Friday, 25 July 2008

I Blame The Porno-iarchy


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 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.


Saturday, 12 July 2008

Thoughts on Men, Oppression, and Sisters

Why do (most) men have to be the way they are? That's a question I used to ask myself when I was a little younger and abused by them.

Why do we sisters sometimes have doubts about the future? Why do we sisters sometimes lose our strength?

I mean. . . Where do I start?

Few men are interested feminism in the first place. Most men on this earth haven't even got any interest in any kind of feminism whatsoever, let alone radical feminism.

There are times I'm strong at hiding my deepest feelings about men and oppression, especially sexual oppression.

I mean, there are times when I'm very optimistic. That is when I'm happy about having learned the truth about what's happening around me, what is wrong with this world and how we, radical feminists, can advocate for real progressive change.

I'm glad to have discovered radical feminism and I will always be. Few women ever get the chance to even know it exists, and, quite honestly, I had lived 26 years of my life without even knowing such a truly radical movement for change existed.

And there are other times, like right now, when I just want to scream and cry. There is such an incredible amount of oppression on this planet (that patriarchy causes) that I just want to stop hiding my deepest feelings.

I am revealing them now:

Will all this ever stop? We, women, do share a common condition. We constantly live in oppression and fear of male violence.

We, radical feminists, believe that masculinity is a social construct. We believe that rape, child sexual abuse, battery, the pornography use, the prostitution of millions and millions of women & girls are not inevitable facts of life.

We instead believe that men are human beings, just like us, but that they have been culturally trained to repress whatever feelings they have in common with us (although it doesn't always work). Men are routinely socialized to be tough and not to show their sensitivity (too much).

We also believe that rape, child sexual abuse, battery, the pornography use, the prostitution of millions and millions of women & girls happen because men have had such a masculine or hyper-masculine socialization that makes them do these horrible things.

However, I fear that some of my radical feminist sisters might have already thought about the very same thing that crosses my mind. That is, because men are what they've become, due to millennia of patriarchy, what if there is no hope for change? What are we going to have to do? Consider that the problem lies in the men? And I think this idea is awful because such statement is somehow underlain by rotten "biological" explanation.

As Andrea Dworkin, a feminist who has always been demonized and misrepresented by the pro-pornography lobby, once stated:

The vital question is: are we to accept their world view of a moral polarity that is biologically fixed, genetically or hormonally or genitally (or whatever organ or secretion or molecular particle they scapegoat next) absolute; or does our own historical experience of social deprivation and injustice teach us that to be free in a just world we will have to destroy the power, the dignity, the efficacy of this one idea above all others? [. . .]

. . . the price we pay [in believing biological ideology] is that we become carriers of the disease we must cure. [. . .]

It is shamefully easy for us to enjoy our own fantasies of biological omnipotence while despising men for enjoying the reality of theirs. And it is dangerous--because genocide begins, however improbably, in the conviction that classes of biological distinction indisputably sanction social and political discrimination. [. . .]

What I mean to say is that, if we seriously start believing that the problem lies in the male biological sex, we lose. Our radical ideas, our progressive belief of gender as being a social construct is completely lost.

I mean, yes, men do oppress us.

Men do hate us in a particular way that they do not want to admit.

Men do objectify us.

Men do want to see us submit to them.

Men do spread our legs, grab our arms painfully tightly, pull our hair, bruise our thighs, make our eyes water, etc.

Men do imagine us everyday saying No but meaning Yes or saying Yes & meaning Yes to any possible humiliation that comes from the hierarchical sex they've seen in pornography. (Whatever any other gruesome detail coming from their pornographized mind I'm not going to mention here but you, sisters, know what I'm talking about.)

Men do coerce us into sexual activity.

Men do rape us.

Men do prostitute some of us to feed the demand of other men who want to buy our bodies.

Men do make pornography of some of us.

Men do beat us up.

Men do sexually abuse our children.

Yes, these are the painful realities of abuse in this world. Yes, all this happens every day.

But, you know what, sisters? No, it doesn't have to be that way.

No, no, and no!

The fact that there are some men on this earth who do not use pornography and are respectful of women proves that rape, battery, etc. are not "natural" or biological inevitabilities, no matter how many writers try to argue the opposite.

Throughout history, there have been (almost exclusively male) writers trying to "prove" that hierarchy and aggression were just unavoidable facts of life, and gosh knows how many times they've been quoted by radical feminist writers as examples of defenders of male supremacy by claiming "biological" arguments.

Sisters, I do know that men are so fucking dangerous and I totally agree with Allecto.

Yes, I'm not very optimistic when I hear a male porn user speaking that way to a young woman who'd started an anti-porn petition:

-- from the mouth of a john/consumer, as reported by Demonista.

This clearly shows that the secret thoughts of the porn users, which they sometimes express vividly online, are filled with misogyny and racism.

Neither do I feel optimistic when I hear about a so-called "pro-radical feminist man" (who was in fact a porn user) who sexually assaulted a woman and made pornography of her.

(However, as I have lately become a little more suspicious of male allies without necessarily writing them off, I believe, sisters that we'll seriously have to be careful in the future, try to find a way of making sure they are genuine.)

Nor do I feel hopeful when I hear about a gang-rape that was filmed by a bunch of male “bukake” fans.

And I certainly am not seeing this world other than cruel when I hear about all the rapes, the sexual coercions that are endlessly perpetrated in this pornified culture by scores of men who don't even give a shit about any type of feminism.

Nevertheless, sisters, we mustn't give up the fight. We must continue to ask for a radical change in the behavior of males. We must ask for the complete eradication of gender itself.

As Andrea Dworkin, my favorite (and so unfairly misrepresented) writer, said:

[O]nce we do not accept the notion that men are positive and women are negative, we are essentially rejecting the notion that there are men and women at all. In other words, the system based on this polar model of existence is absolutely real; but the model itself is not true. We are living imprisoned inside a pernicious delusion, a delusion on which all reality as we know it is predicated.

In my view, those of us who are women inside this system of reality will never be free until the delusion of sexual polarity is destroyed and until the system of reality based on it is eradicated entirely from human society and from human memory. This is the notion of cultural transformation at the heart of feminism. This is the revolutionary possibility inherent in the feminist struggle.

As I see it, our revolutionary task is to destroy phallic identity in men and masochistic nonidentity in women--that is, to destroy the polar realities of men and women as we now know them so that this division of human flesh into two camps--one an armed camp and the other a concentration camp--is no longer possible. Phallic identity is real and it must be destroyed. Female masochism is real and it must be destroyed. The cultural institutions which embody and enforce those interlocked aberrations--for instance, law, art, religion, nation-states, the family, tribe, or commune based on father-right--these institutions are real and they must be destroyed. If they are not, we will be consigned as women to perpetual inferiority and subjugation. [...]

Only when manhood is dead--and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it--only then will we know what it is to be free.

-- Andrea Dworkin, in The Root Cause.

I am an anarchist of the patriarchy.

I want the whole concept of manhood to die.

In the book Refusing to Be a Man, John Stoltenberg argues that males can refuse to be men and genuinely act out in favor of social equality and justice. Males should be human beings, not men.

The anti-gender ideology which underlies radical feminist politics is very simple once you grasp it: In order to create a just world where rape, battery, child sexual abuse and any form of discriminations would not exist, not only pornography, prostitution and patriarchal religions & institutions must be abolished, but gender itself, i.e. the patriarchal polar role definitions of 'men' and 'women', what it means to be "masculine" or "feminine", must be destroyed.

Sexism must be eradicated. And it will be, on the day people stop enforcing it or believing it as inevitable. It will be when males do realize that we, females are no "other species" but human beings just like them, and vice-versa.

No, sisters we mustn't say the silly excuse "the problem lies in the men", no matter how tempting this becomes when we lose hope while seeing all this violence against women not being taken truly seriously.

Instead we must carry on asking for change even if all the oppression of the world looks like it has the size of an ocean and we're trying to empty it with teaspoons, even if we feel like we're losing our strength.

Recently, I had someone telling me that I was "hysterical" (this isn't an exactly pro-woman term). But we, rad fems, have a complete passion for being angry, as our anger often suppresses our sadness or pain.

Of course, male-supremacist society particularly dislikes angry women.

But, you know what?

I don't care about sounding angry or "hysterical". I want to keep up the fight for radical change.

I wanna keep standing up and carry on asking our oppressors to stop oppressing us or stop apologizing for sexual oppression as "unavoidable".

I do know, sisters, that pro-porn women are females, just like us, who share our common condition.

But they are also the smokescreen to conceal our real proscribers, our real 'nemeses'-wannabes: the (largely) male supporters of pornography and prostitution.

The men who defend pornography and prostitution do defend female sexual slavery. They are the real guardians of the status quo. They are the ones who predominantly support the gynocides,(*) the sexual terrorisms that are called pornography and prostitution.

We must carry on exposing the harms of pornography and prostitution while arguing against "biological inevitability", which is anyway nothing but patriarchal ideology we must refute.

We must ask for men to change, to understand us and to stop hating us (whether they admit it or not).

We must ask for conversations on pornstitution to be directed toward the subject of the johns/users, who always have a 100% choice in the matter. They are the ones who feed the demand for the gynocides,(*) the sexual terrorisms that are called pornography and prostitution.

Apologists for bad things as "being natural" are people who do not want the status quo to be overthrown. They want it to be maintained.

We must be strong, sisters, and keep up the good work.

Those who try to shut us up will not succeed. They will fail. :)

No matter how small a group we are. We are a sisterhood.

One day, we'll get bigger. No matter how much time it takes.

Most women out there do not defend pornstitution and aren't comfortable with it. That is a fact. We must count on it.

(*) Gynocide, according to Dworkin, is "the systematic crippling, raping, and/or killing of women by men." (Dworkin, Our Blood, p.16) Also referring to the witch-hunt in early modern Europe. Patriarchal religion orchestrated the killing of nine million women as witches. The Malleus Maleficarum was a form of (Christian) pornography.

"Female sexual slavery is present in ALL situations where women or girls cannot change the immediate conditions of their existence; where regardless of how they got into those conditions they cannot get out; and where they are subject to sexual violence and exploitation."
-- Kathleen Barry, in Female Sexual Slavery, p. 40.


Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Porn Apologist Bullshit Arguments List and How to Respond with Confidence

See this? Yeah, that's a broken record. I chose this image for this post because I sincerely believe that all the pro-porners, pro-prostitutionists, pro-sexploitation folks, pro-hate speech & pro-"sex work" activists (or whatever you rad fems wanna call them) sound like a fucking broken record with all their "same old shit" reactionary arguments that do nothing whatsoever to help women as a class, arguments that, on the contrary, bolster the patriarchal anti-woman status quo. Thus, I have decided to write a a list of the porn apologists' bullshit arguments.

I know these are all parts of the same broken record we hear every day; I know that some people (especially some men) are so stupid and stubborn in defending such a widespread violation of women's bodies in order to maintain their own selfish sexual pleasure, I know all this. I also know that the pro-pornstitution folks are not only folks we meet online. The pro-porners we meet online are so easy to avoid or dismiss when we want to ignore them (thank fuck for that) while the pro-porners we meet offline are most often our co-workers, classmates, friends, even sometimes partners and so on. These offline people who defend porn aren't so easy to avoid and, more or less often, we find ourselves in a conversation on pornography with them at some point.

It usually happens like this: They suddenly bring up pornography or prostitution for whatever reason, as part of a "joke" that we don't find funny at all (but rather sad -- as we do know that there's a terrible sexual slavery going on out there and people keep on denying it) or simply because they've been influenced by pornified pop culture. Then we feel like we cannot tolerate these pro-porn arguments any longer so we start informing them on what we know about the sexual slavery industry. But, unfortunately, we're feeling so upset that we just stop talking. There is just so much to say and we don't know where to start. And, on top of that, there they go! Talking the same old reactionary bullshit arguments we've heard ten thousand times again and again, sounding like the same old broken record. . . And we start losing our confidence. . . so we stop talking.

Therefore I prepared this handy "Porn Apologists' Bullshit Arguments List and How to Respond to Them with Confidence" collection in order to help myself and other rad fems to challenge those apologies confidently IRL. I constructed it as a dialog:

Porn Apologist: Women freely choose to sell their bodies in pornography and in prostitution. How can you criticize the women's consent to be in porn?
Rad Fem: Contrary to myths, radical feminists have never criticized women's involvement in the pornography industry as performers. Instead, we focus on the difficulties within which they make their choice to participate. Documentaries and articles on pornography in the mainstream media (which generally pick a very small number of performers out of the so much larger number of porn performers out there) typically show pornography performers as "happy women who have made a totally free choice". However, the reality of the circumstances within which the vast majority of those women entered the porn industry are very much different from this whole mainstream media glamorization crap. A lot of thorough research on prostitution (based on interviewing hundreds and hundreds of prostituting women) has shown that child sexual or physical abuse or neglect, poverty, economic hardship, past experience of battery or rape, trafficking, socialization to the sexist and racist pornified culture, etc. are key factors for women who enter the 'sex' industry. Feminists do not condemn the women who are in the industry, but we empathize with them. We understand that they are terribly exploited and harmed in this industry. As one woman who used to prostitute said that, while she was in prostitution, she would have yelled from the roof-tops how wonderful being a prostitute was, but that, while now she's still healing from her prostitution experience, she has "found that the worse thing of exiting prostitution is seeing the real reasons [she] became a prostitute. Seeing it could of never been a choice. It was just a way to self-destruct."[sic]

Porn Apologist: Women in porn make a lot of money anyway.
Rad Fem: Some research and testimonies have suggested that most strippers, prostitutes and pornography performers do not make a lot of money. Although some do, the idea that all of them make a lot of money is another part of the pornographers' and the mainstream media's propaganda. Most female porn performers do not get rich, particularly due to their brief "shelf lives" -- male consumers often want to see new women being exploited -- so even if pornstituted females initially command a high rate per scene or per movie, their market value as "fresh meat" declines rapidly. Thus, even if there are a few really famous porn "actresses", the vast majority of the women in pornography leave that business feeling exploited, pained and ashamed by this terrible experience or after being considered "overexposed" by the consumers and producers. So, the pornography industry keeps using and discarding female bodies after having used those human beings as if they were pieces of meat. There have been words coming from people who have been involved in the industry to testify of this brutal reality. Besides, even if these women get paid for performing in porn, does it mean that it should excuse the extensive physical, psychological and emotional harms done to them? So, once a woman has been paid, the torture committed against her body is expiated, huh? Well, that's an incredibly cruel and unfair way of reasoning! No amount of money whatsoever should excuse any harm done to a woman's body.

Porn Apologist: Pornography is not prostitution.
Rad Fem: The fact is that pornography IS prostitution, plus a camera.

Porn Apologist: Look, prostitution is the world's oldest profession. It should be legalized and regulated. That would make it safer.
Rad Fem: Prostitution is NOT the oldest profession, pimping is! Countries where prostitution has been legalized have become Number One destinations for traffickers. There is no evidence that legalization in any way benefits women in prostitution -- indeed it simply legalizes the harm caused to women. Prostitution is inherently a form of violence against women and a violation of women's human rights and dignity as persons. The belief that prostitution is "sex work" is being a direct cause for the widespread international and domestic trafficking of women and children for prostitution. The Netherlands (where prostitution is regarded as "just a job like another") remains one of the primary destinations for victims of human trafficking (as again recently reported in the article "Home Office goes to Amsterdam for prostitution ideas" in and half the window brothels over there have been closed since 2006 because of an exponential rise in organized crime and money laundering and also the trafficking of women and children. Legalization is, in effect, a failed experiment.

Porn Apologist: Sexuality is good. Why are you anti-sex?
Rad Fem: Being against pornography and prostitution does not equate being against sex, FFS. Sexuality is just a part of being human and may involve a lot of strong feelings of affection and connection to another person when a sense of genuine care is involved. But pornography is stripped of any empathy and it fuses sexual desire with the degradation and abuse of women. Being against pornography does not mean being against sex, it simply means having recognized that there is a sexual world of imagination based on equality & respect and that goes beyond sexuality as simple "domination/subordination".

Porn Apologist: Only conservative right wingers criticize porn. Are you a religious zealot?
Rad Fem: Radical feminists have, for a long time, opposed Christianity by recognizing it as patriarchal religion. Mary Daly, for example, is a prominent radical feminist writer of the feminist critique of Christianity. Radical feminists usually see Christianity as patriarchal and oppressive to women. So, no, I'm certainly not religious and I'm very much of an atheist. Perpetuating the myth that radical feminists "are siding with religious zealots" just because we oppose pornography has always been one of the favorite pro-porn tactics of the so-called "sex poz" lobby.

Porn Apologist: If there weren't any porn, there'd be more rape.
Rad Fem: Do we ever suggest that the availability of loads of films showing children being beaten up would reduce child physical abuse? Of course not, because we know it's not the case. So why would it be different with pornography? Few rapes get reported to the police and correlational studies only based on reported rapes have limits. While a few studies have shown a decrease in reported rapes, many other correlational studies, as shown here, have shown dramatic increases in sexual violence with the availability of pornography. Pornography has no "catharthic" effect whatsoever. Also, this "catharthic effect" porn apologist excuse quite sounds like a threat: "We need pornography or we will rape more!" Blah-the-fucking-blah. . .

Porn Apologist: Pornography has no effect whatsoever. It's only a fantasy.
Rad Fem: So why do corporations spend billions of dollars each year on mass-mediated advertising if not precisely because they know ads have effects on people? Why would it be different with pornography? Pornography HAS effects, negative ones! Besides, as I said before, "an industry which relies on the suffering of half the population in order to keep catering to its ever-expanding demand is not fantasy!" Fantasy is in the head. Pornography is mediated and mass-marketed. I feel a lot more free not having my fantasies being controlled by pornography. . . Freud argued that the sexual abuse that his female patients had been experiencing in childhood (and had been telling him about) was just a fantasy. Freud knew that child sexual abuse was pervasive in his time, but he kept on denying it as "fantasy" (Source: Testimony of Jeffrey Masson, author of The Assault on Truth, in "The Los Angeles Hearing, Los Angeles County Commission for Women, April 22, 1985"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds., In Harm's way: The pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.)

Porn Apologist: Where is the harm in porn?
Rad Fem: The first people who are harmed are the prostituted women constantly used, abused and discarded by the industry. Then, the harms extend to the women outside of the industry. The easiest way of making violence invisible is by sexualizing it, making it appear as "just sex" to the viewer. Pornography makes rape, sexism and racism sexy. It makes force look like a thrilling sexual experience to men. Pornography desensitizes its users to female degradation, it makes them believe that women enjoy all sorts of pain and humiliation. Pornography increases the belief in rape myths. Pornography is pure woman-hating propaganda! Many women are coerced by their boyfriends and husbands into sexual acts they do not want because of those men's pornography use. Pornography also increases the violence perpetrated against prostituted women. As reported by former prostitute J.W. in Massachusetts, for instance, she "considered the men who were into pornography to be the most dangerous and potentially violent since that is what aroused them".

Porn Apologist: Advocating censorship is not a good thing. Pornography is free speech.
Rad Fem: Who's talking about censorship here? You, not me. I'm talking of harms. Pro-porners often use the inaccurate word "censorship" to stigmatize any feminist work against pornography and to try to shut us up. Censorship or banning would never address the demand for pornography. Educating people on the harms and asking for an end to men's demand for an industry that is predicated upon and produces sex-based exploitation and widespread aggression has nothing in common with censorship. Pornography is not free speech, it is hatred of women. The only freedom in pornography is the one for men to abuse women. In a male-supremacist, capitalist society, the First Amendment protects only those who can exercise the rights it protects. Where is women's freedom of speech in all of this? Pornography keeps women and other people who have been harmed from exercising their rights to free speech.

Porn Apologist: Feminists are often man-haters. That's why they criticize porn.
Rad Fem: In a patriarchal society where misogyny is the norm, whenever you point out to the fact of male violence against women you're accused of being a "man-hater", while whenever a man says a misogynist comment or laughs at misogynist jokes he's never accused of being a "woman-hater". Feminists aren't man-haters and they criticize porn because it is harmful and it is strongly linked to violence against women.

Porn Apologist:
Isn't it natural for men to watch porn? Pornography expresses sexual freedom and all men use porn.

Rad Fem: If it is natural for men to use porn, then how come some men have given up on their porn consumption and haven't died? Not all men use porn. And pornography is not freedom; it is a mechanical, mindless, plasticized, inhuman, cruel and disconnected form of sexual imagery made by big corporations who only want to make big bucks. Besides, if pornography was so "natural" for men, why would it be so relentlessly misogynistic? Men have usually been socialized so differently from women that we can hardly claim anything about their nature. From an early age, males are typically trained to repress their feelings of sensitivity, care and empathy. It doesn't have to be that way but gender roles both uphold and are maintained by male supremacist social order. And pornography typically reinforces gender, i.e. what it means to be "masculine" and what it means to be "feminine".

Porn Apologist: But, I don't look at the bad and extreme stuff. Misogyny is not really inherent in pornography. And pornography is neither violent nor racist.
Rad Fem: Violence is pervasive in pornography; it is normalized because it is made to look like "just sex". Any proper and clear-headed study of the content of the best-selling porn titles will reveal that violence and contempt for women are pervasive in mainstream pornography, as a comprehensive 2007 media research based on top-selling porn titles listed in Adult Video news (results of the research are revealed in this video here) has proven. As for the racism, pornography typically portrays black women as subhuman, dirty, primitive "ebony hoes", black men as savage, animalistic beasts, Asian women as slavishly obedient, and Hispanic women as "hot-blooded Latinas". If you don't recognize these stereotypes as horrifyingly racist, then I'm afraid I can't help you. . .

Porn Apologist: Look, women are objectified everywhere, even in the media. How is pornography different? I simply cannot imagine a world without the objectification of the female body.
Rad Fem: While mainstream media has clearly been invaded by soft-core objectifying pornography and that's certainly not a good thing, hard-core mainstream pornography is worse. Women are not human beings in pornography, just things. . . Dare imagine a world that would not rely on the objectification of women, dare ask for justice and real sexual freedom within a new world where women would have the right to their own bodies without having to force themselves to have sex with men, where we would have true intimacy and mutuality, and where our lives wouldn't be invaded and controlled by pornography.

Porn Apologist: Women look at porn too.
Rad Fem: While women's use of porn has somehow increased since the Internet, the VAST majority of pornography users are men and the industry knows it (but they're not gonna tell you). Porn producers, when interviewed at the Las Vegas porn convention, said most of the consumers of their materials are men. That is why porn is so endlessly misogynistic and degrading.

Porn Apologist: Hey, do you know that there's also feminist porn available out there, that is to say porn for women?
Rad Fem: Women-made porn is a smokescreen to protect the largely (mostly) male-run, male-led pornography industry. It is only a small portion of the industry. The solution to ending the harms of pornography is not to create "feminist porn". As I said before, "[m]isogynistic porn (which is the type of sexual material that most men want to see and masturbate to) isn't going to go away so easily, and women and children will continue to be harmed. There are so many more urgent things and so many more struggles to overcome before we are able to live in a non-patriarchal society and maybe think about such things as any "egalitarian forms of erotic arts"!!! Indeed, thinking about such things before the overthrow of the whole patriarchy itself happens, is nothing other than capitulation! And it is insane! Considering and confronting the harms of pornography and prostitution to women and children, and working toward the building of a new non-patriarchal world, are paramount causes!!! As Gail Dines pointed out at the 2007 feminist anti-porn conference, we live in an "image based culture" (i.e. any thing, to be valuable, has to be made into an image) and the answer to stopping porn culture is not more images. Personally, I feel A LOT MORE FREE without having images or so-called "art" control my life and/or sexuality!"

Porn Apologist: If you don't like porn, just don't watch it.
Rad Fem: If this could only be that easy! Women have to interact with men who use pornography every day without knowing about the harms. I walk in the street and see soft-core porn on billboards. I cannot watch T.V. without stumbling upon a show or a film within which a joke on pornography is being laughed about. I cannot go to a party without seeing a bunch of guys laughing at the porn pics on their phones they're showing to each others. The list goes on. . . Pornography is everywhere. What you're saying sounds so much like saying "If you don't like the president, then forget he is the president!" or "If you don't like pollution, then forget it also comes from cars".

Porn Apologist: Porn was the only sex education I had. I can't give it up.
Rad Fem: Then you have been sexually "educated" by what is the mainstream sex miseducation for men, a form of media within which women are stripped of their own humanity and portrayed as sexual objects, as things to be penetrated. How original! Wouldn't you be more free without having the corporate pimps mapping out your sex life? Besides, even if you're not causing harm to women you know, by not giving up on pornography, you believe that there are acceptable losses, "necessary victims" in order to satisfy your self-centered orgasm to the sexuality of cruelty, the sexuality of disconnection from truly meaningful feelings toward another human being. By creating the demand for pornography, you generate, maintain or condone the harms it causes as well as submit to the self-objectification it creates when it controls you, shapes your sexual thoughts into a twisted manner and when you become addicted to it. So, why not giving up and have your own dreams for yourself? Why not accepting that your sex (mis)education did not involve sexual justice and equality between sexes?. . .

That's it for now, readers. In case some of you want to add any porn apologist bullshit arguments (that I forgot to mention) to the list, please do so in the comments. Or, simply give your feedback, rad fems & pro-radfems, if you want to. . .