>Recently I mentioned that I came across two rants against my article on porn. When I spoke to Dianne last week, she suggested I reprint the whole thing here, which I am doing, but I hope that people will follow the link to the original post, too Part of blogging is directing the limited traffic one gets to other sites, right?
I have a few words to say to Suzanne Reisman regarding her article "Porn: It Might Cure What Ails Us" (Nov. 16): As an anti-porn feminist, I can attest to disliking mainstream porn not because I am puritanical, repressive, neo-Victorian, or anti-sex. I dislike it because of its complete and total disregard for women as anything other than body parts packaged and sold as 'sex'. Pornography is not an accurate depiction of true honest sexuality, or at least not a total summation of it. How can it be? Its too glitzy, too commercialized, too highly-marketed. Saying that it is part and parcel to 'open sexual discourse' is a big misnomer, Ms. Reisman. Afterall, if you want to get people talking, usually words work more effectively than images of gangbangs. Our success as a culture is not in creating more porn or learning to accept mainstream porn despite its clear disregard for women (don't believe me on that? Let's see: the focus is always on male orgasm and seldom on the female orgasm, men are hugely under-depicted in mainstream hetero porn and even our entire culture has brainwashed us into believing that sex=naked women, not naked men), its in creating REAL equality between the sexes, and gaining a better understanding of ourselves, of our desires, and of our bodies. Considering that something like 40% of women will never experience orgasm in their lives, I think that should be proof that our pornified culture is not working to their benefit. Despite growing amounts of pornography and porn-like media (including the television shows, ads for car waxes, and Britney Spears' videos you mentioned), women are no more in tune with themselves then they ever were. Mainstream pornography has only skewed our thinking of what normal sex and normal bodies are: we are now either fake blonde white girls with tans, french-tipped nails and silicone breasts, or else we are neatly subdivided into a long list of atrocious fetishes ranging from pregnancy, barely legal teens, rape conquests, housewives, etc. In fact, I believe that the reason why we have come to be so acceptant of violent sexuality against women on network television is because we've become so desensitized to it through our use of online porn.
If all we're given are the perpetuated falsehoods of our gender (that we're here to perform, to be available, to fulfill without necessarily being fulfilled), then how can we expect real equality outside of the bedroom or even in it? And no, the correlation between countries with more equality and their porn consumption is infactual. Every industrialized country in the world creates pornography. Japan, for instance, is an infamously huge manufacturer of pornography yet also has exceptionally high records of rape and sexual harrassment in their cities. Denmark has made a tourist trap out of prostitution, and despite being progressive, I don't believe that a culture that gladly accepts the selling of half naked women in windows like meat going out for slaughter is especially feminist. And a lesson for you: women in porn don't necessarily 1.) enjoy what they're doing, 2.) make a profitable livelihood from it, or 3.) do it because they want to. Sexual slavery is still alive and well, even in the United States. Considering that most of your mainstream online porn features girls barely over 18, it is doubtful that these young women are doing it because they "love it" or feel especially empowered by it. Most do it because they need two things: quick money and easy attention. They are preyed upon by a culture that has made the sexualizing of teens de riguer, and expecting them to simply fend for themselves would be senseless and sad.
Ms. Reisman, I wouldn't go burning any bridges with us anti-porn feminists just yet. Save your Gender Studies dissertation paper for your collegiates instead of the Metro, because the truth of the matter is that we would like a reform in pornography as much as anyone. We would love to see women represented as equals to men in the realm of sex and to finally have women's desires articulated in real, honest ways. But I don't think the mass consumption of flesh for money is really the answer. Nor is it wise to rally against us, since those of us who are against pornography are sadly in the minority. We are painted, even by women such as yourself, to be anti-sex instead of seeing us for what we mainly are: people who don't like our desires branded and sold to us, who prefer real sex instead of the bought variety, and who see pornography as symptomatic of a bigger cultural problem.
[Name removed at request of blogger, who doesn't like it that Google searches on her name bring up CUSS.]
What I enjoy about this essay most is that it has almost nothing to do with what I wrote in my article. I never said that mainstream porn should be emulated. In fact, I said we need better porn than what is out there. So this whole response, while full of interesting points, has nothing to do with me. I am also fairly sure that I never accused anti-porn feminists of being dried up prudes. I quoted the wonderful Ellen Willis, who made an interesting point about Victorian viewpoints, but I didn't equate someone who hates Playboy with Anthony Comstock. The funniest part of the fire-and-brimstone righteous fury in this essay is that, at the end of the say, we have the same point: reform porn for better results.
The very best part though: [Now Anonymous's] essay is 776 words, which is 226 more than Metro gives to its columnists. Perhaps I could have explored more issues as well if I had an unlimited word count, too. (Or should I save that for my Gender Studies Dissertation? Cackle.)