Enslaving Sex Objects

stellaEvery day, girls are kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery. Stella Marr was attending Columbia University, working to make a good life for herself and escape the abuses of home. But the more she succeeded, the more violent her mother became. Her mom finally kicked her out of the house. A friend knew a friend who needed a roommate. But when she got to the apartment three men beat and raped her and locked her in a tiny room with no window. Next, they forced her into prostitution. Men bought her for sex, and some who knew she was enslaved didn’t care.

Not so long ago, even Osaka’s Mayor, Toru Hashimoto, excused sex slavery – at least in times of war — explaining that soldiers need “comfort women:

When soldiers are risking their lives by running through storms of bullets, and you want to give these emotionally charged soldiers a rest somewhere, it’s clear that you need a comfort women system.

Cleveland_Victims_461269305The “comfort women” enduring this intense trauma — which sounds worse than war to me — don’t need comfort (and freedom!) themselves? I guess only men count. Women exist only to serve them?

Then there are men who kidnap girls for their own uses. Like Cleveland’s Ariel Castro who was arrested last month for locking three young women in his house — even chaining them in his basement in the early years — while he emotionally, physically and sexually abused them.

And right now trial has begun in the Bay Area over the gang rape of a 16-year-old Richmond girl who was lured by a “friend” who saw her walking home early from a high school dance. The girl was  “slapped, punched, kicked, robbed, urinated on, groped and raped by both people and objects,” according to a news report. As many as 20 men were involved. Some laughed and took pictures. The ringleader said he wanted to “pimp her out.” Her enslavement was more short-lived, but nearly fatal.

Do these men have no sense of women as human beings? Are they mere objects that exist to sexually satiate men?

Instead of living fulfilling, growing lives, developing their potential and creating bonds with family and friends, these women are kept in small, dark rooms, beaten and raped. They are denied health care. Some are starved. One of the women Castro kidnapped was starved and beaten to induce miscarriages — from five pregnancies. About three quarters of Japan’s sex slaves died, while survivors were often left infertile from trauma or from STDs.

Kris Mohandie, a forensic psychologist who works with long-term kidnapping cases says, “These are some of the most catastrophic kinds of experiences a human being can be subjected to.”

He also says that when a man abducts a woman for his own personal pleasure — and for her pain — he has “had longstanding fantasies of capturing, controlling, abusing and dominating women.”

And that, in turn, comes out of a pornified culture that objecifies women and ties eroticism to their abuse.

You don’t find sexuality and violence tied together in every culture. Indians of America’s east coast were free from that sort of violence when Europeans first arrived. The Arapesh still don’t “get” rape.

But inside of violent, objectifying porn cultures, some men both find violence against women arousing and enact their fantasies in real life.

All the more likely when women are seen as mere objects that don’t deserve empathy as a result of objectification.

Violent pornography is also correlated with both aggressive behavior and men becoming more callus toward women who are sexually assaulted, says Robert Johnson of the University of Texas.

But the whole culture has become pornified, so it’s not just pornography that’s at fault. As Slippery Rock University’s women’s studies director observed about the Ariel Castro case:

Sadly, in a world that endlessly replicates and sexualizes male domination of women, I am not surprised that this “fantasy” narrative has been literalized. Though there are doubtless myriad factors that contributed to this nightmare crime, I hope that one positive outcome is broader critical analyses of how pornography normalizes the domination and degradation of women in pervasive and damaging ways.

Some wonder why we don’t talk about this. Maybe because critiques of violent, degrading porn seem anti-sex. But there are plenty of non-violent and non-degrading ways to enjoy sex!

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on June 14, 2013, in feminism, objectification, pornography, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. There are some sick bastards about. It never fails to amaze how alert some folk are to the weak and exploitable.

    • I am constantly amazed at what some people will do to other people.

    • I agree, Rob, but we have to remember that all this misogyny is on a spectrum. These sick individuals are on the far end of the spectrum, but we are also on the spectrum. All the “normal” boys in Saratoga who did nothing, including help the investigation, to stop the abuse of Audrie Pott are on the spectrum. Demonizing the few sick bastards kind of lets us off the hook. We need to start looking how we contribute to this disease by our inaction or how we raise our sons. Just my opinion.

  2. It’s no surprise that women are seen as sexual objects when that’s how our culture constantly portrays them. When we condone objectifying women, we dishonor our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, friends and wives – as well as dishonoring ourselves.

  3. I’ve been studying women’s gender roles in Japanese society for a very long time. There are many things I adore about Japanese culture, but this is their big dark stain. Japan had a culture of legalized prostitution up until 1958. Women trapped in Japanese brothels didn’t have a choice to be there. They were often sold to the brothel at a young age and forced into a “contract”. Meanwhile, the brothel piled debt upon them; for their food, bedding, clothing, etc to an extent that even when the girl’s “contract” was up, she owed the brothel so much money that she had to continue working for them. Thus keeping her chained. If she tried to run away and failed, she would be miserably beaten. If she tried to run away and succeeded, her family would either be forced to turn her back over or pay her debt themselves. Her only way out was to hope that a wealthy patron would buy out her contract. It was like this from the highest class courtesan to the lowliest riverside whore. And these women were Japanese. It was even worse for the kidnapped Korean and Chinese women who were forced into “comfort women” roles during the war. And even though this kind of thing no longer goes on (above ground, at least), Japan is still behind other industrialized nations when it comes to women in the workforce. Women are no longer having children at the rate they used to, but they also aren’t holding down corporate jobs.

    As for our own society, I cannot fathom what would make 20 teenage and adult men think that abusing and raping a 16-year-old girl nearly to death is in any way acceptable, moral, right, or fun. Where are the righteous men? Where are the men who will stand up for young girls’ integrity? I thought the same thing about the Steubenville rape. There wasn’t one young man there who cared about that young girl’s well being more than his popularity? Somewhere, we are failing our sons.

    Sorry that was so long. Wow!

    • Thanks for the additional information. It’s very interesting.

      So sad when money becomes more important thank humanity in Japan and elsewhere, like right here in the good ol’ US.

  4. Reblogged this on winterdominatrix and commented:
    Gender inequality

  5. Been hearing about South Dakota having to deal with a sex trade problem as of recent.
    I’ll never understand the point of sex trades, trafficking, etc. It’s a very sad turn of events. Our America with Lisa Ling had an interesting episode on underage sex trafficking.

    Can’t find a decent woman on your own? Masturbate to porn like a normal person. lol.

  6. What amazes me, more than the horrific acts that occur on an all to regular basis, is the lack of awareness from the general population. How is it that neighbors can be so unsuspecting of women hidden for year in a basement? How can governments ignore enslaved populations? And How can women, or any person of any gender for that matter, defend men who act in such disgusting ways. I hate to enact a cliche argument, but I have to wonder how society would change if the tables were turned for just one day. If men were the victims, and women that assailants.

    • Yes. I’d be very interested. Say, if that Japanese Mayor were suddenly facing a real threat of being forced into “comforting” soldiers by becoming a sex slave.

  7. Wow, like a few people have said above, how is there still a lack of awareness? Watching the news almost every week there is some sort of an abduction. Women being raped or just harassed or young boys and girls being sexual harassed at schools. If you’re having fantasies don’t take it out on innocent people let alone anyone. Go watch porn or if your partner is interested take part of your fantasy with him/her. I watch this show called Awkward on MTV, one of the episodes had the main character Jenna, write a fantasy paper for her writing class, which she did but about a boy she had a crush, all this while having a boyfriend. Her boyfriend read the paper and made her fantasy come true. So why not write down your fantasy?

  8. its very sad how women in our culture are seen as sexual objects. even when it comes to porn the male always have the power and the females are always helpless.

  9. It is so sad that sexual enslavement happens around us. As a female, I could definitely imagine that suffering from sexual abuse is more than just a physical torture but more about a mental trauma. Without doubt those men forcing women to sexually satiate them deserve condemnation and punishment. But look at their surroundings. So often that media portray women as sexual objects and the weaker group in our society. The culture imposes the idea that women are easily forced or controlled. Generally, women need more protection and respect.

  10. I feel really sad as well as mad after reading about the story of women who are kidnapped and raped for the criminal’s use. Those men who treat women to just fulfill their own sexual satisfaction, but are not human toward women; They objectified women. They may have several reasons to rape women, some of them do maybe to release stress or merely want to have sex. But I believe most of them do in order to prove manhood. Because it shows power of men and male-dominance world. In this way they feel more self-satisfaction beyond sex satisfaction. We should never forgive those who rape women for such a selfish reason. Women who are victims suffer depression, nightmares and other mental disorders, and that experience becomes a trauma which is a deep scar for them forever.

  11. I think we have to change the perception of men too. We often believe men can’t control their sexual desire. They are not beasts or animals but we still think of them as beasts in terms of sex. It’s like giving permission that they don’t have to control over their sexual desire. Are they really different from women? Of course physically men and women are different, men have a visible sign that shows that he is aroused, erection, but it doesn’t mean that they cannot control themselves. Controlling is the matter of their brains. I think we are being too generous to their expression of sexual desire.

  12. From my experience most men do have this problem of seeing women as an object rather than a human being on the same level as them. When you have a group of white males openly saying they want to control a womens reproductive choices and rights unapologetically, even in the face of possible death for some women then obviously these guys hold the value of a woman to be very low indeed. To them women are merely toys to be played with and vessels to use for reproduction, and little else. When men start talking about womens earning power and education before how nice her ass is, then we might be getting somewhere, but for now the first thing mentioned is physical. Also women do value looks as well, but our whole society does and the difference is when a woman dates a male she isn’t going to treat him purely as a possession.

  13. Randolph givens

    It still amazes me how some people can be so sick minded and do the things they do.

  14. It is really saddening reading through all of these different stories, from just now learning about the disgusting Mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, who excused sex slavery during war to the violent pornography that objectifies women, it left me with a bad feeling in my heart and stomach. Not that any of these stories is worse than the other, but I got such an awful feeling especially reading about the girl that was abused by 20 men, could not one of those 20 have done something to see the wrong in all of that and stop it or step away even if they were scared and call the police.

  15. i have realized that in a lot of countries mostly women get treated as if they are just a toy that can be toss around. It sucks to see that women get treated poorly even though if you think about it women should be so special, because of what has god given a women and the ability to do amazing things with her body, like create a baby. I am always shocked that some men can be so sick and not realized that how powerful a women is. It is sad to see that men often sees a women as a object but not a human. Hopefully one day this all changes which will take a lot of work and time.

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