Earlier this week, a screenshot taken from TikTok showed a young girl highlighting markings on her face, with the caption “when you get choked until you pass out and pop your blood vessels”. In the video she goes on to explain: “Was choked so hard during s3x that I fully fainted and popped all these blood vessels in my face”. Whilst this is sobering in its own right, this is despairingly only one of an innumerable number of videos showing young girls discussing their experiences of being subjected to sexual violence in a manner that can only be described as “blasé”.
TikTok has become a haven for explicit content
TikTok has, in recent months and years, become a haven for all manner of explicit content. This in and of itself should cause alarm given the largest user-demographic is between 10–19 years of age. It should be a given that 10-year-olds shouldn’t have access to videos both showing, glorifying and normalising sexually violent behaviour. However, the prevalence of this material on TikTok means this can no longer be assumed.
The fact that porn has made its way onto TikTok in the first place is unsurprising. In the increasingly diversified “marketplace” of porn, and with an increasing number of “content creators” needing more and more avenues in order to draw in “subscribers” to maintain their income, TikTok just represents one more platform in which women and girls can be paraded like cattle for the perusal and sexual gratification of its other users.
Whilst TikTok’s main user base is female, a still-sizeable 43 per cent are male. If the user-demographics of other sites that are actively geared towards the sexual objectification of women and girls are anything to go by, it is not unreasonable to draw the inference that a good chunk of those accessing sexually explicit material on TikTok are made up of male users.
This clearly has an immediate impact in that men and boys have yet another platform that warps their view of women and girls, and one that normalises the portrayal of sexually violent behaviour. There are myriad links evidencing the claim that porn use impacts real world attitudes towards sex and relationships, and we only have to look at some of the content on TikTok to see what these attitudes are based upon.
In one video, a woman is shown brushing her teeth, only for her male partner to come up behind her and click his fingers, at which point she freezes — the implication being that time has “frozen”. Following this, the man then removes the toothbrush from her mouth, and forcibly inserts his penis in its place, until he orgasms. Then he clicks his fingers again, at which point the woman continues brushing her teeth, confused as to why her mouth is now full of semen and not toothpaste.
Clearly, the video is not “meant to be taken seriously”, and this is an important point to grapple with. Whilst there are plenty of videos online that do show non-consensual sexual violence, including rape and physical abuse, the videos that allegedly show this “consensually” have often been defended by pro-porn advocates as examples of fantasy, or of sexual exploration. Any criticism of this apparently constitutes a “moral crusade” or “Victorian prudishness”, given that the content in question is not “actually” depicting a real-life rape or sexual assault.
This moral posturing is as myopic as it is disingenuous. First and foremost, questions must be asked about why we are now at a place in our collective consciousness where the fictional rape or sexual assault of a woman is something to be commodified and consumed as if it were any other media. It is not a coherent moral positionality to assert that sexual gratification gained from watching a fictional sexual assault is somehow outdated or prudish, given the parallel cultural conversation about how women have for too long been subjected to the very same thing. We cannot simultaneously condone and require an overhaul of how we view and propagate male sexual entitlement within society-at-large.
The normalisation of sexual violence filters out into the ‘real world’
Affirming this type of content as “fantasy” is remarkably individualist, and especially ironic given that it is usually espoused by so-called Leftists (a term that has become synonymous with “idiot”, and simultaneously antonymic to any kind of actual structural class analysis).
The impact this has on men and boys is clear to see in the sense that committing acts of sexual violence is becoming more commonplace, even in otherwise consensual relationships. Meanwhile, those who defend the type of content prevalent on TikTok and porn sites must view the young girls whose sexuality and identity is shaped by it, as necessary collateral on the path to ushering in their orgy-tastic porn-soaked utopia.
As mentioned, TikTok’s main userbase is young girls, and the impact this normalisation has had on their development has been, and continues to be, catastrophic. The evidence is there for all to see on TikTok itself, with young girls posting videos of themselves covered in deep bruising after sex, and comments in reply to the videos such as:
“no but he gave me a concussion and I had to go to the ER”
“This happened to me! It was consensual, I passed out too, and popped blood vessels in the same distribution as you! 💕”
Another recent viral post depicted a girl saying: “me daydreaming about getting absolutely railed tf out of while he chokes me and slaps me calling me unholy names and leaving bruises all over my body”
And then in the next image she states: “me remembering I’m only 15”.
The normalisation of this behaviour filters out into the “real world” as well, with young girls feeling under increasing pressure to acquiesce to the idea that being subjected to physical violence is somehow empowering. This is nothing short of a con: a trick to convince young girls and women that their liberation from male supremacy lies in doing exactly what it is that men already want to do — and are doing — to them.
Research shows that as many as six out of seven women believe that porn has affected the way men think women should look and act, both during and outside of sex. Indeed, as other research confirms, the women involved are often presented as enjoying anything done to them, regardless of whether they do actually enjoy it.
This has trickled down into schools and universities as well, with an increase in the number of girls reporting that their male peers assume sexually violent behaviour is what they want to experience, despite protestations to the contrary.
In not combating the rise in the normalisation of sexual violence, particularly on websites and apps geared towards teenagers and young people, we are condemning those same girls to a life where they are expected to acquiesce to sexual violence. We are also teaching the boys watching it that their behaviour should pass without comment. Pro-porn or anti-violence — it’s time to pick a side. You simply cannot be both.
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