It’s a double-bind: consume, but look like you don’t
October 8, 2013 8:40 AM   Subscribe



 
Hmm I had no idea this essayist wrote the Netflix article posted yesterday by the Whelk too, and a bunch of other good stuff. What a champ!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:51 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Postfeminist women have been equally affected by the ubiquity of porn: teens are now reporting that they’re expected to engage in “porny” behaviors...very early on, in large part because their partners have been immersed in media that depicts and normalizes those behaviors...

As a related bit of anectdata...The missus, via her work in an adoption agency, has remarked in the past that anal sex is a pretty common activity among teen girls/birthmoms. Apparently it's a) requested by the boys, and b) seen as an alternate form of birth control.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:59 AM on October 8, 2013


The missus, via her work in an adoption agency, has remarked in the past that anal sex is a pretty common activity among teen girls/birthmoms. Apparently it's a) requested by the boys, and b) seen as an alternate form of birth control.

Perhaps a resurgence of Catharism?
posted by zombieflanders at 9:08 AM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Perhaps a resurgence of Catharism?
Sadly, it's probably more a case of "He won't love me if I don't do it."
posted by Thorzdad at 9:11 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Birth control is still a thing for western teenagers? When I was a kid they just gave out free condoms at the docs and at school.
posted by colie at 9:12 AM on October 8, 2013


That's because you're not in the US.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:14 AM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Your brain on porn! — but wait, it's not addictive
posted by Tom-B at 9:34 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sadly, it's probably more a case of "He won't love me if I don't do it."

If this is a common theme perhaps students need classes on relationships on top of sex-ed. Specifically, not letting them become the defining center point of ones life, avoiding shitty ones, escaping abusive ones, maintaining balance, etc etc.

That, or perhaps a mind-wipe of the individuals cognizant of the effects of such relationship ploys and who continue forward regardless.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:55 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's because you're not in the US

Condoms and instruction their use were widely available in schools US when I was a teen(early 90's). this was in a pretty rural, conservative place too.
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:11 AM on October 8, 2013


One of the longer porn clips in Don Jon features adult actress Sunny Lane, showing off her barely clad body for a camera. Lane is fascinating, and not just because she is an excellent porn star. She trained as an ice dancer before a career-ending injury turned her toward stripping, and then porn. Lane's parents managed her ice dancing career, and transitioned into managing her porn career. Her mother formerly sewed her ice dancing costumes and now makes Sunny Lane's outfits for dancing and porn. Her dad claims he's never seen his daughter's work. Porn stars, even amateurs, are only faceless and interchangeable if you want them to be. Watch enough of anything and you'll get to know the repertory players.

I find it telling that the focus of these articles catering to a mass audience is always "famous" or marquee porn actresses.

The porn is generic and boring, a commodity, almost wholesome in a way. It's just the tip of the iceberg.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:14 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Condoms and instruction their use were widely available in schools US when I was a teen(early 90's). this was in a pretty rural, conservative place too.

I was in high school in the mid-90s, and that was definitely not the case for me in suburban St. Louis. I suspect it is pretty regional.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:15 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Her mother formerly sewed her ice dancing costumes and now makes Sunny Lane's outfits for dancing and porn.

If even the 'famous' porn actors have their mums making their outfits, it suggests that the money is not really very good.
posted by colie at 10:25 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a second wave feminist turned sex-positive third wavey feminist. I know a bunch of sex workers to various degrees of closeness. I know a couple of porn actors (women, mostly) as rare acquaintances. I don't see porn actors (of any sex/gender) as faceless, but it is easy to see them as strangers. The film producers make it so. I think a lot of people who consume porn are used to seeing the actors that way.

I saw Don Jon and liked it. I liked a few particular scenes in it, especially the ending, which struck me as true, if still fictional. It was a good ending.

And Julianne Moore did a spectacular job. Also Scarlett Johansson.

And I liked the sister's one line, which was well written and well delivered.

Sometimes we only need to take the slightest deviations from our perceived fates to find the better narrative and possibly be, in a sense, heroic.

The movie also twigged me to the ways I was sort of not entirely healthily (for me, a purely personal thing) using porn myself, and I appreciate that. It was good for me to see the movie even if only for that.

Also, it did play with archetypes and prejudice about certain types of people. And some of those types were simple archetypes and I could see how that would be offensive. But the narrative also seemed to me to be very clearly and tightly the main character's perspective and the way he saw the world. So I consumed the archetypes in the movie in much the same way - that they were the way he saw the world.
posted by kalessin at 10:25 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


After reading this I am very curious to see the film. It's interesting that culture-wise there is an undercurrent still that pornography is wrong somehow, but it's also generally accepted that this is what men do and it's not very acceptable to even discuss it either way in a relationship. On one hand people like Dan Savage have advised people that it's something you should just assume and it's wrong to even question its use at all. On the other hand we have the growing hyperbole (NoFap/Your Brain on Porn) that it's addictive on a neurological level and we all have to stop watching it. The entire conversation is completely dysfunctional and I hope movies like this will change it.

It's interesting to me because there is also the undercurrent that pornography has forced a lot of women into doing sex acts they are not very interested in doing just because their boyfriends/husbands/etc. expect it because of pornography. But what about women who do enjoy these acts? Who learned about them probably because of pornography but are glad that they know about them?

To be the problem is that it's just taboo in general to talk about these acts (and how to do them in a pleasurable way!) AND it's taboo to question pornography, despite the role it plays in so many lives.
posted by melissam at 10:34 AM on October 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


On the other hand we have the growing hyperbole (NoFap/Your Brain on Porn) that it's addictive on a neurological level and we all have to stop watching it.

That stuff is just bonkers - the idea that men (men!) are the real victims of porn. When in fact there are millions of women in porn churning over every day, and perhaps a couple dozen of them, in all human history, have made a decent long term living/life from it.

There are victims of exploitation everywhere and sometimes it happens inside the production of porn. Not really to consumers.
posted by colie at 10:41 AM on October 8, 2013


That stuff is just bonkers - the idea that men (men!) are the real victims of porn. When in fact there are millions of women in porn churning over every day, and perhaps a couple dozen of them, in all human history, have made a decent long term living/life from it.

Are not male porn actors just as disposable, if not more so?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:47 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


zombieflanders: "The missus, via her work in an adoption agency, has remarked in the past that anal sex is a pretty common activity among teen girls/birthmoms. Apparently it's a) requested by the boys, and b) seen as an alternate form of birth control.

Perhaps a resurgence of Catharism?
"

It took me over 20 years to find out my ex-girlfriend from high school really didn't like anal that much. Yeah, for the reason you suppose.

Yeah, more guilt for me. yay.
posted by Samizdata at 10:52 AM on October 8, 2013


There are millions of women in porn churning over every day? Really? That doesn't seem factual at all.

I don't think there's conclusive evidence over sex/porn addiction one way or the other yet, but clearly there are some cultural issues around the technological ubiquity of it and our response.

The consumption of porn isn't a moral issue, the production of porn is OFTEN but not always a moral issue, but the consumption of porn for both men and women often comes with/leads to relationship/mental health issues outside of the moral issues, and the whole movement of thinking about it is timely and necessary, as well as teaching boys and girls how to live in a world with limitless porn. The nofap/yourbrainonporn is an interesting response.
posted by C.A.S. at 10:53 AM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


These kids today are spoiled rotten. When I was a teen we used the Macy's catalogue and we liked it.
posted by Justinian at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Macy's catalogue! Such luxury! All we had was the Sears catalogue.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:01 AM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


I fondly remember the Sport's Illustrated Swimsuit catalog. Now I imagine that's just not even a thing for kids.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:04 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are not male porn actors just as disposable, if not more so?

It would appear not, since there are only around 20-30 of them in circulation in mainstream porn. Some have had 10-20 year careers.
posted by colie at 11:06 AM on October 8, 2013


SEARS catalogue? How ostentatious! My father handed me an illustrated William Blake pamphlet and handful of gravel of an evening and I considered myself lucky just to get 4 minutes alone in the outhouse.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:07 AM on October 8, 2013 [30 favorites]


Now I imagine that's just not even a thing for kids.

More seriously, by the mid-90s everyone in my peer group knew a BBS where you could download EGA nudie pics and crude animations (quite the upgrade from ASCII porn, I'm sure), so the swimsuit catalog seemed quaint even then. By college (~2000) I had a friend who collected actual Playboys in paper and it seemed like a hilarious affectation.

The BBS was run by the father of a friend. It was super weird, but not as weird as when he gave me the number to his other, secret BBS and it was all about survivalism/anti-government stuff. Nice fellow, but a weird dad.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:12 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


there are only around 20-30 of them in circulation in mainstream porn

Cite?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:16 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would appear not, since there are only around 20-30 of them in circulation in mainstream porn. Some have had 10-20 year careers.

That's not even accurate for straight porn, but you're also ignoring gay porn.
posted by zixyer at 11:18 AM on October 8, 2013


melissam: “On the other hand we have the growing hyperbole (NoFap/Your Brain on Porn) that it's addictive on a neurological level and we all have to stop watching it.”

colie: “That stuff is just bonkers - the idea that men (men!) are the real victims of porn. When in fact there are millions of women in porn churning over every day, and perhaps a couple dozen of them, in all human history, have made a decent long term living/life from it. There are victims of exploitation everywhere and sometimes it happens inside the production of porn. Not really to consumers.”

I totally agree that this weird obsession with "evil porn is sapping my precious bodily essence" or whatever is at best problematic and at worst awful and damaging. Moreover, I agree that ignoring or downplaying the exploitation that exists among the makers of pornography and the women (and men) who star in it is a huge mistake.

However, I don't think it's totally ridiculous to look at the impact porn as a commodity has on the people who consume it. I think there's a strong case that, while looking at pictures of naked people having sex is in itself a relatively neutral activity, there are certain types of porn that might cause a certain amount of dysphoria surrounding a person's sense of themselves and their values. And, even aside from that, it seems as though an honest look at our society as it is pretty much puts the lie to the idea that consumers are never being exploited.
posted by koeselitz at 11:21 AM on October 8, 2013


Even after looking over the other linked pieces, it's very hard to tell what Petersen thinks "postfeminist" means — most of the places she uses the word, and even when she defines it (as a "cultural mode," whatever that is), it seems like anti- would fit the argument a lot better than post-. Is she trying to obliquely imply some kind of Backlash-esque historical argument, or is she signaling some Paglia-esque allegiance that I'm not getting? Why make "feminism" the base word for the contemporary form of fucked-up gender dynamics that she's trying to diagnose — surely feminism isn't really the primary historical driver of the contemporary gender problematic?
posted by RogerB at 11:24 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


RogerB I was confused about that too (I am not at all up on my jargon) and she defines it in one of the links at the top of the essay here.

Postfeminism is, most explicitly, the idea that feminism is no longer necessary. Feminism accomplished its goals in the ’70s and ’80s, and we’re ready to move on and just “be” women, whatever that means. (Suggestions that we live in a “post-race” society often hinge on the idea that a black president means that racism is no longer an issue in our society, let alone a defining issue). We don’t need feminism, we just need “girl power” – a very different concept than the “grrl power” that undergirded the Riot Grrl movement of the early ’90s (which was, itself, a response to the rise of postfeminism). Postfeminism is forgoing freedoms or equal rights in the name of prettier dresses, more expensive make-up, and other sartorial “freedoms” to consume. Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman is postfeminism manifest — a self-sustaining (sex worker) who meets her prince, who will allow her to consume (and become her “true” self). Sex & the City is postfeminist. Bridget Jones is postfeminist. 27 Dresses is postfeminist.

In short, the idea that consumption and self-objectification (which usually leads to romantic monogamy) = equal rights and equal treatment is postfeminist.


Not sure I agree with her, but doesn't seem too far-fetched a concept.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:29 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right, yeah, and there's another bit about it in the Hairpin piece she links:

They weren’t emblematic of second or third wave feminism, but of postfeminism—the belief that feminism, as a movement and a real politik, is no longer necessary.

Under postfeminism, freedom to choose becomes freedom to consume: which shoe (Jimmy Choo), which drink (Cosmopolitan), and which meal (brunch) defines me as a person? It also marked the return of many of the things for which first and second wave feminism fought so ardently to leave behind: staying at home and funneling your energy into “putting a ring on it.”

But it’s not like postfeminism was an identity marker—no one goes around saying “I’m a postfeminist,” and Carrie certainly didn’t, either. It’s a cultural mode, like “post-9/11” or even, to some extent, postmodernism. When I teach postfeminism, I point to Pretty Woman and the students kinda get it; then I point to Sex and the City and they really get it.


Still doesn't make much sense to me — none of this is really an argument so much as an assertion of a definition, like "postfeminism" just automatically means "the contemporary gender problematic."
posted by RogerB at 11:33 AM on October 8, 2013


there are only around 20-30 of them in circulation in mainstream porn

Cite?

I'm not up for the task at the moment, but it wouldn't be difficult to scroll through the past year or three of scenes at Brazzers or any other major porn site and get some realistic numbers regarding the churn for actors and acresses in mainstream het porn. Obviously not going to reflect the whole industry, but I suspect it would be illuminating (especially when you consider that the major sites are far more likely to reuse veteran actresses than the bit players in the industry).
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:41 AM on October 8, 2013


The consumption of porn isn't a moral issue, the production of porn is OFTEN but not always a moral issue, but the consumption of porn for both men and women often comes with/leads to relationship/mental health issues outside of the moral issues, and the whole movement of thinking about it is timely and necessary, as well as teaching boys and girls how to live in a world with limitless porn.

Interesting way to put it.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:42 AM on October 8, 2013


Potomac Avenue: "SEARS catalogue? How ostentatious! My father handed me an illustrated William Blake pamphlet and handful of gravel of an evening and I considered myself lucky just to get 4 minutes alone in the outhouse."

A Blake pamphlet, gravel AND an outhouse? What masterful strokes of good fortune! We used to dream of a gravelly outhouse romp. In my day, we had nothing more than a chilly cave with faded elk-blood drawings on the walls and the sole solace of a pinecone.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:08 PM on October 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


related
posted by lazaruslong at 12:15 PM on October 8, 2013


Why do people so often talk about "consuming" a porn flick, anyway? Nobody talked about how they consumed Gravity last weekend?
posted by Justinian at 12:37 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps a resurgence of Catharism?
...and suddenly the awkward anal sex scene in Damsels in Distress makes THAT MUCH MORE sense.

Sorry, you were saying?
posted by pxe2000 at 12:42 PM on October 8, 2013


Why do people so often talk about "consuming" a porn flick, anyway?

Presumably because either (a) they want to emphasize how different from other kinds of media viewing the act of porn-watching is, and/or (b) they're trying to understand porn as an economic artifact, the product of an industry, rather than a set of cultural texts viewed in isolation from the conditions of their production and circulation?
posted by RogerB at 12:43 PM on October 8, 2013


You can call it feminism, postfeminism, or porny good times...all I know is that pegging a guy is fun.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:59 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why do people so often talk about "consuming" a porn flick, anyway?
Because most people only use as much as they need of any given porn flick.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:07 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me that although I'm sure it exists, I don't think I've ever seen any porn that includes pegging, and I in fact haven't even sort of seen it on like lists of porn downloads and stuff. Probably not very common for dudes to want to watch it (I guess?).
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:08 PM on October 8, 2013


I don't think I've ever seen any porn that includes pegging
Go do a search for Bend Over Boyfriend. I'll wait.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:10 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll wait too - until I get home at least. Should I leave it strategically opened on a laptop where my wife can find it?
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:21 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


That would be an amazing Ask MetaFilter question from your wife.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:22 PM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


You're making a rather large assumption there about who wants what, and needs to convince the other person. You're probably right though.
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:24 PM on October 8, 2013


There's plenty of pegging porns. And you will have to take me at my word when I say plenty of menfolk like both the pegging porns and the actual act of being pegged.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:54 PM on October 8, 2013


There is arguably more pegging porn than any other kind of porn on the market. The thing is that, in most pegging porn, the pegging of men is done by other men.
posted by koeselitz at 2:00 PM on October 8, 2013


That's more like Rogering isn't it?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:14 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the next Mad Men...
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:15 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, pegging is explicitly the practice of a woman penetrating a man's butt with a strap-on. If it's a man it isn't pegging, it's just gay sex.
posted by Justinian at 2:15 PM on October 8, 2013




"Sadly, it's probably more a case of "He won't love me if I don't do it."

Since when hasn't that been an issue for some women, regardless of the type of sexual act that is being performed? Why should we look at anal sex as inherently any better or worse than any other type?

I have a younger girlfriend, and all I can say is... porn cuts both ways. She doesn't watch much in the way of internet porn, but she spent her teens awash in highly sexualized Japanese manga and doujinshi... yuri, yaoi, shibari hentai, tentacle porn, petplay, etc. She still reads it. It's her porn.

A single English site like FAKKU gets over 1 billion page views a month... and there are lots more where that came from. And the audience is predominantly young and disproportionately female.

I'm actually a bit stunned by just how sexually exploratory people are at such an early age nowadays. And frankly, in amongst all of that exploration, there's also more than a bit of maturity that's being intentionally shown, by engaging in sexual behaviors that are not only not your typical PIV, but are, in fact, forms of safer sex.

So if women today are engaging in sexual acts that are generally considered more edgy and kinkier than in years past, I would personally bet that a lot of the reason for that has to do with their own interest, in addition to that of their partners. There's not only more porn out there of every variety, but also more information to make informed, responsible decisions.
posted by markkraft at 2:53 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


As far as the manufacture of porn goes, Prostitution and Pornography: Philosophical Debate About the Sex Industry is a terrific book on the subject. I've repped it before on this site. It presents a collection of essays from a variety of viewpoints. It helps show that the sex industry is neither simple nor uniform. Sex workers have a wide variety of experiences - many highly positive, many highly negative, many just plain mixed.

Nobody with a one-size-fits-all-answer knows what they're talking about. With regard to a policy on the sex industry as a whole, you cannot make a sane comparison between an educated, middle-class person who chose to enter the sex industry as an adult with an indigent person who was forced into it when they were 12. There are also of course many degrees in between.

...

Even having lived a relatively quiet, strait-laced life, I've still run into people who are sex workers in one way or another. (I also know someone from film school who went on to direct porn.) It's a small, self-selected sample, but all of those people were all capable, self-aware adults. They were no more neurotic or exploited than the people whom I've met through law school or work.

That said, those people's lives are very different from those of many, many others who work in the sex industry, many of whom who are treated little better than slaves or indentured servants.

Again, experiences vary wildly within the sex industry. The world is a big and complicated place.

...

Within the past week, I saw a very sad article about one porn star who had recently been forced back into the game. Ironically, it wasn't the malfeasance of the porn industry at fault, but the malfeasance of everybody else. She had left porn, so that she could go to school and work in "real" jobs. Well, two degrees later, she would stillconstantly be fired from her places of work whenever she was recognized. So, she had to go back to porn, even though it's not what she had wanted to do. Simply awful.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:58 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I watched this film with a woman who was previously a sexual partner. We discussed porn, masturbation, and difficulty in achieving orgasm. We both decided we're going to try not masturbating for a while to see what happens. Maybe the movie had some issues, but it got us talking about these topics and deciding to try some changes.
posted by orme at 3:26 PM on October 8, 2013


SEARS catalogue? How ostentatious! My father handed me an illustrated William Blake pamphlet and handful of gravel of an evening and I considered myself lucky just to get 4 minutes alone in the outhouse.

William Blake!? I had to go to the open field a mile away from home with a handful of chestnuts and a copy of In Memoriam, and by god, I feel it when I sorrow most.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:37 PM on October 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I saw the movie last weekend. [spoiler alert] I didn't find it entirely anti-porn. On the contrary, I think the movie actually addressed the main character's feelings towards porn in a slightly nuanced way -- his "addiction" to porn wasn't born out of a desire for perfect bodies, "degrading" sex acts, compliant women, etc. -- but out of a desire to escape his own brain (which I suppose, is the source of many addictive behaviors, but I digress).

I don't think it's wrong to suggest that porn can be easier, and sometimes more satisfying, than partner sex. In my view, that isn't a matter of failing to see real life partners as fully-formed people, but more about the challenges of achieving real let-yourself-go intimacy with another person.

That being said, I wish the movie had refrained from adhering to such rigid gender stereotypes, especially with the two main characters and the porn v. romance parallel. I suppose the gendered behavior was intended to be taken as somewhat mocking (I think?), but it weighed the whole thing down for me. I also wish that Julianne Moore hadn't swept in at the end to give Jon the gift of good sex. It was sweet, but verging on Manic Sexy Dream Woman. And where was Scarlett's relationship awakening?
posted by snarfles at 5:48 PM on October 8, 2013


SPOILER ALERT now you've made me have to go see this film, since you reveal Julianne Moore sweeps in to deliver the gift of good sex. She is my all time Manic Sexy Dream Woman.

Joking aside, that's a good comment, re addiction and the brain, intimacy, and gender. Although, some believe the reason for the gender inbalance when talking about porn addiction is the Coolidge Effect.
posted by C.A.S. at 10:36 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


William Blake!? I had to go to the open field a mile away from home with a handful of chestnuts and a copy of In Memoriam, and by god, I feel it when I sorrow most.

Puh-leeeze! The only alone time I ever got was when I faked having to go number two during Sunday School so I could perform my Onanistic rites using nothing but a pump of powder soap and the 1986 issue of Today's Missal.
posted by clorox at 12:14 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I.... had dial up and the slow picture loading speed sometimes subjected me to Surprise Penis? #notfeelingthatoldtoday

also #notgoingtoseehowoldthatreallymakesme
posted by Jacen at 1:12 PM on October 9, 2013


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