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Thursday, April 3, 1980
Local women's leader
educates area citizens
By MARTHA WAGGONER
The slide flashes on to the screen.
The picture defies delicate
description. It is a drawing of a woman's
genitals being pulled apart grotesquely by
a metal apparatus. The breast is clipped
with a ring and linked and pulled toward
the genitals in an excruciating position. It
is an example of what is called "violence
against women in pornography," and it is
something Carole Moussalli is fighting.
Moussalli is vice president in charge of
programming for the Chapel Hill chapter
of the National Organization of Women.
She began working on the show last fall
and presented it for the first time in
December 1979. "I found it very difficult
to approach the material," she says. "I'm
not the same person that I was a few
She presents her slide show of examples
of this violence to any group that
requests with one qualification. All
those who attend the presentation must
Moussalli admits she has received some
negative feedback from her decision to
exclude men, but she stands by her
decision. "I felt it was necessary for
women to see what was being produced,"
she says."Most women have never seen
this material and it's quite a blow to
The material Moussalli uses is not the
kind Many women will see in their life
times, despite the fact that all of the slides
were made from pictures in magazines
bought in the Chapel Hill area. "I wanted
to let women know what kind of porn
there was in this area," Moussalli says. "I
wanted to see how the national issue
connected to our lives."
The national movement to which
Moussalli refers has been spearheaded by
such famous women leaders as Susan
Brownmiller, author of Against our Will-.
Men, Women and Rape. Marches led by
Brownmiller and others in New York's
Times Square have gained media
coverage and consequently public
attention for the fight against violent
To make the connection between the
national movement and Chapel Hill,
Moussalli and three other women went to
the adult book store on U.S. Highway 15
501 toward Durham. "It was like going
into enemy territory' she says. "The men
did not take their eyes off of us...we knew
we disrupted their sales."
The women bought magazines at the
bookstore, but were not sure what they
were buying since the magazines are in
brown paper covers and cannot be
unwrapped until the customer pays. The
average cost of the magazines is $5, which
helps keep the porn industry income at $4
billion a year.
But Moussalli draws a line between
violent pornography and explicit
pornography. She has examples of
pornography which show very graphically
men and women in sex acts. Although
Moussalli said she would not buy such
material for herself, she is not trying to
stamp it out. "It's not violent in that it's not
degrading," she says. "No one is in a
position of power. It's just explicit."
But Moussalli has many examples of
pictures which show men in a power
position a position of life and death in
some cases. "This type of pornograpy is
overwhelmingly male against female,"
she says. But Moussalli adds she has not
seen very much homosexual
pornography and does not know what
situations it depicts.
The slides Moussalli uses in her show
present not sexuality, but power, she says.
The formula used to prepare the audience
for the porn is 'what Moussalli calls
objectification, fragmentation and the
inevitable violation of the women in the
pictures. Objectification involves
removing the woman's identity from the
picture. In the pictures, the model is
blindfolded, gagged and has fishnet or
something stronger, such as rope, tied
around her limbs. "These are all elements
aimed at erasing this woman's identity,"
Then comes the fragmentation. The
picture discribed at the beginning of this
article does not show the woman's face or
anything else that would depict her as a
person the picture is just the genitalia.
Other slides included in the show show
breasts confined with metal rings with
clothes pins on the nipples. One
magazine carries a feature called the
"Grabber of the Month" and one month
ran pictures with the caption. "Just a
mouthful is not enough." A cartoon
shows a man with a framed picture of his
first dollar made and a picture of a
bloodstained sheet which has underneath
it "My first virgin."
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Another cartoon shows a husband, son
and unattractive wife in the kitchen. The
son has just swallowed some poison and
the husband is trying to make the boy
vomit. The husband says to his wife,
"Quick, Noreen, show him your pussy."
"The idea is that women's sexual organs
are disgusting," Moussalli says.
After the objectification and
fragmentation, the porn audience is
prepared for the violation of the woman.
We are prepared to see spiked heels grind
into breasts, and a magazine titled Virgin
Foxes which runs the headline "Cherry
Sweet and Ready to be Popped." We are
ready to see, inside this same magazine,
pictures of 12-to-1 4-year-old girls
masturbating. We are prepared to see a
father and his two daughters engaging in
various sex acts. We are ready to see two
women hold another one down while she
is slashed with razors in an X-rated movie.
Other examples include a magazine
called Interracial Spanking, which is a
series of pictures of a white man beating a
black woman. One picture carries the
caption "submissive snatch" and another
magazine ran a series of pictures titled
"Tied Thais." The women are tied to make
male penetration more accessible.
The violation part of the pornography is
where women become nothing more
than a thing, Moussalli says. "You don't
violate a human, you violate a thing, or
what you perceive as a thing. You don't
recognize the person as a complete
entity.. .it's just a tit or genitals. Men feel
like they can do anything to perpetrate
their S and M (Sadism and Masochism)
"This has to do with power, sexism,
sadism, violence against women, hatred
-A question which always arises when
any group wants to ftet rid of a kind of
literature be it pornography or high
school reading material is whether the
First Amendment extends press freedom
to that material. And when Moussalli is
asked this question, she becomes
annoyed, perhaps even angry.
"There's no complete answer to that,"
she says. "It's almost a way of baiting the -talker.
Strategies are made by people
deciding what is possible. To develop a
sound strategy will take getting together
the skills of the theoretician, politician,
"We're finally talking about
pornography as a feminist issue," she says.
Moussalli admits it will take time to
solve the problem and comes down on
those who want an answer immediately.
"There's almost a compulsion to get to the
answer right away. The effective action is
to go in there (the bookstores)...this
situation will continue as long as women
are ignorant and afraid of pornography.
"When we attack a system that's very
highly developed, we're going to have to
be careful to achieve our objective
without getting shot down," she says.
"Once we start making trouble there is
going to be a backlash."
But when Moussalli gives her
presentation to the groups of women, no
one thinks to mention the First
Amendment, she said. And her statement
held true at a meeting of the Durham
chapter of NOW, where Moussalli
brought her slide show in February. None
of the women mentioned the First
In fact, for the first few minutes after
Moussalli finished her talk, there was
complete , silence except for the
Finally one woman spoke. "I had no
idea that that stuff was that bad. A lot of
the women look like crime victims."
Another said, "I had to look at the wall a
couple of times. I found myself trying to
avoid what was on the screen."
And Moussalli said, "I still have a chill
down my back and I've been doing this for
One feminist whom Moussalli quotes in
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Binding and gagging hides identity
her presentation suggestes that the
definition of obscenity be changed so that
it focuses on violence and not on sex. The
women at the Durham meeting seemed to
agree with that and that economic
sturctural changes rather than legislative
changes are what is needed to get rid of
the violent porn.
"The economic route is going to be the
most prevailing because this is such a
money-oriented society," Moussalli said.
'An ecomomic system which
impoverishes women makes it able to
Moussalli uses not only graphic porn in
her show, but also some subtle examples
of male power shown in high fashion
magazines. One picture is that of a man
standing behind a woman tying her bow
tie. The man is in a position that makes it
very easy for him to choke her. Another
picture is of a man with boots and a whip
riding on a woman's back. Moussalii's
contention is that sort of subtle, almost
subconscious violence prepares people
for the type in Playboy, then the kind in
Hustler and then for the really violent
sadism-masochism, painful physical
violence found only in the adult
"We are set up to accept this as a
plausible condition in our culture.
Throughout the entire culture, we're
made into objects, then fragmented and
"The pervasive message is that men
have power over women. The stage is set
in our day to day lives on very low levels of
violation. This pattern begins with the
insidious and ends with the explicit." 0
Martha Waggoner is news editor for The
Daily Tar Heel.
If you are interested in getting more
information about violence against
women in pornography, these national
groups can help you; Women Against
Pornography, 579 Ninth Avenue. New
York, New York, 10036; (212) 594-2801.
Women Against Violence Against
Women, 1727 North Spring Street. Los
Angeles, California 90012; (213) 233-8771.
Women Against Violence in Pornography
and Media, P.O.Box 14614, San Francisco,
California, 94114; (415) 552-2709.
You may also want to contact the
Chapel Hill chapter of NOW and find out
when MousaHi is presenting her slide