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Porn - age old feminist controversey
paranoidpatty12 wrote in feminist_geeks


I almost minored in Feminist theory at my big ten university, so I guess I feel slightly okay posting about something we used to study and debate in class (albeit 10 years ago -- aging myself). Except now it's affecting my relationship and is not just some standpoint between different level of feminists.

I'm aware that there are actually some feminists who believe pornography is complimentary to feminist theory. Women benefit financially from porn/stripping/prostitution, etc. I've never been one of these feminists. It was our duty in class to read articles and journals on both sides of the spectrum so I'm aware they exist but, and I will not apologize for this, how can such easily accessible vagina shots, and anal sex by women usually with augmented bodies benefit our society? How can men as a gender learn to respect us, the WHOLE us including most importantly our brains when they're jerking off to this shit on the daily - and sometimes more? It's objectifying us for our bodies, for their 'quicker release.' I seem to have more a problem with the videos than of the stills, as I do somewhat believe that playboy for example isn't so damaging.

My "boyfriend," and I say that because we've been on and off for years, seems to have some type of addiction to porn. Freeporn.com even. Are we just the intellectually superior gender because we don't NEED something visual in front of our faces in order to orgasm? I find this angering and frustrating. He says if he has to sit and think about something to get him off, he'd chaff himself because it'd take hours. And it seems like there is so much porn out there that it's a losing battle to argue that it's creating an objectification in his/their brains. I read a study once years and years ago that proved that men who watched porn were more apt to be violent towards women then men who don't. It's scary to think that if he's the average guy, how many others are doing just as he does and how it's morphing their brains. My best friend is currently fighting her husband on this same issue since she discovered his stills of nude (what seemed to appear as) 18 year old girls on his droid. This was the third time something like that had happened. It's given her a complex and I've never met a woman who tries harder to please her man in the bedroom.

I live in Minnesota (not FROM here) and earlier this year there was a story about a teenage boy in high school who had tweeted a semi-famous porn star asking her to the prom. Many people felt that because he had a slight mental challenge this was okay. I was the only one in groups of individuals who found this disturbing because I guess I thought of it like if he were my son, would I be okay with that? Absolutely fucking not. I was the freak in these conversations, the "prude." And I'm definitely anything but. I guess I just don't understand and feel alone on this issue. It couldn't have always been this way...right? I'm a liberal feminist but I just...am failing in this battle over big tits, seemingly 18 year old porn stars, freeporn.com and the like. Thoughts?

I'm anti-porn, with regards to the porn industry. I've heard the pro arguments, and made them myself for a very long time. I just can't swallow it anymore.

Porn is not about eroticism, it's about objectification. It's not the sex-part of porn that makes it problematic, it's how it separates the sex-part from the human-part, particularly with women.

Personally, I think the people who "need" visual stimulation should make their own. No erotica beats the homemade variety, imo.

This. 100% (but you knew that)

Yeah... I don't mind the idea of porn, and I know there are some feminist porn companies out there, but the industry as a whole is corrupt and takes advantage of women. I can't really support that.

I guess it's possible to be anti-objectification but not anti-porn. I know a lot of women in the lesbian porn community and some others who do BDSM stuff which is pretty feminist-friendly. It makes it hard for me to condemn... idk, the whole concept of porn? Even porn starring women and aimed at a male audience.

Re: the study: there's the issue of whether men who are violent watch more porn, or if it causes it (same as video games/movies instilling violence). The studies that show changes in attitude show it immediately after viewing-- but how long does it last after? The fact that it changes views at all is chilling, but in and of itself it may not have that much societal impact. We're still at the chicken/egg problem.

Are we just the intellectually superior gender because we don't NEED something visual in front of our faces in order to orgasm?

This is kind of... a really broad overgeneralization and gender essentialist. Visual stimulation has nothing to do with intellect, and plenty of women are stimulated by visual images.

The fact is, it's acceptable for men to consume porn, to objectify women. There's a lot less porn out there for women and we're not encouraged to seek it out. I think that has a lot more to do with the shape of the porn industry than anything.

That's super interesting. Thanks for responding.

"The fact that it changes views at all is chilling, but in and of itself it may not have that much societal impact"

But what if it has a larger social impact that we want to believe it does?

I guess it's possible to be anti-objectification but not anti-porn.
This. I think few people would disagree that the mainstream porn industry is deeply problematic, and that many of the issues with it tie into other societal problems.

However, I feel like that's different from damning pornography as a whole, or saying that all pornography is inherently damaging. I don't think it's so black and white.

I'm saying this, btw, as a woman who enjoys porn, both visual and written.

Also in the study, it lumped men who watched porn and men who visited sex workers. I'd like to see them compare men who only watch porn but don't visit sex workers to the men who visit sex workers. I have a feeling that the visiting sex workers bit is the one that's more strongly correlated to violence against women.

He says if he has to sit and think about something to get him off, he'd chaff himself because it'd take hours

He is aware that men masturbated frequently prior to the invention of the internet (and thus easily accessible porn?)

I am stridently anti porn because I am stridently anti sex industry. You are not alone and I know exactly how you feel. That feeling (and my PTSD) kept me terrified and hurting myself for years because I thought that no one could possibly be sex positive and hate porn.

But there are a lot of women who do. A lot feminists who do. And a growing number of men too.

I'll write something better in a bit, I just wanted to make sure you knew this.

<3 thank you very much. That makes me feel hopeful. And yes I, of course, understand men masturbated frequent prior to porn but these are the reasons/excuses I'm given and I'm left to ponder and analyze.

See - that is how I feel -- sex positive and hate porn. My best friend too. For shit's sake she's spent more on toys for THEM, and swings and this and that to keep their sex life alive. I feel horrible she was so invalidated when she found that but, when I moved the mouse at my ex's to check my email, voila. but anyhow, thanks again for posting.

A lot of these ladies like doing what they're doing. For the attention or money, I don't mind. There are sex workers, as well, who are doing it because they love having sex and if they're in a place where it's legalised and therefore safer then good on them.

What we really need are more regulations to help keep it all in order.

Remember that women watch porn too, sometimes with their partners. I do admit that a lot of it is degrading, but it's not going to go away no matter how hard we try to make it. There will always be women willing to sell their bodies for money or attention and people willing to consume it.

I hear that same rationale about the anti-war movement. War will always be with us, so stop wasting your time trying to change human nature.

I'm glad not everyone uses this as a reason to keep silent when they see something happening that they know is wrong.

I can't help but feel that every time I've seen an interview with someone who is a sex worker, they tend to be very positive about what they're doing, while they're in that line of work. But any time I've seen an interview with any woman who is a former worker in that industry, they tend to say it was not something they would've done if they could have avoided it. I think this is very telling, because anyone who doesn't want to lose their job is going to say positive things about it, even if that job is making them miserable.

I'm sure there are women who are happy in this line of work, as you say, but I really think they're the exception rather than the norm.

Porn addiction is a real thing. I watched one of my best friends from childhood go from a kind-hearted kid to a misogynistic douche with horrible ideas about sexuality and his entitlement to other's bodies- which I'm 90% certain happened because he developed an addiction to porn. People get this ridiculous idea that the things they view just go in the eyes and out the ears- like it never makes contact with their brains. Absolutely untrue- and the ideas porn communicates are generally not pro-woman ones.

I'm not at all hesitant to say "fuck porn." Don't feel like a prude. The vast, overwhelming majority of porn represents a completely distorted idea of sex- you can be a plenty sexual person without approving of that shit. I see these things as a celebration of patriarchy- definitely not complimentary to anything feminist. I have yet to see the unicorn called "feminist porn," too. I don't align myself with liberal feminism, but, know that you don't have to agree with every popular idea in an ideology to still consider yourself one. Don't force yourself to accept things you know aren't right just because a whole lot of people say you should- if you have your doubts, there's probably good reasons for it.

Oh, also, you're absolutely not alone on this issue. People who are anti-porn tend to just get shouted down around LJ and tumblr, is all, so you don't see as many of us.

People who are anti-porn tend to just get shouted down around LJ and tumblr

Or anywhere that isn't trying to tie it to religious morals for the most part -.-

On the whole, the porn industry is pretty broken, yeah. There are pockets of companies that are really woman-friendly and queer-friendly etc. (I don't remember any offhand, but Curve magazine has suggested some). I think Kink.com is supposed to be fairly good about it, too - idk because I don't subscribe, but I've seen bits and pieces and what I have seen will do stuff like start out and end with interviews, not everyone is homogenous, etc. I like the interviews because it goes towards re-humanizing the women in what's going on, and I remember one that had the interviewer asking about any lines that weren't to be crossed and assuring that they would be respected etc. But I don't know everything about Kink.com so I don't know.

I have and do watch porn, though hardly ever mainstream (except for porn parodies. A lot of the time I'll watch those and fast-forward the sex scenes because I just like the parody aspect). There's also a few that are really good regardless of being porn - I want to watch The Opening of Misty Beethoven because from what I understand it's supposed to be really interesting and a solid adaptation of Pygmalion that adds to the original in its own way.

But those are minorites, so. Yeah.

I have heard varying things about Kink.com.... I think it is better than some of the others but I have also heard rumors that the models are pretty much "encouraged" to say positive things because they want to keep their job :-\

I believe that a lot of porn, and a lot of the ideas and structures that go into to making a lot of porn, are indeed problematic and messed up. HOWEVER. I do not believe that pornography ITSELF is inherently evil, or inherently anti-woman. It's just a ramped up version of the same issues in other media; a lot of television is messed up and anti-woman, but that doesn't mean that the medium of television is in and of itself bad for women.

I also think you need to check some assumptions here:

Are we just the intellectually superior gender because we don't NEED something visual in front of our faces in order to orgasm?

One, no. Ours is the gender whose collective libidos somehow made Fifty Shades of Gray a bestseller, we don't get any intellectual or moral high ground there. Two, who's "we," and who says "we" don't? What about the women who DO enjoy visual stimulation as an aid to orgasm? They do exist, and it's wrong and erasing to simply dismiss or ignore them, or count yourself as somehow superior to them because you have different tastes.

And do remember that a LOT of socialization goes into our tastes and behaviours. We've all heard that "men are more visual creatures than women," but, be honest: how often do women ever get to see visuals aimed at US? Most porn is made for the male gaze. In heterosexual porn, the camera is pointed at the woman the vast majority of the time, because it's assumed that that is what the viewer will be interested in. The men in those videos are often not especially good looking by most standards, cast for their cock size and nothing else. Disturbingly, the men are often dead silent during the sex, because it's assumed that the viewer will be projecting themselves into his place and that having him make sounds would be distracting and offputting to the assumed male viewer. How can anyone know if a straight woman likes porn, when hardly anyone is making porn with her in mind?

Alongside that there's the prevailing social narrative that "nice girls don't." Women are SUPPOSED to like romance novels and text based erotica, and men are SUPPOSED to like visual stimulation. Anyone who crosses over is widely regarded as deviant. If I had ever managed to FIND a collection of male pinups as a teenager, I would have been called a nympho and a freak. Any of the boys in my high school who could look at catalogs and sports illustrated with impunity would have had the SHIT beat out of them if they'd ever been caught with a smutty romance novel.

It becomes a feedback loop. No one makes porn for women because women don't like porn because no one makes porn for women. If a lady likes to look, gay porn is almost the only game in town, and she has to keep her tastes hidden for fear of judgement.

Personally, I do not want to eliminate porn. I want BETTER porn. I want more VARIED porn. I want more women behind the camera and in the director's chair. I want actresses with a wider variety of body types and actors who are cast by somebody going "hmm, I think straight women would like to imagine having sex with you" as opposed to somebody going "I think straight men will be able to comfortably ignore you." I want scripts that eroticize consent and people having fun together in bed (or, you know, in hot tub, in car, in stalled elevator, wherever). I want dudes to have facial expressions and make noise, because seriously, man, creepy.

I want to be considered and recognized and respected, so yeah, basically, the same thing I want from television, and movies, and comics, and...

Edited at 2012-08-02 06:48 am (UTC)

Thank you so much for this. 100% agreed.

Yup. Thank you for saying this!

THIS! All of this! *applauds*

I'm bi and visually turned on, but there's some porn I don't like, find uncomfortable, offensive or boring. I'm somewhat picky I guess. I don't know what it is about it. *shrug* I'm not really qualified to make a comment in this thread tbh. It's an important and interesting discussion though. Sometimes I feel like women are objectified and simplified too much in general media and I'm sure this carries over to porn. It seems like the problem is based in a bigger cultural mindset.

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