Porn Part 5: The Other Half of the Big Picture

16 Apr

In the vast majority of porn, to quote Robert Jensen, “women are reduced to three holes and two hands. In pornography, women are reduced to the parts of their bodies that can sexually stimulate men. Women are not really sex-objects (which at least implies they are human) but more fuck-objects, simply things to be penetrated.” Anyone who doesn’t believe that such a message, when communicated repeatedly to a huge proportion of the population and coupled with the world’s most powerful conditioning mechanism (orgasm), doesn’t have an effect on our society is a fucking fool. By coloring people’s perceptions of women and their relative humanity, porn has directly contributed to the growing (yes, growing) misogyny in our popular culture, it has directly hindered women’s progress toward financial, social, and legal equality, and it has directly fueled the increase in sexual assaults across the country, especially the lesser discussed kinds of sexual assault that are becoming so common that they are almost no longer deemed noteworthy.

Not to bring up Robert Jensen every three sentences, but he’s made a point that I find extremely salient when it comes to how porn affects women’s lives. If I have to go to court tomorrow, or I have to go discuss my career with my boss, or I have to work on a project at work or school with men, or I have to deal with a cop, or I have to rely in any way on a man in a position of authority to treat me fairly, shouldn’t it worry me to think he might have been watching a film the night before in which a woman has her head shoved into a toilet while someone uses her like a piece of toilet paper? I know some of you may say that the authority figure in question probably wouldn’t be equating me with the woman he jerked off to the night before, but can someone really suspend their sense of empathy long enough to jerk off to an image like that and then see me as an equal human being the next day? Doubtful. And men get together every day to make decisions that affect women’s lives. Men decide whether to promote women, whether to give them raises, whether to hire them, whether to take their claims of sexual harassment seriously, whether to pass a law that hurts or harms their rights to equal pay for equal work, safe and effective health care, etc.

At issue in all of the controversies surrounding porn seems to be whether men can separate porn from reality. Is that really the question to be asking? How about asking why we need to do that? Why do we need two sets of women, one that can be abused for the enjoyment of a wanking audience, and one that should be treated otherwise (but not necessarily like equals)? Isn’t the argument that one can separate porn from reality a tacit admission that something is wrong with what’s going on in porn?

As interesting as that entitled assumption might be to analyze, it just isn’t possible to make such a firm distinction. I know that men are capable of differentiating between what they see in porn and what they can expect in real life, but I don’t believe that their view of women and their character and nature escapes the influence of pornography unscathed. Pornography is anti-woman propaganda, and its delivery mechanism is one of the most effective there is. Every man who uses porn ought to ask himself whether porn has had any influence on the way he understands women and the way he thinks about them, especially when he’s angry with them. Be honest, if only with yourself.

But fuck that. I don’t need any dude to be honest with me about that concept, because the proof is in the assault statistics. I don’t suppose I’ll be shocking anyone when I say that rape and sexual assaults have risen across the board in tandem with the exponential increase in internet porn and in tandem with the ever-increasing violence and degradation in porn. One of the most stentorian messages communicated by pornography is that women are hyper-available, that they are here to be used by men for what purposes men choose to use them for. I know plenty of men are smart enough to realize that isn’t the case, but plenty of others aren’t. Do I have a SINGLE female reader who hasn’t been assaulted (if one includes uninvited groping as well as date rape and stranger rape under the umbrella of assault, as one should) at least once? I doubt it. When men come to see women in the way that porn portrays them, there is nothing that seems out of bounds. Grabbing a stranger’s ass at a party? Yelling obscene shit at a woman on the street? Asking a stranger to “show us your tits”? No problem. In fact, younger girls are so used to it that most of them don’t even take offense anymore. Some even take it as a compliment. How slippery is the slope from these kinds of behaviors to date rape? Porn tells boys and young men that they need not respect women’s physical and emotional boundaries, and the message is clearly getting through. Surveys of young men these days show that a shocking number of them don’t think there’s anything wrong with having sex with a girl who is unconscious, and that a woman cannot be raped by her partner.

Lay estimates (meaning common wisdom) tell us that almost all men use porn. I believe that, and I believe that nearly all of the men who use porn have unwittingly absorbed some of its messages about women and their place in the world. How are we ever supposed to expect any kind of equality to develop when most men don’t see most women as full human beings, but rather as conglomerations of sexualized body parts and undesirable personality characteristics? No one can honestly claim that porn doesn’t affect the way men view women, and thus no one can claim that pornography doesn’t negatively affect the way women are treated in our society and women’s chances of ever achieving social and legal equality.

86 Responses to “Porn Part 5: The Other Half of the Big Picture”

  1. Natalie April 17, 2008 at 7:32 AM #

    Thank you!!!! Please keep posting stuff life like this. You’re right on.

  2. Drakkar Noir April 17, 2008 at 1:48 PM #

    You should also write about banning anything that has a woman in it that is shown in a negative way. That would include all TV programming, most magazines including “BITCH” (because you don’t want your potential boss to think you’re all a bunch of bitches), tons of street advertisements, all restaurants (b/c woman are seen as servants), most (if not all) sports activities, the color pink, the color purple, I could go on for days. Believe me, these forms of oppression reach a shitload of more people than porn.
    If you said you liked to fly kites, I could tell you about the guy I saw fly his kite into a bird’s nest, killing the baby birds and destroying the nest. If you said you liked to read poems aloud, I could tell you about how one of your poems were read to a pyschopath who used your poetic inspiration to massacre their parents.
    Since we’re generalizing, I would say the American porn industry does more good than harm, because in general, most porn agencies require STD testing, most agencies require that the woman KNOWS what she’s about to do before it happens. Let’s say the porn industry dissolves and you have these childhood traumatized women that have to find work elsewhere. I would bet money that alot of them would become prostitutes- which has always been heralded as the “safer” alternative to porn, right?

  3. syndicalist702 April 17, 2008 at 2:08 PM #

    That link to Robert Jensen is a frickin’ gold mine.

  4. Nine Deuce April 17, 2008 at 4:16 PM #

    Natalie – Thanks!

    Drakkar, be serious. I’m not talking about banning anything, I’m approaching this from the side of the consumer. I agree with you that there are other subtle and pervasive forms of oppression besides porn, but I don’t believe that porn doesn’t have a net negative impact on women’s lives. You can say all you want about other things that suck, and argue from there that that makes porn relatively less shitty, but shouldn’t the goal be to make the world better rather than to just arrange things on a scale of shittiness? My aim here was just to make a few people who use porn aware of the impact of their actions. That’s about all I could hope for, and I don’t expect much else.

    Advertisements are detrimental to our image of women (as I note here almost daily), media presents women in a bad light (ditto), yes, but porn takes the misogynistic ideas in other media to extremes. That business about pink, purple, restaurants, sports, etc. is silly, and the analogy to the guy with the kite and the poem is nonsense. There is a direct connection between porn use and certain attitudes toward women in the AVERAGE man, as has been borne out by numerous studies. The kite and poem thing would be anomalies. But again, I’m not here trying to argue that something can be avoided by banning it. That’s a mischaracterization of my point and it’s the most common tack taken by pro-porn libertarian types because it helps them avoid confronting their own role in things.

    And as to your last point, what makes porn different from prostitution? The fact that it’s done on tape? OK, maybe MOST (not all, and I’d argue not most) porn agencies require STD testing and tell the woman she’s about to be spat on and called a whore while blowing 9 strangers. Does that make it cool? Does that ensure she hasn’t been brought to the agency by a pimp/sex trafficker? Does that ensure she’s over 18? Not an abuse victim? All these arguments tell me is that you don’t want to face the facts of what using porn means.

    Syndicalist – I know, right? He’s the greatest.

  5. Nine Deuce April 17, 2008 at 4:25 PM #

    Drakkar – I do want to tell you something that should make you proud. Someone got to my page today by searching for “drakkar porn.” I couldn’t have done it without you.

  6. syndicalist702 April 17, 2008 at 4:54 PM #

    Have you looked Jensen up on YouTube? I just did. I’m listening to an interview about his Pornography/Masculinity book right now. It’s a good synopsis of the book itself.

  7. Nine Deuce April 17, 2008 at 5:05 PM #

    Not yet. I don’t know why, but I rarely watch videos and instead usually try to read transcripts, but I’ll make an exception in this case as soon as I get a chance.

  8. syndicalist702 April 17, 2008 at 5:58 PM #

    Actually, a link to the interview I just heard in MP3 format. It’s split into five parts on YouTube and features the audio with a picture of the cover of his latest book, about which the interview was conducted, centered as the video portion.

    I wrote a journal entry about it, too.

  9. Nine Deuce April 17, 2008 at 6:21 PM #

    I forgot to ask, Drakkar, do you take issue with anything in the 4th post? That one’s kind of the key.

  10. Drakkar Noir April 17, 2008 at 7:22 PM #

    I do take a couple of issues:

    If your objective is not to ban porn, then what do you think is acceptable porn? I’m not the one trying to change things, so if you’re gonna knock it, be prepared to offer a better version.

    As far as explaining the bit about waitressing, sports, etc: Whatever you’re exposed to the most is probably the most influential. Are you saying that men are exposed to pornography more than waitresses and sports?

    Third paragraph:
    It would be cool if she consented. Have we forgotten that women have a choice and choose to do those things? I understand that you detest it but it’s just as possible that all of these women signed up for it. Every porn video that I see starts with a disclaimer that reads, “All actors/actresses are 18 or over”. I have no idea about her past- I’d probably assume it was at least slightly fucked up. Being that, it’d still be slightly fucked up if she was an attorney or interior decorator.

    To me, porn means that a woman probably needed money or attention or career-boost (actress) and decided to fuck on camera for it. Why she needed it? I have no idea. Again, I don’t watch it to see if Tanya was abused 10 yrs ago by her uncle; I watch it as a tool to get off, period. If you say, “what if Tanya was abused?” I’d say, “what if she wasn’t.”

  11. Drakkar Noir April 17, 2008 at 7:34 PM #

    While we’re at it, I also take issue with using the term “misogyny”. Who said that watching porn meant that you hate women? Wouldn’t it be the opposite? I’ve never thought “I fuckin’ hate you and your kind!” while I’m jacking off to…women. That doesn’t make sense.

  12. Nine Deuce April 17, 2008 at 7:46 PM #

    You’re offering me a false dilemma. I’m not going to choose between the majority of porn and some other kind of porn that may or may not exist and may or may not be acceptable. You are arguing from the position that you have a RIGHT to use images of women being exploited to jerk off. Where does such an assumption come from? It’s a result of the commodification of women’s bodies in our culture, and as pervasive as it may be, it’s still arrogant and entitled, not to mention illogical. I’m saying that porn as it exists right now is an ethical problem, both in its production and its consumption. My idea of what would be better is a world in which people didn’t use porn, and in which people approached sexuality like the social interaction that it is. I know that’s hard to imagine, but I assure you it’s the natural state of things, despite how warped our cultural conception of sexuality has become.

    As for the choice issue, I am not saying you are responsible for the choices that women make, but you have to approach porn with the knowledge that a large number of the women you are seeing are not there by choice, and that even if they are, you are supporting inequality by creating demand in an industry that treats women like disposable commodities. The fact that the disclaimer is needed should tip you off to something.

    Women may go into porn for attention, or money, or whatever, but is it not fucked up that someone comes to a point where they think the way to get attention and money is to allow themselves to be treated like garbage? You can say “what if Tanya wasn’t abused,” but I’m telling you, there’s a 3 in 4 or greater chance that she was, and you’ve just admitted that you care more about your ability to use Tanya to jerk off than you do about the fact that Tanya is an abused and fucked up person who probably has a drug problem and needs serious psychological help.

    Sex with a real person requires you, unless you’re an asshole, to treat that person with dignity. Porn allows men to use women and treat them like subhumans. There’s no social contract. It’s wrong, and no amount of free-market libertarian bullshit will make it otherwise. Like it or not, our actions have consequences for other people. Putting all the onus on the woman’s choice is dishonest, but whatever. As long as you can still enjoy your porn without feeling guilty, it’s all good, right?

    I am not saying that men are exposed to porn more than other media that have negative images of women, but I am saying that the message in porn is vastly more dehumanizing to women than that in most other media. I’ll be the first to admit that ads and television tell men and women that women are defined by their appearances. But in porn, the message is that women are here to be used and degraded, and that seeps into people’s minds like it or not.

  13. Nine Deuce April 17, 2008 at 7:59 PM #

    I lost that comment about misogyny, but here’s what I have to say: if you want to say being into porn means you love women, can you elaborate a little? Someone who is the opposite of a misogynist wants women to be treated like human beings, and that ain’t the fuckin’ case in porn. I am not saying you’re sitting there jerking off thinking, “this fucking bitch, I hate her.” I’m saying you’ve decided to be OK with this woman being treated like a piece of garbage and pretending to like it so you can jerk off to it. Watching a woman humiliate herself for your enjoyment amounts to at best a disregard for her humanity, and at worst misogyny. If you really had empathy for her, which means if you really thought of her as a human being, you’d wanna give her a blanket, not watch her be degraded.

    Let me make this clear to everyone: I’m not arguing that porn ought to be banned, and I am not arguing that women should not be allowed to do porn if they choose to. What I am arguing is that men ought to think about the consequences of their porn use, and of the fact that women’s choices are not made in a vacuum. So you can stop accusing me of being anti-choice, of wanting things banned, etc.

    My entire goal here is to ask porn users to exercise their sense of empathy. That means trying to understand what the woman you are jerking off to feels like, and trying to understand what it’s like to be a woman in a world full of men who are used to seeing women treated like garbage. Using porn is a willful suspension of the sense of empathy that has its roots in selfishness, and I think that’s immoral. If anyone can counter that, I’d like to hear it.

  14. bonobobabe April 18, 2008 at 2:03 AM #

    Wow! I love your blog. You totally and completely rock! I think your porn series is the most powerful stuff I’ve seen written about porn. Some people write about porn using big words and obscure terms. And other people just don’t touch on so many aspects of it as you have. This is just a fabulous series. This is something that I think EVERY SINGLE PERSON needs to read.

  15. Bill April 18, 2008 at 1:52 PM #

    OK…so this will probably get me hit with charges of homophobia, but it is what it is…

    Gay men, hardcore, “In The Life” gay men, can be as misogynistic, if not more so, than many straights.

    Don’t believe me? How could anyone who cares so much about women’s fashion and body image be a misogynist? Gay men don’t rape (women). Gay men don’t look at women in porn – just other men (who are humiliated in the same way as women in straight porn).

    For a brief taste, check out some of the statements at: http://www.datalounge.com/cgi-bin/iowa/forum/thread/gossip/6332142/page-1.html and let me know what you think. Is it JUST humor and sarcasm? Or do some of those statements derive from a darker place, borne of jealousy, or just plain meanness?

    Note: This is not intended to be a blanket gay bash. I have much love for people who fall through the cracks, and who are honest about who / what makes them happy. What I want to point out is that homosexuality doesn’t make one a lesser person, but it doesn’t make one a better person, either. Women just need to be aware that misogny comes in many flavors. A bitter, catty gay man does not respect you just because he doesn’t want to make love with you.

  16. syndicalist702 April 18, 2008 at 1:58 PM #

    “I am not saying that men are exposed to porn more than other media that have negative images of women, but I am saying that the message in porn is vastly more dehumanizing to women than that in most other media. I’ll be the first to admit that ads and television tell men and women that women are defined by their appearances. But in porn, the message is that women are here to be used and degraded, and that seeps into people’s minds like it or not.”

    I dunno, mainstream advertising is looking more and more like frickin’ porn every day, if you ask me.

  17. Nine Deuce April 18, 2008 at 2:34 PM #

    Bill – I’ll get to that in the next post.

    702 (I can call you 702, can’t I?) – I agree 900%. Have you seen the new Axe commercial?

  18. syndicalist702 April 18, 2008 at 2:53 PM #

    702 is fine. It’s my area code. I haven’t seen the latest Axe commercial, but if the others are any indication the word “bane” comes to mind.

  19. syndicalist702 April 18, 2008 at 3:48 PM #

    Hey, Bill, or anyone interested. Google “tigerwolf” and you’ll find the most hardcore misogynist gay man in existence. I work with his boyfriend.

    But, what’s your point? There are misogynist women, too. That doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

  20. Genevieve April 18, 2008 at 4:12 PM #

    Bill–Yeah, misogyny comes in all flavours. Not the point right here. (Also, please don’t judge all gay men as being into fashion, there are plenty of them who aren’t.)

  21. Bill April 18, 2008 at 11:09 PM #

    I apologize if anything came off as a blanket statement. I just found the comments on the link I posted earlier shocking in light of the perception that gay men are less misogynistic than straight due to their oppressed status and the -perception- that they are more feminine and thus somehow more feminist.

    And I do understand that while not all gay men are into fashion, a large percentage of men into fashion are gay. And often these are the people who are cold and catty towards women who do not fit the fashion nazi’s idea of acceptable appearance.

  22. Genevieve April 19, 2008 at 3:54 AM #

    Yeah…but the fashion world has always been cruel to people who don’t fit their idea of ‘acceptable.’ So gay men who are interested in this world are as likely to exhibit these beliefs as straight men, straight women, gay women…or anyone else in the industry. Really isn’t surprising…and I haven’t actually met a lot of people who operate under the assumption that feminine gay men=feminist men. Considering that the majority of pro-feminist men I know are fairly masculine and straight…it wouldn’t be a sensible assumption to me. (Also, in the early days of the gay rights movement, gay men were often very unaccepting of lesbians…institutional sexism was still prevalent even when they were still trying to end their own discrimination.)

  23. Nine Deuce April 19, 2008 at 6:36 AM #

    Bonobobabe – Thanks! That was really nice to hear.

  24. Drakkar Noir April 21, 2008 at 2:42 PM #

    People don’t know the definition of misogyny on a women’s rights blog. It’s ironic, don’t you think? It’s kind’ve like rain on your wedding day or maybe like a traffic jam when you’re already late. There’s an even deeper meaning to my quotage from Alanis Morissette. She, much like you all, didn’t know the proper application of critical terms…and it’s not because it’s ironic; it’s because she’s a dumbass.

  25. Nine Deuce April 22, 2008 at 5:33 AM #

    Drakkar – I see that you’re done arguing now and are on to joke-coated insults. Does that mean I won?

  26. Drakkar Noir April 22, 2008 at 12:53 PM #

    I’m fighting a losing battle. You win, Rocky.

  27. Me April 23, 2008 at 3:27 AM #

    You bring up a very valid point that my husband really doesn’t grasp… I am a short, somewhat thin lady, and I’ve had men in positions of power (doctors, cops and the like) definitely use that to their advantage. I never thought of the angle that they may be viewing violent porn in their “off time”… sick sick sick

  28. Sabrina April 23, 2008 at 4:14 AM #

    Just stumbled upon your site and wanted to say that I am loving it so far.

    Also, Bob Jensen is my Journalism professor here at UT-Austin. Small world, eh?

  29. Drakkar Noir April 23, 2008 at 4:35 PM #

    …I’m not done yet. The insults are just intermission entertainment.

  30. Drakkar Noir April 23, 2008 at 7:07 PM #

    One thing I forgot to ask was if the roles were reversed, would you still be as supportive? The women that work in my workplace don’t seem to mind one bit that they get preferential treatment when I’m getting my ass chewed out. I don’t hear them complaining about the lack of equality.

  31. Nine Deuce April 23, 2008 at 7:14 PM #

    Drakkar – No one gets special treatment in 9-2’s world. I just want everyone to be treated like human beings. But what, may I ask, are you referring to as “special treatment”? I doubt that you even realize some of the more subtle forms of special treatment that you’ve enjoyed over the course of your lifetime. Lots of MRAs bring up the ways in which women supposedly get special treatment in the workplace, school, etc., but are unwilling or unable to see the kinds of special treatment men enjoy as a birthright in our culture.

  32. Lollipop April 23, 2008 at 10:46 PM #

    I stumbled upon your website a couple days ago, and have been reading through the archives since.

    I have never considered myself to be a feminist, and when people call me one, I am quick to correct them. I support women’s rights, but not feminism as it occurs today.

    You and your writing are a good example of this brand of feminism from which I take great pains in distancing myself. I enjoy looking good. My legs are shaved, my nails are painted, I’m wearing a pair of heels that are ridiculously impractical, but very cute and make my butt look great. Not because society dictates that I do it — I have no qualms with defying societal norms, and do it on a near-daily basis — but because I want to do it. I like being able to look in a mirror and feel that I like the way I look. I like having people look at me, to have guys check me out and to have girls compliment something I’m wearing. I have no problems being objectified by strangers. I don’t ask that men not look at me with less than pure intentions. I’m young, skinny (naturally, I eat like a pig and don’t exercise, so this isn’t an attempt at conformity or beauty on my part), and — I’ve been told — attractive. To expect men to not think about sex when they look at me is ridiculous, and goes against what thousands upon thousands of years of evolution has created: the hormonal instinct to procreate. I am an intelligent woman, but do I sit and moan about the fact that guys only want me for my body? No, because the guys that catcall me as I walk down the street are not the type of guys I want, anyway, so forget them.

    I don’t think that men viewing porn is any of my business. To presume that an adult male cannot make the distinction between a contrived sexual act — now matter how “demeaning” it may be to women — and the women involved, who are (with the exception of the human trafficking victims, which are another matter entirely) consensual, paid actors, is ridiculous and bordering on misandric.

    Now, that is not to say that the same applies to young boys, who lack either the experience or the mental capacity to appreciate the fact that porn is not the real sexual world. I don’t condone parents tossing a Playboy to their ten-year-old and letting him have at it. That’s obviously going to give him unrealistic expectations of what real sex is like. But if a man who has already had sex wants to jack off to a porno, let him. He knows what sex is like in real life, so where is the harm in giving him an outlet for his desires?

    Feminism has historically fought for the rights of women, including sexual rights. But now feminists are giving men a catch-22 — You can’t look at porn, because it’s demeaning to women and will give you unfair expectations about real women and real sex. But you can’t look at women in real life, either, because they’re not pretty objects there to look at, they’re intelligent human beings. So what outlet does that leave for men’s sexual desires? None. You expect them to never look at a women sexually, to defy millenniums of biological conditioning telling them to do the opposite. Instead of granting women sexual freedom, you’re imposing the antiquated puritanical constraints that we’ve suffered under on men.

    I know misery loves company, but isn’t it better to live and let live? If a man wants to look at me in a sexually charged manner, that’s no skin off of my nose. If he wants to look at porn, I couldn’t care less. I only ask that he let me do the same, if I so desire. Feminists need to turn the focus back onto elevating women, instead of dragging men down with us. The day that you — and feminists in general — begin fighting for rights instead of just trying to destroy the patriarchy, and begin allowing women to make their own choices instead of just assuming that ones you don’t share are imposed on us by society, is the day that I will consider embracing the label “feminist.”

  33. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 12:56 AM #

    Men who use porn have shown a decrease in their ability to empathize, that is see women as equal human beings. That’s a problem. Our worth ought not be defined by whether people want to have sex with us, but it is as things stand today. You types always assume I’m arguing that people ought to suppress their natural sexual desires, which I’m not. I just want sexuality to be the expression of affection between equals, not the expression of a cultural power dynamic in which women are forced to conform to the desires of men, which often amounts to humiliation. You guys always want to tell me I’m trying to repress some kind of natural human desire. I’m not. People should be free to express their sexuality as they see fit. The problem is that the way that tends to manifest theses days is dehumanizing to women and is detrimental to sex on both sides. Feminism is about looking beyond appearances to see the power structures at work behind our daily activities, and that’s what I’m doing here. Feminism for me encompasses freeing women from sexual, marital, and economic oppression, as well as the requirement that they fulfill male fantasies in order to have any worth in our society. If you don’t agree with those points, you aren’t a feminist and can’t be one.

  34. Lollipop April 24, 2008 at 1:27 AM #

    I do agree with those points, I don’t agree with the way that you go about trying to reach them.

    “Feminism is about looking beyond appearances to see the power structures at work behind our daily activities”
    So that means looking at girls — myself included — who go through the whole beauty routine like we’re expected to, and showing how it’s imposed on us by male desires and the patriarchy, yes? What about looking at the stereotypical feminist — the bra-burning, hairy-legged one — and showing how it’s imposed on them by the patriarchy just as much as the feminine standard is? Isn’t dressing the opposite of what is expected just another way of letting the patriarchy tell you what to do? You’re dressing a certain way because of what a certain group expects. My manner of dress and grooming is no different than an androgynous, unshaved feminist.

    “Feminism for me encompasses freeing women from sexual, marital, and economic oppression.”
    By saying that it’s wrong for us to get aroused by the awareness that we can cause arousal in men? How is that freeing us sexually, if you’re dictating what we should or should not get off on?
    By saying that we shouldn’t work as prostitutes, strippers, and porn stars? If I can get good money to take my top off and dance around in front of some guy, who are you to tell me that it’s wrong of me to do so? A stripper makes better money than somebody working for minimum wage, quite often. They’re both selling their bodies, just in different ways. Why is one better than the other?

    “the requirement that they fulfill male fantasies in order to have any worth in our society”
    It’s this sort of propagandizing that I find so ludicrous. There are plenty of women that are commonly accepted to have plenty of worth, from a non-sexual standpoint. Hillary Clinton, Oprah, Madeleine Albright, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ayn Rand, J.K. Rowling, Emily Dickinson. Should I go on? Just because a lot of women don’t do anything substantial with their lives (granting you the assumption that writing books or being a politician is somehow more substantial than appearance) and are thus recognized for their sexual desirability, does not mean that all woman are being forced into the same rut.
    And, furthermore, why can’t you grant us the choice to make ourselves into sexual objects if we choose? I should have just as much right to dress up as a kinky schoolgirl and spread my legs for every guy that comes along as you do to whatever it is you want, without having a bunch of women telling me that I’m making the world worse for them, being a disgrace to my gender, etc. Shouldn’t feminism be about choice, instead of trading one set of societal-imposed constrictions for another?

  35. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 1:31 AM #

    You can choose to do whatever you want, but you can’t call capitulating to misogyny in the form of sexual exploitation a feminist choice. I’m sick of hearing feminism reduced to “to strip or not to strip.”

    I’m not a “sex-positive” feminist, inasmuch as that term is used to refer to the kinds of people who believe that women, by adapting themselves the piggish sexual attitudes of men and becoming complicit in their own objectification, can fuck their way to being treated like human beings. In fact, I say piss on that misleading term altogether. It’s just another guise by which women are tricked into believing that the road to equality is paved with thongs and used jimmy hats. Using your sexuality to manipulate men does not equality make, nor does it even amount to controlling your own sexual destiny, because in order to manipulate men through sex you have to fulfill their pornographic fantasies, very few of which revolve around anything but a one-dimensional and completely fictional conception of female sexuality and nearly all of which completely ignore actual female pleasure. Fulfilling male fantasies is not feminism; no matter how many times you show them your tits, they’ll still run the government and all the corporations and institutions that make sure your life revolves around obsessing over your appearance and making 75 cents on the dollar for what they make.

    I think the new definition of “sex-positive” feminism ought to revolve around women demanding that their sexuality be acknowledged to be independent of male sexuality and that their sexual needs be met. That would truly be revolutionary (although it would still form only one tiny sliver of the pie chart of feminist issues). Instead we’ve got people like Diablo Cody calling themselves feminists and derailing the discussion of feminism, giving the general public the idea that the only problem left to be hammered out is whether porn and prostitution are feminist by nature.

    You might want to read this.

  36. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 1:53 AM #

    One more thing… I’m not an unshaven bra-burner. I’m a human being who makes choices based on what’s best for me, not based on what others expect of me. I’m also not saying we should not be aroused by someone finding us desirable. What I am saying is that our arousal should come from more sources than that one and that we should exercise our sexual autonomy and define our own desires in relation to our own sexuality. I do know that there are women who gain power and esteem as a result of their intellectual efforts, but these women are also frequently criticized for their appearances, something men in the public light don’t have to endure, and they are always assumed to have reached their position because they are anomalies; women who do things as well as men do are considered unique and to have done so through nefarious means (being a “bitch,” being too aggressive, etc.). Plus, their collective works are still treated as side concerns to the real achievements that are the realm of men. I’m not here to constrict choices, but I am here to ask people to think about the consequences of those choices, and to think about them beyond their own momentary gain in approval and status. And what happens when you get older and you can’t use your sexuality to manipulate men? You’ve been used up and discarded, that’s what. If we focused more on what’s best for ourselves, we’d be pursuing paths that led us to personal fulfillment, not transitory approval from men who don’t see us as human beings.

  37. Lollipop April 24, 2008 at 1:56 AM #

    I’m not saying that it’s feminist to acquiesce to male sexual demands. But I don’t think that it should be considered feminist to tell a woman that she has to act the way YOU want, either. Why is it okay for you to impose your expectations on her, but it’s not okay when a man does it?

    And I already have read it. Like I said, I’ve been going through your blog for the past couple days (as in, read everything in it. Even though I disagree with you on a great many points, you do bring up many good ones, and I found it a very interesting read. The comments, especially.)

    I agree that “sex-positive” feminism is a load of bullshit. If I go off and fuck a guy or take up working as a stripper, it’s not because I think it’s going to make me equal to the men I’m letting use me. It’s a mutually-equitable trade. They get to see me naked/fuck me, I get sexual gratification or in the case of stripping, a lot of money. I don’t think we should sit by and let men do whatever the hell they want in the government simply because they’re men, and we should sit at home and bake brownies and pop out kids, and say that we’re being feminist because we like brownies and making babies.

    What I AM saying is that taking control of the government/business and things that feminists seem to condemn — stripping, dressing nicely, letting ourselves be ogled because it makes us feel good — need not be mutually exclusive. Does Paris Hilton tramping around and contributing nothing to society impede Hillary Clinton from making great strides towards the white house? Or, furthermore, does Hillary Clinton being married and taking at least some pride in her appearance stop her?

  38. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 2:04 AM #

    Like I said, I’m not asking women to stop doing anything, I’m just asking them to be honest about their desires to do them.

  39. Lollipop April 24, 2008 at 2:14 AM #

    And in reply to your latest comment (Which I hadn’t seen at the time of the writing of my last one):

    I never accused you of being an unshaven bra-burner, I apologize if my words came across as such. I merely used it to portray the supposed dichotomy that most feminists present: Either you do nothing for your appearance, because you shouldn’t have to, or you do what society expects, and then you’re being sexually exploited and anti-feminist. I meant to show how one is not better nor worse than the other, and that both are societal constructs. It was not an ad hominem attack.

    And when I get older and cannot use my sexuality to manipulate men, as you put it, I do something else. I’m not a bimbo, I have the ability to be perfectly successful in any field I choose. I’m planning on going into law, for example. What I don’t see is how using my intellectual abilities is somehow superior to using my body. If I can make better money stripping than I can working at McDonalds while pursuing a higher education, why shouldn’t I? And, moreso, why should I be condemned for this choice?

    I think the intrinsic problem here is our definitions of personal fulfillment. I don’t see how following a life plan that feminists dictate to me is any more fulfilling than following one dictated to me by men. You’re changing the source, but not what’s happening.

  40. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 2:22 AM #

    Again, I’m not denying you your choice, just trying to make people aware of the full spectrum of what their choices entail and that what they hope to gain might not always be what they end up with. Regardless of desiring to allow yourself to be objectified, where does the drive toward having your sexuality conceived of as worthy in its own right, rather than just a tool to manipulate men, or a route to power, even come from? Is the goal really to do the same to men that they do to women, or to create a situation in which sex is used as it was intended, as a source of connection and understanding rather than as some animalistic urge.

  41. Lollipop April 24, 2008 at 8:11 PM #

    But sex is neither purely philosophical, nor purely animalistic. One cannot be separated from the other without denying that which makes us fully human — the juxtaposition of the two. Our philosophical and psychological wants are reflected in our animal desires, and vice versa. If you have not read Ayn Rand, I strongly urge you two — Atlas Shrugged, especially, has a very good explanation of the linking between our sexual attraction and our innermost views. I think you’d find it interesting.

    And I do not say that the goal should be to do to men as they do to us. I have already views clear on this in my first comment: “Feminists need to turn the focus back onto elevating women, instead of dragging men down with us.” Perhaps you should consider rereading the concluding paragraph of that first comment, if you believe that I wish to do the same to men as they do to us. I don’t. There are plenty of instances of men imposing unfair restrictions on women, and impeding their free choice, but the superfluity of modern feminists turning each and every thing into a sign of the shackles of the oppressive patriarchy that must be tossed off — or, rather, shackled on men instead — is making matters worse, not better.

  42. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 8:18 PM #

    I absolutely loathe Ayn Rand. Her ideas are sophomoric at best, inhumane at worst. She has a simplistic view of human nature born out of extreme (and naive and myopic) libertarian political views.

    I’m not looking everywhere for signs of male hegemony because I don’t have to. It IS everywhere, like it or not. I’m not looking to toss off anything or impose anything on anyone else. I want everyone to have the freedom to be fully human, and that means I don’t want women or men having their roles in society and personal relationships dictated to them by media, marketing, or porn, not to mention archaic but jealously guarded cultural ideas about gender roles, which abet and are abetted by the media I mentioned above.

  43. syndicalist702 April 24, 2008 at 8:25 PM #

    I fail to see how expecting us to treat women like human beings somehow “drags us down” with women. If anything, radical feminists seek to even the playing field.

    Ayn Rand was full of shit. “Oh… as long as you derive pleasure from it, it’s the right thing to do” is the mantra of social Darwinism Randian objectivism. Rubbish.

  44. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 8:32 PM #

    And not only that, doesn’t The Fountainhead include a scene or two in which the female protagonist is raped and likes it? Lovely. I knew Ayn Rand sucked and was a terrible writer when I was 15. Aside from the mundaneness of her ideas, have you ever seen worse storytelling? Atlas Shrugged must repeat the same idea 750 times. It could have been a fucking pamphlet.

  45. syndicalist702 April 24, 2008 at 8:37 PM #

    I’ve never read The Fountainhead, but such a scene coming from her wouldn’t surprise me. Atlas Shrugged pissed me off so much that I couldn’t finish it.

  46. Lollipop April 24, 2008 at 9:06 PM #

    The “rape” of Dominique in the Fountainhead was not a real rape scene. She wanted it; By definition, rape is unwanted. Was it violent? Yes. But was it unwanted? By Dominique’s one admittance, no. Her submission to Roark was not a deference to man or male superiority. It was a celebration of greatness in the world. She can enjoy sex only when it is taken, not begged for, because of her belief that greatness cannot exist in the world. It was not a hateful and animalistic urge on Roark’s part, it was an expression of his love for Dominique, by giving her what she wanted: The knowledge that he does not need permission — for one of her greatest fears is to see a great man living in, and wrecked by, a selfless society — and the ability to see something that she loves experiencing pleasure, when her entire life she’s surrounded herself with people and things that she hates, in order to not see the destruction of the things that she loves. It is this sort of pairing between psychological motive and animal instinct that is the true greatness of sex. It is your condemnation of an insightful scene celebrating greatness and love that is “sophomoric at best, inhumane at worst.”

    And Syndicalist: I don’t think that the expectation that you treat women like human beings is what is dragging you down, however convenient of a straw (wo)man that may be. I think that the persecution complex on the part of radical modern feminists, saying that in order to treat woman with decency you must deny something that is inbred in yourself: sexuality. If somebody finds you sexually attractive, that’s not a bad thing. It does not reflect on what they think of you as a person, it merely means that the way the light reflects off of your body and into their eyes and the way your hormones trigger receptors in the nostrils creates a pleasurable sensation and a chemical reaction in their body. Saying that this is wrong or demeaning is ludicrous. I can be considered equal to a man while being sexually attractive.

    And Nine: The male hegemony isn’t everywhere. Is it prevalent in many places, yes, but it is propagandistic to say that it is everywhere. Women benefit from affirmative action, getting in to tech/math/science programs with much more ease than a male of the same or better qualifications. Women are more likely to win custody of children in a divorce settlement. Male nurses are looked down upon for their profession. A woman typically gets a lighter prison sentence than a man for committing the same crime. Women can’t be drafted (when and if there is a draft.) How exactly is that a sign of our oppression by the male hegemony?

  47. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 9:34 PM #

    Ah, Lollipop. We’re going to have to agree to disagree about Rand. I think, as do most people who have done a lot of reading, that she’s a bloody awful writer and a tiresome ideologue.

    Male hegemony is everywhere, and stating that fact does not mean that I’m a propagandist. But I’m inundated with propaganda from every direction, as are you (and you seem to have absorbed an awful lot of it that you don’t seem willing to confront).

    I am against affirmative action, for the record (I’ll get to that in some future post). Women are NOT more likely to win custody battles unless there are sufficient grounds for that decision (see my MRA post). Women can’t be drafted because we don’t have legal equality (see my discussion of the ERA in my MRA post). Male nurses are looked down upon because they are doing something “unmanly,” according to our society’s gender roles. Is that not hegemony?

    Male hegemony doesn’t just mean visible, obvious forms of oppression, it also includes all of the cultural expectations placed on women AND men to conform to gender roles, roles in which men are expected to dominate and women to acquiesce.

  48. Lollipop April 24, 2008 at 9:55 PM #

    But if the problem is expectations placed on both men and women, how is this a male hegemony? Yes, the men are in power in the government and big business, but they are not in power in society. Women are just as much of a problem as men are, if not more so. Speaking from purely personal experience, if I do something that is motivated by societal imposition, it is far more likely to be out of a desire to satisfy other women than out of one to satisfy men. If it’s hot, I personally see no problem with walking around topless. I don’t, not because the male hegemony tells me not to — since more than one male friend has told me that they fully support me taking my shirt off — but because of the expectations of my female friends. You cannot blame the male hegemony for this, since it quite obviously goes against what they desire.

    And as far as custody cases go, I see nothing in that post other than your own ideas of what custody cases “should” be like: An distribution based on how much time has been put into the kids prior. However, this is not how it is done. I spent more time with my father than my mother growing up, because of the high demand of her work. However, if my parents were to get divorced and my mother wanted sole or main custody, I would be willing to place money on the fact that she’d get it. How is this fair? Just because it’s typically a woman’s role to raise the child? Woman are obviously favored in this area; there are plenty of cases I’ve read about in which a father has difficulty in or fails to win custody of his children despite the fact that the mother is a drunkard/junkie/what-have-you.

    I don’t want a draft for women. We are biologically inferior to men in combat situations, and face greater dangers as POWs. And, however much people may claim that women in the military don’t detract from the quality of the male soldiers, this is not true. Studies have been done proving that men are more likely to be reckless in saving a woman than they are in saving a man (which can easily be attributed to biological instinct, so don’t try to explain this away with how we need to accept woman as equally able to fend for themselves) and thus endangering the mission. I’ve reread your post on MRAs, and there is no mention in there of the draft, or anything that could explain how the lack of a female draft is a symbol of the male hegemony. You think our exemption from the draft is a sign of our suppression by the hegemony? We don’t have the right to being forced to go to war? Some right. What about the men who don’t have the right not to go? You’re more than welcome to join the military if you so desire, they have no ability to avoid doing so. Who is in a better position than whom, exactly?

  49. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 10:42 PM #

    I don’t mean to oversimplify, but the problem is – maybe you’ve heard of it – patriarchy. I suggest you have a look at the entry on patriarchy in Wikipedia or elsewhere, and think about what it means in all its variations.

    Men are in power in government and in business AND in society. Men set the rules that women follow, and here is how they do it: women have been taught from birth that their worth lies in their ability to attract men. Since men decide who they are attracted to, they dictate women’s worth. Every time you hear people discussing the appearance of a female public figure, you are seeing this manifest. Men created our legal and social system, and that system works to protect men and their privileges, often to the detriment of women.

    The reason you can’t walk around topless is that your breasts are seen as sexual objects first and foremost, because in a patriarchy you are a sex object rather than a full human being, and so the authorities have decided that doing so is detrimental to public order as men would be chasing you around and harassing you. What men desire is that women cover up and keep ourselves chaste, until they get us alone, when we’re there to service their needs. If we handed it out for free, their ownership would be compromised.

    As for custody, women do most of the childcare, so they ought to be able to continue to do so after a divorce unless they are unfit. You didn’t read that post very carefully, or you’d know I think that the only reason women get custody more often than men is that our social system equates womanhood with motherhood. If fathers stepped up and participated in parenting, they’d deserve more consideration in custody battles.

    I don’t particularly want a draft, but guess what? There is no draft. I want an ERA that would award me equal rights under the Constitution. If that meant that, were a draft to come back, I would be asked to defend the Constitution, I’d consider it fair. There are ways to employ women in the military that don’t pose the kinds of risks you are talking about.

  50. Lollipop April 24, 2008 at 11:00 PM #

    While although I will cede that men’s desire to keep women clothed in public is probably a desire to display ownership, your argument on how women factor into this is flawed. If a woman’s worth is determined — in the eyes of society — by how well she conforms to men’s standards, wouldn’t a woman want to make herself better than the woman around her? Why would they impose these same restrictions on their fellow woman, rather than follow the restrictions themselves, and thus be considered worthier in the eyes of men? A man wants me to wear tight jeans because they show off my body and are constricting. Why, then, if I wore very baggy pants that hid my figure and allowed for a great range of motion, would most of the flack I would receive come from women, not men? Shouldn’t they be happy that I’m removing myself from the competition, serving as a foil to make them better in the eyes of men?

    And that ERA you want would not provide for women being employed differently in the military. If only men can be drafted into combat/front-line situations, how is that equal?

    By the way, disagreement is no reason to resort to ad hominem attacks, such as suggesting that I need to look up the meaning of patriarchy or that I didn’t read the post.

    Your claim that men do not step up and do the parenting, and thus do not deserve custody of the children, is outdated and, yes, sexist. There are plenty of men that contribute to the raising of their children just as much or more than their wives do, and yet their wives are awarded custody. Claiming that you should get the children because women are traditionally the one doing most of the raising is not helping your cause, it is only perpetuating that stereotype.

  51. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 11:10 PM #

    Suggesting that you missed my main point and that you seem to need to read up on patriarchy is hardly an ad hominem attack, the definition of which is one participant in an argument attempting to change the subject by denigrating the other participant’s character or intelligence. I said both of those things because it seemed to me that you were missing serious points, and I was in no way changing the subject.

    Women belittle each other over their appearances for the same reason they obsess over their own appearances: women’s worth is defined by their ability to attract mates. That is their chief means of competing with other women, and hence belittling other women’s appearances gives them a perceived leg up in the competition. If women were seen, like men are, as full human beings, they could compete with each other by showing that they were smarter, more successful, more athletic, more cultured, richer, etc. than their adversaries. The point is, men have a wide array of characteristics that they are valued for, because they are full human beings. Women are seen for the most part as sex objects and so their chief means of competition is over their attractiveness. Don’t tell me there are women who excel in business and sports. I already know that. But as soon as a woman reaches some kind of success in male-dominated arenas, guess what happens? Men AND women tear her down based on her appearance and her supposed lack of proper femininity.

    I want an ERA. I want the same rights all men enjoy. If that means I have to make the same sacrifices they do to get them, so be it.

    I know some men take responsibility for child care. I personally know some men who take care of their children as single parents. However, in the vast majority of families, women still provide the bulk of childcare, and they also do the bulk of the domestic work, whether they are employed outside the home or not.

  52. Lollipop April 24, 2008 at 11:44 PM #

    Insinuating that I’m unfamiliar with the term patriarchy or incapable of reading an online article written in the vernacular is nothing if not a denigration of my intelligence. And as far as missing points goes, you’ve missed your fair share, which I’ve let slide for the sake of continuing an interesting argument rather than harping the same point over and over. But if you’d like to play it like that, I would like, in particular, to know your response to my ideas of human sexuality being tied to humanity — a distinction you seem wont to make — as shown by the paragraph discussing the supposed “rape” scene in The Fountainhead.

    Back on topic: If we get rid of the sexual objectification of women, then we’ll get other things to compete over, such as athletics, culture, and money? This is your idea of an improvement? So instead of getting to compete over appearance, we get to compete over:
    Athletics — An area in which success is almost completely determined by genetics, and which is oftentimes detrimental to the health of those concerned. Take a look at gymnasts, whose growth is impeded, or baseball players that off themselves in ‘roid rage.
    Money — So not only will Paris Hilton still be considered successful, because she’s basically rolling in the dough, but now the rest of us will be expected to compare ourselves to her? If anything, this will increase the amount of women working as strippers, since it is a high paying job, so this would basically defeat the point of your work. And besides, there is already plenty of competition among women for money. Have you watched the Real Housewives of NY/OC/Whatever recently? Enough said.
    Culture — So… Another set of standards determined by society? Instead of getting freedom to be ourselves, we get to compete for who can display the best etiquette and learn how to ballroom dance and set the table properly?
    Mmm, now that you lay it out like that, your ultimate goal does seem rather enticing. Sign me up.

  53. Nine Deuce April 24, 2008 at 11:55 PM #

    I’m not particularly partial to any other set of characteristics to compete over besides appearance, I’d just like women to be considered to be full human beings. That means that I’d like women to be defined by who they are rather than who wants to have sex with them. Men’s value derives from a wide variety of sources. I’d like the same opportunity for women. And that does not mean that I think the values we laud in men are the ideal, either. I think gender roles are restrictive to both sexes, but that they are more so to women. A society in which people were free to engage in whatever behaviors suited them without fear of recrimination for having overstepped the strict gender divisions we have set up is my ideal. But for now, at least men have options that aren’t based on genetics. Women are born looking how they look, and in order to fit into our culture’s expectations of them, they submit to untold hardships and do violence to their bodies, whereas men can just choose among a vast array of options for success in this world.

    I haven’t missed a single point of yours, I’ve just decided which ones I have time to (and want to) address. I don’t deem Ayn Rand worthy of serious analysis, so I’m not going to engage in it. I am under no obligation to respond to every point in every comment on this blog.

    What, exactly, do you want to discuss with regard to the connection between sexuality and humanity?

  54. Nine Deuce April 25, 2008 at 12:11 AM #

    “I think that the persecution complex on the part of radical modern feminists, saying that in order to treat woman with decency you must deny something that is inbred in yourself: sexuality. If somebody finds you sexually attractive, that’s not a bad thing. It does not reflect on what they think of you as a person, it merely means that the way the light reflects off of your body and into their eyes and the way your hormones trigger receptors in the nostrils creates a pleasurable sensation and a chemical reaction in their body. Saying that this is wrong or demeaning is ludicrous. I can be considered equal to a man while being sexually attractive.”

    That is a complete mischaracterization of what I’ve said. I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this, but I am not EVER arguing that we should repress sexual desires or that we should deny that we are attracted to the people we are attracted to. Nor am I telling any woman what she should and should not do. What I am saying is that women who choose to go along with their own objectification ought to be aware of what they are doing: choosing to acquiesce to a restrictive gender role because it’s easier than resisting their own objectification. See my 6th post. What I am also saying is that we have reached a bizarre state in which women’s ability to attract men is seen as their chief source of worth, and a state in which men believe that they are somehow entitled to use women’s bodies without regard to those women’s humanity.

  55. Lollipop April 25, 2008 at 12:32 AM #

    I can accept that, even if I disagree with the way you’re going about it.

    And I don’t expect you to reply to every comment, only to not cite me for missing points when you have apparently done the same.

    “where does the drive toward having your sexuality conceived of as worthy in its own right, rather than just a tool to manipulate men, or a route to power, even come from?”
    How do you define something as worthy? To me, something is worthy if it serves my purpose. If sexuality is accepted on it’s own merit, great, it brings me the physical pleasure. However, that does not mean that I cannot use sexuality for other purposes, thus increasing it’s worth, not diminishing it, as you claim. If I can gain power through sexuality, it serves my purpose just the same as using it for physical pleasure. It is petty to differentiate between the two.

    “As a source of connection and understanding rather than as some animalistic urge.”
    I believe I’ve already made my point clear on my opinions about this, through the discussion of the purported rape of Dominique. I’m merely interested to know your thoughts on taking sex in that way, instead of confining it to one of your two established boxes.

  56. Nine Deuce April 25, 2008 at 12:39 AM #

    I just think that human sexual interaction has a lot more potential than that of animals (though I do admit sex is an urge we share with animals), and that we lose out on finding out what that can be if we allow porn to tell us what sex is about.

  57. pisaquari April 25, 2008 at 3:16 AM #

    “If I can gain power through sexuality, it serves my purpose just the same as using it for physical pleasure.”

    How is *power* gained with sex through egalitarian/equality based means?

    Unless you aren’t down with means of equality…

  58. Drakkar Noir April 25, 2008 at 5:37 PM #

    Lollipop is like reading myself, except that she actually reads books. I love it. It’s not the militant feminists (like Twisty Faster) that’s to be feared by men; it’s the women like Lollipop- she’s an example of the next phase of evolution for women.

  59. Nine Deuce April 25, 2008 at 6:12 PM #

    Drakkar – she’s not the next phase of evolution. She’s a product of the now.

    The entire problem with using sexuality to gain power is that it’s a severely limited form of power that is transitory and easily taken away, not to mention dependent on men. I cannot fathom why you guys don’t see that sexuality being one of the sole sources of power women can have isn’t something to celebrate but rather an indicator of a serious problem of inequality. And not only that, it’s cynical and, in my opinion, immoral. I don’t mean to get sappy, but the fact that we’re at a point where using sex as a means of manipulation is considered acceptable, and even desirable, makes me feel pretty shitty and saps some of my hope for the future of human relationships. Put simply, that attitude amounts to cold objectivism, or, as Twisty Faster would put it, knobjectivism.

  60. pisaquari April 25, 2008 at 6:39 PM #

    Power mixed with the sexual underlies rape and molestation and incest. Sexual violence *is* sexual power.
    And at the rate women experience sexual violence (1 in 3 at least) I am astounded how fast those aligning with “feminism” will take to defending the co-mingling of all this sex and power.
    We clearly don’t have it figured out so why not knock it off for a little while (like, say, 6000 years)–then we will see how much power via sexuality is salvageable.

  61. Nine Deuce April 25, 2008 at 6:42 PM #

    A-fucking-men, pisaquari.

  62. pisaquari April 25, 2008 at 6:52 PM #

    “A-fucking-men”

    Perhaps minus all the fucking-men tho? :)

    Congrats on the blog. You write like you’ve been P-blaming since birth.

  63. chlorophyll April 29, 2008 at 6:54 PM #

    Agree with Deuce’s post about wanting an era of change in how women are judged based on merit versus appearance. I definitely notice how the default reaction to an unkempt and overweight woman is to treat her as though she isn’t doing her job (of looking good). However, while I know this is a feminist blog and only relevant topics are taken into consideration, I can’t help but point out how most boys, guys, and men seem to suffer their share of societal expectations in the male-female relationship model. It’s usually only the top ranks of males who actually enjoy the privileges of their sex alone, while the rest of the average joes seem to be the ones who need women more than women need them. And then there’s the lower classes who seem to mistreat their women as a means of coping with their lack of social status and/or civil rights. But then again, I doubt anyone of the lower classes would really be at a feminist blog, not to sound horribly elitist or anything.

  64. Grim, ungainly May 10, 2008 at 11:54 PM #

    A couple of things,

    First, it seems like, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you’re arguing that rape has gone up in the recent past. Now, I’m not an expert or anything, but if I remember correctly, that’s simply untrue. Go here for details:
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=913013

    Second, You seem to argue that people are unable to really make a separation between porn and reality, or if they can, than it’s a bad thing. It seems as though those separations are made all the time, and generally are good. When dissecting a cat, I don’t think about the cat I have at home. Surgeons need to be able to separate their patients from the reality of that person as a living breathing person, otherwise they couldn’t cut them open. When I have sex with my girlfriend, I don’t think about her as her father’s daughter, I think about her as the woman I love. These distinctions are important, and effective.
    third, I think in an earlier section you wrote that “women can tell if their partner regularly looks at porn (obviously not a direct quote).” Is there evidence for that? I would be interested to see a study or survey that points to that.

    thanks,
    raven

  65. Nine Deuce May 11, 2008 at 12:13 AM #

    I didn’t say that people can’t make a separation between porn and reality, I said that porn has a way of coloring one’s attitudes in ways one may not realize.

    As for whether rape is on the rise, that’s a tricky one. Is it reported rapes that are decreasing, or convicted rapes, or what? I think the report rate is going down as date rape rises.

  66. Grim, ungainly May 11, 2008 at 2:01 AM #

    I’m skeptical that porn colors peoples perceptions of women. however much someone is exposed to porn there exposed to women in real life even more. I feel as though I have a healthy attitude towards women, even though I watch porn.

    I would like to see your statistics that date rape is on the rise. obviously people have become more aware of it, (thank god) but I feel like it was probably just as common, and most likely less reported in the past. I think to argue that “rape and sexual assaults have risen across the board in tandem with the exponential increase in internet porn.” when the fact is that reported rape has gone down 85% as porn has become very easy to access is dishonest.

  67. Nine Deuce May 11, 2008 at 4:25 PM #

    I don’t believe rape statistics are reliable. As few as 5%, if you choose to follow the statistics, even get reported, and of those, as few as 6% end in conviction. The only reliable rape statistic is the conviction rate, because there are too many factors that play into whether rapes get reported. Think about this: do you know any women who have not been groped or otherwise molested against their will? I think this kind of behavior has risen along with porn, because I think porn tends to lessen men’s respect for women’s boundaries, both physical and mental. I’ve had men that I know who have thought about their porn use tell me they agree that that can be the case. Anyway, I’m not making specific statistical claims because rape statistics will never be reliable, fraught as they are.

  68. Grim, ungainly May 11, 2008 at 9:30 PM #

    I totally agree that the reported number of rapes is far, far below the actual number, but I don’t think that we can deny the fact that rape has been going down considerably in the past 30 years.

    Yes, I’m sure the vast majority of women have been molested, but do you think that that was different 10 years ago? 20 years ago? I would bet that it was still true, and that the percentage of rapes reported was even lower then. To be fair, this is speculation, and I honestly have no idea if it’s true. But I think it’s important to recognize that when we have very little information, we should be tremendously careful about implying causation, especially when that causation does not fit with the little information we do have. You say that you don’t make any statistical claims, but “I think this kind of behavior has risen along with porn” is a statistical claim.

    I feel as though people can make the separation between porn and real life, and so porn does not have that great of an effect on peoples attitudes towards women. Granted, I feel uneasy making claims like that without any data to back me up, but I haven’t seen any data either way. If you have ideas for places I should look for info on these sorts of things, I would appreciate a nudge in that direction.
    Thanks.

  69. Nine Deuce May 11, 2008 at 9:51 PM #

    That isn’t much of a statistical claim, and I never said it was, it just means that the number of women I know who have suffered assault (including molestation) seems to keep growing as porn use does. I’m telling you as a matter of experience, mine and that of others, that men who are seriously into porn seem more likely to engage in these sorts of behaviors, because porn teaches people that women are for the using, not for the respecting.

    As for whether I can deny that rape has gone down in the last 30 years, I doubt it’s really gone down as much as we’d like to think. We’ve agreed there’s no way to get at the real numbers on rape, haven’t we? So why would government rape statistics prove anything? I think rapes are reported less now than they were in the past because women have become increasingly fearful that their personal lives will be trotted out publicly, what with the ole “information age” we’ve seemed to enter and all. And because of the rise of MRA groups that seem to think every rape claim is false and that every rape victim is a “lying whore.” Have a look at a few of their sites and tell me if you’d be afraid to report a rape. Most cops are male and tend to be a little conservative when it comes to gender issues, so…

    As for info on how porn affects the way that men look at women in real life, there are numerous studies available that have shown that men’s sensitivity to women’s claims of rape, harassment, and discrimination go down after they have viewed porn. There have also been studies done that show that men who regularly view porn have different ideas of what constitutes sexual assault. Do some Googling on that sort of thing. I’d do it for you, but I’ve got a paper to write.

  70. Ilana October 8, 2008 at 7:00 PM #

    I realize I’m quite late the party here, as it were, but I just wanted to thank you for publishing this post. I’m deeply confused about the implications of porn: I’ve used it. A lot. I’m a young woman of legal age (19), I’m bisexual and consider myself a feminist. That ass-groping thing? Happened to me very recently. I was affronted, but at the same time, I did sort of consider it a compliment.

    Does all this make me implicit in the mistreatment of women? I don’t think I can watch porn anymore; I just don’t want to support that industry (even though I never supported it monetarily). I guess what I’m experiencing is retroactive guilt.

    What about gay porn? It’s used by a lot of women- including myself- and I’m finding myself wondering if that’s because subconsciously we can’t bring ourselves to watch women being degraded, but we don’t mind seeing men in that position…
    Just some thoughts.
    Thanks for bringing all this to light.

  71. KLMC November 9, 2009 at 3:00 AM #

    Hey, this is off the subject but I just wanted to tell you, that tonight I went to Barnes and Noble, found a bunch of Playboy books with collectible articles and photos in them, and defiled them with feminist quotes, and in the front of each one wrote “porn is the instruction, rape is the practice”. Just thought you’d like to know that…I think even though it was probably illegal, I felt it was morally right.

    • Nine Deuce November 9, 2009 at 3:17 AM #

      Awesome! I’m a huge fan of feminist vandalism.

  72. manarchydies January 4, 2010 at 4:17 AM #

    Hey nine-deuce,

    This is my first post on your terrifically hilarious and insightful blog, but I hope there will be more.

    I want to say just a few things.
    Oh yeah, I’m a dude, btw.

    –I have always been uncomfortable with porn for reasons I was previously unaware of. But since reading your porn series I have a whole new insight into why. I have begun to be more vocal about my opposition to porn and entertainment of its ilk to my male peers. Many times resulting in some great male-to-male discussion on our roles as oppressor and how we can use privilege as a means to fight privilege.

    –My partner and I are radial leftists and have been working diligently on breaking down our gender roles as they apply to our relationship. I say this so you will know that I came to your blog being fairly aware of feminist theory. But because my brain works in a very crass and sarcastic manner, it took a very crass and sarcastic feminist to really get it to sink in. Thanks for expanding my insight.

    –And the last point(by point I mean compliment) I want to make is this.
    I used to spend a decent chunk of money watching stoner male comedy because I am a stoner male and they( the movies) made me laugh. Since reading your blog, and blogs you link to, but mostly yours, I have been able to replace movies where men say obnoxious things about women for a laugh with your pretty much awesome wit. I’d like to point out that your “Department of Redundancy Department” comment on the previous post in this series, had me in stitches for an entire day.

    And the conversation you wrote for those Burger king ad guys….hilarious, but sadly accurate to be sure.

    If I haven’t been clear enough in this post let me be more blunt.

    Nine-Deuce and the contributors to this blog have opened my eyes substantially, in the last few months, to the experience of women. This insight has helped me better myself as a friend, a lover, a partner, a coworker, a son, a brother and as an activist for global justice.

    Hope to read more soon!

    • Nine Deuce January 4, 2010 at 5:48 AM #

      Welcome aboard, dude. And thanks!

  73. Immir March 3, 2010 at 5:31 AM #

    Wow, great comment.

    *God* Reading that back and forth between 9D & Lollipop was painful…..

    E.g:
    Lollipop- “Women are just as much of a problem as men are, if not more so. Speaking from purely personal experience, if I do something that is motivated by societal imposition, it is far more likely to be out of a desire to satisfy other women than out of one to satisfy men. If it’s hot, I personally see no problem with walking around topless. I don’t, not because the male hegemony tells me not to — since more than one male friend has told me that they fully support me taking my shirt off — but because of the expectations of my female friends. You cannot blame the male hegemony for this, since it quite obviously goes against what they desire.”

    PAINFUL

  74. Chloe August 17, 2010 at 2:21 PM #

    I know that your rape argument has been over for like 2 years now, but I do have something to say about that.
    Actual rapes, reported and unreported, are in fact going down. However, they are going down so slowly any trend is really pretty hard to see. All the while, every other kind of crime is going down much much faster. Basically, due to the fact that the trend is for all crime, especially violent crime (like assaults and murders) to go down significantly and quickly, since rape is barely changing we can say the same thing as if it was going up. If that made any sense. So yes, rape is going down. But so much slower than other crimes it’s basically the same as going up.
    An interesting, sad, painful, side note, anal rape on college campuses has increased significantly (I can’t remember the number or what study I read it in, but it was a university study) in the past 10-15 years. Anal rape was somewhat rare. Then almost perfectly aligned with the rise of internet porn, anal rape dramatically went up in the age group that watches the most porn. As well, more and more women are being pressured into anal sex despite the fact that it usually hurts and is rarely pleasurable. Of course it can be fun, but way more than half of women who have tried anal sex said they would not want to do it again and that it was painful. Most of the time when asked, they were asked to do so due to a partner seeing it repeatedly in porn. Also becoming the norm is ejaculating onto a woman’s face. Some women report having this done to them the very first time they have sex it has become so normalized. Some men say they are dissatisfied with their partner sexually due to her unwillingness to participate in anal sex and that is the “reason” they must look at porn, as if anal sex was the most common innate desire there was.

  75. Mildred December 9, 2010 at 11:56 PM #

    I just want to add something, having spent the whole day reading this… I am not educated or articulate but what I want to say is that I think that porn normalises very rough sex in relationships and what is going on behind closed doors looks like rape and feels like rape but is framed as rough sex between consenting individuals in a monogamous relationship. And over time this sexuality becomes conflated with arousal and thus the circle of normalisation is complete.
    When you’re a young girl, and all the guys you sleep with watch porn its kind of inevitable that you’re going to go along with their porn fantasies, and not knowing what you like or don’t like, you’re probably going to end up doing things you’re not comfortable with but have to learn the hard way or you can’t get aroused unless there is a power dynamic, usually a submissive one.
    I am speaking completely from personal experience of my own and conversations with female friends.
    Every time I slept with a guy who watched porn I noticed a definite difference. They had fantasies about bringing another male partner, they liked to talk dirty (like name calling, slut, whore etc), they would want deep throating, anal sex, seemed confused by performing oral sex but constantly wanted it done to them. Basically they wanted alot of things that are just normal in porn but do not feel terribly great to a woman, physically.
    And I think feminists have overlooked the fact that female sexuality is DEVELOPING to prefer masochism, submissiveness because when your formative experiences are with porn sex then porn sex is all you’re going to want and all that is going to excite you.
    I do think this is inherantly bad because it is unemotional and requires the constant need to push boundaries and limits (I think the power dynamic is a way in which to tease out an emotional response from something that has been so unemotional.)
    I have fucked alot of men and I like to fuck. I find it strange that its constantly argued that rad fems don’t like sex, I do, I like it so that I actually care about MY OWN PLEASURE.

  76. lizor December 10, 2010 at 10:35 AM #

    Mildred – I think that was quite articulate. Thanks.

  77. Nicole May 10, 2011 at 4:53 PM #

    Hmm. Let me to you from experience I have woken up at least 3 times to a guy having sex with me. And yes, I was passed out drunk, but that’s not a fucking excuse. So tell me that porn isn’t a problem when so many men seem to think it is ok to have sex, er, no rape a woman when she is asleep. I’ve looked it up and their are fetishes for guys looking for those videos on the internet. I might even be in one. And 2 of those guys that did it to me, I had thought they were friends of mine. They obviously couldn’t destinguish fantasy from reality.

  78. Nicole May 10, 2011 at 5:13 PM #

    I’d also like to note that statics on rape are not accurate. Talk to rape couselors and cops that deal with those cases. THE VAST MAJORITY OF WOMEN RAPED DO NOT REPORT IT. They are too ashamed, want to forget it even happened, do not want to go through a trial, and then worse… be told they lied about it and get discredited and have the case dismissed on lack of evidence, because most rapists now are smart enough to use a condom. I’ve been raped several times. My mother has been assaulted and my sister also has been date raped. My mother’s case was dismissed because the police collected the evidence wrong.

  79. isme May 11, 2011 at 7:52 AM #

    “I’ve looked it up and their are fetishes for guys looking for those videos on the internet.”

    Yeah, it’s becoming more popular. Often it’s staged, of course, and they’ll put in a disclaimer it’s all consentual, and that she dumped her previous BF cause he wasn’t man enough to have sex with her in her sleep.

    Or a note saying that he’s a burglar that broke in and found her sleeping, for the people who aren’t excited by “consensual” unconscious sex.

  80. aims June 21, 2012 at 10:42 PM #

    Drakkar Noir: “Lollipop is like reading myself, except that she actually reads books. I love it.”

    Wow this comment is so revealing and yet you don’t seem to realise its significance, Drakkar. Yes, she is like reading you, because she has internalised so much of the patriarchy.

    The fact that you “love” what she says, that it’s pleasing to you, should tell you something.

  81. nina rose October 6, 2012 at 8:53 PM #

    i know this comment is pretty late but i just wanted to say i do agree with u about everything youre saying on this subject. u probably dont even post anymore but ill still post this comment anyway.
    i still want to be a stripper or maybe one day a pornstar. the reason because is i already feel like a peice of shit. i feel like im being ignored by dudes all the time by being myself. so maybe if i be want they like then i could finally grab their attention. ive never had a boyfriend, ive nevr had my first kiss, I’m a virgin, and ive never had anything that associates myself with a guy. and now im 20 years old. i feel like its because im really ugly and im not good enough for them. but strippers and pornstars are what they pay more attention to mostly so thats what i need to be or im going to be lonely forever. i dont want to be wife or the girlfriend thats gets cheated on i wanna be the one he cheats on her with. i wanna be waht he desires so he’ll love me and finally notice me. i hate myself and i just want that to stop. ive never really had an sexually abusive background but ive been molested before at ayoung age and so on. but i dont really think that has anything to do with my choice of wanting to be a stripper. i dont care if i get treated like trash i just want him to give me the time of his day.

  82. Catethulhu October 14, 2012 at 12:04 AM #

    I love you. I’m going to try to get everyone I know to read this. Eloquent and compelling.

  83. Erin December 2, 2012 at 8:43 PM #

    I find what you’ve said about porn, especially this article, to be very accurate. I’ve been sexually harassed twice. The first time was in my Ballroom Dance class. He tried to touch my breast. I instinctually tried to move away, so he didn’t quite touch my breast, but he came so close that his thumb hit my underwire on the side. No matter how sloppy or experienced anyone I’ve danced with is, their hands have never gone anywhere near my breasts. I just shut down when it happened and didn’t even let myself realize what had happened for almost two days. I even finished dancing with him that day. When I next saw my dance teacher, I told her what happened and she totally backed me up and helped me figure out how to report him properly. The second time was when I was filming something for a class (I’m a film student) and a friend had helped me get a crew together for it. We were all in my apartment and the guy who was doing the boom mike touched my butt three times. I never said anything because, at the time, I didn’t think anyone would listen to me. I still don’t.
    Both guys had some sort of social disorder, I could tell. I say I could tell because I have mild Autism myself, but I’ve largely overcome it to the point where nobody recognizes I have a mental condition anymore. I don’t think anybody would’ve believed me because of their social awkwardness. “Maybe you just misunderstood him.” “He didn’t realize what he was doing.” I’m sorry, but I saw the looks on their faces and they were trying to hide what they were doing. You don’t hide what you’re doing if you don’t realize what you’re doing is wrong. And if they were that socially inept that they wouldn’t know that groping a woman was illegal and morally wrong, then their psychiatrist should never have let them live on a campus or be on their own.
    As far as porn goes, I had a boyfriend who I found out was looking at porn while we were a sexually active couple. Granted, I had never looked at porn before we dated and had tried watching a couple videos with him, then had decided that I didn’t like porn and told him I didn’t want either of us watching it anymore because it bothered me too much. I was extremely upset to find him watching and looking at porn AFTER we had that conversation. He did feel bad about it and said he would stop, but I found more pictures of naked women on his phone about a week later. I got really upset with him and he promised to stop and did that time. I do believe that he stopped because I could tell by his behavior that he had. I brought it up to him later and asked him why he did it even after I asked him, in tears, to stop. He said he didn’t really understand why it had been so hard to stop; it’s not like he was addicted. I suddenly realized then and proceeded to explain to him that the culture we’ve both been raised him has made it normal for men to watch porn, making it abnormal to abstain from porn. I told him, “if after watching your girlfriend, who you’re in a loving and sexually active relationship with, cry and beg you to stop looking at porn and you felt bad and you STILL had trouble stopping, then that, to me, sounds like brainwashing.” The realization actually shocked him a little bit. (I would like to add that just because we were having sex doesn’t mean that I think that’s the only reason he shouldn’t watch porn. Even if we weren’t having sex, I would demand that he stop. But I wanted to illustrate that he really had no reason to watch or look at porn, which he agreed with.)

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  1. Rage Against the Manchine’s Series on Pornography « AntiPorn101 - February 14, 2011

    [...] Porn Part Five: The Other Half of the Big Picture [...]

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