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anti-porn rants

2007-05-01 15:00:40.607416+00 by Dan Lyke 28 comments

I have, of late, been wondering where the sex has gone on Flutterby. I used to use "sex, drugs and technology" as a tag line, but it seems like we've lost both the sex and drugs. A symptom of getting old? Perhaps. However, this morning I ran across two anti-porn screeds on Medley, and both of them bothered me. I don't know that I have time today to take them both apart in the depth that they deserve, but I want them both here as a reminder of why I'm pro-pornography, and in the hopes that I can come back to them later:

Reader actually asks spinster aunt’s opinion (on pornography) melds elements of your classic "women are oppressed and need to be free to make their own choices" truism with "women should be free to make my choices and no others" anger, in the process going beyond "men owe us equality" to "men owe us equality except for the privileges of marriage", with the additional wonderfully unsubstantiatable "pornography’s negative philosophic value" (because the repeated disproof of the "pornography causes violence" canard has made that one unsupportable).

“The average guy who can compartmentalize, disconnect, and then come back”: a response to Ethan on porn uses a great straw-man that someone else has set up (in fact, a whacked out straw man), and then comes back to the "one size fits all I know what's best for your relationship":

Porn says that happiness is found by having the same experience over and over again with lots of different women; true eros says that happiness is found by having different experiences over and over again with the same person.

In both cases the arguments are disturbingly Procrustean, especially when they're allegedly founded on the notion that people, women especially, should be free to make their own choices rather than being stuffed into the cultural roles that have been assigned to them. Instead what we find is that standard revolutionary cry that people should be crammed into other uncomfortable roles, as if those are the only alternatives to the current ones.

So I'll pop back over to Violet Blue and Debra Hyde for a bit.

[ related topics: Sexual Culture Political Correctness Sociology Marriage ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-01 19:48:55.945266+00 by: crasch [edit history]

Reading http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com is akin to reading Islamist or fundamentalist Christian writing. The underlying philosophical framework is so different that I find it difficult to find any common ground to root an argument.

For example:

"A woman is a member of the sex class whether she "chooses" it or not. This pre-existing condition forms the backdrop to any fun feminist's conclusion that her compliance with the patriarchal sexbot mandate is voluntary. She may believe otherwise, but her belief does not alter the fact that patriarchy -- a social order predicated on an oppression to which she is already subject -- is real and in effect and entirely beyond any unrestricted control she may wish to exert..."

So women can't voluntarily choose to participate in porn because they've been brainwashed by the patriarchy to like porn. Of course, somehow the feminists themselves have broke free of the patriarchy, else they wouldn't be able to criticize it. Yet these same feminists seem unable to grasp that women who like porn may well themselves have coolly evaluated their cultural milieu, and still decided that they liked porn anyway.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-01 21:35:25.786971+00 by: ebradway

Recently, I wrote a missive to a friend about how great it would be to really enter post-feminism. Since feminism is a post-modern philosophy, post-feminism would be post-post-modern...

My wife happens to be an ardent anti-porn feminist. It took some effort for me to really get inside her head about it but it's been very fruitful. I understand people much better and I understand my position of privilege even more.

It's hard to sum up what this really means here and maybe I'll have to go into it at some point. But the gist is that unless you really get in touch with the nature of privilege, it's really hard to criticize anyone who claims disadvantage. The nature of privilege is that you probably don't even realize just how privileged you are and how you actually use that privilege in your everyday life.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-01 22:49:34.439046+00 by: Dan Lyke

It seems to me that the right way to approach these discussions is to start with a discussion of gay pornography, because in that discussion you can remove issues of privilege, and in all of the discussions I've had, even with those who start with the assertion that their opposition to pornography comes from the "privilege" argument, discussing the issue simply in terms of male to male attraction and imagery has opened up the conversation into issues that far transcend privilege.

Pornography is a heavily subversive force, and in most cases (especially the second link up there, but also to some extent the first) I believe that the real issue seems to be that it challenges the social structure which would otherwise benefit the class claiming oppression. I think both of those links above are prime examples, they're the arguments of people who want to maintain the status quo because they're afraid that new social structures would remove benefits that they enjoy under the current (unjust, IMHO) system.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 11:50:44.629983+00 by: meuon

Sex, Drugs and Technology. Sex: At 45, my sex life is.. well.. unbelievable (thanks Nancy). What's to talk about?

As for porn, after the several times I've had to look at lots of child porn and bad porn (abusive, sick and twisted by -any- sane measure) helping law enforcement categorize it, determine sources, and testify about it, even good erotica has lost any interest to me. It's not the subject matter, it's the medium. Nancy and I have skimmed some erotica/porn movies and have not been impressed. Nancy's more inspiring. She's real, the sex is real.

Drugs: Glucophage (for Diabetes, rarely anymore), Cialis (grin).. and a little alcohol. Shrooms or weed are a rare thing. I'm the kind of guy who thinks meth and crack makers/dealers should be given -large- doses of their own product. I learned a lot living on E. Main by the railroad tracks.

Technology: Enough has been said already.

Rock and Roll: I've become an instrumental and techno-head, yet enjoy just about anything. Lyrics are only relevant if I can understand them.

Life: Life is good.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 13:47:01.289353+00 by: other_todd

Dan, you may want to have a look at http://www.femmerotic.com/jour...-at-the-thought-stopping-cliche/

Heather and I were discussing this a little in IM yesterday, but my thoughts are too long and messy for me to write them up here and now. Perhaps later.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 14:21:44.081817+00 by: Dan Lyke

Coincidentally, I was at the bottom third of that very essay when I wondered "huh, what's happening on that Flutterby thread?" and flipped over here.

I'm going to have to read it again, because I think I follow it through, then I stumble at:

It’s hard — really hard — to have faith in feminism, because it requires we have faith in women in a way many of us have been taught, overtly and covertly, we should not. I think it can be hard to let go of what are earnestly false divides if it feels like those divides provide us with a camp, with a home, with a unity when we feel otherwise homeless, especially when we are members of a nomadic, disconnected class that is so intentionally divided. ...

Because when I read "...faith in feminism..." I see other "...ism"s and "...ity"s and I see faith, and I see a label that's been warped to the goals of everyone who self-identifies as that, some for good, some because it made an effective lever to hang their own agendas off of, and some who've perverted it with their own neuroses into some sort of "destroy the world in order to rebuild it" vision that'd make Mao and the Cultural Revolution blush.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 15:48:16.594567+00 by: topspin

Maybe it's just me, but the whole "anti-porn" ranting is a recycling of the "anti-abortion".... or "anti-meat" rants.

If you don't like abortion, meat, or porn...... don't participate.

When you start telling me that every abortion or every time meat is eaten or every porn video viewing somehow "warps societies attitudes," I start wondering how deep your narcissistic tendencies actually go, frankly.

Folks, your personal choices ain't that important to society. Have the broccoli casserole and I'll have the chicken.... society will survive. Have the baby and I'll have the abortion.... life goes on. Have the XXX burning hot feature and I'll take Hepburn tonight.... the sun will rise tomorrow.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 16:27:33.405595+00 by: ebradway

Dan, what you refer to is, in post-modernist terms, queer-theory. It's probably the first step to true post-post-modernism.

I think the real problem is that people don't change as fast as culture. Regardless of the impulse created by people on the leading edge is rarely enough to drag the rest of humanity, kicking and screaming, into a more realistic society.

My ex-wife worked as a domestic abuse social worker. Domestic abuse is a great example this momentum problem of cultural change. It's been at most 30 years since culture has really started recognizing that spousal abuse is basically wrong. Of course, that doesn't stop it from continuing to happen - and it happens across gender, class and race lines (my ex was actually involved with a program at a wealthy Synagogue to help bring more awareness to the problem among its members). The recognition of spousal abuse as a problem is perfect application of feminist, post-modern social theory.

Post-post-modern social theory would examine why individuals who are abused tend to return to their abusers or continue to attract abusers into their lives. My gut feeling is that queer theory, especially relating to sadomasochist relationships, will inform this research.

That is, for some people, being abused is an essential component of their personality. But that's a statement that challenges many people as much as the statement that some women enjoy being prostitutes.

Topspin: given the daily choices you have to make concerning people and their choices, I'm a little taken aback by your comment. Why not go ahead and dispense OxyContin 180s to anyone who asks for it? After all, it's their personal choice...

#Comment Re: Freedom of the pharmacy made: 2007-05-02 18:43:22.599991+00 by: m

Why not go ahead and dispense OxyContin 180s to anyone who asks for it? After all, how much more damage can this do to society than is being done by the current drug war?

Opiate addiction causes fewer problems than alcohol. There are fewer health problems. Detox from opiates is much more benign than from alcohol. Unlike alcohol, no convulsions, hallucinations or deaths. Most of the damage from opiates is from the setting in which they are taken, and the crimes that must be committed to maintain a habit. There were about 2,000,000 opiate addicts in the early 1900's. Almost all were able to hold jobs and pay for their habits with earned, rather than stolen money.

Every jailing for drug possession does more more harm than the drug. More than simply "warp societies attitudes", it indelibly damages individuals, their families and communities.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 21:30:44.683309+00 by: meuon

I sometimes think: Why not? Allow Darwinism at it's most basic level.. let people make really bad choices as long as it only endangers them alone. Which is the problem, the guy taking ______ wipes out 12 other people by driving impaires, or taking an Uzi to school for show and shoot.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-02 22:06:57.930219+00 by: ebradway

One reason "why not" is that sometimes the factors driving someone to abuse drugs are only temporary. So it's only the folks who can skate through life unscathed by reality that actually survive to breed. Coming out unscathed may be due to one's personality or it may be due to class and racial status. It might be cool if only the really laid-back kind of people survived to have kids. Flights with children would probably be cooler - less screaming and carrying-on.

Unfortunately, you can pretty easily quantify a connection between social class and drug abuse or behavior that leads to auto-Darwination. Disadvantaged people do actually have it harder. Drugs, theft, guns, etc., end up being relied on to alleviate some of the pain of disadvantage.

But to take this back to a post-post-modern discussion: Has anyone thought about how preferential treatment and privilege tend to lead to better performance? I need to dig up the reference, but I just read an article that linked increased academic productivity to preferential treatment by the teacher. That is, a teacher was told that there were four exceptionally gifted students in an upcoming class (when the class was normally distributed). For some reason, the teacher managed to single out four students in his teaching behavior with favorable treatment. These four students actually performed exceptionally in the class and retained an elevated understanding of the material.

Maybe privilege and preference isn't a bad thing as long as everyone gets their fair share of being preferred! Just as being bottom in an S&M relationship might bolster ones self-worth.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-03 07:26:27.325916+00 by: topspin [edit history]

eric, rather than hijack the thread, lemme simply show you the logic here: Some people pay me to manage their meds and other situations related to their healthcare; that's a personal choice. Others avoid traditional services and use meds through other channels; that, also, is a personal choice. Some folks pay meuon to handle computer issues, some will eventually pay you to handle mapping issues, some pay your wife for yoga training...... all by choice, others don't.

What's annoying about the anti-porn rants is that somehow folks are trying to connect personal choices to some "degradation" or "ill" of society. It seems folks wanna claim society isn't fair to them because porn has warped society somehow.

Women couldn't vote in this country for years.... was it porn? Women who made more money than their spouses (like my Mom) quit work to raise the kids.... was it porn? Women essentially couldn't get into a decent med school in the early 1800s..... was it porn? Examples are plentiful of women being devalued by society, I'll admit. Examples would also apply to gay folks being severely slighted by society throughout history.

In reality, in relatively recent years porn has become more mainstream, more accepted, more accessible..... and the value, power, and rights of women and gay folks in society has increased. The logical argument is: how much does the popularity and acceptance of porn EMPOWER women and gays?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-03 17:52:06.359451+00 by: ebradway

I guess the crux of my argument is that for some people, the "personal choices" available to them are limited by their position in society. Further, their mechanisms for making such choices have been influenced by society.

Porn comes in many flavors as meuon attests above. I would hypothesize that there is a correlation between the "ickiness" of the porn and the degradation of choice for the individuals featured in the porn.

As for porn, maybe we need something like the "Dolphin Safe" label on cans of tuna. Heck, movies for years have added statements to the affect that "no animals were harmed in the making of this film" with a stamp of approval by the Humane Society.

You have a good point about the accessibility of porn and it follows the major arguments for legalization of drugs. If drugs were legal, then the drugs will be manufactured to higher quality. If porn were more accepted, it will also be of higher quality. If drugs were legal, we could focus efforts on treating people who are challenged in making decisions about using drugs rather than just throwing them in jail.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-03 18:42:13.256766+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think you're seeing the start of a "dolphin safe" label, especially among the more fetish oriented sites. Kink.com has their guidelines, along with rules for performers and directors, on their site, and I can't find it right now, but I'm sure that a recent Savage Love column covered this.

I also believe that the more successful net porn purveyors are going out of their way to build some sense of relationship (however false) between the consumer and the performer. I forget the name of the media company that does all of those "one woman, early 20s come see me hang out, and, oh, by the way I get naked and masturbate" web sites, in fact there's probably more than one, and Suicide Girls, and Red Clouds have all acknowledged that naked pictures have been commoditized to be nearly worthless, in order to keep people coming back (and paying recurring fees) you have to be giving people a sense of ongoing relationship, if not with the performers then with the site.

I also, on thinking about this a little more, challenge your notion that feminism is post-modernist. I think that the flawed pseudo-feminism is, but that's because I think that post-modernism is flawed. Modernism grew out of the exploration of minimalism, figuring out what we really need to convey an idea, or where the intersection of the ideal and the practical is. Feminism was a similar questioning of roles and culture that sprang from the realization that society wouldn't collapse if those roles were changed any more than the building would collapse if the baroque filligree was removed.

So when we view pornography through a post-modernist (and by definition self-absorbed) lens we get sad cases like Andrea Dworkin, where personal psychoses and internal demons are what shapes the observer, so of course she sees evils. Further, by reinforcing the role of victim, even as the philosophy claims to be removing barriers, it's reinforcing others. Whereas when we see it through a modernist perspective we see the possibility of the perpetually and culturally abused wife realizing that there are people out there who can offer her need for power play without causing permanent damage, or that getting out of this relationship and then perhaps later having another one doesn't make her a slut.

And I'm still going to use this link tomorrow, but sexually explicit pornography has no exclusive lock on high budget images of women degraded, I have no illusions about it becoming "higher quality" with bigger budgets and a wider audience, my hope is that in the niche markets on the fringes there'll blossom the cultural changes that I seek.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-04 20:47:25.037626+00 by: ebradway

I just threw in a comment on your post-modernism opinion.

Can you clarify a bit for me on how you differentiate "pseudo-feminism" (which you claim is post-modernist) and your "feminism" (which I guess you are claiming is somehow modernist?).

I view modernism as the belief that progress, as long as it's "scientifically sound", is good regardless of the cost:

"Sorry, but your planet must be destroyed in order to make way for an inter-stellar by-pass"

I think what you are really getting to is what I've been referring to as post-post-modernism. Essentially that the structures that are commonly called out by post-modernism can exist in a positive sense (like "dolphin safe" porn) and maybe even are necessary for healthy society (having one parent not work and raise the kids).

And I think, like all points in history, society ends up being a blurred diaspora of philosophies. You can find elements that date to before modernity and you can find elements pushing the envelope beyond post-modernity. And you find all kinds of cruft in between.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-04 21:33:02.339626+00 by: Dan Lyke

In terms of artistic movements, modernism was Picasso and Matisse, the Bauhaus architects, Hemmingway, Faulkner as writers, Charles Ives and Philip Glass in music, and so forth. My interpretation of those various directions, up and into abstract expressionism (which I think counts as a subset of modernism), is that it was a reaction to Romanticism, an examination of "okay, we have art that makes us feel good, but why does it make us feel good?". Thus we have Picasso, a good illustrator, working towards cubism because he wanted to discover the minimalist essence of form and composition. Or Mies van der Rohe and his famous "form follows function", asking how minimal a design could be and still work for its users (to my mind, he ended up being too minimal, but...).

The snarky follow-up to this is that Post-Modernism is what happened when the english majors who couldn't create their own works got hold of this and set themselves up as critics.

However, deconstruction in general, and I believe the whole post-modernist movement, was about reinterpreting the existing in terms of the personal experience of the critic, and making the critical experience in light of an already existing entity the artistic work.

Thus we have a whole litany of artists and writers who were intent not on creating their own works, in any style, but on creating derivative works. Warhol, I'd argue Lichtenstein (although others place him as modernist), Cage, all fall into my notion of Post-Modernist. They were kind of early punk (or maybe punk as a movement is post-modern in the same ways that Dada is modern), take something and reduce it to parody, whilst stopping just short of snickering at the consumers of their output. Or pretending that they were laughing with them.

Part of the reason I have trouble taking the movement seriously is that last notion, if they were snickering, then they're intellectually dishonest, and if they weren't, well then, they deserve a little scorn. But it also goes into this whole "meta" everything that permeates the movement, deconstruction, much like the "impartial third person" of 1960s science film strips, offers up the illusion that somehow the critiquer exists apart from the subject of study, and the arrogance that arises from that ends up being what drives a lot of the so-called "feminist theory", it's the "I know what's better for you than you because I've separated myself from the circumstances", where in reality it's "in pretending that language (not necessarily verbal) can be objective, and trying to remove any notion of subjective shared metaphor from the communication, I've failed to acknowledge my own inputs into this process".

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-05 00:25:51.743634+00 by: Dan Lyke

A post post-modern post post: It occurred to me that Jeff Koons is probably the epitomy of post-modern. Michael Jackson and Bubbles is the ultimate in derivation, showing some impressive crafting skills, but designed primarily to shock in its outrageousness, and if it weren't building on the persona and artistic merit of someone else (yes, I did just assign artistic merit to Michael Jackson...) would just be schlock that we'd giggle over as tacky.

#Comment A Deep Exploration of Why Porn is Harmful made: 2007-05-09 13:37:30.597115+00 by: NoPornNorthampton

NoPornNorthampton explores the distinction between porn and erotica at Schwyzer on Porn: "The pursuit of everlasting novelty is the enemy of actual relationship".

Some people might be surprised to see how misogynistic porn has become today. Gail Dines examines it in this gripping lecture: Pornography and Pop Culture (explicit).

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-09 14:28:17.462373+00 by: Dan Lyke

I actually considered linking to Schwyzer's "Marriage, Miracle-Gro, and Mutual Accountability", although my initial (admittedly snide) response was something along the lines of "growth for its own sake is the philosophy of the cancer cell" and "I know women who make a good living from men who want that level of discipline and accountability from a woman and don't get it at home".

But I think the essay you link to is fairly easily taken apart with his statement that:

...true eros says that happiness is found by having different experiences over and over again with the same person.

Big sweeping generalization with no underlying facts to back it up. Perhaps true, perhaps not, but it reduces his entire argument to "A, because I assert A". And whether or not his assertion is true, it destroys his credibility.

I will try to squeeze in some time to listen to the Gail Dines lecture, maybe there's some task I can do today where I listen to it in the background, but your lead-in makes me wonder just a little bit when you use, as an example of "harsh misuse of women":

such as in the emerging "ass-to-mouth" genre

Uh... rimming's been around for a looong time (okay, I admit, I don't know if there's archeological evidence for it). And, admittedly, I don't actually end up watching any porn, I'm just a proponent of the art form, but given that I find nothing inherently degrading in "ass-to-mouth" (just some health issues that need to be reasonably addressed), then the degradation has to be in the dialog or situations.

It's hard for me to accept that there's anything more degrading in a porn film than there is in the various "women's magazines" at your average supermarket checkout line, and those (and mainstream films, and so much more) dwarf the economies of porn that it hardly seems worthwhile going after the little niche ghetto until the elephant that's been crapping all over the living room gets addressed.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-09 14:53:15.834979+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh, you might also want to double-check your numbers on the size of the pornography industry. While mainstream media repeats them willy nilly, if you start to look at what an industry that size really means, they fall apart fairly quickly, and using them to back up your numbers really damages credibility.

I'll try to dig up some of the better debunkings of the "7 billion" and "12 billion" claims today.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-09 15:42:02.437884+00 by: Dan Lyke

Here's a Boing-Boing collection of responses to the media over-estimates of the porn industry's size. Among other things, it links to Forbes Magazine asking how big the porn industry is. It accepts for the sake of argument the higher legitimate breakdown numbers and adds:

Adding pay-per-view to the Internet and video sales and rentals, the sum total is about $2.9 billion. Is it possible that adult magazines add another $7 billion--which would have to come in sales since they have minimal advertising? Hardly, when you consider that the entire consumer magazine market in 1999 grossed $7.8 billion (sales plus advertising), according to the Veronis Suhler Communications Industry Report.

The proprietor of Comstock films breaks it down even more:

If the average gonzo flick (the mainstay of the industry) costs $18K out the door, with 12,000 +/- titles/year, that puts the total annual production, post-production, replication and packaging costs somewhere around $216M/year. The Times is asking us to believe that $216M investment is generating annual revenues of $13B. How’s that for a return on investment! Even with promotion and overhead you’ve got to like those numbers!

#Comment Paid Ass-to-Mouth made: 2007-05-09 16:48:45.0932+00 by: NoPornNorthampton

To me, there's a huge difference between 'rimming on your own time' and paying someone to undergo "ass-to-mouth" sex. Over a century of employment law has established that there are some things you simply can't pay people to do, even if they are willing to do it. As Brian Flemming observes, stunts in regular films are heavily regulated, but for some reason people appear to care a lot less about the risks taken on by porn performers.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-09 16:49:32.990833+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'm sorry, I can't get through the Gail Dines lecture. She starts out with "this was all a grand architected vision" rather than "this was the structure evolved", and then starts contradicting herself enough that... well... she's not making an argument, she's ranting. And I'm only 9 minutes in.

#Comment The Extensive Reach of Porn made: 2007-05-09 16:57:20.099074+00 by: NoPornNorthampton

One can debate the exact size of the porn industry, but the fact remains that porn's reach, at least on the Internet, is extensive:

The data suggest that contrary to its reputation for being clandestine fringe media, porn is a fairly mainstream source of media content, reaching more than two-fifths of American online users. According to comScore Media Metrix estimates, pornographic sites had 70,689,000 unique visitors in April 2005, which compares with 164,961,000 total unique visitors to the Internet that month.

(MediaPost Column: Media Metrics - Porn, Stickier Than you Think by Joe Mandese, July 2005 issue)

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-09 17:00:17.952144+00 by: Dan Lyke

Here's a quick rundown of some of the performers killed in making mainstream movies and Wikipedia has a section on stunts that have gone wrong.

I'm not going to defend the issues that lead to Darren James spreading HIV in the porn industry, and I'm a fan of studios that practice safer sex in thier films, but if you're going to take numbers like the alleged $12B seriously, then you've got to admit that far fewer people are killed per dollar working in porn than in mainstream movies.

#Comment Overview of Professor Dines' Lecture made: 2007-05-09 17:06:09.330499+00 by: NoPornNorthampton

No problem if you can't watch all of Professor Dines' lecture. You can always read our overview.

I doubt you'll find language like this in the mainstream womens' magazines anywhere near to the extent you will in porn:

* cum dumpsters
* fucktubes
* slut sandwiches
* m.i.l.f.'s
* wet cunts
* fresh teen ass
* horny old broads
* hot slits
* slanteyed sluts
* naughty schoolgirls
* tight pink pussies
* stupid hoes
* naughty nymphos
* big booty ghetto girls
* drunk bar sluts
* cameltoes
* pathetic bitches
* little hoochies
* squirting skanks
* kung pao pussies

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-09 18:53:49.814978+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

But I've gotten two lines below your introduction of her and already pointed out huge factual errors. And you have some good points in there, but taking "donkey punch" seriously? C'mon, that's just throwing shit against the wall and seeing what sticks, and it shows the same sort of (in)attention to truth that re-quoting the "$12 billion" or "$57 billion" number does.

So, let's run down a few highlights.

13min:27sec - Technology has been facilitating the anonymous consumption of porn

Except that it sure seems to me (and, yes, I have no numbers to back me up, but as we'll see shortly, Gail Dines doesn't either, so bear with me) that the growth in internet pornography is about web sites where consumers build pseudo-relationships with the performers. Building a successful porn web site these days sure seems like it's about building a community around the kink with the consumers. And beyond web sites, I've gotten a hell of a lot of Skype callers and similar where the hook is about building a not-so-anonymous relationship with me as a consumer.

You look at that [magazine cover of buff man and woman] and you don't engage with it. You immediately think, 'Oh my God I'm such a fat pig. Look at me compared to her. What's wrong with me?' My students do this all the time... [T]hat's the role of images...to construct your identity in relation to what is normalized.

We agree here. But why look all the way to pornography for your enemy? Have you looked in, say, the New York Times Fashion section recently? It obviously changes regularly, but as of right now I see shoes with with long-term debilitating side effects, hair styles and makeup which suggest that attractiveness is paired with looking... well.. frankly alien, certainly not female, and celebration of an industry that uses up women in ways that make a porn star's career look extremely long-lived.

Compared to that, the "MILF" genre is amazingly uplifting, and the proliferation of amateur sharing sites a huge leap towards body acceptance.

"So when Madonna in her 'feminist' way goes out and talks about women, puts out the message that women are indeed exactly as men thought they are (pornographic men), it's all right for Madonna to say that because you know why, she travels with big, beefy...guys who protect her. It's you and I walking in that fucking parking lot at night that [have] to deal with the guys that believe this."

Nice bogeyman, but how many rapes are perpetrated by strangers in parking garages versus acquaintances? I'm not saying the streets couldn't be safer, but while rape is a real, horrible thing, made worse by the cultural reaction to it (and, yes, I'm speaking from the experience of interactions with women I've had close relationships with who've been raped), using the less likely scenarios for political purposes is wrong.

We can quibble over the details of the next few excerpted paragraphs, but let's skip down to your list of derogatory phrases for women. I'm not going to dispute that, yes, in some porn the terms you mentioned show up, and I think we need to address that. However, if you're going to claim that porn grosses more worldwide than GM made last year, then it's intellectually dishonest to claim that all porn consists of the keywords you threw up there. Hell, by that token I can point to Thelma and Louise[Wiki] and say "mainstream movies ($7 billion a year) think that independent women have no alternatives to killing themselves".

At this point my patience for taking this apart is wearing thin, so I'd like to skip down to:

"These are not actresses. These are women who have very few choices, many of whom have been sexually abused as children."

Does she have any statistics to back this claim up? I ask for two reasons: because I've never seen such a study whose statistics actually added up, and because I've heard this cliché used as a joke punchline in a room full of mostly female mostly sex workers, and us straight folks didn't think it was nearly as funny as the prostitutes did.

Gail Dines is another in a long stream of people who are trying to create a bogeyman and misdirect us to the wrong places to try to deal with some very real social problems, but in the process are doing more harm than good, both because they're pointing us away from where the real solutions are, saying "it's over there" rather than "it's in here", and because the end result of the actions they propose is less autonomy, less freedom, and a more dangerous environment for women.

#Comment Re: Addressing Your Claims made: 2007-05-10 12:41:34.980412+00 by: NoPornNorthampton

We have so much material (hundreds of articles) addressing your claims that this comment box is much too small to contain it. I invite your readers to visit us at NoPornNorthampton.org. I think a clear picture will emerge of what the bulk of porn is about, how it influences pop culture, how it is a factor both in stranger rape and domestic abuse, how sex workers and porn performers often come from abusive and/or disadvantaged backgrounds, and how porn is an important driver of misogyny today, worthy of serious attention. If "donkey punch" is a joke, then I would place it in the same tradition as Hustler cartoons, which make light of domestic violence and child molestation. Call me cold, but some things aren't good to joke about.