I find it utterly bizarre when people speak about pornography as 'harmless fantasy'. Porno isn't cartoons or drawings (in the main) - it's photographs and videos of real women, who have hopes and dreams and feel pain and humiliation like any other human being. Where's the fantasy for them?
I am one of those women. Okay, so I'm one of the lucky ones - I got out in more or less one piece. But my experiences of being used as pornography, as entertainment, have left deep scars. The thing is, with modern technology as it is, when a photo is taken, or a video made, there is no end to it. The humiliation and abuse of the woman, of me, can be endlessly replicated, endlessly sold, endlessly 'used' (I love the way society changes language round this stuff to sanitise it... read instead 'wanked over'). These images can survive long after our bodies and minds have been broken by being dehumanised and degraded.
In the context of violence, I had no choice and no voice. If I refused, or struggled or was 'awkward', I was beaten. I lost touch with reality. They treated me like an animal, and I became one to survive. Sometimes I'd initiate sex to avoid violence, and that hurt me, it filled me with feelings of shame, that I'd colluded with them. Often, I'd go along with things, awful, painful, sordid things, to avoid something worse. When you have to beg to use the toilet, to get some water, to get some booze, because you've been locked in your bedroom, you lose any last shred of self respect. Dignity went out the window long ago. Cut off from other people, you lose touch with reality, with right and wrong. And when the hand that hits you is also the hand that picks you up, and feeds you, you get confused. You don't know what to think anymore.
Nothing can prepare you for this. No words describe it. It is being utterly lost, and the only thing you can tell yourself is 'it's not really real, this can't really be happening to me' and detach as best you can from your body, try to zone out. Everything becomes disjointed, fragmented. When you can't remember what happened to you (blackout) and can't see a future for yourself, life becomes a series of snapshots, of jumbled thoughts and feelings and images and scents. Getting out becomes even more of an impossibility.
I still dissociate a lot - a strange feeling, like being a voyeur in my own life. In the past, I fragmented myself in a desperate attempt at self preservation. The drugs and alcohol were a part of that. I didn't know how to deal with what was happening to me, or how to process it. Now, I still can find myself numbing out and detaching when emotions run too high. But a slow and painful part of getting sober for me is an attempt to integrate these different parts of myself, the different personas. They even have names. An attempt to accept what an isolated, terrified, woman, had to do to survive. The feelings I've had as these memories have returned, and as I've tried to face them, are raw. Painful beyond words.
The thing I find hardest is the way that society normalises so many of the practices that have hurt me. It is an accepted 'right' that people be able to use pornography. Where are the rights of the women used to make that 'harmless fantasy'? The camera doesn't always show the coercion, the fear, the threat of violence, the addiction... all of these are hidden away to allow light entertainment. And where are the rights of the women who are made to act out these 'fantasies' by their partner, who are told that 'she's smiling so she likes it, and so must you' (or else be called a prude, a 'frigid cow' or less of a woman. Who wants to know the reality?