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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

 
Twisted Psyches

Via John at Americablog, I found this article about the warporn site from the Online Journalism Review that is quite interesting.

Near the end the author briefly addresses what I think is the most disturbing aspect of this disheartening story --- the combination of sexual pornography and real violent images.

While it was difficult for me to ascertain the motivation for people who were posting gory photos to NTFU, I did talk to Steven Most, a psychology postdoctoral fellow at Yale University who has studied the effects of violent and sexual images. He helped explain what these horribly violent images had in common with the nude photographs of women.

"They both seem to be particularly arousing in an emotional way," Most said. "Emotional stimuli can be rated in different ways. You could see something and rate how positive or negative it is. But separate from that is how arousing the image is. A positive picture of a cute puppy dog could be positive but not that arousing, whereas a picture of an opposite sex nude could be just as positive but be rated as extremely arousing. And a picture of a mutilation could be rated as extremely negative but highly arousing. Lately there's been a lot of theories saying that what we're drawn to is the arousing nature of an image regardless of whether we see it as negative or positive."


I am not a psychologist but I think it would be very surprising if combining these arousing sexual and violent images did not result in twisting some people's psyches. It cannot be healthy to get your thrills through deadly, bloody violence and sexual images in the same place, at the same time in the same way. The porn site is a "girlfriend and wife" site --- it's not professional porn stars. Those images of the naked girls next door are being given away for free to men who are posting pictures of mangled bodies of people they purport to hate with every fiber of their being. It is worlds colliding in a very dangerous way.

Sexual sado-masochism has been out there for millenia but it is highly ritualized fantasy. This is all too real. I have to think that it is problematic that people are getting so negatively and positively aroused by real death and gore at the same time.

There is something very disturbing about the images of sexual torture we've seen and heard about in this war, generally. The forced masturbation, the pyramids, the female interrogators and the fake menstrual blood, the constant nudity, all of it. Violence against prisoners in the new Human Rights Watch report is expressed as "fucking" instead of beating. Not "fucking up" or "fucking with" --- just plain "fucking" as in "I walking in and saw him fucking the prisoner."

I cannot help but think that something has gone terribly wrong here. From the top of the hierarchy ordering sexual humiliation techniques, to obscure web-sites selling war gore and pictures of girls next door together, this is a very sexualized war and it's damned strange, particularly coming from a regime that pretends to be an arbiter of strict sexual morals.

It's clear that the leadership of this country is extremely concerned with consensual sex between two adults but they find images of sexual violence and kinky torture techniques to be thoroughly acceptable among soldiers and useful to the war effort. This is a very odd perception and one that leads us back to the conclusion that something extremely unhealthy has invaded our body politic.



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