"years ago slavery was considered popular"
August 3, 2005 9:42 AM   Subscribe

9 Anti-Porn Myths Debunked, a July entry on the porn-industry blog SugarBank, generated some pretty good debate on the subject of degradation. Comments have been closed, so now I'd like to read what you people think (yes, I'm a selfish, greedy prick). Yesterday, I was firmly in SugarBank's camp, but after reading this today, I'm not so sure. It's about porn, so maybe NSFW, but there's no dirty pictures or anything.
posted by If I Had An Anus (103 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite


 
Porn porn,
Yawn yawn.
posted by meehawl at 9:48 AM on August 3, 2005


Wow, you read fast, meehawl.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 9:49 AM on August 3, 2005


Wow, you read fast, meehawl.

Yes. I put it down to a mispent youth.

I hew to a systemic, Foucadian perspective regarding porn. It's no surprise that the United States, one of the more developed market economies, is also one of the more polarized, with massive, diametrically opposed cultural engines both promoting and restricting deviancy (and frequently within the same large organization, witness News Corp both promoting reactionary politics on Fox News and selling porn through its satellite networks). This is a fundamental economic activity that complexifies and mutates the culture, producing profitable cultural capital on both sides of the cultural continuum.

Simply put, the United States produces an undue proportion of the world's religions, cults and new deviancies simply because these represent profitable cultural capital. The regimes of coercion deployed within these spheres produce an ongoing resistance that can be harnessed to creativity and to profitability.

If you look at the history of deviancy in the West, it correlates quite well with the development of technologically advanced, fossil-fuel powered marketplace economies.

In less recent phases of the modern era, the most advanced centres of marketplace activites were not found in the US: they were in Victorian Britain, France, and Germany. It is therefore little surprise that during the late industrial revolution, the urban centres of these regions gave birth to great moral and religious crusades while also supporting semi-autonomous zones of extraordinary deviancy.

Money gets everyone hard.
posted by meehawl at 10:04 AM on August 3, 2005


Bukkake is degrading? I'm shocked, SHOCKED!
posted by clevershark at 10:05 AM on August 3, 2005


I don't know, the first link seems pretty good, the second link not so much. I liked it ok, but wanted something a bit more, it was too cute to stand as any real critique.

But the second link also raises something addressed in the first link, which is that anecdote serves as argument about a lot of things, and about porn in particular. Many critiques boil down to "it hurts the women in the industry," and while that may be true (I'm not saying that it isn't true, and it isn't one of the critiques addressed in the first link), mostly anecdote is used to prove it. I went to a very liberal, very sex-positive college, and more than a few of the women I knew there ended up in different parts of the porn industry, where they felt like they had plenty of power and made plenty of money. Now, that doesn't prove anything, which is just my point, but if negative anecdote is going to count as argument, so too should positive anecdote.

And, not too get to "undergraduate philosophy" or anything, but I've always found it interesting that a different ontological status is granted to the fiction of pornography. A Jane Austen movie is recognized all around to be fiction, and is enjoyed (or not) on the grounds which the fiction sets out, but pornography is not only deemed somehow more real, but its effects are made inescapable in the real world. It's a situation in which the very real material consequences of marriage: women being beholden to their husbands, fortunes being based on slave-holding and plundering during war, are blithely dismissed as quaint and romantic, while the nonce consequences of a good fuck are grounds for the most earnest indignation. (And I LOVE Jane Austen, which is perhaps the most personal thing I ever hope to write on MeFi.)
posted by OmieWise at 10:10 AM on August 3, 2005


I say we eliminate ALL industries that are degrading, and sit around chewing cud all day.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:11 AM on August 3, 2005


I stopped reading when it Godwin'd.
posted by Plutor at 10:15 AM on August 3, 2005


I'm curious - how do your opinions of pornography differ with those regarding prostitution? Both are between consenting adults, but one could make the claim that the some of the "myths" in the linked article are more true of prostitution than pornography.

Also, how do your opinions change when outside the US/UK? Like pornography (or prostitution, if you wish) in Eastern Europe, or Thailand?
posted by Moral Animal at 10:16 AM on August 3, 2005


I don't buy the first point in the first link, that porn doesn't harm children. I don't think that nudity or the act of sex itself would be very damaging, but reinforcing the objectification of women would be. Do we really want our kids to think that women get a lot of self-satisfaction out of a man standing over her, ejaculating on her face?
posted by surferboy at 10:26 AM on August 3, 2005


Ok, after reading it again the author does address scenes of "degredation." So I guess we just have to make sure the kid watches the one tasteful video on the shelf.
posted by surferboy at 10:28 AM on August 3, 2005


One of the comments, and the last link, get into a bit, but the first article completely ignores the reality of why the actors are participating. It focuses exclusively on the consumer -- "Sex is good! Stop regulating what I see!" -- and I think his points on that are valid, but ignores what the industry does to the actors.

Which is the only reason I personally am anti-porn, so I don't feel that anything got debunked here.
posted by occhiblu at 10:41 AM on August 3, 2005


surferboy, do "we"? I can only answer for me. I have three children, two of them girls. When my kids are adults, if they want to have men ejaculating on their faces, so be it. I have no problem with that.

If I have raised such simple-minded people that they actually think "ah, look how happy that woman in the porno is in that situation, I guess I should be too or else something is wrong with me", then I will have failed as a parent. The trick is to raise strong smart kids, not to protect them from all moral/ethical/emotional challenges. The latter simply leads to weakness and dependency, IMHO.

If my kids saw a porno and asked me about the apparent happiness of the porno actresses, I'd explain the concept of acting. Just like the lady in the dawn soap commercial isn't really that ecstatically happy about her dish detergent, neither is the porno woman. Actually, that would be a positive, growing type of conversation I'd enjoy having with my children, regardless of their age.
posted by Invoke at 10:43 AM on August 3, 2005


Metafilter: a semi-autonomous zone of extraordinary deviancy.
posted by ToasT at 10:53 AM on August 3, 2005


Fair enough, but will you also explain that the woman might have gotten in to the business because she is from a broken home, maybe started out as a stripper and told herself "I'll NEVER do porn!" Maybe she had a drug problem she wanted to fund, or, like Linda Lovelace admitted, had a "gun pointed at her head." I think it's overly simplistic to say they are acting because they enjoy their craft.

I'm not anti-porn, but I guess I am a little wary of having the right to introduce children to adult things, as long as I'm a "good parent" and put it in the "right context." Sometimes there is no right context, and I don't want my child to grapple with the evils of the world before he gets out of the sandbox.
posted by surferboy at 10:55 AM on August 3, 2005


occhiblu: but ignores what the industry does to the actors.

I am very sympathetic with this point of view, but I can't really see how it justifies prohibition. We know the kind of negative effects prohibition on prostitution and drugs causes. Also, how different is the porn industry from high fashion modelling? Is it really more degrading and less healthy physically or mentally?

In the extreme examples porn is a really really nasty business, that is for sure. It is interesting that the mainstreaming of porn has influenced both the most positive and the most negative aspects. There are actually healthy people making a healthy living in the industry, that wouldn't be possible if porn wasn't becoming acceptable. On the other hand, some producers feel the need to push the limits further...
posted by Chuckles at 11:05 AM on August 3, 2005



porn is for perverts

I remember when saying someone was perverted was just a funny way of saying they had a healthy strong sex drive.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:05 AM on August 3, 2005


Yeah, surferboy, and what about the wait staff at restruants? I know dozens of wait-people who came from broken homes, feel terribly degraded by their jobs, and have no choice. I personally know of several employees at mcdonalds restruants that only work their to fund their drug habits. Is porn more damaging than these vocations just because it involves sex? I personally cannot see what the difference is.

On your second point, you do not have to let you kids watch porn. And you do not have the right to tell someone else how to raise their kids. Nor do they have the right to tell you how to raise yours.
posted by zerolives at 11:05 AM on August 3, 2005


If my kids saw a porno and asked me about the apparent happiness of the porno actresses, I'd explain the concept of acting. Just like the lady in the dawn soap commercial isn't really that ecstatically happy about her dish detergent, neither is the porno woman. Actually, that would be a positive, growing type of conversation I'd enjoy having with my children, regardless of their age.

I'll lay hundred to one odds that your daughters will never initiate such a conversation with you, and neither will, or would, any sons, so the "acting" explanation will not be presented. In its absence, porn comes across to younger viewers as documentary.

I too am not against pornographic imagery in and of itself, but the industry around it, and the way Western pop culture is bound up with it, is much too serious and complex a topic to be disposed of with those nine breezy dismissals.
posted by soyjoy at 11:09 AM on August 3, 2005


On your second point, you do not have to let you kids watch porn.

That's a laugh. Because if you don't "let them," they won't see it, right?
posted by soyjoy at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2005


Might have, may have, could have, surferboy. Or not. I doubt very many burger-flippers and secretaries and factory workers enjoy their craft, either; and porn pays a lot better. And while I personally wouldn't prefer acting in porn films to, say, office temp work, it'd be a close close call.

Just because someone's naked on the internet, doesn't mean they're crack-addicted ho's. Which is what you seem to be assuming.
posted by ook at 11:13 AM on August 3, 2005


meehawl sounds like a Marxist, but an interesting perspective.

IMO this FPP reads like an apology piece, on why its ok to watch porn. If you need to apologize for it, then there must be some reason. Addicts are always justifying and making excuses for their addictions. Oh, its not addictive. Oh, just because I hide huge collections in various places doesnt mean anything. Just because I get edgy without it doesnt mean anything. Just because I spend X hours a week and X dollars on bandwidth and storage costs (not to mention subscription fees) to support it. Sex is a drug, science proves it. Food is a drug too, some people abuse that also. If you try to justify eating all you want, of anything you want, that there is no danger in overindulgence.. is that person an addict?
posted by stbalbach at 11:17 AM on August 3, 2005


(can't believe I'm about to explain the differences between a waitress and a porn actress)

The porn industry has a lot more social stigmatas attached. I wouldn't mind having my job at Blockbuster on my resume, but try to work your way up a male-dominated corporate world when they find out you starred in "Pokahotass" or set the record for most number of guys fucked in 24 hours. For a lot of women - and granted, not all- it's a sad cycle.
posted by surferboy at 11:22 AM on August 3, 2005


From the first link:
"If I’d have seen an image of a man ejaculating I would have asked what all that white stuff was, but the image wouldn’t have distressed me."

This is a joke, no?
posted by voltairemodern at 11:22 AM on August 3, 2005


surferboy, um, so what? You do realize people from broken homes with drug habits etc etc take on all kinds of 'degrading' jobs? If you're going to mandate that people enjoy their craft I figure you'd end up firing 9 out of 10 people.

And soyjoy, kids are a lot smarter than you think. None but the most very sheltered kids would ever conceive of porn as documentary. I mean really... MTV, magazines... they're porn. It's quite clear that young women don't have to be exposed to the hardcore stuff in order to develop the various complexes that plague them. So the kids are already hip to it and they're (relatively) alright. Further, people fucking isn't so bad. I'd rather kids watch porn than half the simplistic crap they're continually exposed to throughout the day.

There is a cultural argument to be made against porn but like any such argument it depends on a common acceptance of cultural values. I do believe--based purely on my own experience--that the prevalence of porn (not just the hardcore stuff) has done massive damage to the way young men and women relate to one another... but that's no reason to label it taboo.
posted by nixerman at 11:24 AM on August 3, 2005


There is a huge difference between having to wear a silly hat at McDonalds and being forced to gag on a cock in a scene of simulated rape.
posted by surferboy at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2005


And let's get back on topic. I'm not mandating that everyone "enjoy their craft." I just think that pornography and everything associated with it is not something that a young child can or should be exposed to. Why do I feel like I'm arguing that the sky is blue?
posted by surferboy at 11:33 AM on August 3, 2005


Yeah, but porn is getting really nasty these days - not for kids at all. I saw one porno where a woman was being sodomized by a room full of men until they all ejaculated in her asshole. Then she farted the semen into a cup and swallowed it. WTF? Then everyone including the film crew started pissing and shitting on each other. WTF? I thought the movie was over. Until everyone formed a pyramid in the middle of the room and shouted "The Aristocrats!."
posted by disgruntled at 11:40 AM on August 3, 2005


meehawl sounds like a Marxist

all that is solid melts into air...

I'm not sure if labelling someone as "Marxist" is constructive, or dismissive. I'm not sure if Marx ever analyzed the social economics of pornography, but I'm pretty sure he would have seen it as a top-down kind of thing. I see the economics of porn and religion as more of a bottom-up, emergent property of a closely mediated society.

Look at this discussion for example. People are actively discussing existing forms of regulation, and contemplating new or changed regulations. That is cultural innovation going on right there. This constant mutation of values serves to depreciate the old cultural capital and create new "wealth" for future generations to mine and exploit.

One of smartest things the Catholic Church ever did was to enforce private confessions during the 11th and 12th centuries. That created vast new arenas of shame and exhibitionist inter-personal urges to exploit, control, and regulate. Before, personal deviancy was exposed quickly in public town gatherings and ruthlessly eliminated. With private confessions, personal deviancy could explode and complexify in the West at a rate unseen since the heyday of the Roman Republic. We owe a great deal of what we think of as "modern" individualism to that period.

Without pornography, bible thumpers would be sorely lacking soft targets.
Without bible thumpers, pornography consumption would fall.

Is Sex Dirty? Only if it's done right!

And as for new kinks, this is definitely not safe for work, but I just found out about tranny-dwarf sex swing kink porn. That is some fierce cultural innovation right there.
posted by meehawl at 11:44 AM on August 3, 2005


surferboy, no, there's not much of a difference. They're jobs that nobody wants to do but some do for various reasons. Porn actresses aren't "forced" to do anything, so just get over that. The "degredation" argument is just not going to fly in a democracy.

The "think of the children" argument also doesn't fly very far. (1) The notion that porn damages children in any meaningful way is, to put it lightly, a load of crap. In other countries children are regularly exposed to porn or the equivalents and there are no widespread, significant consequences. (2) The rest of the culture is already so saturated with sex and the such that it's not even logical to mark off hardcore porn as 'extra bad'. (3) There are already tons of existing laws and regulations that heavily restrict access to porn as is. The idea that porn is under regulated and harming children is a fantasy for people who get off on that sort of thing.
posted by nixerman at 11:46 AM on August 3, 2005


surferboy writes "There is a huge difference between having to wear a silly hat at McDonalds and being forced to gag on a cock in a scene of simulated rape."

surferboy, we get it, you don't like porn. The only reason you can imagine for someone to engage in it is because of some prior degradation in their lives that makes them unfit to say "no" like all the other healthy people out there. But, again, you haven't presented anything but anecdote to back up your claims about dysfunction, which, by the way, descend into hyperbole so fast that they're worthless (see the comment quoted above, who the fuck is attempting to justify "forc[ing somone] to gag on a cock in a scene of simulated rape?").

Of the five women I know personally who went in to porn: one owns several apartment buildings in the city where she lives which she bought with the proceeds; one financed a movie she made (a documentary about unionizing porn workers) and a graduate education with the proceeds; one bought a nice big house with the proceeds; one lived a life with a much higher standard of living than all of her friends (who all had BAs from the same college) before she decided to move on; one I lost touch with, but as far as I know (and I probably would have heard) she is not yet a crack whore. Not a single person I know, not a single one, whose life prospects were such that McDonalds was their best career option (and I know quite a few) has done nearly so well as those four women I mentioned.

soyjoy-Kids are very media savvy, I simply don't buy your argument that a lack of parental explanation turns porn movies into documentaries; and, the argument rests on the idea that saying porn is acceptable for adults to watch means that children will be watching it as well.

stbalbach-If the FPP contains an apology it's an apology in the face of some of unsubstantiated moral condemnations in this thread. Many people with HIV choose to hide that fact, not because they should feel guilty about it, but because the irrational stigma attached to the disease makes that the best option.

As I said in my comment above, I'm not suggesting that there are no problems with the porn industry, or no reasons to be concerned about it, but those reasons need to exceed Judeo-Christian morality, rhetoric and anecdote before they can be seriously considered.
posted by OmieWise at 11:48 AM on August 3, 2005


the United States produces an undue proportion of the world's religions, cults and new deviancies

Maybe it's because we have the time and the money to not only produce but consume said products. Perhaps similar to how I see debates on Iraq in this country: more of a sport than something we feel actually impacts us beyond our personal ideology.

As far as impact on kids, I'll share my anecdotal experience. My parents told me the basic mechanics of sex at a young age, 4 years old or so. When I was 6 years old, I saw a XXX flick my friend had taken from his parents. I thought the whole thing was comical. "Why would you do that" was something I said more than once. The sex acts had a complete lack of context for me at that age that resulted in the porn having zero impact on my sexual views later in life. By the time I was interested in sex, I had at least some clue as to respect for others along with communication skills.

Perhaps other didn't develop those skills. So it really comes down to personal freedom vs. "think of the children" arguments as many debates do. In this case I think you can argue convincingly that people who mistreat others sexually do so independent of porn viewing.
posted by MillMan at 11:49 AM on August 3, 2005


Imagine a world without porn. The deviants would start raping grannies in the streets, maybe no one would know how to have sex or perhaps everyone might go gay?

If any of the wacko right wing arguments are true, then America would be a cesspool of sexual deviants, rapists and....... uh, never mind.
posted by weezy at 11:51 AM on August 3, 2005


Nix, how can you make the blanket statement that porn actresses aren't "forced?" How can you speak for the entire community? There are different levels of "forced," but if you're not with me on anything so far, you surely won't understand the objectification of women in our culture, the glass ceiling, or any other complex psychological situation. I also think it's funny that we're men talking about things we can't possibly understand or relate to.

The banner of democracy does not protect individuals from being exploited.
posted by surferboy at 11:55 AM on August 3, 2005


OmieWise: I like porn. I watch porn. Hell I LOVE porn.

The issue at hand... and it's funny how quickly we get off-topic... is whether kids, given the right amout of coaching, can handle being exposed to porn at a young age. I say no: a lot of it is very ugly and hard to explain to someone who can't participate in conversations like these at an adult level.

I'm not saying anyone is justifying what I described. I think if you reread, it was others who compared porn - ALL porn - to other crummy jobs. I don't think that is a fair comparison.

I'm glad you have some success stories. I also just finished "Reefer Madness" and he explains that only the cream of the crop make a lot of money. Go online, watch some porn clips, and then tell me they are living the high life.
posted by surferboy at 12:00 PM on August 3, 2005


Why would anyone force a porn actress to do anything when the free market has so many willing actresses to do the scene for money?
posted by disgruntled at 12:00 PM on August 3, 2005


surferboy writes "OmieWise: I like porn. I watch porn. Hell I LOVE porn.

"The issue at hand... and it's funny how quickly we get off-topic... is whether kids..."


Fair enough, but the issue at hand is whatever we write about. There's been no attempt to change any subject. We can go back to the kid subject (let it never be said that I won't Think About The Children) if you want.
posted by OmieWise at 12:08 PM on August 3, 2005


There is a huge difference between having to wear a silly hat at McDonalds and being forced to gag on a cock in a scene of simulated rape.

Yeah. McDonald's is minimum wage.
posted by pracowity at 12:09 PM on August 3, 2005


Sex is a drug, science proves it. Food is a drug too, some people abuse that also.

LOL.

Actualy we had an intresting discussion about the nature of science and truth yesterday.

And let's get back on topic. I'm not mandating that everyone "enjoy their craft." I just think that pornography and everything associated with it is not something that a young child can or should be exposed to. Why do I feel like I'm arguing that the sky is blue?

The sky can be all kinds of diffrent colors. When was the last time you looked outside?

Anyway, I have no idea why you feel that way, you arn't presenting any evidence that Porn is harmful to children, beyond their perhaps getting messed up ideas about how women should be treated. That's not nearly as bad as the "lessons" they'll get about violence in the rest of the media. Perhaps someone should make "healthy" porn where the people love and care about eachother as equals. Then we could show it to kids :P.

The porn industry has a lot more social stigmatas attached. I wouldn't mind having my job at Blockbuster on my resume, but try to work your way up a male-dominated corporate world when they find out you starred in "Pokahotass" or set the record for most number of guys fucked in 24 hours. For a lot of women - and granted, not all- it's a sad cycle.

Well, thats a problem with society, not the women.

but if you're not with me on anything so far, you surely won't understand the objectification of women in our culture, the glass ceiling, or any other complex psychological situation.

Translation: if you dissagree with me, you must be an idiot, because I'm clearly correct.

I also think it's funny that we're men talking about things we can't possibly understand or relate to.

Whatever.

Nix, how can you make the blanket statement that porn actresses aren't "forced?" How can you speak for the entire community?

I'm forced to take a job, because if I don't I'll starve. But that dosn't mean my boss is forcing me to do anything, because I could get some other job. The women in porn probably need to work in general, but to say that they are 'forced' is in most cases idiotic. They can do anything, they choose porn. I know someone who works at burger king to support a coke habbit (Still lives with his parents). Not that I like to be around this guy, but it does happen. He needs to get his coke money somewhere, but he could work at any fast food place. Or a factory, or whatever.

I'm glad you have some success stories. I also just finished "Reefer Madness" and he explains that only the cream of the crop make a lot of money. Go online, watch some porn clips, and then tell me they are living the high life.

Who said anything about living the high life?

In any event, Legitimate pornography probably provides a way for women to make money without resorting to 'real' prostitution.
posted by delmoi at 12:21 PM on August 3, 2005


The "think of the children" argument also doesn't fly very far.

I saw Santorum on the Daily Show a few days ago. I lost count of the number of times that he said he was doing this "for the children".

This schtick never gets old. One of the main charges levied against the first Christians in Rome was that they were lewd, lascivious, and altogether perverted and immoral. Were children allowed to be brought up in that faith, decent Romans were afraid for their moral wellbeing.
posted by meehawl at 12:31 PM on August 3, 2005


Metafilter - Money gets everyone hard

Heh. If you're male?

While we're debunking porn myths let me include one right here and now.
Jonmc does NOT eat Cheetos while masturbating to porn and I apologize for EVER intimating that he did. He doesn't even like Cheetos!

That yellow coloring is a natural melatonin deviation and should never be mentioned in his presence.

Thank you for listening and I now return you to our regular programming.
posted by nofundy at 12:39 PM on August 3, 2005



Anyway, I have no idea why you feel that way, you arn't presenting any evidence that Porn is harmful to children, beyond their perhaps getting messed up ideas about how women should be treated. That's not nearly as bad as the "lessons" they'll get about violence in the rest of the media. Perhaps someone should make "healthy" porn where the people love and care about eachother as equals. Then we could show it to kids :P.


Well, a lot of porn is violent. It's about violence and power and objectification. And I agree with you about "healthy" porn. I would have no problem watching "Y tu mamá también" with my teen. It's a realistic healthy portrayal of sex. But no amount of good parenting is going to explain why the nice lady is getting slapped in the face with the long plastic thingy, like an average internet porn clip.

I also think it's funny that we're men talking about things we can't possibly understand or relate to.

Whatever.


Ah, the old "whatever." The ultimate fuck you. I love it.

I've read about the underbelly of the porn industry. If you would like to continue to equate a fast food job with what goes on in the that industry, feel free. Maybe it's just something you see or you don't.

I think society needs to provide other avenues for women and give them better (or at least other) options. If you're a single mother trying to provide for your kids, desperation makes you do things you normally wouldn't do. I would rather see education and a living wage available for all.
posted by surferboy at 12:49 PM on August 3, 2005


Do we really want our kids to think that women get a lot of self-satisfaction out of a man standing over her, ejaculating on her face?

I am going to go out on a limb here, but, as a man, I have to say..... yes?

/sorry, but I had to
posted by Yellowbeard at 1:04 PM on August 3, 2005


There is a huge difference between having to wear a silly hat at McDonalds and being forced to gag on a cock in a scene of simulated rape.


Yes. I totally agree with this. I know several women who would enjoy being gagged with a cock in a simulated rape scene. I don't know any that would enjoy wearing a McDonald's hat, unless it was part of the simulated rape scene.
posted by urlnotfound at 1:13 PM on August 3, 2005


There are some people who will blame all of society's ills on porn. Then again if porn weren't there those same people would find some other hobby-horse to ride.
posted by clevershark at 1:26 PM on August 3, 2005


surfer boy writes: I've read about the underbelly of the porn industry. If you would like to continue to equate a fast food job with what goes on in the that industry, feel free. Maybe it's just something you see or you don't.

I think society needs to provide other avenues for women and give them better (or at least other) options. If you're a single mother trying to provide for your kids, desperation makes you do things you normally wouldn't do. I would rather see education and a living wage available for all.


Look, I'm sorry, but this is just totally lame. First you hate it for the children, and those that don't agree with you are somehow suggesting that not only is porn ok, it should be shown to children no matter how hardcore. Then you hate it for the damaged people involved, whose choices were constrained by abuse, drugs and coercion. Then you hate it for the women who are single mothers with no opportunities (without ever acknowledging that the money made at McDonalds is paltry and mean compared to that made in porn.) All argued from nothing more than anecdote. And now, in this latest bit, you essentially accuse all those who disagree with you of being willfully ignorant and essentially against women.

Give me a break. I'm pretty confident I know as much about the porn industry as you do, and most of it is far far better than working at McDonalds. Unless you consider sex dirty, mothers sacred and non-sexual and women incapable of making decisions about their own welfare. In which case, what are you doing watching porn?
posted by OmieWise at 1:36 PM on August 3, 2005


You know, I would blame all of porn's ills on society. If sex were not so stigmatized by the puritanical elements of society then doing porn wouldn't seem like a worse job than working at McDonald's, but a far far better one, being more glamorous, higher paying, and requiring (I imagine) less work, even if both jobs require one's body to be covered in similar amounts of oil.
posted by Yellowbeard at 1:39 PM on August 3, 2005


I think society needs to provide other avenues for women and give them better (or at least other) options. If you're a single mother trying to provide for your kids, desperation makes you do things you normally wouldn't do. I would rather see education and a living wage available for all.

Enough with the PC, college-liberal bunk. There are a few simple truths you are either unable or unwilling to see:

Men's sexuality is always dependent upon some degree of 'objectification.' Porn doesn't objectify women de novo, as if it's poisoning our society's otherwise high-minded innate values. It does so because men have always and will continue to objectify women. That is why porn is so universally popular -- not because it is some kind of addicting menace. I can't necessarily extend this point to the more extreme, fetishistic stuff, but for mainstream porn it is the case.

As a result, lest we forget about the world's oldest profession, there will always be a market for the commodification of sex and women's bodies. Your own paternalism shines through when you suggest that somehow women are forced into participating in these markets. Women choose to participate because, to those that do, it is the best option available. I assure you there are countless men with crummy educations, working some shit jobs, who would much rather get paid to have sex (even if it's 'degrading'), but the market just isn't out there. Nor is there much of a market out there for them to marry into money either.

This assumption that "society needs to provide other avenues for women" seems to gloss over the fact that more women are going to college than men these days, and that in addition to still being able to make money off their looks (prostitution, porn, stripping, or even some cases of the more wholesome institutions of dating and marriage), they also have just as much access to a good education or career with few exceptions.
posted by drpynchon at 1:51 PM on August 3, 2005


soyjoy-Kids are very media savvy, I simply don't buy your argument that a lack of parental explanation turns porn movies into documentaries;

My argument was not that "parental explanation turns porn movies into documentaries." I used the term "documentary" loosely, not meaning that a child will think they're watching March of the Penguins, but rather that they're watching some secret thing that really happens and is being filmed. What that leaves out, of course, is the crucial fact that the activity is the result of a business transaction, not of a woman's insatiable desire to have semen inside her. In other words, they think they're getting to see the phenomenon of "sex" when they're actually only getting a small subset of that, namely prostitution. Thus, media-savvy or not (and again, the fact that porn permeates popular culture intensifies, rather than mitigates, this effect), they're being introduced to an important part of the human condition through a distorted lens.

and, the argument rests on the idea that saying porn is acceptable for adults to watch means that children will be watching it as well

My argument doesn't rest on this. Please read the comment I was replying to for the specific context of my argument. Children will consume anything that's widely available in our culture, whether we say it's "acceptable for adults" or not.
posted by soyjoy at 2:01 PM on August 3, 2005


i will say outright that i worked for 8 yrs in a used bookstore where we sold porn--8 yrs of my life sitting at a desk facing the porn section, writing copious notes on the behavior of porn buyers (yes, some addicts), thieves, and freaked out fundies. it was quite interesting. and i got exposure to every form of hard-copy porn, from its beginnings to the much more diverse present. i've probably seen more porn than most people aside from addicts.

at the beginning, i was reluctant to work in that environment, because i was worried about all those images wounding my brain. honestly? after a year or so, it became humdrum. the flash of pink no longer made me feel all funny in the tummy, and my longstanding conviction that visuals weren't really my thing were reinforced. it didn't make me callous, but it did make it possible for me to look at porn more clinically, and i speculate that many feminist researchers spend too little time looking at the stuff to get beyond their shock or whatever into this more detached view.

one of my favorite bar tricks/bets at the time was being able to tell what month and year a magazine came out based on the cover (all print blocked out).

some porn is produced by people who are fairly well-adjusted and non-exploitive. but i've also seen stuff that was probably produced under some form of duress (often eastern european or asian). but regulating porn? aside from a serious international unionization effort which is long overdue (and probably impossible), i can't imagine how you would even begin. it didn't work in the 60s when most people wanted to keep it illegal, and it certainly wouldn't work now.

as far as the age thing: i would like to see the hand of a single person who was not exposed to some form of pornography before the age of consent. i would do everything to keep porn out of the hands of the children in my life, but that hardly means they won't get their hands on it somehow. all of us undoubtedly did. did it screw you up? did it make you think women were to be degraded? i have no doubt that our early experiences with sex, including exposure to porn, has some effect on our later proclivities, but i really doubt that it causes much in the way of hurting people's consciousness seriously.

and a backhanded kudos to what Yellowbeard says upthread, although i would say, why just "as a man"? what, after all, is so degrading about being showered with ejaculate? is it degrading for men to have women's juices on their faces? why? aren't these substances erotic? aren't they a part of our lover? why is it that this form of "acceptance" of another is seen as debasing oneself?

i mean, yeah, bukkake is kind of gross and extreme and certainly *meant* to be eroticising of domination, but eroticising domination is different from "degradation." (not that there aren't plenty of men who really REALLY dig watching the degradation of women.) i mean, sure, some of us humans get into being "degraded," but the quotes are, IMO, necessary--because if one willingly consents, even if one is only doing it for the money (which is of course sad, but honestly, i might do that if i were desperate for cash before i'd do some of the grey-suit jobs some of y'all do), then that "degradation" is something one has to personally define for themselves.

porn is a huge industry that is as diverse as, say, theatre. lots of crap, but some good stuff--more all the time, as the performers get some control over their lives and the industry. is it bad for you? depends on you.
posted by RedEmma at 2:10 PM on August 3, 2005


Metafilter - Money gets everyone hard

Heh. If you're male?


You mean nipples and clits don't count?
posted by bashos_frog at 2:11 PM on August 3, 2005


On the other hand, some producers feel the need to push the limits further...

Yeah, but porn is getting really nasty these days

Whatever else may be said, this is for sure, it's going to get much worse. Why, because all those folks who consider themselves 'mainstream' are getting used to it the way it is, they'll be wanting to feel the same intensity again, and the only way is to increase the shock or novelty value.

Porn, my opinion of course, has only one direction to go. Not toward some happy sunny little place where the people involved voluntarily allow filming while doing things they would normally do anyway, but toward a incredibly ugly destructive place where many are forced / coerced into doing things they would never otherwise do and their viewers will be watching these things (repeatedly) that would never otherwise be a part of a healthy sex life.

Why do I feel like I'm arguing that the sky is blue?


Yup.
posted by scheptech at 2:55 PM on August 3, 2005


I'm with RedEmma... if it's "bad for you," then control your own access and that of your underaged family members...it all depends on you, and on those you control in a parental capacity! (Heaven help the significant other who tries to control my porn access, or vice versa...)

When anyone outside my immediate household tries to regulate something this personal, it just makes me angry. Santorum & co's opinion is utterly unwelcome! I don't tell him how to cheat his home school district out of money, so he can't tell me to get rid of my SuicideGirls account, or whatever...

(If I ever have children, I'm not going to be one of those crazy mothers who keeps her kids from eating sugar or junk food, either! Moderation in everything!)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:57 PM on August 3, 2005


The first girl I had a crush on in college told me about her rape fantasy in great lascivious detail.

The first girl I ever had sex with ASKED me to push her head into the pillow and hold her down tight while I was doing my thing to her backside.

These two women did far more twisting to my sexual psyche than any amount of porn-viewing did. ;)

When a certain percentage of women stop liking being in compromising, powerless positions sexually/emotionally/relationship-wise, a certain percentage of men (like myself) will need something else to stroke their power-trip egos ;)

And that's where I'd like to take this conversation at this time. Do the power overtones/undertones expressed in what a lot of people would consider "hot sex" have anything to do with porn, child abuse, and the oppression of women? (Is that a rhetorical question?)

dangerously posting this from work...
posted by Lectrick at 3:00 PM on August 3, 2005


One more thing: What the heck is a "healthy sex life"? I haven't had sex in over 2-3 months because I'm working on a classy woman who is (smartly) withholding intimacy from me and I don't want to "complicate my mind"; is that healthy, or should I just call up a willing ex/pick up a girl from a meat-market bar and spread her upside-down on my couch, or indulge in some other such fantasy with someone available in order to keep my sex life active aka "healthy"? Who defines these things?
posted by Lectrick at 3:08 PM on August 3, 2005


First off a few questions.

Why is a depiction of a woman being degraded immoral? Assume for the time being that the participants are all able to, and have given informed consent to produce this depiction. Why is it immoral? Seriously if the act that created it isn't immoral, why is the product immoral?

Even if you successfully argue that a majority of these images are produced in a setting where there is real harm being done to the participants why does it follow that the depiction is also "fruit of the poisoned tree?".

For that matter is a depiction of a man being degraded any more immoral? GIS "femdom" sometime with safe search off. You'll find that anything that's done to women that is anatomically possible to do to men is. Is there a difference between the two?

Porn doesn't even have to have any real humans involved in it's creation. Michael Manning draws some remarkably harsh BDSM cartoons. Are the actions he depicts moral because noone was involved to create it? Would they be immoral if he was photographing humans to doing the same thing? Would they be immoral if he was drawing based on models engaged in real acts?

Even assuming you manage to sort through the minefield of gender sexuality and power and come up with some sort of coherent morality of representations of sexual activity.

Assuming you have a commonly agreed upon, coherent system of ethics governing materials produced for sexual gratification you run smack dab into the Bill Hicks question "Yeah. And. So. What?"

What has to change and why to make it ethical? If there is harm what is the best way to ameliorate that harm?

I suppose I'm tired of all the discussions about porn either skating over the first set of questions without even trying to deal with the second set or just prescribing some simpleminded "NO! BAD! BAN!" answers to the second set without even considering the first set.

For my part, I believe that any activity where all the participants that are capable of offering informed consent have done so is moral. I believe that information is morally neutral. Pornographic information can only be distributed (I.E. knowingly to children without the consent of the parents or without the permission of the author(s)) or used (to hide a virus, or to take an extreme case with a DVD or Tape to sharpen an edge up and use as a weapon) in an immoral way.

Since there is nothing necessarily immoral about pornography in my view, regulation should be limited to education health and safety standards for the participants as well as regulations regarding how it can be distributed.
posted by Grimgrin at 3:19 PM on August 3, 2005


Look, I'm sorry, but this is just totally lame. First you hate it for the children, and those that don't agree with you are somehow suggesting that not only is porn ok, it should be shown to children no matter how hardcore. Then you hate it for the damaged people involved, whose choices were constrained by abuse, drugs and coercion. Then you hate it for the women who are single mothers with no opportunities (without ever acknowledging that the money made at McDonalds is paltry and mean compared to that made in porn.) All argued from nothing more than anecdote. And now, in this latest bit, you essentially accuse all those who disagree with you of being willfully ignorant and essentially against women.

Don't be sorry, Omie, just don't resort to name-calling if you don't have anything better to say.

The points you make in this paragraph are not founded on anything I've written.

1. First you hate it for the children, and those that don't agree with you are somehow suggesting that not only is porn ok, it should be shown to children no matter how hardcore.

No. I don't hate porn. I've been arguing that it's a complicated, often ugly industry that I think is out of the realm of comprehension for a child.

2. Then you hate it for the damaged people involved, whose choices were constrained by abuse, drugs and coercion.

No. I don't hate porn. But you cannot argue that, everything else being equal, every woman would choose to go in to porn. Often the decision is influenced by whatever fucked up situation the person is in at the time.

3. Then you hate it for the women who are single mothers with no opportunities (without ever acknowledging that the money made at McDonalds is paltry and mean compared to that made in porn.)

No. I don't hate porn. But I do believe that the porn industry can be exploitative, as can many other industries. But the exploitation in the porn industry is on a different level than the exploitation going on a Wal-Mart. You are literally getting fucked in the ass.

All argued from nothing more than anecdote.

I'm still waiting for a fact from you by the way.

And now, in this latest bit, you essentially accuse all those who disagree with you of being willfully ignorant and essentially against women.

Wow, you really feeling persecuted huh?

I enjoy porn. I can reconcile my issues with it. But I'm an adult.
posted by surferboy at 3:20 PM on August 3, 2005


Two things I don't get:

1) Why would any man ever spend a second looking at porn if he could have REAL sex? Isn't porn sort of a ninth-rate (or twenty-seventh rate) substitute for the real thing? Like about one ten-thousandth as interesting as being with ANY member of the preferred sex this side of the Green River Killer or Mamie Van Doren?

2) Why would any man spend money on porn, even a penny, ever, when so much free stuff is available? What a huge waste. I think of these guys living homeless when they're 60 and wonder how much money they threw away on crap porn when they were 20 and how much they'd like to have that money now. Nowadays with all the free porn on the Net there's no excuse. What a stupid, stupid waste.
posted by watsondog at 3:27 PM on August 3, 2005


Coatlique says it better than I did:

What a woman "chooses" to do when her options are limited may be different from what she chooses to do when she is treated as an equal instead of a second class citizen. For example, a poor woman living in a patriarchal society that discriminates against women in the workplace and exploits women's sexuality may "choose" to work in the pornography industry in order to put food on the table, and she might even claim that it's not so bad. However, if she had more options in her life, I would be willing to bet that such a line of "work" would not be her first choice. If she had more options (besides low paying jobs) open and still wanted to do it, then that would be her right. What I'm talking about is not forcing women into another choice, as you claim, but rather simply giving women a choice where they have none.
posted by surferboy at 3:32 PM on August 3, 2005


When my kids are adults, if they want to have men ejaculating on their faces, so be it. I have no problem with that.

If you can say that and mean it, then you aren't fit to be parent. I understand the sentiment -- hey, as adults, they have the right to do anything that makes them happy -- and I agree with the sentiment. However, if you would "have no problem" with the fact that your daughters were emotionally damaged enough that they found pleasure in being ejaculated upon (or shat upon, or pissed on), then you are a sick person and your kids should be taken away.

If my daughters ended up starring in spooge-fest videos, I would still love them, but I would do everything in my power to help them out of that hell, and put myself through hell forever wondering how I had failed them so desperately.
posted by Chasuk at 3:37 PM on August 3, 2005


Chasuk: holy crap. i had no idea i was emotionally damaged. thanks for clearing that up for me. that is the most arrogant, anti-sex thing i've read in a long time. why are you so convinced that cum is a disgusting substance? why do you think you have to convince others of the same?

And that's where I'd like to take this conversation at this time. Do the power overtones/undertones expressed in what a lot of people would consider "hot sex" have anything to do with porn, child abuse, and the oppression of women?

i think they have to do with our culture, which is overwhelmingly obsessed with domination and control. domination games with the right person are fun, and i believe that in some ways, for me personally, they exorcise some of my frustration with the real oppression going on around me.

1) Why would any man ever spend a second looking at porn if he could have REAL sex?
2) Why would any man spend money on porn, even a penny, ever, when so much free stuff is available?


um. because it turns them on? because it's forbidden? because their partner gets freaked out when they hear the slightest bit of kinky fantasy get divulged? because they're bored? because they can't have real sex? because they have a fetish for something their partner can't provide?

and your number two is amazingly myopic: don't you know that many people can't afford or don't have access to computers where they can view porn?

here are a few questions: why do women feel threatened by a photo on a piece of paper? or celluloid? i get insecurity, but if one can't rationally discuss porn with one's partner, then it seems you've got more problems than the fact that he's looking at naked chicks.

i agree somewhat to the idea that porn is getting more and more extreme. but so is reality television. so is film. so is life. we are a thrill-seeking species. how do you propose to stop such cultural movement? shaking your finger at it? shaming people?

i think anybody's who's freaked out about our cultural degeneration should spend some time talking to a phone sex operator. now that is a window into the world of the West's fantasies like no other. and honestly, it's funny, but not too frightening.
posted by RedEmma at 4:02 PM on August 3, 2005


It's interesting that this entire conversation has been framed in terms of male/female power dynamics. I find it an interesting intellectual exercise to remind myself that a large fraction of the pornography being produced in this country involves no women whatsoever. Where does gay porn fit into the worldview that sees straight porn as sexist and exploitative?
posted by mr_roboto at 4:08 PM on August 3, 2005


surferboy-
I haven't called you any names, I did say your argument was lame. There's a difference. You're right, you never said you hated porn, I used that word as rhetorical shorthand for your position. When I go back and read what you wrote I see that the gist of what I said is correct: while claiming that porn is something you LOVE, you've presented emotional argument after emotional argument for why porn is just no good. Each time an argument is exhausted you present another one. Your last was as dismissive as hell; I'm not feeling persecuted because the stakes here aren't that high, but if you weren't suggesting that people who disagree with you are willfully ignorant of not only the conditions inherent in the porn industry, but also those affecting women in our society in general, what is it that you were suggesting in the comment I quoted?

I've been quite clear throughout, and you can go back and read my first comment if you have any question about this, that my own arguments are only from anecdote, but if anecdote is the currency of argument for this debate, then one is as good as another. An anecdote that's positive about porn carries as much weight as a negative one, because they're both just anecdotes.

On the other hand,
scheptech-Your argument, leaving aside the attempt to naturalize what constitutes a "normal sex life," is persuasive. I do think that porn is getting more gonzo, and it isn't at all clear where that will end. I don't think it ends in a ball of warm fuzzy vanilla love.

chasuk-WTF? Someone says that they want their daughters to enjoy consensual sex and you decide they should be reported to CPS? Your palate seems unduly limited.
posted by OmieWise at 4:31 PM on August 3, 2005


mr_roboto-An excellent point not yet addressed.
posted by OmieWise at 4:32 PM on August 3, 2005


Chasuk, "If you can say that and mean it, then you aren't fit to be parent. I understand the sentiment -- hey, as adults, they have the right to do anything that makes them happy -- and I agree with the sentiment. However, if you would "have no problem" with the fact that your daughters were emotionally damaged enough that they found pleasure in being ejaculated upon (or shat upon, or pissed on), then you are a sick person and your kids should be taken away."

Good thing you weren't my social worker, eh Chasuk? I completed an international adoption last year after a very extensive background check. My social worker never asked me about how comfortable I will be with my adult children having sex, but if she had, I'd have said the same thing. I have no problem with it, nor with the fact that adults get to do things in bed that I might not personally enjoy. I'm not limiting that to just my daughters. If my son were gay or bi and liked those types of activities in sex-play, then so be it. I honestly have no problem with that.

People like different things in bed, and I am not going to judge a relatively innocent one like that as being "emotionally damaged".

I'd rather they did not get into the porn business, since I think it is a hard one to get out of and can limit future choices. I don't think it is absolutely wrong, just not a very good career choice. Sort of like being a manager at a McDonalds or a PetCo, only with anti-sex discrimination thrown into it. Where do you have to go from there?
posted by Invoke at 4:34 PM on August 3, 2005


i have never seen straight young women so frustrated as when they realized that all the porn they found with the really hot guys weren't meant for them. (and unfortunately, they were unable to deal with that. like two dudes with hard-ons isn't hot or something. shrug.)

i think it puts a wrench in it, doesn't it, your question? are those men exploiting other men? shame on them. i'm sure someone out there will find a way to prove that young straight men are being recruited in teh gay by virtue of old photographers ogling their attributes. goodness me.
posted by RedEmma at 4:39 PM on August 3, 2005


"your question" meaning mr. roboto. pardon me.
posted by RedEmma at 4:40 PM on August 3, 2005


I say that these "de-bunkings" are retarded. Not everything that harms you immediately distresses you. And the danger isn't with kids who are too young to understand porn. It all depends on how you were raised, but some kids at a certain age will view pornography and not reaaaaally understand it, but still understand it just enough to go seek it out again.

Also, I think that people should consider that porn can affect people in other ways than the standard aggressive way which is constantly warned against (I WILL FUCK THE OBJECT!!!!! HHRAAR). People often don't realize in these arguments that watching aggressive porn isn't the same as having aggressive sex. In fact, from an outside perspective, it isn't even close to the same thing. Objectifying women? How about we stop personifying images first.
posted by Laugh_track at 4:51 PM on August 3, 2005


Omie:

You've presented emotional argument after emotional argument for why porn is just no good.

I'm presenting argument after argument as to why I think that porn is very difficult to explain to a child, which was the original topic.

Granted, I did go slightly off-topic when I hear people compare the exploitation in the porn industry with McDonalds. I don't see the comparison. I also don't like black and white statements like "but they all CHOOSE it." Yes, they may make the decision, but you have to look at the broader picture of why and what other options did they have. I hate lazy conservatism that refuses to put anything in context.

I don't think we're reading the same books. Why don't you check out Traci Lord's book or any quotes from Linda Lovelace late in life. Now, now, don't claim that I'm saying that all women do it against their will. I'm not saying that. But if you don't see that there is a very ugly, exploitative said to porn, then I don't know what to tell you.
posted by surferboy at 5:22 PM on August 3, 2005


I just can't get over what this argurment has become: basically, some people think certian things are icky, therefore, there is something wrong with these icky things.

Am I the only one who just thinks it's incredibly silly? The arguements for and against porn would be almost indistinguishable from an arguement about eating large spiders.

"There must be something wrong with most people who do that." versus "Sure, maybe some of them. And that sucks. But I don't see why everyone else who does it is evil beause of that."
posted by zerolives at 5:25 PM on August 3, 2005


but know too that Linda Lovelace became a born again christian who most willingly became their anti-porn poster child. i'm not saying she didn't suffer, but i take most "i was forced to" stuff with a big grain of salt when it comes to tales of sex combined with regret.
posted by RedEmma at 5:27 PM on August 3, 2005


RedEmma, sure, but maybe she became a born again because she was so fucked up she needed some kind of stability. I think a lot of people (addicts esp.) become born again when they hit their bottom.

Zero: I don't think anything is icky between two consensual adults. I agree that that is a pointless argument.
posted by surferboy at 5:41 PM on August 3, 2005


Zero, on your earlier post. I know i don't have the right to tell people how to raise their children. It is my opinion however that if you watch porn with them you better be prepared for one hell of a "family chat."

Actually now that I say it, it is a bit weird to watch porn with your kids. Yeah. It's definitely weird.
posted by surferboy at 5:43 PM on August 3, 2005


Maybe I'm missing something here. Is your arguement that people should never be forced to have sex? I completely agree with that. But if you think porn is a primary cause and breeding ground of this sort of behavior, well... that's very easily proven false with a few chapters of world history.
posted by zerolives at 5:49 PM on August 3, 2005


Perhaps someone can do some research on porn vs. mcdonald's to clarify the debate. Could someone please answer these questions:

How many people work in these 2 industries?
What % of people working in these industries are below the poverty line vs. % who are wealthy (say, homeowners with significant savings/minor debt)?
What % of people working in these industries suffer physical injury(including diseases) as a result (direct or indirect) of their work?
What % of people working in these industries suffer emotional or psychological damage(including drug abuse) as a result (direct or indirect) of their work?
What % of people working in these industries die as a result (direct or indirect) of their work?

Moving on to consumers:
What % of consumers of these products suffer damage (physical, emotional, diseases, etc) as a result (direct or indirect) of consuming these products?
What % of consumers die as a result (direct or indirect) of consuming these products?
What % of consumers are minors?

And just for kicks: How much $ do these industries contribute, respectively, to political candidates?

That should clear things up!
posted by papakwanz at 6:35 PM on August 3, 2005


Oh, and what % of workers in the two industries are women? what % are children?
posted by papakwanz at 6:35 PM on August 3, 2005


I just realized as I was cooking dinner that some of my questions were a bit vague. Let's define "emotional/psychological" damage by one of the following (or similar) conditions: depression, divorce/family break-up, drug abuse, regular therapy, domestic abuse, suicidal thoughts/attempted suicide (successful suicide going under death), increased criminal activity. Any other likely problems we could put in that heading?
posted by papakwanz at 6:56 PM on August 3, 2005


why do women feel threatened by a photo on a piece of paper? or celluloid?

This is just one answer. They might worry that their partner might try to get *them* to do what the woman in the photo or film is doing, and perhaps it's something they find personally distasteful. Maybe without the porn egging on a man's appetites in this direction, he would be more satisfied with the kind of sex *she* enjoys.

I think (typical) porn negatively affects the way (heterosexual) men view their partners. If you're spending hours a day looking at images and video that reinforce over and over again that the ideal woman is on her knees begging for your cock to be slammed in her face, do you really think that has zero effect on your reaction when faced with a living, breathing woman who doesn't feel like doing anything like that?

Are people who view massive quantities of porn having more satisfying real-life sex lives? Are their partners?
posted by beth at 7:26 PM on August 3, 2005


The porn industry has a lot more social stigmatas attached

Is that because they're all getting nailed all the time?

/rimshot
posted by Sparx at 7:27 PM on August 3, 2005


beth writes "Maybe without the porn egging on a man's appetites in this direction, he would be more satisfied with the kind of sex *she* enjoys. "

Or perhaps you dislike porn because it takes the control of your partner's sex life away from you?
posted by clevershark at 7:41 PM on August 3, 2005


Sparx. ack. my bad :|
posted by surferboy at 7:51 PM on August 3, 2005


clevershark, that was very, um, clever.

They might worry that their partner might try to get *them* to do what the woman in the photo or film is doing, and perhaps it's something they find personally distasteful.

i think that is absolutely true. however, i think that many women in our culture have a pretty kneejerk reaction to porn that involves shaming and making it into a battleground for the sexual issues between them and their partner. i'm not a man, but i do think that there are many things i might fantasize about but not want to do IRL. the only way to find out about what yer man wants is to ask. and really honestly, without the set-up of "but don't tell me anything that'll freak me out." just asking seems to be where most people get stuck.

incidentally, i think that this sort of reaction (the shaming, freakout) puts these women on a par with a man's mommy, and unless he's got that particular fetish, it ain't going to make sex that night any better.

Maybe without the porn egging on a man's appetites in this direction, he would be more satisfied with the kind of sex *she* enjoys.

hoo boy. first, i think you're putting the horse before the wagon. i really really really don't believe that porn makes adult people like anything. i think they look at porn that interests them. sometimes, IME, you might look at something out of curiousity and horror, and maybe get a little less horrified, but i don't think that something you once found distasteful is going to become attractive because you looked at a picture of it. can you fantasize about things you don't like?

that bit about "what she enjoys" reminds me of all the guys who used to call the phone sex lines, whispering, locked in their bathrooms in the middle of the night because their wives were asleep. i found it incredibly sad to listen to the gulf between truth and lies in their lives. because that phrase has an echo at the end for me, "what she enjoys..." the good kind of sex. like even fantasizing about something she doesn't like is "bad" -- is equivalent to being a bad person. sigh. can't he enjoy both? can't the wife? i think people are really really afraid that if they even think something, they're going to go off the deep end. is everyone's sexuality really that fragile?

I think (typical) porn negatively affects the way (heterosexual) men view their partners.

i don't think it has to. i think that images of all kinds can impact people in different ways. and why not women? do women who look at giant cocks all day get unrealistic ideas about men? i've seen the stories in the media about how idealized physical representations can make us all get weird ideas about what's attractive and what's realistic. i suppose it's possible, but then all you can do about that is create more images, right? or stop looking.

If you're spending hours a day looking at images and video that reinforce over and over again that the ideal woman is on her knees begging for your cock to be slammed in her face, do you really think that has zero effect on your reaction when faced with a living, breathing woman who doesn't feel like doing anything like that?

i think it depends upon the person and why they're spending "hours a day" looking at porn. i know that there are image addicts. i've seen them and what they spend on porn. but i think they started out weird, not the other way around.

Are people who view massive quantities of porn having more satisfying real-life sex lives? Are their partners?

i think that would be an interesting study. but honestly, most people who use porn in their lives don't view "massive quantities." it's like anything. do you think people who spend "massive quantities" of time shopping have good sex lives? how about playing video games? watching television? surfing the net?
posted by RedEmma at 10:43 PM on August 3, 2005


i think horses normally go before the wagon, don't they? shows how long it's been since i've thought clearly about that metaphor.

the wagon before the horse...
posted by RedEmma at 10:45 PM on August 3, 2005


"hoo boy. first, i think you're putting the horse before the wagon. i really really really don't believe that porn makes adult people like anything. i think they look at porn that interests them."
I've been reading this go back and forth, and I'd like to say a couple of things, as a guy who looks at porn.
First off, it's complicated. Second off, it could be termed "collaborative." Let me explain. I think the view that porn doesn't shift any inherent desires is flawed, because it ignores a pretty solid reality of modern life: images do influence what we want. If they didn't, I can't imagine spending any money on advertising.
Now, what I will say is that I don't think porn ever really creates new desires, but rather, I think that it, like advertising, magnifies desires that we might already have. Curious about seeing some chick get sprayed with come? Not interested in doing that with your girlfriend, or your girlfriend isn't interested in it? Well, porn's gonna let you realize something that you've been curious about. And, if you like it, you're likely to want more. Now, granted, what the porn producers are hoping isn't that you'll want to see some chick hosed with come in real life, but that you'll be interested in more porn that has the same theme. Their interest is in selling you porn. That's why all sorts of weir conventions in porn exist. The pop shot isn't some sort of statement that most guys like to come on girls faces, but rather that enough of 'em would like to see it and it's not going to ruin the experience for guys that are ambivalent.
That said, I'll also say that I can watch an ad for a Hummer (to keep with the theme) and not want one. I can both critically evaluate the ad, and evaluate the ad in a knee-jerk sense, and either way I can say that this just doesn't appeal to me. There are plenty of ads, even ones aimed at my demographic, that just don't do anything for me. But there are plenty that influence my behavior, from making new products available to simply offering great deals. Porn's the same way.
Trying to argue that porn fundamentally reshapes anything is pretty hard, mostly because any intelligent person will react to it in the same way they would to an argument that advertising has fundamentally changed anything in our lives: by arguing that they're not affected, or that advertising really just represents what we want anyway. But that's not the whole of it. Advertising is about finding things we desire and magnifying our desires for them. Porn is the same way.
To add to that, think about all of the times that you've heard advertising called, say, capitalist pornography. Or seen photo layouts described as Car Porn or Food Porn or whatever. That's because of the fundamental connection.
So, is porn harmful for kids? Yeah, kinda. The same way that seeing too many ads is harmful. Despite the protestations of how media savvy kids are, they're really not. They don't evaluate claims well, they do get suckered in by graphics over content, they don't have the judgement required to make solid decisions about products based on their merits. That's why the cereal with the sugar's at kids'-eye height. I'd say that they're not likely to bring any more sophistication to viewing porn than they are to evaluating whether the latest Barbie is really representative of femininity, or whether the RC cars can really do all the shit they see them doing in the commercial.
And porn does influence how people think to fuck. There was a good anecdote from the last time we had this same conversation, I think from KirkJob (but I could be wrong), about how since the rise of video porn, his partners have wanted to try positions that aren't as comfortable, but would allow for better camera shots (even though no camera was there). There is a normative process achieved through viewing porn that I think too many people are too quick to reject.
That doesn't mean that censorship is the solution, but rather more discussions about what people want and what gets them off, and what sex is actually like between people who love each other (or at least want to please each other for that tryst).
I see a lot of weirdness in our culture, where the subtext gets continually more vulgar but the plain text is more and more constrained by well-meaning but foolish censors, and I have no desire to go down that route. Indeed, I think that by talking more about sex in a natural, honest way, we'll actually discourage the weird hang-ups and hypocrisy that's so prevalent. But that requires that people who are pro-porn admit that it does have an effect, through normative framing and the hyper-reality of mediated experience; as well as people who are "anti-porn" to admit that trying to impose some sort of restrictions on what people can and can't see or do is inherently foolish and counterproductive, serving only to enrich porn producers.
posted by klangklangston at 11:45 PM on August 3, 2005


I am returning to this debate a little late, but here goes:

I don't think that any act is necessarily icky (sexual act, we are talking about here). I've engaged in more forms of sex than I would care to enumerate, but let's just say that I am a bisexual male who, as a young man, had an extraordinarily active sex life.

However, I draw the line at anything that requires humiliation or degradation for someone to get their rocks off. Regarding spooge-showers, I don't find spooge gross, though I don't want it spread on toast, either. My concern with bukkake is that one of the partners isn't really enjoying himself (or herself). When I've seen it depicted in porn, the recipient is frequently shown as unwilling or agitated. This unwillingness might be feigned, but I don't think that this makes it any better. Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't see any way that degradation isn't part of what is supposed to be erotic in bukkake, at least for the guy with his dick in his hands.

RedEmma:

Are you telling me that you enjoy it when a man ejaculates on your face? If so, why? Educate me. In my own experience, yes, this does indicate emotional damage. The question should actually be: why does the guy with his cock in his hands enjoy jerking off on your face? Is it just because he thinks it is good for your skin, or it it a degrading act, in his mind? Do you want to have sex with someone who gets off on degrading you? Note that I haven't indicated that I think that spunk is disgusting, but I am looking for a "why." Spunk isn't gross, but nor is it manna. What is the psychology of bukkake lovers?

OmieWise: My palate is fairly unlimited, thank you. My only restrictions are given above.

Invoke: I love my kids, and because I love them, I will interfere in their lives when certain lines are crossed. Rather, IF certain lines were crossed. We are best friends, but I would be willing to have them hate me if it meant that I stopped them from making a mistake from which they might never recover. As a matter of fact, this extends to anyone whom I love. If you were a great buddy, and I knew that you were going to make a mistake tonight that would rid you of your sight, or infect you with AIDS, or cause your limbs to be amputated, I would stop you, even if I knew that you would hate me forever for my interference. Parents/friends/family sometimes are required to risk the loss of that connection.

Bukkake/scat/BDSM, to me, are all signs of sick people in pain. If you were my best buddy, and I discovered that you liked to suck diarrhea out of your partner's ass, I'm not going to interfere. But I'm not going to kiss you on the mouth anymore, and I'm going to wonder what happened to you in life to cause that sickness.

In closing: loving parents aren't indifferent to their own children's suffering, and to me, saying that had "no problem" with your children becoming bukkake queens is nearly the ultimate indifference.
posted by Chasuk at 12:58 AM on August 4, 2005


Ooops...I'm showing up at this party a little late.

The first link argues against a very small, limited set of assumptions about porn. I don't think they're very persuasive arguments against porn, which is why the writer probably chose them. This discussion has already touched on some more persuasive arguments, but let me try to lay them out systematically:

Argument #1: Some kinds of porn teach men and women to view women as objects, as receptacles of desires, instead of as subjects, actors, or desirers. There are a lot of signs that men and women do tend to view women this way. Is porn entirely to blame? No, and it's a loop -- because people view women this way, surely more porn gets made that reinforces that view of women. But does porn contribute? Sure! You look at enough women who are just lying there, smiling, waiting for you to invade them, and I think you start to believe certain things about women (even if you are a critical thinker, even if you are a woman, etc.).

Argument #2: Porn promotes unrealistic images of women. Yup. All women are not shaved, all women do not love getting choked on a fat cock, all women don't have big, bouncy breasts, etc. Again, porn is not the only culprit here--advertising certainly shares the blame. But that doesn't excuse porn from contributing to the problem.

Argument #3: Freedom of speech! Banning it makes it a bigger problem! Well, sure. But you can dislike porn, or disapprove of porn, or want to limit childrens' access to porn without banning it entirely. To say that anyone who thinks porn is unhealthy wants to ban it is a straw man, erected (ha) just because it's easy to knock down.

Argument #4: Gay porn proves that porn doesn't hurt women. Well, gay porn is a relatively small subset of porn, and it's probably not the kind that people are complaining about. I think it sucks to objectify men too, but at least gay porn creates a relatively level playing field. There is no vast, automatic, historical inequality between two men the way that there is between a women and a man. It's quite possible that gay porn is less harmful than straight porn, but I don't think that invalidates the harms of straight porn.

Argument #5: Women love getting abused! My girlfriends were the ones who wanted power play in our relationship! Sure, women and men learn to get turned on by what they see in porn (and movies and advertising, etc.). We don't have much control over what turns us on, and if we were exposed to images of female submission at an early age (which most Americans were), it makes perfect sense that women would get turned on by it. That doesn't make it the healthiest kink--in fact, I think it's an excellent argument against porn.

Argument #6: Porn can promote perfectly healthy views of sex. There are indeed plenty of pictures and videos out there of healthy sex. Yay! But have you poked around the internet recently? Most porn does not involve a happy, consensual couple. There is every kind of forced sex imaginable out there, and it's all easily available. Maybe people need to be more specific about what kind of porn upsets them. Lumping all porn together confuses the arguments on both sides.


On a personal note, I feel very mixed about porn that depicts female submission. It's like sugar or a tabloid newspaper -- I know it's bad for me, but it feels good. I wish it didn't. I wish I hadn't been subjected to images of female submission at an early age because then I probably wouldn't like it. I don't know what the answer is, but I don't think a complete ban or a complete lifting of restrictions (e.g. age limits) is a great idea either. What do you think?
posted by equipoise at 1:23 AM on August 4, 2005


Wow - I've been metafiltered. Thanks for all the debate. I see my role as someone who facilitates porn. And debate.

I Godwin'd without even knowing the phrase existed. I'm extraordinarily proud and will do it more in future.

Porn is not a monolith and that's what breaks these debates. It's a word like 'guns' or 'custard covered breasts' that only makes sense in context.

Sam.

PS I was a metafilter member months before making this post, I'm not that cynical.
posted by SamSugar at 1:30 AM on August 4, 2005


klangklangston-Nicely put.

surferboy-I would obviously agree that not all women involved in porn have good experiences. I just don't know what that means. I really don't. Yes, it may be a worse job on balance than working at McDonalds, but I think that it's probably a lot like working in the restaurant business in terms of exposure to drugs etc. People are certainly having sex, though, so there is that.

chasuk-I'm not a strict relativist, but I come pretty close with sex. If it's consensual and harms no one, I think the sex act is ok. You seem to be suggesting that because having a man come on your face (or several men) is not something you desire, it is therefore the sign of a damaged psyche. Behind it seems to be the notion that the recipient can't really be wanting it, it can't really be turning them on. But I think that's a failure to understand sexual desire in all of its polymorphous perversity. It's kind of analagous to something I've run into a lot where some women talk about how anal sex is degrading and horrid. Now, they may not like anal sex or assplay, but to call it degrading and horrid is homophobic, it turns their lack of desire into a normative moment with political overtones. Sure, maybe their lovers are interested in anal sex as some kind of power play, but that doesn't say anything about the act, only about that single participant. Each person involved in sex is different and approaches it with different reasons.
posted by OmieWise at 4:38 AM on August 4, 2005


klangklangston nailed it. Rather than continue with my own comments on this, I will simply refer y'all back to that comment.
posted by soyjoy at 7:34 AM on August 4, 2005


Are you telling me that you enjoy it when a man ejaculates on your face? If so, why? Educate me. In my own experience, yes, this does indicate emotional damage. The question should actually be: why does the guy with his cock in his hands enjoy jerking off on your face? Is it just because he thinks it is good for your skin, or it it a degrading act, in his mind? Do you want to have sex with someone who gets off on degrading you?

you know, normally i reserve discussions and details of my sexual proclivities to accidental drunken bar talk and (especially) my other online persona... but what the hey. (lol)

the answer is yes. and i guess the answer about why is complicated, exactly as it is for anything you might enjoy. can you answer why you like all the sexual things you do? sexuality goes pretty damned deep. is it because i was abused, or i like being abused? no, not in the slightest. is it because i saw it in a porn magazine. definitely not. i find facial shots to be gross. i do, however, enjoy PLAY that involves the acting out of certain "degrading" acts.

my partner is not a sadist or someone who likes to hurt women. (no, not even secretly.) we find that PLAY along these lines is exciting because of its transgressive nature, because we like getting outside of our normal relating, because it gives an outlet for aggression/submission that normally aren't part of our repertoire... it goes on, and its depth is beyond that.

to get very personal: as a pagan, i find worship of my man's body (and his particulars) to be a sort of spiritual rite. his ejaculate is a sacred substance to me, and the act of receiving him on my face is the ultimate form of receptivity, acceptance and love. yes, it is an aggressive/dominant act, but it is rather a "gifting" than a degradation. there are other things we do that we view as play-acting degradation, but this is not one of them.

and in response to equipoise:
the dominance/submission thing has been around a lot longer than porn. it's part of something deep within us as humans. no, not all people enjoy this sort of play, but that doesn't mean that it's a degeneration of the sex act--in fact, i feel it's hearkening back to the earliest of sexual relations. i've spent a lot of years in my life with partners on a very equal basis. in my very personal opinion, lesbian and straight bed death comes from this stress on the absolutely and always equal. hugging and kissing is nice, but it ain't all she wrote.

what this appears to be coming down to is a discussion about whether porn makes people like BDSM, and if it does, then it must be bad, because BDSM is bad. that sucks. (and it's not too far off from "he caught teh gay because he saw it in a magazine.") i'm sure there are many people out there who have sexual hang-ups or proclivities of various sorts due to childhood influence. but you don't see a lot of discussion about why so many men and women resist oral sex in the face of a desiring partner...instead you hear women blaming porn for why their men want it. in fact, anything a partner might want and the other doesn't is being displaced to "porn made him/her want it." i think it's a cop-out.

i do think it's true that the new availability of porn has influenced people's behavior (like shaving, like implants, like positions), but i think that's a temporary blip, and i think that sexuality is influenced by far more than just what pictures we look at.
posted by RedEmma at 9:09 AM on August 4, 2005


"On a personal note, I feel very mixed about porn that depicts female submission. It's like sugar or a tabloid newspaper -- I know it's bad for me, but it feels good. I wish it didn't. I wish I hadn't been subjected to images of female submission at an early age because then I probably wouldn't like it. I don't know what the answer is, but I don't think a complete ban or a complete lifting of restrictions (e.g. age limits) is a great idea either. What do you think?"
I doubt that. I doubt that it's this early exposure that "makes" you like what you like.
I'm more willing to bet that you, like other guys, like to see submissive females because it's flattering. It makes you feel powerful. Would you like it as much if it wasn't so "normal"? Doubtful. But a chick on her knees, begging for YOUR come is pretty ego gratifying, y'know. Even if you don't really want that to be the normal course of sex, it has an appeal. And a lot of women see that it makes men happy, and are willing to oblige, for fun or money. (Leaving aside that since it's usually the men who have the money, the skew goes toward accomodating their happiness).
posted by klangklangston at 9:24 AM on August 4, 2005


To inject a personal note, I've dated a couple women who liked me to, ahem, finish on their faces and/or breasts. At least one of these women told me that she had done it with many partners (at different times, not at once). Besides the fact that 1 guy ejaculating on a woman's face is a far cry from bukkake, why does it necessarily have to be about power? I have no desire to engage in any sort of bdsm or power play in my sex. I enjoy doing it (and I enjoy getting a woman's juices on my face) because it's a sign that, hey, we're so into it that everything about each other is eroticized. It's not just about putting your winkie in her hoo-ha. It's about sucking toes and fingers and getting spoo on each other and whatever else we want to do. In fact, one woman I know felt a bit empowered by having a guy ejaculate on her; to her, it was a sign of how in control she was of him, sexually, that she could get him off, and she wore "it" as a badge of honor.

Now, I don't find excrement very erotic, but there's a difference, in my mind at least, between pee/poo and cum. The former are waste products, things your body doesn't want. The latter is part of the nectar of life, if you will. It's a natural by-product of sex. Feces and urine are a natural byproduct of your body as well, but they are something your body doesn't want in you anymore, hence I don't think they should be a part of sex, or at least, a part of my sex life. If other people want to do it, fine.

I would also like to say that I've seen quite a bit of porn in my time and I've seen maybe 1 or 2 scenes anywhere even approaching simulated rape. 1 was a John Holmes flick, the other was some disturbing Japanese fetish film that didn't even involve any "sex"; it was just some bound and blindfolded Japanese girl and a guy was shoving a napkin up her nose. Most of the porn I've seen, which is admittedly mostly mainstream veering to the lighter side of the "hardcore" market, doesn't have "submissive" women. Sure, the women are objectified (as are the men) but it seems to me that they are usually pretty aggressive. Yes, it's unrealistic in it's own way, portraying women as fuckhappy nymphos, but if anything, they seem to be the dominant ones, even if they are basically acting out male fantasies.

Quick question for klang: Leaving aside that since it's usually the men who have the money, the skew goes toward accomodating their happiness
Are you talking about in the real world, or in the porn industry? Because the highest paid people in porn are women and gay porn actors. Straight male actors are the bottom of the food chain.
posted by papakwanz at 12:18 PM on August 4, 2005


instead you hear women blaming porn for why their men want it. in fact, anything a partner might want and the other doesn't is being displaced to "porn made him/her want it." i think it's a cop-out.

Damn, RedEmma, stop reading my mind!

(On a side note, what if my boyfriend starts blaming me for wanting to do what I've seen depicted in porn? Am I oppressing him, the poor beast? Or does it not work that way? Devil's Advocate, reporting for duty...)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:46 PM on August 4, 2005


I'm trying to wrap my brain around why Chasuk thinks allowing my man to cum on my face is a sign of a "damaged psyche" and is degrading. I don't see what difference it makes if his cum ends up on my face, my breasts, in my vagina, down my throat, or on the sheets. There is nothing inherently vile about cum, and the few times I have had the "pleasure" of having it on my face (or just about anywhere on the external parts of my body), it led to fits of giggles from both of us, and there was nothing at all degrading about the experience. Sometimes, you just don't want to swallow.

On the original subject of this post, I have to wonder why so many people are so concerned about how porn degrades women, when there are just as many men working in that field. Are they not also degraded by being in porn? Or is it that women are still being seen as incapable of making their own decisions about what to do or not do with their lives and need protecting. As far as I know, no one is forced to work in porn, and if they are that's a crime someone can be charged with ... and it has nothing to do with people who willingly choose to become porn stars. I also don't think it's a matter of broken people in tough situations seeing a job in porn as their last resort. Sure this likely happens sometimes, but there are thousands (possibly millions) of people who find themselves in dire straights who don't choose to go into porn ... so when you find yourself in need of money for living expenses, it's not like that's the only option out there (even for high school drop outs from abusive homes who have drug problems).
posted by Orb at 2:20 PM on August 4, 2005


"Are you talking about in the real world, or in the porn industry? Because the highest paid people in porn are women and gay porn actors. Straight male actors are the bottom of the food chain."
The highest paid people in the porn industry are the producers, followed by the distributors. The money comes from the audience, who is predominantly male. Ergo, for mainstream porn, it's guys who are going to set the framework. Just like how, while vegetarians can eat at Taco Bell and enjoy it, the restaurant is set up for meat eaters.
posted by klangklangston at 2:32 PM on August 4, 2005


I think klang generally has it in this thread, but, as an aside, I just wonder where the definitions reside with respect to the concept of "deviance". I am wary of any discussion where something is labeled "deviant", since that's patently a moral judgment. Moral judgments usually signal the end of an intelligent discussion (see above, a few times), since you are no longer soberly discussing the issue but emoting. "Deviant" is a lazy intellectual heuristic for "the badness I emotively associate with that group of things to which I -- and the contemporary cultural subset to which I belong and whose vaguely-defined ethical guidelines to which I loosely adhere -- currently fear".

History is a testament to the continuous redefinition of "deviant": sex itself, non man-on-top sex, certain non-coital sexual acts, same-sex acts, bestiality, etc. (Although something as arcane as man-on-donkey sex in an old Viking-style longboat raises further questions of consent of culpability that are beyond this thread. Perhaps a PETA-and-porn thread?)

And let's not even start with the "Defining Deviancy Down" / Moynihan stuff...
posted by Harry Morgan at 3:05 PM on August 4, 2005 [1 favorite]


Klang- I'm not sure I understand the point of your taco bell analogy. And yes, the people who run the porn business make the most money, but how can you say without doing a survey that they are all men? I would guess that predominantly they are, but there are a number of women on the business side who make big moolah. But, on the performing end, women make far more than their male counterparts, plus they have a lot more control over what goes on in the scene. If she doesn't want something stuck somewhere, it doesn't get stuck there. The men are essentially props. In gay porn they make a lot more money, which is why a lot of guys who are straight in their private lives are willing to do man-on-man action.
posted by papakwanz at 3:31 PM on August 4, 2005


Or perhaps you dislike porn because it takes the control of your partner's sex life away from you?

You can disagree without being a dick and lobbing around ad hominems that show you have no class.

I was referring to mutually-enjoyable sex, as opposed to the other kind, where one partner does something they don't want to do only in order to please the other partner.

I don't think anyone is entitled to a sexual experience in which their partner is required to perform an act that is contrary to their proclivities. I think that kind of thing is unhealthy.
posted by beth at 3:32 PM on August 4, 2005


Although something as arcane as man-on-donkey sex in an old Viking-style longboat

One man's arcane is another man's bread and butter. Also, that boat - it's not so old.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:47 PM on August 4, 2005


Papa: Well, I know that women producers are generally former stars, and that their ascention to a more lucrative position is the exception rather than the rule (Jenna Jameson).
And the point of the Taco Bell analogy was that the goal of the porn business is to make money. The goal of Taco Bell is to make money. While there are some women who enjoy mainstream porn, and while there are some vegetarians who eat happily at Taco Bell, the vast majority of the customers are male and meat-eating,respectively. Because of that, you can expect pornography in general to cater to their general tastes. That includes things like come shots and females focused on the quality of the male (audience) response. And despite the "Please come on my face" contingent here on Metafilter, I'm going to wager that not only do the majority of women not enjoy that, but that the majority of women aren't interested in mainstream porn (for a variety of reasons).
As an anecdote that I think may shine a little light on the contentions of, say, Bitter Girl and her general population's acceptance of facials without shame— The higher the education level of women in the United States, the more likely they are to have engaged in anal sex.
Now, anal sex is something that's often seen as "degrading" or "dirty," yet (if I can remember my figures) the first population of American females to have engaged in anal sex over 60% is women with a Master's degree. (Liberal education, blah, blah. It increases for women with a doctorate). While I can't seem to find my source for that (it was in a Human Sexual Politics course pack), my supposition is that women who are more educated tend to be more open toward sexual activities that society would term deviant. I think they tend to be more indepenent. Which means that when I see Red Emma or Bitter Girl extrapolating on how they don't feel degraded, I tend to think that it's because they've engaged more critical thinking than most people, and I think of them as statistical outliers.
(But I'll stop with my DUI post...)
posted by klangklangston at 7:30 PM on August 4, 2005


I'm more willing to bet that you, like other guys, like to see submissive females because it's flattering. It makes you feel powerful.

Um....klangklangston, I'm a woman. I'm pretty sure I don't like seeing MYSELF as submissive because it's flattering.


the dominance/submission thing has been around a lot longer than porn. it's part of something deep within us as humans.

Red Emma, I tried to make it super clear that I don't think porn is the sole root of all of these issues. Instead, it's a reinforcing loop. Some people "naturally" like BDSM. Others learn about it through porn. But more troubling, it has become normalized in our society, partly because of porn, and partly because of other forces (like advertising).

Just to be clear, it doesn't trouble me that power play between consenting adults has become normalized. I'm not interested in stigmatizing anyone's sexual practices. What troubles me is that dominating women has a long, deep, storied history, one rife with rape and abuse and oppression, and I don't think you can simply put aside all of that greater context when you examine BDSM.

Yes, there's plenty of power play that isn't about subjugating women. But you can't completely divorce the power play that is about subjugating women from its greater context...even if you're an enlightened, thoughtful consumer. Inevitably, we are all products of our environment, our environment is steeped in conscious and subconscious sexism, and porn plays a role in reinforcing harmful stereotypes.
posted by equipoise at 2:58 AM on August 5, 2005


Here is an excellent post on a related topic: the dangers of ass cream. Ass cream isn't the sole creator of the beauty myth. Ass cream reinforces the beauty myth. Feminists can contain mixed feelings about ass cream. The fact that feminists want to use ass cream suggests that ass cream is indeed an unhealthy thing, not the opposite (as others here have argued). As goes ass cream, so goes porn.
posted by equipoise at 3:22 AM on August 5, 2005


Ass cream, youse cream...
posted by soyjoy at 7:42 AM on August 5, 2005


actually, i'm quite convinced that it is our history of oppression that is one of the "causes" of BDSM. it's a very complicated thing--and i accept that its exploration can be disturbing. and i acknowledge a great deal of thought put to BDSM and my culture's oppression of women in regards to myself and my relationship with my partner. what we don't do is get upset about our desires and feel like we are responsible for solving history's impact during the heat and darkness of our personal sexuality. (IMO, squelching has not done much to solve anything.)

an obsession with power and domination is very strong in our world, and i think that for those of us who don't partake in the Real World's power games (not rich, not powerful, not working to achieve same), sex can be a way to "get it out of our systems." sometimes, when i can't think of another word, i call it an "exorcism." people who've been abused and are into BDSM sometimes use that sort of terminology in explanation of why they confront their demons in this scary, straightforward way. sometimes sex is about dancing with the devil.

i can't excise history from my life, and from the culture around me. i can't stop its impact on who i am and what my desires are. i can, however, be self-reflective. i can answer my needs and wants if they don't hurt anyone, including myself. i can take responsibility for myself, without having to sacrifice hot sex on the altar of anti-porn vs. pro-sex feminist theory.
posted by RedEmma at 2:03 PM on August 5, 2005


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