So I've been reading this book Not For Sale, about how hookers and pornstars just don't know what they're doing and the poor dears need us to protect them from working in their professions. It's funny, I used to think feminism meant thinking women were strong. But apparently real academic-like feminism is all about how women are frail beaten-down little things suffering under the weight of the world. We're so weak we might lose all our power from a poorly-chosen word or a passing beer commercial. I don't know how I got out of bed this morning.
I've already posted what I really think, so let's get to the ridiculous quotes already.
First, some phrases that crop up repeatedly in the book:
"porn is exploitation of women and children"
They say this one a lot. Women and children, women and children, they're basically the same thing, right? Both vulnerable and powerless and unable to make any decisions about their lives. So if you're attracted to women or turned on by women in porn, you're basically a pedophile.
(We don't need to worry about male porn actors, they're just people doing a job and they can take care of themselves. Besides, the bastards are clearly enjoying it anyway.)
"in prostitution, men buy women"
No. Men buy women's time. They buy their services. At the end of the transaction the woman still owns herself.
"as this Hustler cartoon shows, society believes that women..."
There's a lot of agonized, dead-serious analysis of Hustler cartoons in this book. Multiple authors in the anthology felt the need to give horrified descriptions of Hustler-cartoon violence and disrespect toward women. Yeah, it's tasteless and purposefully offensive, I'm not arguing that point. But I do want to know who made the Hustler cartoon guy the arbiter of morals and politics for all society. Is the Hustler cartoon guy really the Voice of America, saying what we all think but only he dares? This is a fascinating theory, and I wonder how it ties into things like (worksafe) this.
Okay, now some specific quotes.
The participation of women always shocks the general public--whether in lynch mobs, management positions in the prostitution industry, or the Abu Ghraib pictures. Their presence and participation suggest several possibilities to me (perhaps a complex blend of them all):
1. The women were grateful to have their male cohorts' sadistic/aggressive gang-bang impulses safely diverted to some other target;
2. The women were trying very hard to be 'one of the boys', as the support/approval of the unit/tribe is very important to surviving military service in a hostile environment-and as we know, a woman has to try twice as hard to succeed in 'a man's job';
3. The women were already strongly racist, and were bonding racially with their troopmates in a mode parallel to male bonding, through pack violence;
4. The women had themselves been victimized or intimidated (rape is quite common within the US armed forces) and were themselves being used as porn models, being told where and how to stand, when to smile, etc.
LYNNDIE ENGLAND, MISUNDERSTOOD WIDDLE VICTIM. Seriously, crazylady, women are people. Sometimes people make their own bad decisions. Sometimes people are evil. Bending over backwards to explain how a woman committing abuse couldn't possibly be doing it without a man in control is pedestal-placing at its creepiest.
Pornography may be socially functional not only in male bonding, but also as a social tool for emphasizing and enforcing women's lower social status. It might serve as an impossible standard of sexiness and beauty that no living woman can measure up to, as a message of intimidation and hostility to female employees trying to enter traditionally male workplaces, or--(and I suspect this is a more important function than we realize) it may be a veiled threat: this is what can happen to women without money, without the protection of a man.
Shit, and I thought it was for wanking.
Also, dang, having sex is not the worst thing that can happen to a woman. I mean, I'd sure quake in terror from a veiled threat that if I don't watch myself I could sink so low as to put a penis in my mouth. Heavens forfend.
On Our Backs [a for-women, by-women porn mag] claims to offer "the best of lesbian sex." However, the standards by which the magazine is determined to be the best of lesbian sex are clearly not feminist. When the best of lesbian sex includes pictures of a white woman pushing a knife into an Asian woman's nipple, it is clear that lesbian pornography holds de Sade and Hitler in higher esteem than feminist principles.
It took 287 pages, but we've finally gone Godwin! If women are fragile flowers who can't negotiate informed consent, than minority women are even more so, apparently. Perhaps we need to make a policy that non-white women may not be sexually submissive, because the poor things can't possibly know what they're getting themselves into.
Lesbian pornography carries articles and advertises books that detail torture methods for women to use on other women, including how to set one's partner on fire.
I've been "set on fire." (Really, I've had alcohol set on fire on my skin. Obviously no one in BDSM-land sets people on fire fire, you wouldn't need an article for that, just a can of gasoline and a coroner.) It didn't hurt. It was a powerful, ethereal, exhilarating experience, but not a painful one. As methods of "torture" go, it's about as likely to extract nuclear secrets as a nice massage.
And the same with other forms of "torture" performed on bottoms who ask for it and enjoy it. The truth is that no one needs instruction from a porn mag on how to cause pain. Everyone already knows how to swing a crowbar. What takes education and finesse is causing pain the right way, causing it safely and sexily. What On Our Backs teaches is "torture" the same way that The Joy of Sex teaches "rape."
Images of non-penetrative, exploratory, experimental sex are so rare as to be almost nonexistent in pornography. As Dworkin (1987) has convincingly argued, penetration under patriarchy--and especially in pornography--means more than penetration. A man's act of putting his penis into another's body connotes that he now owns that person, and once owned, the "woman" relinquishes any right to say no.
Shit, I'm a joint stock corporation by now. Of course I later did say "no" and quite effectively to several of those men, but even though they listened to me, I guess it was "connoted" that they didn't, or something.
My vagina's the real traitor here, you know. In making me enjoy penetration--in making me crave it--in making me frequently unable to get off at all without it--it's betrayed my true womanly essence that just wants to snuggle and "explore." (Seems like porn does more exploratory and experimental sex than anything, but I guess those words are really supposed to mean "cunnilingus and cuddles," or something.)
[Interview with a former pornstar]: A lot of people have the misconception that women in pornographic films make a lot of money [...] This was ten years ago, back in the early nineties. What I got paid was about $200 to $300 for one scene. You could be in the movie three or four times and get paid more. But that money doesn't last very long if you have a $200-a-day coke habit.
Well... then don't do that much coke, dumbass. Shit, my job wouldn't support me either if I put $200/day up my nose, but I took a long hard look at my household budget, made some difficult cuts as we've all had to do in these times, and determined that a gigantic mountain of blow was not a basic survival necessity.
It's about educating [teenagers] and making them aware of how to protect themselves, so that when they do encounter situations like that and they see pornography, they will know what's going on. "That woman was raped, battered and beaten as [a] child and she's reliving her experiences on film to survive."
Or she wasn't. You don't know. And you don't seem particularly interested in asking. If sexism makes women voiceless, so does one-true-way feminism. "I don't need to hear her story, I already know it from what she's doing on the screen!"
(A question that's a little too advanced for the discussion here: if a woman was abused as a child, does that mean she shouldn't be allowed to do porn? I do see the potential for it being unhealthy, I'm not quite that obtuse, but at the same time, telling her she can't seems like it's making her abuse control her adulthood in another way. Former victims have the right to grow into a sexuality of their own, and I'm not comfortable telling them what that sexuality should look like.)
[More from the pornstar interview]: Pornography is not free speech. ...For example, in my case, my free speech would allow me to take those original tapes and burn them so they couldn't be sold any more. Do I have a right to do that? No... The government needs to step in and say, 'OK, if you're going to have young girls sign contracts--then here's how the contracts have to be written.' It should be illegal to use their image for longer than a certain period of time and it should be illegal for pornographers to only pay the women 0.02% of the profits made from the woman's image.
FREE SPEECH FAIL.
Bear in mind that these "young girls" are really 18-25ish young women. Apparently the government should understand that such a silly vulnerable little creature can't sign a legally binding contract.
Hey, do you think this would work on my lease? "Well, yes, I did sign an agreement to pay $900/month, but I'm only a young girl, you have to understand I didn't really know what I was signing, I think the government should come in and tell you that anything over $200 is obviously unconscionable."
"...Also, if I want to burn the apartment, that's my free speech."
Marriage, rape, and prostitution may appear to be very different ways of "being the man there," and the women experiencing each of them may be known by different names as well (wife, rape victim, whore) and the practices may fall into different categories legally. But seen from the point of view of an acculturated male-supremacist sexuality--witnessed through sexual feelings rigorously conditioned to own, to respond sexually only to selected human bodies as ownable objects--these practical distinctions have a visceral common theme... it is the feeling of owning someone else's body in sex.
I dunno, man, if I were a rape victim, I'd be pretty cheesed off to hear my experience described as just like getting married. And if I were a married man... shit.
I could go on forever, but you get the idea. The idea is that there are a lot of creeps in this world who want to control people they have no right to, and some of them call themselves feminists.