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

This third installment of Ms.’s interview series with Gail Dines continues the conversation with the Wheelock College professor of sociology and women’s studies and chair of the American Studies Department. Dines recently briefed members of Congress on the harms of pornography, arguing for greater enforcement of existing obscenity laws.

Staunchly anti-porn, she argues that this abusive industry turns women into products and hijacks our sexuality. But with feminist porn on the radar, sex-workers rights groups gaining volume and Dines’ new book Pornland joining the line-up of other titles like Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide (Seal Press), it’s clear that feminist debates over sex-for-sale are not finished.

Shira Tarrant/Ms.: You’re a founding member of the group Stop Porn Culture! and I noticed that the main arguments in your book Pornland are repeated on the organization’s website. What are the main goals of this group and who are its members?

Gail Dines: We started Stop Porn Culture (SPC) after the 2007 conference on porn at Wheelock College. The goal of the conference was to jumpstart the feminist anti-porn movement and we received many requests to start an organization that would both raise public awareness and develop educational materials. We decided that since most of the founding members of SPC had been propelled into activism after seeing the anti-porn slide show from the 1980s, it made political sense to create a new one that spoke to the reality of present-day porn. Our first slide show, “Who Wants to be a Porn Star?,” is hugely successful both here and abroad. It is being used as a training tool by anti-violence organizations as well as by college professors, community activists and media literacy specialists. Rebecca Whisnant, one of the founders of SPC, produced a second show, “It’s Easy Out Here for a Pimp: How a Porn Culture Grooms Kids for Sexual Exploitation,” that focuses on how a pornified popular culture shapes the identities of children and adolescents, while increasingly portraying them as sexual objects for adults. Because it can be challenging to give these shows in public, SPC holds regular training sessions for people interested in gaining more knowledge on the topic and skills as a presenter.

Our members come from a whole range of fields that include activists, academics, teachers, health and counseling professionals and community organizers. What unites us is our deeply held belief that we need to organize against the multi-billion dollar predatory industry.

Ms.: I have to ask about the anti-porn pledge at the Stop Porn website. People who sign the pledge vow not to use porn or to knowingly be in a relationship with a partner who uses porn. How is this any different from the Religious Right’s all-or-nothing purity rings and chastity vows?

GD: By taking the Stop Porn pledge, you’re agreeing not to debase or degrade women. We’re not talking about constraining one’s sexuality but creating sexuality that is based on respect and equality. Were not against sex. Porn is political when this commodification of women circulates in mass media.

Ms.: In Pornland you describe the foundations of print pornography in the 1950s and the economic context of postwar America. You cite the misogyny of Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione and Larry Flynt as setting the stage for today’s gonzo porn. But I notice you omit Alfred Kinsey, who also started his work in the 1950s. The Kinsey Reports did a lot to bring discussion about sexual pleasure and variety into the mainstream. It’s curious that you left out Kinsey from your book.

GD: I would agree with you but in any book you make decisions about what to include and not include. I was more interested in the industry.

This is part III of a series of interviews with Gail Dines. Part I discussed sexual freedom, coercion, safety and harm and part II included responses from porn actors.

Photo courtesy of Beacon Press.

Comments

  1. Comment from the author/interviewer:
    A discussion about racism in pornography is the focus of a stand-alone piece that's coming soon. It's titled Is Porn Racist? I hope you'll look for it.

  2. I have two teenage daughters. I am saddened (and worried) that every guy they will date now and in the future will have gotten his sexual education from the online porn industry. Instead of mildly annoying cat calls, my daughters are propositioned to perform anal sex, group sex, and gangbangs in the hall of their school, from guys who don’t even know them and don’t seem to care to know them. Gail Danes is on their side and on the side of all our daughters ( and concerned mothers) who still hope for some humanity to remain part of a sexual relationship.

    I think what is missing from this interview is input from FORMER porn stars. Like women who “choose” to be a prostitute, claiming it’s a legitimate career, it is easy to justify and make light of it when it’s paying the bills. But after they have their anuses reconstructed, I am willing to bet that a good majority of women in porn will regret having made that decision, and bear emotional scars for a long time. So let’s hear from some former porn stars who can truly see this issue with 20/20 hindsite.

    • The only former porn performers who claim to see " this issue with 20/20 hindsite" in the way you imply are the ones who have hooked up with Shelley Lubben's fundamentalist group.

      There are other former porn performers, such as Georgina Spelivn, Annette Haven, Veronica Hart, Candida Royalle and Annie Sprinle, who have a positive assessment of their time in front of the cameras. And none of them are linked to the far right.

      • I wonder why you left out Jenna Jameson, Sheldon. Shelley Lubben seems none too fond of her. Ms. Jameson may still have mixed feelings about her experiences, but her memoir does not paint this pretty picture you seem to think is nearly universal among pornography actresses. It is more like a cautionary tale, as her subtitle would imply. Is it not possible women working in that business have to believe it is good for them in order to keep their sanity? Did you forget about Ani, the woman who commented about her experiences on Part 2? She must be linked to the far right somehow, right?

        • I did not leave Jenna out – I was responding to the particular claim made by Julie abouit former porn performers who see the issue with "20/20 hindsite". Jenna did not have her anus reconstructed, nor does she regret being in porn. She has other problems with it. And, with all that, she has not been honest about one major reason she no longer wanted to be in porn – the criticism she received for not wanting to work with black men.

          I don't know who 'Ani' is – what films did she do? What stage name did she use?

    • The porn industry tries to glamourize itself on mainstream TV that it is good for relationships. Maybe it is, on the front-end, about 5%, the other 95% of the 100s of billions of dollars is made off of smut, slice-and-dice rereleases derived from original films, then recreated into the worse possible productions imaginable. That’s not good for relationships. It causes people to be distracted from reality, causes violent behavior, causes men to treat women poorly, to disrespect their fellow comrads, and ruins the lives of the performers, especially those who are NOT doing porn. Some performers only entered porn for a year and only did maybe 30 films, some only one and realized it was a mistake. That does not mean that person deserves to be splattered and exploited across millions of pages online, no one deserves that type of treatment. Every human being has a right to make mistakes, but also has a right to move on and do other things, go back to school, get a normal job. Smut is like slave labor, because if a performer was going through hard times, did a few films, didn’t get paid much, VHS on and off the shelves for a short time was around, not streaming online footage exploited online over a million pages for all the world to see, without performer pay or permission. Those films were slice-and-diced into 400 or so unpaid rereleases over a period of 14 years that the internet has been around, with current production dates, misleading consumers as to when the footage was made, worse it’s not how the footage was made, what’s presented is a knock-off bootleg version of the worse smut imaginable, no scripting, no value, just smut. Where are the laws America? Why doesn’t anyone stand up and say it’s wrong, it’s inhumane! There are laws, but everyone turns a blind eye, and why… because if laptops and technology are to be sold, being porn is the main search of men, they allow it to happen and remain in there search engines, so they can make more sales, just another form of GREED, and whose campaign funds are funded by it if anyone can donate? Let’s hope whoever America picks for there next candidate, will be willing to see that it is wrong, what’s been going on. Caring starts at the bottom of the chain, and when something this horrible is allowed, the effects trickle up to every level in one form or another, and by then, it’s a mess. I’m so sick of hearing, “that’s Kimi Gee,” when I haven’t even been doing porn the past 14 years, and it’s only because of the 400 smut streaming footage splattered online that I did not do, it’s disgusting that the government did not put a stop to the smut in the first place. I have one question for America, why allow it to continue that way? It simply isn’t right!

  3. It is commonplace for anti-porn feminists to claim to be opposed to censorship, yet, as Shira Tarrant notes, Dines has called for enforcement of obscenity laws.

    In the 1980s, Dworkin and MacKinnon drafted an anti-porn "Model Ordianance" to be an alternative to obscenity laws. This, they claimed, proved that they were opposed to obscenity laws. Dines has been a disciple of Dworkin and MacKinnon, so what happened?

  4. I really enjoyed all three parts of this interview and the discussion that followed. I just read the whole thing and I have a few thoughts… and I hope that it's okay if I comment on the whole thing here.

    Ms. Dines complains that porn is using lobbyists and marketing to put the industry in a good light. Don't all industries do that? Isn't that just the definition of marketing? Why should the marketing practices of porn be held to different standards than any other industry in America? Tobacco, alcohol and firearms spend tons of money on marketing and lobbyists and those industries kill people every day. I'm not saying that any of these are right or wrong, I just don't think we should single out porn.

    She also mentions that, “It’s not an accident that there’s more BDSM activity now.” How does she know, for a fact, that there is more activity now? How is she measuring these people? On the Internet? Just because you look something up online doesn’t mean you’ve ever tried it. Using toy sales? You don’t need to buy anything to practice BDSM. I do not understand how anyone can claim to know the number of people practicing something private that takes place (for the most part) behind closed doors. And maybe there isn’t more activity now, maybe there are just more people who feel safe talking about it… and wouldn’t that be a good thing?

    She also talks about Miley Cyrus dressed in S/M Clothing and she goes on to say, "Miley Cyrus’s performance is not about creativity but dictated by capitalism. She aged out of Disney and this is the carefully planned-out launch of the new Miley Cyrus."

    Of course Miley Cyrus’ image is carefully constructed. Disney did the same thing with the Jonas brothers, except they used the opposite end of the spectrum: purity rings and virginity. (That's a whole other debate right there.) Maybe Miley Cyrus wants to be seen as sexy. Maybe posing in S/M gear is symbolic of her power. I would think that if she didn’t feel comfortable wearing those clothes no one could force her to do so. She’s talented, rich and one of the most powerful young people in the world. She made a choice. She could have just as easily gone the purity ring route.

    Ms. Dines says that Miley wouldn't make money if she wasn't fuckable but she already made tons of money before she changed her image. And, I find this whole line of thinking incredibly insulting: “Women are either fuckable or invisible.” I completely disagree. Are those the only choices we have? Is she saying that there are no women respected for their talent and intelligence?

    Again, I'm sorry I'm late to the conversation, but after reading all three parts and the discussions I just had to jump in. I am looking forward to reading about racism and porn. I think that is a fantastic topic! I can't wait!

  5. My discomfort with most anti-porn activism, including the type of anti-porn activism that Dines supports, is based on what I see as a simple truth: for every argument that Dines uses to dismantle a woman's right or capacity to choose to participate in pornography, I can make a corollary argument to use to dismantle a woman’s right to choose an abortion. The common ground that anti-port activists find themselves standing on with the conservative right is not based, I believe, on a common concern for women’s welfare (though I would like to believe that if I thought it were true). Instead, that common ground is based on a desire to limit women’s range of available choices for their lives through government intervention.

    I am sure that Dines considers herself a pro-choice feminist – I am not arguing against that. I am saying that the choices she supports are limited to those choices she is comfortable with. In this, the conservative right certainly agrees. As someone who deeply believes in a woman’s inalienable right to choose what does or does not happen to her own body, regardless of how uncomfortable that choice might make me or the larger social implications of that choice, I cannot see a way to reconcile anti-porn activism with a pro-choice framework.

    • I am VERY late to the discussion, I know, but, philosopher that I am, I feel compelled to throw out one example of how an anti-porn activist might also be pro-choice: If the anti-porn activist didn’t seek to restrict women’s right to make porn, only their right to receive money for it, then women could have the same power to use their bodies as “they choose” (if that is, indeed, what they are doing), as with an abortion.

  6. C.S., if women truly had the opportunity to develop whatever skills or talents most interested us, and could make a living working in that area, how many do you think would choose to work in the sex industry? Some women have such opportunities, but far too many do not, so for some, the sex industry may seem to be the best of a bad lot of choices. This is the point. When choices are, or appear to be, constricted, to say that a decision to sell her body for male pleasure is a free, unpressured, fully informed choice is misleading at best. That decision is more likely to be made out of the pressure of perceived necessity than what a woman would really like to do with her life, which all too often, is not a viable option for her.

    • As if a woman never had an abortion due to "the pressure of perceived necessity!" In an imperfect world, there is no such thing as a perfect choice. When someone chooses to be a sex worker instead of a mindless drone flipping burgers at a fast-food joint, that is a choice sufficiently cognizant of economic reality to be respected.

      • How did I know you, or somebody, would try to draw such an analogy? It does not fit. An abortion is a medical procedure, over and done in a matter of minutes, not something a woman has to do every day to make a living. Just about the only thing linking abortion and working in the sex industry is that sometimes a woman working in the sex industry has to have an abortion.

        Of course there is no such thing as a perfect choice in an imperfect world. That is a truism that only serves to evade my point, that if a woman had a better choice than mindless work, work that she could actually find fulfilling, very few would choose the sex industry. Regardless, what is real about this economic system, besides that it happens to be prevalent, and given the political reality, it is unlikely to change in any meaningful way? It engenders all kinds of unnecessary suffering, including relegating people to working as mindless drones. This is not necessary, practical, or ultimately sustainable, but it does help keep the powers that be in power.

  7. Aletha, I completely agree with you that women's choices to do sex work do not happen in a vacuum. Instead, those choices are made in a toxic environment of sexism, manipulation, and the use of women's bodies for men's profit and gratification. However, I think Sheldon also touches upon the concern that I have… that this toxic environment is not limited to pornography. The milieu that women find themselves in influences ALL of their choices, whether that choice is to work in porn, to work at a bar / in construction / in the military (where pressures to conform to sexism are most intense), to ignore sexist comments made by your partner's boss, or to have an abortion.

    Laws and precedents constructed to "save" women from the exploitative pressures faced in just one environment – the pornography industry – can easily be extended to "save" women from other "exploitative" environments. You may agree with the way that anti-porn definitions of exploitation are defined when applied to the legal porn industry ("legal" to differentiate the porn industry from other types of sexual exploitation where women are trafficked or pimped through they use of violence), but you may feel very differently when women's choices to have an abortion are equally framed as exploitation. That is exactly how the pro-life movement has framed the "exploitation" of women by "anti-male / anti-family feminists" and the "feminist agenda."

    So, instead of attempts to degrade or dismantle the porn industry because of misogyny or sexism – which we have not done in response to sexism in corporations or the military – I think that the collective feminist response to pornography should be the same as feminist responses to sexism in other aspects of women's lives: to work on the EMPOWERMENT of women in sex work while simultaneously working to get the dominant consumers of sex work, heterosexual men, to recognize the ways in which their own exploitative consumption of women and sex work degrades themselves and contributes to their own unhappiness.

    In a capitalist society based on the free choice of consumers, working to reduce the demand for sex work is far more effective than working to reduce the supply. In fact, reducing the supply simply creates a premium on sex work, and makes it an even MORE attractive choice for women faced with difficult economic situations, not a less attractive one.

    Working with het men to reduce the demand for sex work, while EMPOWERING women in sex work to make sure that their choices are as consensual, respected, and as un-coerced as possible, to me is a consistent response to pornography based on a feminist framework of women's empowerment. To attack the industry itself, and limit women's ability to choose to do sex work by dismantling the industry, is to simply play into the hands of conservative who want to limit women's choices in other ways.

    • Thanks for clarifying the analogy I was making.

      When NOW endorsed decriminalization of prostitution in 1973, it understood the need to be consistently pro-choice. And that is something Gail Dines and her followers oppose – ‘choice for me, not for thee’

  8. broadblogs says:

    Easy internet availability leaves some consuming porn nearly 24/7, leaving them so overexposed that they become bored with the erotica that had once titillated. Craving more extreme stuff, today’s porn punishes and dehumanizes women as they are beaten, mutilated, defecated on and into – the list goes on. Objectification and dehumanization have become turbo-charged.

    Porn dehumanizes both women and the men who consume it. I wonder if men will ever come to realize that porn hurts them, too. http://broadblogs.com/

    • Your rhetoric is reminscent of those who oppose decriminalization of marijuana, fearing that is a gateway drug that will lead to the more extreme addictions of heroin and cocaine.

      The ‘extreme’ porn you cite has always been around. As the overall quantity of ponr increases, so does the quantity of each of its subgenres. There is more of all types of porn, not just the ‘extremes’.

      • broadblogs says:

        You must not have read much research on pornography and how the industry has changed over time. Or interviews with men who say that they had once been very aroused by female nudity, but with overexposure, now need more extreme porn to get aroused. They also talk of having more difficulty becoming erect with real women. Some men decided to quit for a while because it was so negatively affecting their sex lives. See, for example, Pornified, by Pamela Paul. http://broadblogs.com/

        • I have read all the research that you are referring to. I am also acutely aware of how the adult film and video industry has changed and has NOT changed, since I was a film critic for Adult Video News in the 1990s.

          Men who feel guilty and ashamed of watching porn will respond to surveys in such a way as to give comfort to a puritanical view of sexuality. They are led to be ashamed of having sexual fantasies and masturbation as well.

          For another view with male viewers who are less ashamed, read David Loftus' book on men and porn. He interviewed 150 men at length.

  9. Good old postmodern hell. All choices are equivalent, so I cannot oppose anything for fear someone else might construct a hopelessly stretched analogy to make an argument against something they dislike? Hello, words mean something beyond the ability of Humpty Dumpty or other masters of spin to twist them around to make them mean whatever they want. There is no moral equivalency between a woman choosing to terminate her pregnancy and choosing to sell her body. That those who deem both immoral might think otherwise does not make it so. I neither accept nor fear sexist framing of abortion. Let them do their worst. They may influence and intimidate politicians, for instance the President, but I am pursuing truth, speaking truth to power, and empowering women to have better alternatives. No woman should have to entertain the prospect of selling her body to gratify male lust as the best of a bad lot of choices. Pornography and prostitution exist because so many women are impoverished or otherwise disempowered. They are symptomatic of how the prevalent economic and value systems have failed women.

    So, Sheldon, do you think radical feminists think prostitutes should be treated as criminals? Or are you extrapolating from ideas about prosecuting johns and pimps?

    • “There is no moral equivalency between a woman choosing to terminate her pregnancy and choosing to sell her body.”

      Really? How so? You offer no proof or compelling logic, just your say-so. By the way, my views on this matter were shaped by feminist women. I am arguing for a viewpoint espoused and created by the 1973 NOW conference (on prostitution) and Feminists for Free Expression (on pornography), among other organizations. They are women – hear them roar!

      “No woman should have to entertain the prospect of selling her body to gratify male lust as the best of a bad lot of choices.”

      But working for piss-poor wages at the local fast-food eatery is a better prospect to entertain? Now you may counter that you oppose that too, but never in a voice that rings true or convincing. You and Gail Dines really get your dander up when the best of a bad lot for women involves S-E-X, but otherwise? Nope.

      Interesting choice of words – “gratify male lust”. Victorian, much?

      “Pornography and prostitution exist because so many women are impoverished or otherwise disempowered.”

      Actually, pornography exists because sexual fantasies exist, and these fantasies cause folks to masturbate. End pornography? End masturbation first.

      As for your last question, yes, I do think radfems in general want prostitues, especially those who disagree with radfems, treated as criminals. By opposing NOW’s stance on decriminalization, they strengthen the hand of the state in having its way with sex workers. Objectively, they will be treated as criminals, subject to police abuse, no matter how many times radfems claim to only want the pimps and johns punished.

      • You know, Sheldon, for someone who calls me to task for not proving my argument or presenting compelling logic, you ought to look in the mirror. You may know a lot about pornography, but your knowledge of radical feminism, let alone my views, is either hopelessly warped or nonexistent. I have no interest in convincing you of anything. I know that would be impossible, because you believe what you want to believe and nothing will convince you otherwise. Regardless, this is a matter of politics for me, not logic or morality. I have read some of your arguments elsewhere on the web. Your stock in trade is loose analogy, guilt by association, playing word and statistical games. Anyone who disagrees with you must be uninformed or disingenuous, right?

        This is so telling: "I do think radfems in general want prostitues, especially those who disagree with radfems, treated as criminals." You have no basis for this statement, except your knowledge of the animosity between your friends in the business and radical feminists. There is a huge difference between strenuously opposing those who whitewash pornography and prostitution and wanting them thrown in jail. Would you mind specifying exactly what you think constitutes this opposition to the stance of NOW on decriminalization of prostitution?

        Neither sexual fantasies nor masturbation require the assistance of pornography, especially the hardcore stuff, unless one has a need to bolster the imagination or to witness women getting humiliated or roughed up. Are men entitled to that?

        Ironically, I always thought treating abortion as morally equivalent to pornography or prostitution was an antifeminist or fundamentalist viewpoint. Is that not what C.S. was pointing out, that the opponents of abortion frame them similarly? Why are you doing that?

        • “I have no interest in convincing you of anything. I know that would be impossible, because you believe what you want to believe and nothing will convince you otherwise.”

          It’s fascinating they way some people project their own issues onto me. Oh dear, I must have hit a nerve.

          “Regardless, this is a matter of politics for me, not logic or morality”

          For me, it’s a matter of all three. But hey, at least we agree on one.

          “I have read some of your arguments elsewhere on the web. Your stock in trade is loose analogy, guilt by association, playing word and statistical games.”

          My so-called “stock in trade” are borrowed from pro-choice feminism, to which I heartily subscribe. I analyze the opponents of sex work the same way that mainstream feminists have analyzed the anti-choice movement. If my methodology is wrong, then so is theirs. I suspect that what annoys you about that is that I have learned those lessons too well.

          –to be continued due to length

        • “Anyone who disagrees with you must be uninformed or disingenuous, right?”

          On any issue, when there is disagreement, each side starts out assuming the opposition is either one or the other. Welcome to the human race.

          ”This is so telling: "I do think radfems in general want prostitues, especially those who disagree with radfems, treated as criminals." You have no basis for this statement, except your knowledge of the animosity between your friends in the business and radical feminists.”

          And my knowledge that is quite extensive, thank you very much. But it’s not just ‘my friends in the business’, it’s the animosity extended toward feminists not in the business, like Nadine Strossen of the ACLU or most of the women of the Feminist Anti-Censorship Taskforce and its successor, Feminists for Free Expression. It’s Catherine MacKinnon calling those women “Uncle Toms” at a 1988 New York University conference.
          –to be continued due to length

        • It’s the refusal of radfem Susan Cole to debate on the college lecture circuit pro-porn feminist women but instead debating a man, porn star Ron Jeremy, thereby perpetuating the silencing of those women in that venue. And, when us sex-positive types aren’t around, their animosity will be directed toward each other, i.e. WHISPER leader Evelina Giobbe sexually assaulting one of her own, Kelly Holsopple, as revealed by a Dworkin follower, Victoria Marinelli.

          “There is a huge difference between strenuously opposing those who whitewash pornography and prostitution and wanting them thrown in jail.”

          That’s only true for people who cherish democratic values, argue their points in good faith, and believe in dialing it down to keep the tone of disagreement comradely / sisterly.

          –to be continued due to length

        • The anti-porn feminist movement has shown itself unwilling to do any of that. It sees how the status quo hurts sex workers by subjecting them to the whims of the largely male authorities, so where is its outrage about that? Instead, we have Dworkinite Laura Lederer working with President Bush to fight “sex trafficking”, and Andrea Dworkin herself dining with Bush supporters Maggie Gallagher, David Frum and Christopher Hitchens, supporting the war in Iraq and denouncing the peace movement as being soft on Saddam Hussein.

          ”Neither sexual fantasies nor masturbation require the assistance of pornography, especially the hardcore stuff, unless one has a need to bolster the imagination or to witness women getting humiliated or roughed up. Are men entitled to that? “

          Before you go after me for ‘loose analogies’, you should take the trouble to read my point with a bit more care. My point was that regardless of the status of women in a society, there will be a demand for pornography as long as humans can masturbate. You end demand by ending masturbation. The fact that people can masturbate without porn does not speak to that.

          –to be continued due to length

          • You think there was demand for modern forms of pornography ten thousand years ago? I would agree if you said there has always been a desire for images of sexuality, but in an egalitarian culture, such images would not conflate sexuality with cruelty, humiliation, or violence. What would be the point? In this culture, that conflation is the point of pornography, as opposed to erotic art. I will concede you were right to question my choice of words in the phrase, gratify male lust. I do not think pornography is about lust at all. Male proclivities would be more accurate.

            If it is not obvious, radical feminists hardly speak with one voice. Infighting has plagued feminism forever, including among radical feminists, and the disagreements have often been less than "comradely." The rhetoric may get overheated, but this hardly implies one side is not arguing in good faith, does not respect democratic values, or wants the other side thrown in jail, no matter how high emotions may run. You see what you want to see and draw your own conclusions. I think your conclusions are exaggerated, insulting, and disregard important nuances.

            So Andrea Dworkin supported the war on Iraq? I was not aware of that, but I do know the owner of Ms. Magazine, the Feminist Majority Foundation, supports the war on Afghanistan. Should I disregard all their work as not credible or worthwhile because I think both wars are unjustified, illegal, and immoral, desperate actions of a collapsing empire?

          • Obviously, the demand for pornography 10,000 years ago came in the forms congruent with the times. No DVDs then.

            Sexual fantasies, however, do not always track with the society in which the fantasist dwells. Folks in this society have come up wuith a lot of egalitarian fantasies that have been realized in the adult cinema in our repressive capitalist society. Sexual fantasies are a form of escapism – the desire to dream of scenarios unlike the real world. If you believe that an egalitarian society will automatically produce sexual images that you define as non-humiliating, you might be in for a rude shock.

            Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

            As far as the behavior of radical feminists, they’re not just all talk. The fact that a major figure in that movement went over the line into sexual assault is an ‘important nuance’ that you have ignored or belittled.

            The fact that Andrea Dworkin would support a war that progressives were in lockstep opposed to from the beginning because it was based on fraud (WMDs) exposes the hypocrisy of her anti-violence rhetoric. At least the war in Afghanistan started out from the very real 9-11 and the equally real Al-Qaeda based in Afghanistan, so I don’t see a comparable hypocrisy in Ms magazine or the FMF in having supported it.

          • In an egalitarian society, why would a woman subject herself voluntarily to being humiliated?

            One woman going over the line is significant enough to discredit an entire movement? Is any movement free from criminals and crazies? Radical feminists, like feminists in general, come in many varieties. I have been reluctant to call myself a radical feminist because of the antics of some others who claim that mantle. I have gone so far as to say to one favorite whipping girl of your friends that she is more extremist than radical. I do not appreciate being accused of sleeping with the enemy.

            Progressives were in lockstep opposed to attacking Iraq? There must have been precious few of them in Congress! Then again, I do not even know what that term, progressive, is supposed to mean. I just read an opinion piece by Maureen Dowd, saying "After Bush, Democrats thought the way to paper over the distinction between liberals and radical lefties was to call everyone progressives. But calling yourself a progressive is just a stupid disguise where you pretend the contradiction isn’t there." Regardless, my point was that my being opposed to both wars is not sufficient for me to renounce any and all respect for or association with Andrea Dworkin, or Ms. Magazine. I do not expect to agree with all feminists on every issue important to me, even an issue as important as ill-advised wars. Feminism is a very diverse movement. This can be seen as a weakness, but it can also be seen as a source of strength. Regardless, it is too far off topic for me to debate the merits of each war here.

          • "In an egalitarian society, why would a woman subject herself voluntarily to being humiliated?"

            Would she agree with you that it even IS humiliating?

            It's good to see you dissociating yourself from extremists. I also don't like being accused of "sleeping with the enemy", so maybe now you know how my fellow liberal feminists have been feeling all these years.

            My use of "progressive: is old-school: social democrat and leftward. It refers to the grass-roots, not to politicians, even those I vote for.

        • There’s nothing wrong with men or women using porn to bolster sexual fantasy. People of any gender should have the right to consume adult entertainment depicting whatever fantasy arouses them as long as the performers are consenting adults. It’s no different for women porn consumers who enjoy watching a dominating women ‘pegging’ a male submissive. The very cover of Dines’ book testifies as to the popularity of that dynamic.

          ”Ironically, I always thought treating abortion as morally equivalent to pornography or prostitution was an antifeminist or fundamentalist viewpoint. Is that not what C.S. was pointing out, that the opponents of abortion frame them similarly? Why are you doing that?”

          The fundamentalists view any feminist demand that way, not just abortion and sex work.
          I am ‘framing’ those two issues because that’s how sex-positive feminists have framed them, including the ORIGINAL radical feminists, such as the late Ellen Willis of Redstockings.

  10. Porn performers who are adults aren’t my concern unless they are being assaulted or have other crimes being committed against them. They are adults and make their own choices, good, mediocre, bad – like the rest of us adults.

    However, I can imagine that being an unknown lower-rank porn performer (not the successful porn celebrities cited above) could create a mindset similar to anyone in a job they don’t like but stay in because they can’t make the same amount of $$/benefits elsewhere. You would feel economically dependent and unable to leave the situation even if you want to.

    Are there statistics about the $$ earned by porn performers, split out by education level, family income level, etc?

    All that aside, my big concern is for the kids growing up today whose understanding of their own sexuality is deeply influenced by porn and the “power over” and “humans as objects, not people” dynamic in porn. To me porn presents an emotionally impoverished projection of sexuality that is really cold and unappealing.

    • As someone who was a writer for Adult Video News (AVN), I can tell you that rates vary by company. There are no universal pay standards in terms of gross amount. However, per scene, female performers are paid upward from twice as much as their male co-stars. This was discussed at length in a book by feminist journalist Susan Faludi years ago.

      As someone with children, I think the more important consideration is that parents should do their best to block access to inappropriate sites if their kids are underage. Children are not equipped to distinguish reality from fantasy as adults are, so even having them exposed to “human as subjects” porn is not a good thing.

  11. I wrote the following for my blog, but I think it also fits here.

    One critical issue to prostitution and pornography that gets swirled into maximum confusion is the meaning of consent. Nobody will defend selling a woman as a sex slave, unless she has a say in it. Suddenly that makes it just another choice, to those who think some women sell themselves as sex slaves of their own free will. Leaving aside the blatant contradiction inherent in that concept, if one is concerned with more than technical legal issues, I think a feminist approach demands an examination of why a woman would make such a choice. Is it really a free fully informed unpressured choice between reasonable alternatives?

    In rare cases, that may happen, but I contend the vast majority of women who choose sex slavery as a career do not see a reasonable alternative, so the choice is constrained, uninformed, and made under pressure. This is consent? Consent contaminated to such an extent is meaningless, yet this is supposed to be a fact of life, that men are entitled to buy sex or watch images of sex slavery.

    It is argued, this is comparable to wage slavery, and it is true enough that many jobs are a meaningless grind, endured for the paycheck. This is a failure built into the economic model. If it were otherwise, if the economic system enabled everyone to thrive by developing their best talents and skills, no woman would have to face the desperation of seeing no reasonable alternatives. This may seem hopelessly impractical, but what does the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness really mean when so many people can aspire to no more than being cogs in the corporate machinery?

    Since the economic model is what it is, the question is raised, why blame the victims? Why are prostitutes criminals, while those who buy them are just bad boys being boys? The reverse has been tried, with promising results. One may think I am suggesting buyers or makers of pornography should be criminals, since the consent of the women is questionable. To deal with the symptoms of prevalent economic and value systems while leaving them intact is bandaging the problems at best. I think it makes more sense to treat pornography as an extremely costly luxury than as a law enforcement nightmare, unless the women are getting physically injured or underage. I draw that line because that is where informed consent is impossible. Perhaps if the buyers of pornography had to pay enough tax so the cost was comparable to a work of erotic art, they might consider buying art instead. This is far from an ideal solution, but if the economic and value system are taken for reality, I think it is better than treating pornography and prostitution as normal facts of life. Ultimately I insist the solution is to provide women better alternatives, but that would require profound revisioning of prevalent theories of value. My first blog entry was devoted to that subject.

    One section of the much older Free Soil Party Bill of Missing Rights says, "The right to sufficient basic and vocational education to qualify for a job reasonably consistent with the talents, abilities, and potential of a person. Those people demonstrating unusual creative abilities would be allowed three years of self directed apprenticeship to develop independence. While attaining sufficient skills for survival, no person should be held liable to pay for survival." What is the point of education, if not to provide an opportunity for fulfilling and meaningful employment? But of course, the powers that be do not see it that way.

    • I do like that last paragraph, and it would be nice to see that realized when there are suffucient jobs available.

      Your lead paragraphs take as an assumption that pornography and prostitution are forms of sex slavery when that is precisely what remains unproven.

      You propose a tax on porn comparable to a work of erotic art, yet one of the major bones of contention in the “Sex Wars” has been how to distinguish one from the other. You have not done so except for using flowery rhetoric. It’s great poetry, to be sure, but useless as a matter of public policy.

      • Assumptions, definitions, and opinions are unproven, by definition. I would say practically everything worth knowing is unproven, and unprovable. That is just the nature of reality and the imperfect facilities humans have for perceiving and interpreting reality.

        Did you read what I quoted from Gloria Steinem? Was that just useless flowery rhetoric?

        • 1) Assuming what you are trying to prove constitutes the logical fallacy known as a tautology,and that is how you often argue your case. You assume, for example, that pornography is inextricably linked to humiliation and degradation of women and then argue from there, which makes no attempt to grapple with what liberal feminists have been saying.

          2) "Practically everything worth knowing is unproven"? Really? And where does that leave women?

          3) What did you quote from Steinem?

          • Sheldon, you are either not getting it, or insisting on interpreting what I am saying from your standpoint, which allows you to reduce these issues to matters of logic and proof. I am not trying to “prove” anything. I am stating my opinions. Too bad you did not read the quote from Gloria Steinem (I think that was before you showed up). Perhaps if you had read that, you would not be so quick to assert I am assuming what I am trying to prove, which by the way, is known as a circular argument, not a tautology. There are superficial similarities, but generally a tautology refers to a meaningless statement that has to be true because it is implied by the definitions of its words. Definitions and opinions are not assumptions, nor are they provable. I am interested in reclaiming language. Since you refuse to recognize how I define pornography and erotic art, it may appear I am refusing to recognize forms of pornography that do not meet my definition. I am using the term to refer to what I define as pornography, which has nothing to do with egalitarian sexuality. When people cannot agree on how to define important terms, arguments tend to go around in circles.

            Where does most knowledge worth knowing being unprovable leave women? With our experiences, feelings, principles, opinions, ideas, theories, senses, intuition. None of those are provable. Human experience is subjective, by nature. You like logic because it appears airtight. It is not. It depends on its assumptions and definitions, and it is a well known consequence of logic that contradictory or otherwise flawed assumptions or definitions allow one to “prove” anything. In logic, false implies false is a true statement.

          • Now that I see the quote from Steinem – one that I and every other sex-positive feminist is familiar with, ad nauseum – it only confirms my original judgment that you are assuming what you are trying to prove.

            Of course, if you weren’t trying to prove anything at all but just state your opinion for the record, OK, then THAT would change my judgment of your intent.

            I don’t merely like logic – I LOVE logic. Major Star Trek fan here, with Spock as my inspiration. And, as the Vulcan science officer would be quick to point out, highly emotional problems are best resolved through logic, not ‘emotional truth’ or a theory of knowledge that sounds like nihilism. I use logic to debate anti-choicers (you may remember my posts on the old Ms Boards from the prior decade). Logic was Thurgoood Marshall’s primary tool in arguing for and winning Brown vs. Board of Education; logic is used by NOW to advocate on behalf of its major, defining peinciples which constitute its membership criteria.

            Subjectivity and intuition on behalf of the oppressed only tightens the shackles.

          • It is hard for me to justify arguing with those who insist on distorting or disbelieving virtually everything I say. This is one way you win arguments, Sheldon; you wear down your opposition until they conclude there is no point in going around and around in circles.

            Logic is just a tool. It can be used for any purpose imaginable, and is often employed to justify the status quo. It has been used to good purposes, but it has also been used to justify the worst abuses of power and knowledge imaginable. Sexism, racism, war, you name the form of oppression, there has always been some line of argument its defenders considered perfectly logical bolstering it. The defenders of slavery thought the idea that slavery was the proper role for black people was perfectly logical. The opponents of suffrage for women thought that idea was illogical and portended the ruin of civilization. Look at the capstones of high technology, nuclear energy and genetic engineering. They are disasters, but in the minds of most scientists and politicians, logic tells them these marvels of technology represent the pinnacle of scientific achievement. Sexist social scientists, like Larry Summers and Steven Pinker, still think sexism is logical. The science of public relations is the cold calculating logic of how to manipulate people. The point is, logic has its limits. It works very well to deal with machines. People, not so much. People are creative feeling beings. Logic and machines are neither. If people were more sensible and less attached to hierarchical models, logic might help discover ways out of the mess people have made of this world, instead of helping to perpetuate and exacerbate the mess. As things stand, it will take tools without the limitations and historical baggage of logic to bring about any substantial change.

            My theory of knowledge sounds like nihilism to you? Do you have any idea what you are talking about? This, from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, sounds like nihilism to me: "Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy."

            It is hard to imagine a philosophy more opposed to my own than nihilism. I am pointing out that men in general put way more faith in logic than it deserves, especially since logic in and of itself offers no challenge to the status quo, is all too easily used to bolster abuses of power, and the quick profit motive has corrupted science to such an extent, the ability of this planet to sustain life is being destroyed in the name of science and logic.

          • "Practically everything worth knowing is unproven" – that is from you. In other words, NOTHING is proven. And if nothing is proven, then that leads to believing in nothing that isn't faith-based.
            Therefore, the intimate link between your philosophy and nihilism. Now do you get it?

            So, the next time someone argues one half of a woman's right to choose an abortion with logic, will you stand up and object, shouting at the speaker that "No! Doesn't use logc – it has historical baggage!"

            Do I 'wear' people down, or are they simply too embarrassed to admit that I'm right?

          • Oops – the second paragraph should read, "So, the next time someone argues, with logic, on behalf of a woman's right to choose an abortion, will you stand up and object, shouting at the speaker, "No! Don't use logc – it has historical baggage!"

          • Wow, Sheldon. That is your response? Since you like to berate people for ignoring things that run counter to their arguments, how about the distinction between knowing something and proving it? That is one hell of a big hole in your interpretation of what I said. But you act like it is not there. Besides, I can prove lots of things. The point is, most of them, at least by sheer numbers, are meaningless, true by tautology, such as the multiply infinite facts of arithmetic. But I can also prove the existence of consciousness, which is why I qualified what I said, not the existence of meaningless facts. That one thing counts for more than all the facts one can imagine, but it by itself does not necessarily imply the richness of experience of people, or even mammals, as opposed to amoebas, for instance. All that can be known, but not proven, because it is subjective. Even in mathematics and physics things are known that cannot be proven, and this is significant. Did you ever hear of the incompleteness theorem? Quantum mechanics? The uncertainly principle? The issues with determinism, reductionism, causality? You probably have heard of the popular saying, garbage in, garbage out. That is logic for you, untempered by wisdom and experience. You ignore all that, because it does not square with your point of view.

            I believe in what I can prove beyond any doubt, independent of all assumptions, some of which has great meaning, and some of which has little meaning, but utility in the world of machines. I believe what I have to believe because I cannot find any way to deny it, such as consciousness and obvious facts about the universe. I call that absolute reality, as opposed to anything people have created. I also believe and know my experience is real, but I know how limited words make communicating much about subjective experience, much less prove about it. This is a limitation of language, not what a person can know. You missed all the subtlety and meaning of what I said. Or did you ignore it, deliberately? I believe in nothing that is faith-based, or dependent on assumptions. This is nihilism, or akin to any mainstream religion? You make me laugh.

            I state for the record my disinclination to contradict directly anything Sheldon says about me, or anything else, does not imply I think he is right and could not refute him. I do not have the time to waste on trying to refute more than a few things at a time.

            Did I not say logic "has been used to good purposes" ?? Logic tempered with wisdom and good judgment can be quite useful. Science is actually a hobby of mine, one reason I personally get so steamed about what gets done with it. I took the trouble to learn about it, to be a more informed ecofeminist. You wear people down when you reverse the meaning of what they say. It gets tiresome, and weighs more on your credibility than the targets of your ridicule. I get tempted to say, why bother responding, to some of your innuendos. My free time is probably more limited than yours.

  12. This is what Vanessa Blue, a Black woman director of her own films has to say about the pornography industry. She has worked in the industry for many years and speaks with honesty about the disregard and disrespect, the racism, the misogyny, and the gross sexual abuse that *is* the white male supremacist heart of the pornography industry, not an unfortunate aspect of some of its more callused/callous fingers and toes. Now, who is going to tell HER that she doesn't know what she's talking about? And isn't it interesting how in sync her comments are with Gail Dines' own observations? So much for Gail not knowing what she's talking about, eh?
    http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/interviews/id.999/t

    • 1)Does she speak “with honesty” because she says what you want to hear, or because you’ve thoroughly examined her interview for internal consistency or fact-checked it?

      2)If her comments are so in sync with Gail Dines’ observations, why didn’t the good professor cite them in “Pornland”? Blue’s 2-part interview has been on the web for a couple of years now.

      3)How can white male supremacism be the ‘heart’ of the San Fernando film industry since non-white and ‘interracial’ porn constitute just a few niches of its product?

  13. Hi Shira. This is a two-parter:

    To me, the question "Is Porn Racist" is akin to asking "Is Capitalism Racist?" I'd have to render totally invisible the abused women, men, and trans people of color in the industry in the West, and in systems of gross sexual exploitation globally, to even pose the question that specific way, rather than, say, "Can pornography ever not be racist (and sexist)?" As I see it, fetishising women of color's bodies is both misogynistic and racist. Wealthy white men and other men travel the globe (including cities throughout North America such as Vancouver) to gain sexual access to women of color who are impoverished and/or homeless. Capitalism ensures that poor people are disproportionately female and of color. Some men desire to document the abusive sex they have and distribute or sell the images of that abuse. And there are corporate pimps who have women available to them to use and abuse as they wish to, without regard for the women's human rights or dignity.

    I am sincerely wanting to know why you want to frame up an upcoming article with a question to which so many women of color all over the world have already weighed in with a resounding YES: RACISM AND MISOGYNY IS PART OF PORNOGRAPHY, PROSTITUTION, AND TRAFFICKING. What else do corporate pimps mass produce than racist, misogynistic, and exploitative sexxxism?

    Bridging the focus of this discussion and the one you're planning to publish, have you spoken with Ruchira Gupta about this matter? Or Yanar Mohammed? Or Malalai Joya? Or Laura Holland? If you lived across poor or war-torn regions of the world, among women and girls of all colors, the reality of how racism and sexism, along with Western imperialism and corporate capitalism and militarism intersect over and against women's and girls bodies would be very clear, so painfully clear that if you heard anyone in a white and privileged environment ask the question "Is porn racist?" I honestly believe you, Shira, would want to scream at them for being so oblivious to the horrors of trafficking that is required for industry pornography to exist as a many-billion dollar a year industry.

    Can the pornography industry even exist without white supremacist racism? I'd say the answer is unquestionably NO.

    Byron Hurt is the filmmaker who made the excellent documentary "Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes" about the racism and misogyny that floods corporately produced hip hop music; he connects the dots between white male supremacy and the misogyny that appears in a great deal of corporate produced hip hop music. Byron recommended to his fans,on his Facebook page, that they read "Pornland" by Gail Dines. Another African American man, Anthony Springer, challenged him, wondering whether racism is really the problem in the pornography industry that Byron was stating, in part by linking to an article about Laurence Fishburne's porn star daughter Montana. Anthony's comment is as follows:

    • Just as Gail Dines stated in these interviews that she did not cover everything she could have in this book, Shira Tarrant also exercised editorial discretion in who to interview. She simply stuck to the matter close at hand – the San Fernando-based adult video and film industry (and the websites that emanate from there). The names of women you mentioned did not know nearly as much as the women she interviewed since they are not porn actresses. What they “know” are their life stories, which are made to fit into an anti-decriminalization of sex work agenda.

      The life-stories of women who later regret (hell, sometimes 20 years later) having had abortions are also moving, but can not be allowed to be halt the advance of women’s rights, be it legalization of abortion or decriminalization of of adult sex work.

      Undoubtedly, there is racism in San Fernando, racism in Hollywood and racism in the music business. Does Byron Hurt believe the music industry must be eliminated? Does he believe that racism is inherent in music? Do you?

      • I see, Sheldon. So Shira and corporate pornographers and industry pimps and their allies who edit material to hone in on their points of political or social interest are doing the appropriate thing, "exercising editorial discretion". But if I do exactly the same thing here, in my response, quoting portions of an interview with Vanessa Blue, you're at the ready to jump out and go "AHA! SEE! See how he omitted stuff?!?! Didja see that, didja, huh?!?! He left out THAT part–that part where she didn't say what she DOES say elsewhere!!!" She said what she said and it holds together, if you care to see it from her point of view.

        I believe you are revealed a serious case of an anti-radical feminist double standard. Your banal, pro-status quo perspective is one corporate pimps and pornographers would pay someone to post online, on dozens if not hundreds of websites, for years. (It's utterly inhumane if well-paid work if you can get it, eh Sheldon?) So who's legitimately and appropriately entitled to focus in on only the points they wish to make, when quoting someone else, Sheldon, without you coming down on them for trying to mislead people? Will you be sure to respond similarly to ever comment Shira makes? Or that Larry Flynt makes? No, you won't. But when legitimately anti-pornography industry activists speak out against your well-worshiped god–surprise! there's Sheldon… again. We get it. You're a defender of racist, rapist pornographers and the material they mass produce. You're a fan of that industry of inhumanity. Even after all these years.

        And, in case you haven't noticed, the issue isn't the San Fernando-based adult video and film industry. It is, rather, the 50 to 100 billion dollar a year pornography industry that, without question, requires rape and sexual slavery and trafficking of children and women to exist. You want to point out the "nice side" of the industry–where there's freedom and justice for all. Meanwhile, what are you doing to stop the rape and sexual slavery? Or is that not as important to deal with as defending the billions-a-year pro-rape, pro-slavery industry, which has plenty of resources to defend itself? I'd say where you put your energy says a lot about you. For years you've put your energy into being a paid shill for the racist, misogynist pornographers. Don't expect me to respect those choices as humane. And, of course you are "free" to do it. And no, I have no plans or wishes to stop, censor, or remove pornography. Sorry to disappoint your projections onto me.

  14. "Interesting analysis. Unfortunately, it lacks any actual quotes from women who actually perform the work (unless my quick read missed something). Seems that'd be easier and a bit more conclusive than watching/reading descriptions and forming ones own conclusions. As one whose interviewed a handful of black porn stars, including some black female directors, I've never heard anybody say the industry doesn't have some racist elements. However, I think performer conclusions–which should have some weight in this discussion–deserve a fair hearing. But Dines never lets the facts get in the way of a good story."

    So I researched who Anthony had talked to and found an interview he did with Vanessa Blue, an African American women who directs and has performed in porn films for years. (I linked to her full interview with Anthony in my prior comment here in this discussion thread.)

    This is what Vanessa Blue says to Anthony Springer in that interview, that he apparently cannot hear:

    DX: Going back a minute, you mentioned before that there were things happening on the set that you didn’t like, what was going on?
    VB: I didn’t like the way the owners of the company would talk to you. Everybody in California believes there’s a certain body image that a woman needs to display in order to be viable or be on a box cover. We know now with all of today’s niches, that’s not true. Back then every thing was about being skinny, being lighter, not being so dark, not being so ghetto. Being a black girl, if you don’t have the immediate connections when you walk in, you’ll be relegated to ghetto product. You’ll never get out of it because you won’t know how to get out of it. You’ll get half your rate, you’ll get crappy work, you’ll get crappy sets. No one will care about anything. Literally, it’s a situation where there’s a mattress in the corner. The director comes in, tells the camera guy what to shoot, how many positions, and the director leaves the room. He goes out and smokes a blunt or talks on the phone or whatever he’s doing and the camera man is left to run the scene. How on earth can anybody care?

    [...]
    VB: How do I say this nicely? Most of the guys behind the camera don’t like women.

    DX: Really? As in homosexuals or misogynist or…
    VB: Both, all of the above. There’s a very famous porn star who does all big booty product now and probably out of 100 girls, 80 of us have a story about him attacking us behind closed doors. Physically, like ripping our clothes off. So no, when you have personalities like that, how on earth can it be good?

    DX: How do these guys stay working with everything going on off camera?
    VB: What do you mean?

    DX: As far as attitudes and attacking actresses?
    VB: The girls deal with it. It’s very unfortunate, but the girls… they deal with it. They’re just adjusted to being run over. The industry has expanded and grown into something so toxic. Whenever a girl tells me she wants to do porn, I will spend hours trying to talk her out of it.

    DX: Why?
    VB: Because it’s not what you think it is. Everybody comes in thinking Jenna [Jameson]. Jenna’s not who you think she is. Its like, how do you say you love Magic Johnson when you’ve never met him? You love an image. All you love is an image. He could be the greatest jerk you ever met in your life. And I guess once I got to California it was so many stars I looked up to, so many black celebrities and I met those cats at the club and they were like [in mock man voice] “What’s up biiiiit**? You trying to f**k? You wanna f**k me and my boys?” I’m like, “Oh my God I used to love you!” The girls get very disillusioned once they get here. But once you get here you can’t say no to the money, so you’ll take the abuse for the check.

    For more on the global problem of racism and misogyny in systems of gross sexual exploitation (including pornography), see here, for the writings of two women of color who lives in a countries where women of color are routinely trafficked: India and Canada.
    http://outlookindia.com/article.aspx?263361 (you may note the racism in the image used)
    http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/racism/000153

    The Western press, including Ms. Magazine, carries weight in the global consciousness. Please don't obfuscate a serious problem by posing a question the answer of which is already traumatically forced on the psyches and against the bodies of millions of girls and women of color by men who think female human beings exist for men to sexually exploit and hurt.

    How many thousands and millions of girls and women of color, across the world, have be raped and photographed and videotaped, and work with fear to get away and speak out about unspeakable acts, for whites in the West to see and hear them? Is the answer blowing in the wind? I truly hope not.

    • This is what Julian omitted from Part 1 of the Vanessa Blue interview, when Vanessa's girlfriend suggests she try porn as a career:

      DX: What was your reaction at first?
      VB: No. My reaction was no. I like doing fetish work, I was never really looking to do anything more than that. But one girl-girl scene I figured wouldn’t hurt anything and then came [director and producer] Ed Powers. Ed Powers was offering us a crazy amount of money. I did my research and I was like, “Alright, he’s never put a sista on the box cover in sixty series.” He’s never put one.

      DX: Wow.
      VB: So I hoped [that] he’s racist enough that he won’t put us on the cover… I was wrong. So we did the scene and he put us on the cover. After that, I figured I might as well finish what I started.

      SHE WAS WRONG…Ed Powers, a major player in low-budget porn, not a racist. How about that?

      • How would you know whether or not Ed Powers was and is racist? What makes you an expert on the subject? I'll believe your analysis of what doesn't support white supremacy as much as I'll take as legit what you say doesn't support male supremacy. It's clear you won't criticise either white or male supremacy as they show up in pornography. Why is that? Because it's not there? Anywhere? Is racist-misogynistic pornographers making billions of dollars annually off the product and materials they sell or aren't they? And please back up what you say with proof. My proof is that anyone can go all over the web and see what's for sale that pornographers make. And they can see how much of it is racist and misogynistic. I can't edit their choices. It's all there for the viewing–some of it for a price to the consumer. All of it for a price to women's human rights globally.

    • Buried in Julian’s ellipsis, I found this useful tidbit amidst comments about ex-boyfriend Lexington Steele:

      VB: We did Playboy for two years and then after that he got his company open. He opened his company and we made a deal so I moved back to help him build Mercenary. And then after that, I left.
      DX: Retirement or…
      VB: Breakup. After we broke up I went to Hustler and I directed for them for a little while. After them, because I got tired of Hustler too, but Hustler is a great company, I will say that. I love big companies when they let you do what you want to do. After Hustler I went back to Mercenary 'cause that’s what women do. Then from Mercenary to Adam and Eve, that’s where I am now.

      Wait a minute: Hustler a “great company”? The spawn of Lucif…er, Larry Flynt? Big porn companies having the space to accommodate the creative energy of black women? She's not supposed to say that!

    • More from Julian’s ellipsis, this on the ‘animalistic’ portrayal of black women in porn:

      VB: I grew up watching porn. My favorite older actress is Georgina Spelvin. Everybody’s like Vanessa Del Rio, I’m like “unh uh”. This crazy white woman who looks like she’s channeling the devil when she fucks and the only woman by comparison to this day who works, fucks and is as hot and brings as much passion is Monique. An unsung hero… shero, who never gets the praise she deserves. But when you watch her perform it looks like she’s channeling the devil.

      So, according to Blue, the only black woman in the business who has sex like that is Monique, who is reminiscent of a “crazy white woman, Vanessa Del Rio.”

      Since “20 years after” seems to be Julian’s rule of thumb on evaluating the credibility of sex workers who say things counter to his narrative, Georgina Spelvin’s biography has just been published, having left the porn industry more than 20 years ago. She still liked her time spent there.

      • You like raising individualistic arguments, don’t you Sheldon? As if millions and millions aren’t negatively impacted, traumatised, and assaulted through the production of pornography. As if we can just not look behind that bloody curtain and instead pretend that your very selective version of reality tells us all we need to know about what happens to women in pornography.

    • From Part II of Blue’s interview, totally ignored by Julian:

      DX: What impact do you think your directing will have on black women in the industry?
      VB: There’s another female director, Diane Devoe. What impact we’ve made on this business? We’ve shown them that black girls can hold a camera. We can do more than screw. I think we’ve provided a little bit more work for the girls by being here. Diane Devoe shoots a whole lot more than I do, so she’d be the one, definitely providing the most amount of work. Mine is more focused on shooting features. For now, I miss gonzo.

      Now hold on here, she misses…GONZO? The ninth level of porn hell, according to Gail Dines?

      Looking at what Julian omitted…intentionally?,,,Anthony Springer Jr. did indeed hear what Vanessa Blue had to say. He heard everything she said, not just the selected bits Julian wanted us to hear, and put it in perspective when addressing the matter with Byron Hurt.

      • Hi Sheldon,

        I've encountered you before, years ago, also defending pornographers and Flynt. I guess the economy has been good to you, as you're still getting paid well enough to keep up the pro-porn industry work.

        I linked to the whole interview already, so there's no effort to hide anything. I posted the parts that were most relevant to what I was discussing–you know, like anyone would. If I was hiding the rest, I wouldn't have linked to the whole thing early one, now would I?

        And, no, Anthony most certainly didn't hear what she had to say about endemic racism in the pornography industry–not going by what he said, all by himself, on Byron Hurt's blog. So I guess we just agree to disagree, Sheldon… again. Look, all you're ever going to do is find ways to make a racist/misogynistic/heterosexist/corporately exploitive industry sound "not so bad, really". I get your stance on this, and you're welcome to it and are probably paid well for it.

      • So how much money do the pimps who make Gonzo pornography make, per year, Sheldon? Surely you're up on those kind of statistics. And anyone only has to read her full interview and his response about it on Byron Hurt's Facebook page and can see for themselves that he's "selectively taking what is useful to his argument". Shall I expect you to show up over there too, to criticise him for doing exactly what you accuse me of doing? No, I didn't think so.

        • There is no double standard in my judging the way you use editorial discretion versus the way Shira Tarrant does. Nothing in Tarrant’s interviews contradicts the points she was making; on the other hand, lots of stuff in the Vanessa Blue interview you linked to but chose not to highlight contradicts the points you were making.

          Reading the entire interview, Blue cites some sectors of San Fernando as contributing to or enhancing racism, and others as not doing that. Therefore, it makes no sense to cite that interview as supporting a systematic condemnation of the entire porn industry there.

  15. What keeps cropping up in the article and the discussion is porn as a video/picture/whatever vs. porn as an industry. Let's look at another type of typically female work: being a nanny or au pair. In and of itself, being a live-in nanny is a job. Not great, not terrible, depends on what you want. That doesn't change the worlds of immigrant women from the Philippines paid poorly or not at all, threatened, kept from legal counsel and abused by their employers.

    Porn does not have to equal damage to actresses, nor does watching people have sex have to damage you. The problem is being confused with the context. I know that fetish and BDSM material can freak some people out. If that's the case, then don't go looking for it. It's not designed for you. Male POV shots aren't designed for me. It's not their fault I don't have a penis. And it's not Spiky Whip monthly or whatever's fault that you don't have an interest in their material.

    The porn -industry- does have serious problems. I'm not talking about bad imagery, or scenarios that you personally (or that I) find distasteful. Real objectification and abuse of women, exploitation of poverty, discrimination against people of colour, insistence on a damagingly narrow idea of acceptable bodies, these are all real problems. Sadly, those problems exist in all sorts of places, and vanquishing porn won't help because porn isn't the problem. None of those are inherent to a videotape of two strangers having sex. Since sex can be a very strenuous and potentially damaging activity, it is important to be careful. The same is true of rugby. People get their ears half torn off playing rugby on a regular basis.

    The big point for me, however, is the emotional one. Some people attach a lot of emotional significance to sex and for them that's the way it is. Some don't. For me it's fun. It can be deep and meaningful, or it can just be fun. Or it can be crappy, but that's rare. The working conditions for my sex life are largely in my control, there are certain rules I can rely on and I know what to do if someone breaks those rules. That is what I would want to provide for women in the sex or porn industries. Like people in any job they have the right to work under safe conditions, to be paid appropriately and to not be discriminated against. None of that is inherently incompatible with boning 5 guys for a camera.

  16. I don't understand the people who are say everything is racist and sexist so there's no use pointing fingers at porn. Ms Magazine does not promote racism like as Hustler Magazine does, and Gail Dines has never put in public the racist and sexist vitriol that modern porn inflects on the culture.

    It doesn't surprise me that people who believe everyone is equally as racist as Larry Flynt or Don Imus are the ones here speciously defending their "right" to voyeur prostituted women. They look at black women and the porn word "hoes" springs to their minds, so they assume the same racism pops into everyone's minds. It doesn't.

    Some people are more racist than others, and some industries are more racist than others. To say otherwise is delusional.

    • I'm not sure who is saying that everything is racist and sexist.

      The porn industry is being compared to Hollywood and the hip hop music business, and is no worse – in some cases, it is even a bit better. The problem is when people propose more extreme measures to deal with the porn industry than the others.

  17. Shira,
    This is fascinating. Unfortunately for Dines, pornography is just not that simple. Pornography was born out of need. Yes, need. We have innate curiosity about sex in a culture so puritanical that it has become unacceptable to speak of sex unless we are demonizing it. Pornography has been the ultimate scapegoat. If we managed to speak confidently and honestly about our needs, desires, and the role that sex plays in our lives, pornography wouldn't be as prevalent. Present, yes, but not the way it is now. I have no problem with pornography. I believe it is another form of media that we should learn to explore critically. Instead of banning it (or refusing to have porn using partners) we should be discussing the potential benefits and challenges that come with it. It is not advantageous to simply dismiss or vilify it.

    • That's precisely what people like Gail Dines and Robert Jensen do, Logan. So do you support them doing it or not? Neither of them are for "banning" porn, as if that were even possible. I'm not for banning it either. So what are we doing here, other than discussing it? For Dines, pornography is worth discussing in the vitally important ways she does. Do you really find nothing valuable about her book as an important contribution to the international discussion? Can you identify here anything she says in Pornland that you found insightful and relevant and helpful?

      • Actually, Gail Dines DOES support the censorship of porn. She called on the Obama Administration to enforce obscenity laws to crack doen on the porn industry, as part of a "congressional briefing" that included the more well-known anti-prn crusaders of the far right. Didn't you see Shira Tarrant's citation of that at the start of these blog entries?

        So, Julian, do you support obscenity laws? And if you don't, are you willing to publiclty criticize Dines for her stance?

        • Since when has there been any general consensus among feminists on how to combat the various manifestations of sexism? Even some of the commenters here who do not oppose pornography, per se, say it should be regulated. What is the difference in effect between a regulation and an obscenity law on a pornographic production that violates a regulation or an obscenity law?

          I am curious, Sheldon, do you think Larry Flynt has a feminist bone in his body? I mean, he may claim his work helps empower women, but does that claim deserve any credence whatsoever?

          I find it ironic that you make such a big deal of Vanessa Blue having some nice things to say about the pornography industry, as if that contradicts the other side of her story. Obviously she has mixed feelings. How do you reconcile being a self-proclaimed liberal feminist with supporting an industry that is generally so toxic for women, even a woman who liked some aspects of her experience feels compelled to denounce its seamy side? As she says of her colleagues, "They’re just adjusted to being run over. The industry has expanded and grown into something so toxic. Whenever a girl tells me she wants to do porn, I will spend hours trying to talk her out of it." "The girls get very disillusioned once they get here. But once you get here you can’t say no to the money, so you’ll take the abuse for the check." This is empowering women? How so?

          • 1) Last I checked, there has been a consensus among feminists in combatting numerous manifiestations of sexism. There is a consensus in support of the ERA, reproductive choice for women, promotion of equal rights for the LGBT community, and action against sexual violence, and some other issues.

            2) Liberal feminists who are active in the fight against censorship of adult pornography oppose obscenity laws – there is no ‘regulation’ being supported, therefore, there is no ‘difference’ woth mentioning. Perhaps you are confusing this with proposals to ‘regulate’ prostitution. Ironically, Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon always claimed to oppose obscenity laws as well, which served as the rationale for their proposed anti-porn “Model Ordinance”.

            3) I don’t know whether Larry Flynt has “a feminist bone” in his body, nor have I seen the statement that you are referring to where he claims to be ‘empowering’ women. ‘Empower’, like ‘erotic’, is a word I try to avoid (except when quoting others) since they only add confusion to Sex War discussions. I prefer to let the facts about what Flynt has done on the issue of race and porn, cited by Vanessa Blue, speak for themselves.

            4)I never claimed or implied that the good things Vanessa Blue cites contradicts the other side of her story, and you know that full well. It simply contradicts the shrieking over – and demonizing of – the porn industry as inherently racist or systemically/endemically racist, so it must be overthrown, blah blah blah.

            5)What industry isn’t toxic for women on some level? The clothing industry has been to have sweat shops, one of the most notorious being the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, where a fire broke out in 1912, killing many of the women there. Women who are breaking into male-dominated fields experience horrendous abuse all the time – police, firefighters.

            Do you call for the abolition of the clothing industry? The police? Firefighters?

          • I was referring to strategies and tactics for combating manifestations of sexism, not the consensus that those should be fought. Some feminists think the ERA does not go far enough, for instance. It seems clear that the constitutional amendments passed after the Civil War, which were supposed to guarantee equality for the former slaves, were only a step in that direction. There is also plenty of disagreement among feminists about how to defend reproductive choice, even about how to define the battle.

            Perhaps your friends do not support any regulation of pornography, which is hardly surprising. I was referring, for instance, to this comment from Jill Brenneman, "The reality is that I support safety and protections for porn industry workers." Or this from Jessica Land, "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.)" How would these "protections" be different from "regulations?" How would these "protections" be enforced?

            Yes, of course from your point of view, dragging the word erotic into the discussion of pornography only confuses the issue. You do not want to concede that the distinctions some feminists draw between erotica and pornography, or between sex and pornography, might be meaningful to women. The "sex wars", at least in feminist circles, were never about sex. As for Larry Flynt, he said in <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=BlbvNSatktkC&pg=PA207&lpg=PA207&dq=Larry+Flynt+empower+women&source=bl&ots=Ymh_3Di6D6&sig=SX2DjNBnHtUP2wBgVBoYSSOtr4w&hl=en&ei=MMJ4TLbmBYyksQOBtuzsCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&sqi=2&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false">Sex, Lies & Politics: The Naked Truth, "I think it's time to go to the next level of feminism. Feminism should be about empowering women to make their own choices, not about passing judgment on the choices they make." Here again we have a man passing judgment on what feminism, and empowering women, should be about.

            "…lots of stuff in the Vanessa Blue interview you linked to but chose not to highlight contradicts the points you were making." Are you saying the points Julian was making are unrelated to the other side of the story Vanessa Blue was telling? He just blew things all out of proportion, huh? Or do you have some arcane definition of claiming, or implying, or contradicting?

            I do support the abolition of sweatshops, and oppose abuse of women in every form. However, I have no illusions that scourge could be eradicated by legal means alone. No industry has to be toxic for its workers; that is merely the result of the short-term bottom line over all mentality. In other words, it would cost too much profit to make the business non-toxic for its workers. Are you comparing pornography to a male-dominated field? The people who call the shots are mostly male, but a male-dominated field generally refers to the workers being mostly male, not the bosses. Are you saying that because other industries are also toxic for women, that excuses pornography for emulating the worst practices of business?

          • “Pink Cross working for OSHA” is a scam designed to eventually eliminate the porn industry. Despite the propaganda, their campaign has nothing to do with actual sex worker safety. I support the regulations that have been implemented by the Adult Industry Medicine foundation.

            I didn’t ask you if you supported the abolition of sweat shops, but of the clothing industry itself. The fact that other industries are toxic for women means the toxicity needs to be removed, not the industry itself.

          • As for Larry Flynt's comment, it shows that he has at least one "pro-feminist" bone in his body. I'm sure Vanessa Blue will give him his props. As far as his passing judgment, it seems that he's just giving his opinion. If he were to state his support for the ERA because he thinks women should enjoy the same rights as men, I guess that also is a form of passing judgment.

    • toricrusherofdreams says:

      You start off with " It's a need" then you say if somebody could complete a conversation about their own sexuality to anyone else it would not be a need.

      So an industry that would be irrelevant if someone had a frank conversation with someone they were sleeping with or actually in a committed relationship with cannot provide a need based service.

      Captions on TV are need based. To call porn need based is like calling SPANX need-based.

      Go for a jog or talk to your girlfriend. It's like you have no idea what the words you typed even mean.

  18. OK, Sheldon. Let me get this straight. "…there is no 'regulation' being supported" means no new regulations; you do support existing regulations, which some other commenters ostensibly on your side of the fence seem to think do not go far enough? Or did I misread their meaning?

    What do you think would happen to the pornography industry if its toxicity for women were removed? Nothing, right? You and I obviously cannot agree on which aspects of the industry are toxic for women. I think the industry would cease to exist (in stark contrast to the other occupations you cited), leaving the field to erotic art, but of course you would think I am merely confusing the issue.

    Do you really think it is appropriate for any man, let alone Larry Flynt, to condescend to scold his feminist enemies for disagreeing with him on what feminism should be about? He has not always been so polite. In his 1997 interview by Geraldo Rivera, he described Gloria Steinem as “an ancient old relic of a feminist whose only claim to fame is encouraging a bunch of ugly women to march.” Is this a man you are proud to call an ally?

    Would you care to comment on this statement from an article in the Irish Times today, A prostitute's life: Whether it hurts the woman or not, the men don't care "The link between increased aggression and more degrading demands from younger men with the universal availability of hard pornography is impossible to ignore."

    • I saw the Irish Times link. If the link between aggression and "hard pornography' is impossible to ignore, then why was there no specific example mentioned of a porn movie that inspired a degrading demand? Or should one just take it on faith that it does, because that's all that the article provides?

      I don't think Flynt's comment was appropriate, and I have no problem openly disagreeing with folks on my side of this debate. The fact that Vanessa Blue and I cite positive things he does does not wed me to everything he says. He endorsed Kucinich in 2008, I did not.

    • I support current AIM regulations. AIM was founded by former and current sex workers. Those who think these regulations do not go far enough make their case so poorly that I suspect they argue in bad faith.

      The removal of toxicity for the porn industry means the abolition of obscenity laws and the establishment of trade unions for sex workers. The ensuing destigmatization of porn would attact filmmakers of greater talent, displacing many of the ones who freak people out with 'body – punishing gonzo'.

      If this to you translates as "Nothing, right?", then that says more about you than porn.

      • I see I am not the only one whose comments get held up in moderation. I suspected as much, but I was not sure if my memory was playing tricks on me.

        It is hard to decipher exactly what in the sex trade you consider toxic, Sheldon. Are you saying you are not in favor of ‘body – punishing gonzo’, that this genre is of relatively poor quality? Or are you simply saying the stigmatization of pornography is what creates the toxicity? Pornography is so entrenched in mainstream culture these days, I wonder what stigmatization you are talking about.

        If current regulations are sufficient, why would a trade union be necessary? Are you conceding these regulations are poorly enforced? What is preventing the formation of such unions, anyway?

        Have you heard about the fracas involving Flynt, Not in Our Name, and Aura Bogado? His henchman Bruce David seems quite fond of that infamous term popularized by Rush Limbaugh, feminazi.

        • Did you miss the part where I talk about obscenity laws, Aletha? You always seem to miss that part in many of our exchanges on this thread. Why is that, I wonder?

          On my own time, I don't watch 'circus acts' – the proper term for the allegedly 'body-punishing' genre- for the same reason I don't watch gay male porn. They don't turn me on. Is that what you mean by being 'not in favor' of them?

          Trade unions are necessary in ANY industry, regulations or no. Whenever there are capitalists im charge, violations will be attempted, at least. The porn industry is no different. Most of the performers currently do not favor a union for a variety of reasons, and the current labor movement is too preoccupied to make unionizing the sex industry a high priority.

          • Oh, so you are referring to legal stigmatization, not cultural? The obscenity laws are causing the toxicity? Is that your point? Since you and I disagree on what is toxic about the sex trade, it is hardly surprising we also disagree on the cause of that toxicity.

            I am glad to hear you are not turned on by what you call circus acts, but no, that is not what I meant. I meant, do you have an issue with that genre, do you consider it toxic, of poor quality, or both? Many men are turned on by such images, otherwise the genre would not be so popular. I have a problem with that, because male violence against women is not to be taken likely.

            I would agree a union is generally more protective of its members than laws or regulations, and I have my own issues with the obscenity laws. Not that I have any sympathy for Max Hardcore. You say most performers do not favor a union, for a variety of reasons? Such as? Do they fear retaliation?

            I still want to know if you are proud to call Larry Flynt an ally.

          • 1) i Legal stigma and cultural stigma reinforce each other. Both are ever present. The best hope to defeat the latter is to knockout the former via use of the political process.

            2) There is no fear of anti-union retaliation, unless Evelina Giobbe or Kyle Payne were to become studio chiefs. Many performers don't see the point of unions because they only see themselves being in the industry for a few months to make a quick buck. Others fear there would be tons of scabs available to break the union.

            3) Since I have never met Flynt, I can't call him an ally. However, I admire some of his accomplishments: in standing up for interracial porn against intimidation and a neo-Nazi assassination attempt; in destroying the VCA studio's racist refusal to feature interracial sex in its cable product by buying the studio outright; his idealism in supporting Dennis Kucinich throughout the years.

          • …continued. from prior response…

            4) Sure, some men are turned on by circus acts. But some women who admit to enjoy watching porn on their own time, have been known to give thumbs up to that. When Candida Royalle started producing videos for her Femme Productions line back in the 1980s, she received harsh criticism from women for being too 'vanilla." More importantly, when it comes to admit getting turned on by rape fantasies, it is the voices of women who are heard far more than men. So, if I am to 'oppose' the circus act genre, I also have to oppose the rape fantasy genre.

            This would then entail me pointing fingers and shaming WOMEN (not just men) who enjoy that material. Is this the feminism that you are inviting me to join? Thanks, but no thanks.

            And again, being turned on by images of 'dark' fantasy (which includes B & D) does not translate into real-world violence, not matter how casually you (or Gail Dines) try to conflate the two.

          • "Does not translate into real-world violence…" That is your fantasy. You wish that were true. It is not. You are too generous to your fellow men. I wish I could prove it, but statistics never prove anything. You can claim that because there is no direct causation, no one-to-one correspondence, but there is a link, nevertheless.

            I am not interested in shaming women turned on by rape fantasies. They are not the people committing rapes. I am interested in why any woman would be turned on by rape fantasies. Female masochism is a deep subject. I suspect in an egalitarian society, female masochism and enjoyment of rape fantasies would be extremely rare. Men may be wary of admitting they like rape fantasies, but I severely doubt women comprise the majority of the market for imagery of abuse and rape.

            What does personally knowing somebody have to do with considering somebody an ally? There are a bunch of people I know only through the Internet whom I am proud to call allies. Your nemesis of old Heart, for instance. You probably know far more about Larry Flynt than I do about these allies. I know some "progressives" consider him a hero, for standing up to Jerry Falwell, for instance. Randi Rhodes fawns over him as well. He certainly is a pioneer, but what he pioneered is hardly good for women.

          • 1) You say you're not interested in shaming women, yet you endorse the concept of female masochism, which is a sexist myth.

            2) No, it is not my fantasy. As you yourself admit, you have no proof, yet you believe that some adult porn translates to real-life violence based on nothing more than a feeling, "subjectivity" and "intuition". When someone or some group is accused of wrongdoing, the burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused.

            3) I thoroughly vet my potential allies before accepting them as such. I'm not willing to risk having some unidisclosed information come back to bite me in the ass and undermine my credibilty as a political activist. Personally knowing somebody is the best way to avert unwelcome surprises.

          • Female masochism is the internalization by women of cultural contempt for women. That is no myth. Books have been written on the subject, by feminists. The idea that women are inherently or naturally masochistic is a sexist myth. Is the concept that women are culturally trained to put ourselves last, to sacrifice our desires and interests for our men and families, a sexist myth in your eyes?

            You do not know what my conclusion about links between violent imagery and violence is based upon. You are again confusing proving something with knowing it. Links between aspects of human behavior are notoriously difficult, if not impossible, to prove. There have been many cases of men steeling their resolve to commit some act of violence by viewing violent pornography. Did that cause them to commit the act? No, but it may well have helped them quell their better judgment. Images have influence. If they had no influence, the advertising industry would be wasting its efforts.

            Are you saying you have not sufficiently vetted Larry Flynt? I think you are well aware his words have already bitten you in the ass, so you attempt to hedge your bets. You are certainly more closely associated with Flynt than Gail Dines was with the Stop Porn Culture web designer you claimed was funding her.

  19. Yes, porn *can* dehumanize and degarde women, both in the tone and also the industry behind it (exploiting and harming actresses in the films).

    But I do think that banning porn or asking men and women not to view it is wrong. Men, as well as many women, (1/3 of online porn viewers are women) are visually stimulated. In a way, feminists just don't understand men and are attempting to impose their sexuality onto men. Asking men to not look at erotic images is like asking women to not read erotica and romance novels. Men like to look. Even during sex, they like to have the lights on to get properly aroused by looking. Just like many women like to fantasize during masturbation and sometimes sex. It's just not fair and you don't have a right to tell people to not be who they are. You are in essense denying their sexual nature and individual expression of it.

    It would be far better to work to make porn less exploitive. Some people are exhibitionists and like to show off their bodies. That doesn't mean we should let women be exploited or hurt. That doesn't mean we should look down on actresses in porn. And doesn't mean we should have a mean and degrading style of porn that treats women like crap.

    Since many women now do like porn themselves, it would be a good opportunity for women to take the lead in this male dominated sphere and try to provide some balance. Some women are making their own porn and are taking ownership of it. Violet Blue's views on pornography are refreshing. I think many of the anti-porn crowd are actually succumbing to anti-sex and puritanical traditions in this country where sex is dirty and porn is dirtier.

    Porn will always exist. We should make sure it is done in a healthy manner and women are not exploited by it. Keeping it in the shadows only makes it more exploitive and shameful for the women in involved, not less.

  20. I really don’t like the author’s tone or her tragic attempts to speak down to Gail Dines.

    • I agree. I also thought that the author’s need to quickly distance herself from her interviewee delegitimized the entire interview, and seemed just, well, very odd, as if the author would be mortified if anyone thought for a second that she had ANYTHING against pornography.

  21. Instead of saying sex-positive, we should say pro-pornography. A lot of sex-positive people can’t stand pornography because it degrades women. I am not convinced that the porn industry has changed in the past twenty years.

  22. Thanks a lot! That’s what We get in touch with an excellent reason!

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