Rashida Jones states the obvious about sexualization and porn, talks new documentary, Hot Girls Wanted

Funny lady/shero, Rashida Jones, is promoting a documentary she produced on amateur porn called Hot Girls Wanted and simultaneously pissing off the sex-positive delusionals by stating the obvious about the industry: “It’s performative. It’s fulfilling a male fantasy.”

Jones caught the wrath of the no-thinkers in 2013 when she wrote about the “pornification of everything” for Glamour (Bitch accused her of “moralizing” and said she was “channel[ing] her inner Sunday school teacher” in the article), defending a tweet she was ripped apart over:

This fall I was hanging out with my sisters, catching up on pop-culture stuff. We watched some music videos, looked at a few Instagram accounts, and checked out blogs. And amid the usual duck-lipped selfies and staged paparazzi photos, a theme emerged: Stripper poles, G-strings, boobs, and a lot of tongue action were all now normal accessories for mainstream pop stars. Across the board the Instamessage seemed to be: ‘You know you want to have sex with me. Here, take a look at lots of parts of my body.’

In other words, Jones noticed and pointed out that which is obvious to everyone but those invested in separating their eyes from their brain. It’s possible she’s been reading Gail Dines or it’s possible Jones is a feminist who is also not a dummy.

I don’t know when the pornification of pop stars became so extreme, but as Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video played in the background—naked fantasy women bouncing around and licking things—I realized that the lines were not really blurry at all. They were clear. A new era had arrived.

Seeing this new era of pornification, Jones tweeted, “This week’s celeb news takeaway: She who comes closest to showing the actual inside of her vagina is most popular. #stopactinglikewhores.”

Of course, the entire SJW internet accused her of “slut-shaming,” telling her to “stop policing how women dress!” and some even called her a “misogynist” (because, as we all learned last year, feminism is the new misogyny and porn is the new liberation and shutupshutuppppp if you don’t agree).

Jones was forced to defend herself:

My hashtag was ‘stopactinglikewhores.’ Key word, acting. Like I said, I’m not criticizing anyone’s real sex life; as George Michael tells us, ‘Sex is natural, sex is fun.’ But the poles, the pasties, the gyrating: This isn’t showing female sexuality; this is showing what it looks like when women sell sex.

It always makes me sad when women say things to Twitter without having learned that you aren’t allowed to talk about actual feminism on Twitter. Only (neo)liberal mantras about “choices,” “identity,” and personal feelings of empowerment allowed, pls. One of the things Twitter is best at is bullying people into regurgitating illogical dogma and ensuring they are afraid to say anything rational ever again. I don’t agree with calling any woman a “whore,” at all, but I also understand what Jones was getting at — especially after she explained it in words that I read with my eyes.

Luckily Jones hasn’t decided to abandon her brain in order to appease the masses of Slutwalkers and mychoice! feminists.

On a panel at Sundance, she and the filmmakers note a kind of homogeny about pop culture today, that Jones says is very “objectified, sexualized, performative,” even differentiating between sexuality and sexualization.

Despite bullshit rhetoric around women! making! empowered! choices! Jones says of the young women who are performing in the porn movies Hot Girls Wanted looks at, “Everybody, when they’re 18, makes stupid mistakes — [but] the cost of this is pretty high…” (take note, Belle Knox and her enablers).”They’re not considering the real cost: the psychological cost, the emotional cost, the physical cost to your body — the trauma that it does on your body to have sex for a living is a real thing…”

These young women are not enjoying the sex they’re having on camera, she says, “it’s performative. It’s fulfilling a male fantasy.”

I am actually saddened by how incredulous I feel right now. No one says this stuff in pop culture and mainstream media. No one in mainstream/popular feminism even says this stuff. There is mass denial about the traumatic impact porn has on individual women. It isn’t permissible to say that porn is bad for women, as a whole. We all say it here, of course, and many feminist theorists have been pointing out what Jones said for decades, but what she is saying is the kind of thing that simply isn’t acceptable in popular feminism today.

#Twitterfeminism is already throwing a tantrum over Jones’ remarks and will, undoubtedly, try their hardest to bully her into reneging, but alas, being the loudest doesn’t make you right. Naturally, those whose careers depend on or have been built on the normalization of the sex industry and of the objectification of women will fight to bury these truths with all their might, but they can’t force their blinders on the rest of us.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to seeing this documentary.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Kim

    I’d rather she didn’t use ”whore” as a pejorative, it’s definitely sexist and it gives libfems a quick reason to try and dismiss her point, even though they’re hypocritical since libfems love calling women they don’t like bitches and cunts left and right.

    But yeah, I’m really hopeful about a feminism that is truly critical of male supremacy and rape culture and doesn’t sweep sexual exploitation and abuse under the rug to become more mainstream. The sad thing is, we can bet this isn’t gonna get nearly the same amount of publicity and support as Beyoncé.

    ps. I actually pity Melissa Gira Grant’s pathetic attempt at a witty remark. Acting and porn, definitely the same thing, suuuure.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Totally. I just think the response was soooo misguided. It wasn’t like, “don’t use the word ‘whore,'” it was ‘STOP SHAMING WOMEN FOR THEIR EMPOWERED CHOICES,’ ya know? And ya, her response explained exactly what her criticisms are and she was still accused of being moralistic, prudish, etc.

    • “I’d rather she didn’t use ”whore” as a pejorative, it’s definitely sexist and it gives libfems a quick reason to try and dismiss her point”

      I also would not have used the word. It is unnecessarily mean. I would rather piss liberals off with the content of my arguments than with nasty words.

      I wouldn’t object to her use of the term on the grounds that it gives liberals a reason to dismiss her point. Liberals are always coming up with excusing to dismiss anti-pornography arguments and I don’t think there is much point in trying to cater to them. No matter what you say, do or are they will come up with a reason to hate you. If a woman criticises pornography, she is attacked by liberals for being ugly, insufficiently feminine and prudish (even by people who claim to not be judgemental of women’s choices.) On the rare occasions when a man criticises pornography or pornographic sex, he is told that he as a man should not be speaking about “women’s issues” (even though pornography is more often consumed by men and is produced to generate profit for capitalists, most of whom are men.)

      Of course liberals are perfectly happy to let men who love pornography speak about “women’s issues” and spend a great deal of effort blabbering on about how much they love men, in order to prove that they are not like those horrible man-hating anti-pornography feminists. I get the feeling that liberal identity politics is just a convenient excuse to dismiss opposing viewpoints.

      The ironic thing it that surveys have consistantly shown that women are more likely to oppose the sex industry and the sexualisation of mainstream culture than men are. I have also came across a study (conducted by “sex-positive” supporters of prostitution legalisation) which showed that in South Africa being poor and being black were both correlated with being opposed to prostitution. Congratulations liberals, the demographic you are reaching is the exact opposite of the one you claim to want to reach.

      “…even though they’re hypocritical since libfems love calling women they don’t like bitches and cunts left and right.”

      They also think that they are reclaimed the words “slut” and “whore”, but they still get upset when people use those words to describe them. The phrase “stop acting like whores” does imply that being a whore is a bad thing, but they would have liked the hashtag better if it had read “young women act like whores nowadays”. I don’t think so, I would they still would have assumed that “whores” was meant as a pejorative, because that is the social meaning of the word. Like it or not, reclaiming words just does not work as a tactic.

      And the whole “channeling her inner Sunday school teacher” is kind of ironic, because liberals are supposed to be all about choice, so they should not be criticising women’s choices to become Sunday school teachers, right? After all, they are the ones telling us that being a stereotypical, subservient housewife is empowering choice, so why not chose to be a Sunday school teacher? Or are women who try to teach kids things and tell them what to do, just too assertive for liberal tastes?

      • Yes, I agree. “Stopped acting like whores” shocked me, not because it might piss off the likes of Melissa Gira Grant, but because it is demeaning to women and other marginalized people in prostitution, many of whom are pressured into it or who have no other choice

  • Naida

    Will there be a comment from Beyonce or Nicki Minaj about the sex industry and its devastating effects on young women and their sexuality? Guess not, since part of the reason they’re popular is people googleing “big black booty born”. So obvious connections that ignoring them is an insult for every functioning brain.

  • bella_cose

    I feel like there’s finally a little momentum in the push against porn. It’s certainly not a dominant viewpoint that porn is harmful, but it seems like people are slowly becoming more and more uncomfortable with mainstream porn. I think it’s getting harder for people not to make the connections between how women are treated in pornography, and how they are treated in society. Especially with so many young men recording gang rapes. I mean, it’s pretty clear that they’re not just getting ideas from porn, but making their own porn.

    • Sagar

      completely agree with your point.

  • We can’t talk in absolutes when we speak about sex work – whether in front of a camera or not, but it is shortsighted I think to believe that most porn is made by empowered women. This isn’t about shaming sex, it’s about our cultures disassociation from sex as something sacred. I’m not talking about love but about sex as a commodity overwhelmingly removing the values of mutuality, diversity and respect. The mainstream porn industry holds none of those in terribly high regard.

    • ArgleBargle

      Not sex “work”, just porn. Workers are protected by health and safety laws, labour laws, workplace standards, employee human rights regulations. Porn will always fail to meet many of these standards even if unionized, in particular, the regulations designed to protect employees from sexual harassment. Real jobs, not blow jobs, eh?

  • Morag

    I didn’t know very much about Rashida Jones, so all of this comes as a VERY pleasant surprise. (Maybe now I won’t hear the theme to Twin Peaks in my mind every time I see Rashida on the TV; she looks an awful lot like her mom, Peggy Lipton, did 20+ years ago).

    So, thanks Meghan. Good news is good. And, oh — I love this sentence: “Despite bullshit rhetoric around women! making! empowered! choices! Jones says of the young women who are performing in the porn movies … ” Very stylish use of exclamation points — yes, that’s exactly! how! they! sound! In fact, words like “empowerment” and “agency” and “choice” barely even sound like words to me anymore. They sound like the kind of hoots and hollers one might hear coming out of a strip club.

    I suppose I’ll be prude-shamed for saying so?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ack! I had no idea Peggy Lipton was her mom! Neat.

  • “This fall I was hanging out with my sisters, catching up on pop-culture stuff. We watched some music videos, looked at a few Instagram accounts, and checked out blogs.”

    If I had seen that quote in another context I would have thought to myself “oh no, a libfem”, since I do not have much respect for popular culture and those who follow it obsessively. Like Noam Chomsky, I am proudly disinterested in pop culture, but I am glad that there is at least one person in the mainstream world who is critical of (both soft and hard core) pornography. Maybe liberal men and women will finally be forced to listen to the anti-pornography viewpoint, now that somebody “normal” and “cool” (god, I hate those words) is promoting it.

    “And amid the usual duck-lipped selfies and staged paparazzi photos, a theme emerged: Stripper poles, G-strings, boobs, and a lot of tongue action were all now normal accessories for mainstream pop stars.”

    I wouldn’t seperate duck-lipped selfies from the other things. If I understand the term “duck-lipped” correctly, it sounds as though these women are doing what Gail Dines calls the “fuck me look”. At the very least they are doing a “aren’t I so pretty and vulnerable come dominate me big strong man” look. I guess it is less overtly sexual than those other things, but I would imply that is an innocent alternative.

    I am looking forward to the documentary too. I hope she actually describes the kinds of sex acts that go on within hard core pornography and the impacts of these acts on women’s (and gay men’s) bodies. I feel that simply describing pornographic sex acts as “performative” is too mild and too abstract. It is a good point to make when you are on television and cannot describe what really goes on in pornography, but I hope she goes beyond that idea in her documentary and talks more concretely about happens to women in pornography.

  • Lee

    Love Rashida for this. Will be devastated if Amy Poehler says anything empowerful-choicey in response.

    That statement from Melissa about acting being performative is begging to be dissected. Maybe she is confusing actors with stunt-doubles…

  • I hate it when people, mostly men from the Left, say things like “anti-porn feminists are just conservative prudes!”. Conservatives, right-wingers or religious folks have NEVER been against intercourse, pornography, prostitution etc. *as such*. In fact, quite the opposite. (For further reading: Anticlimax by Jeffreys and pretty much everything by Dworkin) Pornography, mostly in written form, has existed for quite a long time and conservatives have always enjoyed it, just like prostitution. But they don’t *openly* admit it, that’s the main difference between them and the “progressive left”.

    Conservatives have more in common with sexual liberals, again mostly men, the ones who defend porn/BDSM/kinks and prostitution, than with radical feminists.

  • jo

    “I am actually saddened by how incredulous I feel right now. No one says this stuff in pop culture and mainstream media. No one in mainstream/popular feminism even says this stuff. There is mass denial about the traumatic impact porn has on individual women. It isn’t permissible to say that porn is bad for women, as a whole.”

    I find that collective brain shut-down completely impossible to understand too, when porn just gets more and more blatantly hateful and violent while at the same time getting more and more accessible. And girls and women can see a direct influence on boys and men’s behaviour towards them – the words they use, what they expect of partners, how they film rape.

  • While I’m going to wave my hand as one of those “sex-positive delusionals,” Jones stating amateur porn is “performative” didn’t actually anger me, and maybe that’s because my definition of sex-positivity may translate differently. I know porn “fulfill[s] a male[s] fantasy.” I don’t exactly know if any woman truly enjoys a man’s ejaculation on her face or being penetrated to the point of not being able to breathe. I agree that there are some harmful types of porn. Do I hope one day we can get a bunch of feminists to infiltrate the industry and find a way to make various porn genres that all genders can appreciate and approve of? Hell yes. Does that mean I think all porn is bad? No—not if you have the right relationship with it. The kind of relationship that makes you feel like you know, and are comfortable with, your body. The kind that makes you proud to have what you do. The kind that makes you feel in control of you. That doesn’t mean some types of porn

    As for Jones, I don’t think she was “channel[ing] her inner Sunday school teacher” at all. I think she was trying to start a conversation about something she’s noticed in mainstream media: skin is equal to sexy. I don’t agree with the use of the word “whore,” (unless it comes after the words, “boo you, _____.”); and she didn’t go about it in the right way. But I do think that we need to talk about it and ask the question “why”. Why did Miley tweak on Robin Thicke? Why did Rihanna pole dance in “Pour It Up”? Why are these women doing what they’re doing and for what reasons? Just some thoughts!

    I just can’t wait to watch this documentary!

    • Meghan Murphy

      I’m interested in redefining what sex-positive means because what’s defined as ‘sex positive’ or commonly understood to be ‘sex positive’ really isn’t at all is more about not criticizing male-defined sex/sexuality and, more generally, not criticizing or thinking critically about anything deemed to be associated with ‘sex’ (which is usually ‘sexualization’ rather than ‘sexuality’). I am unstoked that ‘sex positive’ has been taken over by pro-sex industry types and the anti-thinkers.

    • FrustratedRadFem

      The word pornography means the depictions of sex slaves (though the literal translation is far more misogynist), the origins came from women in Ancient Greece being sold into sex slavery or being taken a the ‘spoils of war’. They’d rape the ‘public women’ in brothels but keep their ‘private women’ at home. They’d have ‘art’ depicting the rapes on things like murals and vases. Men were not only raping them but exploiting their pain for fun and profit. (sounds familiar). It was an act of male supremacy do you think the women of those ancient brothels appreciated seeing what the went through depicted on the walls. How about women who weren’t in sex slavery felt it was an expression of sexuality?

      The point of porn is to degrade and hurt women you can’t detangle the misogyny from porn because porn is inherently woman hating because that’s the point. Male porn consumers masturbate to misogyny and I hate to break it to you but what they are watching isn’t actually consensual regardless of the contract she signed. The men who run the sex industry hate women they created to punish women for being women. Just like how women were forbidden pain relief in childbirth because the bible said so and the entire ‘pro-life’ movement. They also created it to divvy women out to men (for a price of course). They are doing the same thing the religious patriarchs do they just have a different model they want to shape society into.

      ‘Sex Positivity’ has been going on since the eighties (before I was born) whatever you thought it was going to do, it didn’t. It is an easily corruptible movement and the name sounds silly I mean really you sound like a cheerleader not an activist. Women have more burden in regards to sex not only do we have to worry about the consequences of vaginal sex, but also their partners wanting the to be ‘throat-fucked’, do anal, have them ejaculate on their face, spitting, slapping, sexualised violence (BDSM and porn in general) we are expected to be ‘sexy’ and sexually service him and accept whatever fucked up fetish he develops. If porn was so freeing how come rape rates are higher and reporting and prosecution is lower? How come there are new ways for men to rape and abuse women that didn’t happen often 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. How come women are being badgered by not only their male partners but by our culture, ‘sexperts’, the media, their peers, even their own family (gross) into accepting the state of things? If she doesn’t she’s shamed and silenced. Women don’t enjoy the shit they do to women in porn (yes I can say this without a doubt) honestly why do we need to argue against this it should be a given. The vast majority of women in porn are traumatised and trapped and because it’s on the internet they have that hanging over their heads. They can’t get jobs or transition back into society.

      As for your plan to takeover the porn industry, it’ll never work and you’ll help enable more rape and violence against women and girls. I don’t think you know who you are dealing with, they will use you as a cover for their crimes. They only allow women in the high up positions as PR and they only their to be the sex industry’s mouthpiece and when you actually listen to them it’s pretty obvious they’ve been coached. They repeat the talking points the that every misogynist man wants to hear. They love to trick women in porn (which is rape) do you think they’ll be ethical when dealing with them? You are expendable to them as are all women. Pornographers have a track record going back to Linda Boreman. Go look her up, what chuck traynor did to her and the anti porn ordinance by Andrea Dworkin and Catherine Mackinnon. Or how about the many ex porn actresses in the legal industry that have come forward with the fact they’ve been abused and raped and the men in the industry hate women. I never see sex positive people addressing that. So much for their anti rape and abuse views.

      If you infiltrate the sex industry as feminist your duty is to expose the pornographers and pimps identities their sex crimes and human rights violations, who they are buying off and partnering with and how they work. You’d expose them to their families and communities, showing exactly what they’ve been doing to women and girls. You’d figure out the patterns the pimps, pornographers and male porn stars so you can psychologically profile them. You would even have a model to base it off seeing as criminologists have done it with white supremacists and rapists in general you can do the same to them. You’d sabotage them leak anything they wouldn’t want the general public to see. Exited women have already done some of this before there needs to more of this kind of activism. Women need to set up women’s courts to have them put on trial for crimes and against women and children. The charges should be rape, abuse, torture, sex slavery, deprivation of liberty, physical assault, sexual exploitation, deliberate infection of disease (this counts a biological warfare in war), incitement to violence against women, misogynist hate speech and propaganda, setting back women’s rights. What else can anybody think of.

      PS. Check out exgynocratic grrl, anti porn activist, fuck no porn blog, sex positive-anti porn on tumblr are good blog with plenty of research and data about the sex industry research that if your not convinced.

      PPS. there is no such thing as ‘all genders’ there are women, men and intersex people that’s it that’s all there is. Biological reality trumps identity crisis there is no scientific evidence for ‘gender identity’ it’s a subculture based on mental illness. It’s like those pro-anorexia sites except those are being taken down.

      • Bridie

        I guess that depends on how you categorise gender or if you even want to, I think it’s important for people to do this themselves and not be told by others, especially not in a way presented as fact. I’m sure you didn’t mean offence, but I think it can be very damaging to dismiss people’s want to identify themselves- scientific facts often change. No of us really know what goes inside of our brains and what determines us. I just wanted to open this discussion- it’s always so important to talk about these issues-let me know your thoughts I would be interested to hear them!

  • Again, I am trying to grasp the feminist current message. Yeah, women should give up sexual behaviours that they don’t enjoy. That makes sense. But you also want to stop women enjoying participating in burlesque and pin-up.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Noooo, I’m not asking anyone to ‘stop enjoying’ anything. I’m asking us to consider the context, question our behaviour and think critically about it, and not pretend that sexism is liberating/feminist in order to comfort ourselves. If all that results in women ‘not enjoying burlesque and pin-up,’ great, but you’re starting at the end and skipping the middle part/the whole point.

      Also, please keep in mind that what we ‘enjoy’ is shaped by society. We learn to ‘enjoy’ or be entertained by women’s objectification. Men learn to jack off to porn and to images of female subordination. We could just as easily ‘enjoy’ other things and learn to be turned on by non-sexist sex/non-objectifying imagery.

    • “But you also want to stop women enjoying _____.”

      Where do you find Meghan or any other commenters here saying “women should stop enjoying X”?

      While we’re on the topic of how wrong it is to tell people what to enjoy or what to do: How do you feel about people who enjoy hunting? Surely you would never tell people what to do do (or what to eat).

  • notcisjustwoman

    While my problem with Jones using the word “whores” to describe women is certainly different than the liberal cries of “slut shaming,” I do think it is incredibly significant that she used the word at all. The entire tweet ignores the real problem, men and patriarchy, in favor of focusing on the behavior and clothing of women. That’s liberalism in action. The problem isn’t “women acting like whores.” The problem is that men indoctrinate women into submissveness through patriarchy.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I agree with you and don’t want to excuse her use of the term. That said, I think she does understand the pressure placed on young pop stars to objectify themselves — by men in power — based on her follow-up article.

    • derrington

      Its cowardly for the lib fems to focus on nit picking another woman’s words – whores/sluts – its all porn speak which they are soooo empowered by – rather than dealing with rape, child abuse etc in porn. Quite frankly they are cheerleaders for the MRAs and do nothing feminist but call themselves sluts and bitches – chanting misogynist hate speech is as feminist as me calling myself a n+gger to identify with black people. They are as sexist as the men they shield.

  • Bridie

    It’s strange for me hearing the word liberal feminist as a dirty word. To me it only has the positive connotations of being treated as an equal to a man free within my own choices. I feel as though there is miss communication between different fractions of feminism, we have pit ourselves against each other. My immediate response was one of intense irritation at feminist who wouldn’t class themselves as liberal, so I guess I’m just as bad.

    • Mar Iguana

      “I feel as though there is miss communication between different fractions of feminism, we have pit ourselves against each other.”

      It is men who pit women against each other. Try to keep it straight.

  • ptittle

    Another indicator – I used to enjoy So You Think You Can Dance so much, but last year and this year, it’s become so pornified – almost all of dances, dancers’ costumes/appearance/moves…especially the women, of course. (What is it with this sudden critical mass thing about pornification – did something get put in the food chain last year or something???)