Porn Part 1: How I Became A Rad Feminist

12 Apr

I’ve put off writing this post for quite some time because I knew it would be a long and fairly mentally tiring one, but the time has come for me to tackle the subject that brought me into feminism. I’m of the opinion that there is absolutely no defense possible for pornography consumption, and that pornography is a force that operates only to the detriment of everyone who comes into contact with it. That includes men. I’ll talk a little bit about the abstract theoretical problems inherent in pornography, but it’s really the everyday human costs of the industry that I’d like to discuss, because that’s where people feel and see the negative effects of pornography on their lives and the world we have to live in.

It seems today that a large portion of the young people in this country think being into heinous porn is some kind of hip, countercultural statement, especially for women (more on that delusion can be found here). That idea is pretty tired; when I was a teenager (mid-1990s) a lot of the dudes I knew already thought watching gnarly porn was some kind of lifestyle choice you made to go along with your skateboard and your Circle Jerks t-shirt. They would watch it in groups and come to school laughing their asses off about how gross it was. Although I’m sure there was some masturbation going on somewhere, a lot of the cachet of watching porn at that time seemed to revolve around the weirdness of the representations of sex in most porn; back then it wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, and it generally wasn’t as hardcore as it is now, so hardcore porn tapes struck people as bizarre, as wildly different from their own sexual experiences. It was like finding out about the weird shit people in other countries eat: it might be exciting, but the excitement came from the foreignness of it.

I had never really seen any of it. My exposure to pornography had consisted of finding a Penthouse in my uncle’s bathroom cabinet at age 7 and watching a few Emanuelle movies on Showtime when I stayed up all night as an adolescent. I had no idea what these dudes were talking about, I just knew it sounded fucked up and mildly interesting for that reason. Then I saw some. Some asshole friend of some dude I dated thought it was hilarious to put porn tapes on in front of girls to get a reaction out of them, which he did once when I was at his house. It doesn’t surprise me, when I think back on it, that this guy was one of the few dudes I knew who owned hardcore porn tapes. He was a serious asshole, and he hated women. He treated the girls he dated like valueless property, he constantly cheated on them and sexually abused them, and he was always asking my boyfriend why he “let” me do this or that. I hardly remember what was on the tape, but I knew I felt like I’d been slapped in the face after I watched it, and not just because this jagoff had put it on in an attempt to upset me.

I decided at that point that I didn’t think porn was cool, that I didn’t think it furthered whatever kind of iconoclastic vibe these idiots thought they were laying down, and that I wasn’t going to date dudes who were into it. I probably couldn’t have explained very well what my reasoning was at the time except to say that I thought it was gross and that only dudes who treated women like shit were into it. What can I say, I’ve always loved generalizations. They work really well when you don’t feel capable of or interested in explaining yourself.

Most of my male friends at the time were on my team about the whole thing; they thought porn was something 12-year-olds got excited about but that mature motherfuckers like themselves (late-teens pretentiousness is awesome) should have outgrown it. It was something their dads did. Lame! I’m sure they were lying in at least some sense, but I didn’t know it at the time. It didn’t matter. Using porn for anything but irony-laden entertainment was shameful in the early and mid 1990s, at least among my circle of acquaintances, so no one was copping to it.

Then when I was 19 I found a porn tape in a drawer at my boyfriend’s house (Buffy the Vampire Layer — no, I’m not kidding). I felt completely justified in taking it out to the driveway and breaking it with a hammer. It was akin to cheating in my mind, and I was enraged to think that I had spent 4 months dating someone who was clearly an asshole, as I had decided all men who were into porn were. He came out and screamed at me that I had no right to destroy other people’s property and that I couldn’t tell him not to watch porn.

Something had happened in the space of a few years. Young dudes who had prided themselves on how non-mainstream they were and who rejected the kinds of roles society wanted to force them into had found a way to adopt one of their fathers’ worst habits and reclaim the right to use images of women being exploited without shame or irony. The same dudes who had been shocked by these videos to the point of giggling and telling people about them in whispers at age 16, at 19 were so accustomed to hardcore porn that they no longer bothered discussing the more shocking aspects of the images they had seen but instead recommended titles to each other and bemoaned their girlfriends’ “jealousy” that threatened to impede their access to images of women being used. Male privilege had outstripped iconoclasm, as it always does.

Well, it wasn’t jealousy that motivated my inveighing against porn. I will readily admit that I didn’t think it appropriate that someone in a monogamous relationship ought to be looking at images of other naked women and masturbating to them, and I still don’t, but that wasn’t the major issue. The major issue, as inchoate as it was in my mind at the time, was that I was devastated to find myself stuck in a relationship with someone who was at best incredibly unthoughtful and unreflective, and who at worst thought of women — possibly myself included — as less than human. I was already an undeclared feminist at the time, but that event pushed me to start thinking about pornography and its effects on women’s place in the world and on people’s personal relationships, and it pushed me to start thinking about the relationship between gender issues and the general nature of authority and nonconformity. And we all know thinking about that leads to radical feminism.

That’ll be the end of the personal information.

To be continued…


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39 Responses to “Porn Part 1: How I Became A Rad Feminist”

  1. Bill April 14, 2008 at 5:09 PM #

    Men are pigs.

    Even those of us who try to do right, whose intentions are noble, who want to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem, are pigs.

    As a 45 y/o white male, I have to live with the knowlwdge that people like me are the ultimate monsters on planet earth. We are the conquerers, the rapists, the thieves, the murderers.

    For example, myself, no matter what I try – sometimes I see a woman and am attracted to her, even though she would rightly look upon me as an overweight, creepy, broke, aging white guy, for whom extended lonliness has created a bitterness and self-loathing that has completely destroyed the joy of life.

    And so, I feel guilty about having desires for someone who is properly disgusted by me.

    On the bright side, soon all the pain, lonliness, and guilt shall be evaporated as I rid the world of one more patriarchal loser.

    If only the rest of the slimeballs would follow me into yesterday – the women of the world would no longer be subject to the crushing misogny of the male gender.

    • Krowg July 29, 2013 at 4:01 PM #

      Our society has been smashed into a million shards, and we should blame porn. But to conclude that “men are pigs,” and in effect call for an escalation in hostilities between male and female, like a Cold War arms race – is this really a preferable alternative? Is it perhaps the only alternative? Either way, it is a horrendous and hopeless conclusion to reach. It further shatters the million shards into a hundred million shards. Such militancy will likely strengthen pornographers, as such perspectives will alienate non-feminist males and females.

      There must be some hope for people to follow.

      And if you’d like to see whether or not I am really anti-porn, check out my Reddit post: what I learned from Porn.

      http://www.reddit.com/r/pornfree/comments/1hb8jj/what_i_learnt_from_porn/casthbd?context=1

      • Sugarpuss July 30, 2013 at 9:48 AM #

        [...] is this really a preferable alternative?

        Preferable? No. With the exception of a few sleazeballs, nobody prefers to wage war in exchange for their freedom. But surely you must understand that, unfortunately, human rights must be fought for, because that is just how the world works. Most men are enjoying their privilege and all the benefits it provides; why would they just willingly give it up? Give somebody a slice of cake for every day of their life, and then one day, just stop giving them that cake (or ask them to split it with a friend), and the proverbial shit will hit the fan. LOL

        Such militancy will likely strengthen pornographers, as such perspectives will alienate non-feminist males and females.

        What “militancy” are you referring to, exactly? That is a word I associate with those who are in power…like, ya know, the PORNOGRAPHERS. Mainstream ideals are militant. Patriarchy is militant. People who chide underlings for feeling (rightfully) disgusted by the state of the world are militant. YOU are militant.

        As for those who feel “alienated”, I say FUCK them. I’ve felt alienated my entire life. And, certainly, nobody is wringing their hands over how to make me feel more comfortable or accepted. If an expression of frustration and a desire for change is all it takes to “alienate” the sheeple, then good riddance to them. They were never an asset to begin with. They already support the man-chine, so any form disobedience will be perceived as a threat.

  2. Free April 23, 2008 at 5:08 AM #

    Don’t you think that destroying the tape was a little dramatic? I’m all for expressing one’s convictions, but I don’t think destruction is the answer. It’s a juvenile distraction from your real message. Self-control and less radical methods of communication should be advocated. Blind rage and acts of vandalism don’t exactly spell humanization for women. It gives the impression that feminists are man-hating objects, wild beasts of fury and combat boots – not much better than the sexual objects, made for penetration and stilettos, of which you are fighting against.

  3. Nine Deuce April 23, 2008 at 5:29 AM #

    Free – Sure, but I was only 19 at the time.

    • ds November 3, 2009 at 10:56 PM #

      Destroying the tape was fucking awesome. Don’t apologize.

  4. Bete Noire April 27, 2008 at 8:04 PM #

    Hell, I’m not 19 and I would do the same thing – destroy the porn tape. Don’t you think the women’s lives being destroyed by porn is more important than a tape? “Free”, why are you more worried about the tape than about women?

    I am one of those women who had a relationship destroyed by some loser boyfriend who grew up with porn and full-on believed that it represented a sexual reality rather than fantasy. He could not fathom that women don’t enjoy being treated as the “actresses” in the porn do. Real sex will never compare to his porn-fueled fantasies of how sex should be.

  5. Harpy Lady May 7, 2008 at 12:25 AM #

    I have a friend that says she lets her husband bring manga into the house because if she didn’t, then he would bring real porn into the house. She believes that as long as the porn her husband owns is drawn and not actual photos or videos of real people, then it’s okay.

    I asked her why he didn’t respect her enough not to have any of it at all. She couldn’t grasp the concept. To her, it seems, porn is necessary to a man as is air.

    It’s a sad, sad world.

  6. canyonsedge May 7, 2008 at 4:48 AM #

    Can I ask what your oppinion is on single guys (though I want to say people as I think you should be) watching porn?

  7. Nine Deuce May 7, 2008 at 4:52 AM #

    canyonsedge – It’s not necessary, it warps your sexuality, and it makes your sex life once you’re with a partner less than it could be. And not only that, but you’re contributing to an unethical and dehumanizing industry that perpetuates gender inequality. See my 4th and 5th posts on porn for that argument. I would, I suppose, say people, instead of men, when referring to who is using porn, but the vast majority of porn users are men, and I did address female porn users in my 6th post.

  8. Maggie Hays July 15, 2008 at 12:05 PM #

    Yeah, thank you so much for sharing your story, Nine. :)

  9. Pornvicky October 19, 2009 at 2:15 AM #

    I recentrly descovered, after a 5-years long relationship, that my boyfriend is addicted to porn. what changed is that know I live with him, I couldn´t not notice. I am quite devastated. In need of advice.

    • Nine Deuce October 20, 2009 at 1:45 AM #

      What I would do is make it clear that you won’t tolerate it, and be ready to make good on it. You don’t have to put up with it. You might want to look at this and this, and make your boyfriend read some anti-porn stuff (I don’t want to be a narcissist, but I suppose I could recommend this, this, and this).

  10. Imaginary November 30, 2009 at 6:48 AM #

    Buffy the Vampire LAYER?!??! What the fuck did you do you Buffy you misogynistic cocks?!?!?! She’s one of my idols; she kicks ass and she still loves and feels and can admit when she made a mistake but is still strong and awesome and gets pissed off at sexbots. Buffy and Willow need to kick some dick off.

    Oh and 9D you are fabulous. Have a vegan cupcake :).

  11. Immir March 3, 2010 at 12:20 AM #

    Agreed. I hope I would have broken that tape, too. Broken it like a Jew would smash a tape about the holocaust- smashed it like an African-American would have a tape about lynching…

  12. EmilyBites March 19, 2010 at 5:20 PM #

    Pornvicky, I understand your distress.
    I had a similar experience recently with a boyfriend of 3 years, who told me that he didn’t see anything intrinsically wrong with porn, and that he was not against it, per se, although he is not a ‘user’. I told him flat out that if he was looking at it, I would consider that disgusting and could not be with him. Am I overreacting? I don’t think so. You do NOT have to put up with it. I sure as hell won’t.

    However, although he doesn’t actually look at porn himself (I do trust him), I’ve had a really hard time reaching my boyfriend on the issue. Although he readily concedes individual points (abuse is bad, rape is bad, mistreatment of women in the porn industry is bad), he still fights me on the ideology. He is an intelligent and kind person, so I will ask him to read your four excellent posts, Nine Deuce, and actually *think* about it a bit more.

  13. Me January 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM #

    You are so awesome for articulating this. I really appreciate the time you took to write this and I feel happy to read someone else’s writing that mirrors my own thoughts and feelings about porn watching it in committed relationships. It is nice to read this from a woman especially because I have an issue with my boyfriend that I am trying to work through. Only my sister and one of my best guy friends know about the situation with my boyfriend. I can’t say they’ve been much help except to say they think that porn is detrimental to a relationship and there is no way to fix things with my guy. Or more accurately that the only way to fix things is to talk to my guy to tell him to stop looking at it. While I am at it I might as well tell my City Counsel (or whoever) to start nighttime construction an hour later so as not to interfere with my commute home…RRRriight. Would be nice but it ain’t going to happen magically just because I ask it to be. I’m working on a solution of my own…in the mean time will continue on to Part 2 of this series. Thank you again!

  14. healingthruwords June 12, 2012 at 4:31 PM #

    Awesome blog, awesome post! I just came across your blog yesterday and am starting in on reading your anti-porn series. I’m loving your writing and vibe. Keep it up and way to smash the porn tape! p.s. I SO don’t miss dating men (it wasn’t their dicks I had problems with). I think we’re about the same age as I was a teen in the 90’s too; things have changed, for the worst, and I can’t fully wrap my mind around just how warped our collective sexuality has become thanks to porn, and my heart goes out to and worries so much about kids these days who are being bombarded with all these anti-female/pro-rape messages and images. It’s a huge beast, and your word weaving skills is a great weapon against it, rage on sister, rage on!

  15. IRock November 1, 2012 at 10:25 PM #

    Girl I love you. If my man ever watches porn or reads those disgusting mags I would dump him. Its better to have an intelligent man for a partner who has better things to do than masturbate to random naked women. I wonder if people will ever grow to respect sexuality.

  16. Lucas Prassas September 8, 2013 at 2:57 PM #

    This post is well-written and well-reasoned, but, despite my lack of qualifications, I would be very disinclined to freely accept the assertion that the social detriments of any brand legislative mandated of any repression, even ones that substantively serve to combat potentially dangerous aspects of the human psyche, will always outweigh their intended benefits. Whether or not pornography or commercial sexualization can be discretely seperated from it’s associative stylistic inclusions of socially dysfunctional concepts, without utterly subverting its autonomy as a popularly endorsed industry, I think the established repercussions of inescapable censorship, extrapolated from many historical contexts, suggests that rape culture would ultimately be exacerbated by the absence of both totally generic depictions of sexually indulgent aesthetics and ones that enable people to virtually consummate their violent perversions, if so inclined. As such, I feel it is very important to distinguish even the most pristine articulations of theoretical morality from their practical implications. I know sex-negative feminists are one of the most diminutive ideological minorities around, and I’m happy that your arguments are at least available some places on the Internet and analogous public spheres, but I think working toward a balanced discourse in this setting is just as important as it is when speaking with MRAs, from my libertarian hippy feminist perspective, so I acted accordingly.

    • Sugarpuss September 14, 2013 at 12:59 AM #

      You’re not a feminist. You have a cock.

      PS Fuck off, you condescending hippie.

      • Lucas Prassas September 14, 2013 at 3:20 AM #

        lol subtlety much, troll? disappointing; your points were far from invalid.

      • Lucas Prassas September 14, 2013 at 5:32 AM #

        (damn you, gmail, and your misleading functionality)
        lol subtlety much, troll? disappointing; your points are far from invalid.

        • Lucas Prassas September 14, 2013 at 5:33 AM #

          oh crap nvm, it worked the first time; i was viewing the cached page. disregard.

          • Sugarpuss September 14, 2013 at 2:38 PM #

            Who the FUCK are you calling a troll? I’m a regular commenter here, so take a fucking hike before I do to you what I did to the last 20 dickbags that mouthed off at me.

    • sneekybunny September 14, 2013 at 2:57 PM #

      Holy wall o’ text Batman. You could’ve just said “I like porn”.

  17. lightcaster88 February 22, 2014 at 3:10 PM #

    Reblogged this on AnuKindofView and commented:
    A good read if you really RESPECT women (meaning your sisters, mom, etc), yourself and God. If you decide to delete this and not bother to read the entire porn series, then it truly means that you HATE women, yourself and God. Your choice will speak volumes about your character.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Fourth Carnival Against Pornography and Prostitution « The Burning Times - April 27, 2008

    [...] In Porn Part 1: How I Became a Rad Feminist, by Nine Deuce at Rage Against the Man-chine, she explains her feeling about porn and how they led [...]

  2. Sex Positive Feminism (without the laughter) « HellOnHairyLegs - May 18, 2008

    [...] people have said what I’m saying a lot better. Here is the first in a six part series about porn by ninedeuce. Here is Twisty on priggism and here is [...]

  3. Sex Positive Feminism (rofl) « HellOnHairyLegs - May 18, 2008

    [...] people have said what I’m saying a lot better. Here is the first in a six part series about porn by ninedeuce. Here is Twisty on priggism and here is [...]

  4. In which I describe who I am, what motivates me, and what this blog is about « Patriarchal Load - July 5, 2008

    [...] Legs, the feminist blog of a high school student in Australia who had linked to Nine Deuce’s blog series on pornography. It was from there that I found a link back to Twisty’s blog, to her seminal (and hotly [...]

  5. My re-re-introduction to radical feminism – or Why I hate porn, part one. « anti social butterfly - July 17, 2009

    [...] I should also like to note my inspiration for this post was Nine Deuce’s AWESOME series on why porn isn’t cool. [...]

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