My Conversation With an Anti-Porn Feminist, By Annie Sprinkle with Mae Tyme
May 9, 2010 10:11 AM   Subscribe

We are two women from different worlds with very different experiences. I, Annie, have performed in, directed and produced pornography for twenty five years. Mae Tyme has been anti-pornography for equally as long. We met at a lesbian video night several years ago. You might think that we'd be enemies, because we have such different viewpoints. Could we come together to record a conversation, share our ideas, and show that women of desparate [sic] backgrounds and beliefs can communicate and collaborate?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 (81 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for this--I think Annie Sprinkle is grrreat.
posted by ifjuly at 10:13 AM on May 9, 2010


Wow, two people on opposite sides of a controversial issue have a civil discussion and end by acknowledging each others' humanity. I think I've found my write-in candidates for just about all the offices in the June primary.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 10:25 AM on May 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


If THEY can do it what's OUR excuse?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:29 AM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow. That was awesome. Thanks!
posted by koeselitz at 10:38 AM on May 9, 2010


This sounds like the plot of a lesbian porn film.
posted by Damienmce at 10:40 AM on May 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


St. Alia of the Bunnies

Because some opinions are so repugnant that they simply don't deserve a hearing.
posted by The Confessor at 10:41 AM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Very funny, The Confessor.
posted by amtho at 10:44 AM on May 9, 2010


AS
You realize that child pornography is the number one argument that is consistently used against all of us decent pornographers who are simply trying to make people feel good and turned on. There’s maybe .01% of porn made which involves children, and it is pretty underground. I challenge you to find any commercial child porn sold in a store anywhere in the USA.

MT
Look at all the stuff on the internet.


I'm very impressed by Annie's patience. Tyme is not even trying (or being honest, at times, as in the case quoted above), but Annie stays cordial.

That said, I'm not sure they did much more during that conversation than be polite to each other. It was like Richard Dawkins and Kirk Cameron having a talk in which they completely disagree but smile throughout. It is good to be friendly to those you disagree with, but that's a long way from "communicating and collaborating" or creating actual understanding.
posted by ignignokt at 10:50 AM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


"If THEY can do it what's OUR excuse?"


'Cuz so many people are so sure the other side won't listen?
posted by Some1 at 10:52 AM on May 9, 2010


Wow, that is one hard-core feminist. She basically thinks that no man has anything good to offer her (and perhaps the world).

For most of the discussin, they're just talking past each other. But I think they each took away something from the discussion. I liked the moment where MT learns that female porn actresses make more than the men.

Interesting overall. Thanks for posting.
posted by dry white toast at 10:58 AM on May 9, 2010


AS:Don't you have any male friends?

MT: My consistent bonding and involvement with other women, especially lesbians is so fulfilling, inspiring and growthful to me, that even if I felt OK about men, which I don't, I wouldn't have any time for them.

AS: ... How exactly do you view pornography?

MT: As something that is overwhelmingly by, about and for men. It is a world wide industry that generates gazillions of dollars every year from which women do not benefit.
So... She doesn't know any men. This is because she has a problem with men, and if she didn't have a problem with men, she wouldn't have time to get to know any anyway. And she thinks of porn as something primarily done for men.

Bleh.

If you read the rest of the interview, it's pretty clear she pretty much hates men.
posted by delmoi at 10:59 AM on May 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


This should be a graphic series. Call it... AnnieMae!
AnnieTyme/Anywhere?
posted by hal9k at 11:08 AM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love Annie Sprinkle. She is a delightful person.

Now I will go read the link.
posted by rtha at 11:12 AM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The latest figure from the FBI even, is that three out of four girls is sexually molested by the age of 18 -MT

Whoah whoah whoah. First of all, the Uniform Crime Reports (the crime stats put out by the FBI) only account for crimes reported to the police. So they wouldn't be able to make that sort of claim. Also, they don't even keep statistics on sexual molestation- only forcible rape. The CDC's Adverse Childhood Experiences study says that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before age 18.
posted by emilyd22222 at 11:22 AM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow, that is one hard-core feminist. She basically thinks that no man has anything good to offer her (and perhaps the world).

If by "hardcore feminist" you mean "women who dismisses 90% of other women's interests", sure, I guess you could call her a hardcore feminist.
posted by rodgerd at 11:26 AM on May 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


I remember a woman coming to a women's event and she showed slides of ‘beaver'. It was hard for me to look at the photos. Even though I had been a lesbian for a long time and had been going down on them, and had been gone down on and saw them all the time. But looking at them in pictures was really icky to me.
What a strange woman.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 11:30 AM on May 9, 2010


Wow, that is one hard-core feminist. She basically thinks that no man has anything good to offer her (and perhaps the world).

Feminism is not anti-male. It's anti-asshole.

What this woman espouses is essentially just the opposite side of the patriarchal coin: men are intrinsically violent and dangerous (because the poor simple things are just wired that way) and any woman who thinks that she can have a relationship of equals with one is just fooling herself.
posted by echolalia67 at 11:30 AM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow, that is one hard-core feminist. She basically thinks that no man has anything good to offer her (and perhaps the world).

Yeah, that's not really the definition of "feminist." Maybe like .1% of "feminists" fit into that category.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:30 AM on May 9, 2010


I was going to quote the same sentences as delmoi. That just seemed so sad to me, to be so completely and preemptively cut off from so many people.

MT
... By the way, many feminists who are anti porn don't see the women in it as the enemy either.

AS
No, they see us as victims. We don't want to perceived as victims.


I wish that they had deepened this part of the exchange, instead of ending there.
posted by Forktine at 11:33 AM on May 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


If THEY can do it what's OUR excuse?

Well, many of us have full conversations on this site all the time. Some of us even engage in heated arguments that resolve well enough that both sides maintain a respect for one another, even if they don't agree. As a matter of fact, I'd say that - despite how often we have some truly bitter and entrenched fights - metafilter is still one of the best places on the internet where someone who is intellectually honest and open to forthright and honest dialog can engage in decent and challenging civil discussion.

I'm sorry that your participation here hasn't fit that description.
posted by shmegegge at 11:40 AM on May 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Evey time I see an interview with Annie Sprinkle, she seems very upbeat and positive, very patient, and always on message. She cares about what she is talking about, she is well informed with facts and anecdotes, and she is very good at challenging other people's misconceptions "nicely," so the conversation doesn't get sidetracked by hostility. I wish more people could argue/discuss like this, and I certainly wish I could. It would make my life a lot easier.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:41 AM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


on topic:

I haven't finished reading the interview, but what I've read so far seems to be that Tyme refuses to answer the actual questions. It reads like snippets from 2 separate conversations, one of them held by an aim bot. I hope that, as I read, this trend doesn't continue, but so far it's been things like:

AS: Do you think it's interesting to see people naked?
MT: I used to be a peeping tom. also I saw my grandmother naked, which wasn't a sexual thing.

AS: so do you recognize that people want to see other people naked?
MT: I only see people naked by coincidence.

AS: I don't think there's anything wrong with sexual excitment.
MT: I have seen some males naked at nude beaches, and actually that has served to demystify and depowerize men.

so yeah, it's really hard for me to take May Tyme seriously, so far. we'll see if that changes.
posted by shmegegge at 11:47 AM on May 9, 2010


"If you read the rest of the interview, it's pretty clear she pretty much hates men."

Uh...yeah. She would probably tell you that herself. Radical feminism gets pretty radical.

I can see how someone could end up hating and fearing men. I mean, damn, you spend your entire life (and she's much older than I am) surrounded by sexism and male-on-female abuse, to the point where you have to deal with it when you want to walk to the fucking corner store, you have to deal with it when you want to get a job, when you want to go to school. It's everywhere and it used to be much more acceptable and much more mainstream.

So, you don't have to agree with her, but try to have some empathy for where she's coming from.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:14 PM on May 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


Aw, that really made me smile. I'm glad that it seemed to benefit them both.

(Big hug.)
posted by rtha at 12:21 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Annie Sprinkle is empathetic, intelligent, and even revolutionary.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:30 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually get the sense that it's not so much men that Mae Tyme hates as it's sex. Take, for example, the illuminating statement about the feminist beaver pics. This is a woman who is very uncomfortable with human bodies.

She undoubtable comes across as hating men because she has figured out, with a certain degree of correctness, that we tend to be obsessed with human bodies, and particularly the bodies of women and doing things with those bodies that she finds fundamentally icky. (SRSLY this woman is how old and she uses a word like icky in an interview?)

Annie tries to draw her out with zero success on exactly what it is that makes her feel sexual, and I think the reason she fails so hard is that there isn't anything that makes Mae feel sexual if, like most people, by sexual you mean a desire to do something more intimate than heavy petting.

And naturally, if this is not just your hangup but the basis of your whole world-view, the existence of billions of beings who are very focused on the icky possibility of inserting their icky parts inside your icky parts (INTO YOUR BODY! ICK!) then you are going to see that part of the human race, and humanity and the world in general, as very threatening and scary.

The mystery is not that a person can get to this state -- she's positively normal compared to some people I've known -- but how they can attain a status as a professional expert on the very topic on which they are so hung-up they are unaware of a basic point like the fact that female porn stars make a lot more money than the men.
posted by localroger at 12:38 PM on May 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


I thought this was really interesting:

MT
If I were to make an erotic video it would it probably be boring to someone else. I did have an experience of a lover of mine videotaping us making love, and then we watched it.
AS
What. I'm shocked! YOU made porn?
MT
I didn't think of it as porn.
posted by prefpara at 12:53 PM on May 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


So, Mae Tyme hates roughly half of humanity? Ach! how sexist!
posted by fuq at 12:57 PM on May 9, 2010


I noticed that same exchange, prefpara. It makes sense once you realize how she is defining pornography:

AS
To me pornography is any photo, film or drawing that shows hard-core explicit sex. How exactly do you view pornography?
MT
As something that is overwhelmingly by, about and for men.


So it's not the nakedness and sexuality that makes it porn -- it's the reception. The male gaze, or perhaps even the possibility of the male gaze, is what transforms a sexual depiction into pornography.
posted by Forktine at 1:08 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's interesting how easy it is for us males to read this sort of thing and feel uncomfortable, and to express our discomfort with these ideas we disagree with in a disapproving way, without noticing the way our situation mirrors the situation of the person we disapprove of. I don't agree with Mae Tyme. At several points reading this article, I shared the distinct feeling of being distinctly uncomfortable that some have expressed here – for example, when she said that she simply isn't okay with or even interested in being close to men. But precisely that discomfort is interesting to me, because I think it's what we have in common with Mae Tyme; the only difference is that she's almost certainly felt it a hell of a lot more than we have. As much as her statements as a woman apparently dismissing any respect for a male perspective make us a little squeamish, it's certain that we've all heard much worse from men about women.

As I say, none of that makes Mae Tyme right to dismiss our perspective. But I think that she's not quite as extreme and radical as we may think; her experience has simply led her to a point where she gets all she needs from her interactions with women.

That's what makes Annie Sprinkle's interview with her so correct a reaction, I think: Mae Tyme is clearly willing to talk about her feelings in this area, so Annie does what she can to open minds and enlighten without ever ceasing to respect and value her as an individual. I might even say that it's almost natural for a lot of women to feel the way Mae feels in society as it is; Annie doesn't value her any less for it, and the fact that they can laugh about all this in the end and finally both feel as though the conversation has been worthwhile indicates that this has moved things in a positive direction. I can hardly think of a better way to approach this stuff.

Again, thanks for this.
posted by koeselitz at 1:14 PM on May 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


The mystery is not that a person can get to this state -- she's positively normal compared to some people I've known -- but how they can attain a status as a professional expert on the very topic on which they are so hung-up they are unaware of a basic point like the fact that female porn stars make a lot more money than the men.

In all seriousness, I think the truly zealous War On Drugs people are exactly like this.

...

So it's not the nakedness and sexuality that makes it porn -- it's the reception. The male gaze, or perhaps even the possibility of the male gaze, is what transforms a sexual depiction into pornography.

To me it shows how truly paranoid and male-centric Tyme's worldview is. Pornography is hardly "made" at all - it's the male gaze that truly produces it. What was once a video of you making love will become pornography when those filthy men get their hands on it - that is to say, if they're not too "bored" by it.

Sprinkle, on the other hand, approaches life's challenges with a creative and active worldview. She encourages women to not only make pornography, but to make pornography their own, as yet another avenue of expression.

It's also curious about the male gaze and pornography in Tyme's worldview. If Sprinkle only made pornography for women, and only showed it to women, then what, to Tyme, would that be? A divide-by-zero?

...

I also like the bit where Sprinkle talks about her work as a prostitute with handicapped, veteran clients. Sprinkle takes her experiences with these men and uses them to synthesize new, revolutionary thoughts on porn, with the intention of creating happy, safe alternatives for what could hopefully be a better world. She is empathetic to the wants and needs of these men, without merely parroting or lionizing them, and then she tries to build a better world from having so listened to them.

And what does Tyme do? Meh, just interrupt her use of the term "handicapped" with "differently abled."
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:25 PM on May 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Annie tries to draw her out with zero success on exactly what it is that makes her feel sexual, and I think the reason she fails so hard is that there isn't anything that makes Mae feel sexual if, like most people, by sexual you mean a desire to do something more intimate than heavy petting."

She made a video of herself having sex with her lover. I don't think she has a problem with sex in general.

Heavy petting can be very, very intimate, by the way.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:30 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


She made a video of herself having sex with her lover. I don't think she has a problem with sex in general.

"We were lying down, holding each other, and moving together, with enormous sexual and love energy between us. There wasn't any sucking or licking, or fingers."
posted by prefpara at 1:54 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sticherbeast: “In all seriousness, I think the truly zealous War On Drugs people are exactly like this... To me it shows how truly paranoid and male-centric Tyme's worldview is. Pornography is hardly "made" at all - it's the male gaze that truly produces it. What was once a video of you making love will become pornography when those filthy men get their hands on it - that is to say, if they're not too "bored" by it.”

Like I said: it's interesting to me how quick us men are to react with disapprobation when we read something which we (perhaps perfectly rightly) disagree with, and which makes us uncomfortable. It seems incredibly easy for us to forget the simple fact: we're men. She's a woman. There are ways in which she's had a fundamentally different experience of things. We should probably notice that Annie is perfectly capable of being in direct disagreement with Mae without displaying the disapprobation and dismissal we've been showing here. It seems to me that, in the world as it is, women who feel this way about men have some very real concerns that they're giving voice to, no matter how we may feel about their attitudes toward men in general. Maybe the best way to confront these concerns isn't frowning disapproval but the sort of shared laughter that takes place at the end of the linked article.
posted by koeselitz at 1:56 PM on May 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


So, you don't have to agree with her, but try to have some empathy for where she's coming from.

Nope.
posted by Kirk Grim at 1:57 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Uh you can have sexy times without that stuff actually.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:57 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


prefpara: ?
posted by koeselitz at 1:57 PM on May 9, 2010


internet fraud detective squad, station number 9: “So, you don't have to agree with her, but try to have some empathy for where she's coming from.”

Kirk Grim: “Nope.”

Yes, it's our privilege as men to flatly dismiss the perspective of women who happen to distrust us, isn't it?
posted by koeselitz at 2:05 PM on May 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


Has Mae Tyme written any commentaries about Islam and it's view/prescription for women? I am curious to know what she thinks about sharia law regarding the strict division of the sexes and veiling.
posted by fuq at 2:08 PM on May 9, 2010


It seems to me that, in the world as it is, women who feel this way about men have some very real concerns that they're giving voice to, no matter how we may feel about their attitudes toward men in general. Maybe the best way to confront these concerns isn't frowning disapproval but the sort of shared laughter that takes place at the end of the linked article.

Enh, I have frowning disapproval for a lot of people. Sprinkle is in a room with Tyme, trying and succeeding to communicate with her. Tyme is sometimes receptive and sometimes not. For my money, she was far too willing to deliver non sequiturs to seem like that she was all that engaged as a thinker or even as a conversationalist. But, Sprinkle tries, and they have some shared moments. Me, I am not in a conversation with Tyme - I can't really have shared laughter with her.

To my eyes, from this transcript, Tyme seems just as close-minded as many other people of whom I generally disapprove. I disagree with, say, Catharine MacKinnon, with whom on the pornography issue Tyme would be simpatico, but from what I've read, MacKinnon's actually quite good at laying out her beliefs and responding cogently to criticism.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:08 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


ifds,sn9: I realize heavy petting can be intimate but most people would not define it as sex. I get the very strong vibe from Mae that she probably likes touch -- she would hardly be human if she didn't -- but she's not totally comfortable with the fact that she likes it because it makes her vulnerable, she probably only tolerates genital touch mostly to humor her partner, and she absolutely no how no way would ever allow anything living or otherwise to be inserted into her body. I think it is her abject horror at this idea that drives her poisoned idea of what men are about, since our mechanical arrangements pretty much make pleasure about inserting something into another person's body, even a man's body if we happen to be gay. Mae is so obsessed with the horror of this that she finds it inconceivable to even have a platonic relationship with a man no matter how sexually uninterested he might personally be in her.

Mae claims to have given and received oral sex, but not to have been interested enough in the organs she was licking to find them familiar when photographs are displayed. Even when describing the "naughty" things she's done Mae doesn't express much enthusiasm; this is what you do when you're a Lesbian, so she's done it. It's something I've suspected of certain other radical feminists (most particularly Andrea Dworkin) but it really comes out when contrasted with Annie (Genitals! A whole new previously hidden world to explore!).

I feel a bit sorry for Mae because she has shut herself off from whole worlds of feeling that she can't even imagine, but mostly I remain puzzled that someone this hung-up is considered an expert at the very thing she clearly doesn't either care about or understand well enough to try to figure out how to get along with half the human race.

Oh, and stitcherbeast is right about the drug warriors. Cut from the crossweave of the same clothe for sure.
posted by localroger at 2:15 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it is her abject horror at this idea that drives her poisoned idea of what men are about, since our mechanical arrangements pretty much make pleasure about inserting something into another person's body, even a man's body if we happen to be gay.

Ennnnnnnnh, not agreeing here, sorry.

Mae claims to have given and received oral sex, but not to have been interested enough in the organs she was licking to find them familiar when photographs are displayed.

I think it's more likely that having sex with her partner is different to her than looking at mere photographs of genitalia, especially a stranger's. It is sort of weird, though, that looking at photos of female genitalia was weird to her, but she's self-aware about that. Then again, I'm a straight guy, and I'm not into "clinical" close-ups, either.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:22 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This reminds me a bit of this post, were a lot of pixels were spilled declaring that "womyn's land" communities were wrong-headed and offensive. Mae Tyme is not someone with whom I am likely to sit down and have tea and/or a chat, but I can see that her attitudes were formed in a particular place and time, and I think it's interesting how those attitudes interact with those of later wave feminists and lesbians. About the harshest criticism I would level at Tyme is that I don't think her ideas are particularly useful, but, as a man, I accept that I have my own bias in that criticism. On the other hand, I can sympathize that Tyme has had to live in a world where things were dangerously stacked against her by a Patriarchal system; it is really, really unlikely that I will ever have to live in a world that would make Tyme comfortable at my expense.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:24 PM on May 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


I get the very strong vibe from Mae that she probably likes touch -- she would hardly be human if she didn't -- but she's not totally comfortable with the fact that she likes it because it makes her vulnerable, she probably only tolerates genital touch mostly to humor her partner, and she absolutely no how no way would ever allow anything living or otherwise to be inserted into her body.

Having not shared a sexual encounter with Tyme, nor knowing anyone who is willing to admit to one and discuss it with me, I would be very hesitant to make this kind of analysis.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:27 PM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sticherbeast, you have a point, and the interview is scant evidence on which to do psychoanalysis, but I think it's not as koeslitz might say dismissing her perspective to suggest that, if her perspective does not permit the possibility of any friendship with a male human being at all, that her perspective might be rather badly fucked up.

Look at all the weasel words Mae sprays when Annie is asking about her sexual feelings -- how it's about love and bonding and blah blah blah and everything except pleasure. I may be over-reading, but I get the very strong impression that Mae wouldn't know an orgasm if it snuck up behind her and hit her over the head. She comes across as both very fearful and very controlling -- or, rather, very terrified of loss of control, which could speak against both finding yourself trapped under a strong person while they stick part of themselves inside of you, and of finding your body in helpless (even if pleasant) spasm while your partner watches smiling.
posted by localroger at 2:32 PM on May 9, 2010


Let's be clear about this; Tyme is s not a feminist, at least not by any definition I've ever heard. What she is is a misandrist. She doesn't live her life the way she does because she's concerned about women's issues in today's society. She lives her life the way she does because of a seething, boiling hatred of men - and of all the self-described feminists I've known, I haven't met a whole lot of people like that.
posted by deadmessenger at 2:36 PM on May 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


GProust, I do not need to have a sexual encounter with someone to figure out their sexuality; most people telegraph their sexuality more prominently than they realize. I'd probably be a lot more confident in my assessment if I had met her in person even for a few minutes, but then it mgiht not really help much because she'd be all OH A MAN ICK if I was there. The interview is full of clues though which are highly consistent both throughout the article and with other people I've known better personally. The lady has issues.
posted by localroger at 2:36 PM on May 9, 2010


The lady has issues.

Well, no doubt. My point is that it is one short conversation, and making sweeping statements about what you imagine her sexual persona to be like a) doesn't shed much light on -- well, anything. Tyme may not be on my side, but I am content to let her pass along at her own rate.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:42 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


prefpara: ?

Basically, I thought it was interesting that MT's definition of making love excluded any penetration or (seemingly) any interaction besides holding & moving. I don't know that I would use the language "MT has a problem with sex," but I wouldn't be surprised if MT agrees with those radical feminists who believe sex, and penetrative activity in particular, is impossible to separate from the context of the oppressive patriarchy. It's sort of difficult to speak with precision about this (for me, because I am not used to it). What I am trying to say is that I think it is quite possible that MT indeed has a "problem" (philosophical disagreement might be better) with what society conventionally describes as "sex." This doesn't mean that she doesn't engage in sexual activities, and it doesn't mean she is somehow broken or inadequate or repressed (as some have suggested in this conversation).

So, right, I don't think there's a basis in the dialogue for the conclusion that MT has a "problem with sex" in the sense that she has hangups, but I do think some of the things she says suggest that she has a "problem with sex" in the sense that she may choose not to engage in some common sexual acts for political/philosophical reasons and reject their supposed naturalness or neutrality.
posted by prefpara at 2:44 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's our privilege as men to flatly dismiss the perspective of women who happen to distrust us, isn't it?

My response was not about male privilege or the fact she's female and has an opinion I disagree with. It's my privilege as a human being to flatly dismiss the perspectives of those who would distrust an entire group on the basis of them having a particular reproductive organ, color of skin, hair, or eyes. I do not see many appeals to empathy for any such discrimination involving any other groups, and I'm not about to start for her.
posted by Kirk Grim at 2:47 PM on May 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'd also just like to add I did not mean to derail and I made the "nope" comment as a throwaway remark and the next one was just to elaborate a little since koeslitz responded. I am enjoying this thread and the perspectives in it are interesting. Please continue, and feel free to disregard my little smart-ass quip.
posted by Kirk Grim at 3:07 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


prefpara, in retrospect via your own excerpt: There wasn't any sucking or licking, or fingers

FINGERS?

Okay, so this is Mae's concept of good pure sex: It's not even heavy petting, it's cuddling. Maybe if we're generous you could call it necking. Now cuddling is fun but no matter how much satisfaction you get out of it it isn't sex by any reasonable definition. What we have here is not a casual, but a forcible disinterest in the whole idea of genitalia and anything they can do that the rest of your body can't do. There's not a lot of reading-in required to get that; she pretty much makes it plain. Annie's futile attempts to draw out something more intimate just underline the absence of any such thing.

I think it is exceedingly and wrongly generous to credit Mae with having achieved her enlightened asexual state through a process of intellectual self-inspection vis-a-vis the political incorrectness of penetration. I think it is far, far more likely that she achieved her now highly developed asexual state through a primitive horror at the idea of being penetrated and of genitals in general ("ICKY"). You could choose to describe this with words other than "messed up" or "problem," but I personally think both of those are pretty good descriptors for the world in which Ms. Tyme finds herself.
posted by localroger at 3:10 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Basically, I thought it was interesting that MT's definition of making love excluded any penetration or (seemingly) any interaction besides holding & moving.

She was talking specifically about the video, which Annie had asked her about. Elsewhere in the interview, she talks about cunnilingus, so it's pretty clear that her definition of making love is broader than that one quote.
posted by rtha at 3:13 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Uh it's getting a little creepy how adamant you are about proving that she does sex wrong
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:15 PM on May 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


Dude, maybe you should slow down moderating your post and patronizing people about sex.
posted by Snyder at 3:38 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think when your world-view prevents you from interacting meaningfully with half of the human race it's a lot more than just sex you're getting wrong, but I'm trying to stick to what is pretty obviously beyond reasonable argument here.
posted by localroger at 3:45 PM on May 9, 2010


Snyder: “Dude, maybe you should slow down moderating your post and patronizing people about sex.”

If she's not allowed to say it, I will: it's creepy. It's like

Mae Tyme: One time I had sex like this...

Metafilter: LOOK DUDE THAT'S NOT THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE SEX DAMMIT!!!!


Mae Tyme never said that the way she had sex that time was the only way that people can have sex. She never even said that it was how she preferred to have sex. In fact, she offered that description in support of her apparently perfectly fair assessment that other people might find the video she made boring.

It's increasingly odd how hasty people are to hear all kinds of awful and weird things in what Mae Tyme is saying. It's just a conversation. You don't have to agree with both people having the conversation. You also don't have to assume that the person you disagree with is an evil man-hating lesbian who wants to cut off all our penises and thinks that penetrative sex is evil and bad. She never said a single word about penetration being good or evil or whatever, so I have no idea where people are getting this beyond some strange idea they have of how radical man-hating feminists are supposed to act.
posted by koeselitz at 3:56 PM on May 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


It's increasingly odd how hasty people are to hear all kinds of awful and weird things in what Mae Tyme is saying.

Yeah. It's such a limited sample to support a) the efforts to divine her sexuality and b) the vehemence. I think this was a more significant quote:

What feminists didn't take into account was that although most of us had done consciousness raising and had intellectually looked at issues about sexuality and decided that we don't smell like tuna, and all this stuff, it was still hard to deal with the actual experience of touching our own vulvas, of looking at ourselves with speculums, and looking at pictures of “down there”.

Which puts a lot of context into Tyme's comments -- really, it has not been a very long time that any significant percentage of the US population has been able to address sexuality in any kind of open way that it is not surprising that people (and especially women, for whom being open about their sexual desire is more problematic for men in many ways). Mixed with the extremely negative connotations surrounding pornography (some earned, some not so) and the particular political environment in which Tyme has lived, her opinions are hardly remarkable. Honestly, I would rather see precious pixels spent praising Sprinkle for her courageous navigation of deeply complicated terrain than on beating up Tyme.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:23 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know, now that I think about it, Tyme is a kindred spirit to HP Lovecraft when it comes to thinking about sex.
posted by ignignokt at 5:05 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: "the disapprobation and dismissal we've been showing here."

Honestly, I think we gave both sides a fair shot and it's pretty clear that Tyme's views a) aren't typical of most women's experiences and b) aren't useful in creating understanding or solving any problems. Aside from the weird creepy "how Tyme has sex" derail, I think this thread has been more than fair to her. Remember she's not just a woman talking about her experience but also a public figure and it's her job to argue this stuff.
posted by anonymuk at 5:09 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


anonymuk, my whole problem with Tyme isn't that she has weird sex (or non-sex), but that she is a public figure and it's considered her job to argue about this stuff she clearly doesn't understand.
posted by localroger at 5:24 PM on May 9, 2010


Basically, I thought it was interesting that MT's definition of making love excluded any penetration or (seemingly) any interaction besides holding & moving

Okay, so this is Mae's concept of good pure sex


To emphasize what rtha said -- that wasn't her definition of ideal sex. It was just her description of one particular sex act that she and her partner decided to film. For all we know, it was the only time in her entire life that she had sex without penetration, fingers, and licking.

A couple of people here are going beyond simple extrapolation and instead ascribing to her issues and weirdnesses that maybe say more about them than they do her. Is it then surprising that she was hesitant to even describe her sex video, given the hostility (especially from men) that her perspective seems to engender?
posted by Forktine at 5:28 PM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Until this evening, I knew virtually nothing about Annie Sprinkle except that she was a porn star. And I don't think I'd ever heard of Mae Tyme. This was a fascinating interview. Thank you for posting it.

“So, you don't have to agree with her, but try to have some empathy for where she's coming from.”

I do.

Perhaps its inappropriate for me to be judgmental, but I think it's truly unfortunate that she hates men so much, and equally sad that there are so many aspects of our society (large and small) which could give rise to her feelings.
posted by zarq at 6:07 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Honestly, I think we gave both sides a fair shot and it's pretty clear that Tyme's views a) aren't typical of most women's experiences and b) aren't useful in creating understanding or solving any problems.

I disagree with B. Sometimes, an extreme, outlying point of view can help bring an issue into perspective.
posted by zarq at 6:10 PM on May 9, 2010


So, you don't have to agree with her, but try to have some empathy for where she's coming from.

Words to live by also when confronting racists, tea-baggers, and furries.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:31 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


This was great to read. So much of the good live is being able to love people genuinely, without judgement, even when you see the world in a completely orthogonal way as them.
posted by scunning at 6:54 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I met lots of women like Mae out in the lesbian separatist world back in the early 90s. Reading this, it just kept popping up to me that she's a self-made product (like so many others) of the Lesbian Feminism of the 60s. Most of these women are *well over sixty* at this point. BDSM is *disgusting* to them, regardless of whether or not it's only women who do it with each other, and regardless of whether or not someone's using a camera. *Everything* was about radical egalitarianism, to the point of transforming language (womyn, herstory, etc.) They come from a certain generation that was reacting to a certain sort of world. Repressed? Sure. But so are many women from that era, in one way or another. Think of having this conversation with your grandma.

Annie Sprinkle is/was a pioneer of sex-positive feminism. I'm so glad she was finally able to persuade one of these radical lesbians to participate in a conversation with her.
posted by RedEmma at 7:22 PM on May 9, 2010 [17 favorites]


So it's not the nakedness and sexuality that makes it porn -- it's the reception. The male gaze, or perhaps even the possibility of the male gaze, is what transforms a sexual depiction into pornography.

Sometimes a soap opera is on TV when I come home for lunch if my wife gets home before I do (we both work about 2 blocks from home).

There's a lot of wet, fit dudes with no shirts on these shows. I also don't think these shows are geared towards me. I'm not sure why "gaze" needs to be gendered when discussing porn, or why only the male gaze needs to be present to make something "porn". Annie Sprinkle's definition allows the for the fact that not only are women who appear in porn not necessarily victims, but neither are the consumers necessarily victims.

Mae Tyme's approach to feminism seems to be entirely defensive. She thinks "men hate lesbians because we have sex and life without them." She implies a connection between males looking at porn and males engaging in pedophilia. She thinks lesbians are viewed as child molesters (I'd personally never heard that one before) and stresses that usually it's actually straight men--she says 3/4 of girls are molested by men by age 18, and that this is the factor that shapes female sexuality in our society. More than once in this conversation she mocks and ridicules male bodies and genitalia in order to "depowerize" them. This seems like naked ambition to offend, or rooted in a remarkably tragic and abusive set of circumstances that none of the women of her age I've known in my life have had to endure.

I'm really not sure what to make of her point of view, but it doesn't strike me as either healthy or reasonable.
posted by Kirk Grim at 9:05 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why "gaze" needs to be gendered when discussing porn, or why only the male gaze needs to be present to make something "porn".

To be fair to Tyme, the phrase "male gaze" is a phrase with a specific cloud of meaning within gender theory, psychoanalysis, etc. Speaking very back-of-the-cereal-box, the male gaze is the framing by the male of the female, objectifying her, establishing her as a figure tied into
(and essentially defined by) the wants and needs of men.

So, if I'm reading Tyme correctly, she is saying that pornography is, by definition, defined by that male gaze. This of course holds true for your usual "let me guess, he fixes the cable"-type porn. The attractive woman readily has sex with the schlubby "protagonists" according to the ritual cliches of porn and that's that.

Where things get hinky is that all sorts of alternative porn exists, such as the sort Annie Sprinkle is behind. In this material, things are not so dominated by your usual male gaze, and things are also quite a bit more complicated besides. Since this stuff is not part of Tyme's world, it's sort of a divide-by-zero to her. What is she to make of even lesbian porn that Annie Sprinkle would make? Well, since, to her, porn is defined by that male gaze, then what Sprinkle does is either not porn, or its non-porn-ness is somehow sabotaged when either she unwittingly corroborates what the male gaze wants (the male gaze being everywhere, and not just a literal looking-at by men) or when men get a hold of those tapes and start hooting and hollering at what is or is not there that they would desire (the male gaze redefining the work of women to suit their needs).

It seems as if women are, to Tyme, these barely active creatures on the margin of a universe ruled by hostile men. Creative actions taken by women are ineffectual as long as they are in the presence or possible future presence of men and their bestial, abusive urges. Even attempts to reclaim porn solely for women are marred by their ideological proximity to male-run child porn rings. Further, as Tyme explains, she'd rather sex not be held so high on the ladder of needs in the first place - focussing on the liberatory qualities of alternative, feminist porn is, I guess, just a dangerous distraction that takes away from a proper celebration of athletics.

To try to reclaim "pornography" as something that can liberate women, or even just plain get them off guilt-free, let alone get men off without negative effects, does not make sense in her worldview. It's hard not to sympathize with where Tyme is coming from, but I don't think her point of view on this issue holds very much water.

It's enlightening reading RedEmma's comments. Tyme represents part of a radical past whose worldview itself just plain isn't contemporary. Tyme is very, very far from "stupid" or "bad" - she's just from another era. I guess the strange thing is seeing someone from the Left being so (small-c) conservative, but hey, it happens.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:50 PM on May 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


Rather hard to take seriously a person who used the word "growthfully" and genuinely corrected a person to say "differently abled".
posted by wilful at 10:28 PM on May 9, 2010


...I am sincerely bother by the idea that one needs penetration for sex. Seriously people. You can have an orgasm without fingers or licking or sucking. Seriously. You can even have sex without the orgasm. It's absolutely well fucked up how that's being discussed.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:36 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


(If i could amend my post, it would be to say that that generation of Lesbian Feminists are over seventy, actually. If they were in their twenties and thirties in the sixties... yeah.)
posted by RedEmma at 6:26 AM on May 10, 2010


genuinely corrected a person to say "differently abled".

Yeah, this. If you're going to interrupt someone to correct their choice of words, you'd damn well better know what you're talking about. And no one I've ever met in the disability theory and disability activism worlds likes "differently abled". Granted, different era, etc, etc. But again: if you're going to interrupt someone while they're in the middle of making a point, you should be on firm footing. Especially when that person is talking about interactions they've had with the group in question, which would leave their vocabulary perhaps dated, but also quite possibly more accurate (for the time) than yours.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 6:32 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tyme is very, very far from "stupid" or "bad" - she's just from another era

So is my grandmother, but if you ask her about Manchester she'll tell you how nice it used to be "before all the darkies moved in." I would not expect anyone to go to bat for her views on race relations on account of her being from another era, and would expect people would instead dismiss them as an anachronism without knowing or caring "where she's coming from".
posted by Kirk Grim at 7:51 AM on May 10, 2010


One person in that conversation was dodging questions like a pro, and it wasn't Sprinkle. It's hard to take anyone seriously when they duck and weave so consistently like that.

That's not a flat dismissal, that's the sign of a working bullshit detector.
posted by Aquaman at 7:59 AM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


So is my grandmother, but if you ask her about Manchester she'll tell you how nice it used to be "before all the darkies moved in."

There is a difference between a white person believing that black people are coming to destroy them and a lesbian who grew up in the 50s and 60s being wary and rejecting of Patriarchal culture. The first is paranoia and fantasy; the second is maybe extreme but born out of bitter experience. Remember that women were arrested not all that long ago for wearing "too much male clothing." Lesbians still get their kids taken away or fail to gain custody of the children they and their partners have raised because their relationship is not only not recognized by the state but actively attacked. The surprise is not that there are bitter angry lesbians of that age but that there are relatively few of them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:02 AM on May 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


So is my grandmother, but if you ask her about Manchester she'll tell you how nice it used to be "before all the darkies moved in." I would not expect anyone to go to bat for her views on race relations on account of her being from another era, and would expect people would instead dismiss them as an anachronism without knowing or caring "where she's coming from".

I don't think people are going to bat for Tyme's views, and I'd say that dismissing her views as anachronistic is part of what's going on here.

the difference maker is the "caring 'where she's coming from' " part. I don't think anyone here shares Tyme's level of distrust of men as a group. But I think it's plain that many people can see why someone who lived through life at her age and may have experienced any of a terrifyingly large number of available traumatic experiences at the hands of men might have developed that level of mistrust. This doesn't justify or validate her views on men, but it goes a long way toward seeing her as a whole person and not a figurehead for misandry.

If the goal is to create a situation where people are free to engage with one another without fear and without blanket judgments, then understanding how people develop feelings like those of Ms. Tyme is crucial. Because she comes from a generation that did a lot of the front line fighting for equality and most of that generation's activists experienced some truly fucked up shit. Most women, period, experience some truly fucked up shit in their lives. And working to overcome that and prevent it involves unpacking the way those experiences affect the women who are traumatized by them, and taking care to understand the resultant attitudes in the light of that trauma. This doesn't mean that you take everything Tyme says and give it equal weight. It obviously doesn't mean that. But it does mean that the most helpful and constructive stance to take is the one Ms. Sprinkle has taken, which is to recognize that Tyme is someone who can be spoken with, even if agreement is not within reasonable expectations.
posted by shmegegge at 8:12 AM on May 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


I was googling around to try and find out how old Mae Tyme is (pretty old judging by her comment "I was in my thirties when feminism came along") when I noticed page after page of google hits on her name exclusively referenced this specific conversation and ONLY this conversation. Admittedly, I do not do as much radical feminist reading as I once did and I assumed it was MY lack in not remembering Mae Tyme's activism; but I am wondering if this interview is being disingenuous in suggesting it is a "meeting of the minds" between two people equally invested (and educated) in the issue of pornography or more like Richard Dawkins debating a teen walmart cashier wearing a WWJD bracelet. In the conversation itself, she isn't even called an activist, just anti-pornography.

my whole problem with Tyme isn't that she has weird sex (or non-sex), but that she is a public figure and it's considered her job to argue about this stuff she clearly doesn't understand.

I like Annie (and respect her considerable intellect), but the reframing of this as a conversation between activist equal by some up-thread is inaccurate, and I think Annie should have been more clear in who she was debating.
posted by saucysault at 10:27 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Frankly, I think both Tyme and the racist grandmother should be treated with equal empathy. I don't think Tyme's particular prejudice - her fear/hatred of men - should be either put on a pedestal or Otherized as something only a loon would believe.

Plenty of women survived that era, and eras previous, without falling off the edge as Tyme appears to have. Tyme is not stupid or bad for having come out of her experiences with this negative baggage - she's just human. That said, the fact that she is a woman and a lesbian, even one who has gone through so much, does not mean her behavior should be held to a lower standard. She is, as others have pointed out, a public figure speaking out on certain topics. The flipside is that she is, indeed, human. "Walk a hundred miles in her moccasins" and all that.

It's easy to dump on the racist grandmother, too, because she says bad things about "the darkies." She indulges in racism that was wrong then and is wrong now. I think it would be too easy to dismiss such people, though. Don't Otherize prejudice as something only a loon would believe. Speaking of trauma - I know at least two people who fit to a T the "racist grandma" image, both of whom who had suffered serious traumatic experiences at the hands of their chosen hated minority. Sad irony is that both of these people had been working in those minority communities before these traumas occurred. While this does not justify their later prejudice, there is something very human about their fear and hatred, especially when earlier they had been predisposed to a more peaceful, inclusive existence.

My point is that the "racist grandma" and Tyme are both empathetic, human, products of their times, and wrong, and it's not meant as a gratuitous insult to Tyme to say that they're closer together than either would think. They're just human.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:46 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the conversation itself, she isn't even called an activist, just anti-pornography.

Should have previewed. That's a good point.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:47 AM on May 10, 2010


It's easy to dump on the racist grandmother, too, because she says bad things about "the darkies." She indulges in racism that was wrong then and is wrong now. I think it would be too easy to dismiss such people, though. Don't Otherize prejudice as something only a loon would believe.
Oh fuck those people. "Racist Grandmas" vote for shit like the Arazona Law and all sorts of other onerous policies.

Man hating lesbians old-school are largely irrelevant, but still annoying.
posted by delmoi at 1:46 PM on May 11, 2010


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