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anon



Reged: Jul 22 2006
Posts: 115
Loc: NYC
Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Heather]
      #1400 - Sat Jul 29 2006 01:01 PM

If this forum exists to discuss feminist issues and to enable communication of different opinions between feminists, it needs to be okay for someone to say that they do not think that something is a feminist issue at all. I am discussing pornography, and I am saying that I disagree that it is a feminist issue in and of itself. Abuse is a feminist issue, sure--but pornography is not.

If you truly want this forum to be meaningful and to enable communication between various peoples, it's important to embrace all opinions and respect them, especially as a moderator, instead of attempting to stifle them because you disagree and the poster's opinion is not one you think is applicable. It is not wrong to state that you don't feel that something is a feminist issue and one shouldn't be told not to participate in the discussion because of that.

Discussion in terms of feminism can take place without everyone agreeing that it does have to do with feminism--and it makes for much more interesting and mind-opening discussion when everyone does not have the same opinion.

Beyond that--

I do not think that porn, in and off itself, is a feminist issue, and I don't think that saying pornography in itself is demeaning to women is fair. It's also intensely disrespectful, as well, to women who make the free and unpressured choice to participate in the production of pornography, because by marking all pornography as demeaning it is necessary to say that women who truly do choose to participate in pornography are incapable of making the judgment call as to whether they are being demeaned. To claim that all pornography is demeaning is to question a woman's right to do what she will with her body without having to answer questions or justify her free choices.

It is important, in discussing pornography, to eliminate the concept from the practice. As well, it is important to distinguish between different kinds of pornography.

There is nothing less than feminist about the concept of pornography. If anything, the concept is nothing short of intensely feministic, because at core, it is about using your body to give others pleasure, and being free to do so--which is by far at odds with the general historical attitude, which valued chastity and virginity among women above almost all else in a vast majority of past societies.

In practice, it can absolutely be exploitive, and often is. It can certainly be demeaning to women, and can certainly be less than a free choice. When the practice becomes so skewed, it can certainly become demeaning very easily. The focus, however, should not be eliminating pornography or preaching about its evils, but trying to make it less exploitive and more of both a free choice and a valued act.

Additionally, it is important, as I noted earlier, to distinguish between different types of pornography. There is written porn, there is professionally-made porn, there is privately made porn that is distributed widely, and there is porn one can make for one's significant other (to name a few).

These leave a lot of room for variation in degrees in explotation and I am sure you cannot disagree that some are more open to it than others.

--------------------
I somehow doubt we'll ever be the same--there's too much poison and confusion on your face


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HeatherAdministrator
Be-Musing Momma


Reged: Feb 05 2006
Posts: 728
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Re: The Pornography Division [Re: anon]
      #1405 - Sat Jul 29 2006 01:30 PM

Quote:

Abuse is a feminist issue, sure--but pornography is not.




To YOU. Which is fine. What is NOT fine -- and please understand that I am saying this as a moderator for this forum, so arguing with it isn't kosher -- is stating it is not, period, for every feminist, for feminism period. Several women discussing this issue have said that to THEM as feminists, for their feminismn, IT is. If even just one feminist woman said that it was, we would no longer, any of us, be able to say that something was, de facto, not a feminist issue.

No one here, including myself, is attemtping to stifle your opinion. if you had come in and said it wasn't an issue for YOU and why, rather than being dogmatic, I wouldn't have said squat. But that's not what you did: this is why it is YOU stifling discussion, and why I made the post I did asking you not do that.

Believe me when I tell you that this particular feminist issue is so nothing new to me personally: I've been discussing it from every side of the fence for over 15 years now. I have discussed it in protest of some froms of pornography, I have discussed it in defense of others. I have been involved in both feminism and sexuality very closely for around a decade now. I hear what you're saying, I hear the diversity of what's being said here period.

I don't know what posts you read here, but what I read here, I SEE women discussing how this is practicied, or trying to. I am reading, in this thread, no women whatsoever, focusing on eliminating pornography. I am reading women talking about their various feelings about porn. I don't see anyone preaching. I see people sharing. I'd say the tone of this thread overall has been very personal, with nearly everyone it it being very clear that they're talking from a personal perspective, not laying down the law in any respect.

This is actually NOT a thread I'm going to get involved in discussing here right now, because I'm far more interested in hearing what the women posting here have to say, especially given the fact that it's a different perspective than I personally often get to see, since the majority of discussion I have had about it has been with older feminists and well as with -- far more so -- those working in the sex industry directly.

So, I'm not personally going to angage discussion on this. I'm simply going to reiterate that if you are going to participate in this discussion, you do not come in telling women what is or is not a capital-F feminist issue. They're saying it IS a feminist issue for them: rather than simply saying it's not for you, you're telling them it isn't for them, for feminism, period. Not okay.

--------------------
If I had to characterize one quality as the genius of feminist thought, culture, and action, it would be the connectivity. - Robin Morgan


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anon



Reged: Jul 22 2006
Posts: 115
Loc: NYC
Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Heather]
      #1407 - Sat Jul 29 2006 01:49 PM

"Abuse is a feminist issue, sure--but pornography is not."

... this is obviously simply my opinion, and it's obviously simply something that I think. I tend not to temper everything I say with "I think" or "that's just my opinion"--if I'm saying it, it is just my opinion, and if someone disagrees, they can do so. I'm not telling anyone they don't have the right the think the way they do. I'm telling them that I don't think the two are related.

Whether or not somebody thinks it is a feminist issue, I disagree. I do not think that pornography in and of itself is related to furthering women's rights, which is what feminism is all about.

I also did not accuse anyone of preaching--I was stating my opinion on porn, and answering Amelia's original question. I didn't tell anyone they didn't have a right to their opinion--I stated mine strongly. There's a difference.

Why can't I say that, in my opinion, porn has nothing to do with feminism as a simple concept? How is that different than them saying that it is?

--------------------
I somehow doubt we'll ever be the same--there's too much poison and confusion on your face


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anon



Reged: Jul 22 2006
Posts: 115
Loc: NYC
Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Andrea]
      #1409 - Sat Jul 29 2006 02:00 PM

When I last replied to you, I didn't note the things I did agree with--so I'm doing it now.

Quote:

I started with current pornography, and then I watched some older pornography from earlier decades. I saw that not only have women's bodies in the pornography industry gotten more ill proportioned and unbelievable - but there's also no structure to the films, if you can even call them that these days. It's just an hour and a half of "Let's see what we can make these girls do.




I think the body images being portrayed is a really important point. There's nothing wrong with being naturally skinny, but at this point, it feels like 1) there is no venue for porn-viewers who aren't so into skinny chicks, and 2) society is conditioning people to be attracted to one of two types: skinny women, or big, muscled men. I mean, if Barbie's unrealistic, so are a lot of the action figures! If you put them on full scale, some would have biceps that were as thick around as my waist is. That's something that's really unhealthy--the image being pushed onto people who watch general porn is often one of skinny female, beefy guy--and while some don't buy into it and aren't so affected, many do. That, to me, is a huge problem, and one of the biggest problems with the way porn is generally distributed today.



Quote:

I definitely agree with you, Amelia, that a lot of contemporary porn is offensive and disgusting. But on the same token, instead of porn being completely wiped from the record, I'm just asking for a little 'porn reform.'

- A less offensive and fake portrayal of women.
- More creativity when it comes to making pornographic films. Treat them as what they're supposed to be: Films!...dialogue, plots and character development included.
- and lastly, More adult entertainment made available by and for women - because some of us *do* enjoy sex and deserve to be able to watch something relative that isn't insanely insulting.




Amen.

I'd also like to add more variety to the entertainment, period--that goes beyond creativity, and simply endorses all sorts of different kinks, body types, and relationships.

--------------------
I somehow doubt we'll ever be the same--there's too much poison and confusion on your face

Edited by anon (Sat Jul 29 2006 02:02 PM)


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JennyAdministrator
Be-Musing Momma


Reged: Jun 12 2006
Posts: 236
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Re: The Pornography Division [Re: anon]
      #1413 - Sat Jul 29 2006 02:12 PM

Quote:

"Abuse is a feminist issue, sure--but pornography is not."

... this is obviously simply my opinion, and it's obviously simply something that I think. I tend not to temper everything I say with "I think" or "that's just my opinion"--if I'm saying it, it is just my opinion, and if someone disagrees, they can do so. I'm not telling anyone they don't have the right the think the way they do. I'm telling them that I don't think the two are related.





I disagree emphatically. Language matters a lot, particularly in this kind of an environment in which we are trying to explore contentious issues in a supportive way. You DO need to say that such things are your opinion, and it is NOT appropriate to state them grammatically as fact because that shuts down discussion.

Furthermore, as Heather said, generations of women have considered pornography a feminist issue, and this site is for people to, obviously, discuss feminist issues. If you personally do not feel it is a feminist issue, then please do not participate in this particular discussion.

--------------------
No matter what your fight, donít be ladylike! God Almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies. ~Mother Jones


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anon



Reged: Jul 22 2006
Posts: 115
Loc: NYC
Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Jenny]
      #1414 - Sat Jul 29 2006 02:37 PM

I feel that the abuse taking place in a lot of forms of pornography is a feminist issue. I do not believe that the idea of using outside means of erotica for your personal pleasure is.

Which I have stated several times.

For example:

Quote:

There is nothing less than feminist about the concept of pornography. If anything, the concept is nothing short of intensely feministic, because at core, it is about using your body to give others pleasure, and being free to do so--which is by far at odds with the general historical attitude, which valued chastity and virginity among women above almost all else in a vast majority of past societies.



There, I indicated that I felt that pornography without exploitation was, in fact, something that was intensely feministic.

Quote:

In practice, it can absolutely be exploitive, and often is. It can certainly be demeaning to women, and can certainly be less than a free choice. When the practice becomes so skewed, it can certainly become demeaning very easily. The focus, however, should not be eliminating pornography or preaching about its evils, but trying to make it less exploitive and more of both a free choice and a valued act.



There I made the point that it was important to focus on reforming pornography to make it a choice instead of out-and-out condemning it, which seems to me to be very related to feminism, as it is related to stopping the exploitation of women.

Quote:

The issue is not individual pornographic articles. It is about consent and personal fulfillment, and the way you act outside of the bedroom.

Kink inside of it doesn't mean disrespect outside of it.

The issue is not and, imo, is never about personal tastes. It is about the way that you treat women outside of the bedroom and about your making sure that you have full consent before doing anything. It is about making sure that the sex is consensual and fun for you both, and about making sure you both have a way to indicate when something goes wrong.

Critical analysis should never exist when discussing what people consent to in the privacy of their own homes. It exists in what people do outside of their homes, or what they push on people who do not consent.

If every man in the world enjoyed kinky sex and treated every woman with absolute respect, the world would be a good place.

It is misogynist when it advocates treating anyone with anything but respect outside the bedroom, and bypassing consent.



This entire reply is about when I feel that something is misogynist and when it is not--which, again, is directly related to whether or not something applies to feminism.
I also said in this that this was in my opinion--"imo" means "in my opinion."

Quote:

Why is pornography an issue for feminism at all? Why do we need to approach it "as feminists"?

Amelia's question--what is your take on porn--does not have to include feminism in its response, and I'm not sure why that's the first thing people leapt to. You can be a feminist and find porn disgusting without having the two be at all connected.

There is nothing--nothing--wrong with consensual pornography. It is not a topic for feminism, and to discuss consensual pornography as an issue for feminism is ridiculous.

Pornography only becomes an issue when it becomes corrupted.

It is an issue when a person is forced into it. It is an issue when a person is underpaid. It is an issue when a person is forced to do something with which he or she is uncomfortable. It is an issue when people take their personal kinks and use them to degrade other people outside the bedroom or do not obtain full consent.

To say that porn is demeaning to women who are perfectly happy being in it is nonsense.

It's demeaning when they are not perfectly happy doing it but have no alternative.



(underlines and bolding for stress)
Now: I think I pretty clearly said in that that I did not feel that consensual pornography was anti-feministic. I also said, just as clearly, that pornography (and kink) that was not absolutely consented to was a big issue and became a feminist issue. I only said that consensual pornography was not.


I have stressed many times that consent is important, and without consent, kinky sex and pornography is inherently wrong.

And, again--I don't see why I cannot disagree that something (ie. BDSM) is anti-feministic without removing myself from the conversation.

To discuss feminism, Jenny, is also to discuss what feminism consists of, and what it does not.

My eating an ice cream sundae is not connected to feminism, for example, and if someone says it is, I will argue--because to say what feminism is, we must also say what we think it is not.

I will, however, try to be more mindful of my language.

--------------------
I somehow doubt we'll ever be the same--there's too much poison and confusion on your face


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Andrea
AGA Blogger


Reged: Jun 20 2006
Posts: 106
Loc: Austin, TX
Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Brooke]
      #1419 - Sat Jul 29 2006 03:06 PM

Quote:

...for those who view porn as demeaning to women, how is it so? Also is porn demeaning not only to women in porn films, but women in general? How has porn or how could porn change our preceptions of ourselves and other women? How has it changed men's perceptions of us?




Just the other night, I saw a Girls Gone Wild infomercial being played on national television. Some things were blurred out, but it still left nothing to the imagination. I'd seen it on cable television, but the fact that it was on regular TV really got to me.

Any television infomercial that recruits teenage girls with a specific body type, skin color, hair color, cup size...puts them on an "island" and makes them compete in obstacle courses while naked and on camera...is just not cooth - especially when made widely available to anyone flipping channels at nighttime. It's demeaning to women, because it shows that we can be discriminated against for not being the "right" skin color, size, attitude...then be herded onto an island en masse, filmed doing things that we might not be particularly proud of, and all for nothing more than a mans entertainment and a wad of cash - while the producers rake in the profits, and sell our bodies on national tv.

We know that people have a way of extrapolating things that they obtain from television and making them reality. Women emulate popular styles they see on television - especially if it gains the attention of men, like make-up, clothing, and personality traits. If a young girl stumbles on this GGW special, who's to say she won't try to emulate the same vacant smile and voluntary obedience that she sees? What's more, who's to say young men won't expect and even yearn the same vacant smile/obedient behavior from girls?

I would be less angry with pornography chock full of "money shots" and insulting phrases being screamed at women...if that wasn't **all that was available.** I might even be 'okay' with it, if these types of films were in the minority and the majority were consensual, sex-positive, and most importantly woman-positive. But in a sea of porn, the chance of finding a film like that is one in a million.

I don't think the *only* problem is that women are being degraded in pornography, because yeah...some women prefer that - but certainly not all. The problem that I see is that it's the most *popular* structure of a pornographic scene, to the point that pornography has completely alienated women as an audience, and to the point that you can't find much else out there.

--------------------
"In actual fact the female function is to explore, discover, intent, solve problems, crack jokes, make music Ė all with love."
Valerie Solanas


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JennyAdministrator
Be-Musing Momma


Reged: Jun 12 2006
Posts: 236
Loc: Minnesota
Re: The Pornography Division [Re: anon]
      #1425 - Sat Jul 29 2006 04:37 PM

Thanks, anon. I appreciate everyone being mindful of her language . I think this is a really great opportunity for all of us to learn how to discuss, and even vehemently disagree, while doing so in as supportive and woman-positive a way as possible!

--------------------
No matter what your fight, donít be ladylike! God Almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies. ~Mother Jones


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Brooke
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Reged: Jun 23 2006
Posts: 474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Andrea]
      #1426 - Sat Jul 29 2006 04:38 PM

Anon, don't take this as me completely dismissing your points. I think you are still new to feminism and this issue in general, as you seem to be to a lot of other issues as well. I think you are beginning to experiment sexually and somehow see that freedom, connected to freedom in the media and the right for porn to exist. Before you start to defend porn, I think you really need to listen to what everyone else has to say and think deeply about this issue. This IS a feminism issue, many feminist writers have written about it, many women feel it is an important issue to deal with. Porn is a lot different then sex, porn is a lot different then talking about sexual freedom. I think all of us think what happens in a persons bedroom and what they choose to do sexually is up to them. However, porn is not personal, porn is not just two people having sex. Its much more then that and much more complex. Also, we are not talking about erotica or art porn. We are defining porn has a form of media which does demean and exploit people.

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anon



Reged: Jul 22 2006
Posts: 115
Loc: NYC
Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Brooke]
      #1436 - Sat Jul 29 2006 06:52 PM

Brooke, I'm not new to this at all. I really don't appreciate your taking my disagreement as evidence that I'm "new" to feminism and "new" to sex. Please keep your personal opinions about who I am out of this--you cannot assume anything about who I am based on 32 posts on a message board and, as it so happens, you're off by far.

I have thought about this long and hard. For a long time, I was certainly not an advocate--at all--of pornography. I have since changed my views.

Why?

Because I don't think that porn as a concept does demean or exploit people, anymore than prostitution as a concept does not demean or exploit anyone, anymore than strip clubs as a concept do not demean or exploit anyone.

The issue I'm talking about is the seperation I feel we must make between theory and practice, and the distinction that we must make between inappropriate usage and unavoidable usage.

I do not think that porn necessarily has to be a form of media that demeans and exploits people. I have not argued that it does at the present time--in fact, I have vehemently agreed. We are not defining porn as anything--I've seen a lot of variance in opinion as to what porn is in this thread, and several other people have made the point that porn reform is in order, not porn elimination.

Quote:

This IS a feminism issue, many feminist writers have written about it, many women feel it is an important issue to deal with.




But I don't see that it is. I don't think it is, and I don't see what's any better about you stating categorically that it is a feminism issue than me stating categorically that it isn't.

I think that, as it is expressed right now, and as it is produced right now, it is often rife with exploitation and unfair treatment.

I just as firmly believe that it does not have to be that way, and that if everyone working in the pornography industry could freely consent to it and was paid well and kept safe and was never pressured or forced into anything they were uncomfortable with, there would be nothing wrong with porn.

I think that, as is, it is a feminist issue in that women would greatly benefit from reform.

I do not, however, think that sexual images designed to arouse and provide a visual while you bring yourself to orgasm is wrong, nor do I think that having an industry to provide this service is wrong.


Quote:

Porn is a lot different then sex, porn is a lot different then talking about sexual freedom.




Yes, it is. However, it is indicative of the degree of sexual freedom that women have achieved, and indicative of the attitude of others toward that.

I also think, again, that making saying that porn is bad and wrong and that it demeans women turns women who freely choose to participate in it into children, unable to make their own decisions. "Honey, this isn't good for you. I know you think it is, but it's really dehumanizing. No, I know you think it isn't, but, well, you'll understand when you're older."

What, women don't have the right to make that kind of personal decision for themselves?


Quote:

I think all of us think what happens in a persons bedroom and what they choose to do sexually is up to them.




Including the method they employ to bring themselves to orgasm?


Quote:

However, porn is not personal, porn is not just two people having sex.




Okay, that I do categorically disagree with, because you're flat-out wrong. Porn can be very personal--couples, especially those who live far away from each other, sometimes make each other porn. That porn is to be shared with no one but the partner, and is made specifically with the partners desires in mind. It may even involve both partners.

And that is very personal.


Quote:

Its much more then that and much more complex.




I agree. That's why I made the point that it was too complex to condemn it all outright further up in the thread, and also why I have continued to stress that while porn is not an inherently bad thing in my eyes, anything sexual that involves anything less than total consent and comfort is.


Quote:

Also, we are not talking about erotica or art porn. We are defining porn has a form of media which does demean and exploit people.




I addressed this further up, but I'd like to really make the point here:

Porn is a lot of different things. It isn't wrong to discuss all of them and the different categories do not necessarily stay completely seperate from each other.

We are discussing porn--just because I do not object to porn doesn't mean I don't object to the way it is often produced now.

--------------------
I somehow doubt we'll ever be the same--there's too much poison and confusion on your face


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HeatherAdministrator
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Reged: Feb 05 2006
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Re: The Pornography Division [Re: anon]
      #1438 - Sat Jul 29 2006 07:36 PM

Anon, I'm sorry to be so blunt, but you're derailing this discussion. I know you don't think you are, and likely you don't mean to, but you are, and a few people have tried to explain why it feels that way now.

I think what you missed in what Brooke said, or perhaps misinterpreted, was that more than the people WATCHING porn are part of porn. It is not personal in that it is NOT just about those two people. It is about every single person involved in the process of whatever given piece of pornography they're watching/using. To argue that is not the case is not sensible, because it simply isn't so. It feels to me like the way that you're arguing suggests that, as you were per the way you worded things, you feel that any given person here is arguing for whether or not the entire sphere, every single part, of any sexual material is or is not Feminist. But I don't see that.

Because of that issue above -- because it is NOT just about the viewer, but about a lot of other people, many of whom are women, it can be both a universal and a personal feminist issue. Heck, for some female pornographers TRYING to do things differently, they've been very clear it is expressly BECAUSE they feel it's a feminist issue. And of course, there are a myriad of other ways that it is, some of which I listed above, some of which others talked about, for them.

Even if you just reduce it to how a given woman might feel with a male OR female partner plopping a box down on their bed that labels a woman as her genitals, you've got a pretty big personal and broader issue. SO many issues interesect here, and it's so broad, so complex, SO much more than just that porn as an abstract and a whole is or isn't okay. What had started to happen at the beginning of this thread was a few women talking about whatever their own issues are, to start small, to start at home. And if you're really interested in refrom, in finding ways to have sexual material be positive, you have GOT to let those women talk (especially since those who have opposition to, frankly, almost any form of porn, even only in their personal lives, have few places to voice that these days and be heard, unless they are coming from a moralist/AFA standpoint about it) and make sure they get the message that it is OKAY for them to talk.

(Took me, for the record, a long time to figure that out. I had this idea for a while that as a woman who supported some forms of pronography, and very free, open sexual expression, it was harder for me to be heard than them, and I feel very strongly I was in error with that. Because even if aspects of my work and sexuality don't fit with the idealized status quo of what women's sexuality SHOULD be, it fit enough that no one would have called me a "prude," or what have you, and that right there gives someone like me or you more ears. Even just given that the times that I do make strong objections to certain practices/arenas in porn I'm quite suddenly, in most company, not given the same sort of acceptance as when I don't, tells me what I need to know about who is and is not more readily heard in this regard.)

I think you've been heard, and right now, I think you're closing the floor for others to come and talk about this with some of the ways you've presented your feelings and the tone you're using. I agree, personally, with plenty of what you're saying here. I see plenty of what you're saying here also in portions of the other people who have posted too. If you don't, I'm not sure why not. If you're reading that anyone is NOT talking about practice as well as theory, too, I'm not sure what to say, because it's all there.

In the interest of diplomacy, and allowing others to also just come share their feelings and experiences, especially given that I gotta say, this started out as possibly the best, most civil discussion on porn in this context I have ever seen, could you step back for a bit?

I think at this point this thread would benefit from anyone feeling The Big Loaded that this is, feeling they need to argue for One Way or another stepping off for a while, opening the doors to others to come in and talk about their feelings and experiences with this in the more relaxed tone that was originally set.

--------------------
If I had to characterize one quality as the genius of feminist thought, culture, and action, it would be the connectivity. - Robin Morgan


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JennyAdministrator
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Reged: Jun 12 2006
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Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Heather]
      #1441 - Sat Jul 29 2006 08:18 PM

Getting back to the discussion, I was pro-porn in a "support freedom of expression" kind of sense years before I saw any of it. Then I watched some with my then-boyfriend, and got violently ill, and had to seriously re-examine my feelings therein.

At this point I want to revisit the chicken-egg question. What made me sick (and hysterically sobbing and shaking) was the sheer misogyny I saw (and this was fairly vanilla, not at all hard core stuff, too). The film I saw was very clearly made by someone who disrepected women. So, which came first: the misogyny or the porn? And which should feminists be the most concerned about if they are interested in both the short-term and long-term welfare of women?

Personally, I continue to want porn made in a consenual, non-violent, safe workplace to continue to be legal, even if I think its contents are misogynist, because I don't trust the law to make distinctions about which erotic material is appropriate and which isn't.

BUT, I want to encourage consumers of misogynist porn to question why that stuff turns them on, and what it means about their attitude towards women as a whole that they are aroused by misogyny. I think engaging with people and trying to make them THINK about what they're consuming is a more successful (not to mention healthier) strategy than simply trying to shame them for purchasing or enjoying the stuff. Shaming just drives the stuff further underground and makes it that much more malevolent.

Lastly, I want to encourage more woman-friendly porn and erotica, as it appears we all do.

--------------------
No matter what your fight, donít be ladylike! God Almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies. ~Mother Jones


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BeppieAdministrator



Reged: Jun 22 2006
Posts: 362
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Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Jenny]
      #1448 - Sat Jul 29 2006 10:28 PM

Quote:

Personally, I continue to want porn made in a consenual, non-violent, safe workplace to continue to be legal, even if I think its contents are misogynist, because I don't trust the law to make distinctions about which erotic material is appropriate and which isn't.

BUT, I want to encourage consumers of misogynist porn to question why that stuff turns them on, and what it means about their attitude towards women as a whole that they are aroused by misogyny. I think engaging with people and trying to make them THINK about what they're consuming is a more successful (not to mention healthier) strategy than simply trying to shame them for purchasing or enjoying the stuff. Shaming just drives the stuff further underground and makes it that much more malevolent.




I love what you're saying here, and I completely agree.

On another note, I was also thinking about what unites porn that I think is degrading as opposed to erotica that I think is not, and one thing struck me that I wanted to share. It seems to me, (based on my personal observations here), that the main difference between porn and erotica, is that porn is degrading because attempts to dictate sexuality in some way, whether that be through depictions of outright abuse or simply by implying that "women are like this sexually" or "gay people are like this sexually" or "black women are like this sexually" etc etc, while erotica (or woman-friendly/non-degrading porn if that works better for you) seems to be about owning one's own sexuality (whether with partner/s or not)-- and I think that personally, that self-ownership is why I don't feel uneasy with what I define as erotica, and that is why I don't find it degrading.

Of course, there probably isn't ever going to be a completely clear-cut distinction, but perhaps it has potential guidle, particularly as a personal guideline .And obviously, it needs a lot more analysis, in terms of what constitutes "self-ownership" etc, but I thought I'd put it out there.

Another thing I thought I'd bring up, which I don't think has really been mentioned too much here-- does anyone have any thoughts on racism in porn? The reading that I've done about it lately really indicates that porn tends to be doubly degrading to people who aren't white, and I think it is important to remember that porn can be used to reinforce negative ideas not only about gender but also about race.

Edited by Beppie (Sat Jul 29 2006 10:31 PM)


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Andrea
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Reged: Jun 20 2006
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Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Beppie]
      #1452 - Sun Jul 30 2006 01:11 AM

Quote:

BUT, I want to encourage consumers of misogynist porn to question why that stuff turns them on, and what it means about their attitude towards women as a whole that they are aroused by misogyny. I think engaging with people and trying to make them THINK about what they're consuming is a more successful (not to mention healthier) strategy than simply trying to shame them for purchasing or enjoying the stuff. Shaming just drives the stuff further underground and makes it that much more malevolent.




I definitely agree - the problem that I have with some anti-porn feminist rhetoric that I'm familiar with, is that while they have a strong voice, they're not on the same level as the people they're trying to shake, and so they're ignored. If I asked a random porn-enthusiast "Sir, what is it about watching women turn into receptacles that gets you excited?" then it's going to be taken the wrong way. Pornography is just another vice that people indulge in...like doing drugs or buying a mink coat (not very common, but still) the implications of the substance don't really matter to people - just the effect. So while I think this approach is awesome in theory, the people that are watching and enjoying these things probably wouldn't welcome a sincere question like this.

Quote:

Another thing I thought I'd bring up, which I don't think has really been mentioned too much here-- does anyone have any thoughts on racism in porn? The reading that I've done about it lately really indicates that porn tends to be doubly degrading to people who aren't white, and I think it is important to remember that porn can be used to reinforce negative ideas not only about gender but also about race.




The only real substance I can add to this is that, from the searches I've been on and the things that I've seen, it seems like the porn industry has a pretty uniform code as to which people can be stars. Everybody else gets shoved into their own "category," in which they have specific racist stereotypes they have to play out, in specific films. I don't know much about the pay, either, but I have a feeling that it's skewed like no other.

As an aside, I was at my professors place doing a potluck at the end of finals week, and someone pointed out this video on his shelf called "Ladyporn." Apparently, two female grad students at UT did this film/docu project in which they gathered a group of girls, asked them what *they* wanted to see and what they didn't want to see in a porn, and then tried to create it themselves. I haven't personally seen it - I really want to get my hands on a copy. I definitely think it's an amazing idea, though...here's the article: http://www.dailytexanonline.com/media/pa...un-699155.shtml

--------------------
"In actual fact the female function is to explore, discover, intent, solve problems, crack jokes, make music Ė all with love."
Valerie Solanas


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HeatherAdministrator
Be-Musing Momma


Reged: Feb 05 2006
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Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Andrea]
      #1464 - Sun Jul 30 2006 11:34 AM

I want to add an anecdote to the discussion on reform. Not the sunniest thing ever, but I think it might be helpful towards the reality of some of this.

As I've mentioned, I've done far more than my share of work in and around pornography, and for a while, by virtue of creating one of the first sites on the web to address women's sexuality and such from a women's pespective way back when, I often got (and sometimes still do, though now less so, as more of my work is in sexuality education than entertainment) asked to do consulting work per what women were looking for, marketing to women when it came to sex, etc.

So. I once had a gig with one of the then-largest online porn rental sources, which for the sake or propriety, I won't name. They wanted their site, they said, to be more friendly to women, they wanted more female consumers. So, they hired me to find out what they could do.

I suggested, over weeks, lots of conference calls, etc., some of the most typical things per what I'd heard from women in droves over the years. Simple things, like:
- cut the misgynist language from your site, from the descriptions of films (i.e. not calling women "fresh teen you-know-what," not selling the pain of women in any way, etc.)
- toss out the rape porn
- pick up some indie titles in which there was some body diversity
- pick up some of the few women-produced titles
- if you're going to sell something as "lesbian" porn, differentiate between that made for men and that made for women, and pick up some titles actually produced by real dykes
- use gender-neutral language in addressing the consumer, and don't sell by having the "voice" of the sales pitch be addressing men in a sexual manner, a la, "This will get you off, boys," (which is a far tamer version of the sorts of lingo generally used, to say the least)

And a few more things in that vein. Nothing costly, nothing that insults men, you know, harmless, simple stuff.

Know what?

In the end, they didn't want to do it. They didn't want to do it because those conventions are vital to the nature of the industry, to what men want, who are and always will be their largest consumers, and because, like 99.9% of people in the industry, making money was their objective. They didn't want to do this to make things better for women, anyway, they wanted to do a little "reform" to try and ALSO net the dollars of women per sales.

But in the end, they decided that those few dollars were not worth all the male customers they'd lose. And they were right: they would have. A lot of their clients would have just gone somewhere else, where they could find that stuff.

This is a similar issue to the fact that the industry STILL pays actors (male and female alike) more money for going without safer sex/condoms, why actors who won't tend to get no work, why we don't see condoms in pornography. During the last big HIV scare in visible actors, a few places suggested this and there was a client UPROAR: most users made clear that condoms in the films would totally ruin things for them, with little to no care for the fact that their entertainment was at the expense of the actors' health and in some cases, their very lives.

Anyway, that last consultation job I did for a company in porn was a real wake-up call for me. I'd spent a few years working aroiund that arena pretty convinced things could be changed for the better, at the very least, especially considering I was in touch with some amazing women making films/print material that I felt was really positive, could really shift things, and while I'd still support those women and the work they do, I think they're going to add some things that wouldn't otherwise be there, but they're not likely to lead by example. Heck, one of them has been very visible for over a decade trying, to no avail. I know women who have done indie stuff for years, self-produced, and I just can't watch them try and try in earnest to do things differently within pornography, within that whole genre, only to still, daily, have to be called awful names by clients, be directed to do things clients/users know and intend to be degrading to them, despite their requests they NOT do that, watch them end up having to go ahead and go with the conventions and the standard-issue-objectification and the like in time, which they don't want to, just to make ends meet.

So, while personally, I'm glad to see people try, absolutely; I'm always glad to hear discussions about people suggesting changes, when it comes to people's health and well-being, to people's sexual development out of a very juvenile sexual place, to making things better for women. But I've long since given up, myself. I just stay the heck away from that whole industry, go about what I do my own way at a distance, and it's not somewhere I put my energy anymore, because it was very clearly a waste of it.

--------------------
If I had to characterize one quality as the genius of feminist thought, culture, and action, it would be the connectivity. - Robin Morgan


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Andrea
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Reged: Jun 20 2006
Posts: 106
Loc: Austin, TX
Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Heather]
      #1467 - Sun Jul 30 2006 12:15 PM

Wow, that's...extremely disappointing. haha. But I really appreciate your insight. I guess that turnout was to be expected. But even though, I think that still encouraging women porn directors who see this imbalance to create their own things, even if it won't make it into "the industry" is important, like you said. Because if woman-positive pron keeps showing up, and people enjoy it, then it could basically just make it's own arena, void of typical porn insult. The problem right now is, it's just so hard to find - and I'm sure it's equally as difficult to find a mass of women that are truly interested in purchasing, because of all of the stigmas that male-created porn has created, which (IMO) in turn makes some women disinterested in sex to begin with. What a tangled web.

Heather, did you find that, while you were creating and helping to create this woman-positive stuff, that there was a large women audience for it?

--------------------
"In actual fact the female function is to explore, discover, intent, solve problems, crack jokes, make music Ė all with love."
Valerie Solanas


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HeatherAdministrator
Be-Musing Momma


Reged: Feb 05 2006
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Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Andrea]
      #1468 - Sun Jul 30 2006 12:44 PM

Large? No. Moderate? Yes.

And I'm not sure that's just because of the social issues one'd assume, as in, men have/ have had cultural permission to view pornography women haven't. I also know for SURE, it's not that age-old generaliztion that men are "visual" and women are not (which I will never stop being mystified by in terms of people buying it. Umm, scores of female visual artists anyone? Women who create maps and city systems? Fashion designers? Inventors? Female mathematicians who work with pattern recognition? Surgeons? Interior decorators? Seriously, it's silly).

Speaking in generalities (obviously, there is a lot of variance around this), I've explained what I know in this regard in interviews before by explaining that we do know -- via self-reporting, via various different studies -- that nature or nurture (and more likely nurture) men "other" more than women do when it comes to this stuff, as in, men are more likely to view sexual material as a voyeur, as an outsider looking in, women more often as a mirror, by putting themselves in the picture. This is likely one reason why we see women generally preferring, when it comes to the sexual imagination and its products, textual work, because it's not as directive/literal in many ways. (NOT because women don't like to look at things, or their visual sense has nada to do with their sexuality.) And for me, that is always tricky, because in many ways, that "othering" IS objectification. If, in fact, as it often seems from what information we have, women DO objectify less, I'm not sure that's really something I'd want to "fix" or change, because it strikes me as something that isn't especially positive, and from a standpoint of sexual development and intimacy, isn't especially conducive to a holistic, enriching sexuality. In many ways, if we take out the obvious negatives (when it comes to class issues, how objectification can eploit people, etc), I think sexual objectification is, in the sphere of sexual development, a very juveline place where a lot of people seem to get stuck, and never progress to other stages, if that makes sense.

(If I'm awkward in this discussion, it's because I'm both trying to keep things appropriate per this site in particular, and because, in all honesty, my experiences in discussing these issues in feminist community have not been especially positive, so I tread lightly.)

Per your first paragraph, yeah. I mean, you ask me, no matter WHAT genre or arena you're talking about, selling ANYTHING to a mass audience, making anything market-driven per big profits necessarily corrupts. So, I think we always have a better chance, with any kind of media, in working outside that arena, in keeping things smaller and more diverse, rather than trying to change the homogenous. In buisiness terms, in diversifying the market.

I gotta tell you, though, that IMO, ten years ago, a lot of us were a part of a big upswell of women trying to work in this, trying to sort of start our own thing, and a lot of us watched that surge come....and go. It WAS getting fairly visible, and then it slid away (mostly because very few women could afford to make it, market it, get it out there, keep at it, as well as the fact that even "positive" work in sex work, especially prostitution or ponrography, has a very serious burnout factor, for likely obvious reasons, and that's a whole 'nother issue to deal with and wake up to).

I'm afraid it's likely that that ship already came and sailed. Eh...maybe not so much missed it. Rather, that some other things, bigger things, are going to have to change first per the equity of women, per how women's sexuality is viewed, before that can really happen. Obviously, I could be wrong in that, but it's my impression and the shared impression of other women I still talk to who were doing that work then, who tried to keep it going and couldn't.

This is SUCH a big topic, this aspect of this, with so many facets. I mean, even when a bunch of us were trying to do this, there were men using women as "fronts" (and some who still do, very visibly, and again, not going to name names) to portray their porn/sexuality businesses as for-women or women-run, and you know, they did better than us because they had more cash, because they still kept the conventions that sell to men (and men kept being their biggest clients), and because so many women are SO conditioned to thinking their sexuality is what men SELL as their sexuality, it's hard for a female client a lot of the time to know what's really theirs, about them, and what they've been taught is theirs, which is generally the sexuality men want them to have. That feeds into the "more work" that needs be done I was talking about above: under patriarchy, so many of us don't even get the opportunity to even explore what our sexuality IS. Many women never will. That given, I think we need to accept that in many respects, few of us can even know what female sexuality LOOKS like: chances are, that much sexual material made by women, for women, might not even be easily recognizable as such for expressly that reason. (And this is one reason why, I think, it's smart to question women-produced material we see or make that we THINK or feel is directed by us per our sexuality, but which ends up looking pretty darn close to material made by men, for men, in which we are subject/object. Let me tell you what a challenge and landmine that is in working even with female sexuality and sexual identity in an art context. Finding OUR truth in sexuality, in any arena, is HARD.)

Aie: big, big topic, and I don't want to hijack this thread.

--------------------
If I had to characterize one quality as the genius of feminist thought, culture, and action, it would be the connectivity. - Robin Morgan


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Amy
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Reged: Jun 20 2006
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Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Heather]
      #1495 - Mon Jul 31 2006 05:18 AM

(I have been following most of this thread so far, and I hope that by saying my potentially prudish point of view I won't get shouted down like some others have been here.)

I don't agree with porn. For me, it is a feminist issue as well as a more general issue, because the reasons I disagree with it apply more to women and porn's affect on the view of women than it does men, because of sexism.

On the topic of being a visual person, I'm one of the most visual people you get. I have a photographic memory, and I can't remember a thing until I see it in person or written down. I love photography and pictures, and I love very real art which speaks to me when I look at and consider it. I'm a fan of a lot of photography and art, including that which looks at the human form and body and that which is erotic, but I like it because of what the art shows, represents, and how it shows beauty or other emotions.

In this day and age, you can date and find people that have so many different fetishes. People get turned on by all sorts of things, and for all I know, there could be people who get turned on by landscape paintings and that's fine with me. What I don't like is something made to cause sexual arousal (Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal - I think this is a good dictionary definition of pornography). I just personally find it degrading and objectifying to create media which only has the intent to turn someone on, and I think it's quite demeaning on the whole concept of attraction, desire and sexuality. I don't like that such thing exists, and whilst like I say I like many forms of art, I just don't think porn to be something we need or should be made.

As side points, I feel that the whole male obsession with porn is related to the traditional sexist viewpoint that women are men's objects, and porn is an expression of objectifying women and watching them express false sexuality on their part as a game or entertainment made entirely for men. I just don't like that at all. Sexuality for me is something important, special and very varied, and shouldn't be attempted to be stereotyped or falsified to create something to get men or anyone else off. My other point is on the issue of stereotypes and is that, whilst I can understand most men agreeing that breasts etc are a turn on, I don't like that porn stereotypes what is 'hot', what should turn a man on, what a 'star' woman should act like and what to expect during sex.

Basically, I do not see sex or sexuality as a performance! Or being OK to be treated and used as a performance. It's personal (whether it involves one person or many, it's still personal to each person involved the way I see it) not something to turn into a petty show (based mainly on only the female sex) to get cheap orgasms.

I'm not used to discussing this issue, so forgive me if any of my opinions seem obvious or even foolish. I'm talking about porn here how I see it.

--------------------
It's high time you find diamonds in this coalmine called me.


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HeatherAdministrator
Be-Musing Momma


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Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Amy]
      #1513 - Mon Jul 31 2006 11:43 AM

I think it's high time we toss the word prude right out of our collective vocabulary.

It's almost ALWAYS only applied to women, and generally used to shame women into acquiescing to sex they don't want, or aspects of sex that aren't true to them.

(Though etymologically, it didn't used to be an insult. Meant virtuous, modest, demure.")

These aren't prudish feelings: they're feelings that arise from how YOU define and practice your sexuality, and how your sexuality fits (or doesn't) into the way culture presents and defines sexuality, which for a majority of women all over the specturm, isn't often a good fit.

Thanks for adding this post, Amy. We need ALL of these perspectives.

--------------------
If I had to characterize one quality as the genius of feminist thought, culture, and action, it would be the connectivity. - Robin Morgan


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BethicaBunny



Reged: Jul 29 2006
Posts: 6
Loc: Canada
Re: The Pornography Division [Re: Heather]
      #1524 - Mon Jul 31 2006 04:32 PM

Quote:


It's almost ALWAYS only applied to women, and generally used to shame women into acquiescing to sex they don't want, or aspects of sex that aren't true to them.




This is funny in that I call men 'prudes' all the time, and have never in my life called a woman a prude.

I'm a deviant.

When I grow up, I wanna direct porn! Huff huff. I love the stuff, even if sometimes it's because it's so hilariously bad that I fall off my chair laughing.

"I brought you your pizza... with jumbo sausage."

*snort*

I don't see porn as demeaning to women, any more than it is to men. I mean, the pizza guy is hardly a 3-dimensional character.

I'm not sure what I was trying to say anymore, I'll get back to you.

--------------------
"Only a moment ago we had nothing but time..."


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