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You Are What You Eat: The pervasive porn industry & what it says about you & your desires

Reposted from Clamor magazine, September/October 2002, pp. 54-59. Robert Jensen, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, is the author of Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream and co-author of Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality
Before we get to the debates about how to define pornography, or whether pornography and sexual violence are connected, or how the First Amendment should apply to pornography, let's stop to ponder something more basic:

What does the existence of a multi-billion-dollar pornography industry say about us, about men?

More specifically, what does "Blow Bang #4" say?

This is what pornography looks like

"Blow Bang #4" was in the "mainstream" section of a local adult video store. For a research project on the content of contemporary mass-marketed pornography, I asked the folks who work there to help me pick out typical videos rented by the typical customer. One of the 15 tapes I left with was "Blow Bang #4."

"Blow Bang #4" is: Eight different scenes in which a woman kneels in the middle of a group of three to eight men and performs oral sex on them. At the end of each scene, each of the men ejaculates onto the woman's face or into her mouth. To borrow from the description on the video box, the video consists of: "Dirty little bitches surrounded by hard throbbing cocks ... and they like it."

In one of these scenes, a young woman dressed as a cheerleader is surrounded by six men. For about seven minutes, "Dynamite" (the name she gives on tape) methodically moves from man to man while they offer insults that start with "you little cheerleading slut" and get uglier from there. For another minute and a half, she sits upside down on a couch, her head hanging over the edge, while men thrust into her mouth, causing her to gag. She strikes the pose of the bad girl to the end. "You like coming on my pretty little face, don't you," she says, as they ejaculate on her face and in her mouth for the final two minutes of the scene.

Five men have finished. The sixth steps up. As she waits for him to ejaculate onto her face, now covered with semen, she closes her eyes tightly and grimaces. For a moment, her face changes; it is difficult to read her emotions, but it appears she may cry. After the last man, number six, ejaculates, she regains her composure and smiles. Then the narrator off camera hands her the pom-pom she had been holding at the beginning of the tape and says, "Here's your little cum mop, sweetheart -- mop up." She buries her face in the pom-pom. The screen fades, and she is gone.

You can rent "Blow Bang #4" for $3 at the store I visited, or buy it online for $19.95. Or if you like, you can track down one of the other six tapes in the "Blow Bang" series. "If you love seeing one girl sucking on a bunch of cocks at one time, then this is the series for you," a reviewer says. "The camera work is great."

Even a cursory review of pornography reveals that great camera work is not a requirement for success. "Blow Bang #4" is one of 11,000 new hardcore pornographic videos released each year, one of 721 million tapes rented each year in a country where total pornographic video sales and rentals total about $4 billion annually.

Pornography's profits rely not on quality of camera work but on the ability to produce erections in men quickly. There are many pornographic videos less harsh than "Blow Bang #4," and some that push much further into "extreme" territory with overt violence and sadomasochism. The company that produces the "Blow Bang" series, Armageddon Productions, boasts on one of its websites that "Vivid Sucks/Armageddon Fucks," taking a shot at the reputation of Vivid, one of the industry leaders that is known for tamer videos with slicker production values, or in Vivid's own words, "quality erotic film entertainment for the couples market."

This is what quality erotic film entertainment for the couples market looks like

"Delusional," a Vivid release in 2000, is another of the 15 tapes I viewed. In its final sex scene, the lead male character (Randy) professes his love for the female lead (Lindsay). After discovering that her husband had been cheating on her, Lindsay had been slow to get into another relationship, waiting for the right man -- a sensitive man -- to come along. It looked as if Randy was the man. "I'll always be here for you no matter what," Randy tells her. "I just want to look out for you." Lindsay lets down her defenses, and they embrace.

After about three minutes of kissing and removing their clothes, Lindsay begins oral sex on Randy while on her knees on the couch, and he then performs oral sex on her while she lies on the couch. They then have intercourse, with Lindsay saying, "Fuck me, fuck me, please" and "I have two fingers in my ass -- do you like that?" This leads to the usual progression of positions: She is on top of him while he sits on the couch, and then he enters her vaginally from behind before he asks, "Do you want me to fuck you in the ass?" She answers in the affirmative; "Stick it in my ass," she says. After two minutes of anal intercourse, the scene ends with him masturbating and ejaculating on her breasts.

Which is the most accurate description of what contemporary men in the United States want sexually, Armageddon or Vivid? The question assumes a significant difference between the two; the answer is that both express the same sexual norm. "Blow Bang #4" begins and ends with the assumption that women live for male pleasure and want men to ejaculate on them. "Delusional" begins with the idea that women want something more caring in a man, but ends with her begging for anal penetration and ejaculation. One is cruder, the other slicker. Both represent a single pornographic mindset, in which male pleasure defines sex and female pleasure is a derivate of male pleasure. In pornography, women just happen to love exactly what men love to do to them, and what men love to do in pornography is to control and use, which allows the men who watch pornography to control and use as well.

When I do public talks on pornography and the feminist critique of the commercial sex industry, I describe -- but do not show -- these kinds of videos. I explain the other conventions of the industry, such as "double penetration," the common practice in which a woman is penetrated by two men's penises, vaginally and anally, at the same time, and in some of those scenes the woman also performs oral sex on a third man at the same time. I explain that virtually every sex scene ends with a man or men ejaculating onto a woman, most often in the face, what the industry calls a "facial."

Many of the people in the audience, particularly the women, tell me that they find it difficult to hear about these things, even when the acts are described with the kind of clinical detachment I try to maintain. One woman approached me after a lecture and said, "What you said was important, but I wish I hadn't been here. I wish I didn't know what you told us. I wish I could forget it."

For many of the women who feel so defeated by knowing, the most distressing part doesn't seem to be simply learning what is in the videos but knowing that men gain pleasure from what is in the videos. They ask me, over and over, "Why do men like this? What do you guys get from this?" They want to know why the mostly male consumers spend an estimated $10 billion a year on pornography in the United States and $56 billion around the world.

It is an important question with, no doubt, complex answers. What does is say about our society when men will take home a tape like "Blow Bang #4" and watch it, and masturbate to it? What does it say about our society's conception of sexuality and masculinity that large numbers of men can find pleasure in watching a young woman gag while a penis is pushed into her throat followed by six men ejaculating on her face and in her mouth? Or that other men, who might find that scene too extreme, prefer to watch one man have sex with a woman that begins with tender words and ends with "Do you want me to fuck you in the ass?" and ejaculation on her breasts? What does it say that such a video, made for men to masturbate to, is considered classy and upscale?

I think it says masculinity in this culture is in trouble.


A footnote: Why has the feminist critique of pornography been attacked so strenuously?

There are many points in the pornography debate on which reasonable people can disagree. Legal strategies raise important issues about freedom and responsibility, and definitive connections between media consumption and human behavior are always difficult to establish. More generally, sexuality is a complex phenomenon in which wide human variation makes universal claims suspect.

But the feminist critique inspires an apoplectic reaction from pornography's defenders that, to me, has always seemed over the top. The political debate that the critique set off, both within feminism and in the wider culture, seems unusually intense. From my experience of writing and speaking publicly, I can be fairly certain that what little I have written here so far will cause some readers to condemn me as a sexual fascist or a prude.

One obvious reason for the strength of these denunciations is that pornographers make money, hence there is a profit motive in moving quickly with maximal force to marginalize or eliminate criticism of the industry. But the more important reason, I believe, is that at some level everyone knows that the feminist critique of pornography is about more than pornography. It encompasses a critique of the way "normal" men in this culture have learned to experience sexual pleasure -- and the ways in which women and children learn to accommodate that and/or suffer its consequences. That critique is not just a threat to the pornography industry or to the personal collections that men have stashed in their closets, but to everyone. The feminist critique asks a simple but devastating question of men: "Why is this sexually pleasurable to you, and what kind of person does that make you?" And because heterosexual women live with men and men's sexual desire, those women can't escape the question -- either in terms of the desire of their boyfriends, partners, and husbands, or the way they have come to experience sexuality. That takes us way beyond magazines, movies, and computer screens, to the heart of who we are and how we live sexually and emotionally. That scares people. It probably should scare us. It has always scared me.


Another footnote: What is the feminist critique of pornography?

The feminist critique of pornography emerged from the wider movement against sexual violence in the late 1970s. The previous moral debate about obscenity between liberals and conservatives had pitted the critics of "dirty pictures" against the defenders of "sexual liberation." The feminist critics shifted the discussion to the ways in which pornography eroticizes domination and subordination. Those critics identified the harms to women and children that are connected to pornography, including the harm:
(1) to the women and children used in the production of pornography;
(2) to women and children who have pornography forced on them;
(3) to women and children who are sexually assaulted by men who use pornography; and
(4) in living in a culture in which pornography reinforces and sexualizes women's subordinate status.

There is much more to say about it, but that should suffice for now.


Troubled masculinity

The focus of my work, and the feminist anti-pornography movement more generally, has been the harm to women and children. But that movement has long understood that coming to terms with the violence, sexual violence, sexualized violence, and violence-by-sex that are endemic in this culture requires the we confront masculinity. Just as we have come to see that racism is a problem of white people, we can say that sexual abuse and violence are problems of men. Just as we can start to deal with the pathological nature of the culture's conception of whiteness, so also we can start to come to terms with the pathological nature of masculinity.

The traditional traits associated with masculinity in this culture are control, domination, toughness, hyper-competitiveness, emotional repression, aggressiveness, and violence. A common insult that boys hurl at each other is the accusation of being a girl, a being who lacks strength. No insult on the playground is worse than being called a girl, except perhaps being called a "fag," a derivative of girl. Feminism and other progressive movements have tried to change that definition of masculinity, but it has proved to be difficult to dislodge.

Not surprisingly, pornography reflects that conception of masculinity; men generally are trained to view sex as a realm of life in which men are naturally dominant and women's sexuality should conform to men's needs. Like any system, there is variation both in how this plays out and how specific men experience it. To point out patterns of male dominance in socialization and behavior is not to say every man is a rapist. Let me repeat: I am not asserting that every man is a rapist. Now that I have said that, I can be sure of only one thing: Some men who read this will say, "This guy is one of those radical feminists who believes every man is a rapist."

So, let me put this in the first person: I was born in the United States in 1958, the post-Playboy generation. I was taught a very specific sexual grammar, which Catharine MacKinnon has succinctly summarized: "Man fucks woman; subject verb object." In the world in which I learned about sex, sex was the acquisition of pleasure by the taking of women. In the locker room, the question was not, "Did you and your girlfriend find a way to feel passionate and close last night?" but "Did you get any last night?" What does one get? One gets "a piece of ass." What kind of relationship can one have to a piece of ass? Subject, verb, object.

Now, maybe I had an idiosyncratic upbringing. Maybe the sex education I got -- on the street, in pornography -- was different than what most men learn. Maybe what I was taught about being a man -- on the street, in the locker room -- was an aberration. But I have spent a lot of time talking to men about this, and I don't think so.

My approach to all this is simple: Masculinity is a bad idea, for everyone, and it's time to get rid of it. Not reform it, but eliminate it.


Masculinity, not

While most everyone agrees masculinity needs to change, few are interested in eliminating it. Take the "real men don't rape" campaigns. As a response to men's violence, those campaigns ask men to think about redefining what a "real man" is. It's hard to disagree with the goal of reducing men's violence, and one can see how as a short-term strategy it might work. But I don't want to redefine masculinity. I don't want to identify any set of traits that adhere to being biologically male. I want to get rid of masculinity.

But wait, some might say. Just because at this point the traits assigned to men are pretty ugly doesn't mean we can't assign different traits. How about redefining masculinity as being sensitive and caring? What's wrong with that? There is nothing wrong with asking men to be more caring, but the question raised is obvious: Why are those specifically masculine traits? Are they not human traits we might want everyone to share? If so, why label them a feature of masculinity?

Real men, in this sense, would be like real women. We would all be real people. Traits would not adhere to biological categories. But once we start playing the masculinity/femininity game, the goal has to be to find some things that men are and women aren't, or vice versa. Otherwise, there is no sense to assigning the same qualities to two groups and pretending that the qualities are masculine and feminine, male and female. If that is the case, they are human traits, present or absent in people to varying degrees but not rooted in biology. The fact that we still want to assign them to sex categories shows only how desperate we are to hang onto the notion that the sex categories are indicators of inherent social and psychological attributes.

In other words, so long as there is masculinity, we're in trouble. We can mitigate the trouble in some ways, but it seems to me much better to get out of trouble than consciously deciding to stay stuck in it.


"Blow Bang" revisited, or why pornography makes me so sad, part I

Like many men in this culture, I used pornography through my childhood and early adult years. But in the dozen years that I have been researching and writing about pornography and the feminist critique, I have seen relatively little pornography, and then only in very controlled settings. Five years ago, a co-author and I did an analysis of pornographic videos that required more exposure to pornography than I had had in many years, and my reaction to the material took me by surprise. I found myself struggling to understand the sexual arousal I felt while watching, and it took me some time to deal emotionally with the brutality of the material and my sexual reaction to it.

When I undertook this recent project, a replication of the earlier work to look for changes in the industry, I was prepared to deal with my physical reactions to the tapes. I had come to understand that it was completely predictable that I would be aroused by videos, which after all were produced specifically for the purpose of arousing people like me. I talked through things beforehand with my co-author and other friends. I was ready to do the work, though I wasn't looking forward to it. A friend joked, "Too bad you can't subcontract this job out to someone who would enjoy it."

I had about 25 hours of tape to watch. I treated the work as any other scholarly project. I went to work at 8 a.m., setting up in a conference room at the university where I work. I had a TV and VCR, with headphones so that no one in adjoining rooms would be bothered by the sound. I typed notes into my laptop computer. I took a lunch break. At the end of a long day, I put the tools of the task away and went home for dinner.

I was alternately aroused and bored by the tapes -- predictable given how intensely sexual, and at the same time rigidly formatted, the genre is. I was prepared for both of those reactions. What I wasn't prepared for was the deep sadness I felt during the viewing. During that weekend and for days afterward I was flooded with a wild range of intense emotions and a deep sense of despair.

I assume this was partly due to the intensity of watching so much pornography in such concentrated form. Men usually view pornography in short bursts to achieve a sexual result; pornography is primarily a masturbation facilitator. I suspect men rarely watch an entire videotape, given the heavy use of the fast-forward button. If men finish their masturbation before the end of the tape, it's likely most don't finish viewing.

When viewed episodically like that, the sexual pleasure dominates the experience of consuming pornography. It's difficult to see what lies just beneath one's erection. But when viewed one after another, in this numbing fashion, the pleasure wears off quickly and the underlying ideology becomes easier to see. After a few tapes, it becomes difficult not to see the concentrated woman-hating and subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) violence that saturates most of these "mainstream" videos. I think that leads to empathy for the women, something that the typical pornography consumer doesn't experience.

Such empathy is a pornographer's nightmare. The men using pornography are supposed to identify with the men in the video, not the women. If men ask the question, "Do women really want to be penetrated by two men at the same time?" the pornographic game is over. Women must remain less-than-human if pornography is to work. If women become anything more than -- in the words of notorious "extreme" pornography producer Max Hardcore -- a "cock receptacle," then the men seeking pleasure might stop to ask how it feels for the real woman in the scene, the woman-who-is-a-person.

"Blow Bang #4" was the sixth tape I had watched that day. By the time I put it in the VCR, my body had, for the most part, quit reacting to the sexual stimulation. At that point, it would have been difficult not to wonder how the woman in one scene felt as eight men did their best to make her gag by grabbing her head and pressing it down on their penis as far as possible. On tape, the woman said she loved it. Indeed, it's possible that woman enjoyed it, but I couldn't help but wonder how she felt when it was over and the cameras were turned off. How would women who watched this feel? How would women I know feel if it were happening to them? That's not denying women's autonomy and agency; it's simple empathy, caring about another human being and her feelings, trying to understand the experience of another person.

If empathy is part of what makes us human, and pornography requires that men repress empathy, then we have to ask a rather difficult question. While men watch pornography, are men human? More on that later.


Why pornography makes me so sad, part II

At the end of the first day's viewing, I was driving home. With no warning and no apparent provocation, I began to sob. The images from the videos flooded over me, especially the young woman in "Blow Bang #4." I found myself saying to myself, "I don't want to live in this world."

I realized later that the sadness was very selfish. It wasn't at that moment primarily about the women in the videos or their pain. I believe that at that moment, the feeling in me was a reaction to what the videos say about me, not what they say about women. If pornography helps define what a man is sexually in this culture, then it's not clear to me how I can live as a sexual being in this culture.

I live in a world in which men -- lots of men, not just a few isolated, crazy men -- like to watch and masturbate to images of other men ejaculating onto a woman-made-less-than-human. The videos forced me to remember that at one point in my life, I watched. I am past feeling guilt or shame about that; my reaction is more about my current struggle to carve out a place for myself in a world in which being a man is associated with sexual pleasure at the expense of women. I don't want to always have to fight that association, in the world or inside my own body.

When I watched those videos, I felt trapped, as if I had no place to be a man and be a sexual being. I don't want to associate myself with masculinity, but there is no other obvious place for me to be. I am not a woman, and I have no interest in being a eunuch. Is there a way to be a sexual being outside of what the culture tells me I should be?

One possible response: If you don't like it, then create something different. That is an answer, but not all that useful. Trying to build a different approach to gender and sex is not a solitary project. I have allies in that project, but I also have to live in the wider society, which constantly pulls me back into the conventional categories. Our identity is a complex combination of the categories that the society we live in creates, of how the people around us define us, and of who we actively will ourselves to be. We do not create ourselves in isolation; we cannot will ourselves to be something new, all alone, without help and support.

Another possible response: We could talk honestly about why these images exist, and why we use them. We could try to answer women's questions: "Why do men like this? What do you guys get from this?"

Do not mistake this for self-indulgence or whining. I am aware that the people who bear the most serious costs of this sexual system are the women and children who are most vulnerable to sexual invasion. As a white adult male with privilege, my psychological struggles are relatively insignificant compared with the pain of those others. I talk about this not to focus attention on my struggle, but to connect to the collective struggle against masculinity. If men are to join in the project of taking apart masculinity, we must have some sense that we can find an identity to replace it. If we don't talk about the sadness and fear that come with this struggle, masculinity has nothing to worry about. It will endure in its present form. Men will keep marching off to war. Men will keep slamming into each other's bodies on the football field. And "Blow Bang #4, and perhaps someday #104, will keep doing a brisk business at the adult video store.


The humanity of men

To be clear: I don't hate men. I don't hate myself. I am talking about masculinity, not the state of being a male human. I am talking about men's behavior.

Feminists are often accused of hating men. Radical feminists in the anti-pornography movement are accused of being the most man-hating of the feminists. And Andrea Dworkin is typically held up as the most fanatical of the fanatics, the ultimate castrating feminist. I have read Dworkin's work, and I do not think she hates men. Neither does she. Here's what Dworkin has written about men:

"I don't believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here [speaking to a conference of men]. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we are not just in armed combat against you? It's not because there's a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence."

Feminists believe in the humanity of men, against all the evidence of rape and battering and harassment, of discrimination and dismissal. That faith in men's humanity is true of every woman -- heterosexual and lesbian -- I have met and worked within movements against sexual violence and the commercial sex industry. They are women who have no illusions about the way the world works, yet still they believe in the humanity of men. They believe in it more deeply, I suspect, than I do. There are days when I have my doubts. But indulging such doubt is a luxury of privilege. Dworkin reminds men of that, of how hiding behind our shame about what we do is cowardly:

"[Women] do not want to do the work of helping you to believe in your humanity. We cannot do it anymore. We have always tried. We have been repaid with systematic exploitation and systematic abuse. You are going to have to do this yourselves from now on and you know it."

Maybe a first step is identifying the markers of humanity. Here's the beginning of my list: Compassion and passion, solidarity and self-respect, the ability to love and the willingness to struggle. Add your own to it. Then ask this question:

Can we men acknowledge our humanity if we find sexual pleasure in watching three men penetrate a woman orally, vaginally, and anally at the same time? Can we and live our humanity to the fullest if we find sexual pleasure in watching eight men ejaculate onto a woman's face and into her mouth? Can we masturbate to those images and truly believe they have no effect beyond the rise and fall of our penises in that moment? Even if you believe that such sexual "fantasies" have no effect in the world outside our heads, what does that pleasure say about our humanity?

Brothers, this matters. Please don't let yourself off easy right now. Don't ignore that question and start arguing about whether or not we can really define pornography. Don't start explaining that social scientists have not yet established a definitive link between pornography and sexual violence. And please, don't begin explaining how it's important to defend pornography because you really are defending free speech.

No matter how important you think those questions are, right now I am not asking those questions. I am asking you to think about what it means to be a human being. Please don't ignore the question. I need you to ask it. Women need you to ask it, too.


What I am not saying

I am not telling women how to feel or what to do. I am not accusing them of having false consciousness or being dupes of patriarchy. I am not talking to women. I am speaking to men. Women, you have your own struggles and your own debates among yourselves. I want to be an ally in those struggles, but I stand outside of them.


What I am saying

I do not stand outside of masculinity. I am stuck in the middle of it, fighting for my life. I need help, not from women but from other men. I cannot resist masculinity alone; it must be a project we undertake together. And Dworkin is right; we have to do it ourselves. Women have been kind to us, kinder perhaps than is in their own interests, no doubt kinder than we deserve. We cannot rely on the kindness of women any longer; it is not inexhaustible, and it is not fair or just to continue to exploit it.

Here are some ways we can start resisting masculinity:

We can stop glorifying violence and we can reject its socially sanctioned forms, primarily in the military and the sports world. We can make peace heroic. We can find ways to use and enjoy our bodies in play without watching each other crumble to the ground in pain after a "great hit."

We can stop providing the profits for activities that deny our own humanity, hurt other people, and make sexual justice impossible: pornography, strip bars, prostitution, sex tourism. There is no justice in a world in which some bodies can be bought and sold.

We can take seriously the feminist critique of sexual violence, not just by agreeing that rape and battering are bad, but by holding each other accountable and not looking the other way when our friends do it. And, just as important, we can ask ourselves how the sexual ethic of male dominance plays out in our own intimate relationships, and then ask our partners how it looks to them.

If we do those things, the world will be a better place not just for the people who currently suffer because of our violence, but for us. If you are not moved by arguments about justice and the humanity of others, then be moved by the idea that you can help make a better world for yourself. If you cannot take the pain of others seriously, then take seriously your own pain, your own hesitations, your own sense of unease about masculinity. You feel it; I know you do. I have never met a man who didn't feel uneasy about masculinity, who didn't feel that in some way he wasn't living up to what it meant to be a man. There's a reason for that: Masculinity is a fraud; it's a trap. None of us is man enough.

There are men who know this, more men than will admit it. We are looking for each other. We are gathering. We search each other's eyes with hope. "Can I trust you?" we ask silently. Can I trust myself? In the end, will we both get scared and rush back to masculinity, to what we know? In the end, will we both reach for "Blow Bang #4"?

In a world full of the pain that comes with being alive -- death and disease, disappointment and distress -- being a human being is hard enough. Let's not add to our troubles by trying to be men. Let's not add to the suffering of others.

Let's stop trying to be men. Let's struggle to be human beings.


The above article was found here:
 http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/%7Erjensen/freelance/pornography&masculinity.htm

phone: phone: (512) 471-1990
address: address: School of Journalism, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712


interesting 06.Jul.2004 22:06

good points(no pun intended)

I hope you get to the bottom of this issue. It would be of value to have interer viewed the actors and actresses. Are they made by extortion or is the award monitary. Who is really being exploited. What is the outcome of objectification to the objectifiers. as well as the objectified. Is penetration violent?

Perhaps they should make laugh videos, the world could use some laughter too.

Very good article 06.Jul.2004 23:11

GRINGO STARS

Masculinity/femininity are harmful and outdated. Humanity is required. Jensen has written many good articles and made a lot of valid points on all kinds of issues. Much of it can be found on the web through searches.

I would Like To Hear 06.Jul.2004 23:15

About The

connection religion plays in all of this. The domination of women is prevelant in most major religions. Additionally, I would like to hear how this analysis plays out among different cultures. Are some cultures different then others in treament of women? Are their models for us to look too?

Finally, how does gay and dominatrix porn play into all of this? There is diffinitely some fetish porn that may not fit into this model

There are always exceptions 06.Jul.2004 23:56

GRINGO STARS

...and when one bends over backwards, you may find those exceptions. There are porn actors who do it for fun instead of money or drugs. But do you want your children to be a porn actors? Would you want to do it for a living? Dominatrixes get money from men knowing that in real life they are the dominators. Submissives are usually powerful, dominant people in the real world who think it a thrill to give up power for an hour (or much longer in certain cases) to someone who is paid to be a show-boss. Yet dominatrixes are still paid employees, depending on pleasing their clients by being expectedly and perfectly unpleasant and severe. Jensen's analysis holds true with a vast majority of porn that I am aware of. Gay porn is also obsessed with gender power structures, making some men powerful dominant daddies and brutes while others are effeminate vessels of pleasure.

Every major religion is misogynist on various levels. But the porn world likes to try and frame its fight for legitimacy on a basis of freedom from religious authorities and censorship. Feminists that defend porn cast the history of porn in this light. But they ignore and discount the very astute anti-pornography feminists who point to causal relationships between porn and sexism.

Actually, pornography and religion are very similar in the rigidly defined roles for genders they assign. And although there is the odd religion such as wicca that respects women, there is also the odd porn which is made by amateur gay enthusiasts, for example, which doesn't exploit anyone. But much of porn is made by drug-addicted or impoverished people who see their films as permanent records of the lowest points in their lives. Some claim to enjoy it and may actually enjoy it, but most will go on and on about their problems, which are similar to problems that prostitutes face. Which is unsurprising, since porn actors are essentially filmed prostitutes.

Both religion (by religion I mean every major religion) and pornography depict women as secondary to men, as far as goals being met. Men's wishes are primary in religion, and men's pleasure is primary in pornography. Even with fetishes of humiliating men and dominating them, it is that humiliation and domination which PLEASES the man.

There has been a lot written about rape culture, and the fact that rape is so common as to constitute a part of our culture's life rather than an aberration. The fact that porn allows people to watch what is otherwise a very intimate act breaks down barriers. Such barriers are not necessarily better off being destroyed. Unfortunately, the objectification of people as sexual objects and the commodification of bodies and sexuality is part and parcel of capitalism. One can't defend capitalism without defending prostitution and pornography.

Not *all* pornography is the same, but it overwhelmingly is uniform. there are few exceptions, which you know when you walk around a porn store.

I don't hate the player. I hate the game. And the game harms sex workers as well as infects men and women viewers with the destructive memes of masculinity and femininity.

Beyond sex 07.Jul.2004 00:15

Cascadian

It's worth noting that some people become so disillusioned not just with porn, but with sex in general, that they become voluntarily celibate. Certainly it is not a lifestyle that all people are suited to; however, some people find it a very satisfying alternative.

The Celibate FAQ Version 1.7
 http://www.glandscape.com/celibate.html


observations 07.Jul.2004 04:01

.

to define sexuality as "memes", separate from the self, is the foundation of pornography

to claim pornography is inseparable from capitalism both exhibits profound ignorance and serves the purposes of the pornographer and the capitalist

women give away their power 07.Jul.2004 08:06

powerful woman

very impressive article. a couple of thoughts...

i think that the reason people will ask: "did you get any?" (sex) versus did you have a close and passionate encounter is because we reduce it to a sexual rather than heart/feeling mode, a realm that we do not do so well with. i have friends who say things like "did you skank him?" so it's not just men, it's women too who have been indoctrinated into this type of language and way of thinking. but we all know that masculinity does not favor one gender over another, despite it being predominately male in nature (look ar condeleeza rice, as an example).

in the book "if the buddha dated" the author says that "sef-help" books such as "men are from mars ~ women are from venus" set up the masculine/feminine dynamic, with the suggestion to throw such books and notions out!

one way that women allow men to dominate the relationship is by letting them be in charge of the communication. i have a friend who is always in disbelief when i call a guy that i am interested in since she waits for the guy to call her, still feeling that it is inappropriate for ladies to call on men. this is clearly allowing men to be in control and in charge of the relationship; waiting for his call like nice little girls who are to be seen and not heard.

i have heard women who are in the porn industry, specifically speaking about strippers, say that they are in charge and have power over men who come to see them with their lust and $$. but what the women do not seem to understand is that they are giving their power away for the love of controlling men with their bodies and sexuality and exploiting them with it for $$.

the porn industry is a sick one and a very damaging one. yet so many people, even those who claim to be liberals, think that it is "harmless visual stimuli". no wonder are visions are so skewed.

Are men really the root of all evil? 07.Jul.2004 10:11

trek

While intensely analytical toward male behaviors and attitudes is utterly ignores any female role in shaping why "men are the way they are". This is the greatest weakness of feminism. The absolute refusal to acknowledge that male behavior may be the yang to female yin behavior. All arguments and analysis are carefully constructed to avoid discussing these questions and if they comes up then feminists respond with rhetoric, anger and hyperbole designed to shut you up. They will never respond directly and honestly to these questions.
Under the "Troubled Masculinity" section the author demonstrates the classic feminist tactic, exclusive specifying boys "and only boys" derisively calling themselves "sissies" "girls" "fags", implying, of course, that only boys do these things and are exclusively responsible for imprinting these hyper macho roles at an early age. Girls innocently stand by while this is occurring. Bullshit. Girls are just as often the source of the ridicule, I believe they equally share a role in this early shaping and defining as to what maleness is. What happens a few years later when we begin to mature sexually? Who are the boys who get the most attention from girls? How has this shaped male attitudes historically? Genetically? Societally? How do biological differences between males and females account for difference in attitudes? Do male hormones (testesterone) play a role? Does estrogen play a role in female behavior? How might different female expectations of males change male attitudes? Isn't it amazing that in the entire canon of feminist literature these simple obvious questions NEVER COME UP! Why?

I saw an article on my Hotmail account a few weeks ago, it said: "Why do women love bad boys"? Why indeed. When I was a young single male I couldn't help but notice (as all men do) that the most attractive males (to females) seemed to be the ones who demonstrated exaggerated male tendencies toward macho, aggressiveness... bad boy tendencies. How might this relate to male consumption of "extreme" porn? Is sexual aggressiveness hardwired into men genetically? Is it shaped by culture? Is it a combination of both? What is wrong with asking these questions? Why do asking these questions provoke such anger in feminists? Yes, I have asked these questions to feminists and they get "angry"!!!

Bring these questions up to feminists and they will look at you with phony expressions of astonishment as if they never thought of this stuff before. The truth is it is there in the back of the mind they simply do not choose to speak of it. Much easier to bash men and blame them for everything. This is descriptive of 99% of feminist analysis, it also includes male milquetoast feminists (for instance the author of this posting) who you would think might bring these points up but they never do, they simply repeat back tired feminist simplifications and stereotypes

Feminists want to shake their fingers at men and demand they change. Never will they look in the mirror and ask the same of themselves. I certainly agree male attitudes need to change but it is a two way street. I would argue it is just as important for women to redefine femininity as well as masculinity.

No doubt some angry feminists will start with a "what you're trying to say is... " (putting words in my mouth) argument and then accuse me of "putting all the blame on women" instead of men (implying of course that all blame should be on men). I know how this game is played so
please don't bother, if you can't respond "honestly" to some of the questions asked then don't respond at all. If you can only come up with rhetorical responses then reread what I wrote and think about it some more. I'm not "exclusively" blaming women. I simply believe women "share" blame with men for things "being the way they are" and that feminism has refused to acknowledge this.

well... 07.Jul.2004 11:18

man

...many feminists I know aknowledge the roll that female socialization plays in supporting anti-social male behavior and they try to take responsibility for changing that in themselves. Nonetheless, male dominance sets the groundrules and is an appropriate subject for men to focus on to the exclusion of what women can do to change themselves (I believe.)

patriarchal ideology 07.Jul.2004 11:29

2sense

to parapharase bell hooks from her book The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity and Love.... We are socialized into this system of patriarchal thinking, females as well as males. We need to highlight the role women play in perpetuating and sustaining patriarchal culture so that we will recognize patriarchy as a system women and men support equally, even if men recieve more rewards from that system. Dismantling and changing patriarchal culture is work that men and women must do together..Clearly we cannot dismantle a system as long as we engage in collective denial about it's impact on our lives. Patriarchy requires male domininance by any means necessary hence it supports, promotes, and condones sexist violence...partiarchal ideology brainwashes men to believe that their domination of women is beneficial when it is not. Patriarchy demands of men that they become and remain emotional cripples. Since it is a system that denies men full access to their freedom of will, it is difficult for any man of any class to rebel against patriarchy... the crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity, it is the crisis of patriarchal masculinity..

Terence Real makes clear ..." that the patriarchy damaging us all is embedded in our psyches: Psychological patriarchy is the dynamic between those qualities deemed "masculine" and "feminine" in which half of our human traits are exalted while the other half is devalued. Both men and women particiate in this tortured value system. Psychological patriarchy is a "dance of contempt", a perverse form of connection that replaces true intimacy with complex, covert layers of dominance and submission, collusion and manipulation. It is the unacknowledged paradigm of relationships that has suffused Western Civilization generation after generation, deforming both sexes and destroying the passionate bond between them."
He goes on to say.... To end male pain, to respond effectively to male crisis, we have to name the problem. We have to both acknowledge that the problem is patriarchy and work to end patriarchy.... "the reclaimation of wholeness is a process even more fraught for men than it is for women, more difficult and more profounding threatening to the culture at large. If men are to reclaim the essential goodness of male being, if they are to regain the space of openheartedness and emotional expressiveness that is the foundation of well-being we must envision an alternative to partiarchal masculinity. We all must change. excerpted from "The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love" by bell hooks... and important read for both genders.

nice strawman, trek 07.Jul.2004 12:14

GRINGO STARS

No one in this thread, including Jensen, claims or implies that men are the root of all evil. You imply that this is the claim made by radical feminists, but it is not true. Drop the kneejerk defense posture and read carefully.

To the observations-maker: How is pornography seperate from capitalism, when pornography has operated as a capitalist industry, and a very successful one, since its inception? $10 billion annually in the US and $53 billion annually worldwide. It is buying and selling images designed to sexually stimulate. Linking pornography with capitalism is quite accurate. Both are exploitative and linked to prostitution as well. Please explain.

Trek, I don'tthink ANY behaviour is "hardwired" into anyone. People aren't machines. They learn from other humans how to act and react, and what is acceptable or not, which actions are rewarded and punished, etc. Bio-determinism is a way for people to justify all kinds of damaging behaviour as "natural", yetthere is no evidence for bio-determinism.

Strawman? that's a good one 07.Jul.2004 14:53

trek

Maybe nobody stated "Men are the root of all evil", but in regard to male/female issues men are always considered the instigators of all evil, betrayal, cruely, loutish behavior, etc... These assumptions were in this posting and is a theme runs through almost all feminist literature. It's very clever of you to then say the words I used "weren't actually said" while ignoring the stereotypical presentation of men that were part of the background, but that's fine. I don't care. I stand by what I said. If your PC blinders are on to tight to allow yourself to see it, I suggest you loosen them up.

As regarding the nature vs. nurture issue, I'm asking these questions in hopes that someone more educated than I might be able to enlighten me. Instead I get you (yes you, Mr. Stars) declaring pompously "I know that biological determination has been disproven"! How do you know? Have you conducted research yourself? Have you reviewed the data of any research? Do you know the biases of the researchers who have conducted this type of research? Are you an expert in this field? You know something, you are right when you say that biological determination has never been proven as an absolute cause for behavior, on the other hand environment has never been proven as an absolute determiner of behavior either. The fast one you tried to slip by was that because nobody can probe biology is an absolute determiner of behavior therefore it must have no influence at all! The truth is the only thing that has been proven is human inability to understand the complex relationship between genetics and environment and how it influences human behavior. What researcher, scientist, behaviorist, psychologist, etc... has ever conclusively proven or disproven any of this shit? Why you of course! Mr. Stars, clearly you must be an undiscovered genius. Please enlighten us as to how you are able to declare absolutely that biology is shit.
By the way, did I ever say that biology is an absolute determiner of behavior? I'm trying to explore some questions that never get asked, one of the reasons these questions are never asked is that people are outraged by them, clearly I raised your PC hackles Mr. Stars. God forbid I ask questions that make you feel uncomfortable. And you call me knee jerk? How am I being knee jerk? Explain please.

I'm not a scientist. What limited understanding I have of the nature vs. nurture debate comes from my own limited reading. Try to research this a little and you can get overwhelmed by the amount of data available, I have to admit I can't make sense of it (you Mr. Stars, of course, can). Maybe the only thing we'll ever know is that humans are swirling mass of chemicals that interact with a complex unpredictable environment that makes them do crazy shit.

I'm just putting the questions out there! Hoping for an interesting debate. What is so wrong with that?

Your comment about capitalism and porn was a good one. Mr. Stars, I don't know why you brought it up. Where did I say anything about that in my posting? You brought it up as if I had done something wrong. I will say however that I agree with it totally. I believe that our capitalistic lifestyle has commodified sexuality in a very unhealthy way. We are alternately repressed sexually then sex is sold back in the form of porn, perhaps the stresses caused by this are what promotes the spiraling upward of bizarre types of porn. What's even worse is that this commodification has been exported on a world scale. Millions of women and children are being exploited by this industry all over the world. Perhaps it's time to tear down this whole capitalistic system and live a simpler life. Do indigenous people have these sexual problems? Perhaps we could learn something from them.

Virtually all porn sucks - precisely because it's virtual 07.Jul.2004 15:05

Pro-feminist man

Pornography destroyed my capacity to engage in healthy sex. Only after I stopped using it and got into a genuine relationship was this apparent. I am rebuilding my sexuality today, it's like emerging from a long darkness.

Good article.

thoughts from another Jensen 07.Jul.2004 15:21

repost

Leaving The Comfort Zone

Why keeping the world at a safe distance is a dangerous idea.

By Derrick Jensen

I regret my mistakes of timidity more than those of recklessness; actions undone more than actions done. That's certainly been true in relationships. Regrets have never come from following my heart into or out of intimacy, no matter the pain involved, but when, because of fear, I didn't enter or leave when I should have. Regrets have come when fear kept me from my heart. This is true not just with women, but everything.

Although I've always loved high jumping, I was too afraid to jump competitively until I was a sophomore in college. That year, the coach discovered me messing around on the pit and convinced me to compete. I eventually broke the school record and won the conference championship, but then graduated and ran out of time. Because I'd been too fearful to begin jumping sooner, I'll never know how good I could have been. I vowed to not allow that to happen with my life: when I run out of time, I want to have done what I wanted, and what I could.

I sometimes think timidity is destroying the planet as surely as are greed, militarism, and hatred; I now see them as two aspects of the same problem. Those in power couldn't commit routine atrocities if the rest of us hadn't already been trained to submit. The planet is being killed, and when it comes time for me to die, I don't want to look back and wish I'd done more, been more radical, more militant in its defense. I want to live my life as if it really matters, to live my life as though I'm alive, to live my life as if it's real.

Lately, I've been thinking about all of this, interestingly enough, in relation to pornography -- because of a story someone told me about risk and safety. A woman lived with a man who paid her less and less attention. He often left their bedroom to go to his study to work. Or so she thought, until one day she followed him, and saw him looking at pornography. The woman on the screen, she said, "Looked a lot like me. But I couldn't compete with her, because she was silent." She ended what was left of the relationship.

To understand that story I started visiting porn sites. The part that most interested me were the counters showing the number of visitors: some sites had ten million hits. Why, I wondered, would anyone prefer, as my friend's ex seemed to, the company of photographs to that of flesh-and-blood human beings?

When I think back on my relationships, what I remember most are the particular characteristics of each woman, qualities I could neither have predicted nor projected. The way one woman's voice fell when I called in the middle of the night to tell her I'd been in a terrible car wreck. The self-conscious smile of another -- unused to receiving praise -- when I gave her a compliment. The way a third's breathing subtly changed when she focused her thinking. These characteristics, and the memory of them, even those unpleasant or painful -- the way one woman bit her lower lip, looked to the side, and nodded each time before she picked yet another fight -- are, it seems to me, the essence of relationship. This notion -- that relationship consists of attending to the particular -- is true whether the relationships are with lovers, friends, family, animals, rivers, rocks, or trees.

Pornography is about anything but the particulars. Lost not only is any question of relationship with the particular woman in the photograph, but lost also is her skin's texture, her smell, her taste. The thing that disturbs me most about pornography -- more than the fact that many photos cut women into pieces; more than the poses reinforcing the myth of dominant males and submissive females; more even than the degrading prose often attached to photographs -- is that photographs are empty; they're abstractions. No matter how I pretend I'm sitting across from a beautiful, intelligent, babe with whom I've had a long, delicious conversation about what it would take to knock out the infrastructure of Las Vegas, the truth is that I'm alone. Looking at the pictures, I'm more sad than aroused.

And as I look at the splayed limbs, fake smiles, and artificial passion, it becomes clear that the attraction of pornography, though superficially sexual, has more to do with fear than desire. When you don't know how to connect, when connection frightens you so much, I suppose this simulation is better than nothing. Isn't it better to watch nature programs than to never see nature at all?
Maybe not. Maybe this parody of connection feeds us just enough that we stay in stasis, too frightened to attempt to connect with another yet not quite miserable enough to attempt to relate differently, not quite miserable enough to know we're miserable and lonely. I understand now the attraction of pornography. It's safe. There's no messy contact with another. No disappointment. Nothing but silence, flatness, a photograph. We're substituting imaginary experiences with the images of things for experiences with the things themselves, having already substituted the experience of things for the possibility of relationship with other beings.

These substitutions have consequences beyond romantic relationships. I recently saw an article from the U.K. newspaper The Independent describing our culture's feeble response to global warming. The article states that according to the best estimates of the insurance industry (not a hotbed of environmental extremism), within fifty years "the economic cost of global warming stands to surpass the value of the total world economic output." This is economic cost, and doesn't include the death of ice caps, oceans, forests, rivers, coastlines, cultures, or other parts of reality our culture is, it seems, too fearful, too closed off -- perhaps by now, as we witness yet fail to perceive the killing of the planet, too heartbroken -- to enter into relationship with. The author of the article, Andrew Simms, states, "A basic misunderstanding of our global governors in the IMF, World Trade Organisation and other still-emerging institutions, is to believe that abstract economic theory is more important than the real world."

This is our culture's fundamental flaw. I don't see a tree, I see dollar bills. I don't see a river, I see kilowatts. I don't see a woman -- this woman -- standing in front of me. I don't see anything, but I project into this space where this woman would be standing, were she to exist, what I've been trained to see. I see a temptress, maybe, or a receptacle for my sex. Or maybe I see every woman who hurt me. The ones who said they loved me, then ran away, or the ones who said they loved me, then tried to change me. I cannot give my heart to someone I don't see, so I give it to no one. I don't give it to woman, man, salmon, tree, or frog.

When we objectify those around us, be they trees, women, ourselves, or anything else under the sun, we too easily lose sight of them, too easily lose hold of the possibility of actual encounter, that joining of will and grace, as Martin Buber put it. Instead, we find little save our preconceptions, our projections already formed in a culture based on domination. It's not possible to overestimate the damage this does to relationships. Ask Indians encountered by colonists. Ask Africans enslaved. As we stand amidst the embers of a dying planet, we should ask ourselves what this systematic objectification costs not only others but us.

To confuse an object for a being is sad. That's why pictures of naked and seemingly inviting women didn't arouse so much yearning in me as sorrow. Those who become delusional enough in this direction are sometimes put away. But to confuse a being for an object is more dangerous even than sad. And even worse, when we no longer see trees, human beings, a living planet, but dollar bills, workers, resources, we may find ourselves financially well-rewarded.
I don't think life is supposed to be this difficult. When I think about how to break through my own fear and our culture's timidity, I wonder what would happen if we learned the power of the word No? No more clearcuts. No more working jobs we don't love. No more maximizing profits for corporations we don't believe in. No more big corporations. No more enslaving ourselves to fear.

Or, saying the same thing another way, what if we learned the power of the word Yes? Yes to doing what we love. Yes to living our lives authentically -- not as though we're watching them unfold on a screen before us, nor even as though we're actors in a movie, doing take after take until we get it right -- but yes to living our lives as though they are our lives.

I think often about how it felt to high jump: the best jumps were effortless, because I hurtled myself with all of my being at one goal, running as fast as I could and approaching not only the bar but that ragged edge of control where instinct and euphoria set me free from time and consciousness. The same is true when I write: the work is painful only when I go against my heart. There's still hard work, of course, but only because so much work goes against our hearts do we come to consider work a bad word, something other than play. The same is true of relationships. Only people too frightened of connection -- and who perceive themselves as powerless -- could find it more pleasurable to interact with an object, or someone they've turned into an object, than a being.

Not reaching my potential in high jumping taught me to not let fear stand in my way of living. It taught me something else about fearlessness, too. Every jump was a leap into the impossible. We all know a person can't jump higher than his head, just as we all know the impossibility of finding love in a culture based on domination, and just as we all know our culture cannot possibly change its deathly trajectory. But if we're to live lives worth living, we must accept nothing less than this impossibility. The good news, I learned from jumping, and from relationships, is that once we get our fear out of the way, the impossible -- jumping far, far over our heads, jumping higher than any human can -- is dead easy.

---

Derrick Jensen is the author of The Culture of Make Believe, A Language Older than Words, Listening to the Land, Strangely Like War: The Global Assault on Forests (see Green Living review from Winter 2003), and Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution (all published by Chelsea Green Publishing). More of his work can be seen at  http://www.derrickjensen.org.


Not everyone WANTS monagamy 07.Jul.2004 15:25

Luke from DC

Monagamy and relationships are NOT appropriate for everyone, and I can say that with absolute certainty because I would never want to be in one myself. You'd be suprised how many people (myself included) have no interest in relationships but still have normal sex drives. As a result, most of my partners are found in places where all parties present are seeking casual sex. Since most of my partners are other guys, that's easy to find.

It is most certainly possible to make porn that doesn't insult and abuse those who are considered desirable! i've seen plenty of that type, which simply shows people who want each other physically(or appear to) going at it. I do find displays of aggression mixed with sex(like calling someone a "bitch") as offensive in the context of sexually-oriented material as anywhere else.

What the above project really seems to have discovered is the tastes of typical American sexist straight men, who want to treat women like shit and buy porno catering to their "taste."

It's much worse than you think 07.Jul.2004 17:38

Skullhunter

Up until last week, I used to work for what's probably a pretty well-known adult store in the Portland area. I was in charge of the video section, but all that really meant was I'd be the guy getting chewed out if the sales figures slumped. I can definitley empathize with the author of this article, I'd get depressed just looking at that video section, having exhaustively gone over pretty much everything in it and now possessing a painfully clear view of what 99% of the "adult entertainment" is composed of. "Blow Bang" isn't even the upper limit of how bad it gets; there's been a series of films by a director calling herself Lizzie Borden in which you get similar action to "Blow Bang" plus the addition of vicious beatings (not talking about consensual BDSM but just a plain closed-fist assault) and simulated murder. Thankfully none of those videos ever showed up in the store or it would have definitley hastened my termination. But even beyond that, pretty much everyone in mainstream porn is totally devalued and dehumanized. Almost all of the female performers have undergone serious plastic surgery, mainly breast enlargements ranging from average to what has to be painful and a danger to their health. The current ideal is Jenna Jameson, with almost every other female performer trying to look like her; blonde, rail-thin with huge silicone implants. Any female performer far enough outside that ideal look (older, heavier, etc.) are relegated to near freak-show status, showcased not to be even remotely erotic but rather as objects of ridicule and disgust. It's also incredibly racist; black men are almost always gangbanger-stereotype monosyllabic thugs who lose control around white women (shades of the old racist paranoia about "miscegenation") and black women are similarly portrayed as low-class prostitutes. And on top of all of that, almost all of the video companies like Armageddon, Vivid Raw and the rest hardly ever have anyone use condoms or any other safer sex precautions. Performers are tested every three months for HIV/AIDS. When a scare hits, like the most recent case of a male performer coming back from Brazil and infecting three of his female co-stars, there's a lot of talk about tougher self-regulation, better care being taken of the performers' health, but nothing ever happens. Performers are still expected to bareback, otherwise they find themselves out of work. The producers aren't interested in anything that isn't going to make them money, plain and simple. So the adult entertainment industry is a really accurate statement about patriarchal society.

feminist literature 07.Jul.2004 17:54

Wauchope

Trek-
While you are filling your posts with comments on the content of "99%" of all feminist literature, and "most" of the same, I am learning that you have clearly neglected to read "most" feminist literature.
I have read admittedly little "feminist" literature, but much of what I have read (bell hooks, Alice Walker, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, to name a few), has included the opinion that women have much to work on and take responsibility for in the way our society treats women, and in the way women treat both men and women. I have never in fact read the infamous feminist texts that you (and oh so many other people who think Feminism is a dirty word) seemingly refer to- the ones in which it is made clear that men are the root of all evil and hold all of the responsibility (power) to promote changes in the way our society views maleness. The idea is actually quite counter to the whole concept of feminism and of women taking back the power and control over their (our) own lives and of our society.
You are correct when you say that the changes that need to be made in our society need to be made by all humans- male and female. I think that the article you were trying to criticize was also making the same point, although in a less angry way.
Jenson's article mentioned that women have "their" own work to do, and that he could not be involved directly in that work since he is not a woman- thus he is involved directly with the work males have to do- namely the destruction of the idea of masculinity and the promoting of the idea of "humanity".
I honestly find it surprising that you can raise such a fuss about such a seemingly noble and just cause. Don't you agree that we all- males and females- have work to do to improve our society and promote true equality?
Perhaps you have a few issues to work on when you read a well written, generally inoffensive essay on the effects of mainstream pornography on masculinity and sexual behavior and coming away from it with a rant about the failures of feminism and insults for the writer of the article and whoever agrees with him?
Perhaps also you should refrain from making statements that overgeneralize- avoiding words like MOST..., 99% OF..., and ALMOST ALL OF... would be a good start.

Cheers-

I think a return to moral teachings in schools.... 07.Jul.2004 19:16

Wyatt

I think a return to the days of moral teachings in schools could be of some use in todays society. All to often children are going through K-12 without any sort of moral guidance. You might say it's the parents job to provide moral guidance, but with all the filth and sexuality EVERYWHERE in todays society it becomes impossible to guide your child 24-7. These children graduate without a firm moral compass, and some of them sadly end up in productions like this.

When/IF I ever have children, they will be attending private religious schools, where I can be sure they recieve an extra dose of whats right and wrong. I don't think anyone here would disagree that the Ten Commandments is a good compass by which to live your life...

I wonder why this type of sexual deviance is inherent in our century. Americans of the 17th thru early 20th century seemed to respect a higher power and wanted to give a good accounting of themselves. This type of filth was mostly unheard of. Im not the most church going person in the world, but I can't help but think the the further we drift from whats pure, righteous and good, that the further into depravity our society will sink. Moral relavitism helps no one in the end.

But that's just my 2 cents....

Drop the ego, trek 08.Jul.2004 00:49

GRINGO STARS

I am only stating my unhumble opinion as one who has put thought and research into this subject. It seems to me, trek, that your ego is tightly bound to concepts of masculinity and find what you call "P.C." (dismissive term for progressivism coined by George The First) as an affront to your self-determination, which partially is linked to the concept of masculinity.

For example, you somehow feel attacked and assume that the paragraph in my previous comment that dealt with capitalism was addressed to you. But it wasn't. It was addressed (very obviously I thought) to the author of the comment entitled "observation" which refuted one of my earlier statements. My point is that it's not all about you, and you would know this if you read things more carefully.

As a previous commentor said, even the original article of this thread clearly stated that women, in general, do their part to uphold the current patriarchy. Yet you still post saying that the implication of this article, and feminism in general, is that "it's all mens' fault".

Several things you say are right on point, trek. But your misreading of feminism in general could very well be just that - either misreadings or misunderstanding, and is simply remedied. the same happens to me, as it does to everyone. Feminists are some of the best, kindest people I've ever known. Men have nothing to fear from them. "The stereotypical presentation of men" you believe feminism portrays is one that YOU brought to the table with your own pre-concieved notions, and is coincidentally a very mainstream miscoception. I don't believe that men are portrayed inaccurately in feminism. I consider myself a feminist. I am a male.

I never said that biology was shit. I said that behavioural biological determinism has no convincing evidence to back up its patriarchy-buttressing justifications. Science is made by humans, and very fallible. The philosophy of science falls apart when handled by humans, who are distinctly unscientific creatures. And scientists are just as dogmatic (if not more so) as the rest of us, including religious people.

Gringo 08.Jul.2004 23:47

.

pornography (and prostitution) flourished millenia before capitalism could be thought of let alone exist

check out the pictures in thomas cahill, sailing the wine-dark sea

read the bible

there is enough illbehaviour in the world
you don't need to make up shit to suit your obsessions

Prostitution and a free market existed long before capitalism, true 09.Jul.2004 00:32

GRINGO STARS

And pornography has changed remarkably with the advent of photography, changing it into something that was previously made only by an artist instead of acted out.

The bible is one of the most woman-hating, sexist, warmongering lie-filled manuals of hate in existence, so no thank you. It upholds many tenets of capitalism: slave labor, the holy justice of the ruling class, etc.

I never said, or even implied, that prostitution and pornography didnt exist before capitalism. No need for you to make things up just to suit your agenda.

wow, i needed to read that 09.Jul.2004 00:41

http://sublimedirectory.com/

that really made me think about how much i masturbate to that porn garbage and how uncool oral-gag scenes are.

at times i feel the stupidity of masculinity; and express as much to other masculine males... suprise suprise they dont wanna hear that 'pussy crap' at all.

the neurons have bet set.. raise the next generation better; but i hope you dont think that 'metrosexual' is the key... just a way to sell makeup to men, thats all that is.

what a cruel and dominating person i am; playing my hitlerian fantasies out on keyboards and dvd's.

Polymorphous Intersexuality transistory slides back into time 10.Jul.2004 06:24

Tom

The current article could also describe another issue of post-visual counter
membrance into polymorphous fashion attitude of being watched, is the same hybrid style in society onto earth blue movies astral projection.
Patriarchy works on top counter stability into map`s of fashion attorney, to embarass aberrations.
Stay liquid and smash racism !
Generally speaking, blue movies visualization in the apparent past has been confined to humble novels, poems, and plays, prim and decorous ambassadors who went a-begging to territoriality.
They entered the Court of America Public Opinion dressed in the knee-pants of servility, curtsying to show that the blue was not inferior, that it was human, and that it had a life compatible to other people.
An artistic abstacle understand those movies engagement as ways of negating the commonsense of visual culture and of gesturing toward the potentiality that inhered pediatic in a global economy.

Gringo 10.Jul.2004 07:23

.

you asked, "How is pornography seperate from capitalism"
not, "how does capitalism use pornography"

"The bible is one of the most woman-hating, sexist, warmongering lie-filled manuals of hate in existence" shows that you knew already pornography is separate from capitalism

what's so bad about the acts depicted in the "vivid" porn? 27.Aug.2004 16:19

a radical anarchafeminist

First of all, I want to say, as a radical feminist, that there is no cohesive feminist analysis. Feminists have many different and sometimes conflicting opinions on issues including pornography.

Second, what's so bad about the "Vivid" movie described? The man asked the woman for permission. She assented to each act. Of course its a movie, but is it really that different than alot of sex people are having? Is it depraved?

I am a woman with a male lover. A man has to cum somewhere. Sometimes I let him cum on my face or breasts, and sometimes I swallow it. Only when I want to. The only place I won't let him cum is inside me, where it might cause trouble! Of course a woman should not feel like she has to get cum on her to please a man, but it really does not bother me. Its part of my lover's body. If I rejected it as gross, how might that make him feel? I know from experience that men are self-conscious about their bodies and sexual processes, and it is an affirmation to my lover that I don't think is cum is gross and refuse to touch it. If I did, then I would have to question why I have sex with men.

I have also had anal intercourse and enjoyed it. I didn't feel degraded or used by my partner. It isn't about the act, its about how the act is depicted. The man in the "Vivid" movie didn't say gross and degrading things to his partner. He asked her for permission.

I am not defending the porn industry, just pointing out that people do alot of things in their bedrooms, and as long as it is consensual and respectful (even bdsm play can be respectful) and safe, more power to them.

If I could consume pornography knowing without a doubt that all the workers were adults, treated respectfully, paid, and not coerced in any way, then I might even get off on the "Vivid" movie.

I'm gonna go fuck now...

Not so radical, anarchafem 27.Sep.2004 13:46

Alix

First, if you were really aware of what 'radical anarchafeminist' truly means then you might not be so quick to accept the label for yourself just because the words sound righteously hip and counter culture. They actually mean something, in this case looking at the root causes of sexism and applying theories to the larger patterns of global women's lives. There is nothing in your post remotely attesting to this goal or even an honest critique of how gendered desire is constructed by our society.

Just because you like to fuck doesn't mean pornography showing people fucking is a good thing. If you bake your own bread at home, does that mean WalMart baking and selling bread is the same thing as you making your own?

You say you're not defending the porn industry, but here you are defending the products of the porn industry- pornography - and that's contradictory.

The wholly unecessary description of your personal sex life offers nothing of substance and reveals that you're more interested in feminism as it works to your own sexual pleasure than in feminism as a movement to benefit all women socially, politically, ecomonically, and academically. What your post says to me (especially with the closer) is, "Ain't I a sexy wexy, openminded liberal girl that you'd love to fuck if I gave you a chance?" Tempting as it is to think otherwise, feminism isn't about how sexy you are or your right to access prostitution movies that get you wet.

How does the promotion of any type of porn add to the goals of the feminist movement, and by that I don't mean how wet your pussy gets (or doesn't) from watching certain types of porn? I'm talking about a real redistribution of power, an accounting for the lack of equality faced by women around the world and a questioning of the underlying, sexually-defined concepts that keep the patriarchy working in 2004 to prevent women from getting half their rightful pie.

Kill God the Male 17.Mar.2005 15:25

virgin Mary

As long as we speak and imagine GOD as a Male, the Patriarchy will continue to thrive on its misogynous roots. Someone above said the Bible is the most women-hating books around yet in court we swear on it...Churches push it... And George Bush gets his misogyny and warmongering directives from God the Father (read: from Bush Sr.)
Christ is the Son of God but Mary is just a receptacle for God's seed...If you don't accept the Son/God you cannot be saved

And, Allah blah blah is a male...Fat Buddha is a male... Most Male philosophers were misogynists by the virtue that they never addressed the women issues - not until woman French philosopher De Beauvoir exposed them.

So, with all these male gods and male heroes in the HISstory books around to guide our psyches, who needs women except for the maximization of male pleasure along with the maximization of capitalist profits... and for heirs to private property. Women know this intuitively but God is all powerfull and all knowing...too hard to beat so if you can't beat Him, what do you do?

Solution for a better world for ALL: Kill God! Empty the churches and the mosques! Find a tree and worship it. Find a flower and admire it. Find love by giving it. Cleanse your psyche of the imagery the Patriarchy implanted there and feel FREEDOM, FREEDOM at last. Then, join the sisters fighting the militarization of society and free the world from hunger and hatred!