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Sexy Baby
April 27, 2012 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Sexy Baby is a documentary by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus (AV Club interview) about "sexiness in the cyber age" that follows the stories of an ex-porn star, a 22-year-old teacher saving up for labiaplasty and a 12 year-old girl. Trailer (probably NSFW)
posted by bytewrite (127 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
This looks very interesting, but I have a feeling it would depress me greatly, so I am not sure I'd be willing to watch it.
posted by koeselitz at 10:15 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The fact that "labiaplasty" is a thing that exists is depressing enough.
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:18 AM on April 27, 2012 [27 favorites]


Seeing that trailer, and knowing what I know about how limited my influence as a parent actually is on my children, I am so glad that I have sons and not daughters. So far, for my boys, all I am worried about is misguided choices wrt tattoos and piercings. The very idea that a child, or a young adult, would consider permanently altering her most feminine and intimate and private part of herself for cosmetic purposes is just heartbreaking.
posted by headnsouth at 10:19 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


headnsouth - surely boys will also be negatively affected in terms of body image, partly what they believe is expected of them and partly what they believe is normal for their potential partners. Doesn't really seem that there is a winner here.
posted by AbsoluteDestiny at 10:24 AM on April 27, 2012 [23 favorites]


The only winner here is Big Labiaplasty.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:26 AM on April 27, 2012 [27 favorites]


Doesn't really seem that there is a winner here.

Advertisers, surgeons, and diet hucksters probably all count.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:27 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anna Quindlen has spoken about the challenges of raising feminist sons. The labiaplasty is the most depressing thing about this, but there's a lot more there and it concerns boys and men too. I don't know how one raises a son or daughter to not be ashamed of sex or nudity or porn, but still be able to recognize the problematic nature of some of the porn out there today.

(And seriously, what she says about watching porn and thinking, that cannot feel good. Oy, if boys/men can learn to recognize that, they'll be way ahead of the curve. And, of course, I have to insert the disclaimer about everyone being different and enjoying different things, etc., but I don't think it's false or judgmental to believe there are some really troubling trends.)
posted by Mavri at 10:29 AM on April 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


And now that I think about it, my "ahead of the curve" comment implies that most men aren't capable of watching porn and telling what's real and what's not, but I have no clue. I suspect the effect probably varies with age and experience. Or something. I hate this topic.
posted by Mavri at 10:31 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't like judging movies on their trailers, but I have a hard time getting past how much this feels like a movie about judging a group of women for their choices. I don't know if I can reasonably participate in that conversation (I probably don't have to or perhaps even shouldn't, as a man), but I wish there was a way to talk about the culture's attitude to sex and relationships without throwing together Facebook, sexting, labiaplasty and Lady Gaga.
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:34 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


...knowing what I know about how limited my influence as a parent actually is on my children, I am so glad that I have sons and not daughters.

Honestly, it's just as bad for boys. Think about how violent a lot of today's porn is...Do you want your boys believing that is the way women like being treated? And, of course, there's the very strong implication that a man must be hung like, well, a porn star to please a woman.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:34 AM on April 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm a guy who grew up during the transition between magazines and the internet. I can't say for certain what corrosive effects pervasive sexuality has had on me that are unique to the digital age, since I caught only part of it -- I didn't "sext" until I was in my 20s.

I was definitely worried that I wasn't "big" enough and a few other body-shame related anxieties, but the majority of the burden of my sexual illiteracy was borne by my high school girlfriends.
posted by modernserf at 10:35 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a little skeptical that people who talk about rainbow parties as though they were a real thing are the right people to make a documentary like this.
posted by enn at 10:35 AM on April 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


Sexy Baby? -- Tom Hanks told me all about that...
posted by symbioid at 10:37 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just seeing the word "labiaplasty" makes me wince horribly.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:41 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Anna Quindlen has spoken about the challenges of raising feminist sons. The labiaplasty is the most depressing thing about this, but there's a lot more there and it concerns boys and men too. I don't know how one raises a son or daughter to not be ashamed of sex or nudity or porn, but still be able to recognize the problematic nature of some of the porn out there today.

Talking. Talking, talking, talking, and more talking. Did I mention talking? That, too.

My sons are 20 and 16, and they are loud and proud feminists. And no, it wasn't easy to get them there, society does its damnedest to try to thwart that at every turn. But many, many conversations and examples throughout their lives, discussions that make my not feminist sisters-in-law cringe, have served us all well.

I was very proud of Younger Monster recently, when he dope-slapped a friend of his who was going on about bitches this and bitches that and bitches better be hot. Sez Younger Monster, after the echoing smack: "The fuck is wrong with you, dude? Women are people! No wonder the girls all think you suck. It's because you do."
posted by MissySedai at 10:54 AM on April 27, 2012 [76 favorites]


"Sexy Baby? -- Tom Hanks told me all about that..." That was utterly hilarious -- first time I've ever seen it. The surprise appearance by Ron and Rhonda was icing on the cake. That said, the sad thing is that there are several cities, even states, where this is actually a documentary. But thanks for the share, sybioid.
posted by Mike D at 11:08 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


There may be no true winners, but I’m still relieved that I have sons and not daughters. At least they benefit from privilege (which is bad I know), and my burden is simply to keep them from becoming horrible misogynists and to make them aware of their privelege. If I had girls I’d have the burden of protecting them from all other males on the planet. With boys I just have to make sure that they don’t want to be like all other males on the planet.

My sons are 20 and 16, and they are loud and proud feminists. And no, it wasn't easy to get them there, society does its damnedest to try to thwart that at every turn. But many, many conversations and examples throughout their lives, discussions that make my not feminist sisters-in-law cringe, have served us all well.

Totally agree. And it's about framing, too, sadly. Feminism as a term is all wrapped up in a lot of stereotypical bullshit that many, many folks still cling to. My dad would never admit to being a feminist but he actually is way more pro-feminist than he realizes. And it's how he raised me too. I was taught to respect all people, not just men in power, not just women in some outdated chivalrous way, but to actually respect individuals, and his example just made it all the easier for me to accept the ideals of feminism once I was able to see past the dirty connotations so many groups have assigned to the word.

I'll do the same for my sons, and I'll elevate the conversation by talking about the real problems even more than my dad did. And yes I'll get weird looks from a lot of people in my family for it, but you just never give up, never stop pointing out the inequality and eventually most reasonable people will start to see it too. We just can't stop talking about it, and being about it too.

And don't let the assholes browbeat you. And teach your sons to despise machismo in every shape and form.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:09 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


An anagram of labiaplasty: A sly lap bait.
posted by grog at 11:14 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


My partner is a film reviewer and we saw a screener of this last week. The film didn't really have a thesis - you have these three women going through changes in their lives, but it was so fly-on-the-wall it wasn't judging them in and of itself and I don't know how "cyber" being grounded from Facebook is exactly. The former porn star is cool. She wants to move on with her life without turning her back on her past. The woman getting a labiaplasty has no idea at all how everyone around her (except the creepy surgeon) think it's a ridiculous and needlessly expensive procedure. And the 12-year quickly turns 13 and gets out of hand fast. Her divorced, well-off Manhattanite parents are in over their head with her, and she's just a kid, but still, what a little monster!

I don't want to spoiler it for anybody so I won't say too much more.
posted by thecjm at 11:20 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


For interested MeFites in Toronto, it's screening at Hot Docs next week: Tue, May 1 9:00 PM (Bloor); Thu, May 3 6:45 PM (Isabel Bader); Fri, May 4 7:00 PM (Lightbox 1).
posted by Beardman at 11:23 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


There may be no true winners, but I’m still relieved that I have sons and not daughters. At least they benefit from privilege (which is bad I know), and my burden is simply to keep them from becoming horrible misogynists and to make them aware of their privelege.

Please don't say things like this, it makes girls feel terrible. If you had a daughter, do you really think you'd be thinking about it in these terms?
posted by stoneandstar at 11:43 AM on April 27, 2012 [21 favorites]


I agree completely with MissySedal.

Talk, talk, and more talk. We've had discussions about how the women in magazines and ads are often air-brushed, and real women have imperfections just like men, and that's okay. And how some models are naturally thin, and that's genetics, and some starve themselves, and that's sad, and the pressure of thinking they have to live up to that is a problem young women struggle with when they start taking an interest in guys. My neice--thin and attractive--has spokenof how a "fat" label thrown at her as she and her boyfriend were breaking up had her doubting herself as a size six, and how absurd and hurtful that was.

We've spoken about sexting and sending nude photos and all of that--not in terms of being "slutty" (which I find a really judgmental approach), but in terms of not wanting everyone in the world to see your private stuff, and how even consensual couples need to know that if either or both of them are underage, in the hypersexual yet Puritanical climate we have now they are opening themselves up to everything from public humiliation to legal charges.

I've also learned a lot from talking to my boys--the heart-breaking percentage of young girls who have been raped or abused I already knew, but even so I'm stunned to know some of their confident, poised friends have gone through it, and glad it is something they can speak to them about. Cutting is much more prevalent than when I was growing up, too, and I'm not sure why, and it disturbs me.
posted by misha at 11:48 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


You're absolutely right, stoneandstar, that came out all wrong. I've just flagged my own post as offensive. I'm really sorry for writing it that way, and instead of trying to explain what I think I meant to say, I'll just agree that I was wrong to say and think that. I'm mortified, and I apologize.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:51 AM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


If I had girls I’d have the burden of protecting them from all other males on the planet. With boys I just have to make sure that they don’t want to be like all other males on the planet.

Also, this isn't really true. It's not about protecting them from "all males," it's about encouraging their self-worth and being there for them when they need you. My dad never tried to "protect me" from anyone in my personal life and I'm glad. And younger boys and girls are both vulnerable to sexual predators, so it makes no sense to think of it in these terms. Plus, raising your son to not be a misogynist is not at all simple. (I know you were being ironic, but really--it's not.)

Sorry, I know we're on the same side and this is kind of harsh, but my parents had five daughters and raising sons sounds like no picnic to me. I still remember all the asshole parents who would tell my dad they were so sorry he had five daughters. It felt awful.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:51 AM on April 27, 2012 [19 favorites]


Men benefit in many ways from patriarchy, and are also punished by it - just like all of us - in other ways.
posted by rtha at 11:52 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


The digital infiltration into private lives has its flip side. More amateur performers, more amateur bodies. My hope is by taking the naked body out of the hands of the censors and back to those that own them we can then have an honest discourse about sex and what's truly normal. It takes locker room peeping global.

The tiny labia thing is a hang over from "excessive" genitals, at least here in Oz, where big meaty labia are obscene but tiny dainty ones aren't. I have seen more body diversity in pornography than I have anywhere else - big bodies, small bodies, hairy ones, smooth ones, big genitals, small ones, big curvy backsides and dainty little ones. I always find it weird that there's this Platonic porn star somewhere - white, female, maybe 19 and with a whisper of hair on her whisper of a vulva -when actual performers, and their genitals, vary wildly. No mention of BBW, or MILF, or booty worship....any of the different bodies that are in pornography. No, I suspect the Platonic Sex Kitten only exists in that MA rated space where the mainstream is floundering around just inside the periphery of the game. The misinformed understanding of what pornography is like, that belief all the girls are 16 year old runaways, tearfully drugged, and they are having sex with air, for all the mention the male performers receive. It can be really odd to watch from the inside of the industry.

I'm very interested to see this in full.
posted by Jilder at 11:53 AM on April 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


Oops, I'm sorry Doleful Creature, I didn't see your post when I posted my second comment. It's really okay, the rest of your comment was right on. (I'm glad you have those priorities in raising your sons). I just still have a visceral response to that kind of remark, but I know in this case it was meant well.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:54 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to say – well, I've never had kids, so maybe in some ways this disqualifies me from talking about raising sons; however, I have been a boy, so at least there's that.

Anyway, I wonder about the assumption, apparently common even now (correct me if I'm wrong?) that the only real difficulty where sex is concerned when raising boys is making sure they don't turn into misogynists. I think it totally makes sense to say that girls can get hurt, and get into problematic situations, and all that. But – well, I just think about all the painful crap I dealt with growing up, and I wonder if somehow people are ignoring all the sexual pitfalls young males face in growing up and all the ways they can get hurt.

I think our society (certainly not people here, but our society) really, really minimizes that stuff. There's this attitude that, well, boys will be boys, right? That boys love sex, and that they're not really likely to get all emotional about it or attached, so as long as you make sure they've got protection, they'll be just fine really. It's the girls (society says) that we've got to be careful about, since they're all emotional, and have all those feelings, and can get attached, and can get hurt. But not boys.

I guess all I mean is, as a guy who got burned by this stuff a bit when I was young, I really disagree with that approach.

Of course – well, a few people here have mentioned this caveat:

headnsouth: “... knowing what I know about how limited my influence as a parent actually is on my children...”

... so maybe you just have to ignore a lot of that stuff, since it's really not in a parent's control whether or not their kids get hurt in their early experimentations and explorations.
posted by koeselitz at 11:57 AM on April 27, 2012 [22 favorites]


I can't watch this at work, but I'd like to echo some of what Jilder is saying. Watching porn has done a LOT to free me from the dysmorphia foisted upon me by the rest of the media, especially the Vogue/Cosmo types. Porn is full of imperfect bodies: jiggly bits, cellulite, stretch marks, more fat than the catwalks will see all week, tummies, and multiple sorts of labias, and all of it is sexy. This is regular old porn- nothing specialized about it.

Women should watch more porn.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:05 PM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


small_ruminant: “Women should watch more porn.”

Maybe, but men should watch less. The general message of porn to men, particular young men, is "you are so worthless that you are not worth of actual, physical, satisfying touch; the only sexual experiences you are going to have are with images of women who are only willing to show you themselves because you're completely anonymous. And this is something you should be ashamed of. And if you're worthless enough, you might even have to pay for these sexual experiences. Sex is not something you deserve, least of all in the flesh, least of all for free."
posted by koeselitz at 12:12 PM on April 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


Am I the only one out there that gets creeped the frack out by beauty pageants for pre-teens? I cant think of any way to more effectively teach young girls that the only thing anyone cares about them is how 'sexy' they are. 'Beauty pageants' have nothing to do with self esteem for the girls, and everything to do with sexualizing children. Why is this something that people are OK with? Even adult Ms.Anything contestants are one very small step away from strippers, and we should be happy for them when they 'win?' What exactly have they won?
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 12:16 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wow, koeselitz... that is not my experience with porn in the slightest.
posted by gilrain at 12:16 PM on April 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


koeselitz: "The general message of porn to men, particular young men, is "you are so worthless that you are not worth of actual, physical, satisfying touch; the only sexual experiences you are going to have are with images of women who are only willing to show you themselves because you're completely anonymous. And this is something you should be ashamed of. And if you're worthless enough, you might even have to pay for these sexual experiences. Sex is not something you deserve, least of all in the flesh, least of all for free.""

Not all porn is humiliation fetish porn, dude.
posted by mullingitover at 12:16 PM on April 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Anyway, I wonder about the assumption, apparently common even now (correct me if I'm wrong?) that the only real difficulty where sex is concerned when raising boys is making sure they don't turn into misogynists. I think it totally makes sense to say that girls can get hurt, and get into problematic situations, and all that. But – well, I just think about all the painful crap I dealt with growing up, and I wonder if somehow people are ignoring all the sexual pitfalls young males face in growing up and all the ways they can get hurt.

Dude, I absolutely want to say that feminists are totally having this conversation. It's anti-progressive, anti-feminist people who talk about how boys only want one thing and boys are just physical and they have to be trained to have emotions and that the most dangerous thing about having sex with a girl for a boy is the possibility that she might get pregnant or accuse him of rape. No feminist I know thinks any of that stuff, and every feminist I know is concerned (even if it is secondary as a concern to thinks like sexual violence) about widening the emotional spectrum for boys and men and acknowledging the different sexualities people of all genders and gender expressions have.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:17 PM on April 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


When we attack repression and shame heavy conservative sexual mores, I think it is easy for us to forget what they have always been at their root, a complex and imperfect system for preventing sexual exploitation and harm. As we work to do away with hypocrisy is indeed inherent to the traditional Christian model for sexual expression, we are also getting rid of the protections that active inter-generational community can bring to young relationships, the value that modesty really does have for mental health and the soul, the security that genuine commitment can bring, and the idea that there might be something to not fucking all the things for most people.

It is important to step back and remember that, even from a public health perspective, there is no condom for the heart. The modern feminist sexual mores focused on meaningful consent, equality, communication, and being GGG are necessary but not sufficient. We need a culture where young people can learn how relationships should work from people who've been there before without being preyed on by them, where sex is shared rather than sold, and where real and honest relationships are more conspicuous than the alternatives. Even the great bastion of consent that is the BDSM community is so culturally impotent to stop exploitation that number of female submissive who report being raped approaches 100%.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:18 PM on April 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


"There may be no true winners, but I’m still relieved that I have sons and not daughters. At least they benefit from privilege (which is bad I know)..."

I apologize if the story I'm about to tell is somewhat of a derail, but I feel the need to respond the above comment. It is a story that shows how feminism is beneficial to both boys and girls.

When I started teaching high school about 6 years ago, I was just out of undergrad and knew very little of feminism. I grew up in a fairly conservative household and the topic never came up. My K-12 and University education were all at Catholic schools, and if the topic of feminism did come up, the tone of the conversation was dismissive. Needless to say, I was ignorant of negative impact of gender stereotypes. On the advice of some fellow teachers, I began reading books that described the plight of girls in middle and high school.

One of the books, I don't remember which (it may have been Schoolgirls by Peggy Orenstein), talked about a girl who mentioned that she hated when her teachers asked her to smile. Reflecting on my own experience, I realized that I was just like that teacher. I asked girls who looked like they were feeling down to smile. I never asked this of my male students because I felt that they needed to keep a stiff upper lip and face their problems stoically.

From then on, I made an effort to address both male and female students who seems uncharacteristically down in the same way. I stopped addressing girls in a condescending tone, and stopped ignoring guys altogether. Three years ago, when I was teaching grade 11, a normally jovial male looked depressed and unfocused in class. In the past, I would have ignored this, but I decided to talk to him for a minute after class just to see what was up. He said that he didn't want to talk about. As we spoke, he didn't make eye-contact with me. He usually did. Something felt off. I wrote him a hallpass to talk to one of our school councilors. A few days later, he seemed better. He still wasn't as jovial as before, but he was paying attention and participating in class more. I stopped by the councilors office and asked if the student had come on by. The councilor said yes, and that he was going to be okay. Not wanting to pry, I left it at that.

Fast forward to December 2011. I had pretty much forgotten about this kid and I'm pretty sure he had forgotten about me. Which is fine. He's a freshman in college now, and I have no qualms about kids putting their high school years behind them (I know I did). I get an email from him over winter break...

Without going into too much detail, he told me that he was essentially disowned by his family during 11th grade. He had apparently gotten his girlfriend pregnant, she wanted to get an abortion and he was supportive. They tried to keep it hush hush, but both families found out about the abortion afterwards. He was already dealing with depression and some other medical issues, so adding familial guilt to all of this was hard to bear. After all of this, he admitted to me that he was seriously considering suicide. But he didn't. He told me that me talking to him and persuading him to talk to a school councilor had essentially saved him. It turns out that he spoke with that councilor at least one hour a week for the rest of his high school years. He said "thank you".

Male privilege does exist, but it does not benefit all males. Addressing male privilege is not only an attempt to aid girls and women, but boys and men too.
posted by Groundhog Week at 12:19 PM on April 27, 2012 [51 favorites]


Maybe, but men should watch less. The general message of porn to men, particular young men, is "you are so worthless that you are not worth of actual, physical, satisfying touch; the only sexual experiences you are going to have are with images of women who are only willing to show you themselves because you're completely anonymous. And this is something you should be ashamed of. And if you're worthless enough, you might even have to pay for these sexual experiences. Sex is not something you deserve, least of all in the flesh, least of all for free."

You know, I've been looking at porn, hardcore porn, for a really long time, starting around second or third grade when me and my buddies found some really sketchy magazines in a parent's stash back in the 70s. And they ran the gamut, penetration, homosexual, s&m, even scat. Totally blew our minds away.

But your take on porn resembles absolutely nothing I've ever gotten from it.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:24 PM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


When we attack repression and shame heavy conservative sexual mores, I think it is easy for us to forget what they have always been at their root, a complex and imperfect system for preventing sexual exploitation and harm.

I do not grant your premise.

Those heavy conservative sexual mores have, at their root, always been about controlling (some rich) women's bodies and fertilities and protecting (some rich) men's rights to access women's bodies on demand. They leave out in the cold gay people; trans people; most women; and a hell of a lot of poor people. And people who want a world where young people learn how relationships should work from people who've been there before without being preyed on by them, where sex is shared rather than sold, and where real and honest relationships are more conspicuous than the alternatives.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


Maybe, but men should watch less.

I haven't run into your experience, (that I know of), but I will attribute to porn the insecurity of all the guys I've run into who are convinced that their, umm, equipment, is lacking.

It takes some work to get them to believe that porn-star-sized equipment is not only not normal, it's not even fun for (many of us) women.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Watching porn has helped me feel better about the way my genitalia look, but I think as long as the really degrading, violent stuff is pervasive, and teenage boys feel like they're performing for an invisible audience of bros while they have sex (because that's what women expect according to porn, right? high fives for all), porn will be a big problem.

I really do wish the majority of it was amateur stuff, which I occasionally watch and which really does make me feel better about my body/how sex acts look when they're not orchestrated down to the detail for a camera. Comfortable, satisfying sex usually isn't very photogenic.

I always felt like I was kind of a harpy for not liking the idea that my boyfriends watched porn. Until I was dating a guy who wasn't into porn, and we started talking about sex scenes in movies that turned us on. I realized that I didn't feel upset at all about that, because most of the scenes weren't degrading, they were mutually pleasurable and erotic. It wasn't about jealousy, it was about fetishizing violent and uncomfortable acts that I then felt pressured to participate in or at least emulate.

koeselitz, it's really interesting to hear that perspective. I've only ever heard from two men who had anything negative to say about porn. The first guy had some moral/religious hang-ups about it but his main concern was that it made him feel alienated from the intimate contact in his real life, and it sounds like he would have agreed with your perspective. The second guy never got into it because it seemed like a domain where violence against women was eroticized.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:33 PM on April 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


When we attack repression and shame heavy conservative sexual mores, I think it is easy for us to forget what they have always been at their root, a complex and imperfect system for preventing sexual exploitation and harm.

I disagree totally with your premise. The most publicly conservative eras of sexual mores were also eras in which the sexual abuse of disenfranchised populations was rife and no remedies were offered for the people being exploited and harmed, because they were demonized and othered by the judgments of those perpetuating the conservative mores.

Stephen Marcus's The Other Victorians isn't one of the bestselling academic books ever written for no reason. The situation in the US of that era was just as bad, with enfranchised women being "protected" as the Angel in the House, while enslaved women (in the South) and immigrant and poor women, disproportionately women of color (in the North) were used as disposable receptacles.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:34 PM on April 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


mullingitover: “Not all porn is humiliation fetish porn, dude.”

Yes, actually it is. Shame is an essential component of pornography's business model, in the same way that prohibition is an essential component of the illegal drug industry.

2N2222: “You know, I've been looking at porn, hardcore porn, for a really long time, starting around second or third grade when me and my buddies found some really sketchy magazines in a parent's stash back in the 70s. And they ran the gamut, penetration, homosexual, s&m, even scat. Totally blew our minds away. But your take on porn resembles absolutely nothing I've ever gotten from it.”

Yeah, magazine porn is complete, absolutely different. And I think it was really, really different in the 1970s, when those kinds of magazines were around but weren't really that present and were mostly just an amazing and shocking introduction to something very different. I'm talking about internet porn, and I'm talking about the consistent use of internet porn to fill a sexual need. Which is what young men do now. And I really do believe that resorting to the use of commercially-acquired images to take the place of physical interactions really does give this impression to young men – that sex, or really good fulfilling sex, is never actually going to be available to them, because a woman like those whose images they're looking at would never actually be willing to have sex with them without the mediation of a computer screen and a credit card.

But yeah, maybe this is just me. I am not sure all young men have had the experience I've had.
posted by koeselitz at 12:36 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Conservative sexual mores have always been about the men in power "protecting" their property. The difference between the "heavy father" of Victorian melodrama who turns his "ruined" daughter out into the snow and the yutzes who make their daughters promise them their virginities at "purity balls" is nonexistent from where I sit.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:36 PM on April 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yes, actually it is. Shame is an essential component of pornography's business model, in the same way that prohibition is an essential component of the illegal drug industry.

I don't watch or read much porn at all, but I would totally disagree with this. There are absolutely people for whom it is true, but I don't think it its true of the market.
posted by Forktine at 12:41 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Seeing that trailer, and knowing what I know about how limited my influence as a parent actually is on my children, I am so glad that I have sons and not daughters. So far, for my boys, all I am worried about is misguided choices wrt tattoos and piercings. The very idea that a child, or a young adult, would consider permanently altering her most feminine and intimate and private part of herself for cosmetic purposes is just heartbreaking.

Not so fast, headnsouth.

If exogenous hGH really does increase penis size,
The response of genital and gonadal growth during the first year of treatment with human growth hormone (hGH) was studied in 20 boys with isolated growth hormone deficiency (IGHD) (11 of hereditary origin and 9 sporadic cases). Prior to hGH treatment, 13 of the 15 prepubertal boys had a penis length below the normal mean, 3 of which were more than 2 SDS below the mean. The boys with hereditary IGHD had a greater deficit in penile size than did the sporadic cases. hGH treatment improved the penile length in all but two boys aged 14 and 15 yr, and led to growth up to normal size in the three boys with very small penises. Three of the hereditary IGHD patients had subnormal testes and all of the other prepubertal boys had a testicular volume in the normal range. hGH treatment increased testicular size, particularly in the prepubertal boys. Of three additional untreated adults with IGHD, one had a subnormal-size penis and two had penises of low-normal size. Our findings constitute further evidence that hGH deficiency is associated with decreased penile growth and, to some extent, decreased testicular size, and that hHG treatment improves the growth of the genitalia and gonads. Since these effects were also observed in prepuberty, it seems that not all the hGH or, rather, somatomedin effect on sex organs is androgen mediated,
get ready for a long-jawed generation.

Probably hypermasculine, too, with those bigger balls.
posted by jamjam at 12:44 PM on April 27, 2012


@koeselitz -- that might be how you responded to it, but I don't think most guys are that defeatist about it. My experience has been more proactive, as in "what can I do to have sex like that?"

And that's why we have fetlife.
posted by modernserf at 12:46 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


mullingitover: “Not all porn is humiliation fetish porn, dude.”

Yes, actually it is. Shame is an essential component of pornography's business model,


No, it really isn't. Good grief.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:47 PM on April 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


Yeah, magazine porn is complete, absolutely different. And I think it was really, really different in the 1970s, when those kinds of magazines were around but weren't really that present and were mostly just an amazing and shocking introduction to something very different.

Mmm... I don't think so.

And I really do believe that resorting to the use of commercially-acquired images to take the place of physical interactions really does give this impression to young men – that sex, or really good fulfilling sex, is never actually going to be available to them, because a woman like those whose images they're looking at would never actually be willing to have sex with them without the mediation of a computer screen and a credit card.

This is... I don't want to be insulting here... but... I think your perceptions might not apply across the board. Not even close.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:50 PM on April 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


MissySedai: I was very proud of Younger Monster recently, when he dope-slapped a friend of his who was going on about bitches this and bitches that and bitches better be hot. Sez Younger Monster, after the echoing smack: "The fuck is wrong with you, dude? Women are people! No wonder the girls all think you suck. It's because you do."
I even favorited this, but... no one is going to touch the violence messages encoded here? That it's okay, even laudable, for men to use violence to deal with frustration, or with people they disagree with? I do think that is the message sent to young men: that we are allowed no emotional resonance besides keeping a "stiff upper lip and fac[ing] their problems stoically", and when that fails use our fists? We're trained from early childhood to become walking powder kegs of suppressed emotion, as if we didn't have feelings or insecurities like anyone else that needed venting and acknowledgment.
Groundhog Week: Male privilege does exist, but it does not benefit all males. Addressing male privilege is not only an attempt to aid girls and women, but boys and men too.
Kind of loving you right now for your story.
Snarl Furillo: No feminist I know thinks any of that stuff, and every feminist I know is concerned (even if it is secondary as a concern to thinks like sexual violence) about widening the emotional spectrum for boys and men and acknowledging the different sexualities people of all genders and gender expressions have.
I'm glad you say this, and I want to believe you- but I don't think these people you speak of have Metafilter accounts. Or so it seems to me that anytime these subjects come up, the male perspective is shouted down as a derail, or irrelevant, or "mansplaining", or the patriarchy. As if men simply can't be a part of any such conversation. See above, re: stiff upper lip and no emotions.
koeselitz: Yes, actually it is. Shame is an essential component of pornography's business model, in the same way that prohibition is an essential component of the illegal drug industry.
I don't think people are picking up what k is putting down, because I'm totally on his wavelength. There is a subtle message underneath porn, which is "You don't deserve this, you should be ashamed that you have to watch porn because a REAL man is always in the throes of pleasure with actual women- women as hot as these women, as voluptuous and buxom and ready for sex, because he is in great shape, has a huge cock, and a mansion". The porn itself isn't about humiliation of its viewers, but the culture of porn is very much about that. And I say this with gigabytes of shame on my hard drive. The message of porn is "you are inferior, you don't deserve even carnal sex much less love and affection, and our product is the only way you can achieve satisfaction". A woman can choose from hundreds of different vibrators, but there are no sex toys for men that aren't a joke to be made about the "loser" who probably lives in his parents' basement and is ugly and smells and stuff. Ha ha!

Because you know what? Like a lot of single guys, I watch porn because I cannot find any woman who would possibly love me; that is the message of porn and modern culture. I am an ugly man, and women purely and simply want handsome men, who are rugged yet dashingly metrosexual. Every time a female friend posts some Ryan Gosling photo on her Facebook feed, it's as damaging as Vogue and Cosmo are to girls and women. But I suppose we're not supposed to say that, because I am a man who benefits immensely from the way our society operates, and how it encodes our sexual mores.

Semi-random anecdote: my friend Bill spent 9 years in Japan (where he met his wife) before moving to Seattle to work at Microsoft back in 2004. He mentioned how even then, there was a growing sense that western men were MUCH more attractive to the local women than Japanese men, in part because of their more enlightened views on women... but the result was a depressing spiral of young Japanese men basically feeling they are shut out of the dating world, completely, and becoming more 4chan-y and malevolent about women in general. And... that seems like an incredibly sad and dangerous spiral. And I worry that it could end with an angry and charismatic leader finding a use for all of those idle, disaffected, and alienated young men.
posted by hincandenza at 1:04 PM on April 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


koeselitz: "And I really do believe that resorting to the use of commercially-acquired images to take the place of physical interactions really does give this impression to young men – that sex, or really good fulfilling sex, is never actually going to be available to them, because a woman like those whose images they're looking at would never actually be willing to have sex with them without the mediation of a computer screen and a credit card."

You could make a better case that porn shows that sex is enjoyable, fun, and normal. And while you may not be having it right now, other people are, and you will too eventually. Meanwhile sit back and enjoy.

koeselitz: "But yeah, maybe this is just me. I am not sure all young men have had the experience I've had."

qft.
posted by mullingitover at 1:06 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recently discovered that my 10-year-old son had been Googling "bubes." Among other things. So I took him out to breakfast and we had the conversation my dad never had with me (That conversation went like this - Dad: "You know about the birds and bees, right?" Me: "Yeah." Dad: "Good.")

I talked and the boy listened, for about 30 minutes, talked about everything from basic anatomy to how feelings/love works, to the fact that I understand he's curious but if he downloads a virus onto my computer I will kill him. The kid didn't look at me the entire time. And I said, at the end, if you've ever got any questions - any questions at all - please ask me first, I will be honest with you and I will tell you everything I possibly can. Since that day he's never asked another question. And I've caught him Googling "bubes" a few more times, even though I explained the right way to spell it.

Bottom line, nothing I do can prevent the kid from exploring. I hope I can impart to him the values of restraint, not feeling pressured or pressuring anyone else. But ultimately it's his journey, an in these seas - in this culture saturated with porn - that's just terrifying.

Not to mention I have a 5-year-old daughter whose teen years, if anything, are going to be even more saturated with porn-as-normalcy.
posted by kgasmart at 1:07 PM on April 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'm glad you say this, and I want to believe you- but I don't think these people you speak of have Metafilter accounts.

Well I'm a feminist on Metafilter and I'm very much committed to the idea that boys and men should be able to express a wide range of emotions without shame, so there's another data point for you.
posted by peacheater at 1:20 PM on April 27, 2012 [20 favorites]


Every time a female friend posts some Ryan Gosling photo on her Facebook feed, it's as damaging as Vogue and Cosmo are to girls and women

Well, this is kind of the reason a feminist might feel a bit like you're derailing or mansplaining-- it's not the presence of or desire for beautiful women that bothers most feminists, it's that the women are starved, airbrushed, made-up and put into revealing clothing and uncomfortable shoes with long-term health impact in order to play the role of "desirable woman" in our culture. Ryan Gosling is a kind of dopey looking guy who's pretty cute and has a pretty nice body. There are examples of very built male models and so forth, but the standard for "normal" is much lower. If your problem is merely that women like handsome men, it's quite obvious that the vast majority of people take pleasure in looking at attractive members of their preferred gender.

And there is much racism in the idealization of Western beauty and values, but I'm not sure that misogynist men feeling alienated because other men are thought of as less misogynist than them is quite where you want to put pressure, at least not at that level of generality.

Anyway, it doesn't look like any feminists so far have been hostile to koeselitz's POV on this issue (in fact, as a feminist, I find it quite interesting and sympathetic), so maybe you should just wait and see.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:21 PM on April 27, 2012 [17 favorites]


Also, when I was younger I had a lot of hostility toward women, and often felt jealous and threatened by any beautiful woman, however natural or "real." When I became a feminist I realized that was straight-up misogyny and I no longer feel that way.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:23 PM on April 27, 2012


I think a distinction needs to be made between studio porn and amateur porn, though. This isn't the 90s anymore. Today, we have very regular, beautiful, imperfect couples recording and photographing each other having fun engaging in their favorite sex acts, and sharing it with the internet.* This stuff is a far, far cry from studio material, and operates through a completely different dynamic. If nothing else, it can show that not only should sex be fun and playful, it shows that you do not have to look like a particular ideal of male or female beauty to find a compatible sex partner.


*The obvious exception to this would of course be "revenge porn", which is extremely problematic when it comes to amateur porn - even amateur stuff not specifically called "revenge porn" could very well have been posted without the consent of one or more parties involved.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:29 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or so it seems to me that anytime these subjects come up, the male perspective is shouted down as a derail, or irrelevant, or "mansplaining", or the patriarchy.

A *lot* of men here participate in threads where those subjects come up; the perspectives they offer are, of course, from the perspective of the man expressing it. Nothing close to all of them are shouted down.

What is this "male perspective" - there's only one? - that you're talking about.
posted by rtha at 1:29 PM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


jamjam makes a great point.

I don't think this is just about women -- or the digital age . I doubt that we are more depraved than our ancestors, but the digital age confronts us with our own depravity more readily, constantly. It shows us who we are, what we want to be and then tells us how disgusting it all is.

Women and men have all wanted to appear more attractive to prospective partners. Corsets. Girdles? Calf implants? Penis Pumps? Graduate degrees? Of course it's patriarchy, but I will not pretend that men are not victims too. Dealing with women who endorse patriarchy is a drag.

I was surprised that there was no mention of this article by Lindy West on Metafilter.

The part of the article that most applies:

We, as women, go our whole lives believing this lie that all we have to do is to stop being too fat and too flat-chested and too bitchy and too uptight, and then the perfect dude will finally love us forever. But chasing that stupid phantom doesn't make us necessary—it makes us disposable. It makes us powerless. Because we're not people anymore, we're holes. Miserable, back-stabbing holes.

I agree with Lindy, but I think it applies to people. When we face a barrage of images that suggest we should look a certain way, we try to improve ourselves. Nowadays, surgery is an option.

But what about braces, surgery for people with cleft lips, lasik? Aren't they the same? Sometimes I think it's all overblown.
posted by Silo004 at 1:36 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


My knee-jerk reaction to the labiaplasty was NO DUMB BAD, but as I thought about it I realized I didn't really know what a labiaplasty is. So I googled it, and now I don't feel as strongly about it. It seems sort of similar to breast reduction: sometimes performed for reasons of physical discomfort, sometimes for inconvenience, sometimes for appearance. It seems like the reason cited by the woman in this movie is kind of weak (I want to look like a porn star), but I don't know that labiaplasty is always a terrible thing.

My 9-year-old daughter is, at best, a few years away from the onslaught of sexuality that is a part of modern girlhood (and boyhood). I have absolutely no idea how to handle that. I'm hoping that good information, honest communication, and role modeling from her dad and me will be effective.

kgasmart: You might think about getting your son the book It's Perfectly Normal. It is good for a kid to have a reliable reference on sex and puberty that they can refer to privately. Sometimes it is hard to ask your dad questions.
posted by jeoc at 1:38 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


My impression is that one of the issues with porn is similar to the issue with celebrity. Porn looks real, but isn't. It sounds obvious when you write it out, and it is. But emotionally, we believe in these characters and fantasies they represent.

In the same way that Morgan freeman is not some exceptional enlightened individual -- he's just an actor who plays characters with a lot of gravitas. Most action films nowadays are completely unrealistic.. etc.

Similarly, porn stars aren't performing the sex acts depicted without a lot of preparation and advance planning -- yet you don't see that in a porn film -- it is not sold as fantasy in the same way the Borne Identity is. It is depicted like a reality show, as something that you can do, if you were brave enough or lucky enough. It's subtle -- I know that this woman on the screen is using a pseudonym, and is a professional pron actor, but, in a way, she is there as "herself" performing these acts -- the camera and the stage disappears.

All the methods of respecting boundaries are removed, as is a lot of the playfulness, and you're left with the "hard core" fantasy. No one utters a safe word, no one decides it's not working and says lets try something different, and cracks up laughing -- no one breaks character, and no one has an even slightly negative thing to say about some aspect the experience in the "post" interviews, if they exist. It's WWF for genitals. :-)

And I get it, it's fantasy. But it's *not* sold as such -- it's sold as an instruction manual or as depictions of "real" people. Some people may have similar illusions about the WWF or kung fu films or sportsmanship in the NFL, but these things are perhaps much less harmful to society in general and women in particular.
posted by smidgen at 1:41 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Similarly, porn stars aren't performing the sex acts depicted without a lot of preparation and advance planning

This disconnect is for me why porn bloopers reels are so entertaining. I guess that's true for all bloopers reels, come to think of it.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:44 PM on April 27, 2012


Thanks for the tip jeoc, book like that might be a godsend.

And I get it, it's fantasy. But it's *not* sold as such -- it's sold as an instruction manual or as depictions of "real" people.


And this is the difference between, say, a 44-year-old dad looking at porn, and realizing it's not real life, and a 10- or 12-year-old kid looking at it and either thinking it is, or aspiring to it.

Story after story I've seen of how porn seems to be used as an instruction manual for Teh Kidz these days. But sex is like any other commodity - when there's an oversupply of it, it cheapens the "product," and there's a tendency to lose the intrisic value of what it is. Read the interview and see how this film was inspired by the "meh" attitude that the filmmakers saw amongst the guys at that club. They have seen it all before.
posted by kgasmart at 1:48 PM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, this is kind of the reason a feminist might feel a bit like you're derailing or mansplaining-- it's not the presence of or desire for beautiful women that bothers most feminists, it's that the women are starved, airbrushed, made-up and put into revealing clothing and uncomfortable shoes with long-term health impact in order to play the role of "desirable woman" in our culture. Ryan Gosling is a kind of dopey looking guy who's pretty cute and has a pretty nice body. There are examples of very built male models and so forth, but the standard for "normal" is much lower.

The way I explain this concept to my students is that male super-attractiveness is not one of the hallmarks of male privilege. It's a nice added bonus, but super-attractiveness is not a prerequisite to patriarchy, or even just masculinity. The problem is that, in societies that attempt to adhere to traditional gender norms, super-attractiveness (or at least the attempt at super-attractiveness) is considered a prerequisite for femininity. This seems to be the reason why the "desirable woman" role is so dangerous.

Is the airbrushed, made-up man as dangerous to men as the airbrushed, made up woman is to women? Perhaps to some men; but again, attractiveness doesn't seem to be a prerequisite to masculinity. Many men can brush that off and say "I don't need that to be manly". But many segments of society tell women that they are not allowed to brush it off. It is a requirement. That's why it is more dangerous to women.

What is this "male perspective" - there's only one? - that you're talking about.

I liked this comment rtha. My hope was that my above story would not only demonstrate different male perspectives, but that those perspectives can be changed (and in my case, improved).
posted by Groundhog Week at 2:09 PM on April 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


If you go over to Scarleteen.com, your heart will break from all the young women who write in to say "Am I a freak because my vulva doesn't look like {mainstream US porn performer}'s? How much does a labiaplasty cost? Can I get one without telling my parents? Sometimes I just want to take a knife and cut off my ugly labia myself" etc.

That shit is fucked up.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:11 PM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


That shit is fucked up.

Yup. This is why I bring up gender roles/expectations in my classroom, so that at least they will be armed with the capacity to see how it affects females (and as mentioned before, males too). This is also why I roll my eyes when some of my more conservative friends lament about liberals "taking over" the schools. When they look at me for a response to their comment, I just cackle like a mad-scientist and change the subject.
posted by Groundhog Week at 2:24 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you go over to Scarleteen.com, your heart will break

I guess I'll take your word for that, but ... if this is really the mainstream trend that you (and the creators of this documentary) want us to believe it is, how come there were only around 1,000 of these procedures performed in the US in 2006 (the most recent data I could find)? One study found that around 2/3rds of women who had the procedure performed were doing so at least in part due to "functional impairment" rather than aesthetics. If that study is representative—a big assumption, I realize—that means that there were only around 300-some people in the entire US that year who had this procedure for aesthetic reasons—not that many more than were struck by lightning last year.

Maybe the numbers have blown up since 2006 but it seems like this is taking this very small number of outliers and trying to make it seem like they are typical in order to scare people, like Fox News whipping up paranoia about voter fraud.
posted by enn at 2:30 PM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


enn: “Maybe the numbers have blown up since 2006 but it seems like this is taking this very small number of outliers and trying to make it seem like they are typical in order to scare people, like Fox News whipping up paranoia about voter fraud.”

Two things: first, yes, I have a feeling it's extremely likely those numbers have blown up since 2006. I mean, hell, I'm a guy, and I've met women who told me they were thinking about that procedure.

Second: the number of women who actually get labiaplasty does not necessarily directly correlate with the sense young women have of the look of their vaginas. We need to remember that cosmetic surgery is also often subject to a lot of derision. So I have a feeling there are a lot of young women who just give up and decide they'd probably better just suffer in silence.
posted by koeselitz at 2:35 PM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe the numbers have blown up since 2006 but it seems like this is taking this very small number of outliers and trying to make it seem like they are typical in order to scare people...

This may be true. But the fact that many may perceive it to be typical is indicative of the fact so many people know and understand this sentiment's root cause... that many in society expect women to meet a minimum threshold of attractiveness.
posted by Groundhog Week at 2:37 PM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


But what about braces, surgery for people with cleft lips, lasik? Aren't they the same?

There are several distinctions. First, those are (usually) not cosmetic surgeries but instead correct functional problems. Second, to the extent they are cosmetic, they affect parts of the body that are generally exposed to public view. Contrast that with labiaplasty, which is usually purely cosmetic and affects a private body part.

It seems very strange to undergo a permanent surgical procedure for the benefit of a partner (and sometimes a hypothetical future one) who got his ideas about what labia should look like from the pornography industry and not, you know, the woman he is actually sexually intimate with. Further, one of the possible side-effects of labiaplasty is, unsurprisingly, loss of sensation. Thus, the woman is potentially giving up her own sexual satisfaction in exchange for the man's, who only got the idea that her labia should look a certain way from pornography. That's a dynamic that makes me pretty uncomfortable.
posted by jedicus at 2:40 PM on April 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


enn, check out this article about the "boom" in UK labiaplasty on the NHS alone.

There isn't an analogous databank for the US, so people would have to do a research study actively gathering details, which would be complicated further by this being an in-clinic day surgery rather than an in-hospital surgery.

And since there are way more than 1,000 doctors in the US actively advertising that they will perform cosmetic labiaplasty, it doesn't make sense that the 2006 figures are relevant.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:40 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


And this is the difference between, say, a 44-year-old dad looking at porn, and realizing it's not real life, and a 10- or 12-year-old kid looking at it and either thinking it is, or aspiring to it.

Story after story I've seen of how porn seems to be used as an instruction manual for Teh Kidz these days.


This isn't any different than it was when I was a kid. My 10 or 12 year old self really didn't know what to make of it. Sure, the mechanics were clear enough for instructions, and there was enough kink to make my head spin. But really, it was the awareness of that sweaty boner in my pants that was more important.

The instructional aspect of porn is something that is real, I think. And I don't necessarily think it's bad. I have a hard time believing first sex experiences are any less clumsy, exciting and humiliating in the absence of porn. Or even under the influence of genuine enlightened Joy of Sex styled information. Which I also absorbed.

For a time, I was a bit concerned that my early exposure to such graphic hardcore porn would be an impediment to my well being in sex, or life. Even if it wasn't forced upon me, but rather I sought it out every chance I got. Surely, the chaste moral doctrine of church and society would be a guide about my impending deviancy, right? Needless to say, I managed to figure out that exposure to such things are not the inevitable sentence to a depraved existence.

I think there's a tendency to play down the ability of young people to find a good, natural, well balanced sexuality, even under the influence of porn. I might be concerned if healthy sex was not a common topic among, well, just about every well balanced person out there. This is a day and age where not only is exposure to recreational, self gratification aspects of sex common, but exposure to healthy sex information is also more common than ever.

Labiaplasty is as sad or mundane as one makes it. I find it on par with breast augmentation, tattoo, or whatever body modification one might bring up. It is sad to about hear people who cannot get past such superficial hangups. But this is not a new phenomenon. And I have trouble buying that people who have such a skewed view of their compliance with common body images are that way because of porn. These are people who take cues from everything around them, all available media, peers, social groups, religion, and exhibit excessive or inappropriate behavior in attempt to conform. To me, finger wagging over the relationship of this behavior and sex is itself a less than healthy hangup about sex.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:41 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've mentioned before that my first experience with porn, or with the sight of sex, was when I ferreted out a bunch of old R. Crumb comics. If you want to raise a daughter who is terrified of the motivations (or indeed the levels of basic humanity) of young men, that is a sure way to do it right there.

I am an ugly man, and women purely and simply want handsome men, who are rugged yet dashingly metrosexual . . .

Like Ric Ocasek, or Lyle Lovett, or Charles Manson? Women love charm, talent and status. We're trained to look for "inner beauty" from an early age. It's unfair, considering that the opposite is not generally expected to be true, but still I'm a fool myself for charm, talent (if not status), and plain old ease and gentleness of company.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:41 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Um, I hope I don't come across as trolling (you can see from my profile that I'm a longtime user) but as a non-porn watcher, what do people who get labiaplasty want their junk to look like? What are they trying to correct? I'm genuinely baffled as to what they would be trying to change to what.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 2:49 PM on April 27, 2012


foxy_hedgehog: “Um, I hope I don't come across as trolling (you can see from my profile that I'm a longtime user) but as a non-porn watcher, what do people who get labiaplasty want their junk to look like? What are they trying to correct? I'm genuinely baffled as to what they would be trying to change to what.”

You may find the Wikipedia page on Labiaplasty to be informative on this. NSFW, of course.
posted by koeselitz at 2:53 PM on April 27, 2012


"Like a lot of single guys, I watch porn because I cannot find any woman who would possibly love me; that is the message of porn and modern culture."

I will say that I understand the message of porn (and in-person sex work), somewhat orthogonally to what you are describing, as, "No matter who you are, or what you are like, or how you treat women or interact with them, no matter how much or how little work you have done on whatever issues you may have, you are entitled to watch an unnaturally beautiful woman do something private and sexual at any time you want," and that is what I think is harmful to boys and men who use porn, more so than whatever particular act is depicted.

I'm sorry that you are having such negative experiences right now.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:56 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


You may find the Wikipedia page on Labiaplasty to be informative on this. NSFW, of course.

A ha! Thanks. People really are different in every single respect.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 3:01 PM on April 27, 2012


New York magazine had a great series of articles on this topic a few months back.

This article kind of echoes my thoughts on porn's effect on men, which I think is quite bad even when you put the ethical issues aside. I stopped looking at porn (ok, for the most part) for the same reasons outlined in this article. Even good, non-humiliating, realistic, warm amateur pornography - its still dangerous to men (don't know if this is a concern for women, could be) because it allows us to instantaneously call forth that perfect thing for this exact moment, so we can get off. Having constant access to this kind of hyper-targeted sexual material I think warps the male sex drive, and makes actual sex that much more frustrating, difficult and messy - porn seems easier. I think our psyches just aren't built for such an overload of stimulation, kind of like unnaturally sugared-up food overloads our digestive instincts.

This wasn't a problem when pornography came in magazine or VHS form, because you couldn't keep going to the next thing like a coke-addled squirrel. With the internet though...

This other article in the same series reflected something that was in the trailer. How all these kids know that they're in the midst of a giant social experiment aimed at their sexuality, and how lost and powerless most of them feel about this fact.
posted by tempythethird at 3:04 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


And by a few months back, I meant about a year ago.
posted by tempythethird at 3:06 PM on April 27, 2012


Perhaps they want it to look like something that looks less like "junk". Even as a male, I can identify with this. The term "junk" is amusing, but is also a subtle put-down of the natural wobbly bits we are all born with. Genitals are weird looking to this culture's eyes. Some people feel the same way about foreskins.

I'm of two minds -- you have to allow people to have their own agency -- if they want their tongue split or their ears pointed or their labia trimmed, you have to allow them that without trying to make it about them being damaged in some way. On the other hand, there is concern when someone is undergoing a body modification, not because they think it's wierd looking or end result is beautiful, but because someone *else* may find it weird looking and they have to live up to a culture standard.

Disentangling the two is not trivial, and may be impossible.
posted by smidgen at 3:07 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't see much wrong with labiaplasty, honestly, especially if it's something that an adult decides she wants and pays for herself. People seem to treat women as victims when they engage in self-modification, and that plays into the image of women as weak and easily influenced. I have a tattoo and a number of ear piercings, and I got braces in my late fifties. I depilate like crazy because it makes me feel nice. And I'm a bad-ass old woman who doesn't do any of these things to attract/satisfy/placate any man.

I also don't buy that girls are harder than boys to raise. Boys get abused and victimized just as much as girls do, and they're just as susceptible to societal pressures. And they do some REALLY STUPID THINGS, not all of them violent exercise-related risk things. Some of the really stupid things they do are sexual. I will agree, though, that in a world that treats girls as weak, easily influenced, negligible miniatures, it ain't easy for girls.
posted by Peach at 4:17 PM on April 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


The instructional aspect of porn is something that is real, I think. And I don't necessarily think it's bad. I have a hard time believing first sex experiences are any less clumsy, exciting and humiliating in the absence of porn.

I think porn is now ubiquitous, and being ubiquitous, sex has lost a bit of its mystery - even its magic.

Again, I go back to the interview - the young dudes in the bar barely noticing the pretty young things on the poles? I can tell you right now that wouldn't have happened back in my day, the late '80s, when "porn" mainly meant magazines and the occasional video.

(And while we're at it, you damn kids get off my lawn).

That doesn't mean the average teen is any less clumsy, no, but it does or can mean that by the age of that first experience, they've already seen far more of the in-and-out than a kid like I was could have ever hoped to see. Again - they've seen it all before, even before they've done it all before. And I can't help but think, or fear, that makes their experience a little more jaded, ultimately a little less valuable, or valued.
posted by kgasmart at 4:25 PM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


And I can't help but think, or fear, that makes their experience a little more jaded, ultimately a little less valuable, or valued.

See, having some exposure to sex is a GOOD thing, from my point of view. A little less terrifying, alien, some concept that women actually LIKE it and that pleasing a woman is a basic thing to do (all of that was missing in a lot of the dialog when I was a kid).

I learned about sex from the barnyard and R. Crumb. Are THOSE the good old days? God, I hope not!
posted by small_ruminant at 4:40 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


And I'm a bad-ass old woman who doesn't do any of these things to attract/satisfy/placate any man.

That's the trick, though, isn't it? I don't care if a woman gets a labiaplasty because she simply wants one. But I worry for those who would get one because some man told her that her bits were ugly, or if she got one because she was afraid no one would otherwise love her.

I do whatever the hell I want, as well. I've been told I'm a bad feminist because I'm fond of dramatic makeup and cocktail dresses and manicures and nice perfume. But I do these things to please me, not anyone else. My husband once remarked upon a slinky dress "You don't have to wear that for me." He was quite upset when the response was "Well, good, because I'm wearing it for me." How many women won't respond in that fashion?

It's hard to teach kids - boys and girls alike - to be comfy in their own skins, to do what makes them happy in regards to their clothes and their bodies, and not worry about whether or not someone else likes what they're doing. "Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind" is a tough concept to get across when kids are bombarded from all sides with the idea that they need to live up to someone else's (unrealistic) standards.
posted by MissySedai at 4:41 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are other reasons for labiaplasty. The labia minora can get caught in clothes, chafed, or physically get in the way during sexual intercourse. Are there women that do this because they want to look like porn stars? Absolutely. Just like there are women that want bigger breasts or a different nose or any of dozens of other elective surgeries.

For some reason, this trailer looks like the same characters could have been placed in the same situation about 10 years ago. I vaguely recalling some of the same situations popping up before except we were all blaming AOL back then.
posted by drstein at 4:50 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I even favorited this, but... no one is going to touch the violence messages encoded here? That it's okay, even laudable, for men to use violence to deal with frustration, or with people they disagree with? I do think that is the message sent to young men: that we are allowed no emotional resonance besides keeping a "stiff upper lip and fac[ing] their problems stoically", and when that fails use our fists? We're trained from early childhood to become walking powder kegs of suppressed emotion, as if we didn't have feelings or insecurities like anyone else that needed venting and acknowledgment.

I think lumping all men into one monolithic entity is just as damaging as doing the same to women, don't you? Sure, some men are taught the "stiff upper lip" bullshit, but in my experience - both with friends and with raising two young men of my own - that's just not the norm any more.

A dope slap between friends is something entirely different from fisticuffs to deal with everyone they disagree with. Didn't you ever slug your siblings when they were being morons? Not beat the shit out of them, but a bap on the shoulder or a dope-slap a la Gibbs and DiNozzo?

I'm sorry you are under the impression that men can't have feelings and feel pressured to go along with that nonsense. That's not the way it works at my house. One of our dogs died last Saturday morning, just two hours before Younger Monster's peeps were to arrive for his birthday party. He didn't want to cancel, he needed his posse. You know what happened when fifteen teenaged boys arrived and found their friend broken and upset?

They sat down on the floor and cried with him. They hugged him and loved on him and they cried with him, these same boys that shove each other around waiting for their turn at pool or hoops. Times are changing, and with them, our young men.
posted by MissySedai at 4:54 PM on April 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


drstein: “I vaguely recalling some of the same situations popping up before except we were all blaming AOL back then.”

It might be worth remembering that this film doesn't blame anything at all. So – yeah. That seems more than a little different.
posted by koeselitz at 4:54 PM on April 27, 2012


Blasdelb: "When we attack repression and shame heavy conservative sexual mores, I think it is easy for us to forget what they have always been at their root, a complex and imperfect system for preventing sexual exploitation and harm."

Snarl Furillo:I do not grant your premise.

"Those heavy conservative sexual mores have, at their root, always been about controlling (some rich) women's bodies and fertilities and protecting (some rich) men's rights to access women's bodies on demand. They leave out in the cold gay people; trans people; most women; and a hell of a lot of poor people. And people who want a world where young people learn how relationships should work from people who've been there before without being preyed on by them, where sex is shared rather than sold, and where real and honest relationships are more conspicuous than the alternatives.
"
Well, lets look at the sexual revolution that those mores actually come from.

The Pauline model of Christian marriage has many many flaws, in addition to creating no space of any kind for queer folks, it lacks the vital modern concepts of consent and equality, relies on the fundamentally unhelpful rhetoric of shame, and is structured to rob women of autonomous agency. However, if you read what Paul actually had to say about sex and relationships, it becomes clear that he had his reasons. Almost everything that he has to say on the subject is an attack on porneia (πορνείᾳ) which has always been translated into Latin as fornication, and traditionally translated into English as 'sexual immorality.' Porneia in post-classical Corinthian Greek did not mean all sex outside of marriage and neither did fornication in actual Latin.

The word porneia was related to the verb to sell, and was only ever used in one context. A porneon was a house of forced prostitution, the pornei were specifically those prostitutes who were 'owned' by a sex trafficker, and those sex traffickers were called pornoboskos, a singularly unpleasant combination with the verb that described the keeping of livestock such as cattle. Paul used the word while making two primary assertions, that the ubiquitous system of porneia was fundamentally not OK, and that a laundry list of examples were pretty much the same thing. I hope we can all agree with Paul's, profoundly radical and novel for the time, strong position against the sexual trafficking of women in chattel slavery, but a lot of the Pauline model for marriage is about avoiding those examples he gives.

There is a solid pattern where he consistently describes sex outside of marriage as being like 'porneia' and, in the context of his time, that actually makes a lot of sense. Examples of economically independent women who did not rely on sex work in the Roman world were very few and far between, and almost exclusively widows or only daughters. In the world that Paul was trying to change, the magnitude of male privilege was such that women were fundamentally unable to exist economically independent of men. Without Pauline marriage there was no protection from being used by a partner until old and discarded to the elements; Paul stipulated headship but also repeatedly and inescapably mandates that men place their wives before themselves, that apostasy and misconduct are the only appropriate reasons for divorce, and that women are no less than men before God. The early church was flooded with women attracted by this radically feminist message that women were actually people with dignity that was inherent to them.

Even today porneia is by no means gone, in absolute numbers there are more women in sexual slavery today than there have ever been at any point in human history. However, most of the women who arn't will be able to avoid it into a Pauline model marriage, some variety of post-Pauline marriage, a functionally equivalent model, or into a world made safer by them. Just because the work of our great grandmothers wasn't perfect does not mean it was unimportant, not valuable, or not worth respecting and remembering.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:08 PM on April 27, 2012 [20 favorites]


kgasmart: “I think porn is now ubiquitous, and being ubiquitous, sex has lost a bit of its mystery - even its magic. Again, I go back to the interview - the young dudes in the bar barely noticing the pretty young things on the poles? I can tell you right now that wouldn't have happened back in my day, the late '80s, when "porn" mainly meant magazines and the occasional video. (And while we're at it, you damn kids get off my lawn). That doesn't mean the average teen is any less clumsy, no, but it does or can mean that by the age of that first experience, they've already seen far more of the in-and-out than a kid like I was could have ever hoped to see. Again - they've seen it all before, even before they've done it all before. And I can't help but think, or fear, that makes their experience a little more jaded, ultimately a little less valuable, or valued.”

I agree a bit about the losing-the-mystery-or-the-magic thing, but I'd want to quantify it – though I know that isn't easy. Specifically, I think there's an immediate counter-argument a lot of people might make that mystery in sex has historically been a problem, too – this is what 'enlightenment' is supposed to mean, and it's hard to deny that rigorous and thorough sexual education has been a bad thing.

So I'd put it a little differently. I would say that porn is not actually an accurate representation of sex at all. In some ways, this is clear, of course – most porn is really lurid and inaccurate as far as how actual sex happens. But in its rush to "show it all," that is, show the most extreme versions of every kind of sex act, in order to capitalize itself as highly as possible, pornography actually fails to communicate the essence of what sex is generally about. This isn't just because of that capitalization, either, I don't think – it's just how images work. Watching a video of people having sex is sort of like having sex, but only in the sense that watching a video of someone playing a piano allows you to kind of feel what it must be like to play the piano. Nobody would say they're the same experience at all. I mention playing the piano because the experience of music can be similar, I think – that is, it's highly internal. The entire dimension of the internal reality of sex cannot be dealt with directly through images.

So what young people get through these images is this sort of impression of what sex is supposed to be, some kind of image of a spectrum of sexual extremity, and all their own experiences can do is aim at some range in that spectrum. They have seen all things sexually possible, and because they've seen it it's assumed by them and everybody else that they've experienced the whole range, and that all that's left to do is try to collect the totems of actually going through the motions and physically doing oral sex, anal sex, group sex, etc.

That's my best guess as to the source of the emptiness in the eyes of the young dudes in the clubs. They have watched moving images of what they suppose to be the most beautiful women imaginable engaging in what they suppose to be the most extreme sexual acts imaginable; and they have partaken in those moving images by bringing themselves to orgasm. And they're convinced that that relationship they've had with dead images on a screen is the same thing as the thing itself. It takes the place of an actual sex life, of an actual series of experiences with actual women (or men) – and becomes this weird sort of benchmark by which their own now-auxiliary sexual experiences are forever judged.

So it seems sort of natural, in this situation, that young men kind of turn off their gaze and get blank looks on their faces in the presence of 'pretty young things on the poles.' When gaze becomes the primary mode of sexual experience, actually gazing at women (or men) gets kind of tiresome unless you have a particular urge to try to satisfy at a given moment.
posted by koeselitz at 5:23 PM on April 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


> See, having some exposure to sex is a GOOD thing, from my point of view. A little less terrifying, alien, some concept that women actually LIKE it and that pleasing a woman is a basic thing to do (all of that was missing in a lot of the dialog when I was a kid).

This is where the professional-wrestling aspect of porn really bugs me. In so much of it, the enjoyment looks (& sounds) so fake. There really seems like an opportunity to create erotica where the positions are comfortable to the participants instead of the cameraman even if viewers can't see the mechanical close-up parts of sex as well, the cunnilingus is proficient and a scene plays out in real time even if someone spends 20 minutes on a plateau. Maybe some women like rough finger fucking and being choked, but we all know where the clitoris, with all its interesting internal parts, is by now, right? There's GFE in sex-work, why not in sex films?

> difference between, say, a 44-year-old dad looking at porn, and realizing it's not real life

[Not 44 dad-ist]? As a 44 year old dad who knows the 30 years of porn I've experienced isn't real(-istic) cognitively, it's still had an effect on what turns me on which I'm not entirely happy with.

Forum w/ Michael Krasny on 'Sexual Intelligence': 'Klein writes that too often, people obsess about performance or what is considered "normal."'
posted by morganw at 5:49 PM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are other reasons for labiaplasty.

Absolutely. However, if you Google it, you will see hundreds if not thousands of doctors in the US alone advertising and advocating it specifically for "aesthetic" reasons.

Are there women that do this because they want to look like porn stars?

The woman in this movie, apparently, according to her interviews in the movie.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:00 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't see much wrong with labiaplasty, honestly

I feel fine about judging the industry and the cultural mores that pathologize many, many women's perfectly healthy and average genitalia so that they can make boatloads of money. That is very different from judging individuals' choices or denying them bodily autonomy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:03 PM on April 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


I hope we can all agree with Paul's, profoundly radical and novel for the time, strong position against the sexual trafficking of women in chattel slavery, but a lot of the Pauline model for marriage is about avoiding those examples he gives.

Dude...if your argument for the preservation of a marriage-based system of doing and governing sexuality in society is, "It's better than the sexual trafficking of women in chattel slavery, and it was revolutionary 2,000 years ago," then I don't think we're on the same page here.

Historically, marriage shelters some women from some sexual exploitation some of the time, but it almost always also preserves and improves men's control of real property and other heritable assets and gives them access to sex on demand regardless of their wife's feelings on the matter, and it disenfranchises unmarried and unmarriageable women from economic stability or independence, romantic love, and protection from sexual violence.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hrm. This is an interesting question – the question of Pauline sexual ethics that Blasdelb has brought up. I disagree a teeny bit with Blasdelb, in that I'm not really sure that Pauline sexual ethics are actually what current sexual mores are based on. But I would agree that Paul had a much more nuanced and complicated stance toward the issue than he's represented as having, and I don't think he was a supporter of the exploitation of women.

Still, I am not sure this is part of the central issue. The idea of women as property, and of marriage as a property exchange, both predates and postdates Pauline mores. It is possible to see Paul as an attempt to shrug off the idea that anybody could be anybody else's property; but the essential thing here is that the idea still seems to be with us.
posted by koeselitz at 6:55 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I know is I <3 bubes. I like bubes that are big, I like bubes that are small, I like bubes that are differently shaped from each other and differently sized from each others. I like bubes that are perky, I like bubes that are saggy. I like bubes that have big areola, I like bubes that have small areola. I like bubes that have have loose strands of hair growing out of them. I like bubes that have big nipples I like bubes that have small nipples.

I like vajayjays that are big, I like... etc etc etc...

The human body is awesome in all it's magnificent diversity (and yes I have my own preferences just as someone else has theirs), but dear god girl, some of us LIKE that extra flappy lips dangling.

I get in trouble when I complain about the tendency to shave it all off, and I've come to accept that it's ultimately up to the individual, but I hope that it's something they really want and don't feel pressured into for other people's purposes.

I have my own insecurities, I'm only human. And the best I can do is listen to the words of those who I've loved and will love and hope that they mean what they say when they reassure me, as I mean it when I reassure them (though I swear I don't say it like I did in the first paragraph).

So in conclusion.

I <3 Bubes.
posted by symbioid at 6:55 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I know is I <3 bubes.

This SMBC strip comes to mind. Obviously you mean well, but that kind of response isn't very helpful because it keeps the focus on a man's opinion about women's bodies.
posted by jedicus at 7:18 PM on April 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


And they're convinced that that relationship they've had with dead images on a screen is the same thing as the thing itself.


I appreciate koeselitz' honesty and insight, but I am sure that, at the most, only some young men are affected in this way. Some may not be looking because they're just not cool with a given scene. There could even be an inoculatory effect, so that some guys know at an early age that they're just not comfortable with seeing certain things, and so don't seek them out. If they've 'seen it all' by the age of 12, and all their friends have, maybe it's all less of a big deal. I know of many men younger than me who just don't get in to porn, and are by no means hung up.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 7:40 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Snarl Furillo: "Dude...if your argument for the preservation of a marriage-based system of doing and governing sexuality in society is, "It's better than the sexual trafficking of women in chattel slavery, and it was revolutionary 2,000 years ago," then I don't think we're on the same page here.

Historically, marriage shelters some women from some sexual exploitation some of the time, but it almost always also preserves and improves men's control of real property and other heritable assets and gives them access to sex on demand regardless of their wife's feelings on the matter, and it disenfranchises unmarried and unmarriageable women from economic stability or independence, romantic love, and protection from sexual violence.
"
I'm not a dude.

My argument was that we should be careful with the sexual mores, structures, and expectations that we throw away and fail to replace; that conservative sexual ethics have always been at their root, a complex and imperfect system for preventing sexual exploitation and harm, and that the product of thousands of years of cultural development is worth not dismissing out of hand. The modern paradigm totally fails in specific ways that have been poorly and incompletely but stably supported by traditional sexual ethics for thousands of years.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:57 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


all that's left to do is try to collect the totems of actually going through the motions and physically doing oral sex, anal sex, group sex, etc.

I think this is a really good insight and it's something I see reflected in the sexual experiences of my peer group. What porn does is maybe excessively normalize kinks that are, honestly, pretty extreme for many people. Now before the "Kink is awesome!" crowd jumps down my throat let me say that I do indeed think kink is great. But I think there is an overwhelming pressure in our culture that for sex to be good it must be kinky. You're doing it in missionary? Why not from behind? What, you haven't done anal? Is it because you're too uptight? Not kinky enough? No group sex experiences, really? And the more common it becomes for any given porn scene to contain anal + ass-to-mouth + face-slapping + humiliation, the more young people come to think that sort of thing is normal and expected--and if they don't or a partner doesn't like it, it means something's wrong.

I see sometimes in discussions of sex this impetus among people to one-up their sexual experiences, like they're worried if they're not involved in an anal gang bang then maybe it means the sex isn't good and not enough. Or worse, maybe not wanting to be in an anal gang bang means they themselves aren't sexy and desirable people. (yes, "anal gang bang" is an exaggeration here, maybe put in "threesome" or "deep-throating" or whatever)

Let's be honest: 100 years ago, I'm going to guess "anal gang bang" was not a term with which most people were familiar, much less witnessed. But it's something that you can pretty readily see in less than five minutes provided you have internet access. Hell, stuff like "2 Girls 1 Cup" spreads like wildfire--and no, nobody's running out to do that, but it represents how we've really upped the sexual ante in our culture.

This kind of thing affects men and women equally. Women, because they think in order to be good in bed they need to have this sculpted vagina and giant boobs and deep desire to deep-throat a twelve-inch cock and then take it immediately into their butts, and guys because they think they need to have a twelve-inch cock and a desire to slap around and throat-fuck their partner followed by shoving it into her butt. Needless to say, neither all men nor women possess these things. The psychological harm these expectations have on women is pretty thoroughly discussed. But there have not been a small number of my male partners who, in those intimate moments, are clearly intimidated about this expectation that they be a totally domineering giant-penis fucking machine. Men hurt women with their expectation that a woman be cock-sucking automaton, but women hurt men with the expectation that if their guy actually prefers to "make love" (as opposed to being convinced to do it for her sake) then there is something wrong with him.
posted by schroedinger at 8:24 PM on April 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


When we attack repression and shame heavy conservative sexual mores, I think it is easy for us to forget what they have always been at their root, a complex and imperfect system for preventing sexual exploitation and harm

I disagree. Or rather, I agree that, sometimes and partially, traditional conservative sexual mores do protect some people from some sexual exploitation. But more often, those mores protect the few while implicitly allowing the exploitation of the many. The discourse is that of protection for all, but the application of traditional sexual mores throughout much of history has not been egalitarian.

Let's be honest: 100 years ago, I'm going to guess "anal gang bang" was not a term with which most people were familiar, much less witnessed. But it's something that you can pretty readily see in less than five minutes provided you have internet access.

My guess (and this is just a guess) is that today more people will have seen (on video) an anal gang bang, but the percentage of people who will have had a real life anal gang bang is no higher -- or perhaps, given how cheap and available prostitution was in some places, thanks to endemic poverty, no safety net, and few rights for women, it might even be that more men would have experimented with this, because of the availability of cheap sex workers who weren't in a position to say no.

In other words, just because porn is a few clicks away doesn't actually mean that most people are doing much else than once in a while having face-to-face sex in the dark. I've linked to it a few times before, but it never fails to amaze me how few people have had oral sex even once in the last year. According to the statistics in this FPP, only 19% of women and 27% of men claim to have had oral sex in the last year, for example.

Just because most of us are clicking away at dirty porn sites doesn't mean that most of us are doing very many dirty things.
posted by Forktine at 8:39 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hit post too fast.

Men hurt women with their expectation that a woman be cock-sucking automaton, but women hurt men with the expectation that if their guy actually prefers to "make love" (as opposed to being convinced to do it for her sake) then there is something wrong with him.

I couldn't agree more.
posted by Forktine at 8:41 PM on April 27, 2012


My argument was that we should be careful with the sexual mores, structures, and expectations that we throw away and fail to replace; that conservative sexual ethics have always been at their root, a complex and imperfect system for preventing sexual exploitation and harm, and that the product of thousands of years of cultural development is worth not dismissing out of hand. The modern paradigm totally fails in specific ways that have been poorly and incompletely but stably supported by traditional sexual ethics for thousands of years

Well, if you have evidence for this other than the Bible, please introduce it into the conversation.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:00 PM on April 27, 2012


that conservative sexual ethics have always been at their root, a complex and imperfect system for preventing sexual exploitation and harm,

A woman knows the baby she bears is hers. Until our generation, a man had to either take her word that a baby was his, or rely on social systems for ensuring the baby could be from no other. (Or both).

That is the root. All the rest is bullshit. All the rest is ways to make more palatable a system laser-focused on that end.

And it's certainly a laudable goal (though the means used... not so much), and it counts as preventing a kind of harm (while various means caused other kinds). But society today does not face that root problem any more (or at least not in the same sense). That means the entire massive calcified edifices of millennia no-longer have their foundation, their reason to exist. Without that, they can't support themselves, and society will inevitably change, no-longer hostage to that root. In wealthy countries, we are seeing the start of that change.

Trying to preserve that now-foundationless edifice is a lost cause. But I think we agree that having it come down in a slow measured fashion has advantages over the whole thing crashing down violently.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:05 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've linked to it a few times before, but it never fails to amaze me how few people have had oral sex even once in the last year. According to the statistics in this FPP, only 19% of women and 27% of men claim to have had oral sex in the last year, for example.

At the same time, I'm pretty wary of self-reported statistics on this thing. For example, the claim that men have an average of 20 partners and women have an average of 6 inherently demonstrates that we can't trust self-reporting to give us an accurate idea of what people do in the bedroom.
posted by schroedinger at 9:13 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I get it, it's fantasy. But it's *not* sold as such -- it's sold as an instruction manual or as depictions of "real" people. Some people may have similar illusions about the WWF or kung fu films or sportsmanship in the NFL, but these things are perhaps much less harmful to society in general and women in particular.

I'm not so sure. I'd rank rom-coms in at least the same league as teh Pr0n in terms of the fantasy distorting perceptions and expectations in harmful ways. For example it sometimes seems like half the ask-mefi relationship questions just wouldn't be necessary without the rom-com-fueled expectations of mind-reading.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:19 PM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Snarl Furillo: "Well, if you have evidence for this other than the Bible, please introduce it into the conversation."

I'm not sure which part of that you are asking for non-Biblical evidence for, and I need to go to bed. If your looking for non-Biblical evidence for fucked up sexual mores in the West that Christianity did away with, I posted something well sourced on that subject a while ago.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:31 PM on April 27, 2012


At the same time, I'm pretty wary of self-reported statistics on this thing. For example, the claim that men have an average of 20 partners and women have an average of 6 inherently demonstrates that we can't trust self-reporting to give us an accurate idea of what people do in the bedroom.

I agree -- the true number is probably somewhere in between the claims of 19 and 27 percent, just like (and for the same reasons) the true average of sex partners is probably somewhere between 6 and 20. In other words, most people just aren't doing very much nasty stuff, porn or no porn. We all know the vocabulary of facials and ass-to-mouth and threesomes, but on aggregate those things are mostly just fancy concepts.
posted by Forktine at 9:53 PM on April 27, 2012


Why would the true number be in between the 19 and the 27 percent? Tha doesn't make sense. You can't just average the results of a terrible, unscientific and frankly useless study and get a reliable result.
posted by koeselitz at 10:38 PM on April 27, 2012


I mean, Forktine, I remember that insanely terrible chart you're talking about. It doesn't even say what you're saying it says. If it said that, for instance, the average number of partners in the last year were 6 for women and 20 for men, that would be a coherent result. But that chart does not render coherent results. Seriously, if you can explain to me how the weird graphic they offer says what they claim it says, well, I will be impressed.

We shouldn't assume that terrible sources of data must get some things right. In this case, we'd probably be safer assuming they got nothing right at all.
posted by koeselitz at 10:44 PM on April 27, 2012


Well, I'm one of the tiny tiny tiny percentage of people who actually saw this film in this thread, and I was going to hop in. But jesus goddamn have people gotten good at derailing derails into even more derails, so f-it.

It was good. It's three only vaguely-related stories wound together, but that functions as a breather from each story before returning. The filmmakers obviously worked hard for years.

Now I am running away. Enjoy the derailing.
posted by jscott at 10:45 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for your brief review of the movie, jscott. It's nice to hear more about the film, and it sounds very good - I'm looking forward to whenever it becomes possible for the rest of us to see it.
posted by koeselitz at 10:48 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


And they're convinced that that relationship they've had with dead images on a screen is the same thing as the thing itself.

"What censors and psychopaths have in common is that they cannot tell reality from fantasy." -David Cronenberg

I've got a whole lot of ambivalence about porn and its ubiquity, but cripes, there's something really annoying about the many posters here saying "Well sure *I* am smart enough to know porn isn't real, but what about all those other people who are not so perceptive as I am?" Honestly, y'all, as quite a few sexual practices studies show, the vast majority of people are perfectly capable of watching porn without ever thinking they're watching a representative slice of life. The "WWF for genitals" comparison above is more accurate than you know---I've known quite a few wrestling fans, including a number of 10-14 year old boys, and every one of them was perfectly aware that it was staged and rolled their eyes if you acted like they didn't.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:01 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


@ThatFuzzyBastard

against censorship? what is that guy, some kind of fat- uhh some kind of libertarian?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:33 AM on April 28, 2012


The premise of this being the first generation influenced like this is really, really flawed.

"What role does Facebook play in the oversexualization and objectification of women?

Winnifred: I think it teaches people to objectify themselves and put themselves out there. . . It promotes self-exploitation..."


Clearly, she missed out on blogging a decade+ ago. Frankly, Facebook doesn't even compare to how exhibitionist LiveJournal was back then. It's no surprise that it's most influential users in the beginning were camgirls. Over 60% of LJ's users were women, many of them underage, and there were very big communities on LJ for members sharing nude photos of themselves, taking glamour shots for posting in "hot or not" photos, etc.

Frankly, I think all of this was a net positive thing for most of those who put their sexuality out there on display in LiveJournal. Yes, they felt compelled to put themselves and their lives out there, but it wasn't for self-exploitation as much as self-revelation and self-discovery. They were surrounded by all sorts of different people with all sorts of different types of bodies, all sorts of different interests, kinks, orientations, etc... but, by and large, this led to greater acceptance, not less.

In comparison, the era of Facebook is tame. Your parents and relatives are probably on it. Kids who put too much out there inevitably learn that they'll have to reign it back in.

Really, the problem with Facebook isn't that it encourages young women to objectify and sexually exploit themselves. Rather, it encourages them to be a compromised, shallow, mainstream version of themselves, that they think others will accept / be interested in. That, frankly, actually leaves young people more at the mercy of mainstream ideals and peer pressure than they would otherwise be.

The real problem with most porn nowadays is that it's mostly porn stars who are making it. From a body-image perspective, your teenagers would likely be better off if they were free to make it themselves, ideally for themselves, without undue judgement or interference.
posted by markkraft at 8:21 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


"This SMBC strip comes to mind. Obviously you mean well, but that kind of response isn't very helpful because it keeps the focus on a man's opinion about women's bodies."

Suggesting that it's sexist to judge someone about elements of their anatomy kind of misses the point too. People of both sexes are judged all the time about their perceived attractiveness, weight, fashion, hygene, and a dozen other things that have nothing to do with breast size.

It's not sexist, necessarily. It is, however, rather judgmental.
posted by markkraft at 8:48 AM on April 28, 2012


markkraft: "The premise of this being the first generation influenced like this is really, really flawed... Clearly, she missed out on blogging a decade+ ago."

People who were growing up on LiveJournal a decade ago belong to the same generation as people who are growing up on Facebook now.
posted by koeselitz at 10:17 AM on April 28, 2012


Either way, Facebook did not invent this dynamic. LJ, MySpace, YouTube ... it was all over those sites, too.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:22 AM on April 28, 2012


markkraft: "It's not sexist, necessarily. It is, however, rather judgmental."

A thing is sexist when it harms the status of women as a gender.

Judging women by their particular physical attributes does harm to the status of women as a gender.

Therefore, judging women by their particular physical attributes is necessarily sexist.
posted by koeselitz at 12:35 PM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


People who were growing up on LiveJournal a decade ago belong to the same generation as people who are growing up on Facebook now.

Not in a meaningful way. The development that happens at ages 14-24 is not the same development that happens at ages 25-35.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:57 PM on April 28, 2012


-harlequin-: “Not in a meaningful way. The development that happens at ages 14-24 is not the same development that happens at ages 25-35.”

But it's not a question of meaningful equivalence of developmental stages. A generation is defined by some range of years; the fact that a person is two years older than me or three years younger than me doesn't necessarily mean they're from a different generation, even though they were fundamentally a different age at important moments in their lives.

The "baby boomers" constitute the most commonly referred to generation that I can think of. According to the US census bureau, "baby boomers" are people who were born between 1946 and 1965. That's almost a twenty-year gap, and twenty years encompasses a huge variety of developmental stages. Nevertheless, baby boomers are referred to as a cohesive unit, a single generation.

One can define "generation" in many ways. It's pretty clear that, for the purposes of this documentary, in the perspective of those followed by it, people who were growing up on LiveJournal ten years ago are part of the same generation as the people who are growing up on Facebook right now.
posted by koeselitz at 2:13 PM on April 28, 2012


Again, that's just not meaningful definition for the subject matter at hand. To pick an even clearer extreme, it's like saying the kids who were slightly too young for the draft are the same generation as the kids whose lives would be forever defined by war - that they only differed a few years doesn't matter anywhere near as much as how different things were in those few years.

In this subject - the effect of digital technology on society has changed so rapidly that expecting the post-war-boom-years analogy to be an apt quantity just isn't very useful.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:37 PM on April 28, 2012


(If we must have a single line, and lump everyone onto a side of it, I would draw it at those who were 6 years old when the digital camera become the normal cheap camera that you would buy for your kids.)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:41 PM on April 28, 2012


Hmm, actually this might be a better way to put it:
To me, a generation is the passage of time for a newborn baby to grow up and have babies of their own.
Given that, it is intuitive to me that there are multiple concurrent generations, because babies are born on every day of every year. Shoehorning all those generations into someone else's generation is useful in some situations, but not this one.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:46 PM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


-harlequin-: "To pick an even clearer extreme, it's like saying the kids who were slightly too young for the draft are the same generation as the kids whose lives would be forever defined by war - that they only differed a few years doesn't matter anywhere near as much as how different things were in those few years. "

But - er, as I pointed out, that is precisely what the US Census Bureau does. Children born in 1965 are too young to ever be drafted. Children born in 1946 are not too young to have been drafted at some point. Yet the Census Bureau says children in both groups are part of the same larger generation - a generation defined by the fact that its parents were among those returning from World War 2 and starting families. I appreciate that this might not be entirely intuitive; but we have to accept that the person making the claim is saying there's some cohesive thing by which the generation can be defined.

And regardless, I don't think this changes the point. To talk for a moment about my own sense of it - I was born in 1979. I remember a time before the Internet. Most of my childhood happened in that time, even though I was an early adopter and was using Linux before I left high school. I feel like I'm from a different generation - or at least like I'm on the cusp of a generation that was the first to grow up with these things. Saying 'pfft, LiveJournal came before Facebook, so whatever' absolutely does not alter that distinction between those who grew up on the Internet and those who did not.
posted by koeselitz at 3:22 PM on April 28, 2012


What the US Census Bureau does or doesn't do, seems neither relevant nor meaningful, and really quite counter-productive to me when talking about digital effects on generations. That's why I gave the war analogy - it shows that a census shorthand-broadstroke is a meaningless tool for meaningful analysis of a subject.

Saying 'pfft, LiveJournal came before Facebook, so whatever' absolutely does not alter that distinction between those who grew up on the Internet and those who did not.

Yup, but either you are begging the question, or I am. The subject to you seems to be "Did you (and your peers) grow up with digital technology?", the subject to me is "How have people your age been affected by digital technology".
Obviously, I'm more fascinated by the latter. :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 4:41 PM on April 28, 2012


That doesn't actually seem very obvious. You're the one who brought up this derail. I've been trying to argue that it doesn't matter, but you seem intent on insisting that it does.
posted by koeselitz at 7:33 PM on April 28, 2012


about "sexiness in the cyber age" that follows the stories of an ex-porn star, a 22-year-old teacher saving up for labiaplasty and a 12 year-old girl.

Thank god someone is finally shining the light on white, middle class females.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:57 AM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I wonder if maybe women are the ones who should decide when certain types of women are over- or underrepresented, and when that makes media about women more or less important in the grand scheme of things.

Well, all I really mean by that is that they're the ones I listen to.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:05 PM on April 29, 2012


Brandon Blatcher: “Thank god someone is finally shining the light on white, middle class females.”

It seems like the general complaint, if there is a complaint, is that these women are a little uncomfortable at having the light shone them too much.

So, er – that's ironic, I guess? Maybe "careful what you wish for" is too pat. Instead, I guess it's probably best just to say that the system seems to be pretty fucked up for everybody.
posted by koeselitz at 5:36 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


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