About Pornography

The Webmaster Jeff gleefully proclaims on the home page “NEW WHORES DEGRADED EVERY WEDNESDAY!”, and once on the site it was honestly admitted that: “Porn destroys women, that’s why we love it!”

Description of an Internet pornography website, from antipornographyactivist

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Pornography is the flight from woman, men’s denial of sex as a medium of communication, their denial of sex as the basis for a relationship … As men’s real power dwindles, pornography is their refuge.

Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman

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[P]ornographers use our bodies as their language. Anything they say, they have to use us to say … If the Constitution protects pornography as speech, our bodies then belong to the pimps who need to use us to say something. They, the humans, have a human right of speech and the dignity of constitutional protection; we, chattel now, moveable property, are their ciphers, their semantic symbols, the pieces they arrange in order to communicate. We are recognized only as the discourse of a pimp.

Andrea Dworkin, “Pornography Happens to Women”

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The best cure for pornography is sex — I mean autonomously chosen activity, freely engaged in for the sake of real pleasure, intense, and unmistakably the real thing. The more we have experiences like this, the less we will be taken in by the confusions and lies and messes all around us.

Joanna Russ “Pornography and the Doubleness of Sex for Women”

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So we face a bizarre phenomenon in many discussions of pornography, in that it’s only with respect to sex that many otherwise progressive and leftist people assume that putting something into the capitalist marketplace makes it more free (or is evidence that one is free in doing it). We need to find ways to challenge the naïve and regressive conceptions of freedom as the freedom to enter the marketplace and/or to choose among the options that the marketplace offers us. We need to suggest to people that—in many everyday contexts, but perhaps especially for the most intimate and potentially-creative activities of our lives, like sex and sexuality—real freedom in that activity means neither selling it nor letting somebody with a profit motive tell us what it is supposed to look and feel like.

Rebecca Whisnant “Contemporary Feminism in a Porn Culture”

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In a society in which so many men are watching so much pornography that is rooted in the pain and humiliation of women, it is not difficult to understand why so many can’t bear to confront it: Pornography forces men to face up to how we have learned to be sexual. And pornography forces women to face up to how men see them.

Robert Jensen, “A cruel edge: The painful truth about today’s pornography, and what men can do about it”

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Porn is the graphic representation of women’s oppression, which oppression is achieved via the persistent and chronic daily threat of rape or other violence.

Twisty Faster

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My first experience of a porn set was, to say the least, unsettling. Richard had brought Felicity to watch a gang-bang movie. Ten men were having sex with one girl in a wrestling ring. The overwhelming impression was the stench: of bodies, of sweat, of various other excretions. It was a revolting spectacle, about as erotic as a butcher’s shop. It was also, for obvious reasons, almost impossible to film. The best I could come up with was to concentrate on the litter of spent tissues on the floor. That, and the expression on Felicity’s face, as she saw, for the first time, just what it was she’d got herself into. But this was only the beginning. After a week, I’d seen just about everything. I felt sick. What do you do when a producer shows you snapshots of his wife and kids before filming a simulated rape scene? How do you cope when a director tells you he is running for mayor in his home town and then boasts that his movies make Belsen look like a picnic? The fact is, you don’t. Trapped between your responsibilities as a professional film-maker and your sensibilities as a human being, you only hope that somewhere in your film there’s a truth that needs to be told.

[EDIT updated link] Stephen Walker, My fears for all Felicities

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Bader, the designated “porn is harmless” talking head, manages to say this:

“Porn is not harmless. But neither is it an important cause of sexual violence or misogyny […] The actors in these films are degraded, underpaid and used up by an industry with the morals of a slaughterhouse, despite what Jenna Jameson and Nina Hartley say. The women come into the industry with the self-esteem of earthworms, histories of physical and sexual abuse, and are often plunged into alcohol and drug abuse as a way of coping with their jobs.”

In other words, somehow the process of making porn is not the “cause” of the sexual violence and misogyny experienced by the women used in the making of porn — who, he admits, very commonly resort to self-medication with alcohol and other drugs to numb the various kinds of pain inflicted by their work.

Let’s deconstruct that, because it’s important. What he is really saying — listen closely — is that the violence caused by the porn industry to the expendable class of prostituted women used by the industry doesn’t count. What counts is whether porn causes men who consume it to do “real” sexual violence, meaning violence to “respectable” females (presumably white and/or middle class and not officially prostituted).

DeAnander, “In the case of Clueless vs. Clueless … (Sex & Aggression)”

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