Warning: This article discusses sexual assault and rape culture.

In a new video project, several men read aloud stories about sexual encounters. Then they answer a question: Is this a summary of a porn scene or a personal story about sexual assault?

In the video above — a clip from "Be Frank," a short film by Damayanti Dipayana and Camilla Borel-Rinkes — the men's answers varied. A lot.


"That is sexual assault," one participant says confidently after reading one encounter.

"Porn?" another man guessed, unsure. "I think that's a porn situation? That seems like a guy's fantasy."

Moments later, a different story made the same man cringe: "That may be a #MeToo story. That's kind of fucked up."

You begin to notice a theme: The men feel as though many encounters fall into a gray area, making them unsure.

GIF via "Be Frank," YouTube.

The encounters could describe a real sexual assault or a porn scene, the participants noticed.

As it turned out, however, every encounter was describing a porn scene.

GIF via "Be Frank," YouTube.

The intent of the video wasn't to shame porn or the people who consume it, but to highlight two critical points:

1. The vast majority of porn features physical aggression toward women.

One study, the video noted, found 88.2% of pornographic scenes feature aggressive behaviors, like gagging or slapping. Those on the receiving end of the aggression were overwhelmingly women.

2. Most boys first learn about sex by viewing porn.

Porn, of course, is not the best medium for sex education. It doesn't teach critical lessons young people should learn about sex — notably, the importance of consent.

So while models in pornography may have consented before filming a scene, this fact may get lost on boys who don't understand why that matters. Because of the glaring lack of comprehensive sex-ed programs in U.S. schools, where consent would be taught, porn plays a major role in shaping how kids understand sex as they become sexually active.

Porn can be a tricky subject.

Depending on who you ask, viewing porn can be a healthy part of an adult's life or it can contribute to a culture that objectifies women and perpetuates violence against them. (Maybe, depending on the type of porn and how it's consumed, there's truth in both arguments?)

Regardless of the larger effects viewing porn may have on our culture and society, porn certainly should not be a replacement for sex-ed.  

GIF via "Be Frank," YouTube.

So, how can men start changing rape culture right now?

"I think by engaging in more conversation. It doesn't seem like a big step, but it is a first step," one man answers in the full version of "Be Frank."

"I think that men need to stand up and intervene [when they see sexual assault or harassment]," another responds.

"I would say, just be better — especially me," a participant concluded. "I'm a tall, white male, straight. Everything in the world is so easy for us. Why can't you just be nice and be respectful of women, of people of different colors, different sexual orientations?"

You can watch the full "Be Frank" video below:

Trending Stories