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Can You Tell the Difference Between #MeToo Stories and Porn Plot Lines?

By February 4, 2019 No Comments
Portions of this post were written by Alanna Vagianos and originally featured on Huffington Post. It has been edited for content.
Porn or #MeToo?

That’s the question two filmmakers recently asked a group of men for a new video project titled “Be Frank.” Created by Dutch natives Damayanti Dipayana and Camilla Borel-Rinkes, “Be Frank” is a seven-minute film featuring men discussing the recent #MeToo movement and the role men can play in combating sexual violence.

“The project aims to close that gap and enables men to be part of the conversation and the solution,” Dipayana told HuffPost. “Additionally, being Dutch may have something to do with it … we’re known to be quite frank about any and every topic.”

In the “Be Frank” clip, Dipayana and Borel-Rinkes asked men to read different storylines and then guess whether the situation was from a pornography script or a #MeToo story. The #MeToo campaign, originally created by activist Tarana Burke, has recently sparked a (long overdue) cultural reckoning with how we deal with sexual violence around the world.

The scenarios start kind of humorous and cliche, like a plumber showing up to a house with the obvious porn scenario ensuing.

And then the scenarios get a little darker, and less funny.

And then the storylines evolve to be a little more sinister and abusive.

Eventually describing a scene where a sleeping college girl is taken advantage of by a couple guys, and another where a stepdad punishes his step-daughter by raping her.

Spoiler alert: it’s revealed at the end of the clip that all of the stories are porn scripts, many of the guys have trouble discerning which ones are porn and which ones are sexual assault.

The last still in the clip features a statistic that sums up the issue well: “88.2 percent of porn scenes contain some form of physical aggression against women.”

The depiction of violence against women in porn has long been a point of contention. Some people believe porn perpetuates rape culture and violence against women by repeatedly portraying women in demeaning or non-consensual sexual situations. Others believe porn can be a healthy and necessary sexual outlet for many viewers.

Mostly, it comes down to the fact that porn serves as a stand-in for sexual education for many young people.

“The statistics and #MeToo stories are disheartening and overwhelming, but also resulted in my determination to speak up and help find solutions,” Borel-Rinkes told HuffPost. “Damayanti and I both firmly believe that this is not just a story for women to tell. There’s many concrete things ‘good guys’ can do to help improve the climate for the women around them, and the time has come for them to join the conversation.”

Click here to watch the whole video (trigger warning, the video describes pornographic scenarios).

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Why This Matters

The point of this video isn’t to say that porn is the direct cause of all #MeToo stories, but to point out that porn paves the way for us to take the behavior that happens in #MeToo stories less seriously as a society.

“If we want these #MeToo experiences to decrease, we must begin to change our culture… We must recognize that objectification, rape culture, pornography, sexual violence, prostitution, sex trafficking must be addressed and the links between them made known,” says Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

RelatedIs There A Connection Between Porn Culture And Rape Culture?

This includes considering what we consume and watch, and what sexually exploitative material we have allowed to be normalized in our lives. This includes considering when we have been upset by a #MeToo status, yet not when we’ve seen abuse and objectification of men and women in pornography.

In addressing the issue of sexual exploitation, harassment, and abuse in our society, it is necessary that we address the ways that porn promotes inequality and feeds into the damaging narrative that women are objects to be used or sexual means to an end. And it won’t be easy to change the culture that surrounds us, but it is important that we do.

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