I know, complaining about dumb MRAs being dumb is like complaining that rain is wet. But since an MRA has gone to the trouble of ‘critiquing’ our What’s Wrong with Pornography page, and since we’ve had a handful of hits through, and I’ve got a half-hour to kill, I thought I might as well make the most of this ‘teachable moment’.
The original post is here. You don’t need to click through to it (and give the guy extra page hits), I’m quoting him in full here (including, in bold, the original WWwP material he quotes).
WARNING: some of the language used here, and some of the links, may be disturbing or triggering.
Pornography harms women. Pornography is not fantasy. Pornography happens in the real world, to real women; everything you see in pornography happened somewhere to a real woman.
Yes, Pornography is real—to an extent. Pornography is an entertainment industry. So while some of these things in porn do happen, such as the actual physical sexual contact, it doesn’t mean that everything else such as incidents surrounding it happened. Nor in fact, does it mean that these women are being forced into this. They choose to do this. Just because a woman is low on income and sees this as a last resort does not mean that they were forced by into it. There are other options that the woman has, but for some reason she chose that industry to make her life.
The fact that the “actual physical sexual contact” is real is the point! Whether or not Chad and Randy really are qualified plumbers, or whether that really is the woman’s home and not a porn set, is really not that important.
When porn is dismissed as ‘just fantasy’, it is dismissing the importance of the real lived experience of the women used to make it, it is saying they are not real people and they don’t feel real pain. Every sexual image you see in pornography has to happen, for real, to a real woman, whether it’s a woman being subjected to a triple anal, or being penetrated by ten men in a row then thrown in a dumpster in an alley, or being penetrated while having her head flushed down the toilet. Even if the only women in the world to be subjected to these things were the women filmed to make porn, it would still matter, because those women matter.
The “incidents surrounding it”, if we are talking about the ‘features’ porn (which has some kind of a plot) made by the big LA production companies, will be contrived, and this is not at all important. There are also big LA production companies making gonzo porn, which is just recorded scenes with no plot and talking to the camera, which claims and appears to all be real, not contrived or scripted.
There is also a huge amount of ‘amateur’ porn, this may be ‘professional’ porn made to look amateur, or it may simply be a recording, made with or with out all the participant’s consent/knowledge, of sex acts, that themselves may or may not be consensual.
“They choose to be there.”
Ah, that old canard! Let us assume that he is only talking about porn produced by the big LA production companies, that he has not considered the fact that any man with a camera and internet access can become a pornographer, and that any filmed rape becomes pornography.
Let’s assume he is unaware that the women trafficked into prostitution around the world are also used to make pornography, or that US pornographers are now travelling to the developing world to make their ‘rape camp’ pornography, where they can take advantage of the desperate poverty, the lack of interest paid by the authorities, and Western males’ demands for pornography that satisfies the intersection of their racism and their woman-hating. (See: Hughes, Donna M. (2000). ‘”Welcome to the Rape Camp”. Sexual Exploitation and the Internet in Cambodia’. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 6, double issue: 29-51.)
Just looking at the big LA production companies doesn’t paint an encouraging picture. Women may ‘chose’ to enter the porn industry (assuming you have no problem with the coercion of poverty itself), but once there, she may find she lacks real choice about what happens to her, and lacks choice about leaving.
We have the experience of Lara Roxx, who contracted HIV on a porn set:
Roxx’s interview with AVN itself shows the fluidity of “consent” in these matters. “I told [my manager] I wasn’t interested in anal at all, and I was a little freaky about the no-condom thing too,” she said. On arriving at the film shoot, she was pressured into performing the “double anal” scene by the director, Marc Anthony. She says: “So I get there and Marc Anthony tells me it’s a DA, which stands for double anal. And I’m like, ‘What? I’ve never done a double anal’. And he was like, ‘Well, that’s what we need. It’s either that or nothing’. And that’s how they do it… I think that sucks, because he knew double anal was dangerous.” Later, she says, she was in pain and could not sit down.
All the women in the industry have ‘managers’ (who act more like pimps) who have an interest in having them do more and more extreme acts because they get a cut of the money. They work in collusion with the pornographers to manipulate and coerce the women to do more and more extreme sex acts.
This was the case with Felicity in the documentary Hardcore. She started out saying she wouldn’t do anal, or work without a condom. Her manager/pimp took her to see a porn shoot where ten men where having sex with one woman, and he was filmed by the documentary makers constantly trying to bully and manipulate and wear her down. Eventually he took her to see Max Hardcore:
When Max Hardcore finally arrived, he took Felicity into his office for what she, and I, thought would simply be an interview. But it wasn’t. Within seconds of their meeting, he pushed her over his desk, unzipped his flies, and began having sex with her. Felicity was obviously very scared. And yet I kept my camera running.
During the later shoot, Felicity ran off set because Hardcore had forced his penis down her throat to cause her to suffocate. Hardcore followed her, and tried to get her back on the set, first of all flattering her, telling her how unique and special she was (disturbingly, these are the exact same words another woman who had worked with Hardcore used to describe herself during an interview in the documentary). When that didn’t work, he stared screaming and swearing at her, at which point the documentary crew intervened to get her out of there (which is something that professional documentary makers will very rarely do).
There is no reason to think that there is anything unique about any of the above. A blanket statement like ‘they chose to be there’ is meaningless.
The pornography industry is a multi-billion dollar global industry. Pornography exists to make money. It is an industry that chews women up and spits them out; it is an industry where exposure to violence, harassment, injury and infection are seen as normal and acceptable.
Yes, yes it may be. The problem is, that doesn’t make it illegal. Construction workers face similar problems. They are constantly being exposed to danger and they are asked to physically destroy themselves. Or US soldiers. They’re asked to put themselves in areas full of hostile enemies with not just knives, handguns, and a midnight alleyway, but against enemies with automatic weapons, bombs, and tanks. Life is not this rosey little world where everything is fair and nice. People from all walks of life are forced to do things they don’t like. And why is this a ‘woman’s’ issue? Why is this not potrayed as something that also chews men up and spits them out? Are they no less on sexual display? Are they no less considered meat that is to be tossed out when no longer of value? What about men who start suffering erectile disfunction? What about men who get too old and are no longer considered of use?
“Construction workers face similar problems … Or US soldiers”
No, a construction worker is not paid, specifically, to fall off scaffolding, and a soldier is not paid, specifically, to get killed. Both are unintended consequences of the jobs of being a construction worker or being a soldier, and health and safety measures, such as correct training and proper equipment will minimise these risks (more so with the case of construction workers than soldiers of course; being a soldier will never be ‘safe’ in the conventional sense, and the above statement is in no way an endorsement of the military, militarism or the military-industrial complex. Nor is it a dismissal of how poverty acts as a de facto draft, in the US in particular).
With pornography, the risk, the violence, the damage, is not an unintended consequence of the work, it is the work. A woman is not subjected to a triple anal without condoms by accident, because there was a temporary slip in h&s standards, she is subjected to it because it is the work.
“And why is this a ‘woman’s’ issue?”
This is a feminist blog, which means being unapologetically for and about women. Yes, porn is bad for men too, they go bankrupt paying to access it, they can’t form meaningful relationships after using it, and some men may feel bad about their bodies because of it (which wouldn’t be surprising, as women are already getting their genitals mutilated to conform to the porn standard), (although men do have Ron Jeremy). This is not a good thing.
But it seems to me that whenever men bring up a ‘what about the poor men?’ argument, they have no real interest in the welfare of other men, they just want an excuse to bash feminists. If you think porn harms men, do something about it.
“What about men who get too old and are no longer considered of use?”
It’s women that the porn industry chews up and spits out, as anonymous when they started as when they finished. Women have a very short ‘career’ in the porn industry, due to the demand for ‘very young girls’ and the very physically gruelling nature of the work itself. Women become ‘veterans’ of the porn industry in their early 20s. This is just more ‘what about the poor men?’ whining.
Pornography doesn’t expand our sexuality – it stunts it. Mainstream heterosexual pornography dictates a narrow and limited idea of human sexuality. In pornography, male sexuality is predicated on cruelty, coercion and degradation; female sexuality is predicated on submitting to or appearing to enjoy being subjected to cruel, coercive and degrading treatment. Pornography eradicates women’s sexual agency, and makes it harder for women to find out about their own bodies and their own sexuality.
False. Yes, there is some porn that does indeed display men using predetorial means of obtianing sex. Porn that displays men being manipulative, forceful, and doing things that are degrading nd cruel is not potraying an accurate form of sexual experience. But
then again, pornography isn’t a documentary. It’s not meant to teach men what sex is—it is there to act as a ventation. In the same way that playing a video game of two hardcore cops on the edge is not an accurate represenation of how real police officers work is not meant to portray the reality of law enforcement, neither is porn an actual representation of sexuality. Because it’s not supposed to be.
Porn is directed at men, or least, the majority of it is. And thus, most porn represents a very male dominated presentation because it is a male fantasy. It is the idea of men getting entirely what they want out of sex. What is that? Pleasure and dominance. Just like how in an action game, we want to be a gun totting badass who guns down innocent civilians who get in the way of villains. Porn is nothing more than a fantasy. It’s no better than attacking a violent movie for being violent.
This doesn’t mean that men who watch porn will become violent. It may, for some who are rather naïve, direct them into having some early trips in how reality works if all they’ve seen is fantasy, but that doesn’t mean it ruins their life forever, just like how playing a football game on the Wii and then playing it in real life suddenly causes a brutal awakening to the naïve player. As for women—again, this is not a female oriented industry. Perhaps there are women, who like it, but this is again, a fantasy and they will not be looking to be making love with someone, but rather get out sexual tension.
“Porn that displays men being manipulative, forceful, and doing things that are degrading [and] cruel is not [portraying] an accurate form of sexual experience.”
Well it clearly is, for any woman who has experienced men being manipulative and forceful, and has been subjected to cruel and degrading treatment.
One of the main tenets of MRA ‘thought’ is that violence against women (physical/domestic/sexual) is rare and shocking, and the few times it does occur, it occurs outside of the context of mainstream society, and is perpetrated by psychopaths, not otherwise ‘normal’ men. (The other main tenet is that evil feminists invent the vast majority of incidents of violence against women, for the sole purpose of going against nature and using the state to control men.) There is a lot of this minimisation and denial in what this MRA is saying, and I will deal with each instance as it occurs.
“It’s not meant to teach men what sex is.”
But it clearly has that function. Robert Jensen, in his book Getting off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity describes attending sex industry trade fairs, and meeting lots of young men who think porn is great because it shows them what women like.
Young men are completely open about ‘learning’ sex from porn:
“Basically,” agrees Lee, “you’re copying what you’ve seen, but you’re trying to turn it into your own, put your own twist on it. That’s how I’ve experienced life, really, through porn. It’s like a seed that gets put in your brain.”
“Porn is nothing more than a fantasy. It’s no better than attacking a violent movie for being violent.”
A more useful comparison is cookery programs. Lots of people watch cookery programs, some people just watch them, others try to recreate the meals completely, most people sit somewhere in between. But no one would try to argue that a cookery program is just fantasy, no one would want or be able to cook like that in real life, and no one would even think of trying. Lots of people cook, and lots of people engage in sexual activity, few people get the chance to be a “gun [toting] badass” in real life; that is confined to the realm of fantasy, while sexual activity isn’t.
Those making the comparison between porn and violent films often miss the point. Yes, anyone old enough to watch a violent movie is old enough to understand that it is faked, the explosions and blood and guts and starships and aliens are all fake. But there is still an underlying message, an act of propaganda to all media; for example the representations of Arabs in US movies post 9/11 (and not only post 9/11) acted as propaganda for invasion. The propaganda of pornography is one of male dominance and female submission, in other words, the status quo.
As blogger Violet Socks points out:
Humans are cultural animals. TV/movies/records/pornography are a means of cultural transmission, just like any other medium or form of communication. Nowadays, in fact, these are our primary means of cultural transmission. And everybody knows that. That’s why people object to racist depictions or homophobia or even the absence of positive onscreen role models for minorities. Because all that’s part of our cultural transmission, part of how we share and exchange and teach values and ideas.
The advertising industry is a multibillion-dollar industry as well, and manufacturers spend that amount of money because it works, it makes us want things.
Add to that the physiological and psychological reinforcement of orgasm (as blogger Kenzie points out: “Oxytocin is know as the love hormone. Mothers and babies both have extraordinarily high levels of this hormone in the period just after birth, when they are experiencing a period of powerful bonding […] it’s the biggie that we produce when we orgasm”), and you have a pretty powerful form of propaganda in pornography.
“This doesn’t mean that men who watch porn will become violent. It may, for some who are rather naïve, direct them into having some early trips in how reality works if all they’ve seen is fantasy, but that doesn’t mean it ruins their life forever[.]”
Well thank goodness for that! Some poor man isn’t going to have his life ruined by “having some early trips in how reality works”! Forget the consequences for the women he ‘trips over’ he’s going to be ok!
Pornography portrays sexual violence against women as normal, natural and an inevitable part of male sexuality. Sexual desire does not develop in a vacuum. The prurient attitude we have to sex in this country, combined with a lack of decent sex education, means that many people use pornography as their primary source of information on what sex is supposed to be like. Mainstream heterosexual pornography tells men that the sexual abuse of women is exciting, and that women enjoy being abused. It tells women that in order to do sex properly, they have to put up with and enjoy such abuse.
Just as sexual desire does not develop in a vacuum, neither do humans lack the ability to learn when reality isn’t living up to fantasy. A young male, even one who has learned only sexuality from porn, is not going to act that way against a woman for only the reason of watching a porn video. Human interaction is far more complicated than that. If a young male experiencing sex for the first time does something overtly aggressive that he sees portrayed in a fantasy—it will be met with female hostility. Why? Because the female does not like it. Now, because in most cases, men want to make their sexual partners happy long before sexual interaction, they will often immediately cease that action. Why? Because it is a logical response. Just like how if I were misinformed in a proper way to speak to someone, I would not continue to act that way when my expectations of their responses are not met. This is because we are a very social species and we will more often than not cease a behavior that is disapproved by another individual.
This is not always true of course. There are plenty of people who will insist upon their way and demand that others obey—but that is not the fault of pornography, but rather a mixture if improper raising on the parent’s part or simple problems with that individual. It is not the company’s fault that someone has chosen fantasy over reality and has trouble because of it.
“A young male, even one who has learned only sexuality from porn, is not going to act that way against a woman for only the reason of watching a porn video.”
We have never claimed that violence against women occurs solely due to pornography. We live in a patriarchy, and there are lots of messages about how men are supposed to treat women. Pornography is patriarchal propaganda, and powerful propaganda too, it makes domination sexy.
“If a young male experiencing sex for the first time does something overtly aggressive that he sees portrayed in a fantasy—it will be met with female hostility. Why? Because the female does not like it. Now, because in most cases, men want to make their sexual partners happy long before sexual interaction, they will often immediately cease that action.”
What we have here is a massive amount of rape denial and victim blaming – if a man is “overtly aggressive” the woman can just tell him to stop and he will! The number one rape myth is that rape happens because women don’t say no clearly enough.
What counts as “overtly aggressive” behaviour? A man pestering his partner for sex after she has said no? A man going into a woman’s room and getting into her bed after she has let him sleep on her couch? A man grabbing a woman around the throat (a common act in gonzo porn) once they have initiated sex? A man, with two of his friends, grabbing a woman and dragging her off into an alleyway?
Some women can and do talk or fight their way out of attempted rape, but lots of women can’t, for reasons for which they are absolutely not to blame. A woman may be frail, or disabled, or ill, she may be drugged or drunk, a young child may not understand what is happening to her. It may simply be the case that the “overtly aggressive” behaviour has terrified her, and she doesn’t fight back because she doesn’t want to be killed.
Surveys of teenage girls show that they are facing high levels of relationship violence including pressure to engage in sexual activity.
His claim only works if you believe that rape and sexual violence are rare or unusual occurrences; that we don’t live in a rape society (one of the main forms of propaganda for which is pornography).
“There are plenty of people who will insist upon their way and demand that others obey—but that is not the fault of pornography, but rather a mixture [of] improper raising on the parent’s part or simple problems with that individual.”
So he is admitting that there is violence against women after all, even that plenty of men do it! But nope, it’s nothing to do with the society the person was raised in (a patriarchal society that includes pornography and a saturation of pornified images), it’s “simple problems” (but where do these “problems” come from?) – as if violent men just need to be taken aside and given a quick talking to – which is more minimisation of male violence; or we can blame the mother (I’m willing to bet that that’s the real meaning behind the gender neutral ‘parents’).
Pornography reinforces male supremacy, and the idea that men are entitled to sexual access to women’s bodies. Men define themselves as being whatever is not a woman, in order to be a man it is necessary for there to be a subordinate group of women for men to compare themselves to and feel superior to. In mainstream heterosexual pornography men are always the active agents and women are always the passive objects. No man in pornography ever fails to get what he wants; the women in pornography exist solely to satisfy men’s desires, they have no will or desire of their own except to service men’s needs.
An incredibly bad argument. First, saying that men define themselves as what is not womanhood is utterly and completely bunk. Men are the way they are because men desire to be masculine and they define that based upon their own desires and culture. Furthermore, men are not always portrayed as active agents. There is plenty of pornography depicting women as the aggressors and men as passive objects that the women desire to have and get—purely for their own sexual pleasure.
Again, this isn’t something that men thought on for hours, days, weeks, or even years, but rather a natural desire of humans. It has taken a sexual encounter and potrayed it in a light that while not socially acceptable—is exciting and hence, arousing. The same is true in women. Some women might find a porn where a woman gets forced into sex as arousing because women view masculinity as desirable. And while they would never accept a male who forces her into sex when they want to, they find the situation arousing because it presents a very radical and masculine heavy image.
“First, saying that men define themselves as what is not womanhood is utterly and completely bunk. Men are the way they are because men desire to be masculine and they define that based upon their own desires and culture.”
This is complete and utter nonsense, you cannot define masculinity without also defining femininity; they are two sides of the same coin. Why do men desire to be masculine? Where do the ideas for what is and isn’t part of ‘masculine culture’ come from? Even if your only definition of ‘masculine culture’ is ‘hanging out with the boys’, you have already made a distinction between people who are men and people who are not!
“Furthermore, men are not always portrayed as active agents.”
There is plenty of fetish porn showing men being dominated, but this is still for men, and about men’s sexual pleasure in being dominated. The dominatrix is there for the money as much as any other ‘consenting’ porn performer and her pretend power ends when she is no longer being paid to dominate a man. Men have no interest in giving up their power and privilege in the real world, but plenty of interest in keeping it.
“Again, this isn’t something that men thought on for hours, days, weeks, or even years, but rather a natural desire of humans.”
So, things are they way they because it’s the way they are because it’s the way they are and so on in infinite regress. The status quo is normal, natural and inevitable, so let’s just ignore how much the status quo benefits men and harms women.
Pornography portrays sex and women as disgusting. The words used to describe women and women’s bodies in pornography betray the fact that women and sex are seen as dirty and disgusting by the men who use it: ‘bitch’ ‘cunt’ ‘slut’ ‘fuck toy’ ‘fuck hole’ ‘dirty’ ‘filthy’ etc etc.
Again, that is not entirely true. There are plenty of porn movies, games, and the like that portray sex as deep, beautiful, and in some cases, even spiritual. The women in these more ‘dirty’ pornographies are not portrayed in such a manner because they wish to influence the audience, but rather to appeal to the audience’s already set desires. People don’t make movies (often) because they want to influence people, but rather to appeal to something people like. Action movies and comedies exist because people like them and will pay to see them.
In that same manner, people will pay for dirty porn because they want dirty porn.
Again with the infinite regress, they want it because they want it because they want it!
“There are plenty of porn movies …”
The old ‘better porn’ argument! I’ll believe in this mythical object when I see it.
“People don’t make movies (often) because they want to influence people, but rather to appeal to something people like.”
I have covered the propaganda argument above so will not reiterate it again here.
Pornography promotes misogynistic beauty standards. In mainstream heterosexual pornography women are interchangeable, it trains women and men to see a natural female body – one with pubic hair, or small breasts, or any fat – as unnatural and disgusting.
Another misconception. First off, this only shows the lack of knowledge and the abundance of ignorance shown here. There are many pornographies out there that show fat women, older women, hairy women, and women with small breasts as attractive and desirable by males. This is again, because it is playing to the likes and dislikes of people. People in general, prefer attractive counterparts. This is based on a natural desire to seek out a mate that is not only healthy, but successful. This is determined by many factors that make men and women attracted to each other. Women seek out masculine men and thus will be more attracted to men with greater physical strength and stamina, but even more so men will be attracted to women with hips that shows they will bare healthy children or ample breasts that show they will be able to supply that child with nutrition.
No, they are shown as fetishes, reduced to a single part (their fatness, their wrinkles, and, since all pornography is racist, their black skin), not a whole person. Not that any woman in porn is shown as a whole person, or as ‘desirable’ in the everyday sense of the word, they are shown as objects, existing to be used by men, and that using them is desirable. Often, porn using not-conventionally-attractive women will be playing on the ‘grossness’ of those women, and the grossness of having sex with them.
Pornography affects you. Even if you are not a pornography consumer, a significant number of the men you interact with every day will be. It’s difficult to imagine that a man can spend a lot of time viewing and masturbating to degrading images of women without that pornographic ideology having a negative effect on his view of women.
It’s difficult to imagine because it isn’t true. Most men are not stupid, easily led individuals who will believe one source of information their entire life when all of their interactions prove this to be wrong time and time again. Nor is it true that because a great deal of women like Twilight—a fantasy about an emotionally distant and abusive male vampire who treats his girlfriend like an object and nothing better than added luggage. —that they will suddenly all desire men such as that. Which is ironic because most men hate Twilight because the vampire Edward is an emotionally distant and abusive boyfriend who treats his girlfriend like an object and nothing better than added luggage.
In short, if this is what you consider a good argument, you’re in trouble. The argument ignores the reason for porn and why it exists. It furthermore ignores the fact of why it exists. This isn’t an argument about morality or how these women are being abused (because they aren’t, they chose this), but rather an argument of porn causes sexual violence and violations. It’s no different than claiming that video games cause violence. It ignores that most people understand the difference and it ignores that most people do not act they way they should in a fantasy setting because fantasies by their nature, are designed for that purpose. So we can act in ways we don’t often act. So we can be the villain, or the cop on the edge. Or the hardcore stud screwing some hot chick and tells her to go make sandwhich.
The fact is, you don’t understand men or women. You just want to paint a perfect world where no one ever even conceives of people being remotely violent or aggressive towards another in a way that isn’t socially acceptable when in fact, we all do it. And the reason we simulate it is so we don’t actually have to do it to get the same satisfaction from it. Just like how some people play video games for the thrill, some people watch porn of abusive sex for the thrill of being mistreated or mistreating. They all appeal to portions of the human mind.
It is easy to imagine, because we all live in a pornified rape culture and come up against misogyny and male violence every day. We do understand men very well, because we have to negotiate with them every day in order to survive.
Men don’t dominate women because they are stupid and they think that’s what women want; they do it because society is set up in a way that allows them to do it, because they benefit from doing so, and because porn makes dominance sexy. Patriarchy is not an accident, it is a system of power and privilege that all men benefit from. He is again working from the false premise that violence against women is rare.
He accuses us of wanting a world without violence or aggression (which we do, unapologetically), then insists that we just have to put up and shut up because it’s all natural and inevitable, and anyway it isn’t that bad, and even if it is, porn isn’t anything to do with it. The fact is, the vast majority of violence against women is socially acceptable, and a lot of men do do it. Not only is this MRA an apologist for porn, he is an apologist for male dominance and male violence in general.
As a side note, re Twilight: both male and female commentators have pointed out the unhealthy messages it contains, but the vast majority of male criticism is just an excuse to bash women; to call them stupid for liking this stupid think that’s stupid because stupid women like it (because women are stupid); to say ha! see! women really do like to be abused and they’re lying when they say they don’t; to whine about how they don’t look like Robert Pattinson and it makes them feel bad about themselves, which isn’t fair! (ignoring that women have had to put up with that shit forever); or to whine that they can’t get away with behaving like that, which also isn’t fair!. My suspicion is that he mentioned Twilight solely to up his hit rate.
On another side note, this MRA doesn’t know what ‘radical’ means:
“And while they would never accept a male who forces her into sex when they want to, they find the situation arousing because it presents a very radical and masculine heavy image”
Radical means pulling up by the roots, if masculine aggression is the norm (in fantasy or reality), then an image of masculine aggression cannot be radical. I think he thinks it is synonymous with ‘extreme’. You’d think with a computer and internet access he might have looked at a dictionary! – and used a spell checker: “ventation” anyone?
APL you are great! As far as the ‘its just fantasy’ argument that this particular deluded ‘nice-guy’ (yuk!) seems to think bears repeating goes, I’m sure he would be equally happy to say the opposite that I’ve heard too many damn stupid times to mention: “Hey Bug…You can’t speak for ALL women.. I know some women who LOVE [insert degrading/painful porn act for women that men hanker for]… and those women are really empowered [right -like he would know what female empowerment looks like]…yeah coz I ask all women about that yeh….and in fact Bug, its just YOU patronising women – not me being a deluded git that hears only what he wants to hear (i.e.- your average ‘nice-guy’)”. In other words he tries to suggests that he cares more for women’s rights than me, a feminist activist. Cheeky deluded a holes.
Yes, there is a strong undercurrent of Nice Guy(TM) whining to the whole thing (especially the disingenuous Twilight crit!), but I doubt he would see himself as a Nice Guy(TM).
His blog banner (which you wisely didn’t click though to see) contains this statement:
As if the playing field is level in the first place!
He’s very much a ‘things have gone too far’ kind of MRA, who doesn’t really get feminism, or at least radical feminism, which is about liberating women from male oppression, not about giving white middle-class women economic parity with men of their class.
A very productive half hour wherein you very succinctly and adroitly debunked yet another MRA’S claims of ‘rightful male sexual entitlement to and power over women.’ Only of course, this MRA was careful not to blatantly state this, instead he adopted the usual boring claims such as ‘women choose’ to be subjected to male sexual violence etc. etc.
Level playing field? I wish – indeed I wish but given our male supremacist/patriarchal system was set up by and for men then of course level playing field means it is level for men since men are human whereas women are always defined in relation to men and hence cannot possibly be human.
Great blog – you have really deconstructed the pro-porn arguments here. I have learnt even more here how disgusting and degrading porn truly is. I will forward this on…
I always enjoy reading up on anti-porn stuff. Great Blog, it’s an awesome resource.
Thanks for this – brilliant deconstruction. He’s scarily articulate. And then you actually consider what he’s saying and realise he must be completely out of touch with reality. See how cleverly he swerved the body-hair issue? Smooth! No pun intended.
I think this guy needs a dictionary.
1. imagination, esp. when extravagant and unrestrained.
2. the forming of mental images, esp. wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing.
3. a mental image, esp. when unreal or fantastic; vision: a nightmare fantasy.
4. Psychology. an imagined or conjured up sequence fulfilling a psychological need; daydream.
The act of watching a very real young woman get doubly and aggressively penetrated up the ass by two well-hung strangers goes well beyond the definition of “fantasy” (though the end of definition #3 might come close).
Thanks for the great blog. 🙂
I know the MRA site you’re referring to, as I’m a constant thorn on that site, having been banned repeatedly.
What an eye-opener into the world of pornography! I think I might have been a victim of amateur porn myself. It happened during a gang rape in which I was drugged. Parts of my memories surfaced a few years ago. Probably a 35mm camera was used, but this film could not have been developed and shown the same night, so what happened to the film is a mystery …. maybe sold to the porn industry. I wish I knew more about pornography and trafficking as it existed in the 60s.
I touch upon the details in my blog for those of you who haven’t seen it, but mostly I talk about the gang rape and the people involved.
By the way, the 2 men with the camera were total strangers. The more I think about it, the more I believe these 2 were associated with the porn industry in some capacity.
Thanks for sharing your insight.
That is a truly horrific thing to have happened to you.
Thank you for visiting the blog,
Thanks for another high-quality and insightful post.
It’s terrible how absurd the MRA’s arguments were, yet I hear them everyday. I guess people just decide to believe what suits them and what enables them to uphold their world view… It makes me sick.
I consider myself a feminist, but I don’t have a problem with porn, as long as it’s consensual. In fact, because I have many libertarian viewpoints, I believe that pornography is freedom of expression and should not be tampered with. You don’t have to enjoy porn, but making everything you don’t like illegal makes otherwise developed countries into the exact opposite of a democracy. If you don’t like porn, don’t watch it.
Believe it or not, there are women who have fantasies of brutal sex, myself being one. No, I was never abused; I just happen to like it. And believe it or not, there are men who are extremely submissive and want to be “abused.” Note that it’s not real abuse, but a complete *fantasy*. Let people enjoy their fantasies. As long as it’s consensual and no one’s getting hurt in real life, it’s fine.
These ladies in porn made a choice, and that’s their business, not yours. If they want to get paid to have sex on screen, then whatever. Personally, I think porn is the least of our problems. Why don’t we instead focus on the magazines that douse the females in makeup and airbrush them? You know, the ones leading girls and women into believing that those images are “normal,” and in turn, making them feel “ugly.” That’s a *real* example of something harmful.
In summary: Porn is for adults. Porn is consensual. Porn is harmless. And worst of all, feminists who want to outright ban pornography give us open-minded fems a bad name.
Have you actually read the above post? Have you read the examples of women being bulled, harassed and coerced on porn sets in order to get the kind of images that are marketable? There is no way you can say with any veracity that all porn is consensual (and that’s before we even get into a discussion of poverty as a form of coercion in itself).
Pornography is not ‘speech’ or ‘expression’, it is action, and pornographers cannot ‘speak’ without having women’s bodies to use to make that ‘speech’. It is also a form of propaganda, and it has a real effect on the world and the status of women within it.
Your fantasies are your own business (but do you think they developed in a vacuum?), and the fact that some men have submissive fantasies doesn’t change anything about the real life political, social and economic privileges men automatically get as men.
Plenty of people are being hurt in real life, and porn has a role to play in that. Obviously, your ‘libertarian’ ‘open-minded’ (and I’m going to take a wild guess here and add privileged and self-interested) ‘feminism’ has blinded you to the fact that we live in a rape culture and that violence against women is endemic.
We, and many other radical feminists, do target harmful images of ‘perfect’ air-brushed women – there is a whole section in the blogroll dedicated to body image, and it is mentioned in many of our flyers, so you have no grounds for saying that we don’t. A lot of porn contains air-brushed images and unrealistic body types, so you’ve just contradicted yourself by saying porn is harmless, but air-brushed images are harmful.
I really hope that this poster “Arielle” is really a man (and a troll) but that is terrible enough! If not than she is *NO* “feminist” but a fake hypocrite on the side of sexist gender inequality,male dominance,dehumanization of women,and woman hatred! *you* and anyone else like you is who gives *true* feminism an ugly bad name!
I know sadly all too well the effects of even “soft-core” pornography’s sexist ojectification of women,because I was repeatedly treated as nothing but a sex object,and grabbed at in my crotch and breasts as a big busted beautiful girl by many teen boys,2 of the many who treated me this way repeatedly, used pornography but this was in 1979 so hardcore wasn’t mainstreamed and accessible like now. One of these 15 year old boys made 2 verbal references to the women in Playboy and another shoved a pornographic magazine into my face and said,Here is a picture of a girl fingering herslf! Not that it ever justifies it in any way,but I just wanted people to know that I wore no make up and never wore any provocative clothes.
When I was 25 in 1990 (before pornography was even on the internet and not nearly as mainstreamed) I spoke to Rhea Becker at the now sadly former feminist Women’s Alliance Against Pornography & Education Project .I spoke to her off and on until January 1993 and I asked her to send me any information on the harms of pornography and she sent me a lot. I told her that when a lot of men come to my house to fix or deliver things,they made sexist and inappropriate sexual comments and stared at me which made me uncomfortable and that I never wore provative clothes and had little and sometimes no make up on.I told her they were treating me like I was just someting to F*ck,and she said yes and that all comes from pornography.I had so many experiences like this even when I was as young as 13 by some men even and it really was sexual harassment.Rhea also told me that my experience of being sexually abused by boys or men who use pornography is very common and that she knew quite a few women who had similar experiences.She also always said we live in a society that hates women. And she once said most men hate women and then they marry them. And women give birth to sexist woman-hating pornography users! A woman having a son is the same exact thing as a Jew giving birth a to a Nazi or a black person giving birth to a Klu Klux Klan member or any other racist! I feel sorry for any kind women or geunine feminists who have sons!
I couldn’t walk down the hall without some sexist degrading comments made by many other boys as well about how big busted I was and they also grabbed at another big busted girl who wasn’t even pretty. But it wasn’t just teen boys,when I was 14 I was sitting on the artroom steps with a boyfriend and the artroom teacher who was at least in his late 20’s early 30’s said to a whole room full of 15 year old boys that the boy I was sitting with said it was his turn after his.I’m sure he was a porn user too and got the attitude I was just a thing for boys and men to use for sex and take turns with! I actually am in some way a little “lucky” that this was in 1979 when images of men ejaculating on women’s faces and bodies wasn’t mainstreamed and all over the place,(back then women were just things to feel,f*ck and forget,now we are nothing but things to feel,f*ck,ejaculate all over on,call woman-hating names and forget! we have really come a long way baby!)because then they wouldn’t just have grabbed at my breasts and crotch,but would have ejaculated or at least tried to on my face and breasts!
When I was 17 a school evaluator said that a lot of guys are going to want to get down my pants! Where do we think the teenage boys learn these kinds of sexist,woman-hating dehumanizing attitudes towards women from,the whole sexist,woman-hating male dominated sick society,the pornography that came from it,and the adult men who use it and are influenced by it all.Dr.Michael Flood said to me in an email back in 2002 after I told him about my experience,that he has no doubt on the connection of young men’s pornography use and their sexual abuse of girls and women.And there is plenty of research and testimonies of girls and women about this.
Pornography is extremely sexist,woman hating,male dominated, degrading and dehumanizing of women and it’s intended to be! Look up online articles by pro-feminist anti-sexist anti-violence anti-pornography men such as former all star high school football player and anti-sexist anti-male violence educator Jackson Katz and his excellent important book,The Macho Paradox Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help. He talks in detail about the harm of pornography and how it sexually objectifies and degrades women,the woman hatred in it sexualizes and how it teaches men and now unfortunately many women since it’s been normalized and mainstreamed,that this is what normal heterosexual sex is.He used to use it himself and went to strip clubs before he became the anti-sexist anti-male violence educator he has been for over 20 years.
Also journalism professor and pro-feminist anti-porn writer and educator Robert Jensen(also a former porn user) has also written about how pornography sexualizes men’s dominance ,hatred of women,and gender inequality,and some sexualizes men’s violence against women.His excellent book,Getting Off:Pornography And The End Of Masculinity is a great important book too. He and Jackson Katz both talk about how pornography commonly calls women woman hating names like c*m eating,sluts wh*res and B*itches often portrays and describes sex as degrading and violent as in f*cking ,pounding,banging,slamming,the slut ,wh*re and b*tch hard, and including in their sh*tholes, and often ejaculating all over the women’s faces,breasts and or in their mouths.And how it portrays women as nothing but things to feel,f*ck,ejaculate all over and forget.
Anti-male violence anti-sexist,anti-racist,anti-homophobia educator therapist Russ Funk also addresses these issues on his web site and he presented the topic,Pornography What’s The Harm? at The Center For Women,Children and Families a few years ago.Feminist Philosophy professor Rebecca Whisnant also is a great educator about all of this. I find it really very disturbing that because pornography has been mainstreamed and normalized in the very sexist,woman hating male dominated society we live in,and because more men are using it,it’s influencing many women now too to think it’s normal and acceptable.
A woman using or supporting pornography is exactly the same thing as a black person using or supporting racist pornography or a Jew supporting or using anti-semetic pornography!But women will get men’s acceptence and approval though and that is important for a dominated group of people who have an inferior status in society,to get acceptance and approval from the people who dominate and oppress them in order to survive.
Also women in our sexist woman hating male dominated society(that created and normalized the God da*ned pornography in the first place!) still only get payed the most when they are f*ck objects to use and disgard for men’s pleasure in pornography & prostitution but when women use their intelligence as doctors,lawyers etc they are payed less than men for doing the same jobs,and men are payed more for using their same qualifications & abilities,the only thing they aren’t payed more for is their bodies as just sex objects to sexually please women!
Many Women and children have testified that their sexual abusers have showed them pornography and used it as part of the sexual abuse and forced them to do the things they saw in the pornography. Many wives and girlfriends have also said that their husbands and boyfriends are often pressuring them to do the things they see in pornography like the sick disgusting,degrading,dehumanizing sexist women hating ejaculating on women’s faces and bodies and sh*thole sex.Just like you described here,facial is a term right out of pornography for men ejaculating on a woman’s face etc.
Plenty of good psychological research shows it desensitizes(many of whom felt what it showed was degrading,sick and disgusting,shocking etc at first) viewers and teaches them what pornography shows is normal and acceptable and teaches that this is what most women want and how they want to be treated by men) when they watch it over time including women viewers who blamed rape victims after they saw standard fare “non-Violent” pornography and saw women as only sex objects etc.
Anti-sexist anti-male violence educator Jackson Katz,therapist Russ Funk,Robert Jensen,philosophy professor Rebecca Whisnant,Genderberg anti-exploitation,anti-porn,anti-violenc… &anti-sexist anti-woman woman hating site & organization.
How bias distorts perception and shapes social interaction.
by Steve Livingston
Steve Livingston is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto at Scarborough. See full bio
April 28, 2009, Psychology Today
Lay Perceptions Porn isn’t subtle, but its psychological effects might be!
This post is a response to Does Pornography Cause Social Harm? by Michael Castleman
Recently, Michael Castleman made a general claim (seconded by Gad Saad) that there is little evidence of pornography-induced social harm. He backed up this assertion with some general statistics from the United States: “…as porn viewing has soared, rates of syphilis, gonorrhea, teen sex, teen births, divorce, and rape have all substantially declined. If Internet porn affects society, oddly enough, it looks beneficial.”
This is, of course, a highly misleading argument. Why? Because other social, educational, and technological advances have accompanied the growth of the pornography industry. Contiguity of events is not an indicator of causality, only a precondition. (Crack cocaine use is down, too… Should we thank Larry Flynt?) It is possible that pornography consumption has null effects on these social problems; but it is also possible that pornography contributes to these problems in degrees that are compensated for by these other advances.
So if broad social trends won’t cut it, what subtle effects might we look for? Here are a few off the top of my head, some of which have already been subjected to careful study…
Does romantic interest of pornography consumers in their current (or potential) partners decrease as a function of media exposure?
Does romantic interest of current ( or potential) partners in pornography consumers decrease as a function of media exposure?
Do acceptance of one’s own physicality decrease as a function of media exposure? (e.g., satisfaction with musculature and male genital size)
Do beliefs about what constitutes “good sex” or a “good sex partner” change as a function of media exposure?
Do beliefs about normality (in the statistical sense) of sex acts change as a function of media exposure?
Does rape myth acceptance increase as a function of media exposure? (e.g., women use sexual deprivation as a primary means of social control; women who dress provocatively are “asking” for sex)
Castleman claims that his figures suggest pornography consumers are no more likely to commit sexual assaults… Ok, great! Now how about acquittal rates when they serve as jurors at acquaintance rape trials? Would they be more likely to empathize with the defendant?
Castleman made a brief reference to feminist sociologist Robert Jensen. I read Jensen’s recent book Getting Off about two months ago. It’s a worthwhile read, though written in an unflinchingly frustrated tone. ( I’m paraphrasing here, but Jensen essentially says that it’s time for men to walk the talk of treating women equally, and that walking the talk means curbing pornography consumption. I can imagine this is a bitter pill for some to swallow, whether because of personal consumption habits, values concerning free expression, or attitudes about gender equality. You can listen to an interview with Jensen here.)
Indeed, Jensen’s claims that pornography may strengthen existing violent proclivities seem eminently reasonable. While it is hard to pin down broad social effects of pornography consumption in the way Castleman tried to do, a fair amount of recent research on pornography’s effects examines how certain personality “vulnerabilities” may heighten pornography’s influence.
A point of agreement: Castleman correctly noted that pornography makes a lousy instructional manual for pleasurable partnered sex. I would add that it is very hard to see how most pornography is instructive for contraception or disease control. Condom use is infrequent in these media — supposedly because consumers prefer viewing “bareback” sex — and demonstrations of other prophylaxes (e.g., dental dams for cunnilingus) are all but non-existent. Because the “money shot” (footage of ejaculation, usually on the woman’s body or face) is expected in heterosexual male-oriented porn, coitus interruptus (“pulling out”) is the name of the game. (Perhaps this is why teen birth rates are down, he said sarcastically!)
Furthermore, sex acts that carry higher risks of injury, humiliation, and/or disease contraction (e.g., multiple simultaneous penetrations; sadomasochist acts such as choking and slapping during intercourse; anal sex; penetrations followed immediately by oral sex) are depicted as routine. Indeed, the women often perform as if these behaviours are particularly pleasurable, selling the fantasy that every woman has a hidden “slut” switch, waiting to be flipped on by the right kink. Such normalization of unusual practices might heighten perceived conformity pressures from one’s partner and from “society.”
(This is not an argument from prudishness, by the way. You could claim that pornography may encourage partners to experiment with novel and mutually enjoyable positions/practices. I’d counter that so would any decent book on sexual instruction, and without quite so much profitable degradation of women.)
The invisibility of safer sex practices, incidentally, is also a common concern among critics of “romance novels” aimed at women. In a neat pair of studies, Diekman et al. (2000) demonstrated that, first, regular consumption of romance novels was associated with reduced self-reported intent to use condoms, and second, the depiction of condom use within a romantic story context increased self-reported intent to use condoms.
In sum, pornography is not a fictional depiction of sex — it is real sex embedded within a tissue of convenient fictions. If consumers with pre-existing psychological vulnerabilities model their own sexual acts upon what they see in typical heterosexual pornography, harmful expectations about sexual behavior may emerge.
Freedom of expression must be tempered with due concern about the meaning of those expressions. Given today’s ubiquity of pornographic material, we should not be content with easy answers about its likely legacy.
Diekman, A. B., McDonald, M., & Gardner, W. L. (2000). Love means never having to be careful: The relationship between reading romance novels and safe sex behavior. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 179-188.
And most men think blood and menstrual blood is gross but blood isn’t that gross at all,it’s just a thin red liquid that keeps us all alive. But semen is totally gross many men and women on different message boards have said so too and called it penis snot(with 300 million sperm cells in it!).And since a lot of men think blood is gross,I’d like to know if all of these men who love to watch men ejaculating semen on women’s faces & bodies & who love to do this to women in their lives,would like to see the men in pornography with menstrual blood smeared all over their faces,bodies & in their mouths,& to have women do this to them too.Oh but most would think this was gross & degrading! On a site Vegan Porn posted in 2004 the topic was Does Pornography Objectify Women and a woman posted claiming that she loves to watch porn with her boyfriend but that when they ejaculate on the woman’s face she has to turn away.She said semen has the consistency of snot and she said seeing something of that consistency on someone’s face or in someon’es mouth is gross and it reminds her of children with snot running down their noses.
A guy said thanks a lot for the comparison. And a woman who had posted a little while before saying if a woman wants a man to ejaculate on her face what is so bad,now was disgusted and said Oh that comparison of semen and snot,she said she would never be able to get that out of her mind and she said arrg! And another woman said most women don’t want this and find it degrading and disgusting.And a man had posted on there saying he liked to watch some genuine lesbian pornography not the fake made for heterosexual men.And he said does anyone else here feel that the one thing that is shown in all heterosexual pornography no matter what,the ejaculating on the face,is the most horrendeous thing to ever come from man? He said something like it treats women as if she’s they guy’s property and he said it treats the women as if she’s his slut and therefore He HAS NO Problem Ejaculating All Over Her Face. He said more women are accepting it now because pornography itself has become more acceptable and mainstreamed,but he said this is nasty.
To any sickos who defend pornography,
THE TRUTH REALLY HURTS AND DENIAL IS VERY POWERFUL! LETS SEE HOW ANY OF YOU WOMEN SUPPORTING IT FEEL AFTER YOU OR YOUR MOTHER,SISTER,DAUGHTER OR FRIEND IS SEXUALLY HARASSED OR ASSAULTED BY A MAN OR MEN WHO USED PORNOGRAPHY AS PART OF THE ABUSE! OR FORCED OR CONSTANTLY PRESSURED YOU TO DO THE THINGS HE SAW IN THE PORNOGRAPHY!
[…] downright contradictory in (important) places, and (unsurprisingly) have a lot in common with the ‘Dumb MRA’ piece tackled on this blog a while […]
[…] tackled MRAs a few times on this blog, most comprehensively here after an MRA tried to critique our What’s Wrong with Pornography […]
I think the penalties for selling porn should be similar to the penalties for selling drugs or bomb manuals.
Honestly, we should break into porn shops and take their stuff, all their DVDs, and burn our own political content on it and hand it out to schoolgirls!
Disclaimer: only halfway through the comments section when this thought struck me,
I get the fact that all of you are keeping it real. Watching porn per se is harming people’s perception of women and sex and consent but i get the hint that the the more direct harm is the actual abuse faced by the performers induced into going into porn because of the increasing demand for more porn. and we all know more demand equals more supply.
So the objective is to prevent the consumption of porn so the demand falls and as a result fewer women will be harmed.
Now , I’m gonna present a scenario:
Imagine if people wanted to stop a company like say wallmart because it is not treating their employees right (which i have come to believe that they actually don’t). If it is accomplished , those employees won’t be forced into working in such conditions as a result of fighting poverty and the loss of wallmart is not really harming any integral part of our society ( maybe consumerism , but i think we could use a bit less of that anyway).
But you see , the appeal and convenience of wallmart in all that it offers has pulled consumers/customers/normal folk into this sleep deprived state where they want to fight for the employee’s rights but they want to keep wallmart at the same time.
[a proverb regarding eating the cake and having it at the same time or something like that is coming to mind]
My point for this comment is that the success of your endeavour requires one of the very basic (albeit recent) activities/indulgence of men to be eradicated. not just the indulgence but the need/want for that indulgence and that in itself is a herculean task because today in our society there are very few men who sincerely hate porn. most maybe are ashamed of it but they do secretly enjoy it and want to continue enjoying it blissfully unaware of the harm they may be causing, the sad thing is even if they are made aware, they’ll be ready to fight for the better treatment of the porn actresses but they won’t give up their porn.
Forgot to click the notify me with mail tick
I don’t really know what you want me to say here. What we want to achieve is difficult, no arguments there, but the only options are to keep on trying or give up.
I hope we may reach a tipping point sometime soon; the levels of sexual violence are becoming too high to ignore, and the influence of pornography becoming too obvious to ignore.
The reaction in the UK to the Rochdale case, and the Savile scandal, the ongoing protests against sexual violence in India, the Rehtaeh Parsons case in the US, may all show that people, generally, are more willing to acknowledge the levels of sexual violence occurring, or, once it all slips out of the news, everything may just go back to normal (I hope not).
It may seem like things are going nowhere, and, while there is still so much to do, let’s not forget what has been achieved; when second wave feminists in the 60s and 70s broke the taboo of silence around sex harassment, domestic violence, incest, child sex abuse etc, things actually started changing, the concept of intimate partner rape didn’t even exist until women started getting together and talking about their experiences.
PS: I can’t really do anything about the mail notification thing from my end, it’s all automatic, you’ll just have to tick the box next time you leave a comment.
Reblogged this on AFA Bollenstreek.