Friday, 25 July 2008

I Blame The Porno-iarchy

Intro/Definitions

As I define those terms (dunno how other radical feminists define them):

'Porno-iarchy' or 'pornoiarchy': a patriarchal society invaded and controlled by pornography & the culture it has pornified, as well as a society upheld by men's cruel needs for female sexual subordination. For proper definitions of what pornography really is (stated by different feminist writers), please click here.

'Pornified Culture': a culture which has been invaded by the mainstreaming of pornography.

'Sex Poz': my light-hearted abbreviation of "sex-positive", a label which the pro-pornstitution 'feminists' often use to describe themselves, while deliberately attempting to conflate pornography with sex as if they were the same thing. See one of my comments at Rage Against the Man-chine for an expression of my opinion on this lack of distinction between porn and sex.

'Pornstitution' (Originally coined by Sam Berg): Pornography and prostitution, both the same part of the same misogynistic 'sex' industry. Also highlights the fact that the sex trade is a system of interconnected misogynistic forms of commodified sexual abuse.

'Rad Fem': just an abbreviation of Radical Feminist, that's all, as I learned this shortening term ('radfem') from my private discussions within the Genderberg feminist anti-porn forums.

'Malestream media': Mainstream corporate media, largely controlled by white capitalist men in suits.

'Herstory': the history of women (as the term is sometimes used by radical feminists) , not the history of men (which has always been more popular and talked about in a patriarchy).


Why do I blame the porno-iarchy?

I blame the porno-iarchy for all the sexual violence done to the women in the 'sex' industry.

I blame the porno-iarchy for the lack of choices most women who enter prostitution have (when I say 'prostitution', that also includes pornography as a form of prostitution of course).

I blame the porno-iarchy for the sexual violence perpetrated against so many women and girls who are in prostitution.

I blame the porno-iarchy for all the misogyny, degradation, abuse, and racism that are inherent and blatant in the content of mainstream pornography.

I blame the porno-iarchy for all the harms caused by pornography to women and children (and sometimes to men) in this unjust male-supremacist society.

I blame the porno-iarchy for so many women and girls having to make themselves look "sexy" or "fuckable" to men in the goal to achieve a false sense of "empowerment" (been there myself when I used to go clubbing).

I blame the porno-iarchy for the fact that so many women and girls have to force themselves to have sex when they don't necessarily want to in order to please their boyfriends and husbands.

I blame the porno-iarchy for the fact that so many women and girls are sexually coerced into sexual acts (coming from the 'domination/subordination' pornographic mind) they do not really want to practice.

I blame the porno-iarchy for all the rapes, the battery, the sexual and physical violence against (mostly) women and girls that happen in this culture.

I blame the porno-iarchy for blaming the victims of rape (saying that's "her fault, she's responsible for what happened because blah, blah, blah. . .") and not the rapists.

I blame the porno-iarchy for sometimes not even believing rape victims (saying that "she probably consented or enjoyed it").

I blame the porno-iarchy for the (usual) censoring and demonizing of radical feminists in the malestream media.

I blame the porno-iarchy for accusing us of "siding with religious zealots".

I blame the porno-iarchy for not letting us rad fems educate enough people on the harms of pornography 'cause of the malestream media being tied to the pornography industry, 'cause pro-porners are endlessly trying to silence us and 'cause of 'leftist' liberal stubborn pornography-protecting mind (as Gail Dines & Robert Jensen say 'Pornography is a Left Issue', not a right-wing one)

I blame the porno-iarchy for some women defending pornography and prostitution in the name of 'feminism'.

I blame the porno-iarchy for the pro-pornstitution 'feminists' being unfairly magnified by malestream media.

I blame the porno-iarchy for slandering us, radical feminists, and totally misrepresenting our views or simply not understanding why we're so angry at the pornstitution industry (because of the HARMS!!!).

I blame the porno-iarchy for many other things you might also wanna mention to me here, rad fem or anti-porn readers?


Acknowledging Harms and Lack of Choice

"She wants it; they all do" is the biggest lie coming from pornographic misogyny.

The vast majority of women in pornstitution do not want all this degradation and torture to happen to them, but they are subject to all this because of Lack of Choice, as I've also already explained here and there.

I just read another interesting article, 'You're consenting to being raped for money', about a prostitute who tells us about how "the life" really is like and how prostitution is glamorized in pornified media partly because "[y]ounger women are being coerced into valuing themselves by what they look like and men's definition of how a woman should be valued. . . Women are being told that their bodies should be accessible at all times to men. . . there is a conspiracy to turn women into readily accessible semen receptacles." A truly male-supremacist pornified conspiracy indeed!

Although I do not much like the expression "sex work" (more on that soon enough), I believe that the 'sex' industry is largely male-controlled (even though there are quite a few women who are now sexploitation business entrepreneurs & who abuse other women) and I do not believe that "outlawing strip clubs & porn" would address the demand for pornstitution, I find the comment that this person left in the Traffick Jamming blog nevertheless very interesting:


"The comment by Maggie Hays sums up my experience as a stripper in many ways. The only difference is my boss and the management were women and they were perfectly content to exploit us women just as any man would. I have known women who got into porn and prostitution and I know all about how sex work often leads to violence and S/M. Sex work is inherently violent as it demands the objectification of the person, and what is happening at Kink is merely the final result of a warped and morally bankrupt industry. That is why porn should be outlawed as should strip clubs. These are only legalised forms of prostitution. I saw so much abuse and violence at [sic] criminality at my club, it was insane. Prostitution was openly being conducted as was drug dealing. And we were all regularly physically and mentally abused by the patrons and the staff. I have been viciously attacked by pro-stripper apologists on stripperweb.com for my testimony, which shows how people on the pro-sex industry side have zero compassion for sex workers and don't want the truth about the business to be disseminated on the internet."
-- Pamela, in her Traffick Jamming comment.

Pamela, in case you read here, I can understand that this is so terrible the abuse you have both suffered and witnessed in "sex work". I hear you, sister. The fact that these pro-porn women (whoever they were) had no consideration for your painful experience and unpleasant feelings regarding prostitution is absolutely horrifying. And I do hope that, wherever you are, you are alright and you're gonna be alright.

The fact is that once a woman has entered the sex industry and she is harmed within it, there is no going back. The damage from past ill-treatment, the PTSD, the pain, the unsettling trauma, etc. are all there. And the pornstitution apologists would have us believe that she "chose it", thus nothing can be said? Many (especially male) pro-prostitutionists would have us believe that once a prostituted woman has 'chosen it' and has been paid, the harms done to her body and mind can then all be dismissed or forgotten. What an anti-woman propaganda! :(

Also, the 'sex poz' lobby would have us believe that prostitution is (for the most part) not abusive, that it is work, and that pornography is liberating or can be. . . What a rhetorical nonsense! Broken record, *yawn*. . . It is such a distressing shame that some women have been deluded into believing all this very nonsense and thus have been encouraged to defend pornstitution.

I do not believe in "sex work", i.e. "prostitution as a good career option for women". I believe that prostitution is an inherently harmful and misogynistic form of sexual abuse. This is why I do not call prostitution "sex work". Prostitution is not the oldest profession, it is the world's oldest lie.

While prostitution has existed for a very long time, slavery existed before prostitution, as feminist historian Gerda Lerner related in The Creation of Patriarchy. This is an important part of the herstory to know, just as important as knowing about the witch-hunt in
early modern Europe, the mass-gynocide caused by patriarchal religion and its pornographic Malleus Maleficarum (See Dworkin's chapter on the witches in her first book, Woman Hating, for a recap on what happened to women deemed witches during the Inquisition in early modern Europe).

And talking about herstory, prostitution and contemporary society, here is an excellent quote from Sherry Lee Short:


". . . the arguments of pro-sex industry advocates and proponents have a common theme: the industry springs from a liberal mindset and frees women and men, sexually, politically, and spiritually. Part of this logic is that sexuality -- particularly women's sexuality -- has been oppressed historically and that the sex industry offers women and men the liberating possibility of unbridled sexual expression. This logic ignores the fact that the use of women in prostitution as well as other forms of sexual commodification has existed for as least as long as there has been an historical record. Thus, if sexual commodification were freeing, then sexual oppression would be uncommon or, more likely, exist only as some curious historical fact. This logic also ignores the reality that the sex industry thrives where the political, social, and religious milieu is fundamentally conservative. It thrives where beliefs about women and children and their roles are the most traditional. . ."
-- Sherry Lee Short in Not For Sale, Stark & Whisnant Eds., p.309.

In this patriarchy we're living in, pro-pornstitution folks are just as reactionary as religious zealots. Both groups uphold patriarchy and perpetuate age-old woman-hating lies. They merely do it in different ways.

I do not believe in "sex work", just like I do not believe in "feminist porn" (oxymoron). Prostitution and pornography are inherently misogynistic. If sex is about a process of discovery and connection between two people, then there can be no "cookbook", no 'recipe guide' for non-patriarchal sexuality. And to not reiterate, I've already expressed my opinion on 'feminist porn' somewhere in this post here.

The idea that prostitution is "sex work" is the biggest fallacy of the pro-prostitution lobby. It has been & is being a direct cause for the ever-increasing trafficking and exploitation of women in prostitution.

We, radical feminists, generally refer to women in the sex industry as 'prostituted women' because (1) we acknowledge that they've had extremely limited choices under patriarchy & we empathize with them, (2) we realize that most of them are under the control of cruel pimps & brutal or hurtful johns, and (3) we want to emphasize the fact that most of the victims of the 'sex' industry are female.

More people should realize and admit that most women in prostitution are tremendously and awfully harmed within it.

There is such an incredible victim-blaming in this society and that spreads like sickness. Being a victim is not a character flaw. A rad fem friend once told me about this: Only in a society which regards women who have been abused as responsible for their own victimization, only in a culture that moans that the oppressed should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, can the word "victim" be seen as an insult.

Calling someone a victim is seen as much an insult as calling someone oppressed to some people, including in the academia. Also, the word "victim" also implies that there is a victimizer, which can be very disturbing to recognize for some women who want to feel empowered, such as the 'sex poz' feminists for instance.

Some women just do not want to face their oppressed status. And I've been there myself once, at some point in my life. I used to live in some sort of 'denial' 'cause I wanted to feel empowered and desirable to men a few years back. Because the reality of my inferior status to men would have been just too painful. . . to realize.

I believe that we, women, should all start understanding our inequality, we should all become aware of it in the hope of changing the world in which we live (a world ruled by the patriarchy and the porno-iarchy) and working toward genuine equality between the sexes.

As I said, I believe that discussions on prostitution should now be directed toward the johns, who always have 100% choice in this matter.

The legalization of prostitution does not work. Organized crimes and trafficking still occur in the Netherlands, where prostitution is mistakenly seen as "work", as it has recently been reported here. There, in this article, a spokeswoman for Equality Now (an anti-trafficking organization) lately said that "[i]nstead of controlling prostitution, legalisation has led to a disastrous outbreak of increased exploitation of women in the sex trade, sex trafficking and other related crimes."

On the other hand, the Swedish law, that prosecutes johns, pimps & traffickers and provides exit programs for prostitutes, has worked. As recently reported in the Herald Tribune:


"Swedish officials have vowed to step up the fight against prostitution, using a unique law that targets sex buyers instead of prostitutes. [. . .]
"Sweden is not a good place for (your) business," Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said in a warning to those who buy sex or are involved in trafficking. "(There's) a very big risk of getting caught, and getting caught big time."
Sweden's unusual prostitution law, which allows the sale of sex but prohibits the buying, faced ridicule when it was introduced nine years ago. However, other countries are now considering emulating the Swedish model, which officials say has reduced the demand for prostitutes and reshaped attitudes toward the sex trade. [. . .]
The plan boosts policing against sex buyers and expands rehabilitation centers for sex workers and trafficking victims. It also trains hospital workers and social services employees to deal with suspected cases of prostitution and trafficking.
Integration Minister Nyamko Sabuni noted that men are the primary buyers of sex.
"Prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes is a serious barrier for social equality and equality between the sexes," she said.
The thing is to be able to understand the Swedish prostitution law and its success, more people must understand the harms intrinsic to prostitution itself. More people must understand that prostitution is not "work", it is violence against women, as the failure of legalization and the success of the Swedish 1999 legislation have proven.

[ETA: No, by saying "lack of choice", rad fems do not "deny women's choices". We do NOT see prostitutes as "people with no agency". Clarification of that in this new post here, On Choices (part 2): Prostitution and the Agency of Johns.]


Pornography: Looking into the Reflection of Porno-iarchy.

Stop Porn Culture, a feminist anti-pornography movement, has recently launched a new website, on which people (especially women) who don't know what pornography is really about (i.e. who still believe 'this is just pictures of people having sex') can watch the most recently updated slide show which presents a feminist critique of the contemporary mainstream pornography industry (*you must be 18 or over to watch this - Warning: may trigger*) and then they can witness the undeniable misogyny of the content of porn.

As the creators of this slideshow said in the script for it:

"This presentation provides a critical analysis of these sexist and racist images that are so harmful to children, women, and men; to our relationships; and to the culture at large. For many, this show is an introduction to a feminist understanding of the pornographic culture, and the slides may be hard to look at. We have included these harsh images not to shock but to help us understand porn culture so that we can organize against it."
I have seen that slideshow, I have been trained to be able to present it at some point in the future, and I do know how well-made and eye-opening it is. After projections of it in large rooms, I would always notice how (usually) more than three quarters of the audiences were horrified by this appalling abuse of women that pornography is and how this slideshow would stir anyone (who has at least a remnant of humanity left within him/herself) into action.

Although I do not visit pro-porn blogs anymore, I lately got told by rad fems about how silencing these people are trying to be and how intolerant they really are.

As it has, a few days ago, been reported by A Birch Tree, there has been a misunderstanding of the law and the blogger also said:

"I suppose what really ruffles the finches’ feathers [referring to the name of the blog Tree of Finches] is that the pro-porn lobby seems to show so much concern for the “rights” of porn participators when it comes to using their images without proper documentation, but not when it comes to, say, their terrifyingly high rates of PTSD or the fact that 80% of them don’t even get the courtesy of a condom, much less how they tend to discount the stories of any woman who has been horribly abused by the porn industry. No no, their (arbitrarily applied) concern is over documentation. That’s obviously the important issue."
In the slideshow script, it is written:

". . . the women’s faces are not blurred and are often recognizable. We cannot know how these women would feel about having their images used in this presentation. We have made the difficult decision to show them, because the women’s facial expressions are crucial to understanding these images. We ask you to recognize with us the moral complexity of this decision, keeping in mind that these women are human beings with dignity. "
As a commenter at A Birch Tree's said:

"I don’t think that the porn slideshows are intended primarily to change the minds of porn-users - though they do (if I remember the Stop Porn Culture slideshow rightly - it’s offline) present the images with a feminist critique, pointing out the aggression and hatred in the images. The slideshows are also a way for women & other activists who don’t use porn and have had little exposure to it to get an idea of the reality of porn. It’s all too easy to assume that porn is just images of people having sex. . ."
The matter is in no doubt complex. If you don't show pornography, then people can just say, "Pornography is just about people having sex," and thus easily shrug off the issue. And if you do show pornography, then you can possibly trigger some rape or prostitution survivors in the audience. But then anybody can decide to stop watching the slideshow or get out of the room (if it's a public presentation) anytime though.

Going back to the subject of the women in the images, I remember a line of the slideshow script that says "in some DP [double penetration] films, the woman is shown grimacing, or saying things like “that hurts” or “please make it stop”; her apparent pain is part of the appeal" while at the same time on the screen the slideshow is showing pornographic pictures of women suffering, their terrible facial expressions of pain.

Once we understand that these women are victims and not "actresses", it becomes perfectly understandable while we would show that slideshow.

Ghastly and horrendous images of military torture or victims of war have for a long time been broadcast on television and have often been recognized as being the greatest incentive behind the mass demonstrations against war and military torture.

I doubt the thousands of victims who were shown on TV, suffering or drenched in blood, would all have given their consent to the filming and photos of their bodies being used by anti-war protesters. The children burned with napalm and the victims of Abu Graib couldn't possibly have given consent to have their photos used by journalists and anti-war or anti-torture activists.

Saying that none of the images of pornographic torture, showing the women humiliated, suffering and having their bodies being injured, should be allowed to be used by feminist anti-pornography educators within the framework of the feminist critique of the pornstitution industry is just like saying that the free speech of anti-war activists should be suppressed.

To restrict the political use of images merely because the victimized subjects did not give permission could make whole categories of journalism impossible (and I don't care if pro-porners later on deny all the facts that I'm writing here -- as denying facts and slandering rad fems is all they do anyway).

We are neither the users who cruelly masturbate to this atrocious and widespread crime against women that is called pornography, nor are we the pornographers who capitalize on women's pornographic ordeals.

We show the slideshow because we want to stir people into feminist actions against the pornography industry. We want to stop the demand for this gruesome abuse. We want to stop the abuse itself, by educating communities and working toward reducing (largely) male demand for female sexual slavery, torture, agony and suffering.

Something tells me that porn apologists, deep down, know that our feminist anti-pornography slideshow is a powerful educating tool against their anti-woman propaganda (although it is something else that they will inevitably deny as usual, of course). That is why they're trying to silence us. Their protest against our slideshow is nothing else but another attempt to shut us up. And it will fail! :)

As Diana Russell, a long-time antiporn slideshow presenter wrote in her 1993 book Against Pornography: The Evidence of Harm:

"I have found that showing pornography is an effective and rapid consciousness-raiser about misogyny and male views of women. It helps to enhance women's understanding of many males' dangerous notions of what it is to be a man. It often also succeeds in arousing women viewers' anger (and some men's) at the contempt and hatred of women they see in the pictures and captions."
Anti-porn feminist Diana Russell has been reproducing pornography in her showing of the evidence of harms for decades. There has been no legal challenge that I’m aware of.

As a formerly prostituted woman (that a friend of mine knew) once said:

"Please DO look at the photographs, which are not owned by the people depicted, but by the torturers. As long as the only people who see these and others like them are the torturers and torture and pornography consumers, women haters, abusers and traffickers win, because ordinary people will not see what pornography is really about."
Showing the slideshow is one of the best way to make our point when we say that mainstream pornography is misogynistic. Contemporary pornography is a lot more about images and films than words, so restricting our critique to words would be inadequate.

One of the aims of the feminist anti-pornography slideshow is to encourage empathy for porn performers (whom porn consumers do not regard as human beings, but cruelly use them as "fuck-objects" instead). I remember how sad and angry I felt after I'd attended that slideshow's screening. While the slideshow is onscreen, we witness these women's suffering in it, which makes it known so it cannot be ignored.

If pornography is protected as "free speech", then so should be any criticism of it while showing its images.

Seeing pornography is like looking into the reflection of porno-iarchy, taking a look into the mirror of male dominance. It is nauseating, distressing but sometimes it is necessary when we want to educate other people to combat the harms.


Porno-iarchy's Influences: The Undeniable Links between Pornography, Sexual Coercion and Violence

The harms of pornography are undeniable.

Pornography increases the belief in rape myths. Examples of the rape myths that regular pornography users (and sometimes also people living in a rape culture) are more likely to believe are as follows:

[Rape Myths]

"Women are eager to accommodate seemingly any and every sexual request."

"When a woman says 'no,' she means 'yes'."

"Women incite men to rape."

"Women secretly fantasize about being raped."

"Rape doesn't happen very often."

"False reporting of rape is common."

"Women secretly enjoy being raped."

"Women who are drunk are willing to engage in any kind of sexual activity."

"Real rapes are only committed by strangers."

"Women who are sexually assaulted 'ask for it' by the way they dress or act."

"A woman who goes to the home or the apartment of a man on their first date implies that she is willing to have sex."

"Any healthy woman can successfully resist a rapist if she really wants to."

"Many women have an unconscious wish to be raped, and many then unconsciously set up a situation in which they are likely to be attacked."

"If a girl engages in necking or petting and she lets things get out of hand, it is her own fault if her partner forces sex on her."

"Being roughed up is sexually stimulating to many women."

"Sometimes the only way a man can get a cold woman turned on is to use force."

"Many times a woman will pretend she doesn't want to have intercourse because she doesn't want to seem loose, but she's really hoping the man will force her."

[End of Rape Myths]

There obviously are many more rape myths perpetuated by pornified culture out there that I haven't mentioned above, but only reading those makes me understand why all my ex-(porn-using) boyfriends didn't stop coercing me into sexual activities and carried on abusing me after I'd cried, shown my discomfort or said No. And worse still, I can understand why my story is so similar to many other women & girls' stories.

Women's oppression is now been kept away from public eye and pushed into the private sphere, where women are most at risk of male violence. No wonder why few rapes end up in convictions. Sexual coercion has become "sexy" in this culture, and women & girls are being trained to submit to men, in just the same way I had been trained to submit to men. During all those years, I'd been consciously ignorant of pornography's harms while however subconsciously I knew about those harms because I'd experienced them.

Another woman wrote to me on my blog:

"I always feel bad about myself. I can not remember everything but I know I was molested by some relatives who used pornography to show me what to do. I have been sexually harassed, stalked, peeped, raped, hit, grabbed, shaken, name called by many men. I do not have one woman friend who has not had similar experiences. I am 32 years old. What am I supposed to do? I am considered abnormal because i hate pornography. I have been told I need therapy because of my views about men and porn. I am scared too death of what is happening to women. I have no support group in the area where I live for this sort of thing. There must be a better way. I appreciate this site and other sites like it because I do not feel so alone when I read these stories."
What am I supposed to do?

Fight the lies (*) of porn culture. I hear you, anonymous sister! Don't feel bad about yourself, you haven't done anything wrong. I'm so sorry all these terrible things happened to you. (((Big Hugs))) I'm a victim/survivor too. Please join us if you like. The people who tell you you're abnormal are wrong. You are perfectly normal because you hate pornography, and the folks who tell you the opposite are the ones who need therapy, or more exactly a good anti-porn 'therapy'.

Truth is that this whole fucking pornified culture & society needs a good anti-porn 'therapy'. Although, I would definitely replace the word 'therapy' with 'education', radical feminist educational material such as books for instance. Those books educated me about the world I'm living in more than any other books I'd ever read.

The very male-supremacist system that engenders and maintains porno-iarchy has to be smashed out of existence.

No doubt we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do but we mustn't give up, no matter how many times pro-porners slander us, call us liars, or try to silence us with their empty slurs.

We must carry on because WE KNOW about the undeniable harms that pornography causes. And nobody, no one, can take that knowledge away from us. WE KNOW.

Unfortunately, more people still have to know about us and our feminist anti-pornstitution struggle.

Meanwhile, pornography keeps harming women and children.

Women and girls are being coerced into all sorts of patriarchal sex they do not want.

Women and girls are being raped by men who use pornography.

Young girls, sometimes aged twelve, are being socialized to objectify themselves.

Young boys, as they grow up, learn how to use pornography and objectify women and girls.

Rape jokes and misogynistic jokes keep being told and laughed about.

Pornography keeps sustaining a rape culture.

Men keep using pornography as if it were "just sex" while being blind to the sheer misogyny, racism, and violence against women or, worse (in some cases), while being excited even more by those things that pornography inherently entails.

Men keep coercing their wives & girlfriends into watching pornography and into re-enacting the sexualized humiliations and degradations that are in it.

Pornography keeps influencing men's minds and actions.

All this and more, ad nauseam. The harms carry on and on.

All this has to stop.

Pornography's intrinsic harms and sex-based discrimination have to be acknowledged by everyone who calls her/himself a feminist or a pro-feminist, at least.

And the harms of pornography and prostitution will eventually have to be recognized by society at large.

We, radical feminists, will keep speaking out on those harms that the 'sex' industry generates and perpetuates.

Surrender, I will not.

Surrender, we will not.


(*) Heart has recently created a website "Fight the Lies," intended to debunk the slanderous myths about radical feminists, BTW.


"Women must be the only group, and sex the only means, in which a form of oppression is openly defended, not to mention sold as pleasure and even accepted by some of the oppressed, as a means of their liberation."
-- Catharine A. MacKinnon, in Pornography: Driving the Demand in International Sex Trafficking, Captive Daughters Ed., p.32.


"Sexual capitalism, which has found a way to commoditize nearly every imaginable act of sexual subordination, has even found a way to repackage and recycle some of its victims. As a result, a small number of women who have had lifetimes of abuse and learned their sexuality in the sex industry serving men are now able, often with backing from male sex industrialists, to promote themselves as sex educators in the lesbian and feminist communities. [. . .]
"[Some] formerly prostituted women who promote the sex of prostitution -- but now get paid to lecture and publish -- provide a message that even some feminists have found more palatable than all the visions and ideas we have shared about how to transform sex, how to love each other in passionate equality as the basis for a future in which women could really be free. [. . .]

"As feminist research. . . shows, women are aware of the threat of men's violence and change their lives in response to that fear even though they may not have experienced serious assault. Against this everyday reality of ordinary women's lives, the notion that an orgasm "under any circumstances" could vanquish that fear and remembered vulnerability is perhaps pseudofeminism's cruelest hoax."

-- Sheila Jeffreys, in How Orgasm Politics Has Hijacked the Women's Movement. [Emphases Mine]


"For the sake of argument, let’s assume that some women who perform in pornography make completely free choices to participate, as women in the industry often assert that they do, with absolutely no constraints or limitations on them. That could be the case, though it doesn’t alter the unavoidable conclusion that some number of women in the industry -- likely a majority, and quite possibly a significant majority -- choose under conditions that make choice much more complex (histories of sexual abuse, economic hardship, perceived and/or actual lack of opportunities, within a culture that glamorizes the sex industry).
"In most cases, the consumer has no reliable way to judge which women are participating in the industry as a result of a meaningfully free choice. When a consumer plays a DVD at home, he has no information that could help him make such a judgment. Therefore, he likely is using a woman whose choice to perform was not meaningfully free.
"But what if he had that information about the nature of the conditions, objective and subjective, under which the women made that choice? Even that is not so simple. So long as the industry is profitable and a large number of women are needed to make such films, it is certain that some number of those women will be choosing under conditions that render the concept of “free choice” virtually meaningless. When a man buys or rents a DVD, he is creating the demand for pornography that will lead to some number of women being used -- that is, being hurt in some fashion, psychologically and/or physically -- no matter what he knows or thinks he knows about a specific woman."

-- Robert Jensen, in Men and Pornography.


"The word pornography, derived from the ancient Greek porné and graphos, means 'writing about whores'. Porné means 'whore', specifically and exclusively the lowest class of whore, which in ancient Greece was the brothel slut available to all male citizens. The porné was the cheapest (in the literal sense), least regarded, least protected of all women, including slaves. She was, simply and clearly and absolutely, a sexual slave. Graphos means 'writing, etching, or drawing.'
"The word pornography. . . means the graphic depiction of women as vile whores. [. . .]

"Contemporary photography strictly and literally conforms to the word's root meaning. . . With the technologically advanced methods of graphic depiction, real women are required for the depiction as such to exist. [. . .]
"In a time of widespread economic impoverishment, it is growing: more and more male consumers are eager to spend more and more money on pornography-on depictions of women as vile whores. Pornography is now carried by cable television; it is now being marketed for home use in video machines. The technology itself demands the creation of more and more porneia to meet the market opened up by the technology. Real women are tied up, stretched, hanged, fucked, gang-banged, whipped, beaten and begging for more. In the photographs and films, real women are used as porneia and real women are depicted as porneia. To profit, the pimps must supply the porneia as the technology widens the market for the visual consumption of women being brutalized and loving it. One picture is worth a thousand words."

-- Andrea Dworkin, in Pornography: Men Possessing Women, pp. 199-202.


"I [feel] deeply wounded by women who named themselves “feminists”, then say how harmless the sex trade is. I am sick of being reasonable about this.
"I say here that you cannot be a feminist and support the sex trade.

"I have said this in many ways and many times. I know that you choose not to hear. But again I say, do not call yourself a feminist and suppport the sex trade. [. . .]

"When you promote the sex trade, you are discounting a whole section of women and girls. You are placing them as sub-humans.

"For, by backing the sex trade, you [are] saying that the performers, lap-dancers, prostituted women and girls, escorts and all the other women and girls in the sex trade do not feel pain. That [they] do not have a life outside of their role in the sex trade. [. . .]

"And I do not believe in feminist porn. I thought feminist politics could go beyond the sexuality of degradation. . ."

-- Rebecca Mott, former prostitute, in I Have Had Enough.


[edited to add: 07/28/2008= a while after the wonderful Biting Beaver wrote those words, Buggle reminds us of them. Truth has to be told and re-told. Thank you, sister!]


ETA: I thought about the term "PORNO-IARCHY" because it blends the two words Pornography and Patriarchy. It fuses the two, that's how I invented it. Patriarchy invented the language. Patriarchy also sometimes controls the language (i.e. "patriarchists have the power of naming", as I read about that before). So, I say that every radical feminists can invent their own anti-patriarchal language and words as they please. I believe it is fruitful to invent new anti-patriarchy words.

.

27 comments:

stormcloud said...

Wow, that was a huge post Maggie!

I particularly liked this little bit:

If sex is about a process of discovery and connection between two people, then there can be no "cookbook", no 'recipe guide' for non-patriarchal sexuality.

I agree it is important to show actual examples of (mainstream) porn in anti-porn educational venues. Over the years I have seen the progression of porn, from the relatively bland depictions of 'sex' in the 1970s, to VAW-themes of today's porn. I cannot, or don't want to, imagine how bad it will become in the future. It is obvious that today's porn is about the humiliation and violence against women, that is the 'real' turn-on for the consumer, and the makers of porn are willing to keep pushing the boundaries to supply that ever increasing demand.

I have a slogan:
Porn consumers make lousy lovers.

Maggie Hays said...

I also wrote, "Pornography keeps sustaining a rape culture." And most men (even some we don't know about) use pornography.

Socialization to tough "masculinity" is also a cause of rape (including in the men who don't use porn). I also wrote about gender and manhood in my previous post. Thus, I'm not dismissing anyone's experience.

Maggie Hays said...

Philo- I am very sorry, but I somehow took your comments as some forms of "accusations" that I was "dismissing some experiences". I was edgy. I am sorry and I'd just sent you an email before your second comment. I am not dismissing your experience. :(



Anybody- I don't want this thread to derail like in one of my previous... Just saying, that's all...

sparklematrix said...

Thanks Maggie very comprehensive post. Like stormy I too, over the years have witnessed the escalation of sexualized violence and degradation of females in mainstream pornography. It feels quite damming that a whole generation of boys/girls may use this as a form of 'sex education' as it is the only depiction of sexuality that they are aware of.

I watched an anti-porn short documentary the other week and the boys were saying 'yeah porn is cool it shows you what the girls really want'

Oh dear...wanders off...

Cellycel said...

Porn shows you what the girls really want? Pahahahaha. Oh dear. Oh dear indeed.

It is a big post. I read all of it and I'm not too sure what to say. I'm a bit brain fried. I think it'll take a couple of readings before I'll say much and even then I doubt I'd say anything insightful.

Take care Maggie.

Maggie Hays said...

Take care you too, Cellycel. :)

And please feel free to let me know what you think later on if you like...

I doubt I'd say anything insightful

Don't worry about being insightful, feel free to say what you like. You're a great fellow blogger of mine...

cellycel said...

"You're a great fellow blogger of mine"

D'aww. *sends e-hugs*

JENNIFER DREW said...

Two aspects stand out for me. One is Buggle's words truth has to be told and retold. The other is those boys saying 'yeah porn is cool it shows you what the girls really want.' Says it all in my opinion.

Porn is the training ground for men's and boys' too, sexual and physical violence against women and girls. Does porn influence males - well these boys certainly think porn is 'cool.'

The slideshow is excellent - I've viewed it and yes it is aimed at not hiding the reality because unless we see what is now called 'mainstream porn' we cannot possibly challenge claims that porn is 'fantasy' or porn is not harmful.

Most individuals who do not view porn still presume porn are just images of a man and woman engaged in penetrative sex - no that time has long gone. Such images would now be considered laughable because no way would these images show a 'real man's sexual prowess and domination over women.' Ergo systematic multiple rapes and male sexual torture of women all for male entertainment. The slideshow says it all and systematically debunks claims porn is harmless male fantasy.

JENNIFER DREW said...

PS Sex work was coined by porners and those who want the sex industry 'respectablised.' It was a deliberate attempt at hiding the realities of prostitution. Using the term 'sex work' implies prostitution is just work like any other. Another reason why 'choice' has been deliberately misused - all about respectalising a degenerate and utterly inhuman industry which caters to those men who believe it is their male right to buy women and children for the purpose of systematic rape and sexual torture.

Maggie Hays said...

Thanks, Jennifer Drew. I agree. :)

As usual, you're such a great radical feminist commenter and I love reading your words!

laurelinrain said...

This is an amazingly powerful post, Maggie. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much. I shall return to this post often when I feel I am lacking in strength. xxxx

Maggie Hays said...

Thanks, Laurelin. :)

(((Big Hugs to you)))

You're always very welcome here.

J. Goff said...

I am not disagreeable to many of your points. You may wish to, instead, call it the "pornocracy". It means the same thing, and flows off the tongue better, since both roots are from Greek, as opposed to mixing Latin and Greek, which tends to sound less apt.

Just a mere suggestion.

Maggie Hays said...

J. Goff,

I thought you said you'd no longer comment here, even though you read here?

Yeah, "pornocracy" is a good idea. And I heard it before.

But "pornoiarchy" is a better word, IMHO. Because 'PORNO-IARCHY' blends the 2 words Pornography and Partriarchy, which makes it a better use in my post and the message I try to put accross with the power (?) of my words in this very post.

Thanks.

J. Goff said...

Well, I was meaning I wouldn't post disagreeable comments, but I understand. I will now no longer post anything here. I'm very sorry for breaking my promise.

Maggie Hays said...

t's Okay... nevermind...

Anonymous said...

Hi Maggie,

I loved reading this post you wrote about the 'pornoiarchy'.

Great work! :)

Maggie Hays said...

Thanks! :)

lost clown said...

I thought this:
"I do not believe in "sex work", i.e. "prostitution as a good career option for women". I believe that prostitution is an inherently harmful and misogynistic form of sexual abuse. This is why I do not call prostitution "sex work". Prostitution is not the oldest profession, it is the world's oldest lie.

We, radical feminists, generally refer to women in the sex industry as 'prostituted women' because (1) we acknowledge that they've had extremely limited choices under patriarchy & we empathize with them, (2) we realize that most of them are under the control of cruel pimps & brutal or hurtful johns, and (3) we want to emphasize the fact that most of the victims of the 'sex' industry are female."


was bang on.

Maggie Hays said...

Thanks, Lost Clown.

lost clown said...

I was actually nodding my head along with a lot of this post, but I the perfect ay you wrote that part struck me, do you mind if I use that?

Maggie Hays said...

that part struck me, do you mind if I use that?

No. Sure, go ahead.

lost clown said...

Love the new header. It's perfect, IMNSHO.

Maggie Hays said...

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour Maggie Hays,

Pardonnez moi de rédiger ce commentaire en Français.

Je viens de lire vos derniers commentaires sur mon blog, merci à vous de vos interventions et surtout merci d'avoir mis mon blog en lien.

Au plaisir Maggie :-)

Sororité Féministe.

Mauvaise herbe.

Maggie Hays said...

Il n'y a pas de quoi.

Anna said...

Amazing post!