Category Archives: There’s no such thing as ‘feminist porn’ (or, ‘what about queer/gay/alt/’ethical’ porn?’)

QotD: “London porn festival goes into hiding after feminist protests”

A pornography festival in London this weekend has been forced to relocate after protests.

Faced with the prospect of a picket, organisers of the London porn film festival, which describes itself as “celebrating queer, feminist, radical and experimental porn”, pulled screenings from the Horse Hospital, an arts venue in Bloomsbury. The three-day event will instead be held at a new location disclosed only to ticket holders.

Multiple complaints about the festival were made to Camden council. Local authorities have the power to permit screenings of uncertificated films.

Despite the festival’s progressive intentions, feminist organisations branded it demeaning. Janice Williams, chair of the activist group Object, said the films on show promoted “degradation and oppression”. Rude Jude, one of the festival’s organisers, disagreed. “This is the next step on from the moral panic and the rightwing conservative groups that protested this kind of thing before … Britain likes to think of itself as a place tolerant of queer people, but when queer people assert ourselves, we’re attacked.”

The festival programme includes screenings titled Soft Tender Tuff Bois, described as a “love letter to all genderqueer and transmasculine people”, and The Kinks Are All Right, which takes the theme of “seductive humiliation”.

Rude Jude said the festival was staged as a response to 2014 legislation that extended pornography laws to films streamed over the internet: “It banned so many queer acts. It banned the depiction of female ejaculation, caning, breast play, flogging. These things are part of queer sexuality. The festival was formed as a protest.”

The coordinators of a separate pressure group, Women Against Pornography, said: “Feminist pornography is an oxymoron … feminism is not about individualistic wishes or desires, it is about liberating all women from the oppression of males. This can never be achieved by being tied up in a bed or by telling women that torture will make them free.” Women Against Pornography cited “security reasons” for not wanting to reveal their names.

In a letter to Camden council, Williams singled out a festival strand titled Sex Work Is Work, the online description for which included the hashtag #necrophilia. Williams claimed the festival was to show extreme pornographic images and pornography that is “likely to result in serious injury” to the performers. The hashtag has since been removed from the festival site.

[…]

In a series of Twitter posts, the festival claimed transphobia underlay the attack on the event. Women Against Pornography refute the accusation: “In the letters we sent there was no mention of transgenderism. However, if transgenderism is apparently so closely linked with pornography then that’s not a very good advert for it. As radical feminists we are gender critical, although this didn’t form part of our criticism of the festival.”

The Horse Hospital, which does not receive public money, is known for its grassroots art programming and has hosted the festival since its inception. “We’re in a difficult position here. We’re always up against it with somebody,” said director Roger Burton.

Full article here

‘Mums Make Porn’ but there’s still no such thing as feminist porn

‘Mums Make Porn’ is a Channel 4 documentary about a group of mothers who make a short porn film. Emma, the lead on this project, describes mainstream porn as “horrible. Gruesome” and her intention is to create a ‘new wave’ of porn.

The result is a 14-minute film that Emma’s 20-year-old daughter was happy to watch alongside her mum, dad, and grandmother, with her boyfriend and friends in attendance.

There is some acknowledgement of the realities of the porn industry:

“The darker realities of the sex industry are never mentioned – in the first episode of the series at least. Emma says that they met one actress who had performed so much that she was physically injured, and that some of the films she saw were so gruesome she could barely kiss her husband goodnight. There was a point when the group thought that instead of making a porn film they should be campaigning to have it banned. “But that’s a huge step,” Emma says. “We were just four middle-aged hormonal females. But absolutely it needs to be policed. Everyone needs to get involved, from the government to mums and even those working in the porn industry. […] Back home they started to interview potential cast members. The first question was: “What sort of porn do you like to watch?” Most of the actors, Emma says, didn’t like a lot of what they saw, or indeed a lot of what they were doing.”

While this write up reports one of the mums vomiting after attending an ‘amateur’ porn shoot.

The idea that the porn industry will police itself is hopelessly naïve, and has been shown not to happen in the real world.

What is the actual purpose of this 14-minute porno, apart from making a small group of middle-class women feel good about themselves?

Could it work as ‘sex education’? But education in what? If its purpose is to educate about consent, why do you then need to see real sex acts? Does it include stopping and starting again, or giving up for the night? (at 14 minutes, I doubt it.)

Is it supposed to be an education in technique? The mention of male performance anxiety suggests so, but then who gets to set the standard?

Is it commercially viable? Is it going to ‘disrupt’ the porn industry? Of course not. The fact that it is being put up online for free (on Erika Lust’s website – more on her later), suggests that making it commercially viable was not a part of the plan (making it even more a middle-class vanity project, working-class women don’t have the time or resources to make porn for free, instead, they get ‘sex work’ pushed on them as something they ‘need’).

There is no meaningful definition of ‘feminist’ when it comes to porn, only ‘a woman made it’ and/or ‘a woman gets off on it’; which means all porn is ‘feminist’, including the most extreme acts of violence, bestiality, and child sex abuse images, because somewhere there is a woman who will get off to that.

Pandora Blake, a self-styled ‘feminism pornographer’ produces only sado-masochistic porn centred around corporal punishment, and even Emma “is impressed by a couple of fetishists she watches making a naughty little video” while another mother is interested in “’beauty’, ‘tastefulness’ and large penises”, so there is no standard (sex products sold to women always claim higher production values, and always sport a bigger price tag).

The Guardian published an article last year titled ‘The Pleasure Revolution’, some of it was interesting, like the need to correctly describe, and normalise, female genitalia, and sex toys that aren’t objectifying and aimed at men; and some of it was ridiculous, like politics lecturer Reba Maybury, who has a side-gig as ‘political dominatrix’ ‘Mistress Rebecca’, who only dominates white, right-wing men, in order to ‘shift the power balance between the sexes’ (which is laughable, of course, she is being paid by these men for this ‘service’, she is still doing what they want, and outside that BDSM bubble, these men will carry on exactly as before). The article also links to a supposedly ‘feminist’ website, called ‘frolic me’, at the bottom of the website’s front page (click on image to enlarge) is a list of ‘erotic’ films and stories available on the site, including “voyeur catches a couple having a sexy rough fuck’, ‘BDSM erotic story of a submissive girl and her daddy’, and ‘forbidden seduction of a young horny stepson’. There is no meaningful definition of ‘feminist’ porn.

The idea of ‘ethical porn’ is equally meaningless. Mainstream porn uses ‘exit interviews’ (filmed statements where the female porn performers say that they consented to everything that just happened to them); as recent cases of abuse in the US porn industry show, these are faked in order for the woman to get paid, and there are plenty of other accounts of abuse and abusive conditions on porn sets. Any genuine policing of porn sets would make porn production impossible.

The pornographer Erika Lust is name-checked approvingly by the Mums, but this is Gail Dines’ description of one of her porn shoots (from ‘Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On’):

Lust’s rather bizarre idea of a compelling “erotic” movie for women was to portray a woman pianist living out her fantasy of playing the piano naked while being “pleasured.” So Lust finds Monica, a woman who is both a pianist and willing to play out this fantasy, concocted by Lust. The problem is that Monica is new to porn and lacks any experience, while Lust hires a mainstream male porn performer, resulting in the usual degrading porn sex – pounding penetration and hair pulling included. Monica finishes the scene in obvious pain and traumatized, looking like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. But remember, this is a “feminist” porn film, so Lust, acting all sisterly, gives Monica a big hug and a glass of water to make her feel better. And then asks her to fake an orgasm for the final scene. So much for authentic female sexuality!

It was stomach churning to watch Lust manipulate and cajole Monica into making this film, and lying through her teeth as she explained that she is doing something different from the boys. Despite all the talk about aesthetic value and women’s sexuality, HGWTO is just a clever piece of ideological propaganda. Lust, just like the boys, is making money from sexually exploiting women; unlike the boys, she wraps herself in a feminist flag as a way to differentiate her brand in a glutted market. In Lust’s world, sisterhood is powerful because it provides cover to pimp out women in the name of feminism.

What projects like ‘Mums Make Porn’ miss is that even ‘better’ porn still objectifies and commodifies sexuality, and also ignores the addictive nature of porn, requiring more, and more extreme, images. It also makes the common, mainstream, assumption that men are simply consuming ‘bad’ porn by mistake, because there isn’t any ‘good’ porn available (a similar apology is made for male sexual violence, that poor men simply don’t understand when they are raping someone). If ‘good’ porn were commercially viable, it would already exist, and higher production value porn already exists.

This porn film will do nothing to challenge the mainstream porn industry, and it is no substitute for compulsory, age-appropriate, sex and relationships education, including education on consent, and the porn industry.

QotD: “the entire liberal pro-porn movement in one image”

Mayor Watermelon on twitter

This is entirely true, I entered the search term into Google myself just now:

Me, on tumblr, answering the ‘what about gay porn?’ question

Raffaëla Anderson and the French Porno Industry

Raffaëla Anderson, whose ethnic background is partly Arab, is a former pornography performer, who has now become a non-fiction writer and occasionally an actress in mainstream French productions.

The French pornography industry is just as violent as the American one. There is also a Gonzo genre over there, with films containing extreme sexual practices which seem painful to the women who experience them.

After leaving the pornography business, Raffaëla Anderson wrote a book entitled Hard (2001), describing her experience in that industry and decrying its abuses. Raffaëla stayed four years in the porno industry. Her last appearance in an explicit film was in Virginie Despentes’ controversial (unusual porn) French film “Baise-Moi” (2000), which was distributed internationally.

In 2003, Director Emmanuelle Schick Garcia made a documentary on the French pornography business. Entitled “La Petite Morte,” the documentary included interviews with Raffaëla Anderson, who related being abused as a child, along with the ongoing exploitation and suffering which take place in the porno industry.

In 2006, Raffaëla wrote her second book Tendre Violence (“Tender Violence”, in English) a narration of her childhood with her Muslim family in Gagny, in the suburb of Paris. In this book, she reported that, from the age of 5 years old until her teenage years, she had suffered a form of sexual abuse (“bad touching”) by her alcoholic uncle. She also reported physical abuse: during her childhood and teenage girlhood, she had been beaten up by her father and brothers. She had also been brought up in a family environment in which sexuality was a taboo subject, and, at age 18, she decided to enter the French porno industry.

Her first book Hard ( “Hard” means “Hardcore” in French slang), that she had written in 2001, described her experience in the French porno industry. In it, Raffaëla Anderson explains that, as a teenager, she had an admiration for Dutch porn actress Zara Whites, whom she was seeing on TV. Raffaëla was seeing a participation in the porno industry as a good way to earn money easily to be able to flee her abusive familial environment, and acquire a desired autonomy. However, she did not expect the difficult and abusive situation she was going to find herself in, inside of that industry. She was taking drugs and drinking alcohol to be able to cope with the “job”. She explained how she gradually became disgusted by men and discovered her homosexuality. While walking in the streets once, she got raped by two men who recognized her as a porn actress. She reported it to the police. In the documentary “La Petite Morte”, Raffaëla explained how the prosecutor and Judge in her case dismissed the rape with the attitude: “You’re an actress in pornographic films, so you can’t complain.” Her rapists would not go to jail, since the French justice system concluded it was her fault.

In her book Hard, Raffaëla also gave the readers an insightful look into her experience as a porn performer. Indeed, her testimony is explicit. Here are a few excerpts:

“I’ve got to be on the set [again] on Sunday […] I’m crying. I don’t want to get fucked anymore. Only the thought of it hurts me. I want to take back what I gave years ago: me, my crotch, my dignity. I’ve only got a small part of my brain left, I want to keep it. I’m crying […] I can’t take it anymore, I’m in pain each time, I can’t put up with it any more.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“The Big Boss asks me for the usual double penetration: one at the front, one at the back […] The Boss asks us just one minute in this position. I’m feeling kinda stunned. I know that I’m not gonna be able to take it. It’s inevitable, I’m fainting. Nobody notices, the Boss says to me that it’s super, he thanks me. It’s also at this moment that I regain consciousness. I hear: “Let’s get to the cum shot…”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“In the morning, you get up, you stick for the nth time the enema syringe up your ass and you clean the inside. You repeat this [process] until it’s clean. That alone, that hurts. […] After this, you find yourself on a set and you suck, you bend over. They call you a bitch in the name of arousal, and what else? Nothing is worth such a suffering. Not even the money you’re making.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“I’ve got a scene to make in a swimming pool under water. There are electric wires everywhere, apparently it’s dangerous. […] They cover the pool for I don’t know what reason. I’m under water, and nobody’s there to rescue me. These assholes refuse to remove the wires. If I stay under the water, I drown, if I get out, it’s electrocution. […] After hesitating for a moment, I’m going back up to the surface […]. Off camera [someone says]: “We’re doing it again”. I could have died and all they’ve got to say is “We’re doing it again”. […] They’re crazy in this industry, you can die, and all that matters for them is the scene that has to be done.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Raffaëla also wrote about the sexual exploitation of women and the human suffering she has witnessed in the porno industry, including the case of Eastern European women, who are trafficked into the French porno industry (these women are poor and forced to “work” to pay their pimps):

“I consider those scenes [of double and triple penetration] as real “hardcore” […]. Other girls had to do worse. Starting with double vaginal penetration, double anal penetration, then both at the same time. Imagine four guys, North-South, East-West, and the girl on doggie-style, barely able to breathe, during a two-minute close-up, the minimal time required […]. I’ve seen those girls [from Eastern Europe] suffering and crying […]. Imagine a girl with no experience, not speaking the [same] language, far away from her home, sleeping at a hotel or on the set. She’s got to do a double penetration, a vaginal fisting, along with an anal fisting, sometimes both at the same time, a hand up her ass, sometimes two. At the end, you’ve got a girl in tears who’s pissing blood because of lesions, and who generally shits herself because noboby explained to her that she needed to have an enema.[…] After the scene which they are not allowed to interrupt, and anyway nobody listens to them, the girls get two hours to rest. They get back on the set […]. The director and the producer encourage those practices […] because the consumer asks for them.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Raffaëla Anderson’s realistic account of porn performing and the French porno industry is not the only one. Even Ovidie, a former porn actress who has now become porn director and who is one of the loudest defenders of pornography in France, admits such things as:

“I was very sick. I had a fever and I was vomiting. It was horrible. And nobody went to get me an aspirin […]. I felt humiliated, just a hole for the camera. I was only a product.”
— Ovidie, in Porno Manifesto, published by Flammarion (Paris), quoted in Michela Marzano, Malaise dans la sexualité: Le piège de la pornographie, published by JC Lattès (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“There are things which are very violent and leave scars.”
— Ovidie, interviewed by Michela Marzano, quoted in Michela Marzano, La Pornographie ou l’Epuisement du Désir, published by Buchet-Chastel (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Another French porn performer, Coralie Trinh Thi, explained:
“At the beginning of my career in XXX, I was completely traumatized when I was seeing a girl on the brink of tears during the making of a movie, especially during the scenes of double penetration […]. Actually, in hardcore scenes, they are more suffering than they’re coming.”
— Coralie Trinh Thi, Source: lesfuries.chez-alice.fr/prostitution.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Porn perfomer Karen Lancaume, who Appeared in the film “Baise-moi” with Raffaëla Anderson, commited suicide in 2005, by overdosing on barbiturates. Karen was injured by her experience in pornography and she denounced the selfish attitude of the people in that industry. Interviewed by the French newspaper Libération, Karen said:
“A double penetration, followed by the cum shot. I was covered in sperm, drenched; I was also cold, and nobody handed me a towel. Once you’ve done the scene, you’re not worth anything anymore.”
— Karen Lancaume, Source: fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Lancaume [accessed on 06/01/07] [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Interviewed by Radio Canada, filmmaker Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, who made a documentary (on the French pornography industry) called “La Petite Morte” (2003 — see www. lapetitemorte.com/about.htm), said:
“I think Raffaëla [Anderson] describes the [pornographic] world very honestly for what it really is, there are moments of happiness, especially for a girl who never had any friends in her life, or love from her family, and found it in this world. Not real love like we know it, but love as it would be recognized by someone who felt abandoned and alone. Then there’s the other side, where for a victim of incest and rape like Raffaëla, pornography becomes a reconstruction of the abuse she’s lived all her life. And for a lot of girls in that world, […] love is like how they’re treated in pornography. It’s someone who tells you how you should have sex. It’s having someone tell you, you’re going to do this scene, like this, with this person. And it’s exactly what they’re accustomed to, because growing up they never got to choose… So, for me, when pornographers say, it’s fun or that the girls like what they’re doing, I see it as lies. Because I learned everything to the contrary. I spoke with many girls in that world and often, I would say about 85% of those girls were victims of sexual or physical abuse growing up.”
— Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, Source: lapetitemorte.com/article58.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [INTERVIEW WAS ALREADY TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]

Interviewed by IFQ, Shick Garcia also said:
“There are very heart breaking and horrible things about the pornographic world. But, most of those things happened to actresses and actors long before they arrived in the pornography world. The pornography industry is just a place where a lot of victims relive their abuse, where they can continue to destroy themselves like their abusers destroyed them. That’s what is the most disturbing to me. The incest, rapes, child abuse and neglect that become the springboard for a lot of participants to enter the industry. People in the industry will tell you this isn’t true, but I learned everything to the contrary. This excuse makes it easier to go to work, that’s all.”
— Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, Source: independentfilmquarterly.com/ifq/interviews/petite.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [INTERVIEW WAS ALREADY TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]

When asked about the title of her documentary (“La Petite Morte”), Shick Garcia replied:
“It refers to the female orgasm, because in porno films they want you to believe that a woman is always having an orgasm, which isn’t true, and there’s also the depressing aspect of the name, with death, there’s just something inside a lot of those girls that seems dead. To me, it’s just a really sad world.”
— Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, Source: lapetitemorte.com/article58.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [INTERVIEW WAS ALREADY TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]

From the (archived) Against Pornography website

Porn is now part of mainstream entertainment, and ‘feminist’ pornographers are part of the mainstream porn industry

Netflix is streaming another series about the sex industry, called Siffredi Late Night – Hard Academy, it is a reality show, following ‘aspiring porn actors’, rather than an investigative documentary, and it shows just how mainstream the porn industry is now within the entertainment industry.

I couldn’t stomach actually watching any of it, but it is obvious that it will be entirely uncritical of the porn industry. Of particular note is the episode about ‘feminist’ pornographers, the thumbnail doesn’t actually use the term ‘feminist’, but that’s the implication of “women filmmakers producing a new kind of porn”.

This shows that so-called ‘feminist’ pornographers are completely embedded in the mainstream porn industry, and therefore cannot be said to ‘challenge’ it in any way.

Rocco Siffredi worked with John Stagliano, founder of the Evil Angel studio, and is credited with creating the gonzo style of pornography, and introducing anal sex and ‘rough sex’ to heterosexual pornography. That he apparently has something to teach ‘feminist’ pornographers helps prove that ‘feminist’ porn does not exist.

Me, on tumblr recently, talking about ‘amateur’ porn

(link)

QotD: “What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn”

Drew was 8 years old when he was flipping through TV channels at home and landed on “Girls Gone Wild.” A few years later, he came across HBO’s late-night soft-core pornography. Then in ninth grade, he found online porn sites on his phone. The videos were good for getting off, he said, but also sources for ideas for future sex positions with future girlfriends. From porn, he learned that guys need to be buff and dominant in bed, doing things like flipping girls over on their stomach during sex. Girls moan a lot and are turned on by pretty much everything a confident guy does. One particular porn scene stuck with him: A woman was bored by a man who approached sex gently but became ecstatic with a far more aggressive guy.

But around 10th grade, it began bothering Drew, an honor-roll student who loves baseball and writing rap lyrics and still confides in his mom, that porn influenced how he thought about girls at school. Were their breasts, he wondered, like the ones in porn? Would girls look at him the way women do in porn when they had sex? Would they give him blow jobs and do the other stuff he saw?

Drew, who asked me to use one of his nicknames, was a junior when I first met him in late 2016, and he told me some of this one Thursday afternoon, as we sat in a small conference room with several other high school boys, eating chips and drinking soda and waiting for an after-school program to begin. Next to Drew was Q., who asked me to identify him by the first initial of his nickname. He was 15, a good student and a baseball fan, too, and pretty perplexed about how porn translated into real life. Q. hadn’t had sex — he liked older, out-of-reach girls, and the last time he had a girlfriend was in sixth grade, and they just fooled around a bit. So he wasn’t exactly in a good position to ask girls directly what they liked. But as he told me over several conversations, it wasn’t just porn but rough images on Snapchat, Facebook and other social media that confused him. Like the GIF he saw of a man pushing a woman against a wall with a girl commenting: “I want a guy like this.” And the one Drew mentioned of the “pain room” in “Fifty Shades of Grey” with a caption by a girl: “This is awesome!”

Watching porn also heightened Q.’s performance anxiety. “You are looking at an adult,” he told me. “The guys are built and dominant and have a big penis, and they last a long time.” And if you don’t do it like the guys in porn, Drew added, “you fear she’s not going to like you.”

Leaning back in his chair, Drew said some girls acted as if they wanted some thug rather than a smart, sensitive guy. But was it true desire? Was it posturing? Was it what girls thought they were supposed to want? Neither Q. nor Drew knew. A couple of seats away, a sophomore who had been quiet until then added that maybe the girls didn’t know either. “I think social media makes girls think they want something,” he said, noting he hadn’t seen porn more than a handful of times and disliked it. “But I think some of the girls are afraid.”

“It gets in your head,” Q. said. “If this girl wants it, then maybe the majority of girls want it.” He’d heard about the importance of consent in sex, but it felt pretty abstract, and it didn’t seem as if it would always be realistic in the heat of the moment. Out of nowhere was he supposed to say: Can I pull your hair? Or could he try something and see how a girl responded? He knew that there were certain things — “big things, like sex toys or anal” — that he would not try without asking.

“I would just do it,” said another boy, in jeans and a sweatshirt. When I asked what he meant, he said anal sex. He assumed that girls like it, because the women in porn do.

“I would never do something that looked uncomfortable,” Drew said, jumping back into the conversation. “I might say, ‘I’ve seen this in porn — do you want to try it?’ ”

It was almost 4 p.m., and the boys started to gather their backpacks to head to a class known as Porn Literacy. The course, with the official title The Truth About Pornography: A Pornography-Literacy Curriculum for High School Students Designed to Reduce Sexual and Dating Violence, is a recent addition to Start Strong, a peer-leadership program for teenagers headquartered in Boston’s South End and funded by the city’s public-health agency. About two dozen selected high school students attend every year, most of them black or Latino, along with a few Asian students, from Boston public high schools, including the city’s competitive exam schools, and a couple of parochial schools. During most of the year, the teenagers learn about healthy relationships, dating violence and L.G.B.T. issues, often through group discussions, role-playing and other exercises.

But for around two hours each week, for five weeks, the students — sophomores, juniors and seniors — take part in Porn Literacy, which aims to make them savvier, more critical consumers of porn by examining how gender, sexuality, aggression, consent, race, queer sex, relationships and body images are portrayed (or, in the case of consent, not portrayed) in porn.

On average, boys are around 13, and girls are around 14, when they first see pornography, says Bryant Paul, an associate professor at Indiana University’s Media School and the author of studies on porn content and adolescent and adult viewing habits. In a 2008 University of New Hampshire survey, 93 percent of male college students and 62 percent of female students said they saw online porn before they were 18. Many females, in particular, weren’t seeking it out. Thirty-five percent of males said they had watched it 10 or more times during adolescence.

Porn Literacy, which began in 2016 and is the focus of a pilot study, was created in part by Emily Rothman, an associate professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health who has conducted several studies on dating violence, as well as on porn use by adolescents. She told me that the curriculum isn’t designed to scare kids into believing porn is addictive, or that it will ruin their lives and relationships and warp their libidos. Instead it is grounded in the reality that most adolescents do see porn and takes the approach that teaching them to analyze its messages is far more effective than simply wishing our children could live in a porn-free world.

That ‘queer sex’ made me wince (what is the writer talking about? Gay men, lesbians, ‘diaper fetishists’?), but the article is still worth reading in full (it’s very long, the above is the introductory section, I will quote a few more paragraphs from it, but I do recommend reading the whole thing).

There are also uncritical references to ‘feminist’ and ‘ethical’ porn, and to such pornographers getting involved in sex education, but as one of the other interviewees says: “Unlike organic food, there’s no coding system for ethical or feminist porn […] They might use condoms and dental dams and still convey the same gender and aggression dynamics.”

It’s hard to know if, and how, this translates into behavior. While some studies show a small number of teens who watch higher rates of porn engage in earlier sex as well as gender stereotyping and sexual relationships that are less affectionate than their peers, these only indicate correlations, not cause and effect. But surveys do suggest that the kinds of sex some teenagers have may be shifting. The percentage of 18-to-24-year-old women who reported trying anal sex rose to 40 percent in 2009 from 16 percent in 1992, according to the largest survey on American sexual behavior in decades, co-authored by Herbenick and published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. In data from that same survey, 20 percent of 18-to-19 year old females had tried anal sex; about 6 percent of 14-to-17-year-old females had. And in a 2016 Swedish study of nearly 400 16-year-old girls, the percentage of girls who had tried anal sex doubled if they watched pornography. Like other studies about sex and porn, it only showed a correlation, and girls who are more sexually curious may also be drawn to porn. In addition, some girls may view anal sex as a “safer” alternative to vaginal sex, as there’s little risk of pregnancy.

[…]

These images confound many teenagers about the kinds of sex they want or think they should have. In part, that’s because they aren’t always sure what is fake and what is real in porn. Though some told me that porn was fantasy or exaggerated, others said that porn wasn’t real only insofar as it wasn’t typically two lovers having sex on film. Some of those same teenagers assumed the portrayal of how sex and pleasure worked was largely accurate. That seems to be in keeping with a 2016 survey of 1,001 11-to-16-year-olds in Britain. Of the roughly half who had seen pornography, 53 percent of boys and 39 percent of girls said it was “realistic.” And in the recent Indiana University national survey, only one in six boys and one in four girls believed that women in online porn were not actually experiencing pleasure: As one suburban high school senior boy told me recently, “I’ve never seen a girl in porn who doesn’t look like she’s having a good time.”

[…]

Now, in the third week of class, Daley’s goal was to undercut porn’s allure for teenagers by exposing the underbelly of the business. “When you understand it’s not just two people on the screen but an industry,” she told me, “it’s not as sexy.”

To that end, Daley started class by detailing a midlevel female performer’s salary (taken from the 2008 documentary “The Price of Pleasure”): “Blow job: $300,” Daley read from a list. “Anal: $1,000. Double penetration: $1,200. Gang bang: $1,300 for three guys. $100 for each additional guy.”

“Wow,” Drew muttered. “That makes it nasty now.”

“That’s nothing for being penetrated on camera,” another boy said.

Then, as if they had been given a green light to ask about a world that grown-ups rarely acknowledge, they began peppering Daley, Rothman and Alder with questions.

“How much do men get paid?” one girl asked. It is the one of the few professions in which men are paid less, Rothman explained, but they also typically have longer careers. How long do women stay in their jobs? On average, six to 18 months. How do guys get erections if they aren’t turned on? Often Viagra, Rothman offered, and sometimes a “fluffer,” as an offscreen human stimulator is known.

I really wish this canard was challenged more, male porn performers in het porn are paid less than female performers because they are not doing the same job; as someone else put it so well, women are paid to suffer, while men are paid to ejaculate. Porn companies can (and do) get men in off the street to do it for free, that’s why male porn performers are paid less.

Also, all the real money in porn is behind the cameras, in production and distribution, an area which is dominatd by men.

Daley then asked the teenagers to pretend they were contestants on a reality-TV show, in which they had to decide if they were willing to participate in certain challenges (your parents might be watching) and for how much money. In one scenario, she said, you would kneel on the ground while someone poured a goopy substance over your face. In another, you’d lick a spoon that had touched fecal matter. The kids debated the fecal-matter challenge — most wouldn’t to do it for less than $2 million. One wanted to know if the goop smelled. “Can we find out what it is?” asked another.

Then Daley explained that each was in fact a simulation of a porn act. The goopy substance was what’s called a “baker’s dozen,” in which 13 men ejaculate on a woman’s face, breasts and mouth.

“What?” a girl named Tiffany protested.

The second scenario — licking the spoon with fecal matter — was from a porn act known as A.T.M., in which a man puts his penis in a woman’s anus and then immediately follows by sticking it in her mouth.

“No way,” a 15-year-old boy said. “Can’t you wash in between?”

Nope, Daley said.

“We don’t question it when we see it in porn, right?” Daley went on. “There’s no judgment here, but some of you guys are squeamish about it.”

“I never knew any of this,” Drew said, sounding a bit glum.

Daley went on to detail a 2010 study that coded incidents of aggression in best-selling 2004 and 2005 porn videos. She noted that 88 percent of scenes showed verbal or physical aggression, mostly spanking, slapping and gagging. (A more recent content analysis of more than 6,000 mainstream online heterosexual porn scenes by Bryant Paul and his colleagues defined aggression specifically as any purposeful action appearing to cause physical or psychological harm to another person and found that 33 percent of scenes met that criteria. In each study, women were on the receiving end of the aggression more than 90 percent of the time.)

[…]

Al Vernacchio, a nationally known sexuality educator who teaches progressive sex ed at a private Quaker school outside Philadelphia, believes the better solution is to make porn literacy part of the larger umbrella of comprehensive sex education. Vernacchio, who is the author of the 2014 book “For Goodness Sex: Changing the Way We Talk to Teens About Sexuality, Values, and Health,” is one of those rare teenage-sex educators who talks directly to his high school students about sexual pleasure and mutuality, along with the ingredients for healthy relationships. The problem with porn “is not just that it often shows misogynistic, unhealthy representations of relationships,” Vernacchio says. “You can’t learn relationship skills from porn, and if you are looking for pleasure and connection, porn can’t teach you how to have those.”

Crabbe notes one effective way to get young men to take fewer lessons from porn: “Tell them if you want to be a lazy, selfish lover, look at porn. If you want to be a lover where your partner says, ‘That was great,’ you won’t learn it from porn.” And parents should want their teenagers to be generous lovers, Cindy Gallop argues. “Our parents bring us up to have good manners, a work ethic. But nobody brings us up to behave well in bed.”

What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn, Maggie Jones, New York Times Magazine

QotD: Amateur porn is a niche market of the mainstream porn industry

Gail Dines (found on tumblr)

QotD: “Ann Summers can’t claim to empower women when it is teaming up with Pornhub”

I can’t understand why erotic retailers like Ann Summers have persisted into the twenty-first century. The store claims to be “sexy, daring, provocative and naughty”, and somewhat predictably positions itself as empowering for women. As a feminist of the unfashionable type, I can’t help but be suspicious of any form of sexual liberation that can be bought or sold.

And yet, I’d never really thought of Ann Summers as being particularly threatening to the rights of women, more just a faintly depressing reflection of heteronormativity. This changed when I saw they’d teamed-up with Pornhub. The website is reputedly the largest purveyor of online pornography in the world. Pornhub guidelines state that content flagged as “illegal, unlawful, harassing, harmful, offensive” will be removed. Nonetheless, the site still contains simulated incest and rape with some of the more easily published film titles including “Exploited Teen Asia” (236 million views) and “How to sexually harass your secretary properly” (10.5 million views.) With campaigns such as #metoo and #timesup are sweeping social media, it seems bizarre that a high street brand would not consider Pornhub merchandise as toxic.

[…]

I have no doubt that some reading this will be burning to point out that feminist pornography exists. In name of course it does, but then again, Theresa May calls herself a feminist when it suits. Whether you believe feminist pornography is either possible or desirable, it is worth remembering that what is marketed as such comprises a tiny portion of the market. This won’t make me popular, but it is worth remembering feminism is not about celebrating every choice a woman makes – it is about analysing the social context in which choices are made. Furthermore, that some women also watch porn is evidence of how patriarchy shapes our desire, not that pornography is woman-friendly.

Ann Summers parts the net curtains of nation’s suburban bedrooms and offers a glimpse into our peccadillos and preferences. That a mainstream high street retailer blithely offers guidance on hair-pulling, whipping and clamps, as well as a full range of Pornhub branded products is disturbing. This is not about women’s empowerment or mutual sexual fulfilment, it is about eroticising women’s pain.

We are living in a world saturated with images of women and girls suffering; to pretend that there is no connection between pornography and the four-in-ten teenage girls who say they have been coerced into sex acts is naive in the extreme. For too long the state claimed that violence in the home was a domestic matter. Women and girls are now facing an epidemic of sexual violence behind bedroom doors and it is not a private matter. We need to ask ourselves which matters more: the sexual rights of men or the human rights of women?

Jo Bartosch, full article here