The Role of Pornography in the “Rough Sex” Defence in Canada

Lisa Gotell, Isabel Grant, Elizabeth Sheehy

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

Drawing upon the authors’ earlier research studying the consent defence when it is used to suggest that the complainant agreed to “rough sex” involving violence, this paper develops an extended analysis of the complex role of pornography in these decisions. This paper focuses on a subset of “rough sex” cases, where pornography played a role in “scripting” the accused’s behaviour. Thematically, these cases included: those where the accused had a substantial history of consumption of violent pornography; cases in which the accused forced the complainant to view pornography as part of the assault; cases where the accused recorded the attack, engaging in the making of pornography themselves; and finally those cases where the airing of the “rough sex” defence in the courtroom, including cross-examination based on the re-playing of the recordings made by the accused, creates a “theatre of pornography.” The authors underline concerns about the growing role of pornography in sexual violence against women, and propose both legal and non-legal strategies in response.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2024

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