Huffing dong not only won’t win you the war, but it won’t even win you the battle.

Since I’ve been thinking about porn titling and copy conventions lately, I found myself ruminating this afternoon on a very strange phenomenon that I have often come across in my perusals of the porn section of the Internet: the practice of advertising which porn “actors” star in a particular video by listing the man’s name vs. the woman’s name, as in “Bruce Bigdick vs. Tanya Titanictits.” What the fuck? That alone tells me that the “sex” in porn is more about power and degradation than lust (not that I needed more evidence of such), but it’s a pretty striking practice, is it not?

Think about it for a second. If it weren’t so terrifying it’d almost be funny. I keep hearing the voice of an MMA announcer saying, “Tonight, in the octagon, Will Whalewang and Brenda Brobdingnagianboobs are going to fuck to the death! Rage in the cage!” Seriously, when was the last time you heard about someone taking on a foe via dick sucking? I’ve only heard of it once in my entire life, in an autobiographical essay I will excerpt for your reading pleasure (warning — offensive shit ahead):

I [once] lived in a house with five guys all trying to become famous for drinking, smoking pot, and playing video games.  A lot of socially abnormal behavior occurred in this house during this period of my life.  One such instance was that my friend Mr. X (a very naturally gorgeous man) began to be naked constantly.  He walked around the house naked, he played video games naked, he did crosswords naked, he even partied naked.  What at first was quite shocking became mildly amusing, then somewhat passe, then quite irritating.

One day after some  moderate beer drinking, I started playing Crash Bandicoot Warped (an underrated platform classic) on the Playstation.  Mr. X emerged from his room naked with a Penguin Classic selection I can’t specifically recall and took his place next to me naked on the floor, prepared to engage non-chalantly in some naked, drunk, casual Wordsworth or something.  After a few minutes I became seriously annoyed and asked Mr. X, “Dude, what the fuck are you doing, trying to out-gay everyone?  It’s fucking retarded, put your clothes back on!”  Mr. X sprawled out and instructed, “Dude, don’t be afraid of my beauty.”  In a split second, I became vigilantly determined to out-gay Mr. X. I would show him that his air of passe/faux-free sexuality was nothing against my will to maintain a non-retarded living environment.  “I’ll fucking suck your dick and show you who’s afraid!” I threatened while perking up as if I were about to attack his dick.  “Bring it on,” said Mr. X, laying down as if he were ready to receive all the oral sex I could give him in a thousand lifetimes.

At this point I suppose we were engaging in a gay game of chicken.  I approached the floor where Mr. X way lying, expecting him to recoil instinctively.  Mr. X did not recoil.  “When I touch him he’ll recoil,” I thought to myself as I touched Mr. X’s inner thigh in an attempt to get him to recoil without touching his penis. Mr. X did not recoil.  “When I touch his penis he’ll be so shocked, he’ll recoil and I’ll be the all-time Gay Chicken Champion of the Universe,” I thought right before I touched Mr. X’s penis with my hand without him recoiling.  There was only one thing left to do.  I would not lose.   As I lowered my head to begin sucking I rationalized that it would be just like accidentally licking his arm,  that his body was essentially the same as mine,  and that I would engage in a social taboo for perhaps a millisecond in the name of Gay Chicken pride.  I locked myself into an almost Zen state of mind as I wrapped my mouth around Mr. X’s penis and began sucking, attempting to empty my mind of all things accept what was necessary for this most important of personal victories.  After about five seconds I began to wonder what the fuck was going on.  After about eight seconds I began to incredulously feel Mr. X’s penis enlarge in my mouth.  After about twelve seconds I began to feel the rock hard dick in my mouth that I recognized from my own experiences as “I’m not too far from ejaculating.” Overcome with the terror of Mr. X coming in my mouth, I  jumped up, terrified, and asked, “Dude… what the fuck?!” Mr. X, with an air of complete relaxation, replied, ” Dude, why’d you stop? I was about to come.”    I looked at Mr. X, amazed, and said, “Well, fuck me.  You’re definitely the gayest.”

The next day I  gleefully told everyone I knew about the experience because I thought it was fucking hilarious.  This,  surprisingly, did not make Mr. X or my girlfriend very happy.  It also created even more doubt in my community as to the nature of my sexuality.  Oh well, as experiences go it was one of my more memorable.

Clearly, it is not possible to best one’s opponent by fellating that opponent. But enough joking.

What is up with this so-and-so vs. so-and-so business in the porn industry? Isn’t it kinda… wack to turn sex into combat, into a struggle for dominance? Should we be getting aroused by the thought of two people using and abusing each other sexually until one becomes so degraded that the other (or others) appears to have vanquished her? Such a practice belies the disingenuous claims often made by porn producers and porn fans that porn is all about celebrating sexuality, that anti-porn feminists are just anti-sex, that the real harm to women lies in the purported desire of fifteen radical feminists or so to “limit women’s sexual expression” by objecting to men wanking to images of women being treated like subhumans.

It’s bullshit. Porn is not about sex, it’s about sexualized power. Porn, a few outliers notwithstanding, is about men fucking women into submission, often violently. If it weren’t, there’d be no choking, no puking, no bukkake, no gang bangs, no double (or quadruple) penetration, no ATM, no slapping, no name-calling, no images of multiple men high-fiving each other while they use and abuse one woman’s body, no porn copy containing phrases like “until she cries” or “watch this little whore get ____” or “Interchangeable Female Body vs. Fearsome Violent Penis.”  The porn industry, if it were just all about sex rather than about sexualized hate, wouldn’t be in a race to the bottom with itself to create ever more absurd configurations of bodies, the sole aim of which seems to be to subject women to the most heinous abuse possible.

Don’t bother telling me that the porn you watch isn’t quite that gnarly. Check out the behavior of the men in comparison to that of the women, look at the positions of the bodies, think about the camera angle, listen to what is being said, think about whose pleasure seems paramount, then come back and tell me the porn you watch isn’t just as much (if not more) about dominance and submission as it is about sex.

The “versus” phenomenon illuminates exactly what porn is. It’s a battle that women can’t win, because it’s designed for men who get off on seeing us subjugated, trampled, and powerless.

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109 thoughts on “Huffing dong not only won’t win you the war, but it won’t even win you the battle.

  1. Hmm maybe they think it’s edgy, like a sampled dance remix, yanno freda discotex vs Led Zeppelin or something.

    But as Pat Benatar so sagely advised, stop using sex as a weapon. And who’d argue with hair like that?

    I look forward to Andrew’s views anyway (nb joke).


    1. Yeah, I thought of crappy remixes too when I saw that.

      Personally, I’d say that “vs” is fairly tame, and you really don’t need to mention it if “ATM” or “until she cries” is also going to pop up.


  2. I think the analysis is pretty spot on. Most of porn I see floating around is definitely geared toward making a random girl do something nobody could ever conceive she’d want to do.

    What do you do when the arguments your industry is free from coercion start to fail because it’s exactly that coercion that men are relying on to cum?

    I’m not sure about the vs. thing though, I’ve personally never observed it. (not that I doubt it).

    One thing I’d like to point out though, is that as men we are saturated with this kind of stuff growing up. It starts with curiosity about how women look naked and the envelope keeps being pushed from there. This isn’t an excuse, but I point it out because I think this creates some sort of expectation that there is always somewhere further to take it, always something else the girl is willing to do that we’ve never seen. Are we still getting off on rape? Probably. I think it is the coercion kind of rape though. We are intrigued with the girl losing all her morals, dignity, and humanity right on screen, in what seems willingly, wondering what circumstances brought her to this moment and how anyone could ever come back from it.

    Again, the analysis is spot on. The question for me, and I suppose, every other man out there is not “Do I get off on rape?” It’s “What does that mean for me?”


    1. “This isn’t an excuse, but I point it out because I think this creates some sort of expectation that there is always somewhere further to take it, always something else the girl is willing to do that we’ve never seen.”

      That does sound like an excuse. And creates an expectation in who, exactly? I’ve heard porn enthusiasts complain about the prevalance of ATM, Max Hardcore style stuff and other disgusting things, and the lack of anything more “romantic”. They choose to view something less extreme, there’s no infallible cultural or biological hardwiring meaning men have to go for something ever more degrading. People merely choose to do so.

      “Are we still getting off on rape? Probably. I think it is the coercion kind of rape though.”



      1. When I say it’s not an excuse I want to be clear that I’m not making an argument that men are incapable of changing or are predestined to be these sort of consumers. I think it has to be said though because how men get into porn determines how they will use porn.

        Men get into it largely as curious 11 year olds, when everything sexual is new to them. I think this creates an expectation in them that there will always be something new in porn to discover. This leads us into the pushing the limits, rape category, Max Hardcore stuff being discussed.

        In short, a 25 year old discovering porn for the first time will not be the same kind of user as the person who discovers it as an 11 year old.

        As for the coercion comment, I just wanted to point out what while its certainly a type of rape, the fact the female is coerced and not forced is important to the viewer. I believe that men are getting off on watching the woman self destruct, as opposed to just watching her being violated expressly against her will. Its a meaningless difference in that is still a rape, but its meaningful, I think, in understanding exactly how this type of porn is consumed.


        1. Girls are curious at eleven, too. So by your logic, we should follow the same path. If guys feel a need to keeping pushing further down those dark paths, I don’t think it’s because of any innate quality, but rather, an effect of the culture we all live in. Plus, I know guys who discovered porn at 11, decided it was pretty stupid within a few years, and don’t use it as adults.

          And there are not “types” of rape. You’re sounding dangerously close to Whoopi Goldberg there.

          I’m not sure that wanting to watch women self-destruct is all that different from wanting to watch them be destroyed by other people, except in the fact that the former allows you to blame her for the whole thing more easily.


          1. “Girls are curious at eleven, too. So by your logic, we should follow the same path. ”
            Many do. I take it you’ve never read any fanfiction, almost all of which is written by women…


                  1. the written word can inspire people to do all kinds of crazy things, just as movies can. Supposedly. I’ve always tended to think of one buys that porn “makes” men into rapists, they also buy that goth music causes school shootings and a great many of the wars in the world can be blamed on the bible. However, I tend to think people decide to rape and kill and then blame it on other things because its a great cop out.


                    1. I agree that porn doesn’t make men into rapists. The desire has to be there in some form already. A man who is repelled by the idea of rape won’t rape after watching porn.

                      What it does is a)give ideas of scenarios to act out to unimaginative men (a lot of those around) and b)reinforce / normalise / legitimise (in their own minds) the desires of some men.


                  2. I don’t think anyone was saying that porn and fanfic are the exact same thing. That would be an idiotic argument… and also a rather redundant naming system.


            1. I’m not sure how useful the comparison is in general, but it is true that there are some young girls with very strange ideas about male homosexuality out there.

              Well, erotic fiction tends to be the home of strange ideas about sexuality in general. At least everything done in porn is physically possible.


              1. Personally, I’m extremely disturbed by the fact that large numbers of teenage girls write and read about graphic rape scenarios, and are encouraged to do so by a LOT of fanfic communities.


                1. Well at some point I think everyone has to accept that a large amount of women out there are turned on by the thought of being raped. It might be rape that happens under “ideal” circumstances, it might be rape that happens under surreal circumstances, it might be a strange quasi-rape where the consent is present, but denied for the sake of the fantasy. Whatever it is, a lot of girls are turned on by some sort of rape and the absoluteness of rape always being wrong starts becoming grey.

                  I also hear about, see, and experience women respond to more forceful advances from men over less aggressive advances all the time, so the likelihood that many times this sort of attitude jumps the “fireline” into reality, if you will, is not small.

                  I suppose the question is what do you do with it. Do you tell these women they are not supposed to be turned on by rape? Fucked up their heads may be, but it is still paternalistic. Do you tell them that they are reinforcing patriarchy, like many sex-workers do? I don’t think you can because these FanFic sites aren’t really analogous to sex work at all.

                  This is somewhat similar to the sex-work dilemmas that take place on here often, but for me personally, I think that these sites reinforce female sexuality instead of male sexuality (like porn), and it just so happens that for a lot of these writers rape is at the heart of it.


                  1. No one is turned on by actual rape. The two concepts are mutually exclusive. Anyone who has what people call a “rape fantasy” is not fantasizing about actually being raped, but rather pretending to be.


                  2. I think you’ve missed part of the point of fanfic. Violent slash often does not feature a first person perspective, or even a female character.

                    Do you tell them that they are reinforcing patriarchy, like many sex-workers do? I don’t think you can because these FanFic sites aren’t really analogous to sex work at all.

                    I have no idea what you’re even trying to say here.


                  3. I see hexy kind of beat me to it. Yes, most of the fan fiction that we’re talking about involves men being raped by other men. Amateur fiction involving women being raped usually seems to be written by male authors.

                    This, though:
                    “Whatever it is, a lot of girls are turned on by some sort of rape and the absoluteness of rape always being wrong starts becoming grey.”

                    … I’m not really sure this is wrong. I don’t actually spend time in communities devoted to this stuff, but I see some things in snark communities and other places. And there is sometimes a distinct undercurrent that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with rape as long as it’s two guys who look pretty together doing it. It’s pretty sickening sometimes.

                    On the “physically possible” thing – I’ll take “absurd, stupid, and hateful” over “instant death” any day.


                    1. “Whatever it is, a lot of girls are turned on by some sort of rape and the absoluteness of rape always being wrong starts becoming grey.”

                      Even if the first bit of that is true, it absolutely does not necessitate the second bit. Which is vile.


                    2. (Comment nesting limit, huh.)

                      “Even if the first bit of that is true, it absolutely does not necessitate the second bit. Which is vile.”

                      Not necessitate it, no, but I still think it may be true for the people in some discussions I’ve seen. As long as it’s male on male.

                      No argument about it being vile.


        2. I believe that men are getting off on watching the woman self destruct, as opposed to just watching her being violated expressly against her will. Its a meaningless difference in that is still a rape, but its meaningful, I think, in understanding exactly how this type of porn is consumed.

          In that it’s consumed by a marginally different type of complete arsehole?


    2. ”Coercion rape” vs. [a ha ha, vs.] WHAT OTHER kind of rape?

      ”Stranger” rape?
      ”Violent” rape? [I love that one. It’s never not violent, dong huffers.]

      Or as some geniuses like to call it, ”REAL rape?”

      Point — ALL RAPE involves coercion. Read it with me, then repeat it aloud ’til you get it.


      1. I disagree. All rape does not necessarily have to involve coercion. Coercion involves getting someone to go along with something they wouldn’t otherwise do. If rape occurs by force, then coercion is not necessary to accomplishing the act. Most rapes probably have elements of both, but I think the kind of stuff we are talking about in porn is largely coercive, that is the woman is allowing herself to be taken advantage of as a means to some other end.

        I wasn’t trying to split hairs though. I think there is an important difference between people getting off on coercion rape as opposed to forceful rape. If there isn’t there isn’t, but that doesn’t mean the two are not distinct.


        1. While I think the distinction might be worth making in some cases, various dictionaries (and common sense, I’d think) say that the use of force is one possible type of coercion, not something entirely separate.


  3. And in so called “lesbian” porn it’s about tricking other women into performing sex acts they wouldn’t “usually” do – same with the whole male “gay for pay”/”straight guy gets boned” thing.

    I’ve read this statement in so many different books lately it seems to stand out

    “…. it’s like fear factor meets jackass…. how many dicks can you stick in a girl?” (sic)

    And I fucking hate T.V in general.

    If porn wasn’t about humilation of women then websites like efuckt and Bang Brothers wouldn’t exist. End of story.

    P.S don’t google those sites unless you want to simultaniously taste vomit and body parts as you yak up every internal organ.


    1. “And in so called “lesbian” porn it’s about tricking other women into performing sex acts they wouldn’t “usually” do – same with the whole male “gay for pay”/”straight guy gets boned” thing.”

      I’ve read things that suggest most or all of those things are totally scripted, but I’m not sure that actually makes the scenario less disturbing.

      I’d find it amusing that google lists “inhumanity” as a related search to “efuckt”, but apparently that’s another disturbing website and not a comment on their material. There’s times I hate the internet.

      That being said, that sounds like an implied generalization that seems pretty extreme to me.


      1. Well of course they’re largely scripted! That’s like saying reality T.V is “reality” :P

        I used to watch a lot of porn. And then I made the connection. I’m no expert but just saying from the wide range of shit I viewed from a young age to when I stopped viewing a lot of it was centred around that idea.

        “There’s times I hate the internet.”

        I know right, I know :(


        1. That’s a great comparison.

          Actually, now that I think about it, I feel like an idiot for suggesting that -anyone- might believe it. Even if it’s not something like one I saw, where taking it literally would lead to a high risk that the guy is going to get certain parts of his anatomy chewed off… It’d just be a nightmare for practical reasons. 2257 compliance for one thing; I don’t know how hard it is to do the paperwork, but even if it could be done electronically in minutes it’d still be sequence-breaking. And STD testing… even with the instant testing from certain SF novels, it’d be sequence-breaking too. The one movie I’ve seen where I could potentially believe it really was some passerby who they asked if they wanted to join, there was no direct physical contact between the theoretical-passerby and the actress, so maybe STDs wouldn’t be an issue, but still.


    2. “If porn wasn’t about humilation of women then websites like efuckt and Bang Brothers wouldn’t exist. ”

      efuckt being the one that advertises itself as “porn you wish you didn’t see”, isn’t it?

      IIRC, it also provides links to videos of the aftermath of traffic accidents, which (hopefully) excludes it from being a mainstream porn site.


      1. I think it markets itself as being more of a “shock value” porn site, but still, the fact that it even exists says a lot to me.


    3. Well yeah, but that’s largely because it’s made for men, who find the idea that real lesbians exist utterly terrifying. Hence women can only do stuff with other women as a substitute for a man.


      1. “but that’s largely because it’s made for men, who find the idea that real lesbians exist utterly terrifying”…

        That’s really true… I’ve suggested this a few times at the pub with mates, and it really doesn’t go down well…

        It seems at most times in ‘mainstream culture’ (i.e. conversations at the pub or at work when there aren’t any women around) gay men are accepted, but disgusting, and lesbians are just viewed as a novelty – but the underlying threat is always denied / derided…


  4. Question: When you say “the porn section of the Internet”, do you mean things like porn websites, or have you seen it on DVD retail sites/box copy, or something else?

    I ask because I don’t think I’ve ever seen that particular phrasing used, but I also don’t look at porn websites. (At least, not ones that involve media which have actors.) In most cases I’ve seen there’s just a list of names. Usually in alphabetical order (by first name, which is kind of odd). Or just the woman’s name, with the man not being considered particularly important.

    There’s some sites I’ve run into where I can easily believe they’d use phrasing like that for the reasons you describe, but without actually having a reason to look there’s some things I can’t bring myself to look too closely at.


        1. One thing I have noticed, though, is that usually very little distinction is drawn. Alot of websites don’t seem to differentiate between “jesus christ WTF?” porn and “people not wearing quite as much as they probably should in public” porn.

          It seems to me that alot of the really sick stuff is mainstream not because it is omnipresent (though it’s hardly uncommon), but because mainstream doesn’t see the difference.


          1. This is a good point. It’s evident from the lay-out. The themes of the porn sites are usually laid about by categories. This sends the message that each category is just as common or acceptable as the next. For example “Redheads” is no more common a fetish that “Pregnant”.

            I wonder if this is on purpose though or just an accident of how the model is run. Either would have interesting implications.


            1. I think there’s both some technical and some social issues involved.

              I happened to once be involved in a debate on a wiki that was trying to sort categories of various things into a hierarchy to simplify finding the right ones to put articles in. It was an amazing mess. What seemed obvious to one person wouldn’t to the next, there were exceptions coming out of the woodwork, and even what some categories meant was called into question. And this was on a subject that isn’t nearly as charged as sexuality. Most people consider whatever they’re into “normal”, and no one wants to have to navigate more confusing menus than they have to in order to find what they’re looking for. And a business could certainly impose whatever arbitrary arrangement they wanted, but it’s likely to make someone mad for one reason or another. Making a list is just plain easier. (Though simple category systems tend to have issues anyway, which is probably why at least some porn sites (and a lot of other places) have been moving to more robust tag-based systems.)

              I think this could actually work in opposition to the “escalation” effect Andrew described earlier. Given how non-obvious the names of some fetishes are, one can easily run into something that’s just too far beyond what they’re familiar with. (In my own experience, this can have an almost physically stunning effect. In the end I don’t think I would have liked any of those things anyway, but I probably wouldn’t be so aggressively hostile towards some if I had been exposed to things in a different order.)

              If one really wants to get an idea of relative commonality, it’s probably better to look at the amount of content in each category than just “oh, it’s on a list” anyway…


  5. I don’t rule out the possibility of erotica existing, I mean there are certainly films/TV shows that show lesbian sex that I wouldn’t describe as porn, but that’s because they aren’t porn. Something that’s sexually arousing isn’t necessarily porn as far as I’m concerned.

    But commercial porn isn’t made for lesbians, it’s made for straight men largely, or women who are straight male identified. By which I don’t mean trans, I mean have absorbed mainstream attitudes to male sexuality.

    We can see this in shows like the L word, which although they may not depict violent sex, only show women who meet straight male standards of attractiveness. Even if you do see two women having sex on film, they will usually be attractive in a very heteronormative way, which doesn’t in any way encompass the range of women that real life lesbians find attractive. Which includes butch women and fat women, not just skinny femmes.

    So yes I do object to it. It’s “lesbian” sexuality viewed through a heteronormative gaze.


    1. While I certainly agree with you on the ridiculous presentation of lesbians and lesbian sex when packaged for a male audience, the “straight male standard of attractiveness” represented on television doesn’t really encompass the range of women that real life straight men find attractive, either.


      1. Well, right.
        The “straight male standard of [female] attractiveness” demands that all televised women be unrealistic. All that matters are the desires of that presumed core viewer; what everyone else is into is pointedly ignored.


        1. Not too sure about that…you don’t tend to see unattractive men that much either…alot more than unattractive women, yes, but it’s not just a straight guy’s fantasy.


          1. “a lot more than unattractive women”

            Like, a lot more.
            Which is not some accident. Television doesn’t look like the real world for a reason. The standard and purpose of beauty is different for televised men and women.

            Of course there are exceptions, but it’s primarily a “Typical Straight Dood, 18-34” aspirational fantasy. Perhaps more than ever before. And I’m not just stating my opinion there— there is actually a tv-industry name for this prototypical viewer (I wish I could remember it; it’s not particularly flattering).
            Basically, he is— at heart or outright— an overgrown kid, who likes grossouts and boobs. And he’s literally the baseline for which most network-level television is made. Everything else “deviates” from that and has a marker: women’s television, family television.
            And note that even shows ostensibly catering to other audiences, like say, “family” programs, are devoted to reinforcing his mandate. (“Two and a Half Men,” anyone?) So no matter who’s actually watching, everyone gets the same basic message, and it is Patriarchy Approved.


  6. This is absolutely spot on.
    Until about 6 months ago, I was on the fence in the porn debate, and while I still think that the very base theory isn’t the problem, our culture’s interpretation and the industry is a huge problem.
    I cannot think of any porn I have seen (MAYBE one video if pushed) that does not in some way degrade the women for the pleasure of the man.
    And this article is spot on.
    Those titles are absolutely fucked.


  7. It really scares me just how mainstream this fucked up violent Max Hardcore-type pornography has come. Pretty much everything you listed in the third paragraph from the bottom is, if not common, then “uncommon” as opposed to “rare.” It terrifies me just how popular Max Hardcore pornography is among both men and women.

    I’ve never noticed the “vs.” thing before, but that’s because what little porn I’ve seen was so fake it turned me off forever. It sounds disturbing to me.

    Great essay.


  8. Porn is not inherently about power. It can be, particularly in the “vs.” examples you are talking about. However, I think you are specifically targeting Internet videos and applying it to the entire category.

    A better way to approach this may be drawing the erotica/porn line. Erotica focuses more on the mental aspect, whereas porn focuses on the physical.

    The problem lies in how we approach porn rather than porn itself. In this country, porn is seen as dirty and crude. I think there is an audience response to such a product. This simply results in dirtier and cruder porn.

    I do think most porn focuses on male pleasure. I think a large part of that is simply because males are the target audience. The end of most porn videos will demonstrate this, as they end/culminate with the male orgasm.

    Why is there a large demand for male porn then? I think that while there is a slight taboo towards pornography in general, women have a larger taboo ingrained by society. That simply skews the demand for porn, which results in a shift for the supplier to market toward a specific audience base.

    Additionally, how would a female centric porn operate? I think you run into two problems. The first is visualization. The male centric version has the extremely visible orgasm, which is easier to accomplish. How is there an equally strong signifier for the female orgasm barring a fiber-optic scope?

    The second is conceptual. In looking at vaginal or anal heterosexual porn, the male inserts the penis. Would the equal of this be the woman taking the penis? The power analysis gets tenuous here, as the definition of taking can be dominant or submissive. When the women does “take”, is she taking the penis or her own pleasure? The former would culminate in a male orgasm, while the latter results in the female orgasm.

    The gender-centric argument could be stripped entirely. However, when does the porn end in this situation? Who has to have the last orgasm? Does there simply need to be an orgasm by each person involved? I think this would simply appeal to a small segment of the audience.


  9. the thing that bothers me about all porn (and this guys vs. girl kind of punctuates this particular problem) is that it presumes intent. as in, she said yes, now you get to do whatever the hell you want to her, and she cant/wont say NO. when you hit “play” thats kind of the end-all be-all of the consent “problem.” no matter how fucked up it gets, you never have to think about consent, again. (the “you” is the porn-consuming male).

    when in real life, ethical as well as legal consent is an ongoing negotiation, where either party can (theoretically) stop whats going on at any time, change the course, or decelerate the action. porn-consent and real-life consent are completely at odds with each other. thats why if you are watching porn, you are watching rape.

    making it a “rage in the cage” scenario is really a problem from a consent-perpective, and consent is what seperates rape from sex at even the most basic, penis-friendly, woman-hating level (even the fun-fems agree on that point…personally i think theres more to rape vs. sex than consent, but thats why i’m so “rad.”). the gloves are off. they are both in the cage, so now anything goes. just BEING THERE is her consent to whatever happens. hell, she probably even signed a waiver to engage in “mutual combat” and “assume the risk” of being injured….right? thats what wrestlers do. this is SUCH a problem, it just skeeves me out and makes me so angry at the same time to know that anyone is watching (and wanking to) it.

    good analysis, 9/2.


  10. “vs”, when done well, is actually my favorite kind of porn. The project I am working on right now is that theme. And truthfully, I expect to make very little if any money off it at all so it is not about consumer demand and more about what I like watching/making.

    Amazing that, isn’t it, that women just might have different things they find erotic or a turn on, regardless of the men?

    Then again, I have also been know to wrestle with guys with no sex involved because I think it is fun.


    1. I know you’re not into universals, nor am I. The fact that you are turned on by this doesn’t make it universally unproblematic. Sex, even if it often is, and even if people happen to be OK with that, shouldn’t be about power. It’s not supposed to be a weapon.


      1. I don’t think it does make it a weapon, or even about power. There is a difference between physical challenge and competition and assault/domination. I do not see how being turned on by it is universally problematic either. It is not always a case of someone having to “win” or be “in control”. The fact that some folk do not get that can be problematic, and not just on the part of the men who fail to understand it.

        I know I have compared sports and sex before and a lot of people get bent out when I do so. But neither are always about winning or dominating an “opponant”. Sometimes the fun is purely in activity itself.


    2. “Amazing that, isn’t it, that women just might have different things they find erotic or a turn on, regardless of the men?”

      So you managed to grow up free of any influence from patriarchal society?


      1. I believe I’ve seen this line of argument before.

        The problem is, much like thermodynamics, you can’t get outside of the system. If patriarchy is considered to outweigh all other influences, then how is someone who dislikes the subject du jour any less controlled than someone who likes it?

        Perhaps that’s where the self-analysis comes in, but then there always seems to be someone who refuses to believe that anyone they disagree with has actually thought about it.


      2. No one does. No one. However, as winter stated in so many words, no one means no one. It could be that we all just handle it a bit differently- my thoughts on sex being my way, the thoughts of others being their way- no one gets through life without being influenced.

        And, so? Is this going to turn into one of those You Are More Tainted Than I Am arguments? Been there, done that, don’t buy it. I don’t like sushi, blue cheese, or having my feet rubbed. Lot’s of people love those things…that makes them different from me- and influence or not, I think people are fully capable of being very different and liking different things- all sorts of different things.


        1. You are the one who claimed that you find things erotic/turn-ons regardless of men, not me. Winter_lights and Ren, you don’t need to write out paragraphs to tell me that my sexuality is also affected by patriarchy, because I am already well aware of it.


  11. “thats why if you are watching porn, you are watching rape.”

    So wait, you get to decide when any woman in a porn scene has been raped for her? As a woman who has done a few I highly object to that notion. When a woman, in or out of porn, says she has been raped her word is what matters on the issue. When a woman in or out of porn says she has most certainly not, once again, it is her word that matters on the issue.

    I’m sorry, I have a huge problem with this. Huge.


    1. So the millions of women who say they weren’t actually raped because they deserved it, or probably weren’t wearing the right clothes, or must have flirted too much, or that they are sluts anyway, none of those women actually were raped?


      1. Sour, you are somewhat moving goal posts here. I assert that no one has a right to tell a woman who is in porn just how raped she is getting all the time. In fact, I find it down right infuriating. My opinion is on cases of rape or cases of not rape, why yes, the ultimate authority on that matter is the person involved, not the peanut gallery. And why yes, there can be complicating factors; such as a bunch of people standing around telling a woman she should have not worn that/been there/had a drink that can, in some cases, color a woman’s opinion.

        But as a person who has done porn, I sure as hell don’t need anyone else telling me I’ve been raped when I have most certainly not.


        1. From my perspective, I see it as you moving goal posts. We seem to both agree that women get coerced into sex in a patriarchal society, and that a major part of that coercion includes making the victim believe that nothing wrong has happened to them.

          Some of us believe that porn and other forms of prostitution are examples of such coercion. You obviously disagree, but then I would feel that you had addressed the argument instead of dodged it if you argued for why that doesn’t count as an example. Instead your argument was that only a victim can label something as rape, no matter how coerced they were, and then your next comment to me appeared to show that you don’t believe that any more than I do.


  12. Porn is not inherently about power. It can be, particularly in the “vs.” examples you are talking about. However, I think you are specifically targeting Internet videos and applying it to the entire category.

    A better way to approach this may be drawing the erotica/porn line. Erotica focuses more on the mental aspect, whereas porn focuses on the physical.

    I don’t agree. If you see a visual depiction of two people having sex, and that arouses you, I don’t think that’s necessarily porn.

    Because porn (in my definition at least) isn’t just material that someone finds sexually arousing, or that depicts people having sex. And the difference is entirely ideological.

    Even if you look at ‘soft’ or ‘woman friendly’ porn you will routinely see women referred to as “sluts”, and see other manifestations of social power relationships such as racism and classism. And women who have sex with each other are never exclusively lesbian because, hey, that would be disrupting male power. Take this lovely example from the supposedly ‘woman friendly’ Anna Span, which gets about all of the above in one.


  13. Hi, I resently found this blog and just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write these things out as they are. I’m new to radical feminism and I agree about nearly everything you’ve written here. Sorry for my english, it’s not my mother tongue.

    Porn fulfills mens fantasy of getting sex with out “paying” for it – and by paying I of course mean stuff like being nice to a woman, getting to know her, pretending you give a sh*t, using condom (because his pleasure matter more than her riksk of getting pregnant/std), stopping if she says so, not being able to have your buddies join you two for fun etc.

    I simply believe that men lack the ability to care about anyone expect themselves. They see women as objects and like what they get out of her, but they’re far too narsistic to care about HER and see her as a fellow human being. So, their fantasies reduce the woman to the object they see her as. Woman in porn is the ultimate woman trough mens eyes.

    What does it say about men that calling women sluts and whores and bitches excites them? No similar words even exist for men and women would never use those. Men have made us being ashamed of our sexuality and now they enjoy viewing woman being treated as the lowest trash of society.


  14. Of course porn is domination. Everything is about domination. This blog itself is about domination, to wit:

    “All things are subject to interpretation; whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”

    Is porn bad for feminism? Yes, because it is making us lose. We either find a better strategy or try to negate this one. Since outmoded tactics are abandoned and since porn has been with us since cave paintings, it seems clear that our only feasible option is the second, but in attempting to discredit pornography we should not demonize domination because instating feminist interpretation is our goal, and that will require us to dominate.

    Of course, you might not actually believe this it might be a plot to convince enemies that domination is bad, but history shows that everyone eventually drinks their own Koolaid. It’s not a sustainable tactic.


      1. Yes, you would. If I am understanding your previous comment correctly, you are somewhat opposed to feminist principles, and from this I assume that you believe that I am defending your point of view. This is incorrect.

        I am a feminist, but I am one that has left the 19th century. I recognize that morality, equality, and justice, as they are commonly defined, are misconceptions clarified by philosophers more than a century ago. That does not mean I am anti-feminist because feminism, being an insurrection of values, is inherently amoral (should feminism achieve it’s goals it would no longer be feminism in that it is defined as a rebellion) This is why feminist always fragment whenever they gain significant power) and potentially nihilistic.

        My goal here is to advocate for this nihilism, or any nihilist derived philosophy (I can’t really afford to be picky), because moralism (the opposite of nihilism) always creates hierarchy and hierarchies are literally totalitarian (that is to say that they attempt to fix universal values to all possible categories).

        This means that all possible moralities will be sexist and therefore that all moral feminists have and will fail, unless they were simply different sorts of sexists than society is currently configured to serve. (cultural feminism is a particular culprit)

        Being a feminist, I would like to save them some time. The current order is terminally banal and I think we’re all ready to move on to more entertaining configurations.


        1. You’d have to look at my posts further back, I forgot which thread they are in. I merely like the fact that you recognize that rights, entitlements, etc., are functions of power.

          I think its one thing to want something, and it’s another thing to make others think they want it.

          You work from the former perspective, most feminists (not necessarily rads) would work from the perspective that their medicine is good for everybody, which would be more in-line with the latter.


          1. What medicine is that? I haven’t seen rads prescribing any medicine at all, and in many cases make quite a point of refraining from doing so. All I see is rads pointing out that coercion is a major tool of patriarchy, and therefore pointing out that something is not unproblematic just because all parties involved are complacent.


            1. I didn’t necessarily mean radical feminists but feminists in general, who are usually not radical.

              By medicine I meant the proposals that are sometimes made, such as having 50% of people in congress be women, more serious roles for women in movies, etc. These goals may be good for women as a whole, but they are not necessarily good for everybody.


                1. With regards to the %50 mandate, the arguments would be that they infringe on the rights of the electorate to choose it’s representatives. More narrowly, it would have an effect on the interests of the men who usually win these seats in the election.

                  With regards to the part of about strong females in movies, the problem becomes profit. Strong female roles are not rewarded at the box office, which is why they aren’t more aggressively pursued. Women, like everyone else, vote with their wallets and the returns are not in their favor.

                  These goals interfere with the goals of the powers that be who have chosen political power and profit as a superior means of running society, rather than representing groups equally in Congress or on film.

                  You have concluded, probably truthfully, that the harm to these groups outweighs the potential harm to the status quo. However, to say that the implementation of remedial measures hurts “nobody” is misleading.

                  So then what we have is a competition for power between groups. One groups medicine is another groups poison.

                  I suppose you could circumvent this argument by stating if you are helping society as a whole, hurting the cancers that hinder it is just an added benefit. However, to assume such a uniform society is an overstatement at best, and betrays totalitarian instincts.


                  1. “Strong female roles are not rewarded at the box office, which is why they aren’t more aggressively pursued. ”

                    Untrue. Movies like the Aliens flims, Terminator 2, Kill Bill 1&2, Wanted, so on have all done well at the box office and all have strong female characters. The problem comes in people thinking that women “shouldn’t” be “leads”/strong characters in movies, esp. action movies. It has however been proven that people will still go to see those movies if they are strong.


                    1. Yea, I agree. I didn’t specifically mean action movies though, in fact it escaped me. A lot of the stories I’ve seen recently on the issue involved strong women roles in dramas. The two posts that shaped this opinion where these:




                    2. Not really sure if action movies count that much, though…being strong in the sense of “blow stuff up” is a very shallow version of strong…especially when female action stars are stuck on the female action star stereotype, which tend to be a bit lame.

                      No reason why you couldn’t stick a plot and decent characters into an action movie, though.

                      About more women in government bodies…I’d have to say that gender should really not be a consideration. If the best people for the job all happen to be straight white males, then only straight white males should be running things. If, 4 years later, the best people for the job all happen to be celibate Iniut mormons, than you shouldn’t have anyone who isn’t a celibate Iniut mormon in power.


  15. we should not demonize domination because instating feminist interpretation is our goal, and that will require us to dominate.

    No, our goal is to be free. Big difference.


    1. As Andrew has correctly assumed, I feel that freedoms and rights are functions of power. Since you do not appear to think so, please tell me your definition of “freedom” so that we can communicate.


    2. Yea, this goes back to hierarchies and such. True freedom for everyone involves everyone working towards their own ends in their own (supposed) best interest without meddling in the freedom of others.

      This Kantian definition though falls apart when one realizes it necessarily means using all of one’s energy to to sustain one’s self and little more.

      First world freedoms are functions of imperialism and first world poverty. Since our wealth is a function of the poverty other’s face, we are certainly dominant.

      I believe that Sadinotna, as a feminist, would like to see the flavor of that dominance be feminine, as opposed to the masculine/patriarchal flavor it has now.

      The first question is can all groups truly be free? I don’t think so, not in any sense of the word we employ today.

      The next question is if all groups are not free, who decides which are not. What this means is that there is always have’s and have not’s and picking those to fill out each category is going to require some set of easy identification. (Race, Sex, Religion, etc.)

      I think Sadinotna would like to see the females fill the roles of “haves” and males fill the role of “have nots” with the other factors having little relevance.

      So if I may respond, the question we all have to answer if we want freedom is “at whose expense are we willing to have it?”


  16. So if I may respond, the question we all have to answer if we want freedom is “at whose expense are we willing to have it?”

    The fallacy at the heart of your assumption is that freedom means controlling others. When as far as I’m concerned it means not being controlled.

    That’s what you’ve been failing to understand all along Andrew, it’s not essential for human beings to control each other.

    There is another way.


    1. What does “not being controlled” really mean, though?

      If you live in a society, you have to be bounds by all sorts of rules and traditions, otherwise it won’t work. But, in theory, everyone is bound by the same rules so it works out ok.

      I am not free to undertake actions which would harm you, which I accept because you are similarly not allowed to harm me. We are both under society’s control, which is not inherently good or bad, it depends on how we are controlled.


    2. ou have still not defined “freedom.” I shall give my definitions:

      Power is the ability to make the world conform to the will. However, since “I wish to be uncontrolled.” (i.e. freedom) is also a will, it requires power to enforce, just like anything else. The fact that this will is not coercive means nothing: Domination is the ability to grant life, rather than, as one would suspect, death. An example would be the health care industry: It does not punish people for not patronizing it, it merely rewards those who do, and this domination is so total that the vast majority of first-world nations have placed it under government duress. Domination is not the ability to punish with impunity. It is the ability to _reward_ with impunity. In order to impose will, (freedom, again like everything else, is the imposition of will) one must have the ability to reward those that collaborate. I would think a group of feminists that spend 90% of their time analyzing the dynamics of pornography would understand this.

      With that in mind, how are we to establish the feminist mindset without power? More vitally, should we succeed, how are we to maintain feminism without power? And how are we to have power without dominance? Are we to hope that everyone will become bored of the current status quo? Or completely satisfied without the future one? That is Utopian thinking.


      1. Looking back I’m afraid I got really long on this comment…but Sadinotna asks such deep, fun questions that I had a lot to say. TLDR; Taking power in a traditional means is a necessary strategy for now, but should be coupled with non-traditional power relationships whenever possible.

        While I think you may be correct, at root, by assuming that everything comes down to power in some way or another (if not domination, then compromise; if not force, then gentle persuasion; if not blatantly, then subtly), I think we can have at the very least a *drastically better* set of power relations which are not founded on domination. Can we conceive of a way to organize society where we are able to let difference be, where we are able to integrate our desires with the desires of others, maintaining our independent will but also not infringing on the will of others? I am not sure, but I’d like to try. If this is not possible in its entirety, is it possible in part? I think yes, because I think some forms of power more desirable than others. Compromise is better than being told what to do because you get to shape the decisionmaking process and get to see at least some part of what you wanted in the larger collaborative project, in contrast to simply having your ideas shut down. Your relationship to your friends is different to your relationship with your boss because your friends don’t have the same kind of power over you. So, if it is possible to move towards power relations which are more consensual, more fluid, less based misogynist, white supremacist, heteronormative, classist, etc. etc., the next question is “how?”, right?

        You seem to answer “the good old fashioned way – by taking power for ourselves!” But to me, that is at times antithetical to the goal of changing “power” itself. Feminism can’t mean applying power in the same privileged, asshole way others have, or we’ll just wind up with an equally unfair and fucked up society where the interests of a narrow, dominating group of rich white women ran the world instead of the interests of a narrow, dominating group of rich white men. But likewise, if we never utilize traditional means of applying power, we won’t get very far. So, what do we do?

        I suggest a combo strategy. After all, power relations vary, so our strategies to confront them also must be. Sometimes, we might need to do things like using every legal means at our disposal to force legislation through congress ensuring our right to an abortion, for example. Sometimes, we might need to use money to fund lobbyists to do this for us. But this can’t be our only strategy, because battles are not just fought at the macropolitical level. So resistance must also look like standing up to the jerk making homophobic jokes by the water cooler.

        But should this be our first-choice, go-to strategy? I think it shouldn’t, precisely because of the risk that using the same means of power is contrary to the feminist project of reconceptualizing power. So, whenever we have the strength, we must also look for creative new ways of interacting. Maybe instead of calling out and attempting to ostracize that jerk at the water cooler, you gently question him over the course of many conversations, and equip him with experiences that may help him change his mind. Does this work every time? Nope. Which is why it can’t be our only strategy. But if it works, is it a preferable way to engage others? Yep, I think so.

        It’s all about context, and balancing respect for others with respect for yourself. Sometimes you don’t have the energy or the time to waste re-inventing the most basic power structures at play in your life – so be it! Seize a little privilege for yourself! But when you do have the time, when you do have the energy, when you do have the ability…do things differently, do things the feminist way, do things the collaborative way.

        In that sense, I see radical feminism and your application of Nietzsche as both being very necessary. Radical feminism/anarchafeminism/academic feminism can generate ideas about what principles we ought to structure society on. Mainstream feminism can teach us to apply those principles to the complexity of the world we live in. Nietzschean feminism can help us change big, traditional economic and political structures, and remind us that sometimes we have to fight power with power on a personal level too.

        Let me make it clear that I am not opposed to all forms of opposition – I appreciate contest, competition, and agonism like any healthy, sporting soul. But the most glorious competition is between willing equals, so we need a way to make choice and equality part of the system. For me it’s a question of integrating that feral part of human nature with the desire to be free from domination, which means changing the structures of power on which society relies to organize itself.

        But back to porn – you haven’t suggested a strategy for fighting back against the porn that’s making us lose, as you put it. Does fighting back mean producing our own porn? Outlawing it? Choosing not to watch it? Convincing others not to watch it? Forcing your partner to abstain from it? That’s what we discuss on every post at this blog, and we love new ideas for breaking down the patriarchy, so if you have a suggestion, let it loose. Are you just here to contribute the tool of Nietzschean critique (if so, so be it), or do you have an application of this philosophy to the context at hand?


        1. First off, we have to acknowledge that, whatever we do, pornography will probably still survive. It has been a constant for literally all of recorded human history as a testament of its resilience.

          That being said, there are four factors in pornography: the producer, the consumer, male performers, and female performers. If we want to make pornography stop, we must alter the dynamics of the situation so that these people would prefer to do other things than to watch or make porn.

          The producer is probably the most difficult to convince, because most radical feminists harbor the delusion that it’s personal. That these men (and the minority of women) in fact hate them and have designed porn to specifically hurt them, which makes it difficult for them to asses the battlefield properly. The truth is that any visual depiction designed as a masturbation aid is porn, (porn is violence against women? Tell that to the gays!) and the consumer’s utter lack of standards when it comes to pornography makes porn a virtually guaranteed profit. Our goal, then, is to make pornography less profitable.

          Religious outrage is by far the easiest way to do this, (even so-called radical feminists evoke it far more often than not) but we shouldn’t be lazy here. Religions (even the secular ones) are hierarchies, and that’s what we mean to combat. If we want to make porn less profitable then we can either focus on increasing costs or decreasing revenue. As it happens, requiring more comprehensive safety regulations and unions solidly impact the bottom line, _and_ are favorable to large chunks of the political “left”. Requiring production houses that contract performers to provide health insurance would also cut the bottom line, and is, again, probably something that even the sex-positive would agree with. While this will not remove pornography, it acts as an incentive to balkanize the production complexes, and that is a crucial first step.

          The consumer is something quite a bit more difficult to deal with, as there are a lot of them, all with different desires. (there is porn of women crushing mobile phones with high-hells. If this doesn’t sound very porny, see the above definition.) The only unifying factor is that porn is the best masturbation aid for the current price. Naturally, that means that we should provide them with a more cost-effective technique, and more importantly, one that does not perpetuate sexism. I think robotics is probably the way it’s going. While the first units will probably be woman shaped, the fact that it is an unoptimized and over-expensive configuration (the human body is very multipurpose, so it cannot equal a specifically engineered machine in that area of expertise) will see to that soon enough.

          That leaves the performers, and I am at a loss here. The issue of their living/working conditions is so moralized that I have trouble trusting any report, even from the performers themselves. Regardless, an evident truth is that they make a significant amount of money from a
          disproportionately small amount of work. The producer solutions apply here, as an increase in cost decreases wages, which is a stronger disincentive than any law. Stronger investment in students and welfare would also reduce the possibility of porn attracting the financially desolate. I do not think that drugs are a major issue, but if that is the case, Canadian drug policy (decrim, in-sites, etc.) seems like a better option.

          What then? Well, I am a scientist, so I would wait to see the results and then formulate the next plan.


          1. Making porn more difficult and costly to create in your own country simply means people will access porn from other places, often where standards are much worse.


  17. The comment nesting is getting excessive. Andrew wrote some stuff about female roles in movies, most recently:
    “A lot of the stories I’ve seen recently on the issue involved strong women roles in dramas.”

    I’ve seen some theories suggesting that this is self-fulfilling prophecy. That is to say, the common wisdom among movie producers (and possibly more importantly, movie financiers) is that movies focusing on female characters won’t do well. This leads to those movies getting less money, less talented cast and crew, and generally the short end of the stick for all other resources. Because of all that they end up not being as good overall, and not doing as well at the box office, reinforcing the beliefs that caused the problems in the first place.

    Of course, good movies have been made on low budgets, and there’s plenty of low-grade big budget stuff. But the perceptions tend to linger.


  18. Sadinotna: further regulation as a means of reining in the porn industry is probably not a good idea. Witness the consequences of 18 USC 2257, which (although supposedly about keeping under-18s out the porn industry) is effectively a way of making porn production more difficult via regulation.

    The end result was predictable. Before 18 USC 2257, anyone with a camera could make and release porn. After it was introduced, amateur porn became logistically impossible – but mainstream pornography companies making mainstream porn could just keep going, albeit with slightly higher costs. This resulted in a strengthening of the porn industry and a reduction in the representation of real sexuality.


  19. So, guys get into porn young, then start pushing boundaries as they get older….. Hm. Now I see why there is this ‘Give the boy his first playboy mag at 10 yrs old’ tradition thing that fathers do. They set their little boys on a path to be just like daddy…


  20. Hate to join the party so late, but I just finished reading all the comments and wanted to add something to the end of the discussion, where others were taking about women and rape fantasies.

    I have been one of those women from a very young age (scary, really), and I hadn’t ever thought about the reasoning behind it until I saw this PostSecret:

    “I often have rape fantasies about the men I like. I think it’s because I want someone I secretly care for to want me more than he can stand.”

    In other words, due to early patriarchal indoctrination, it is yet another manifestation of women mistaking sex-attention and desire for love.


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