Peter Acworth Says fetish porn is not to blame for shocking sex cases

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from www.nydailynews.com – The nation’s leading purveyor of bondage porn says that X-rated videos depicting female abductions and forced sex don’t lead to real life crimes, but researchers aren’t convinced.

Peter Acworth’s San Francisco-based company, Kink.com, has built an empire catering to sexual fetishes. The creator of content on websites such as Bound Gangbangs, Hogtied, and Sex and Submission, the company prides itself on pushing the boundary on social taboos with depictions that are often startlingly violent.

Recent sexual crimes, however, have renewed a debate over whether graphic fetish porn may be legitimizing violence against women.

During the trial of former New York police officer Gilberto Valle, testimony revealed that the so-called “Cannibal Cop” had visited websites and chat rooms that promoted the sick fetish of murdering and eating women. Acworth argues that even though Valle was going to such sites while planning to do the same thing to his own wife in real life doesn’t mean one should blame the porn.

“I believe this individual would have committed such crimes regardless,” Acworth said in an email to the Daily News. “If this statement were true [that the sites are to blame], one would have to look closely at the whole horror genre. For instance, I do not believe films such as the ‘Saw’ series cause people to commit heinous crimes.”

Likewise, the case of Ohio kidnapper and serial rapist Ariel Castro, who abducted at least three women and held them captive at his home as his sex slaves for a decade, doesn’t give Acworth pause that videos of women being chained in basement dungeons lead to an increase in sexual crimes.

“Many people fantasize about the abduction role-play scenario,” Acworth told the Daily News. “This certainly does not mean those people actually want to be genuinely abducted and raped any more than someone who enjoys being handcuffed by their partner would like to be arrested.”

UCLA psychology professor Neil Malamuth, who has conducted extensive research into whether violent pornographic depictions influence real world behavior, says that Acworth’s view is too simplistic.

“For the majority of men, exposure to pornography does not increase the rates of those who commit acts of sexual aggression,” Malamuth told the Daily News. “At the same time, however, a significant minority of men who already have significant risk factors show the opposite result. For them, violent pornography does add fuel to the fire.”

Malamuth also points to the large body of research that shows that male attitudes towards women are directly impacted by watching pornography.

“Exposure to violent pornography does affect the myth that women want to be raped,” Malamuth said.

The role-play presented Bound Gangbangs, for instance, often depicts women using the equivalent of an escort service to arrange sexual encounters with groups of men.

“We are very careful to show the negotiation process that goes on before a given fantasy is played out, and this is especially true for an abduction fantasy scenario,” Acworth said. “I believe this demonstrates to viewers that their fantasy can be acted out in a negotiated, safe and legal way. I believe this in turn makes people more likely to explore their fantasy with other like-minded people legally.”

San Francisco psychotherapist Julian Redwood says that while many of his patients use pornography as a therapeutic means of addressing issues of control, the industry as a whole often presents unrealistic portrayals of sexuality.

““Even if it is consensual, pornography can propagate the idea that women, in general, like to be dominated, and men can come away with the idea that they should be dominating, even if that isn’t what they actually want either,” Redwood said.

Excessive porn consumption, Redwood says, can lead a person to desire more and more extreme depictions of sexuality, such as those shown at Kink.com, in order to get the same dopamine release.

“Some of the patients I’ve seen have explored BDSM in a therapeutic way, but for some people it can be playing with fire,” Redwood said.

Not all researchers agree, however.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that pornography does anything negative,” Milton Diamond, director of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, told “Scientific American.” “It’s a moral issue, not a factual issue.”

A study published in April in the “Journal of Sexual Medicine” looked at porn consumption in the Netherlands and found that it had only minimal effects on sexual behavior.

“Pornography is not as big and bad a wolf as we thought it was, and maybe we should focus on other factors,” Gert Martin Hald, a clinical psychologist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, told HealthDay News. “It does explain a portion of sexual behavior, but it is modest.”

Malamuth argues that the Danish study may not be cross-culturally valid. His larger point, however, is that for a small section of the population, pornography can act as a trigger for dangerous behavior.

“Some men have a high number of risk factors and are not far from acting on their impulses,” Malamuth said.

In the United States alone, porn is a $2.84 billion a year industry that draws in an estimated 40 million regular users, according to statistics provided by Online MBA. While Kink.com does not share its traffic or annual revenue, the company says it employs about 130 people and shoots more than 1,000 scenes a year.

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