The leaflet (printed below) was written by Sharon O'Connell, the same woman who was attacked by Chris Shelly. Originally published in the ICONoclast, Summer 1991 / VOL. 3, NO. 2
In order to oppose the continued existence of pornography in our community, for the past several weeks I and a group called Citizens for Media Responsibility have been photographing men going in and out of the downtown pornography store, The Adult (read men's) Shop. While many people have shown support, still some people don't necessarily approve of this activity. Despite their uneasiness, I am writing this letter to tell you that there is a lot to be learned from observing these men and analyzing their behavior.
Quite a few men choose to leave before entering the store, rather than be photographed. They obviously are trying to keep their visit to the store secret and undetected. Quite a few men exiting from the store show a marked predilection towards hostility and violence. You might want to think this is because they simply don't want to be photographed. But I doubt we would receive the same response from customers leaving The Bagelry, across the street.
No, the reaction of the porn-user men betrays a deep-seated anger, shame and fear of exposure. These men have told me that nobody would want to fuck me anyway, that if I "put out" more for my old man, he wouldn't be down at the store, and that I and my group should be shot down like the fourteen women in Montreal. One man who was standing across the street with several other men made body motions as if he held an assault weapon, and fantasized he was spraying our group with bullets.
I've been charged at, threatened, chased, and watched while two other activists were physically attacked by two men fresh from the porn store. Every time I was there, some new danger presents itself. It is apparent from observing these men that they are filled with distaste and repugnance for anyone desiring to reveal the inner workings of the pornography "process," and in many cases are willing to act on their basic instinct of extreme enmity toward anyone who dares to confront their activity.
Throughout this action, I've come to understand more about what function The "Adult" Shop serves in the community. It works as a training hub for viewing women as dehumanized objects and as a breeding ground for all manner of contempt, hatred, and ill-treatment of women.
Though I am not religious, I believe I am coming face-to-face with a malign and ominous force. This place is posing as a legitimate business, with a business license, a board of directors, and a boarded-up store front. But lurking underneath this facade is a destructive entity that feeds off the lives of all women, by denying them a safe community in which to grow and develop to their full potential without threats and fears of every kind -- from disrespect and insolence to sexual abuse, kidnap, torture, and murder. For in this society, the full spectrum of oppression against women is in operation.
Maybe it's not every woman who feels the immediate effect of this hatred, but as the Senate Judiciary Committee recently reported (Newsweek, July 16, 1990), "three out of four women will be victims of at least one violent crime in their lifetime -- and every hour sixteen women confront a rapist.
It is the political commitment to confront this epidemic of violence against women that leads activists to the door of the porn store. It is an unhealthy masturbation box, where, in a little private closet, men go to watch a video of human commodities (usually a woman or women) as sexual objects, available for the viewing at twenty-five cents a minute. The closet contains not only a television screen, but a coin box, chained and padlocked to the wall; there are two chairs and a Kleenex dispenser to wipe the semen off their hands when they ejaculate. Sometimes, the semen gets on the screen.
You see, the porn store is really a masturbation service center, which supplies all the necessities, including the requisite images of women in various attitudes of sexual submission. Men habitually drop in there to "get off" with the help of these lies and stereotypes about women's nature and sexuality. In many cases, the "actresses" are women who were themselves sexually abused as children and who, most likely, need money.
Does this community need The 'Adult' Shop? How much money does Ross Rowell, the owner, "earn" from this woman-hating masturbation "enterprise"? Why is it tolerated here? Can we do without it? Can they do without it?
If you have any doubts about what I've said, you owe it to yourself to visit this boys' club and discover for yourself its contents and sinister function. Don't forget the twenty-five cent masturbation boxes in the rear. And be careful!
Drawing of The Masturbation Box* by Collette Marie. Concept by Steven Hill. Internet Colorizing by Nikki Craft.
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