Category Archives: articles/essays/commentary

Someone couldn’t answer this question by themselves

exploited black teens.com-racist porn?

This is one of the search engine terms used to find this blog today.

What is ‘ethical’ porn for? What does it achieve?

Sex industry advocate Kitty Stryker participated in a short debate at New Internationalist recently with regard to ‘ethical porn'; but before we look at that, let’s have a re-cap of Stryker’s activities.

In early 2012, an article was published by Salon, quoting Stryker (and also Maggie Mayhem) about abuse and cover-ups in the BDSM ‘scene’.

This was a brave condemnation of a ‘community’ that preached ‘safe, sane, consensual’, but in reality practised the covering-up of abuse and the ostracism and blaming of victims.

In the comments thread under my blog post about the Salon article I said that Stryker would have to choose sides at some point, and within six months she had backed down, and gone from a damning indictment of the BDSM community to ‘consent is complicated’ and ‘we need to educate ourselves about consent’ and ‘people fuck up’, as if all the bad stuff happened by mistake rather than being deliberate and systematic.

From a much more recent, and slightly odd, comment Stryker left under my first blog post, it seems that her ‘consent culture’ work now consists solely of providing one-on-one therapy to individuals worried they may be abusers, which is all very nice for the individuals involved, but has nothing to do with keeping your house in order. Stryker also revealed that she doesn’t actually understand what ‘rape culture’ means, as she sees it as something separate from culture itself, rather than a part of the air we all have to breath every day.

In the New Internationalist article, Stryker explicitly states that she is not financially reliant on pornography, which places her in a privileged minority who get to do porn ‘for fun’.

Stryker drags out the tired old canard that women are paid more than men in pornography (at least she says ‘employees’ this time, tacitly acknowledging that the real money and control is behind the camera), while completely ignoring that women are paid more than men in porn because they are not doing the same job, as someone else put it so well, “men are paid to orgasm, while women are paid to suffer.”

Stryker also says “As a woman without a degree, or as a transwoman, porn is often the only industry where class mobility may be achieved.”

This is offensive rubbish, there is no ‘mobility’ when there is nowhere to go, no kind of long-term job security, when the ‘work’ doesn’t give you any transferable skills and you are left with a gap in your CV and the constant fear of your ‘past’ being exposed. It ignores the fact that in the mainstream of het porn (which is effectively interchangeable with gonzo now), women are chewed up and shat out within less than a year, often with infections and injuries they receive no workers compensation for; that they have to prostitute to survive financially (so that the porn becomes merely the advertising of the prostitution); that only a tiny minority of women get to the point where they can have any kind of control over their ‘career’ and ‘image’.

This isn’t just offensive rubbish, it’s disgusting rubbish, it’s obscene; Stryker gets her fun and her choices and her safer sex practises, those other women, those poor women, they ‘need’ to be chewed up and shat out by the sex industry, in the name of ‘social mobility’.

This is a ‘sex positive’ “let them eat cake”; there are poor women? then let them be sex workers! I’m having a great time!

Stryker says: “Most major porn companies are owned by white cisgendered straight men; this stands in the way of ethically produced pornography. I agree that’s problematic, and that representation and marginalized voices being brought to the centre is incredibly important for an ethical workplace.”

This is more rubbish, porn is the commodification of sexuality under white-supremacist, capitalist patriarchy, the idea that that is can be made nice by ‘centring’ ‘voices’ (whatever that actually means) shows no understanding of the reality of capitalism. It also ignores what men actually consume porn for, male pornographers are far more honest about this.

Stryker claims that there is more ‘interest’ in the porn industry in ‘alt’ porn because ‘mainstream’ porn is on the decline (please be aware that all links to Stryker’s blog are nsfw and potentially triggering because of pornographic images in her sidebar), but there is actually no evidence of this. The LA porn industry may be in decline, but this is not because of a shift to ‘alt’ porn, but because the industry has become more corporate and more professional (in fact Stryker doesn’t have proof that more people are consuming ‘alt’ porn, she even says in her blog post that women simply aren’t buying porn).

This is why I ask what ‘ethical’ porn is for, and what does it actually achieve? There is no evidence of it replacing mainstream het and gonzo porn, or of it having any real influence over your average porn-consuming hetero dude. The proponents of ‘ethical’ porn call themselves campaigners, and call their pornography ‘political’, but what do they actually achieve politically, as campaigners?

Stryker co-opts the language of radical feminism, calling herself a ‘sex critical feminist’, but where’s the criticism? Where is the criticism from any of these ‘ethical porn’ purveyors?

sex critical

The only time sex industry advocates have stood up to the pimps and pornographers was in 2012, when Kink.com changed the way it paid webcam ‘girls’, and the protest was only over the way the women were paid (and despite some internet searching, I cannot find anything to say whether this protest was successful or not).

Has Stryker said anything critical about Kink.com (beyond the way cam ‘girls’ are paid), which has left women injured and traumatised? No.

Has Stryker said anything critical about the ‘Free Speech Alliance’, the astro-turf lobby group for pornographers which claims to speak for porn performers? No.

Has Stryker said anything critical about the claims from the ‘Free Speech Alliance’ that porn performers don’t want to use condoms? No.

Stryker gets her safe sex practices, but cheers when a bill mandating condom use on porn sets gets killed off.

mandatory condom bill

The two excuses given by the ‘Free Speech Alliance’ are that condom use is not commercially viable, and that the sex acts in most porn are so violent, condom use becomes painful. Stryker has nothing to say about this financial intimidation that would make it near impossible for a porn performer to insist on condom use, and she has nothing to say about what it means to have a ‘work place’ that leaves ‘workers’ in too much pain to use Personal Protective Equipment. Stryker also has nothing to say about the reality of an 18-year-old woman doing her first shoot on a gonzo porn set, and how unrealistic it is that she would be able to demand condom use, or have any real control over what happens to her. Instead she cheers the fact that a law, which could have offered some protection for vulnerable workers against exploitative bosses, has been killed off.

Has Stryker said anything critical about the more and more violent trends in gonzo porn, so that women are now expected to shit out their internal organs on set? Not that I have seen, and anyway one of the women who does this is out-spoken and empowered, so everything is ok right?

Has Stryker offered any words of support to Sasha Grey, who, it turns out, was coerced into the porn industry by an abusive boyfriend who was a decade older than her? No.

Does Stryker have anything critical to say about the Crash Pad Predators? Not that I can find (she works for that company after all).

As I have said before, many times, on this blog and elsewhere, the sex industry is a pyramid with a very broad base, Stryker, who does porn ‘for fun’ is at the top, and she gets her safer sex practices, her diversity, and her negotiation, on the backs of all the women who don’t have a real choice, and she won’t say anything about it because poor women ‘need’ abusive porn sets, for ‘social mobility’ purposes.

Stryker has her glitter and her My Little Pony fetish costumes and her supply of free sex toys to review and her paid speaking gigs (which would dry up if she ever started saying anything truly critical about the sex industry or the BDSM ‘scene’), so she’s-alright-jack!

But credit where credit is due, she does call out a ‘feminist pornographer’, for joking about raping a drunk woman, but she does so in the most minimising of terms:

“Now, I want to say that I know, especially when young, people say and do fucked up things. No one is perfect on consent. That said, joking about a situation where a woman felt violated enough to report rape seems pretty messed up – saying things like “so I gave it to the bitch” when talking about sex while drunk perpetuates rape culture, and is especially insensitive when in the context of college campuses.”

And the overall response from the ‘feminist porn community’ doesn’t seem to have involved much more than navel gazing.

So what is ‘feminist’ or ‘ethical’ or ‘alt’ or ‘queer’ porn (these terms tend to be used interchangeably)? What does it involve, what does it achieve?

Belle Knox says she loves ‘rough blowjobs’ so ‘rough blowjobs’ are ‘empowering’ and ‘feminist’. If anything that gets a woman off is ‘feminist’, then all porn becomes ‘feminist’ and the label is meaningless (like in that old Onion article).

In the New Internationalist piece, Stryker describes ethical porn as “a spectrum of behaviour that treats performers as workers and as humans, both on set and within the marketing” which is all very nice, and conveniently vague, since any porn, including porn depicting horrific sexual violence, can fulfil those criteria, as long as there is a woman prepared to say on camera how much she enjoyed it.

Look at this thing I found on the internet:

kinky queers slave training

“Kinky Queers – Slave Training” “We shoot high quality, ethical, hardcore BDSM porn”

Or how about something Stryker herself re-tweeted?

filthy taboo

Anything can be ‘ethical’ porn.

Stryker says nothing directly or vocally about any specific instance of unethical porn production, just pretends that it’s dying out. The reality is that ‘ethical’ pornography is fully embedded within the porn industry, it uses the same websites, the same expos and award shows, and so-called ‘feminist pornographers’ work for mainstream/gonzo porn companies.

The recent twitter altercation between ‘gold star’ lesbian porn performer Lily Cade and trans woman porn performer Chelsea Poe, reveals an interesting take on ‘ethical’ porn.

Lily Cade tweets

That one of the main aims of current ‘trans activism’ is bullying lesbians (or ‘genital obsessed perverts’ as some trans activists like to call them) for not being willing to suck cock, is not news to any radical feminist.

Stryker buys 100% into the ‘most oppressed people on the planet ever’ line, ignoring the fact that the middle-class heterosexual white men who transition in middle age after having a career and a family as men (the same middle-class middle-aged heterosexual white men who have taken over what was once the LGB movement), tend to do fine. The trans women who are oppressed along multiple axis (race, class, disability) tend to do as badly as other women or men who are also oppressed along the same axis.

After the Sylvia Rivera Law Project launched a campaign in support of child rapist and murderer Synthia China Blast, because his ‘dreams mattered’, I’m no longer interested in holding back on this subject; a large amount of ‘trans activism’ is about protecting and enabling violent men.

And it looks like ‘ethical porn’ is a part of this. Does Stryker have anything critical to say about Poe’s harassment of Cade? No! In fact, she joins in, calling Cade a ‘mean girl’ for not wanting to suck cock.

Cade has responded to the attacks against her (the link is to a wiki porn site and therefore nsfw and potentially triggering because of the images on the page):

Chelsea Poe, a pre- or non-op transsexual woman (a human being with a penis and testicles) asked me to cast her in my lesbian porn. I said no, and she accused me of transphobia, and it could have been left at that, but people piled on and piled on and I stood there and fought it because this whole thing is coming from a place of refusal to face reality… and I don’t believe in suffering delusion.

Frankly, I still don’t think Chelsea and Thelma [Sleaze] and all these other uptight, immature people understand why I went to war with them. I tried nuance and I tried grace and I tried everything in my arsenal but if you can’t grow up I can’t drag you kicking and screaming into the light.

What Chelsea asked me to do was to spend my capital, my energy, the trust of my fanbase that I have built up over six years in porn, to fight for her cause: her cause of proving she is attractive. Chelsea asked me to give her work in my movies. Every time I cast a movie I can’t include all my friends and lovers and the women I think are beautiful and the women who I like fucking, but Chelsea demanded that in the name of “equality” I give one of those roles to her and pay for someone to fuck her, so that she could wave her dick in the faces of my lesbian porn fans to make some point about how they should stop being bigots and accept that she’s hot.

Attraction isn’t bigotry. I fully support the creation of porn that speaks to all kinds of people. I do to some extent, and have many friends who create porn that features non mainstream looks, that showcases new things that maybe people didn’t know they were into, and speaks to some larger truth about the world. I’m not exactly Brazzers. I don’t make assembly line porn.

(Emphasis in original.)

So, then, ‘ethical’ porn, the sort of porn that Stryker and her friends make, can be seen, at best, as a vanity project, of interest only to a small group of people, and, at worst (being realistic about who is actually buying porn, including ‘alt’ and ‘queer’ porn), as being exactly the same as all other porn, about granting men access to women’s bodies.

QotD: “there is nothing I want to hear less than a pastor and a fucking professional rapist’s thoughts on pornography”

Porn Pastor_Porn King

So, my city if holding a debate on pornography and as of this moment, both sides (for and against) will be represented by men. Although the demographic of mainstream pornography is men, porn’s affect is on women, and we need to hear their voices. I’m a radical feminism at 100% against pornography, but it’s women who matter in this debate. Please comment on this event and tell them we need to hear from women.

http://porndebate.citychurchevv.com/

Christ almighty there is nothing I want to hear less than a pastor and a fucking professional rapist’s thoughts on pornography.

From Next Years Girl

The presentation here is pretty disgusting – a ‘Porn Pastor’ and a ‘Porn King’ fighting it out over who has control over women’s bodies – like it’s all a big ironic joke; it’s being presented like a wrestling match, as something fake, as something where there is nothing real at stake (you know, like women’s lives?).

New Category! ‘Brain Sex!/Genderism/Gender Criticism’

I have decided to add a new category to the blog: ‘Brain Sex!/Genderism/Gender Criticism’, which will hopefully make finding content easier.

‘TERF’ is hate speech

I’ve seen some posts recently on tumblr, saying that we shouldn’t describe ‘TERF’ as a slur, because it doesn’t have the same power to harm as more established words like ‘slut’ and ‘whore’, and we shouldn’t conflate the two.

This is a fair argument, but the way ‘TERF’ is being used, it is hate speech. How else can we describe a word that is used to homogenise, dehumanise and demonise a group of people, especially when so-called ‘social justice warriors’ tweet and blog about how much they’d love to violently murder ‘TERFs’.

I have sent this email to the Guardian, expressing my concern over the use of the word ‘TERF’ in the article they published last Saturday.

Dear editor(s),

I am writing to you to express my concern over Lucy Mangan’s opinion piece published in the Weekend magazine on the 9th August (I am sending this to several different editors, as it is an issue that goes beyond this one article). My particular concern is over her use of the term ‘Terf'; this word is used as hate speech against any woman (and it is only used against women) who expresses a negative or critical opinion about gender or trans issues, or who even acknowledges that biological sex exists. It is used to dehumanise and demonise such women, and to justify violent threats against them and their children. It is highly irresponsible of a national newspaper to allow an article to be published that uses this term uncritically, as if it were a neutral descriptor.

I also wish to express my concern with the way the Guardian covers ‘gender’ issues generally; your coverage is alarmingly one-sided and uncritical, with the number of gender-critical pieces being minute in comparison to the number of articles that cover gender identity uncritically.

Why not, in the name of balance, ask Gia Milinovich or Sarah Ditum to write a critical response? Or even just commission a review of Sheila Jeffreys’ new book Gender Hurts?

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Yours sincerely,
Abi Pearson

Sent to these email addresses:

reader[at]theguardian.com
cif.editors[at]theguardian.com
comment.editors[at]theguardian.com
review[at]theguardian.com
society[at]theguardian.com
weekend[at]theguardian.com

It will be interesting to see what kind of reply, if any, I get.

Men think the sound of their own voice is ‘dissent’

Twice now I have had arrogant wind-bag men take up my time and energy in the comments section. When I refused to give these men any more of my attention, they spammed me with comments, and both of them described this behavior as ‘dissent’.

This is male dominance in action, men think they are entitled to have their lives serviced by women, and they think demanding this servicing is some kind of rebellious act.

Some thoughts on ‘assigned’ and ‘identified’, plus commenting freely

Biological sex is a natural phenomenon

Unless a baby has ambiguous genitalia, as with intersex babies, they are not “assigned” a sex at birth; their sex is “identified.”

When we discover a new planet we do not “assign” it a spectral class or type. We “identify” it by its natural phenomenon. Sex is a natural phenomenon.

Repeat after me: Biological sex is a natural phenomenon.

tagged as #see also: stop using intersex people as pawns #and stealing their fucking language

From Next Years Girl and Pizza-rolls-not-gender-rolls.

I have only seen this argument in the last few months. I have always used ‘female assigned at birth’ as it covered both biological females and intersex individuals assigned female at birth, and therefore raised the same as other girls (it also gave us the brilliant acronym ‘FAB’!), and I know I’m not the only one to use this terminology.

The above argument is a good one, although there is a risk with using the word ‘identify’ because it is used in identity politics to say anyone is whatever they identify as (whether it’s a member of the opposite sex, another race, or an imaginary animal).

However, even acknowledging that risk, I will from now on be using ‘female assigned/identified at birth’ (the less satisfying ‘FAIB’ – but at least not FIB!).

This has come up now because the Guardian has published a piece on the so-called ‘terf wars’, and, amazingly, so far, my gender critical comments have been allowed to stay up (only one has been deleted, and that’s really odd because it’s the same comment I made many times on that thread, asking how bullying lesbians is progressive). My first comment (time wise) even has the most ‘recommended’ votes (of those comments visible on the front page) as of writing this. We’ll have to see how it goes.

I do often wonder how many people actually read comments sections (I’ve always been of the opinion that if you can’t get your comment on the first page, don’t bother). I (perhaps unwisely) linked to this blog in one of my comments, and I’ve had eleven click-throughs from the Guardian so far today.

“I deserved this”

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING

I deserved this.

A woman was rude to my owner. So I got hit in the face. When one bitch doesn’t know her place, it’s every bitch’s fault, and when one bitch misbehaves, any bitch can [be] punished.

I would love to see her face when she saw the consequences of her shitty behavior. Then I’d love to slap her in the face a few times before pushing her down on the bed between his legs and shoving her face into his crotch to lick his balls and ass while I hold her down and suck his cock. Cunts like that need to be taught a lesson about where women belong and what their purpose is.

Found at For Survivors of Kink Abuse. The blogger calls herself “little feminist bitch”. The above quote shows the Orwellian levels of disconnect that ‘sex positive’ and ‘choice’ ‘feminism’ have bought some people to – the above is, apparently ‘feminist’. Where’s the ‘safe, sane and consensual’ here? Oh right, yes, it’s all a big fantasy that everyone’s agreed to, except all the times it isn’t.

Something else I’ve seen on For Survivors of Kink Abuse, the term ‘consensual misogyny’. This cognitive dissonance, this double think, must be exhausting, but then if you are rewarding yourself with an orgasm, that must make it easier I suppose (and damn the long term psychological consequences)?

Lots of women who have exited the BDSM ‘scene’ talk about brain washing, talk about how their psychological vulnerabilities (being young, being abused before) were used to manipulate them, talk about the Stockholm Syndrome and the trauma bonding. How can anything be ‘safe’ or ‘sane’ or ‘consensual’ when you’ve been brainwashed by a cult? And spare me the ‘no true Scotsman’ arguments, as if what I’ve quoted above is some kind of exception rather than the norm. When this kind of thinking pervades your entire world view, where’s the outside of it where you make the choice to consent (and it’s not like you can’t consent to something that’s harmful)?

Some women really do get off on women’s sub-human status under patriarchy, and some of them want to call this ‘feminist’ because they deny the fact that feminism is a political movement to liberate women from male dominance, and confuse it instead for selfish individualism practiced by a female human being.

Why (and How) I am Anti-Porn

I listened to an addition of The Moral Maze a few weeks ago that was – shock horror! – actually interesting and informative, and not just pointless willy-waving.

It was on the subject of censorship, and, particularly, the fact that Mein Kampf will soon be out of copyright and therefore could be published in Germany again.

One of the viewpoints expressed on the programme (by a German lawyer) was that it should be banned. Germany obviously has a very detailed, intimate history with this document, and what works for them in this specific case won’t necessarily work as a universal principal for how to treat Mein Kampf, or any other ‘problematic’ text.

I can’t help but agree with one of the panellists who said that banning it would only make it seem more exciting and appealing. The discussion moved on to the subject of contemporary hate merchants, particularly certain extremist Muslim preachers, and the case was cited of a young woman student in London, who, after watching a series of videos on YouTube of a particular preacher, went on to attack her local MP.

It was pointed out that she must have been a disturbed individual in the first place (I agree), and the idea was discussed that when it comes to censorship, it is always for other people, not ‘us’, the ones making the rules. It is assumed that such material, will, to use a phrase from the programme, ‘infect’ (some) people’s minds. The counterargument was that no one would be turned into an anti-Semite simply by reading Mein Kampf (I agree with this as well).

So why, then, if I do not think a document like Mein Kampf should be censored/banned, am I anti-porn?

Firstly, I don’t think pornography and Mein Kampf are the same kind of thing; it is not just one porn film, made decades ago, of interest only to historians and anthropologists, or to people who are already raging misogynists, it is thousands, if not millions of porn films, available instantly, with the same kind of imagery and messages also appearing in mainstream culture as well.

Mein Kampf was published at a time when a large number of non-Jews in the Weimer Republic (and later the Third Reich) were anti-Semites, and it was not the only document or the only piece of propaganda around. The racist propaganda created by the Nazi party didn’t create anti-Semitism, or directly cause the holocaust, but it did make it that little bit easier to carry out.

Pornography is relentless propaganda, in a culture that is already misogynist; in that sense, it has more in common with advertising than any political tract (and if you think advertising doesn’t work, ask yourself why big companies spend billions of dollars a year on it). As well, the consumers of porn superficially see what they are consuming as entertainment, not politics (although the producers some times let slip otherwise), so that they are not necessarily active aware consumers (although the more and more violent, degrading trends might suggest otherwise); and lets not forget the fact that porn is masturbated to, that its message is reinforced with an orgasm.

Also, sexual violence is not a rare occurrence; it is not something committed only by outlier men with underlying mental health problems. Sexual violence is a common, everyday occurrence, committed by otherwise ‘normal’ men (and the mainstream tacitly admits this with its ‘boys will be boys’ rhetoric).

I have already written before on this blog that trying to ‘ban’ porn is not one of my main aims. Criminalising the viewing of pornography would be draconian to enforce, and an unjustifiable drain on resources, and internet filters already block things other than porn (eg websites on sexual health). Banning the sale of porn would be much more efficient, and something credit card companies could do easily (let’s see how interested pornographers are in exercising their ‘free speech’ when they can no longer turn a profit from it); also, properly enforcing health and safety/labour laws would shut down most porn sets. Passing laws allowing women and girls (and boys and men) who have been abused in the making of porn (not just ‘revenge porn’ victims), and women and girls (and boys and men) who have been abused by men obviously inspired by porn, to gain civil redress, would also help in terms of tipping the balance of power away from dominant men.

One of the interviewees on the programme said that to ban something is society’s way of showing its moral disgust at that thing. It’s true that laws have a normative value, but if a society really were morally disgusted by something, it wouldn’t need a law to enforce that disgust!

This is the thing, I don’t want men to stop consuming porn because they are afraid of getting caught and punished, I want them to stop because they are descent people who view women as fully human, and therefore can’t get off on their subjugation. Misogyny is a hydra, cutting off one head alone will never be enough; better sex education is a start, better handling of rape and domestic violence cases is a start, elimination of misogyny from other media is a start, challenging the idea that porn is merely ‘fantasy’ is a start. Being anti-porn is necessary, but not sufficient, for effecting real change.

“Domestic violence refuge provision at crisis point, warn charities”

Domestic violence refuges are being closed across the country in a crisis that is putting support for the most vulnerable women and children back 40 years, leading charities have warned.

Specialist safe houses for women and children – which were forged out of the feminist movement in the 1970s – are being forced to shut by some local authorities because they do not take in male victims.

In other areas, refuges are facing closure in favour of preventive work and support in the community or being replaced with accommodation provided by housing associations.

The threat comes from a competitive tendering process being adopted by local authorities, which charities say is weighted towards larger housing associations and businesses and ignores the lessons of four decades about the need to provide specialist, therapeutic support in refuges for women forced to flee for their lives.

The home secretary, Theresa May, recently told a meeting of women’s groups in London that there was a great deal of ignorance about the way domestic violence services were commissioned by local authorities. But she has repeatedly refused calls to ringfence funding nationally for women’s refuges.

Key concerns raised by women’s groups include:

• The breakdown of the national network of refuges through local authorities imposing limits on the numbers of non-local women able to stay in them.

• Time limits on length of stay.

• Funding cuts because refuges do not take men.

• Refuges being shut without alternative accommodation being provided.

Continue reading here

So there you have it, ‘equality’ means scrapping specialist services for women, because they don’t supply specialist services to men, and replacing them with a stripped down service that doesn’t provide specialist support to men or women.

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