Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture

'Scientifically wrong'? You must be privy to some kind of science that most sex experts aren't, M. Spector. I didn't think you are the kind of person to bandy about such adverbs without cause and evidence.

M. Spector wrote:
We don't learn language by accident. We are deliberately taught language, most of us, by adults, and we are also born with brains that have evolved to be particularly adapted to learning and using language. No other animals have such brains. Read Stephen Pinker. Our brains, uniquely among animals, are hard-wired for language.

This is a bit of an aside, but an instructive one. I don't recall saying that we learn language by accident, but I'm also not sure what that means. And as for the statement--'we are deliberately taught language...by adults'--well, I don't know how you could possibly back up an assertion like that. Do adults sit prelingual children down and teach them the difference between a predicate and an adjectival noun? And of course, language is much more than just grammar. It's about knowing the difference between 'elucidation' and 'clarification', between jet black and midnight black. It carries cultural and social material in its essence. I haven't read Pinker, but I have read Chomsky's Cognitive Linguistics (surely a source text for Pinker), as well as De Saussure, Levi-Strauss, Barthes, Derrida and a great deal of other sources on the subject of language. My research has taught me two things relevant to this discussion: first, that no side can claim definitive authority on the subject, and second, that both explanations really point to the same conclusion. That is, that all of human history has moved us toward our present linguistic culmination. Either through some genomic circuitry or through cultural development. I can say, however, that those on the cultural side provide us with much more useful models on understanding language as a social phenomenon.

So too, with sex. You make--to be honest, rather crude--gestures towards 'animals having sex' as if the urge to procreate, mate or dominate is a correlation for 'sexuality'. Indeed, you castigated Maysie (rather unfairly)  for committing the same verbal slip. What kind of pornography do animals enjoy, I wonder. How do you respond to my suggestion that capitalism has altered pornography (and therefore, human sexual response) through the same way it has corrupted labour and social relations in general?

thorin_bane wrote:
Or in other words all men are pigs, good job! Who gets paid more in the porn industry? Do actors that portray people that are mentally disabled like Tom Hanks did in forest gump also get a taste of your vitriol?If no why not, it's exploitation of the "slow" isn't it.  Does anyone seriously think that is normal sex? I don't know anyone that likes 2 dicks in any location. And maye some do...does that make it unreal at that point? But no continue on your morale high horse trying to use capitalism as the straw man arguement

thorin, I'm sorry I offended you, but I did not mean to pass judgement: I'm not immune to the porn industry any more than someone who chooses to 'buy green' invariably encounters an impasse. I'm not sure what else to make of your words, but I urge you to reconsider my earlier post not as an attack on you (I hadn't thought of you at all while writing that post) but rather as a critique of the porn industry and an attack on capitalism.

remind remind's picture

Amazing really trying to suggest "porn" is hard wired, and equating "porn" with sexuality drives that are normal.

thorin_bane

No big deal writing doesn't always convey what we want to say as well as speech. The porn industry has a level of exploitation. As do most any industries though. My point is this, we have whole shows devoted to how the porn industry works, Seymour Butts does his show and porn with his mom(not with his mom but she is a producer heh) There are movies describing the porn industry, documentaries on the coke, vd etc. I would say you would have a much better idea of what that job encompasses pros/cons than a hell of a  lot of other jobs. I put it in the category of prostitution but not as exploitive.

 

Many would prefer prostitution is regulated like in my city. We rarely see streetwalkers. Or you don't notice them in most cases. They are checked every 2 weeks in order to retain their license. Must use a rubber. It works out well.  I put it into the vice you would have a hard time getting rid of so might as well regulate scenario. Along with pot booze prostitution abortion(not a vice but you get the picture) I don't know about cocaine, the chemical addition is far to high and the end result is horrible. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite? But I also think that prescriptions are all too often the easy solution.

Which is why I said in the end of my post that as long as no one hurts someone else (because if you enjoy masacism that is your choice) I am OK with porn. Yes some people get pulled into the wrong direction. Put that could very well have happened outside of the industry as well as in. How does one get to be a dentist and have the means to snort coke, or a rock star that likes heroine. There is an exploited industry, music. Anyway just trying to say that the porn industry is no better no worse than most jobs people can get. I guess it depends on your mentality for such a job.

thorin_bane

Remind do you think an erotic novel is porn? Because they serve the same function to titulate and give one erotic fantasies. One is print one is film. The mediums are different but the purpose is very similar.

martin dufresne

This fetishization of "hard-wiring" (and just how hard, sir?) to justify some men's choices - and a huge industry to boot - is quite amusing (if not "titulating"), as in any claim of deterministic teleology* voiced by a ny freedom fundamentalist...

Indeed, are thorin_bane and M. Spector ready to consider that their energetic responses to us are equally "hard-wired", presumably manipulated by their personal library's will to survive any unforeseen growth in their ethics?

Or is this "hard-wiring" model something reserved for the hoi polloi (great unwashed)?

*ETA: (Sorry for the big words - Teleology (Greek: telos: end, purpose) is the philosophical study of design and purpose. A teleological school of thought is one that holds all things to be designed for or directed toward a final result(...))

remind remind's picture

The point was made thorin, that animals do not partake in porn, yet their sexuality is alive and well.

sexuality does not = the availability of porn. It exists without it.

Michelle

Martin, you are personally attacking two people here by claiming that they have "personal libraries" of porn, when there is absolutely no proof of this being true.  Stop now.

martin dufresne

"claiming"... I wish you were kidding.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Catchfire wrote:

'Scientifically wrong'? You must be privy to some kind of science that most sex experts aren't, M. Spector. I didn't think you are the kind of person to bandy about such adverbs without cause and evidence.

You're right. I'm not.

But you must be privy to the entire educational background of "most sex experts" to be able to make that claim.

Perhaps you could use that vast knowledge to point us to a single reputable scientist who says that sexual response is transmitted entirely through culture and not through the genome (i.e., it's not "hardwired" but "taught").

Catchfire wrote:
I don't recall saying that we learn language by accident...

Christ, I even quoted where you said that in my post. Do these words ring a bell at all?

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We learn sexuality the way we learn language: by accident.

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Catchfire wrote:
And as for the statement--'we are deliberately taught language...by adults'--well, I don't know how you could possibly back up an assertion like that. Do adults sit prelingual children down and teach them the difference between a predicate and an adjectival noun? And of course, language is much more than just grammar. It's about knowing the difference between 'elucidation' and 'clarification', between jet black and midnight black. It carries cultural and social material in its essence.

I learned to speak from my parents, my teachers, and, to a lesser extent, my friends. It was no "accident".

Who taught you to speak?

Catchfire wrote:
...all of human history has moved us toward our present linguistic culmination. Either through some genomic circuitry or through cultural development.

It's not either/or. It's both.

And it's certainly nothing to do with "accident".

Catchfire wrote:
So too, with sex. You make--to be honest, rather crude--gestures towards 'animals having sex' as if the urge to procreate, mate or dominate is a correlation for 'sexuality'.

I don't know where you're getting this from. Why are you pretending to quote phrases that I never wrote, while in the same breath accusing me of being crude?

And the word "dominate" is the product of your own imagination, not mine.

Perhaps you could enlighten us about animal sexuality - in a less crude way, of course. What is it, for example, that determines how animals respond to sexual cues? Their genes or their culture?

Catchfire wrote:
Indeed, you castigated Maysie (rather unfairly) for committing the same verbal slip.

I don't know what "verbal slip" you are talking about. If Maysie had made a verbal slip, it would have been easy to correct the slip, but she has not done so.

No, what she said was considered, deliberate, and categorical: "Sexual response is not coded and is not hardwired. It's taught."

If you think there was a verbal slip involved here, why don't you tell us what you thought she really meant to say, and then we can see if she agrees with you.

Catchfire wrote:
What kind of pornography do animals enjoy, I wonder.

What a foolish conjecture. Of course animals don't "enjoy pornography". I'm sure your answer to my above question (what determines how animals respond to sexual cues?) will acknowledge that fact.

Catchfire wrote:
How do you respond to my suggestion that capitalism has altered pornography (and therefore, human sexual response) through the same way it has corrupted labour and social relations in general?

I agree that capitalism, like other pre-capitalist patriarchal societies, has altered pornography, but human sexual response does not depend on pornography for its existence. Like our animal ancestors we come with built-in sexual responses that ensure the survival of our genes through procreation. The only animals that don't come with sexual response built in are those that evolved asexual means of reproduction.

Nobody who recognizes that could possibly maintain with a straight face that "sexual response is not coded and is not hardwired. It's taught."

Doug

Catchfire wrote:

I'll finish by only commenting that on a purportedly progressive website, there seems to be an awful lot of apologetics for the capitalist pornography industry, which, like any capitalist enterprise, distorts social relations, dehumanizes the actors, and relies on exploitation, oppression and blood to earn its keep.

Which is the point. What's so special about porn? Lots of other industries share similar problems. You can't eat a chocolate bar without benefiting in some way from child slavery, after all.

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Indeed, all topics touching on pornography should be in the feminist forum for precisely this reason.

Somehow I don't think it would make sense to talk about gay porn in the feminist forum.

martin dufresne

It seems to me that the disagreement is in the interpretation of the word "response". Although response to many merely physical stimuli is spontaneous, I think that Maysie is right - males in our society are definitely "taught" to have a positive response to sexual stereotypes over and above other signals and even to assault against women, for instance, as promoted my most pornography. Now whodathunk we'd still be arguing nature vs. nurture in this day and age, ignoring that human beings' nature (however wired) is mostly their culture?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

martin dufresne wrote:
...I think that Maysie is right - males in our society are definitely "taught" to have a positive response to sexual stereotypes over and above other signals and even to assault against women, for instance, as promoted my most pornography.

I agree with that statement. The way Maysie put it, "We are absolutely *not* hardwired to enjoy porn."

What I disagree with is her statement that sexual response is entirely learned, and not at all "hardwired" (her word, not mine).

martin wrote:
Now whodathunk we'd still be arguing nature vs. nurture in this day and age, ignoring that human beings' nature (however wired) is mostly their culture?

The only reason we're arguing (at least in my case) is that some people are making absurd claims that human sexuality is entirely a cultural artifact, and has nothing to do with our genetic heritage.

 

martin dufresne

Edited for clarity: I read no such thing in Maysie's or anyone's posts. You are the one implictly equating human sexuality (drum roll) with most men's response to pornography - definitely a construct.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Then you can't read.

Since I'm limited to written argument, there's no point in trying to communicate with you.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

What buoyant confidence you must have, Spector, to make such claims without evidence. Myself, I said I wasn't sure whether sexual response (which, I agree with martin, hasn't been satisfactorily defined on this thread) was hardwired or taught. You seem definitively positive, yet haven't offered a single shred of evidence to back that up. What faith! I thought you were an atheist...

I admit that my usage of accident was rhetorical--although I'm not sure this justifies the way you latch on to it--as if hardwiring is determinate and cultural development is accidental. Like I said, that is a false binary, and I'm beginning to think your fanatical insistence of the hardwiring theory is a bit fetishistic. But, as this thread surely demonstrates, à chacun son goût.

As for my talk about crudeness, my point was that human sexuality is about a lot more than the biological urge to procreate. It is social, it is pleasurable, and it is communicational. My comment about animal pornography was meant ironically, although I realize that ideologues don't go in for that much. You said:

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I wonder where you think animals get their sexuality. Does someone teach them to respond to sexual cues? Of course not. Sexual response was hard-wired into our ancestors when they were still walking on all fours, and it is part of our genetic inheritance.

As if sexuality stared and ended with animalistic urges. Surely this is part of it, but the point is that animals don't watch pornography, yet humans have developed it as part of their sexuality.  Would you care to explain how creating, distributing, watching and arousal from pornography is inscribed in our genome? What about the mating ritual? What chromosome tells what kind of ice cream soda to order, and when to reach for the popcorn in the hopes you and your mate might touch? Sting, from the Police, famously said that sex for him lasted eight hours and included dinner and a movie. To call this biologically hardwired seems like an awful lot to chew on, so to speak.

Finally, I'm not sure why you feel the need to be such a prick (as it were) when discussing this with other people. I am aware that opinions different from mine are out there, and I'm not driven to insult those that disagree with me (although I do capitualte to that hardwired urge, from time to time) but you seem to take it up as part and parcel of your argument. It should stop.

And Doug:

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Somehow I don't think it would make sense to talk about gay porn in the feminist forum.

Quite right. Guilty as charged.

 

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

Would it make a difference at this point to acknowledge my error in using the term "sexual response", when, as Catchfire rightly noted, I meant "sexuality"?

Probably not, but I wanted to be clear anyways.

As for using the term "hardwired" I can say that was also an error on my part. I was echoing the language used by Trapper in the hopes of making my point. I rarely use that term. Being a social constructionist, I don't have much cause to. Smile 

Catchfire and martin, you're arguing my position, and more, better than I was able to. Thanks. 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Maysie wrote:

Would it make a difference at this point to acknowledge my error in using the term "sexual response", when, as Catchfire rightly noted, I meant "sexuality"?

Of course it makes a difference!

Now maybe the others who so promptly agreed with your incorrect categorical statement of scientific fact will acknowledge their error as well.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Catchfire wrote:

What buoyant confidence you must have, Spector, to make such claims without evidence. Myself, I said I wasn't sure whether sexual response (which, I agree with martin, hasn't been satisfactorily defined on this thread) was hardwired or taught. You seem definitively positive, yet haven't offered a single shred of evidence to back that up. What faith! I thought you were an atheist...

Gosh, I don't recall your protestations of agnosticism on the subject when Maysie made her categorical statement of scientific fact (which she now acknowledges was wrong) without a shred of evidence.

I guess I'm not allowed to disagree.

Quote:
I admit that my usage of accident was rhetorical--although I'm not sure this justifies the way you latch on to it--as if hardwiring is determinate and cultural development is accidental. Like I said, that is a false binary, and I'm beginning to think your fanatical insistence of the hardwiring theory is a bit fetishistic. But, as this thread surely demonstrates, à chacun son goût.

I guess it never occurred to you that you were the one who set up the false binary, with your "rhetorical" statement disguised as scientific fact.

Quote:
As for my talk about crudeness, my point was that human sexuality is about a lot more than the biological urge to procreate.

And my point was about animal sexuality, not human sexuality. Animal sexuality is based entirely on what you call "the urge to procreate". Human sexuality is much more complex. But it is wrong to deny that humans are a form of animal, and we ignore our animal heritage at our peril.

Quote:
My comment about animal pornography was meant ironically, although I realize that ideologues don't go in for that much.

Of course I know you were being ironic, but you were using irony to make a point. Simply because I disagreed with that point it does not mean that I didn't "get" your irony.

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As if sexuality stared and ended with animalistic urges.

Started? yes. Ended? no.

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Would you care to explain how creating, distributing, watching and arousal from pornography is inscribed in our genome? What about the mating ritual? What chromosome tells what kind of ice cream soda to order, and when to reach for the popcorn in the hopes you and your mate might touch? Sting, from the Police, famously said that sex for him lasted eight hours and included dinner and a movie. To call this biologically hardwired seems like an awful lot to chew on, so to speak.

Ooh, more irony! I guess that means I have to agree with you or else be considered an ideologue!

Read my lips: I never said the entirety of human sexuality was hardwired. Humans have inherited as well as culturally-conditioned components to their sexuality. Human sexual response is one aspect of human sexuality, and it is wrong to say that sexual response is entirely learned.

Quote:
Finally, I'm not sure why you feel the need to be such a prick (as it were) when discussing this with other people. I am aware that opinions different from mine are out there, and I'm not driven to insult those that disagree with me (although I do capitualte to that hardwired urge, from time to time) but you seem to take it up as part and parcel of your argument. It should stop.

Well, you just called me a prick; maybe you don't think that's an insult. I won't respond in kind, because I have already been warned by a moderator not to do so.

And I don't like your style of argument, either. So there.

martin dufresne

"Animal sexuality is based entirely on what you call "the urge to procreate." Gee, you ought to come tell that to the monkeys at my local zoo; they seem to indulge in all sorts of beside-oestrus activities. (Ah, but of course you used the vague "based on"... rhetoric is all.)

remind remind's picture

I do not always agree with Dworkin, but this says it all:

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For twenty years, people that you know and people that you do not know inside the women's movement, with its great grass-roots breadth and strength, have been trying to communicate something very simple: pornography happens. It happens. Lawyers, call it what you want--call it speech, call it act, call it conduct. Catharine A. MacKinnon and I called it a practice when we described it in the antipornography civil-rights ordinance that we drafted for the City of Minneapolis in 1983; but the point is that it happens. It happens to women, in real life. Women's lives are made two-dimensional and dead. We are flattened on the page or on the screen. Our vaginal lips are painted purple for the consumer to clue him in as to where to focus his attention such as it is. Our rectums are highlighted so that he knows where to push. Our mouths are used and our throats are used for deep penetration.

I am describing a process of dehumanization, a concrete means of changing someone into something. We are not talking about violence yet; we are nowhere near violence.

Dehumanization is real. It happens in real life; it happens to stigmatized people. It has happened to us, to women. We say that women are objectified. We hope that people will think that we are very smart when we use a long word. But being turned into an object is a real event; and the pornographic object is a particular kind of object. It is a target. You are turned into a target. And red or purple marks the spot where he's supposed to get you.

This object wants it. She is the only object with a will that says, hurt me. A car does not say, bang me up. But she, this nonhuman thing, says hurt me--and the more you hurt me, the more I will like it.

When we look at her, that purple painted thing, when we look at her vagina, when we look at her rectum, when we look at her mouth, when we look at her throat, those of us who know her and those of us who have been her still can barely remember that she is a human being.

In pornography we literally see the will of women as men want to experience it. This will is expressed through concrete scenarios, the ways in which women's bodies are positioned and used. We see, for instance, that the object wants to be penetrated; and so there is a motif in pornography of self-penetration. A woman takes some thing and she sticks it up herself. There is pornography in which pregnant women for some reason take hoses and stick the hoses up themselves. This is not a human being. One cannot look at such a photograph and say, There is a human being, she has rights, she has freedom, she has dignity, she is someone. One cannot. That is what pornography does to women.

We talk about fetishism in sex. * Psychologists have always made that mean, for example, a man who ejaculates to or on a shoe. The shoe can be posed as it were on a table far from the man. He is sexually excited; he masturbates, maybe rubs up against the shoe; he has sex "with" the shoe. In pornography, that is what happens to a woman's body: she is turned into a sexual fetish and the lover, the consumer, ejaculates on her. In the pornography itself, he does ejaculate on her. It is a convention of pornography that the sperm is on her, not in her. It marks the spot, what he owns and how he owns it. The ejaculation on her is a way of saying (through showing) that she is contaminated with his dirt; that she is dirty. This is the pornographer's discourse, not mine; the Marquis de Sade always refers to ejaculate as pollution.

Pornographers use every attribute any woman has. They sexualize it. They find a way to dehumanize it. This is done in concrete ways so that, for instance, in pornography the skin of black women is taken to be a sexual organ, female of course, despised, needing punishment. The skin itself is the fetish, the charmed object; the skin is the place where the violation is acted out--through verbal insult (dirty words directed at the skin) and sexualized assault (hitting, whipping, cutting, spitting on, bondage including rope burns, biting, masturbating on, ejaculating on).

In pornography, this fetishizing of the female body, its sexualization and dehumanization, is always concrete and specific; it is never abstract and conceptual. That is why all these debates on the subject of pornography have such a bizarre quality to them. Those of us who know that pornography hurts women, and care, talk about women's real lives, insults and assaults that really happen to real women in real life--the women in the pornography and the women on whom the pornography is used. Those who argue for pornography, especially on the ground of freedom of speech, insist that pornography is a species of idea, thought, fantasy, situated inside the physical brain, the mind, of the consumer no less.

In fact we are told all the time that pornography is really about ideas. Well, a rectum doesn't have an idea, and a vagina doesn't have an idea, and the mouths of women in pornography do not express ideas; and when a woman has a penis thrust down to the bottom of her throat, as in the film Deep Throat, that throat is not part of a human being who is involved in discussing ideas. I am talking now about pornography without visible violence. I am talking about the cruelty of dehumanizing someone who has a right to more.

In pornography, everything means something. I have talked to you about the skin of black women. The skin of white women has a meaning in pornography. In a white-supremacist society, the skin of white women is supposed to indicate privilege. Being white is as good as it gets. What, then, does it mean that pornography is filled with white women? It means that when one takes a woman who is at the zenith of the hierarchy in racial terms and one asks her, What do you want?, she, who supposedly has some freedom and some choices, says, I want to be used. She says, use me, hurt me, exploit me, that is what I want. The society tells us that she is a standard, a standard of beauty, a standard of womanhood and femininity. But, in fact, she is a standard of compliance. She is a standard of submission. She is a standard for oppression, its emblem; she models oppression, she incarnates it; which is to say that she does what she needs to do in order to stay alive, the configuration of her conformity predetermined by the men who like to ejaculate on her white skin. She is for sale. And so what is her white skin worth? It makes her price a little higher.

When we talk about pornography that objectifies women, we are talking about the sexualization of insult, of humiliation; I insist that we are also talking about the sexualization of cruelty. And this is what I want to say to you--that there is cruelty that does not have in it overt violence.

There is cruelty that says to you, you are worth nothing in human terms. There is cruelty that says you exist in order for him to wipe his penis on you , that's who you are, that's what you are for. I say that dehumanizing someone is cruel; and that it does not have to be violent in order for it to be cruel.

Men use sex to hurt us. An argument can be made that men have to hurt us, diminish us, in order to be able to have sex with us--break down barriers to our bodies, aggress, be invasive, push a little, shove a little, express verbal or physical hostility or condescension. An argument can be made that in order for men to have sexual pleasure with women, we have to be inferior and dehumanized, which means controlled, which means less autonomous, less free, less real.

I am struck by how hate speech, racist hate speech, becomes more sexually explicit as it becomes more virulent--how its meaning becomes more sexualized, as if the sex is required to carry the hostility. In the history of anti-Semitism, by the time one gets to Hitler's ascendance to power in the Weimar Republic, one is looking at anti-Semitic hate speech that is indistinguishable from pornography ** --and it is not only actively published and distributed, it is openly displayed. What does that orgasm do? That orgasm says, I am real and the lower creature, that thing, is not, and if the annihilation of that thing brings me pleasure, that is the way life should be; the racist hierarchy becomes a sexually charged idea. There is a sense of biological inevitability that comes from the intensity of a sexual response derived from contempt; there is biological urgency, excitement, anger, irritation, a tension that is satisfied in humiliating and belittling the inferior one, in words, in acts. ***

We wonder, with a tendentious ignorance, how it is that people believe bizarre and transparently false philosophies of biological superiority. One answer is that when racist ideologies are sexualized, turned into concrete scenarios of dominance and submission such that they give people sexual pleasure, the sexual feelings in themselves make the ideologies seem biologically true and inevitable. The feelings seem to be natural; no argument changes the feelings; and the ideologies, then, also seem to be based in nature. People defend the sexual feelings by defending the ideologies. They say: my feelings are natural so if I have an orgasm from hurting you, or feel excited just by thinking about it, you are my natural partner in these feelings and events--your natural role is whatever intensifies my sexual arousal, which I experience as self-importance, or potency; you are nothing but you are my nothing, which makes me someone; using you is my right because being someone means that I have the power--the social power, the economic power, the imperial sovereignty--to do to you or with you what I want.

This phenomenon of feeling superior through a sexually reified racism is always sadistic; its purpose is always to hurt. Sadism is a dynamic in every expression of hate speech. In the use of a racial epithet directed at a person, for instance, there is a desire to hurt--to intimidate, to humiliate; these is an underlying dimension of pushing someone down, subordinating them, making them less. When that hate speech becomes fully sexualized--for instance, in the systematic reality of the pornography industry--a whole class of people exists in order to provide sexual pleasure and a synonymous sense of superiority to another group, in this case men, when that happens, we dare not tolerate that being called freedom.

 **bolding mine

http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/PornHappens.html

remind remind's picture

Just wanted to add, given what pornography is as outlined correctly by Dworkin, is it any wonder that Conservatives are the biggest partakers?

thorin_bane

I have seen males subjected to all sorts of things in Porn as well. Despite my apparent VAST LIBRARY(martin) It is still suppose to be a sexual fantasy. Not reality. Do you watch superhero movies going, "people can't jump off buildings" those people are 2 dimensional.  I go back to novels, how is a novel any different than porn or rather the script for a porno movie? If the people involved agree to make a MOVIE that is their prerogative. If you choose to not watch it, that is your prerogative. Should people not be allowed to drink, we actually have tons of evidence that says it is harmful, so why is it legal?

remind remind's picture

thorin did you actually read and hear what dworkin states?

Unbiased

I just read the excerpt from Dworkin. She is a powerful writer. Very.

I can not possibly hope to express any of my own thoughts in such a manner.

I am a man. (disclaimer) I partake of pornography. .  

Now that said .. I have to also say. Everything in me rebels against her characterization of it. My disagreement is so absolute I can hardly find words to begin.

I repeat. I am a man. 

I believe men and women relate to pornography differently. Yes, we are "wired" differently.

The thrust of her polemic seems to circle around dehumanization and hatred. Or cruelty .. or objectivication. or or ....

The assumption being that pornography is ultimately and always degrading to women. Much of it is. Much of it isn't. There are so many categories and sub categories to porn it defies the imagination. That includes porn made with women's desires in mind.

As to US Conservatives being the biggest consumers ?

Who knows..
Certainly there is a certain irony in if only because they seem to be the ones crying out most stridently against it.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Yes, Dworkin was a powerful writer.

Her views on porn have been discussed and debated many times over in feminist circles.

Unbiased, you are a man, and you are a straight man. This matters, which you've named but not elaborated on. What does is *mean* that you're a man having this discussion?

All men, even nice lefty men, have been taught to objectify and sexualize women. Many men struggle against this early training/brainwashing and succeed, but the grains are still there, and may enact themselves in ways you have no idea. The men I know who have unpacked this bullshit say it's always there, and it's a conscious struggle for them to actively engage in shutting it down, and replace the brainwashing with what they know is true. That women are complex, sexual, fabulous and a million other things. Smile

Yes, Dworkin's assumption is that porn by definition is degrading to women. If feminist porn had existed when she was alive she may have said that it is merely women participating in their own degradation rather than being victims of it. And many would agree with her.

I believe that even in the most "vanilla" scene in straight porn, Dworkin would still find it degrading to women since this type of porn is produced primarily for the male gaze. Women are passive, their pleasure is connected only to his pleasure, their orgasms non-existent except for magically appearing when his does.

I respect her position, even as I disagree with it. It holds only for very specific straight porn, and the analysis falls apart when confronted with the same male gaze, but directed towards other male bodies. But my analysis is that a depiction of graphic sexuality, even from a mainstream context, is not necessarily degrading to women.

Slumberjack

You can't imagine what a comforting relief it is to read that Maysie.  Thank you. Smile

It's Me D

Maysie wrote:
Yes, Dworkin's assumption is that porn by definition is degrading to women. If feminist porn had existed when she was alive she may have said that it is merely women participating in their own degradation rather than being victims of it. And many would agree with her.

If the internet had existed, and its effects on the porn industry, I wonder if it would have had a big effect on her critique. On one hand in dollar terms the industry has grown with the internet (and new opportunities for gross exploitation have arisen), on the other hand the internet has provided a tool to democratize porn (as has happened with all media) undermining the industry (and arguably providing a counter to its exploitation). I hope she'd see hope there, since I read her critique as directed primarily at the porn industry. Its difficult to tell what will become of porn, with these significant technological (and cultural) changes, but it certainly won't be reclaimed from the exploitative capitalist patriarchal system that Dworkin's railing against if progressives can't move past her (increasingly dated) position (like Maysie so eloquently does above!)

remind remind's picture

Actually I believe it is worse than degrading, in particular those that have the "little girl" or the "school girl" aspect to them. Bonnie Klein's documentary "Its not a Love Story", still stands  in truth. The objection of people promotes dehumanization, no matter which way you slice and dice it.

Unbiased

Interesting..

as it happens I knew Linda Lee Tracy remind. She was a dancer in Montreal.

Was it Bonnie Klein ?

I don't remember.

What I do remember is that I felt the movie was deeply flawed. Something about it felt contrived and wrong to me. It just seemed fake and belied what I knew of Linda Lee.

Please don't misunderstand me. I deplore and rail against violence to woman.. Let me amend that, violence in any form. I deplore and rail against depersonalization in any form. Human interreaction and sexuality is a complex subject. I do not pretend to understand it. I can only speak as a man who is trying to come to terms with it in his own life. Tonight my girlfriend was browsing some 2,000 photos on Flickr of advertisements from the past (mostlyy 50's and 60's)... I found myself horrified at the unbelievable sexism expressed there. I grew up then.. My views are of necessity shaped by my upbringing but I have tried to use rationality to overcome my upbringing.

Maysie; forgive me if I don't respond to your comment now. I seriously need time to think it over before answering. I will acceed to your according Andrea Dworkin her position on straight porn but I need time to integrate your thoughts before responding.

 

 

Unbiased

umm. Maysie..?

Just an addendum to the post above.

You described me as a "straight" man.

If you meant heterosexual, you were correct. How you knew that from my post is a mystery to me. I didn't think I had mentioned that.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Unbiased wrote:
Maysie; forgive me if I don't respond to your comment now. I seriously need time to think it over before answering. (snip) but I need time to integrate your thoughts before responding.

I get that a lot. Laughing 

 

And It's Me D, I think those personal questions to remind are irrelevant. remind and I disagree on the issue of porn, but as a moderator I will ask you to not ask for personal disclosures from other babblers, especially in the context of sexual relationships. Not cool. 

[Edited to add: thanks for the edit, It's Me D] 

It's Me D

(removed by poster)

Maysie Maysie's picture

As for whether Dworkin was critiquing the porn industry or porn itself, it's pretty clear. No matter who makes the images, if the images are of women as described in remind's post #70, that is pornography, to Dworkin, and therefore degrading, etc.

I guess I should be clear that where I agree with Dworkin is that, yes, there are images in porn that I feel are degrading to women, etc. If it's a venn diagram, then I'm a small circle inside Dworkin's larger one. Her analysis stands, it's just not as widespread and all-encompassing, at least for this feminist.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Unbiased wrote:

umm. Maysie..?

Just an addendum to the post above.

You described me as a "straight" man.

If you meant heterosexual, you were correct. How you knew that from my post is a mystery to me. I didn't think I had mentioned that.

I know of no gay men who have the level of knowledge of straight porn (women don't appear in gay porn, nor is sexism and misogyny an issue in gay porn, although we could talk about feminization and dominance but please let's not) that you wrote about in post#74. It was an educated guess on my part. 

It's Me D

Maysie: I deleted my post. However I disagree that asking for a personal opinion is inappropriate on babble and there was no need for remind to disclose anything other than her opinion (which she has been very willing to share so far) in order to answer my question. But you're the mod and if you see some distinction between personal opinions on sexuality and personal opinions on other subjects (baring in mind that this thread is in the media forum and has potential as a fascinating discussion of sexuality in the media) then I respect that.

Unbiased

Maysie wrote:
Unbiased wrote:

umm. Maysie..?

Just an addendum to the post above.

You described me as a "straight" man.

If you meant heterosexual, you were correct. How you knew that from my post is a mystery to me. I didn't think I had mentioned that.

I know of no gay men who have the level of knowledge of straight porn (women don't appear in gay porn, nor is sexism and misogyny an issue in gay porn, although we could talk about feminization and dominance but please let's not) that you wrote about in post#74. It was an educated guess on my part.

ok.. I concede. YOU are educated. :-)

As to the rest of your post.. Please give me some time to think..I really would like to consider before responding. 

It's Me D

Maysie wrote:
As for whether Dworkin was critiquing the porn industry or porn itself, it's pretty clear.

Okay I'll leave aside all her extremely industry specific comments regarding the actual production of porn and assume they are irrelevant to her underlying point.

Even then, when Dworkin says:

Quote:
I am describing a process of dehumanization, a concrete means of changing someone into something.

Should I assume she's referring to the process of making a video recording?

Its the question I tried to ask remind above, if porn is the problem, and not the industry, then when does sex become porn?

When the participants are paid? When their sex acts are recorded? When this recording is distributed? When there is a charge for distribution?

It seems like a question worth answering to me, and if everyone else has a clear answer I'd appreciate them sharing... unless thats uncool.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Unbiased wrote:
ok.. I concede. YOU are educated. :-)

Finally, the recognition I deserve! Tongue out

As for the rest, please take all the time you want.

 

It's Me D, I read your comment / question as a personal inquiry. If it had been directed at me that's how I would have taken it. I might have been wrong. It's happened before. Smile

I apologize if I was. 

And I didn't mean for you to delete the entire post. If you want to re-post please feel free to do so, but I would also encourage you to address everyone, since this is a public thread. Others who aren't posting may think as remind, or anyone else, thinks.

It's Me D

Maysie wrote:
And I didn't mean for you to delete the entire post. If you want to re-post please feel free to do so, but I would also encourage you to address everyone, since this is a public thread. Others who aren't posting may think as remind, or anyone else, thinks.

Thanks for your clarification Maysie, how is my post #87, I think its a better way of asking my question anyway so thanks for helping me rephrase it!

Maysie Maysie's picture

It's Me D wrote:
 Should I assume she's referring to the process of making a video recording?

Its the question I tried to ask remind above, if porn is the problem, and not the industry, then when does sex become porn?

When the participants are paid? When their sex acts are recorded? When this recording is distributed? When there is a charge for distribution?

It seems like a question worth answering to me, and if everyone else has a clear answer I'd appreciate them sharing... unless thats uncool.

I really appreciate these questions, It's Me D, very thought-provoking. 

1. Re video recordings: I don't think so. I think she meant the *process* of dehumanizing *in the gaze itself*, not the manner of production. I always read her as high level. Again, I could be wrong.

I think Dworkin was saying porn *and* the porn industry are the problem. 

As for the rest of your questions, yes, those are part of the crux of where, in my opinion, her analysis will not hold. Once we talk about getting paid, there are tons of slippery slopes, even though getting paid to have sex on camera, as in, that's your job, is fairly clear, but there's tons of blurry edges in there.

 Edited to add:

It's Me D wrote:
 Thanks for your clarification Maysie, how is my post #87, I think its a better way of asking my question anyway so thanks for helping me rephrase it!

It's great! Thanks! See, you already have a response from moi. More will follow I'm sure. 

 

500_Apples

martin dufresne wrote:
"Animal sexuality is based entirely on what you call "the urge to procreate." Gee, you ought to come tell that to the monkeys at my local zoo; they seem to indulge in all sorts of beside-oestrus activities. (Ah, but of course you used the vague "based on"... rhetoric is all.)

I bought into that too a while back.

A friend of mine, biology major, told me a while back that sex also had the evolutionary purpose of pair bonding. Made sense, explains a lot with very little, fits the data, and so I accepted it immediately.

500_Apples

This is a very solid thread.

Personally, I'm very much against the porn industry. Sexuality is hardwired and so is hunger, but I can still oppose Pepsi Cola.

These are by and large completely unrealistic depictions of women and more and more now, of men as well. It's gotten worse now that computer software is getting more and more sophisticated. People are being bombarded with unrealistic and unimportant expectations of what to expect in both themselves and in those they're with. The other key point is that there's no escaping - porn is everywhere. It's on magazine stands, on TV, in ads, on billboards, and there's no escaping the ubiquitous sexual stimulation and its long-term effects. In the long run I think this will lead to lower self-esteem for almost everybody, people having a harder time forming functional relationships, and people wasting more and more resources and unnatural needs like plastic surgery.

I think remind's point about conservatives liking porn because it dehumanizes people is instructful. I laughed at first, and then a couple minutes later it hit me that unfortunately there's a lot of truth to what she wrote.

martin dufresne

I don't think the distinction between "pornography" and "the pornography industry" is valid. As quoted above, Dworkin and McKinnon described pornography as a practice, something that is there, not just something to discuss in a vacuum. And it's there because of a multi-billion industry forcing it on everyone of us, whether we think of ourselves as "erotica connoisseurs", libertarians, passers-by, whatever. I think it is an idealist - and therefore dangerous - argument to try and discuss "pornography" in a vacuum, as some kind of idea, e.g. nudity with incidental spectators. It's a mega-business based on men's interests and power and carefully calibrated to enhance their feeling of power over women (or objectified men): deal with it.

Sure, someone can invent something different and call that X or Y pornography. But unless it sells and satisfies a mega-audience, I don't think it qualifies as pornography, as that elephant in our lives. It may be creative, perhaps even "feminist" in the ultra-vague liberal/post-mo/"anything done by a woman" sense, but is doesn't really relate to the industry - the one that Dworkin challenged with her life - in other ways than to try and blur the distinction - which tends to get the industry off the hook.

I disagree with Maysie's assessment that "Dworkin's assumption is that porn by definition is degrading to women." Dworkin really analyzed it - painstakingly - as a practice, and it was empirically - what it showed, said and did to women - that she ferreted out its messages. To anyone who doubts this, I suggest reading Chapter 1 of her fabulous "Pornography: Men Possessing Women" (Perigee). Her argument is anything but idealist or essentialist. And modern-day pornography proves it a lot more than it rebuts it.

Of course, that is merely a (straight) man's opinion. What does it "mean" that I am having this discussion?" Good and important question. I would answer: Probably much the same that when I am discussing how easily male abusers of women and children get off the hook when the system does it very best to deny a systemic oppression. As a man, I have been raised in this sexist culture that is beneficial for me and other men, and I can attest to that, against more reassuring views.

BTW, Dworkin did live alongside so-called "feminist porn"; that was already around when she first published in the late seventies. She wrote and spoke earnestly about its promise and its deception. She also saw the Internet revolution and the industry's million-dollar figures grow into billions.

Coincidentally - This just in:

Dear Supporters,

Stop Porn Culture will be holding our next slideshow training at
Wheelock College in Boston, MA. The dates are June 5-7, 2009.
The cost is $50 with no one turned away for lack of funds. Email us back if you want more information - [email protected] 

It's Me D

martin dufresne wrote:
I don't think the distinction between "pornography" and "the pornography industry" is valid.

Stoppornculture.org wrote:
No doubt humans have always tried to make sense of the mystery of sexuality, and that has included art; pictures, music, stories, poetry. Pornography has always existed, but the difference is in the quantity of pornography that is easily accessible and also in the increased violence and degradation that is shown.

It is also important to remember that the goal of the contemporary pornography industry isn't to expand and promote sexuality, but in financial profit. In a patriarchal, capitalist society, producing images that exploit sexuality rather than enhance it is very profitable.

 

Yet like martin, the rest of their website makes no distinction, standing in contradiction to this statement (with which I personally agree).

martin dufresne

That is because they only discuss the pornography industry, not sexuality, once they have made the point that the former is not equivalent to the latter.

remind remind's picture

One can see pornography as the process by which women and girls are commodified to suit the pleasures of men.

The outcome of this commodification is objectification.

The outcome of objectification is a dehumanizing perception where a woman exists as "the body" subject in one dimensional form, no thoughts feelings or desires of their own. A woman becomes "the" woman object, in as much as the boat, the car, the snowmobile, are in fact objects for use with no dimention, and no purpose, other than to exist to service the pleasures of those who use them.

If women do not meet the objectification criteria, then they are obliged to meet it as best they can. Boob jobs, labia reductions, tummy tucks, etc. become the physical norm.

Emotionally, women must deaden themselves, and silence their voices in order to meet the requirements of being an object.

In this instance, I am reminded of a February issue of Penthouse, where the cover had a woman on it, hands retricted, on her knees,  no clothes, with one of those ball things in her mouth and of course no way to remove it. This image is a powerful one, that states this is how a woman should be, and what the male really wants for "Valentine's Day", a silenced, bound and objectified body, for their personal use in whatever way they want it to be.

Meanwhile, women are reading Cosmo and seeing headlines that shout, "what does your man want for Valentine's Day" and the article goes on to list all the sexual desire fulfilments that women can give a man.

So where is what a woman wants in this scenario? There is no acknowlegement of a woman as being anything more than what a man wants and desires.

The objectification is complete and women are dehumanized  into being a commodity, that is owned, used, and then disposed of, when it suits the male desire, no different than "the" boat or "the" car.

 

 

martin dufresne

M. Spector: "Animal sexuality is based entirely on what you call "the urge to procreate." Gee, you ought to come tell that to the monkeys at my local zoo; they seem to indulge in all sorts of beside-oestrus activities.

500 apples: "A friend of mine, biology major, told me a while back that sex also had the evolutionary purpose of pair bonding. Made sense, explains a lot with very little, fits the data, and so I accepted it immediately."

Well, my scientific background makes me wary of hypotheses that "explain a lot with very little".

Indeed, just about anything can be said to have an evolutionary purpose (why else did the chicken cross the road, eh?), as in your argument suggesting that non-procreative sex really reflects the urge to procreate.

Give us a break with the mechanistic "science", guys, and own up to the fact that there is more to human agency and sexist/capitalist exploitation than some "hard-wiring" playing itself out!Tongue out

It's Me D

martin dufresne wrote:
That is because they only discuss the pornography industry, not sexuality, once they have made the point that the former is not equivalent to the latter.

It sounds to me like you, stoppornculture.org, and remind all make a distinction between porn and the porn industry, and you all take issue with the industry's part in the commodification of women (as do I). We all see the association between this and patriarchal capitalist society so do we agree that sexual erotic imagery/videos/stories/etc. (generally termed porn) would exist without the industry/patriarchal capitalist society, and thus without the exploitation/commodification?  I don't think the problem is sexuality+media, like stoppornculture.org says as quoted above its clear humans will express their sexuality in the media available, in any society.

martin dufresne

I can't make heads or tails of your argument (humans expressing their sexuality through industry, really?), but I certainly DON'T make a distinction between porn and the porn industry. I have said the exact opposite above, in post #93.

It's Me D

It's Me D wrote:
humans will express their sexuality in the media available

martin dufresne wrote:
humans expressing their sexuality through industry, really?

wiktionary wrote:
Medium (plural media): A format for communicating or presenting information.

lrn2read martin

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