Skip to main content

I wonder how he excuses The Birth of a Nation?

There's an article up on Alternet, a response to Robert Jensen's book, Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity. One of the authors admits that


The actors in these films are degraded, underpaid and used up by an industry with the morals of a slaughterhouse, despite what Jenna Jameson and Nina Hartley say. The women come into the industry with the self-esteem of earthworms, histories of physical and sexual abuse, and are often plunged into alcohol and drug abuse as a way of coping with their jobs.

yet goes on to argue that porn isn't really harmful to women. How does he know? By listening to what men have to say about it. If the question would be about the potential harm of racist depictions of people of colour to the said people, would he form his opinion by polling a bunch of white people?

The truth, and it should not be too difficult to figure it out, is that if you really want to learn about harm, the best people to listen to are the ones who are the targets of it, who are made experts in it by feeling it in their own bodies. When the issue is porn, those people would be women. Here's one of them, Ginmar, who knows what she's talking about when it comes to men's hatred of women:


Take, for example, the case of Timothy McVeigh, which illustrates the way someone infected by hatred by society becomes unreachable after a while. McVeigh carried one book with him everywhere and re-read it obsessively: The Turner Diaries. By the time he discovered this book he was already an alienated, racist, sexist, white supremacist. He didn't seek out Black like Me in order to fight his tendencies; he sought out a racist tract to further indulge his racism. Like your basic woman-hating porn viewer, he was already screwed up. Unlike porn, though, The Turner Diaries was not a socially-reflective multi-billion dollar business which has to change with its customer base in order to continue being profitable. In responding to demand, the porn industry is causing sexual violence and misogyny to become normalized in society. This guy totally misses that.

Please read the Alternet article through also. The other author, Vivian Dent, has much more lucid take on the issue than her colleague.

About the "Werribee DVD" youth escaping jail

On a highly related note, the news about the "Werribee DVD" youth escaping jail is circulating the feminist blogosphere. For those who haven't followed the case, it was about bunch of teenage boys abducting a 17-year, intellectually delayed girl, whom they raped, urinated on and tried to set on fire. The boys recorded the incident on DVD and distributed it in their school, and uploaded on YouTube. They weren't punished for their deed, because the judge decided that they expressed enough remorse, and that 8-12 months of treatment should be enough to prevent them from repeating their crime. I'll quote Ginmar again:


What a great message to send rape victims. Your assailant is ill, honey, he's a victim, and you're just a symptom of his disease. Of course, he's the only one who gets treatment.

The idea that the boys' actions are due to a behavioural disorder is indeed problematic. In the cultural context where misogyny is the norm, "boys will be boys" is the mantra of upbringing and similar videos -- and worse -- to what the boys made, are mainstream entertainment for men, such behaviour is to be expected. The boys didn't act counter to any prevalent notion of masculinity, they took it to its logical conclusion. It's patently clear that they have seen similar things in porn, and it inspired them to make their own. The judge, given his leniency, might well also entertain himself with similar depictions of sexual abuse.

There are basically two ways people can change. The first way is by internal motivation, by a will to change. People often need support for this, but the impetus comes from within. The other way is by being broken by psychological abuse, but abuse won't make abusers less abusive. The boys behaviour after the incident indicates they feel no genuine remorse, and therefore lack any motivation to change for the better. Most likely they will fake their way through the "rehabilitation", smirking among each other, and the lesson they'll learn is that next time they should keep their abuse to their own girlfriends and behind closed doors, and cover their own faces if they shoot it on video.

Also discussed at Feral Scholar

The Alternet article is also discussed at Feral Scholar:


Let’s deconstruct that, because it’s important. What he is really saying — listen closely — is that the violence caused by the porn industry to the expendable class of prostituted women used by the industry doesn’t count. What counts is whether porn causes men who consume it to do “real” sexual violence, meaning violence to “respectable” females (presumably white and/or middle class and not officially prostituted). His argument is as nonsensical as saying that the meat packing industry is not a cause of animal suffering because consuming Spam doesn’t necessarily make you beat your dog.

[...]

In other words: men are threatened by feminism, and by women feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with selfish masculinity — please note the clever in-passing patriarchal equation of selfishness with strength and masculinity, w/which any good Randian wingnut would certainly agree — so they escape into fantasies where women are obedient sex dolls who are “driven wild” by whatever men want to do with and to them. But this is not misogynist, dear me no! A less clueless charitable interpretation would be that porn is archetypical revanchist media for an uneasy privileged caste needing to reassure itself that the field hands really do sing happily at their work and find fun and satisfaction in doing whatever Massa tells them to do.