Porn: Pleasure or Profit? Ms. Interviews Gail Dines, Part II

In Part I of my interview with Gail Dines, the self-described anti-porn feminist discussed sexual freedom, coercion, safety and harm. Part II continues the conversation. And this time, porn actors respond.

Shira Tarrant/Ms.: Your new book, PORNLAND: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality (Beacon Press), is out this month. When readers pick up this book, what do you want them to know by the time they put it down?

Gail Dines: I want people to understand that porn is a business with considerable political clout and the capacity to lobby politicians, engage in expensive legal battles and use public relations to influence public debate. Like the tobacco industry, this is not a simple matter of consumer choice; rather, the business is increasingly able to deploy a sophisticated and well-resourced marketing machine, not just to push its wares but also to cast the industry’s image in a positive light.

These are not fun, creative, playful images that feed our sexual imaginations but instead are industrial products that depict a type of sex that is formulaic, generic and plasticized.

Ms.: I know you’re concerned about harm to women. In Pornland you describe on-the-job injuries sustained by some porn actors–for example, HPV, genital bruising and HIV. All forms of work involve exploitation and risk, whether it’s dying on an oil rig, developing carpal tunnel syndrome or being exposed to asbestos–what makes risks in porn any worse than other workplace dangers?

GD: HPV or genital bruising are generally not listed as job hazards. Women who do porn talk about anal prolapse and surgery [for repair]. The injuries in porn leave long-lasting emotional impacts. The level of abuse and violence to women in porn stands out. There is the psychological trauma of having one’s body treated in this way. It is a very intimate form of abuse. Articles from the porn industry press reveal how difficult and demanding the job is and that women can’t last that long in the industry because of injury.

*****

I asked folks in the porn industry for their responses to Gail Dines’ claim that porn physically traumatizes women. Beth Brigham disagrees. (Brigham was formerly Dines’ research assistant and currently performs in porn.) She reports:

There’s no emotional trauma from a sex act that you’re prepared for. If you know in advance what you’re going to be doing, you are ready. If I have a day where I’m doing seven penetrations, I know what to do to insure that my body remains healthy. Sex acts don’t happen by accident in porn and you know how to deal with them in advance.

April Flores, a BBW adult actress, adds:

“There is no doubt porn is a very physical job. However, it is also a very individualized profession. Each performer is responsible for their own physical health. A performer always has the choice of not doing something they are not comfortable with. All of my peers are doing work they feel proud of and that enhances and expands on their own sexuality. Gail Dines thinks all performers are victims and this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I also need to point out that many people outside the industry are having rough sex by choice. I’ve heard quite a few stories of people [in the general population] going a little too hard and hurting themselves.

Dines worries about increasing rates of anal sex caused by men who watch gonzo and convince women to bend over–never mind the missing data, non-het sex or women’s sexual agency. It’s unclear that porn is behind this alleged trend, and the tone implies there’s something wrong with human proclivity.

Then there’s the matter of spanking, teasing, topping or switching. Here’s what Dines says:

Pornographers are controlling sexuality. Sexuality is coming out of an industry not imagination. Porn contributes to more BDSM because [it] appeals to bored and desensitized porn users. This isn’t about sex but about corporatizating desire. It’s not an accident that there’s more BDSM activity now.

Again, there’s the question of evidence. And didn’t Dines say that private sex is a personal matter?

By phone, Dines tells me that what people do sexually is none of her business. “I’m not talking about constraining sexuality, but creating sexuality that is based on respect and equality. I’m not against sex,” Dines says. Her concern is about “the business of porn, not the practice of private pleasure.” But perhaps that line is blurry.

To be continued in Part III …

Above image: “Three Nudes and Reclining Man” (1934) by Ernst Kirchner, public domain. From Wikimedia Commons.

Comments

  1. Thanks again for part two. I was hoping Dines would talk more about race and class, but I’ll hold on for part three. The balance between Dines’ comments and the women working in the industry was great. It really gives us the two sides. I’m also pretty sure that people who don’t watch porn can use their imaginations and come up with some ideas that would make Dines uncomfortable; that doesn’t mean their sexuality has been hijacked. The line is indeed blurry. She is sounding more and more anti-porn which makes me more and more inclined not to censor porn but contextualize it. i

  2. Thanks, Ebony. Part III of my interview with Professor Dines definitely focuses on race issues. Look for it soon!

  3. i think the more women and men speak up more people will start realizing the facts; Robert jensen has been saying this for years: Porn is harmful for men and women– it objectifies women makes victims out of men also.Men who victimize and abuse child give them porn to study first. Many college boys use porn as a springboard to what they like best sexually. Computer porn is the first sex lessons an 11 year boy would likely have. WE must stand by Gail Dines and others who speak out against this injustice. This is about us folks, whether you choose to believe it or not, or shut your eyes…this is about all women; your mothers, your sisters, your daughters.

  4. Janell Hobson says:

    I’m more interested in the corporate side of pornography myself. The issue of anti-porn versus pro-porn is rather outdated and so personalized as to miss the larger issues of PROFIT, who benefits the most and how more women can position themselves – especially women of color – in a business that makes its billions of dollars on female sexuality.

    Is that a subject explored in Gail Dines’ new book, and can participants in the porn industry comment on this?

    Because, I really want to know why the title “Pleasure or Profit” is presented as a dichotomy.

    When the majority of the pornographers are women who are the billionaires in this billion-dollar industry, then we can talk about women’s “agency” in more empowering terms, I think.

    • Yes women really are driving this business today. They own it. They profit the most from it. It may not have started that way. But porn today is run by women. hard to say they are being exploited when they are the ones at the top.

  5. underwhelmed says:

    To achieve a hatchet job on a feminist, it helps not to use hackneyed pejoratives such as “self-described”. And one-liners to oneself about the interviewee’s statements tend to strain what is left of the interviewer’s credibility.
    But hey, it’s only a blog…

  6. The human body is an integral part of the human person. I think porn harms both women and men. It does harm to the person that exhibits h** body, because that person (man or woman) is ignoring the dignity of h** human body, and therefore h** own dignity as a human person. It does harm to the person that looks at pornography, because nobody can appreciate the dignity of h** own human body by reducing the body of another human being to the category of a commercial object.

    • So if oneś a performer, the body is reduced to an object. What about actors? They don just show physical activities, but make their whole self a commercial product. But I dont think anyone would call them undignified. That people think of porn in general as something undignified shows that they think sex is somehow undignified. The commerical product is performed sex, not the bodies of the performers.

  7. If Gail Dines’ concern is that big-business pornography propagates a narrow and abusive definition of female sexuality, would she entertain the notion that amateur and small-shop porn may provide an antidote? Given the easy access to both production and distribution of pornography via the internet these days, her likening of the porn industry to tobacco seems incredibly dated.

  8. Ben Rogier says:

    Part II brings up some very interesting points, but it sounds more like a critique than an interview. I don’t think Dines’s side is getting represented very well, but I guess that’s what her book is for.

    Also, I’m still not convinced by either side of the pro-porn/anti-porn feminist debate, but I think the real issue with pornography is not the harm that is (maybe) done to the actresses as much as what negative consequences pornography (possibly) has on society.

  9. A few of you mention moving beyond the dichotomy of “Us/Them” or “Pleasure/Profit.” I personally agree with moving beyond the old sex wars. The quotes by porn actresses are intended to enrich the conversation, not to perpetuate dichotomies.

    I encourage everyone to read Dines’ book to draw your own conclusions. I’ll be talking about Pornland and race issues in Part III of this interview, which — as Ben notes — is a hybrid Q&A with the author, and analysis that goes beyond simply giving air time to the author.

    And to “Underwhelmed”: I hesitate to reply to you because I’ve already given you my attention elsewhere and I find it to be underproductive. But to be perfectly clear, I offered Part I to Professor Dines for her review out of courtesy. She specifically preferred to be described as an “anti-porn feminist” as opposed to an “anti-porn activist.” I make this distinction here out of respect to her. Be aware that in blog articles, as in any form of publishing, there are sometimes decisions made outside the reader’s sight line.

    Finally, to Janell — I agree with you about the issues of agency! I’ll get into this in Part III the subject will certainly get good attention in my future work.

    I’m thrilled to see such robust debate emerging. That is, after all, why I wrote this.

  10. I am attempting to control my exasperation so that I can contribute something useful to this discussion. When I made my last attempt, yesterday morning on Part 1, I evidently did not succeed, so the moderators have held it up in moderation. I think I should confine myself to asking Ms. Tarrant if she bothered to talk to any woman who has left the pornography industry. Is there some reason to believe this statement by April Flores is representative of the experiences of all, or even most, women in the industry? “A performer always has the choice of not doing something they are not comfortable with. All of my peers are doing work they feel proud of and that enhances and expands on their own sexuality.”

    I wonder who Ms. Flores considers her peers. Why is her blanket statement more valid or representative than, for instance, the statements of Jersey Jaxin (see http://www.shelleylubben.com/former-porn-star-jersey-jaxin-story ) which flatly contradict this rosy picture? Are the sentiments of disillusioned pornography actresses irrelevant, or sour grapes, perhaps?

  11. lotsoflove says:

    Frankly, i was underwhelmed by underwhelmed’s comment (but whatever, it’s just a comment,) however, I always appreciate people having the courage to put ideas out there as part of the public discourse.

    Shira, thanks for taking the time to interview Gail Dines and giving space to multiple thoughts around challenging topics, like porn.

    Looking forward to reading part III.

  12. I thought I knew quite a bit about the porn industry in the context of the film work I do, but Dines description of porn as “a business with considerable political clout and the capacity to lobby politicians, engage in expensive legal battles and use public relations to influence public debate” is something new to me.

    I’m sure the answer is ‘read the book’ :) but I’d love to hear more about that aspect of the industry. Who are they lobbying, and for what goals? What legal battles are porn producers involved in?

  13. Ray WCST says:

    As a Youth Violence Prevention Advocate, I would like to chime in on the ‘men as victims’ discussion. I work primarily with young men, ages 11-19, who are being shaped by a media and a culture saturated with porn. I relate to the comment that Sarah makes: ‘Computer porn is the first sex lessons an 11 year boy would likely have’, and in regards to a majority of the young men I work with, I can validate that statement. Sarah goes on to argue that porn victimizes men by creating some level of sexual predation/hypersexuality, but I’m interested in exploring how porn victimizes men by instilling in young men a false ideal of sexuality as a whole.

    Sexuality/sexual activity has become hugely disappointing to many young men. Their experience with sex looks nothing like the ideal projected onto them through porn. Many young men are struggling with low self esteem issues regarding their ‘manhood’, their stamina, and their ability to bring screaming satisfaction to their partners in comparison to the porn they have digested. This disppointment and low self esteem runs deep and to the very core of how these young men define themselves in light of current culture. Additionally, porn projects more taboo sexual acts (anal, multiple penetration, various froms of BDSM) as every day occurences between consenting adults, occurring far more often than they actually are. Many young men are entering sexual activity expecting some levels of all of these activities, only to again find disappointment that they have been sold a lie.

    Finally, porn instills in young people the idea that everyone is out to have sex. For young men, every encounter becomes potentially sexual, from the young lady at the checkout stand at the grocery store, to the hitch hiker picked up on the side of the road. Sexual tension exist in every male/female interaction, and with just the right words or just the right look, the music starts and they’re having at it. Again, I think the danger and the disappointment are evident in this analysis.

    As adults, it’s easier for us to expose and catagorize porn for what it really is, some sort of fantasy/entertainment. But it is beyond the scope of many young people, especially in light of the secretive nature of viewing porn in our youth without adult processing, to have any realization that what they are viewing is not the norm.

    Surely, all the points made here could be made in a way to signify the dangers and pitfalls for young women as well. Porn is a danger to our culture, the safety of all people, and the development of healthy sexuality.

    • Sexual Tension betrween male and females also exist without porn. And being disappointed in sex has a long tradition, especially for females. Weŕe being told since small on that sex is something "sacred", the greatest thing in the world…when girls have their first vaginal intercourse, it is usually a huge dissapointment since itś not told enough that sexuality is something that can also be a simple thing, and something that grows into something wonderful in time. Young people expect sex to be mind-blowing from the start, when its often something one has to learn. Most get over this initial disappointment and discover sex on their own, but unfortunately not all.

  14. Random Observer says:

    Therese Shechter writes:

    “I thought I knew quite a bit about the porn industry in the context of the film work I do, but Dines description of porn as “a business with considerable political clout and the capacity to lobby politicians, engage in expensive legal battles and use public relations to influence public debate” is something new to me.”

    I believe Dines is talking about the Free Speech Coalition, which is the porn industry’s lobbying arm, as well as a number of lawyers like Paul Cambria who’s main work is dealing with the frequent legal battles the porn industry gets into, by its very nature. Dines interest is in exaggerating this kind of influence and painting herself as underdog.

    FSC has had some influence in California legislation surrounding porn, but nationally are dwarfed by the influence of the right-wing anti-porn lobby (which Dines allies with, BTW: http://www.youtube.com/user/PornHarms ). And in terms of legal influence, “porn lawyers” certainly weren’t able to do much about the wave of successful obscenity prosecutions under the last Bush administration.

    Many antiporn activists also claim that the defeat of Dworkin/Mackinnon anti-porn legislation in the 1980s was the work of a nefarious “porn lobby”, even going so far as to charge that independent feminist groups like FACT were in the pay of the porn industry.

  15. Random Observer says:

    “I asked folks in the porn industry for their responses to Gail Dines’ claim that porn physically traumatizes women. B*** B**** disagrees. (B**** was formerly Dines’ research assistant and currently performs in porn.)”

    I think there’s a point here that needs to be raised that might be a bit a bit off the whole porn debate, but I think is important.

    Namely, did you have permission to publish the above individuals name?

    Some of us who hang around the YouTube sex-positive community have been aware for a few months now that there was somebody who was claiming to be a former research assistant of Dines, and who went completely in the other direction. This person published an anonymous blog that I’ve now lost the link to. Like all completely anonymous sources, I took this with a healthy degree of skepticism, but if true, its certainly an intriguing story!

    Anyway, a quick search of IAFD and Google reveals no porn performer using that name. Which leads me to believe you’re using her real name here. Porn performers almost always use pseudonyms as a matter of course, and this person was also blogging under a pseudonym. So anyway, if you’re using her real name without express permission to do so, you’re basically “outing” her, and that’s not OK.

    My apologies for the tone of this post if you have in fact cleared this with her.

  16. Ray, your points are duly noted. I agree that many of the consequences you describe are valid. But as with any adult activity depicted in the media (driving cars, wrestling, shooting guns, climbing Everest, drinking, etc.), the key is to guide and teach children about the reasons and consequences of the behavior- not ban the depiction. If children were exposed to more healthy discussions of human sexuality, they would be able to discriminate better for themselves. The problem is that parents and schools haven’t been so good at preparing children for sexuality, so all they have is what they can access when nobody’s around. Better parenting buttressed by better school education will prepare children for many of the dangers faced by new activities they will participate in. Eliminating depictions of human activities is not the answer.

  17. To Random Observer — Promise. Everything was cleared via direct convo with “Beth Brigham.” I also followed up on this with Professor Dines. I’m not about outing anyone. This isn’t Beth’s everyday name and I wouldn’t use any name or quote without express permission.

    No apologies necessary. It’s an important issue. Along these lines, Ms. Magazine aims to be a blog of record, meaning (unlike some sites w/looser guidelines) everything that goes up is edited, reviewed and fact checked. Seems worth mentioning.

  18. Hang on a sec, is any of this really about porn? To wit, I give you Gail Dines:

    Porn contributes to more BDSM because [it] appeals to bored and desensitized porn users. This isn’t about sex but about corporatizating desire. It’s not an accident that there’s more BDSM activity now.

    First off, even if there is more BDSM activity now (a classic logical fallacy), does Gail Dines think BDSM is a categorically bad thing? It does sound like she’s implying “more BDSM activity” is somehow the sole sphere of “desensitized porn users,” a pejorative I, as a sexually submissive guy and a porn viewer, find insulting and incorrect.

    And then, yet-again-rather-disingenuously, she says:

    I’m not talking about constraining sexuality, but creating sexuality that is based on respect and equality. I’m not against sex.

    What is the difference between statements like these by Dines and a statement like this by Mark Schwartz, Republican Senator Tom Coburn’s chief of staff:

    Pornography is a blight. […It's] my observation that boys…have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people. They speak badly about homosexuality. And that’s because they don’t want to be that way. They don’t want to fall into it. […] All pornography is homosexual pornography, because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards.

    According to Schwartz, all pornography eventually leads to homosexuality. According to Dines’s only slightly more measured speech, porn eventually contributes to BDSM sex. Is BDSM the new gay for anti-porn activists?

    I think that actually bodes quite well both for porn and for BDSM’ers. Educated people understand that BDSM sex is no less “based on respect and equality” that any other form of consensual sex, just as they understand the difference between porn sex and real sex.

    It’s not like people ignorant of that have any more right to discriminate against someone (like me) for liking to get tied up and whipped as part of their consensual sex life with an adult partner than they do to discriminate against consensual homosexual sex, as much as we know they’d like to.

    And yet, throughout their arguments, I still am not hearing any suggestions for how to resolve issues of coerced erotic labor, unequal pay, a lack of sex and relationships education, or too-few sources of healthy sexual self-reaffirmation from either Dines or from Ray the Youth Violence Prevention Advocate. Instead, Gail Dines’s arguments are all laced with unhelpful sex-negativity. “Get rid of porn” is no more valid an answer than “let Jesus save you.”

    In any event, Shira, I’m really glad that this second part of your interview is actually more balanced than the first. I hope your future pieces on this issue are at least as equally balanced as this.

  19. Random Observer says:

    “To Random Observer — Promise. Everything was cleared via direct convo with “Beth Brigham.” I also followed up on this with Professor Dines….”

    Good to hear that and it assuages a major concern I had.

  20. Charlie says:

    @Aletha The difference is that folks like April Flores aren’t saying that *everyone* has an amazing experience as porn performers. They’re saying that some people do. The former performer whose story you linked to is making sweeping statements that make it sound like her experience is what everyone goes through. Dines, Lubben and their allies consistently use the tactic of presenting some people’s experiences as universal while ignoring any evidence of any different stories.

    Nobody is claiming that being a porn performer is universally positive. However, some people claim that it is universally negative. That is what makes the difference between April Flores’ comment and Jersey Jaxin’s story.

  21. Random Observer says:

    “Porn contributes to more BDSM because [it] appeals to bored and desensitized porn users.”

    This claim by Gail Dines is one that really needs to called out for the false coin that it is. Basically, its the same old “it leads to harder stuff” argument that’s been used by drug warriors for years. Smoke some pot, and eventually that just won’t satisfy you. You’ll end up on the needle or the pipe for sure! Start looking at Playboy, and before you know it, you’ll be “desensitized”, work your way through double-anal gonzo, and finally need kiddie porn or snuff to get you off. (BTW, I’m not not exaggerating Dines position here. She’s actually said all pornography leads to child pornography!)

    I think my experiences as a long-time porn viewer are pretty typical. Just like music, one does go through a certain refinement in tastes. As a young teenager, practically any sexy image of a woman might turn me on. Having seen a lot of porn, a lot of it now bores me. But is that because I’ve graduated to “harder stuff”? Hell no! My tastes have become more refined, and for a particular porn video to turn me on, its going to have to have certain erotic qualities, be well-made, and have performers I find attractive.

    To be specific, my tastes are what I’d call “medium-core”, along the lines of Girlfriends Films, Viv Thomas, Abby Winters, and Little Mutt. I also really like quality softcore and am very much looking forward to Julio Medem’s “Room in Rome”. As for hard gonzo, or gonzo in general, I don’t care for it and never have. (Let’s dispel one more myth, though: gonzo is far from inherently misogynist – have a look at what Tristan Taorimino and Belladonna are doing. I find gonzo is a bit artless for my tastes, but that’s just a matter of taste.) Considering I’ve been viewing porn for over 30 years, if it leads to “harder stuff”, I think it would have done so by now.

    Oh, and for those who are saying, well, this is anecdotal – so are Dines’ claims! I’d like to see her back up her “progressive desensitization” model with even *one* study. Everything I know about other people’s patterns of porn viewing suggests the pattern is really one of refinement to one that most closely matches one’s existing tastes. This would also likely explain the “progress” of those who move toward more violent porn.

  22. Random Observer says:

    @Aletha

    There’s a reason why many of us on the pro-sex worker and sex-positive side tend to be rather dismissive of Shelley Lubben and her little “god squad” (which Jersey Jaxin is a part of). Its because a lot of us find fundamentalist christian “bottoming out” stories in general to be incredibly exaggerated and not trustworthy sources. I’ll point to this video of Shelley Lubben at some kind of xtain men’s revival meeting (1st of 5 parts, though I think a little of it goes a long way): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11Du9nB7IXU

    Ask yourself if you wouldn’t be a tad skeptical of her story if it was about something other than porn. What about if she was a christian “ex-gay” telling a similar story?

    The point is, I consider “holy rollers” in general to be the ultimate in unreliable narrators. It is certainly not the case that I would automatically dismiss any current or ex-performer who reports negative experiences.

  23. Wow, Charlie, are you redefining “all” and “always” now? “All of my peers are doing work they feel proud of and that enhances and expands on their own sexuality.” All means some to you? Anti-pornography feminists have never had the luxury of ignoring women who like being in the business. They make too much noise, but I have no reason to believe their perceptions are representative.

    By the way, disillusioned pornography actresses are by no means mostly fundamentalist Christians. Some have become radicalized by their experiences. I read an account by such a woman in Rain and Thunder. She had felt much like the actresses cited above, it was a matter of pride for her that she could take it, be as tough as the guys, but eventually it got to be too much. Her descriptions, as well as others I have read, lead me to believe what Jersey Jaxin said is no exaggeration. She did not claim every woman in pornography is treated that way, but in certain genres, that kind of abuse is typical, because that is the point, the appeal. Unfortunately I cannot cite the Rain and Thunder article because it is not posted on the web, and I do not recall which issue of the magazine it was. Not that I expect that magazine would carry any more weight with the porn-is-harmless-fantasy crowd than the allies of Shelley Lubben, but it is telling how easily the experiences of women who left the business are dismissed by those who want to believe that kind of abuse must be exaggerated or atypical.

  24. Random Observer says:

    @Aletha

    I often hear claims of “all the” former porn actresses who have become radical feminists.

    To put it bluntly, name three.

  25. Sara Hogan says:

    I’m a date rape & emotional abuse survivor. I don’t blame porn one bit. My abuser got his opinions on sex and relationships from Gangsta rap, mostly. (This was in the early 1990′s.)

    As for BDSM, I find it annoying that Gail Dines seems to think it’s a bad thing. When I’m wearing a collar, it may appear that I have no control what is being done to me, but I do. If it’s too much, I utter my safe word and the activity stops. BDSM has helped me heal the scars the abuser left, because I know I have the ultimate control over the situation.

    (Why yes, I’m a sex-positive, pro-porn feminist!)

  26. Random Observer, is that your argument, or are you simply attempting to bait me again? I have no reason to believe the women to whom I referred want their names to be bandied about by men who believe they are making up their experiences. They are not proud of that “work;” in fact, it pains them so deeply to remember it, most prefer to bury it and try to move on. The woman who wrote for Rain and Thunder, whose name I think I remember, but am not 100% sure, wrote about it despite the hell it put her through to pull up those memories because she felt she had to get it out in the open for her to move on. I have no right to name anyone who is ashamed of her past. Why, so people can ridicule her, debate her veracity and motives? Do you really think Gail Dines is making up gory stories to justify her work, or sell her book? How about the women who “worked” for Max Hardcore? What they went through was at least comparable to what Jersey Jaxin describes. Was that all made up or wildly exaggerated as well?

  27. @ Aletha

    She is saying all of her peers, which clearly means she isn’t talking about everyone. But that doesn’t make her statements about her own life and personal knowledge any less valid.

  28. underwhelmed says:

    Tarrant writes: “I personally agree with moving beyond the old sex wars.” Could’ve fooled me… Your whole take on Gail Dines’ research and the industry would take us right back to the early eighties – and yet, you lay responsibility for that blinkered view on Dines, when you bluntly “ask” her, in Part I: “I know you disagree, but that keeps us stuck in an us-versus-them sex war.”
    Hatchet job. And a poor one at that.

  29. Thanks so much for allowing porn performers to thoughtfully enter this debate and speak in their own voices. Until now, the subject of porn has always been discussed in a vaccuum, void of any first person account regarding the choices individuals make to work in porn. We recently published our first book of documentary photography titled “Off the Set: Porn Stars and Their Partners,” which explores the off-screen romantic relationships of ten couples who perform in porn. The photos and essays in “Off the Set” confront the stereotype that all porn performers are damaged individuals who were coerced or forced into a career in porn. We sent Gail Dines a copy of our book and we’re eagerly awaiting her reactions to it.

  30. Anti-porn arguments don’t fall down simply because there are some performers who say they choose it. The arguments are much more complex than that. The issue involves not only the choices of performers, but the lack of choice of a vast mumber of performers, the ethics involved in the production of porn and it’s effects on the wider community.

    I was also in the sex industry when I was younger. It seriously impacted on my physical and mental health, ability to hold down a job and my intimate relationships even many years later. I was also sexually abused from age 4 and at various times throughout my childhood and early teens. Pornography was a major factor in that abuse and in my abuse in the sex industry. It’s actually been found that almost all rapists and pedophiles are regular users of pornography. It’s not just a simple matter of choice or personal taste.

    It’s interesting to me that those who hold that view are happy to use the example of a happy porn star here or there to demonstrate how great and positive pornography is, but ignore the voices of vast numbers of women (and men) who have been effected negatively by pornography. I deeply appreciate the work that Gail Dines and other anti-porn feminists do, especially in a social environment where they are bizarrely considered ‘anti-sex’ and backward for thinking more deeply about the issue than a simple “I choose it, I like it, therefore it’s good”.

  31. Valerie says:

    I must disagree that BDSM is becoming more popular because of desensitization. Well, that may be part of it but the truth is, it’s very expensive. Cuffs, collars, ropes and what have you. The more sex costs, the better the profit, yes? And that cuts across all lines. People lose a lot of logic when it comes to their lust and ego. They lose a lot of money too. Almost every major porn company also has another branch of the company selling sex toys. Follow the money, always follow the money.

    And to all the people sticking up for porn, really? You think porn needs you? Our society is saturated with sex and it’s not stopping anytime soon. Prudishness is daring.

  32. Sheldon says:

    Prudishness is daring – really? That sounds like you’re admitting to being a prude, Valerie. I only wish Gail Dines would be as honest.

    As long as obscenity laws exist, prudishness is the status quo on our cultural landscape. And they still exist, as adult film/video directors like John Stagliano are currently on trial even as we post here.

  33. @Ani: I don’t see lots of sex-postive feminists claiming that “If I choose it, it must be good.” Rather, a woman’s ability to choose to be a porn model occurs in the same patriarchal society as her ability to choose to have an abortion. If her choice is ‘mediated’ or compromised in the former, it is just as much compromised in the latter. And yet, you don’t hear Dines and Co. derogating choice when it comes to abortion.

    That, plus the fact that Dines’ organization’s website domain is maintained and financed by the fundamentalist Skyward Bound Productions should make anyone give pause when considering where Dines is really coming from.

  34. @Aletha: Jersey Jaxin’s profile was taken down from Shelley Lubben’s website, as they have had a falling out. It is unclear who to believe in that disupte.

    Lubbens group is a straightforward fundamentalist outfit, with the usual bromides against gay people and masturbation. It has attracted support from white supremacists. One of their new ex-porn recruits, Desiree Foxx (nee Diane Grandmason) talks like Mel Gibson about Jews on her blog, bringing up the old trope about how the Jews control Hollywood. If this were any other issue of concern to women, feminists would speak as one voice and dismiss such a group’s claims for that reason alone. So why should her group suddenly maintain its credibility when the issue is pornography?

  35. Valerie says:

    ahh, Sheldon, I am a prude. It’s good to be that way. 24/7 Sex on demand isn’t the answer for everything. Have you seen the christian marital advice nowadays? All they do is tell women to spread their legs and life will be great. I get that from the porn industry too. What’s the difference?
    Being prudish is more anti-establishment than being sexy. If people want to prop up their ego’s through sex, I wish they would admit that.
    Rough trade, I am not.

  36. Random Observer says:

    Wonderful, Valerie. And if we we’re talking about just your own choices, by all means, rock on with your prudish self.

    But asking other people to keep their legs crossed, to not practice BDSM, to not look at dirty pictures, to not fight repressive obscenity laws, and a whole host of other “nots” to support your choices? I don’t think that makes you any kind of great rebel against “the establishment”. “Radical” maybe, but only in the sames sense as the “radical right” or “radical Islam”. Certainly not radical in the sense of anything progressive.

  37. Sheldon says:

    Here are some differences between Christian marital advice and porn:

    1) porn doesn’t preach about what should be – it depicts actual sexual behavior to market fantasies. The Christian marital advice are all about advocating restrictive sex within the context of the traditional nuclear (and het) marriage in the real world, not in the world of fantasy.

    2) Christian morality advocates some sort of punishmet for women wo enjoy sex outiside that context. Porn is a cheerleader for such women, typically showing them unpunished for their desires and rewarded with orgasms.

    3) Porn scenarios typically advocate group sex and gay sex. Christian marital advice – hmmmm, methinks not so much.

    Pornographers are still being arrested under obscenity laws by prudes. So how is being a prude anti-establishment?

  38. @ Valerie

    Have you noticed that some of the same supporters of that marital advice also support the eradication of pornography?

  39. @Sheldon

    I think I have to call BS on the comment about Desiree Fox talking “like Mel Gibson about jews on her blog”. Why? Because she doesn’t talk about jews anywhere on her blog, except to make a reference to her own Jewish upbringing. If you are talking aobut a site other than http://www.desireefox.com/, please let me know.

  40. @Sheldon

    Jersey’s profile is still on the Pink Cross site. While I have agreed with what some of what you have written. Please stop responding if you are going to post lies. Your lies call into question the very real truth sex workers’ rights activists are trying to put forth. In short, I think you are, in fact, just posting here in an attempt to make anyone who disagrees with Dines look untrustworthy!

    I know Ms. staff are reading these comments before publishing them. If you are going to hold things in moderation and pretend to present the truth, then a little fact-checking would go a long way. It honestly took me a matter of minutes to figure out that Sheldon is not telling the truth in some of his statements, others took longer to check but once you catch one lie, you have to wonder what else is false and look deeper.

    I’m starting to wonder if this whole interview and the resulting discussion is not just a ploy to garner support for Dines’ book.

  41. Sheldon says:

    I was refering to Desi (Desiree) Foxx, former porn model and mother to Elli Foxx, another ex-porn model. There are 2 xx’s in her stage name – a typo, but no BS. Sorry for the confusion.

  42. @Valerie:

    I must disagree that BDSM is becoming more popular because of desensitization. Well, that may be part of it but the truth is, it’s very expensive. Cuffs, collars, ropes and what have you. The more sex costs, the better the profit, yes? And that cuts across all lines. People lose a lot of logic when it comes to their lust and ego. They lose a lot of money too. Almost every major porn company also has another branch of the company selling sex toys. Follow the money, always follow the money.

    You might find this post of mine interesting. In brief: I agree with you that BDSM is marketed as expensive. I disagree with you that this is somehow different from any other expression of sexuality ($50+ for a piece of very vanilla piece of almost-no-fabric lingerie, anyone?), and thereby your “follow the money” analogy is more than a little off-point.

    @Sheldon and @Jessica Land:

    I was refering to Desi (Desiree) Foxx, former porn model and mother to Elli Foxx, another ex-porn model. There are 2 xx’s in her stage name – a typo, but no BS. Sorry for the confusion.

    “Desi Foxx”, aka. “Diana Thornburg” and “Diana Grandmaison,” aka. Desi Divine, sells sex and relationships advice as an “intuitive advisor” for $1.99 a minute. Sounds like keeping people afraid of sex is a really good business model for her, too.

  43. Valerie says:

    Jessica Land- Yeah, i have noticed that. Two sides to the same coin I suppose. The church wants to control sexuality and the media/porn industry wants to make money from it. It’s just so sad that so many people have been hurt in the process.

  44. Valerie says:

    Random Observer- So you don’t disagree that sex isn’t the answer to everything?

  45. @Sheldon and @maymay

    Thank you for the clarification. My sincerest apologies, Sheldon.

    I posted another comment yesterday that I’m happy for Ms. to hold in moderation forever. It was too emotional and did not serve to further discussion here. My apologies to Ms. as well.

    The one point from that comment that is valid is also directed at Sheldon however, as Jersey’s profile is still up on the Pink Cross site.

  46. Sheldon says:

    @Valerie: “Two sides to the same coin I suppose. The church wants to control sexuality and the media/porn industry wants to make money from it.”

    That’s like saying that the KKK and the NAACP are two sides to the same coin – racism – since both focus on it. The fact that one supports racism and the other opposes it are inconveniences to be swept under the rug, I suppose.

  47. To be honest, I would really love for one of these rad fems to justify how it can be appropriate for them to align themselves with the racism Sheldon raised. There is really no excuse for that. I think you should really be embarrassed to call yourselves feminists if you think that is ok.

    And how do you explain partnering with such people but still so adamantly refusing to work with sex workers rights activist in attempts to make the industry less harmful to participants!!!!! The industry won’t disappear in a day, but if people are being hurt, and it is happening everyday, where is your solution for today? (Pink Cross working for OSHA protections for porn performers in CA is a great example of what you could be doing, but seem determined not to.)

    @Valerie

    The majority of BDSM circles I’ve been connected to, as well as many online, actually offer a wealth of information on how one can make their own “accessories”, for lack of a better term. My local dungeon is teaching a free class on how to make your own corsets tonight, which includes learning how to make a life-size mannequin of yourself for use in future handmade wardrobe projects. That is not an anomalies. (I am not a serious full-time BDSMer, but I am a sex researcher with an interest in the under-represented. Receiving info from these places is not like breaking into a secret society.)

    In fact, as a non-BDSM related example, I know a group of hippie girls who can teach you how to make your own dildos.

    Its not just the wealthy who like to get their kink on, you know. And money need not be a barrier to ingenuity.

  48. Sheldon says:

    Thanks, Jessica.

    It appears that Jersey Jaxin’s profile went back up recently. Time will tell if this means Lubben and Jaxin are back on the same page, or whether Lubben just wants us to think that.

  49. Random Observer says:

    Valerie says:

    “Random Observer- So you don’t disagree that sex isn’t the answer to everything?”

    Who the ever said it was? Just what kind of straw man are you battling?

  50. Feminist says:

    Part II of this interview is an example of how far our culture has moved away from feminism. I used to turn to Ms. as a resource for women centered perspectives. Sadly, perspectives that embrace the porn industry — an industry that perpetuates messages of violence against women, focuses primarily on male pleasure, and is almost exclusively controlled by white men — demonstrate how far we have moved from our original concern for women’s rights. Ms. readers used to be outraged by examples of sexism, racism, and misogyny — all pervasive in porn. Sexual freedom is about using our own imaginations to create personal sensual experiences. Turning to porn is harmful because the industry is founded on perpetuating women’s objectification. This can’t be overlooked and proves the flaw in the logic of those willing to embrace porn in the name of “sexual freedom.” Sexual freedom is limited if it is based within a structure that dehumanizes women. Fighting for economic and social equality were the basic tenants of feminism and a concern for humanity. Supporting the porn industry is completely antithetical to these tenants.

    Gail Dines’ book is a powerful resource for those of us who want to reclaim our sexuality and not have it defined by an industry that is interested in making money off of women’s bodies. It’s the awakening that a generation of feminist need in order to realize how far our culture has moved from the messages of true empowerment that feminists used to demand — empowerment centered on equality and respect.

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  2. [...] Ms. Magazine Interview Leave a Comment Leave a Comment so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Click here to cancel reply. Line and paragraph breaks automatic, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <pre> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> [...]

  3. [...] that came from her former intern — who is now a porn performer herself. Don’t miss Porn: Pleasure or Profit? Ms. Interviews Gail Dines, Part II. Dines famously campaigns against porn as “for profit and not for pleasure” while [...]

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