Scorpio Risen

PorNOgraphy

Posted on: 28 April, 2007

T’other day I was minding my own business, attempting to do an exam practice for German in one of the school cafeterias in one of my frees, when my English teacher approached me, praising my English coursework. Apparently, it’s been much the subject of discussion in the English department, and so they’re gonna give it an A. Which is good.
But, how is that relevant here?
Well, t’is an anti-pornography speech. I’m very proud of this piece, and my English teacher said it was well-written (although at first, she was quite shocked by it, because I’m pretty damn blunt), but you may notice that the writing style is a tad bit different to how I ordinarily write on my posts.
I’ve been a bit wary about posting it, because I don’t want to ruffle any feathers exactly, partly because with normal exam stress – and some other more personal shit – I really can’t be arsed to deal with any bullshit.
There was originally a paragraph near the beginning about pro-pornography feminists, and my belief that, despite the anti/pro pornography divide, I believe that being anti or pro pornography doesn’t make you a better feminist, it just makes you a different one. But my English teacher made me cut that paragraph out because it helped contribute to going over the word limit. The thing with pornography and feminism, is that it is such a cause of division and strife. It creates a huge divide; even if in every other respect Feminist A (anti pornography) and Feminist B (pro pornography) pretty much agree on feminist issues, the whole pornography thing can be a real bone of contention, and cause of hostility. Personally, I really hate that. The way I see it, is that by defining themselves as feminists, even pro-pornography feminists, they are saying they care, they give a crap about women. And so, sure, there are a few issues I won’t agree with them on, but I still believe in a sense of sisterhood. Is that just naivety on my part? I’ve come to realise that in many cases, it is naivety, since it seems many anti and pro pornography feminists just cannot get past this core difference, despite other core similarities.

This piece, yeah it does reflect my views. After all, I am an anti-pornography feminist. However, I realise that this is something of a …dodgy subject, given the divide. By no stretch of the imagination do I want to inflame any further divisions, or anything like that. Some of you may know, and I hope the previous paragraph highlighted this, that for all I care about about the issues I am concerned about, and for however strongly I believe in my views, I realise that others feel the same about theirs, but may have different perspectives or opinions, and that some of these issues are very close to people’s hearts, and that, I do not encourage, and I do not personally reject other feminists whose views differ from mine. I accept these variations in feminism, and I embrace those who hold these different views, as I embrace those with similar views.You may also realise, as I have already mentioned, that the writing style of this piece is somewhat different to my usual style, this is largely because the audience of this piece is supposed to be anti-pornography (radical) feminists, whereas this blog – although, it was initially pretty damn self-indulgent, and I was convinced hardly anyone would read it but meh – has an undefined and flexible audience.

However, because I’m really bored, I think I will post it. Unfortunately, the few graphological features it did have – such as certain words being underlined, emboldened, or italicised, for emphasis – have largely been lost from copying it from my documents to pasting it on here. I’ve tried to put some of ’em back in, but I guess it’s not really that big a deal.

PorNOgraphy

Pornography. It is an issue, which has been divisive and hotly debated amongst feminists for about 30 years. It is sad, but the divisions caused by the pornography debate between the second wave feminists of the seventies undermined their fight, this weakness helping to allow the reactionaries of the New Right and the MRAs to re-claim some ground, certainly some centre-ground, in the Backlash eighties. On the one-hand, there were the fiercely revolutionary anti-pornography Rad-Fems – Andrea Dworkin, Catherine Mackinnon, Susan Brownmiller and others – on the other, there were the so-called “sex-positive” feminists, whom we will go back to later. But that is about the extent of our history lesson today.

I am here today to talk to you about pornography. Maybe it’s because I’m young, maybe I’m naïve, maybe I’m idealistic, but pornography is something I would like well rid of; this would be no mean feat.
Let’s look at some cool, hard – economic – facts first: the porn industry produces about 11,000 new hardcore films a year, and is worth about $60billion worldwide annually. Estimates of the annual revenues of the pornography industry in the United States alone start at $10billion; that’s more than that of the Hollywood Box Office in 2003, which was $9.5 billion. It is fair enough to say that pornography is nothing small. It is also extensive. It’s not just dirty videos that you buy from a blacked out shop anymore; it’s on the Internet and in magazines too. Soft-core pornography is normalised. We’re conditioned to expect it. Seeing a scantily clad young woman grinding against a pole, or simulating orgasm is an everyday sight. It’s on before the watershed on television. On some music channels, that is all there is. “Girls Gone Wild” is a major franchise across the pond. A giant woman pouts seductively at you from a billboard, maybe naked, maybe in her underwear. There are no restrictions on the accessibility or visibility of “Lads Mags”; you walk into newsagents and you get tits right in your face (but it’s OK: the nipples are covered). Sex sells, baby. And the porn, music and film industries are large and profitable enough to justify that claim.

We already know that our culture is becoming more and more accepting of pornography. Soft-core pornography is now mainstream; even more explicit, hard-core pornography is becoming acceptable. It is an established fact that porn consumption is immensely common. The belief that “there is a porno-isation of the culture” is a legitimate one: “raunch culture” is accepted, that is, lascivious behaviour, and implanted, scantily-clad women – sometimes resembling strippers – are not uncommon and are no longer frowned upon as they once would have been. It’s not a sexualisation of our culture, because “raunch culture” is emulating pornography, and sex-workers such as strippers and lap-dancers.

So, porn is everywhere. But that doesn’t make it wrong by nature. But, I believe, we should be concerned about it, as feminists. Pornography is something, which alternatively breaks my heart and angers me.

Pornography breaks my heart because my sisters are humiliated. They are laughed at, scorned, called “whore”, “slut”. Men ejaculate in their faces. It breaks my heart because my sisters are in pain. That expressions of pain are visible on their faces – if even for an instant – as penises are thrust in their mouths. It breaks my heart because many of my sisters do not have a choice. The freedom of choice for porn stars is mainly an illusion. Although some are completely voluntary, there are many others who are not there through free choice. After all, as Michael Kimmel puts it, “How many working-class women would choose to be pornographic film stars, or prostitutes, if they could just as easily become Supreme Court justices?” Because many of them are in desperate circumstances, trying to feed drug addictions, or homeless – and while this isn’t pornography’s fault, it is unfair for them to be exploited – and a considerable percentage have experienced childhood sexual abuse. This leads to vulnerability and insecurity. Pornography exploits this. Many porn stars are troubled, and are re-living previous abuse, re-enacting it in pornography (indeed it is possible that their abusers learnt how to abuse by watching pornography initially). But it is all they know. It breaks my heart because pornography represents to me – and is often documentation of – heartless misogyny. Pornography is a reminder that we are second-class citizens because we lack a penis; it is a reminder that our society – despite claiming to be tolerant, equal and free – is patriarchal.

Does this break your heart too?

Pornography angers me because it is misogynistic. Pornographers hold disgustingly misogynistic views, and these views are often reflected in their films. They claim that “Women were born with three holes for one purpose: To cram a cock deep inside every cuddly cavity!” Women are “cock sockets.” It angers me because magazines such as Playboy, Hustler and Penthouse find issues such as rape funny: they publish cartoons trivialising rape and showing it in a humourous light. Because magazines such as Hustler print sickening opinions, and their attitudes towards women are puerile and dangerous saying that “There are those who say illogic is the native tongue of anything with tits” Apparently we “speak not from the heart but from the gash.” Apparently, “The one sure-fire way to stop those feminine lips from driving you crazy is to put something between them–like your cock, for instance.” It angers me, because despite being represented as “just a bit of fun”, Lads Mags are also contemptuous towards women. Because they are so incredibly visible everywhere, and reproduce similar views towards rape as magazines like Hustler, Playboy and Penthouse – claiming that “A lot of women fantasise about …rape… It’s a myth that women want soft stuff” – they reinforce dangerous, misogynistic attitudes towards rape victims, which perpetuate the victim-responsibility myth, when ALL the time it is 100% the rapist’s responsibility. It angers me because – whether a magazine, film, or whatever medium used – pornography represents women as sexualised, often submissive or even passive, objects to be fucked. It angers me because pornography tells people that women like it rough. They all like to be hit, they all like to be anally penetrated, they all like to gag on erections, they all like to be brutalised, they all like force to be exerted. The rapist’s defence “But she liked it rough” is the pornographer’s defence. It angers me because pornography is often trivialised in its significance, although research has found that “the relationship between particularly sexually violent images in the media and subsequent aggression…is much stronger statistically than the relationship between smoking and lung cancer.” Andrea Dworkin noted in “Letters from a War Zone” that the numbers of throat-rapes increased after the release of “Deep Throat”. Although pornography ruins relationships, and is increasingly cited in divorces. Although rapes and murders are sometimes copied from scenes in pornography. Although pornography is viewed before some sexual assaults, or rapes, or murders to steel the nerves of the perpetrators, to “rev” him up. It is still “just a bit of fun”.It angers me because, despite the pain and hurt that is expressed on the faces, and in the voices, of women in many porn films, men still consume pornography and use it to facilitate their masturbation. They are either turned on further by viewing a woman’s pain, or women’s pain is neutral to them. I don’t know which is worse, do you? It angers me because my sisters are de-humanized. They are three holes and two hands. Cunts, anuses, mouths, hands. They are not women, or people. They are simply a sexual organ on legs. For pornography to work, women cannot be human. Their humanity is taken from them. It angers me because, at the end of the day, it is unnecessary. Do men really need to jerk off over graphic celluloid images? Do men really need to have their fantasies dictated to them by porn barons?

Does this anger you too?

I believe that as feminists, we SHOULD be heart-broken and angered by pornography. We SHOULD care about our sisters. I do not believe pornography to be empowering, or liberating. And I think the claim that pro-pornography feminists are “sex-positive” is ridiculous: pornography is not the same as sex. It is certainly not equal sex: the woman is usually in submission, and there is not often mutual pleasure. Pornography does not reflect the realities of relationships or even the personal preferences of the actors and actresses. Because that is what pornography is. Acting. It is not liberating, in my view, to be “acting” sexuality. It is not a genuine expression. It is going through the motions. It is a distorted, one-dimensional view on sex and sexuality and is packaged for marketing. It is not liberating or empowering to be a porn star, female porn stars do NOT call the shots: many are bullied by their agents, and sometimes by their co-stars, too. Regan Starr, star of “Rough Sex 2” got the shit kicked out of her. She was told before the video – and they said this very proudly, mind you – that in this line most of the girls start crying because they’re hurting so bad . . . She couldn’t breathe. She was being hit and choked. She was really upset, and they didn’t stop. They kept filming. You can hear her say, ‘Turn the fucking camera off,’ and they kept going. That doesn’t sound to me like she’s calling the shots.
Does she sound empowered to you?Although I realise that there are some porn stars who have a more positive experience of the pornography and are working voluntarily, this doesn’t make pornography, as a whole, acceptable. After all, pornography is the complete objectification and symbolic annihilation of women. After all, pornography teaches people that women like to be fucked, and if they don’t it’s because they really want a bit of force first. After all, pornography is propaganda; anti-woman propaganda. Telling people lies about women. Pornography tells men the lie that women are sub-ordinate, that women are objects to fuck, to penetrate, to masturbate over, women are not people, and this message is consistently reproduced through the sexual imagery, and the bigoted, contemptuous attitudes. Pornography is the patriarchy’s mouthpiece. It tells men that women are second-class citizens, that their purpose is to pleasure men, and to be fucked. And to hell with a woman’s personality, idiosyncrasies, quirks, history, dreams, aspirations, preferences.
Pornography is restricting and limiting. It presents sex as hollow, shallow, cold fucking. It is cocks and pussies. Anyone who buys into pornography buys into a narrow-minded, limiting concept of sex, into a stereotypical view of men, women and sex and they buy into the same old, same old routines. There is nothing new or revolutionary about pornography, although the more hardcore films are only escalating the violence, misogyny and male gratification. And, quite frankly, anyone who buys into pornography has little or no imagination.
Pornography is, to my mind, an overtly sexual, explicit, distorted reflection of patriarchy. In pornography, women are symbolically annihilated, de-humanized and overly sexualised. They are objects. They are three holes and two hands. People have told me there’s no point in me engaging in anti-pornography activism. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry. There’s nothing I can do. I don’t believe that. I may be one individual, but I’m not the only person who feels how I feel. I would like to smash pornography; I would like to smash patriarchy. In my mind, the two go hand-in-hand. If I had a hammer, I’d smash pornography, I’d smash patriarchy. I believe I’ve found that hammer: feminism.
But an out-right ban on pornography would be ridiculous, and unfeasible. The important thing is to address the demand for it. To educate people about the realities of pornography would be a more practical and possible line of action than an out-right ban. To hammer away at the pornography coffin.
And, so sisters, I believe we SHOULD join together. We SHOULD feel moved to do something about pornography. We SHOULD “grrrlcot” shops which sell pornographic magazines and Lads Mags and complain to our High Street Retailers and even our MPs about the visibility and accessibility of Lads Mags at least. We SHOULD tell our male friends, relatives and lovers and any other porn-consumers we know that porn DOES harm women, and it harms the porn consumers, and even their loved ones. We SHOULD campaign for better education about the realities of pornography. We SHOULD campaign for the opening up of new opportunities for porn stars, and other sex workers, particularly the more vulnerable ones. It is all too easy to give into pornography, buy into raunch culture, claim it is “just a bit of fun” and that it does no harm. But you’d only be lying to yourself, I’m afraid.

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8 Responses to "PorNOgraphy"

Amy-

Watch this…

That paper was excellently written.

hey thanks, Ren 🙂

Hey Amy, that was fantastic. Yes, it breaks my heart too. It angers me when people try to defend their ‘right’ to women’s bodies by consuming violent, misogynistic porn. There is no guarantee that the woman/women you are watching haven’t been hurt or coerced or forced to do something they don’t want to do. Your coursework is well thought out and makes me angry and ready to inflict some anger on shops stocking porn and lads mags! xxx

Fantastic essay – way more passionate than my persuasive writing essay on women in the media. This one’s going into my folder of feminism.

Excellent piece. Plain truth laid out for those with eyes open to see it.

(Everyone else, well, they’ll just keep making excuses.)

Thank you for improving my opinion of the human race this morning. 😉

I’m glad you don’t self-censor.

I may not be formally educated on the abstractions and realities feminists pore over, but what I understand best is that the many women who think this way seem fewer in number than there really are, because they are silenced: in the media, in their own homes, fearing ridicule from their peers, and even invalidated in therapists’ offices in the moments a patient would clearly be most vulnerable. And how could that last one even happen? Perhaps because it’s not advantageous to put your psyche in the hands of someone who is not educated in anything beyond the confines of her profession, perhaps because sometimes patients are brighter than their “superior” when put in this subordinate dynamic, perhaps because it’s the weirdest, most dysfunctional, broken people who end up as counselors, who then project their internalized misogyny in order to reenact the debasing power plays they themselves experienced growing up, only this time, relishing the reversed roles.

It’s not that women who share your view are rare, it’s that they are rendered invisible. Thank god you buck the trend and validate the women who know they’re not crazy in spite of everyone telling them they are so; they are sane in a crazy world. I am certain blogs like yours keep people from killing themselves. I know I’m one.

I want to expatriate to a nation that doesn’t hate women, like Sweden! Do they speak English there? No? Ahhrrrgahhh…I have enough trouble with this language!

Wow… I believe with everything you have written. Porn is not sex, it creates unattainable sexual expectations and can drive a wedge between two people in a relationship.
I will be honest, porn is something I have had to battle- I wouldn’t say I was addicted, but it was starting to emerge as a problem- but I didn’t even agree with what I was watching! So I decided that I would do research in how I could stand up and attempt to fight against porn- that is how I came across your blog.
Your words will stay with me as I try and change the thoughts of many men

hi, please consider linking to antipornactivist.com
you don’t have to publish this comment.
thanks.

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