Friday, March 16, 2012

Porn

I just started reading a book called Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality by Gail Dines. I cried during the introduction.

I care about porn. This matters to me. In the last two decades the availability of pornography has grown exponentially to where it infiltrates more and more of our popular culture and society. And I personally believe that it has done more harm than good. I wrote down a few quotes from the book here so that if any of you are interested in reading/learning more, you can.

WARNING: If you know porn is a sensitive topic for you and would rather not read this, it's okay. Because much of what I've read so far is painfully disturbing.



Preface of Pornland

"The big question is, What are the consequences of this [porn] saturation of our culture, sexuality, gender identity, and relationships? The answer is that we don't know for sure. One thing is certain: we are in the midst of a massive social experiment, only the laboratory here is our world and the effects will be played out on people who never agreed to participate." (ix)

"Porn is now so deeply embedded in our culture that it has become synonymous with sex to such a point that to criticize porn is to get slapped with the label anti-sex. As I travel around the country giving lectures on the effects of porn, the insults thrown at me by some people are telling: they range from uptight prude to uncool, old-time man-hating, sex policing feminist--the type of feminist who supposedly screams rape every time a woman and man have sex, the kind of feminist who has been derisively referred to as a "victim-feminist" because she supposedly sees all women as sexual victims incapable of enjoying sex." (x)

"Where, then, do you fit in the pro-sex, anti-sex dichotomy when pro-porn equals pro-sex?" Dines goes on to talk about how if someone wrote a book criticizing McDonalds, no one would label that person as anti-eating or anti-food. "So, why, when I talk about pornography, is it difficult for some to understand that one can be a feminist who is unabashedly pro-sex but against the commodification and industrialization of a human desire?"

Dines then says that when she talks about "porn" she is referring mainly to "gonzo porn": "that genre which is all over the Internet and is today one of the biggest moneymakers for the industry--which depicts hard-core, body-punishing sex in which women are demeaned and debased."" (xi)

The average age for first viewing porn is eleven years old. The implications are real for men and for women: as men are desensitized and women are scared. "Most college-aged women I speak with have never seen gonzo, but their sexuality is increasingly shaped by it as the men they partner with want to play out porn sex with their bodies. Whether their sexual partners pressure them into anal sex, want to ejaculate on their face, or use porn as a sex aid, these women are on the front lines of the porn culture. But even if a woman stays away from men who use porn--no easy task given its widespread usage--she can't insulate herself from it. Women's magazines, fashion ads, TV, music videos, and box office movies bombard women with images that could have, a decade ago, been defined as soft-core porn." (xii)

"Whether it be thongs peeping out of low-slung jeans, revealing their "tramp stamp," their waxed pubic area, or their desire to give the best blow job ever to the latest hookup, young women and girls, it seems, are increasingly celebrating their "empowering" sexual freedom by trying to look and act the part of a porn star." (xii)


Introduction to Pornland

Dines attends the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. "I am in the middle of a world that reduces humans to orifices and body parts, bled dry of soul, personality, history, and future, as life in the porn world is only about the here and now, where penetrating someone or being penetrated is all humans exist for." (xvi)

"As I wander around the hall, talking to pornographers, it becomes very clear that they are not particularly interested in sex. What turns these people on is making money...What they will admit is that porn is becoming more extreme, and their success depends on finding some new, edgy sex act that will draw in users always on the lookout for that extra bit of sexual charge. Not one of the men I talk to seems particularly interested in how these new extremes will be played out on real women's bodies, bodies that are already being pushed to the brink of their physical limits. No, these men want their piece of the pie, and their single-minded focus on the bottom line is evident." (xvi)

Dines has found, in talking to people, that their image of pornography is twenty years out of date. Mainstream Internet pornography means:
-vaginal, anal, and oral penetration of a woman by three or more men at the same time
-double anal penetration
-double vagina penetration
-and a host of other abuses I don't feel comfortable writing

I cried reading what Dines quoted from several pornography website users. You've been warned.

The men on the sites talk about the "need" to do what every man really wants to do to a woman (or as they prefer "bitches," "stupid whores," "cumbuckets," and "suffering sluts") Another site featured pictures of women, "some are gagging, others are crying, and virtually all have faces, especially their eyes, covered in semen. The user is bombarded with images of mascara running, hair being pulled, throats in a vicelike grip, nostrils being pinched so the women can't breathe..." (xx)

These pornographic scenarios tell stories about what it means to be a woman:
-always ready for sex
-enthusiastic to do whatever men want (irrespective of how painful or harmful it is)
-the word "no" is glaringly absent from her the porn women's vocabulary
-"whores" by nature
-do not need their own sexual desires to be met. It's a man's world, after all.
-not concerned with pregnancy, STDs, or damage to their bodies
-immune to being called sickening names
-enjoy men who express hatred and contempt for them
-an uncomplicated world where women don't need equal pay, health care, day care, retirement plans, good schools for their children
-one-dimensional women who are nothing more than a collection of holes

Porn tells a story about men too:
-soulless, unfeeling, zero empathy, respect or love
-to be feared and "loved"
-entitled to use women however they choose

"In a world populated by women who are robotic 'sluts' and men who are robotic studs, the sex is going to be predictably devoid of any intimacy. Porn sex is not about making love, as the feelings and emotions we normally associate with such an act--connection, empathy, tenderness, caring, affection--are replaced by those more connected with hate--fear, disgust, loathing, and contempt. In porn, the man makes hate to the woman, as each sex act is designed to deliver the maximum amount of degradation." (xxiv-xxv)


Yeah, let's keep up with this and see how we fare in the next few decades. Let's keep acting like this is okay, that it's "harmless," that it's not affecting the psyche's and hearts of men and women everywhere. Let's continue publishing these images of men "making hate" to women and pretend like it isn't assault.

Is this sex? These are people: human beings, daughters, nieces, friends; being abused physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually for the sick pleasure of these men. This pain, mutilation, and humiliation enacted on women is what millions of Americans today call "entertainment." And I don't know what to do about it.

Not all porn is gonzo porn. I'm not going to start picketing that all images and movies of sex be removed immediately. But this kind of horrific abuse and hatred toward women cannot continue.

I'm not buying it.
I'm not consuming it.

I will not "act out" what porn tells me I should be as a woman.

I will not "go along" with TV shows, magazines, and movies that endorse it either.

I will not dismiss the sexual harassment from high school as "boys will be boys."

I will not reminisce lightheartedly about all those times the guys would "playfully" shove my head toward their crotch (insinuating oral sex).

I will not laugh, or even smile politely, at rape jokes.

I will not join the "that's what she said" chorus (as most of those jokes end up being about a woman lacking power and a man having it all).

I will not apologize for being a feminist (as I am pro-sex, pro-women, and pro-men)

I will make-love wherever I can to extinguish those so destructively making-hate.

5 comments:

Anthony said...

Heather this is such an important and even more sensitive topic. Thanks for talking about it openly. You were right, there were some parts about this blog that I had to skim over because I felt sick. But secrecy is horrible black hole that sucks you in and kills you. Keep writing.

Anonymous said...

I am with you. I support you. I will work with you to change lives, speaking out in love and truth.

Jeremy Sterndale

Mindy said...

Amen.

kessia reyne said...

for your consideration:

http://apokalupto.blogspot.com/2012/02/sexual-freedom.html

Katelyn B. said...

Thank you for writing about this. Porn has ruined the sacredness of sex. It has taken something beautiful and made it dirty and demeaning. It eats at the foundations of solid relationships and tears them down through secrecy and insecurity. Keep sharing the truth about this industry. It does make a difference.