Life

These men couldn’t tell the difference between porn scripts and #MeToo stories

Posted by
Emily Reynolds
Published

Over the last few weeks, we’ve all heard some horrifying #MeToo stories. Now a new project from Dutch filmmakers Damayanti Dipayana and Camilla Borel-Rinkes has provided another angle on the issue – by asking men to read stories and guess whether they were genuine #MeToo stories or scripts from porn. 

And their video, Be Frank, highlights just how much sexual aggression can be found in mainstream pornography. 

Most of the men, it turned out, couldn’t tell the difference, not realising that every single story they heard was from a porn script. “That feels like sexual assault,” one man responded to a story; others were even more certain that scenes described assault of some kind. The video ends with the statistic that 88.2% of porn scenes contain some form of physical aggression against women. 

Research in 2015 from Virginia Commonwealth University found that porn has a significant impact on the way we have sex.

“Pornography is generally thought of as a solitary activity yet our research shows the more frequent viewing of the pornography is associated with greater reliance on and preference for the pornographic script during interpersonal sexual encounters,” lead author Jennifer Johnson explained.

“In other words, pornography is not mere fantasy for men; instead, it shapes how they engage in intimate behaviours.” 

The video also echoes an earlier study from the University of Surrey, which in 2011 found that men found it difficult to differentiate between quotes from lad’s mags and quotes from convicted rapists.

Quotes from popular British men’s magazines were given to participants alongside excerpts from interviews with convicted rapists – and found that they couldn’t reliably tell which was which. Men’s magazines were even rated as “slightly more derogatory” than the statements from rapists – and men also identified more strongly with the rapists’ statements than with the magazines’. 

Speaking at the time, lead author Dr Miranda Horvath said that her team was “surprised that participants identified more with the rapists’ quotes”.

“We are concerned that the legitimisation strategies that rapists deploy when they talk about women are more familiar to these young men than we had anticipated,” she said. 

As for Be Frank, Dipayana and Borel-Rinkes hope that it will open up a conversation about the way women are treated. 

“The statistics and #MeToo stories are disheartening and overwhelming, but also resulted in my determination to speak up and help find solutions,” Borel-Rinkes said in an interview with HuffPost. “Damayanti and I both firmly believe that this is not just a story for women to tell.”

“There are 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.”

Image: BeFrank