lives of a few of the film’s subjects. Subscribe to Magic Lantern Pictures’ Youtube to keep up to date on new releases.

Here are three ways you can help:

1. Join 70k+ others by signing the petition demanding age verification, with ID, on every single porn site. Then share it.
2. Watch Liberated, on Netflix, and spread the word about the film.
3. Give here. Your gift will provide critical resources to help fuel the fight against commercial sexual exploitation and help strengthen protection for children.

multimedia pencil shopping-bag news balance mail paperplane banknote fire shop wallet right-arrow paint-underline porn-computer director-chair book-outline dollar-sign flag cart profile archive facebook-official twitter-square