The public airing in the international media of photographs allegedly showing Coalition soldiers humiliating and abusing Iraqi prisoners has quite
rightly caused public outrage around the world.Specifically,the sexual nature of some of the photographs taken at the Abu Ghraib prison by US soldiers
has raised particular concern.However,this article is not specifically about those images but about the internet phenomena of war rape pornography
which ,if not exactly new, must have come to greater public attention as internet users,looking for information on the Coalition abuse
allegations,type relevant keywords into search engines and invariably find themselves looking at graphic hardcore images purporting to show US
soldiers violently raping female Iraqi civilians.
Images of sexual practices widely thought of as taboo have existed on the internet almost since it's inception.Websites featuring
necrophilia,paedophilia,torture,and even canabalism have all made the news at some time.
The existence of these images ,so easily and anonomously available, have raised many questions about the increase of such offences in society and
whether a cause and effect can be traced.Most experts now believe that it can and there have been calls for government intervention to be more
pro-active in censoring certain forms of content on the internet.
For the first time though, sexually explicit images on the internet can be said not only to have a detrimental social effect but also the potential to
influence public opinion abroad and thus have an unwanted international effect on the war on terrorism.
To our sophisticated,or de-sensitized,western eye these images are obviously staged pornography but to muslims ,many of whom are without internet
access and therefore unable to view them in the context of a porn site, they can easily be seen as yet further evidence of real abuse against muslims
or ,at the very least, a sign of a lack of cultural respect and it would be hard to argue that that wasn't the case nor underestimate what effect it
could have in a volatile region.
Internet pornography has always strictly adhered to the commercial laws of supply and demand and so it is also worth taking look at the psychology
behind these sites which predominantly originate in the USA.Pornography itself is generally excepted to be a form of fantasy aid,so why is it that
some Americans wish to fantasize about uniformed servicemen violently raping Iraqi civilians ?
To gain some kind of understanding we must first look at the psychology of rape itself.
To help explain I'm going to quote from the Coordinated Community Response website a link to which appears at the bottom of this page.
"Rape is always an aggressive and/or violent act. In every act of rape, aggression is involved, but it is clear that the sexual acts are the means of
expressing the aggressive needs and feelings that operate in the offender. Either anger or power is the dominant component so that rape, rather than
being primarily an expression of sexual desire, is in fact the use of sexuality to express his issues of power and anger. Basically, it involves
sexual behavior in the primary service of non-sexual needs."
"In a power rape, power appears to be the dominant factor motivating the offender. In these assaults, it is not the offender's desire to harm his
victim but to possess her sexually. Sexuality becomes a means of compensating for underlying feelings of inadequacy and serves to express issues of
mastery, strength, control, authority, identity, and capability. His goal is sexual conquest, and he uses only the amount of force necessary to
accomplish this objective. His aim is to capture and control his victim."
"Physical aggression can be used to overpower and subdue the victim; however the intent of the offender usually is to achieve sexual intercourse with
his victim as evidence of conquest. To accomplish this, he resorts to whatever force he finds necessary to overcome his victim's resistance and to
render her helpless."
So ,is the increased interest amoungst a small minority of American males in pictures purporting to show US servicemen violently raping Iraqi
civilians in part a reaction to watching daily news bulletins detailing increasing casualties in an aparently anarchic Iraq ? When they log on to
these sites do they feel that they are somehow revenging US casualties and taking control of a deteriorating situation which they have impotently
watched develope over the last year ?
There is one last point that should be raised about the emergence,on the internet,of these new war porn websites.Psychologist have found clear
patterns amoungst sexual offender history.
1) There is an addictive effect. The man gets hooked on pornography and keeps coming back for more to get his sexual "turn ons."
2) There is and escalation in need for rougher and more sexually shocking material in order to get the same sexual stimulation as before.
3) There is, in time, a de-sensitization to the material's effect. What was first gross, shocking, and disturbing becomes, in time, acceptable and
4) There is an increased tendency to start "acting out" the sexual activities seen in the pornography witnessed. What was first fantasy, in time,
becomes reality. All sexual deviations-the best evidence suggests-are learned. And it often happens through a pattern of "masturbatory
conditioning." What is viewed is first masturbated to at the fantasy level then later acted out in real life behavior.
Step number 2 could,in effect,develope a demand for genuine images of sexual abuse against Iraqi and Muslim civilians.A demand,I have no doubt,that
would be met by someone though not so publically accessable.
Step number 4 could see US servicemen who may have accessed these war porn sites starting to act out their fantasies in Iraq and perhaps even meeting
the demand pointed out in step 2 or it could cause a rise in domestic rape against muslims in America or the UK.
These new war porn websites which many internet users may have inadvertantly accessed recently must surely raise great concern.Whether because of the
arab and muslim outrage that could result from these images being portrayed as real,or the increased possibilty of of rape against Iraqi civilians due
to the de-sensitizing effect of these websites,it seems clear that these websites should have some restrictions put on them.
But even if restrictions are put in place what is equally of concern is the psychological causes that have seen an increase in these sites.If a small
but increasing minority of American males feel powerless and impotent as they watch the events unfold in Iraq then perhaps the authorities should
address that so that they don't feel they have to vent their frustrations looking at disgusting and degrading images purporting to show rape and
sexual abuse of women who their governments have claimed to be trying to help and free.
[Edited on 4-5-2004 by John bull 1]
[Edited on 4-5-2004 by John bull 1]
[Edited on 7-5-2004 by Banshee]