Daily Archives: August 5th, 2014

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.

QotD: “I’ll make you a deal”

I will not apologize for what I am into. You are not seeing what a kink is. Get over yourself and leave the kink community alone.

I’ll make you a deal: when someone in the kink community can make a convincing argument for why violence, misogyny, pedophilia, and racism become unquestionable because they make you have an orgasm, I’ll leave you alone.

From Next Years Girl