People talk a lot of crap about pornography.
Once when I was at school, a group of pupils got together to describe the porn film they'd all seen the night before, entitled Animal Farm. Exactly why they felt the need to explain to each other what they'd collectively seen was a little unclear.
One scene involved using the cardboard centre of toilet roll as a speculum, wedging open the lips of a woman's vagina, so a mouse could crawl up the tube and...scrabble about, while the woman made delirious moaning noises of pleasure. A few points about that:
* A cardboard tube is too weak to be used as a speculum.
* If you actually did this, what you'd get in quick succession would be a panicking mouse trying to dig it's way out, a lot of pain, a lot of screaming, a lot of blood, and a suffocated mouse.
* The 'infamous' porn film called Animal Farm is a myth. There was a series of four titleless German films, which some wag collectively christened under that name. They showed one young women having open-air sex with various farm animals
In fact she really had grown up on a remote farm with an abusive mother and no affection except from animals she tended. Her sexuality formed around in this situation, and in her twenties she was discovered by a porn producer.
So, surprise surprise, a bunch of thirteen year old boys talked a load of implausible crap to each other. But adult and serious journalists are a different matter, aren't they?
In the early nineties, a slew of lip-smacking TV documentaries stoked up public paranoias about paedophilia, pornography, snuff films, organised crime and horror movies. The issues were smeared so much into each other, that any discussion of pornography became a discussion about child abuse, and every time a child disappeared it was automatically suspected they'd been kidnapped by gangsters to be killed on camera by...literal wankers. And there was vast army of Other People out there who'd pay to watch it.
The first of these I saw claimed to have unprecedented access to the archives of the Metropolitan Vice Squad - depicted as an enormous warehouse of VHS porn. The presenter described how one 'typical' film showed a young boy being gang raped then clubbed to death.
It only came out years later that the Vice Squad had, in their history, seized exactly zero snuff movies. In fact there was and is no evidence that these things existed. I know of no reliable 'sightings' of such films, or any police force anywhere in the world that claims to have found one.
The deeply serious, respectable, concerned journalist, presenting disturbing information about things he'd been traumatised researching in the higher cause of public understanding...was Making Shit Up.
This was also the time of obsessions concerning alien abductions, the internet, government conspiracies...and covens of satanists. So it's not surprising the mass media invented mass child abuse rings - hinting at the possibility of satanic involvement over the internet and a coverup.
There were other permutations too. One scare was about a 'video nasty' (ie horror film) called I Spit on Your Grave, supposedly about a psychotic women who kills four men with fire. In fact, it's about a woman who's raped and beaten four times by four men, and takes somewhat overcomplicated revenge on them, one of which involves fire. If anything, it's a feminist revenge fantasy. A minor one was all about gerbiling, the equally impossible male equivalent of the cardboard tube trick.
Another film that thirteen year old boys claim to have seen is Deep Throat - a seminal (so to speak) classic of 70s porn. Some people will tell you that the star, Linda Lovelace, was a battered wife forced to do the movie by her abusive husband - and that you can see the bruises on her body in the film.
I've seen Deep Throat, and I can tell you two things about it. First, there's no bruises visible, and second, it's the campest porn film I've ever seen. There's a self-consciously preposterous plot, and a lot of OTT acting, with some terrible jokes. It's...fun.
In the 80s and 90s, a lot of academic feminists decided the main issue in the oppression of women was photographs of them having sex. Childcare, low pay, the glass ceiling and gross sexism were seemingly 'not as important to ordinary women'.
Some of them suggested the main issue might be rape, or domestic violence, so many - like Andrea Dworkin - fudged the issue by saying all three were the same thing really.
Her classic work Pornography: Men Possessing Women - which I've read and had to stop myself throwing out of the window - argues that pornography doesn't lead to rape, pornography isn't a practice run or an instruction manual for rape, pornography is rape. Though she never quite explains how.
She used a lot of highly selective examples, presented as typical and implicitly stating that all men can't grasp the difference between fantasy and reality. Oh, and at one point she claimed that gay male porn is abusive to women because it excludes then. Headdesk.
In later life she famously claimed that a group of male colleagues at a conference had abducted, drugged and raped her in a hotel room. When the colleagues proved it couldn't have happened because they weren't there, she went quiet. That was not the only time she'd claimed to have been drugged and raped.
I don't know about you, but I find it disconcerting that probably the best known and most cited radical feminist in the world was severely delusional and in need of psychiatric help - which she never got.
She wasn't exactly helpful to the cause of human rights for half the human population. I should mention that I think her book on Right Wing Women is worth a look.
Now we have a new porn fear - crush movies. There are various definitions - here's one from PetAbuse.com:
Crush videos, also known as squish or trampling videos, cater to fetishists who gain sexual gratification from watching women torture and kill small animals by stepping on them.
Typically, those crushing will use their buttocks or feet, making this fetish popular amongst many foot fetishists, as crushing by feet is usually the main focus. The foot (barefoot or in shoes) is thus often idolized by someone with a crush fetish.
So...this is porn for foot fetishists...who are also turned on by animal cruelty. Clearly a burgeoning market. Not only that, it's explained with cod-psychology a five year old could see through.
This online petition actually links to "THE SHOCKING TRUTH" - a marginally relevant Snopes article, which doesn't support the petition's hypothesis.
Wikipedia talks about the crushing of insects - which amazingly does exist in porn - while a facebook group claims it's about crushing kittens - the only evidence being a link the to the wikipedia article which only mentions invertebrates.
So, is there someone somewhere who gets sexually turned on by images of cruelty to animals? I suppose it's possible - there are certainly enough people who get off in some way watching 24, and enough anti-vivisection websites that wallow in the blood and pain a little too much.
Is there a hitherto unknown mass of people with that taste? Is it somehow contagious? Is there a previously invisible movie industry to serve it? No. This is another tedious moral panic, part of the wider madness of crowds that's been going on for centuries - the fear of other people having sex.