almost ten years,
from 1971 to 1980, it was perfectly legal to distribute child pornography
in Sweden. In 1980, when the Child Pornography Act came into force,
the worst child-pornography videos were removed from the shelves
in the video rental stores; those with the youngest children and
the most gross abuse. But behind the porn industry there are businessmen,
who were not prepared to give up on their profit that easily. Soon
they figured out ways to circumvent the Act and still make money.
One of their new ideas was what we in Folkaktionen mot Pornografi
usually call pornography of allusion,
i.e. pornography where girls and young women are made to look "younger"
by means of putting up their hair in bunches, photographing them
with teddybears, lollipops, baloons, baby's bottles etc.
Magazines and films have names/titles
that are suggestive of children, like "Schulmädchen",
"Teenage Girls", "Babe", "Sweet Little"
and so on.
These films show how men are using
their daughters/step-daughters, their neighbours' daughter and other
children sexually. Most often the girls are meant to be schoolgirls,
but some films allude to even younger children. For example, there
might be an adult woman lying in a big cot dressed as a baby, moving
a giant pacifier in and out of her vagina while whining like a baby,
calling out for daddy, who then comes and uses her sexually.
In the magazines the pictures alluding
to children are interspersed with texts telling the reader that
the girls in the pictures are children. Often they are said to "love
to undress" in front of men and it might say how she "gets
all wet by thinking of her dad's neighbours who can't take their
eyes off her innocent body". The girls are described as being
innocent and seductive. Articles might also directly allude to incest,
for example by having headings like "My
horny granddad" and "Incest
Joys". The point is to get the reader turned on by little
girls, and masturbate to descriptions of child sexual abuse. Pornography
stretches the limits what is forbidden is felt to be allowed.
But these magazines and films are
not illegal according to the Swedish Child Pornography Act, since
the Act does not apply to what is written or spoken, but only to
The pictures/films alluding to young
girls as does pornography where the childrens evidently are
under age encourages child sexual abuse. It serves as inspiration
for sexual abuse. Sometimes the abuse is photographed, and the photographs
are in turn used as inspiration for more abuse. Too many adults
dismiss this insight, because this kind of knowledge about pornography
is too much to bear for adults.
In almost all contexts in Sweden where pornography is discussed
it is referred to as harmless and inoffensive. A few years ago the
researcher Kjell Svensson wrote in RFSU's report Tre
rapporter om pornografi (3)
about commercial pornography and that it contains very little actual
violence. He had been studying the actors' behavior in pornographic
videos and classified it according to different opinions of what
should be considered violence.
Kjell Svensson came up with different
percentages depending on whether "one" considered for
example fistfucking (pornography where someone fucks a woman vaginally,
or a woman or a man anally, with a fist) or bondage (pornography
where, in general, women are tied up and used sexually) to be violence
or not. Unfortunately this way of reasoning about possible violence
almost always leads to paralysis it all boils down to a question
of different opinions.
To get out of this deadlock in the
discussion on pornography, violence and its influence, two members
of Folkaktionen mot Pornografi, Gerda Christenson and Christina
Nilsson, went through the texts on the back-covers of pornographic
videos that are sold in ordinary video stores (not in specialised
porn shops), the kind of stores that are to be found both in the
big cities and in almost every small town and village across the
country. The purpose was to get away from the question of who
is to define what is violence
and look at the intention
of the porn industry when it comes to violence and its influence.
Therefore, the point of departure for the investigation was what
the porn industry itself is saying about the content of the films
on the back covers of the video cassette cases.
The starting-point was the issue of
violence andits influence, but they also acquired knowledge concerning
pornography, children and
Cassette Cover Blurbs
The survey includes 50 videos, which is a rather small sample, but
that is still twice as many as in Kjell Svensson's report. There
is a quantitative as well as a qualitative section in the survey.
In the quantitative section, the texts were classified on a number
of recurring themes. Three themes were apparent very early on: the
porn industry emphasised that the girls in the films are very young
and that they were virgins, they stressed taboos and the breaching
of limits, and they expressed threats or described physical violence.
Phrases which were placed in the category
young/virgins were: sexual debut, the little girl, shy amateurs,
far too young, almost too young, incredibly young, the youngest
girls ever, little girls' bottoms, virgins, novices, teenagers,
teenagers' pussies, straight from school, the youngest in the class,
baby doll, little lolita but also phrases like cute little doll,
the doll in the girl's room and the neighbours' daughter.
The survey showed that 74 per cent
of the back covers contained phrases from the category young/virgins.
By emphasising so often as
a sales argument that the girls in the films are children,
or almost children, the porn industry imply that it is natural that
the consumers/men are turned on by children rather than by adult
Another thing that was striking was
the emphasis on violence. 68 per cent of the films included either
one or both of the following categories; violence/coercion/threat
and delusion/persuasion. Consequently, the porn industry states
that a clear majority of the films include sexual acts that the
woman/girl participate in against her own will. The porn industry
wishes to emphasise as a sales argument that the films
include more or less non-consensual sexual acts. Why?
Cassette Cover Blurbs in commercial porn films
Taboo/breaching of limits
The Effects of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is essentially about power. The effects of the abuse
are easier to comprehend when they are described in the vocabulary
of war; from frontier violation to invasion to complete occupation.
The latter applies especially when the child is subjected to abuse
regularly, during a long period of time and when the perpetrator
is someone close to the child. Apart from the impact of the coercion
itself, small children and young teenagers who are subjected to
sexual abuse are forced to take on a form of sexuality that they
are not psychologically prepared for. Not only does this make them
loose trust in the adult/perpetrator. They also loose trust in the
world at large, their sense of their own worth and their trust in
their own senses. Sexual abuse robs children and teenagers of their
basic feeling of security. Bad self-confidence, bad conception of
their own bodies and feelings of guilt and shame are things that
children who have been sexually abused have in common.
Some perpetrators have themselves
been victims of sexual abuse, and from that fact stems the theory
that victims of sexual abuse become perpetrators themselves. Apart
from the fact that many perpetrators have not been victims of sexual
abuse, it is a sex blind theory. Most of the children subjected
to sexual abuse are girls and almost all perpetrators are men. But
if children and teenagers who have been sexually abused do not get
help and support, there is a considerable risk that they end up
in different forms of abuse; abuse of food, sex and/or drugs, that
they get psychological problems, and/or end up in prostitution and
Furthermore, if the sexual abuse has
been photographed or filmed, they have to live with the painful
knowledge that those documents are being distributed continually,
to anyone, any time - today they might be spread all over the word
through computer networks.
Traci Lords is one of those children,
who as an adult has to watch as the films are spread across the
world, so that millions of men can masturbate to the abuse she was
subjected to, over and over again.
Pornography as Sales Argument
The porn industry knows what it is doing, and its exploitation of
children and teenage girls is deliberate. The back covers speak
for themselves, they show the intention of the porn industry with
great clarity. Expressions in English are frequently occurring,
and at first glance they might seem to be used as euphemisms, but
the consumers know what for example fistfucking, bondage and S/M
(sadomasochism) mean. Just like the commonly used "gang-bang"
American slang for gang rape.
The back covers we have chosen to
use as examples in this pamphlet are among the milder. Like pornography
in general, pornography of allusion has also become increasingly
brutal and violent. There are magazines and films which make the
connection between sexual violence, sadism and young girls even
more overtly. A sequence of films called "Teenage perversions",
for example. On the covers there are a lollipop, a broken peppermint
rock and a metal dildo with spikes, enclosed by a spiked leather
collar. In addition, there is a picture of a different girl on each
film in the sequence. The back covers tell that in the films girls
are subjected to piss, shit & anal sex, bondage etc. In pornography
of allusion, one can find all elements occurring in other pornography,
even teenage girls having sex with animals.
Pornography of Allusion & Racism
Pornography is also strongly racist. Among other things there are
among the pornography of allusion specialised porn magazines and
films with "Thai Lolitas" and feature stories about the
"sex paradises" in South East Asia, articles which explicitly
encourage men to use prostitutes. And men from the West continue
to travel to South East Asia to rape the women and children of the
Most of what the porn industry is doing is very deliberate and well
calculated. Film titles, names of magazines and the content of magazines
and films are not made up haphazardly, nor are the back cover blurbs.
These are an instrument used to make people buy/rent the films.
And thus, an instrument often used
is the premise that it is normal and natural and even desirable
for adult men to get turned on by young girls.
The same Basic Theme
There is really nothing strange in this. Pornography gives a picture
of woman-hating driven to an extreme, but it does not at all contradict
with the basic view present everywhere in society. The English sociologist
Liz Kelly writes:
"Across many cultures sexual access to girls
and young women is often the prerogative of powerful men: chiefs,
priests and religious leaders through customs such as devadasi.
The western echo of this age-old patriarchal tradition can be
seen in the prerequisite young girlfriend (occasionally "under
age") of older rich men. There is an important theme here
which links male power, economic power and social status with
sexual access to girls and young women". (4)
Having this awareness
as a base makes it easier to understand the resistance towards doing
anything about pornography that there is in society.
Nota bene: The survey about the back cover
blurbs has not yet been published. Folkaktionen mot Pornografi (The
People's Organisation against Pornography) has tried to get funding
for the cost of printing from several different places, but so far
has only had negative replies.
3. Våld, dominans
och sexualitet. En innehållsanalys av pornografiska videofilmer.
(Violence, domination and sexuality. An analysis of the content
of pornographic films) by Kjell Svensson in RFSU's Tre rapporter
om pornografi (Three reports on Pornography), 1993.
4. Liz Kelly: Weasel
Words: Paedophiles and the Cycle of Abuse in Trouble
& Strife 33/1996, p.45.