James Deen was promoting sexual violence & rape culture long before recent allegations

Image from James Deen's sex advice column at The Frisky.
Image from James Deen’s sex advice column at The Frisky.

On Sunday, porn actress and writer, Stoya, posted on twitter that her ex-boyfriend and fellow porn performer, James Deen, had raped her.

Feminists across the board came out in support, applauding her bravery in coming forward. Undoubtedly, as many women do, she will face consequences for speaking out against a powerful man, particularly one who works in the same industry she does — an incredibly misogynist one at that.

Stoya’s point, that to hear people hold up your abuser or rapist as some kind of feminist hero can feel particularly upsetting, is one many of us understand firsthand. It compounds that sense of betrayal already present from the rape.

I’m glad she’s getting so much support right now, and hope it continues.

Deen is losing gigs because of these allegations (more women have come forward since Stoya made her statement), which is a good sign, but I have to wonder: What were liberals lauding him as a feminist hero thinking to begin with?

Deen was no feminist porn star (whether such a thing exists within the context of patriarchy is, of course, debatable). He specialized in violent sex, particularly the “rape fantasy” genre. At The Daily Beast, Aurora Snow, a porn performer herself, writes: “James Deen gets paid to have rough sex. And by his own admission he’s good at it, maybe even enjoys it. It’s incentivized and celebrated.” In an interview for the Observer, he says he’s “been into rough sex pretty much [his] whole sexual life” and claims that many women are afraid to work with him, worried he’ll “slap them in the face or something.”

Unsurprisingly, as Snow points out, Deen is also a fan of rape jokes:

Are we really, truly surprised that a man whose career is based on his abuse of women, which he very publicly admits to enjoying, who thinks rape is both sexy and a hilarious joke, is, “in real life,” not a man who respects women??

None of this was secret information, but countless liberal sites (including ones that claim to be feminist) bought into and pushed this representation of Deen as somehow “pro-woman,” calling him the “good guy” of porn, “female-friendly,”  — even a feminist. Women’s site, The Frisky, went so far as to hire him on as a sex columnist.

Since the allegations came out, The Frisky ended Deen’s column, but has yet to offer any justification for providing a paid platform to a violent, misogynist male porn producer to give sex advice to women. Editor, Amelia McDonnell-Parry, quickly published a statement, hoping to position herself as the type who supports victims of male violence, but the whole charade seems transparent considering that she was the one who initiated the column in the first place, knowing full-well about Deen’s active and ongoing promotion of violence against women. Knowing full-well that Deen “has long been an outspoken activist against condom laws” and mandatory STD-testing in the porn industry, on the grounds that it infringes on “freedom of speech” and violates “civil rights.” Knowing that he consistently dehumanizes women, referring to them as “sluts” (and much worse). Knowing his fondness for rape jokes

Surely there are better sex advice columnists out there for a women’s site? Ones who don’t make videos called “James Deen Fucks Slut Into Submission,” “James Deen Tortures Slutty Babysitter” — videos that featureextremely violent gangbangs, facial abuse, “teen” fantasies, women tied to tables and abused and penetrated by multiple men, and on and on (needless to say, I am done Googling this shit).

Considering all this, McDonnell-Parry’s statement seems opportunistic rather than sincere, an opportunity for her to jump onto the right side of this debate in a way that will shine a positive light on her and The Frisky before people catch on.

But Deen should never have been brought on in the first place… For obvious reasons — certainly to anyone who would claim concern for women’s rights, safety, and humanity.

It wasn’t even Deen himself who tried to sell himself as feminist — telling Emily Heist Moss in 2011, “I hate feminism!” — it was the liberal media and women who call themselves “sex-positive” who pushed the angle. Why?? Are we so desperate to prove that pornography is “good for women,” that we’ll sell women misogyny and call it feminism? Are we so afraid of naming male violence for what it is?

Apparently so.

While Deen’s behaviour is his responsibility and I do hope that he will be held to account for these rape allegations, the liberal media are not innocent in all this. Selling misogyny, sexualized violence, and rape culture to women and calling it “feminism” is reprehensible. It’s easy, now, to say “Oh, him, we want nothing to do with him!” but explaining these desperate efforts to force his misogyny onto women, all the while claiming to abhor whatever you believe “rape culture” is (hint: it looks just like James Deen’s career) is much harder to do. Picking and choosing which violent misogynists are acceptable based on their “cool-factor” doesn’t protect women from violence and, in fact, it makes it much harder for women to speak out against said violence.

At some point, liberals are going to have to contend with the fact that the lines they keep trying to draw are blurry at best, and that their efforts to normalize sexualized violence do demonstrable harm.

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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  • You know someone’s a rapist when they joke about rape constantly. We can almost always be certain it’s most likely a threat at best or an admission of guilt at worst.

    • Tired feminist

      Competely agree. When men tell rape jokes they want to reassure that other men don’t see any problem with them. This is why I have no mercy for men who laugh at them.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Right. How many times will we go through this before we learn? And I mean, Deen never even pretended to be feminist! They just did all that for him! It’s completely insane. They are so desperate for what it clearly NOT ok, to be ok. Why don’t they just get over it and join the feminist movement ffs? You need misogynist men in your life that badly??

  • Meghan Murphy

    Well, The Frisky isn’t really a feminist site. Though I think they’d like people to think of them as such. I suggest asking them why they hired this man in the first place. I did, though I only got an aggressive/defensive response… The editor then called me “a slag”, publicly, if you can believe it (looks like she’s since deleted that tweet)… https://twitter.com/MeghanEMurphy/status/671072153383645184

    • lapis

      It doesn’t matter if it’s not a feminist site, it’s still unacceptable. The Frisky is supposed to be a normal site aimed towards women with celebrity gossip etc. Calling you a slag – WTF?!
      Not only did they hire that man but then they call women names when they ask about it.

      Still not comprehending this…

      • Meghan Murphy

        No I don’t think it matters either way. There’s no excuse. And yeah, I
        wish I’d gotten a screenshot (stupidly, I only got her response, for some reason) — I hadn’t realized she’d deleted the
        tweet after she was called out on it.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes that’s a good point. I mean, they are the ones who were betraying her (and all of us, in many ways)…

    • esuth

      “The personal is political” rallying cry is useful here – Stoya’s second tweet was personal, her first was political. Seems like libfems would rather believe that the personal is personal until proven political.

  • Lavender

    I can’t wrap my head around how people can view a man who gets off on causing women pain, and boasts about it, as anything other than violent, narcissistic, and dangerous. That on its own is worthy of alarm, not to mention the horrifying fact that this isn’t one man or even a handful of men but entire swaths of society idolizing him. But to call him a fucking feminist? Romantic? Respectful? Misogyny is so deeply embedded in our culture that it’s now common for women to view torture as empowering. I fear for all the girls who are growing up surrounded by boys and men who think that it’s normal to fetishize violence. We have to protect them at all costs.

    • justanotaku

      I agree

  • radwonka

    libfem won’t talk about sasha grey anymore, even though they considered her movies to be “feminist”. Libfem are real hypocrites and anti-women.

  • Rocio

    Oh wow I just looked up what happened with her since I only remember her (& her parents) going on talk shows arguing that porn wasn’t exploitive and why a young woman like her with better opportunities would do hardcore porn. She was pressured into the industry by an abusive boyfriend? Color me surprised.

  • Rocio

    (They said she started dating abuser ex at 16 when he was either 25 or 29. That that alone didn’t set off tons of bells for people is just so scary.

  • “I tried very, very, excruciatingly hard to be the fun “sex positive” girl and now I’d rather be single the rest of my days, thankyouverymuch. The worst thing we do to girls and young women is teach them to undervalue self-respect and dignity. There’s no way in hell you can have it and date a guy who uses porn. It’s self-abuse.”

    So true. 100% echo your sentiments. I really feel like I sabotaged myself by acquiescing to these outright lies. I can also say that a lot of it had to do with the fact that radical feminism is completely absent from mainstream feminist discourse. It wasn’t until probably my last year of university that I was presented with even a modicum of the alternative, and always from a highly critical professor. Fortunately, I acquainted myself with Marxism on my own time, so I was finally able to see through the liberalism and get down to the root cause of the problem, patriarchy and capitalism.

  • Cara

    I think it’s important not to slut shame woman who do have a preference for BDSM type sex. BDSM isn’t rape. Kink isn’t rape. This disclosure by Stoya should not be used as an agenda to dehumanise women as sexual beings or to rile up the anti-porn brigade.

    As in any line of work, there are men who use power to manipulate the narrative in which they reside within. This same scenario has unfortunately already been played out numerous times in the last year/decade/century, and we shouldn’t focus on the fact that Stoya or James Deen are sex workers as a means to push some anti porn agenda. I think this has more to do with men selling feminism as a brand and the media capitalising on this as a tool to advertise and sell, Rather than type of pornography James Deen participated in.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Where have you read ‘slut-shaming’ here, Cara? It seems to me the only one doing any ‘slut-shaming’ is Deen himself…

      And by ‘anti-porn brigade’, do you mean ‘feminist movement’? Or ‘women who fight male violence against women’?

      Porn dehumanizes women. In the most grotesque ways, not feminists. So I’m a little confused by your comments.

      • justanotaku

        Other feminist would say that pornography is a form of sexual freedom that had prevented women back them. Not to mention the women being the dominate partner.

        • Tired feminist

          No one who considers pornography “sexual freedom” can be a feminist.

        • Hierophant2

          “Other feminist would say that pornography is a form of sexual freedom”

          Have you been talking to MRAs pretending to be feminists, by any chance? Because what you just said makes no fucking sense. Pornography is the codification of women’s inferior sexual status.

      • Cara

        I feel sad that Stoya, someone who is so compassionate and outspoken about women’s sexual freedom and her rights as a sex worker is having her disclosure of rape being used by people whether feminist (although as a feminist I don’t sign up to your version of feminism), or Christian Far Right, as an example of “SEE! Porn is bad”.

        I would recommend you read Kayden Kross’ recent statement regarding this, which explains exactly why Stoya didn’t want to make this rape disclosure in the first place. To manipulate a woman’s rape disclosure to fit an agenda seems bizarre and quite abhorrent to me.

        To say that all porn dehumanises women is to say that women can’t make any choices for themselves. That we are merely pawns in all aspects of our lives and our ability to form opinions, express strength and change the narrative in which we consume our sexuality is obsolete. To cast a wide net and suggest all women who participate in porn or consume it our victims of patriarchy is to suggest that somehow those that don’t are some how superior. Is it possible to be that patronising and still have any respect for other woman.

        My ‘brand’ of feminism embraces women to have strength and fight for the freedom to behave how they want too and to dispel the myth that all women are some gentle flower who has no full understanding of their power as sexual beings. To be strong does not mean to disregard your sexuality. I think it’s quite ok not to like porn or sex at all, but I think it’s important to point out that there are many women who do, who dominate, who enjoy fantasy and kink, and it is no less human (or female) than celibacy.

        Porn is one of the few places where women have a lot more power financially than men. They are often the actors, producers, directors and company owners. As mainstream, commercially branded porn dies a death, more women are heralding their own online businesses’ where they make their own choices around the porn they partake in and distribute. In what other business do you see this? Hollywood? Banking?

        Rather than slut shaming women that enjoy or partake in violent sex (or try and convince them they are brainwashed) perhaps the focus could be on how we empower female sex workers to speak out against abusers like we would in every other work place and to fight for ongoing better work conditions for all.

        I don’t disagree with your blog that mainstream media have a lot to answer for, and that there is shame to be held in how Deen was portrayed, especially when it was known amongst other sex workers that he was known to be aggressive and abusive and appeared on women’s “no” lists because of this. But I also think the anti porn rhetoric needs to take responsibility for the fact that this type of bile stopped Stoya (and many others) from disclosing earlier and allowed Deen to continue his abuse and manipulation of Women and mainstream media for longer.

        • Meghan Murphy

          What you are arguing is that violence against not be politicized or contextualized. Which means pretending that violence against women is not systemic. What you are asking is that each incident of male violence against women be treated as an individual, personal experience, that has nothing to do with the fact that the victim of said violence is female and the perpetrator male. You are asking that rape culture, porn culture, and patriarchy be denied. You are asking people not to think. You are asking people not to address male violence against women. What you are asking is wrong and anti-ethical to feminism. What you are asking is wrong and is detrimental to women across the globe.

          Why have you not once in your comments criticized Deen’s violence and misogyny? Why are you blaming feminists who have fought male violence for fifty years for male violence? Why are you ok with the multi-billion dollar porn industry profiting from misogynist propaganda, exploitation, and abuse, but not ok with feminists who are critical of this?

          I recommend you reconsider your politics and I recommend you look beyond liberal, mainstream, pro-capitalist, twitter mantras when you do.

        • I read your comments earlier and kept wondering why your argument sounds so familiar, and then I realized this is the same type of argument pro gun conservatives make in the US. Don’t politicize this latest mass shooting for political gain! Don’t use this tragedy to make a point about violence! Let this one fade from memory before you talk about it.

          I think you are ignoring the fact that abolitionists talk about violence against women in the sex trade every day. I feel sad that it takes a popular porn actress, like Stoya, saying she has been raped and abused before libfems will show an ounce of compassion for anyone working in the industry. There are women being raped in the making of porn right now! Women who will never have the voice Stoya has. As long as you consume porn, this will continue to happen.

          If you think working in the sex industry is an empowering choice, why isn’t there a powerful lobby for the health and safety of the workers? The only sex worker unions I’ve ever heard of are ran by brothel owners. A union controlled by the owner class isn’t for the worker.

        • Zuzanna Smith

          Oh please, anti-porn feminism did NOT stop Stoya from speaking out, that is a blatant lie. It’s actually a pro-sex industry stance that makes people not want to be seen as prudes, pearl-clutchers and, how did you put it, gentle flowers, that stops women who are sexually active from speaking out, get real. If they do and point to abuses in the industry then you would call it anti-porn bile just like you did here. I don’t sign up for you brand of feminism either Cara, porn is not sexual freedom it is the filmed rape of women for the entertainment of men, that’s all. Would any porn “actress” do the extreme things that she agrees to do for a porn scene for her own pleasure in her own home or is she only willing to do it for a paycheck, ask yourself that. Then ask yourself if she agreed to do something and maybe it went further than she wanted, would she be able to stop it? Could she speak up, cry, yell, and risk ruining the scene? Yeah that sounds like freedom to me, the freedom to be treated like a piece of meat.

          • Rachel

            Even on the most simple level. Imagine being a woman, naked, in a room full of men. Even without the “sex”, more suitably called rape, it’s an extremely vulnerable situation to be in.

        • Tera

          Incoming: Attack of the NotAllPorn!! Let’s refrain from calling porn or prostitution what it actually is–rape with $$ as compensation. Because–gasp–we wouldn’t want to rape shame or porn shame!

    • lapis

      “James Deen Tortures Slutty Babysitter” is one of the titles of his videos according to this article.
      So the porn industry can show torture of women/girls as punishment for being “sluts” (which is an anti-woman slur) but if feminists point out the misogyny and harm of the porn industry we are the ones who are “slut shaming”? Deen and his ilk literally thinks of women as sluts and literally shames and degrades and harms them.

    • Hierophant2

      Please stop insulting the 90% of women who were either trafficked into prostitution/pornography or who had no other choice. There is no such thing as a “sex worker.” James Deen is not just another guy clocking in and clocking out. He is a guy raping women with a pro-rape agenda. And don’t try to blame this on men like me! I have no interest in watching this misogynistic filth! It’s disgusting and you’re disgusting.

  • GMG_NTEN

    Well, its not your age. I just turned 26 and all this sex positive crap makes makes my skin crawl.

    • Misanthropia

      I was raised in a moderate Muslim family and I myself have a problem with understanding why porn and BDSM is sexy. And I’m 20.

  • Delilah

    Both Amber Rayne and Kora Peters say that Deen violated them on set while they were filming scenes. Here’s Rayne’s (graphic and upsetting) account:

    “We were in piledriver, he was fucking me in the ass and I said something like, ‘Yeah fuck me like that you son of a bitch.’ His face twisted and he came down on my face two times—close-fisted,” says Rayne. “I was punched in the face while he was still in my ass and then he starts going crazy on my butt—extreme, brutally fucking it. He just starts shoving things in to the point where he ripped it and I bled everywhere. There was so much blood I couldn’t finish the scene.”

    Peters had a similar experience with Deen. While the two were engaged in a typical boy-girl scene, Deen tried to switch to anal sex, which was on Peters’s list of “no’s” and which she hadn’t agreed to or been paid for. “James [Deen] kept trying to get inside my ass but I kept pushing him away, so he choked me, then he slammed my face down into the couch and forced himself in my ass anyway,” Peters told the Daily Beast. “The crew all high-fived him and told him what a great job he did getting an anal scene for the price of a boy/girl scene.”

    From The Cut

  • Zuzanna Smith

    The woman said yes and she got paid, so that makes it ok and sexxy.

  • Delilah

    Because if it’s “sexually explicit” then it’s automatically “good” (according to many)

  • OldPolarBear

    I so far haven’t seen any interviews or read any blog posts where the dogs are saying that they like having their mouths duct taped shut or that it is their choice. OK, that sounds snarky and glib, because dogs can’t speak English or any other human language, but seriously … there aren’t even any people, not even the actual abusers, who would dare make that argument, or anyone who would take it seriously for a second, if they did.

    Nor do mainstream “liberal” and/or “feminist” websites put up or link to animal torture videos and then admonish viewers not to be judgmental about them, that this is First Amendment protected speech, don’t be such a collar-clutching animal lover, etc., blah blah blah.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes. As much as I am loathe to recommend people actually WATCH the porn Deen makes (I watched some of it in my research for this piece and it is very upsetting and disturbing and it’s next to impossible to get those images out of your head…), if people are going to go around blaming feminists for male violence and accusing them of slut-shaming, positioning pornography as the real liberator of women, I’m gonna tell them to actually go LOOK at the porn Deen makes. Look at those images, listen to what is said to those women, look at those women’s faces, then come back here and tell us WE are the real problem, the ‘slut-shamers,’ the oppressors. No one who actually cares about women and women’s liberation from patriarchy could watch that and pretend it’s ok.

    • Rachel

      Yep. Just the look on their faces. I will never forget the belle Knox video I watched (which was referred to in an antiporn documentary I was watching). She was (maybe still is) the poster child for the “choice” to be in porn. She was literally grimacing in that video and arching her back upwards in pain. You could see the tension in her body and her reaction to the pain by trying to push the guy off her. And her eyes rolling into the back of her head while he forces a violent blowjob on her. It’s scarring. There were other videos I came across too, that you’re right, it’s pretty impossible to get out of your head. And even if these aren’t “mainstream” (which they are anyway), you would be hard pressed to find one woman in prim who hasn’t had an experience like that. And it only takes one experience to screw your up for life.

      Even though belle Knox always talks about her choice to do porn and how empowered she is, the cuts on her legs and the trauma she endures, is pretty telling to me that she’s not a healthy young woman. My heart breaks for the girls who end up in these situations even due to “choice”.

  • Meghan Murphy

    You may well feel my response was “patronizing”, but consider that you came here and blamed me (and the feminist movement, more broadly) for male violence and called our work to end male violence against women “bile.” I’m sorry but I’m not sure how you expect feminists to respond to these particular kind of insults and ignorance. You’re going to get patronizing responses… I was as polite as I possibly could have been, considering the circumstances.

    Perhaps next time you respond to feminists whose analysis you don’t understand or with whom you disagree with, you’ll try a different approach.

  • Melanie

    Kink and other misogynistic, racist and violent pornography is problematic because it’s normalizes and encourages male violence against women and then distributes these ideas on a mass, global scale in an industry that has serious ethical problems even in it’s most mainstream sector – such as ignoring acts of violence and aggression to women in the industry. Just because somebody likes it or chooses it does not take away from that fact. That is the issue, not your personal sexual preferences or feelings of empowerment.

  • I thought something similar when I saw it. It strikes me that when people get truly outraged about these kinds of incidents, unless it involves extreme violence (which is never really done by women, if we’re being honest), the perpetrator is almost always female. I wonder- if it had been a man taping his dog’s mouth shut, would people have had the same vicious anger? I am prone to think that many people would have defended a guy who was getting in hot water for that by saying “we live in a PC world, it’s his dog, he was discipling it, etc.”. It reminds me of a video clip that is going viral right now and all over Facebook, instagram, etc of a man singing in the car to a song while his son eats cereal. Suddenly he starts dancing crazily to the song and actually knocks his son’s cereal bowl out of his hand and starts violently shaking him. I fail to see how that is somehow okay and worthy of praise and laughter but taping your dog’s mouth shut (although I agree that’s also awful) is off limits? They both seem like awful things to do. I tend to think that it’s more the fact that she was a woman, and failed to do her womanly duty of being “nurturing”, that makes people want to burn her at the stake. It really is sickening though- currently there is the most violent porn imaginable out there, and THAT is defended. I think there’s no doubt we live in a viciously misogynistic culture.

  • Sara Marie

    I didn’t see Meghan attempt to align you with Deen. I think she was wondering, as I am, where your outrage is towards Deen’s actions and Deen’s hypocrisy? Not to mention….virtually all of mainstream porn makes women (oops, I mean, girls!) out to be “sluts.” We constantly want sex no matter where we are, no matter what we’re doing. We want sex with each guy we have just laid eyes on, we want sex, rough sex, even when we say no and beg the guy to stop. In my opinion, no girl or woman is a slut, because there is no such THING as a slut!!! So, I don’t see how slut-shaming can be a valid term, as it takes for granted the idea of some women being “sluts.” I do believe–and have evidence to back up this belief–that the porn industry negatively impacts women’s dignity, self-respect, and sexual equality.

    But somehow, FeministCurrent is the problem?

  • Zuzanna Smith

    That image of the back of that women’s head is distressing to me for some reason and I’m usually not triggery. Is that really from Deen’s column? How can any woman that saw that or the ones that enabled it not read into the context here? This is how men like Deen see women or think this is how women should exist, as faceless, ever penetrable objects to be done with whatever men want to do with them, dehumanized and voiceless. And this was a sex advice column for women?? I can’t even process this.

  • Rachel

    Exactly. “Feeling empowered” doesn’t actually mean you are empowered or healthy. Also I’m really glad that you escaped from the industry, and are sharing your story. I’m so sorry for all the trauma you endured though. But, thank you.

    • Melanie

      Thanks Rachel. The whole ’empowering for women’ thing really bothers me. All it takes is one bad client and your life can be devastated by trauma, injury, illness or disease and there goes your ’empowerment’. Every aspect of your life – personal and family relationships, work relationships, health, job, career, financial security can be effected, for years down the track. That’s why I think it’s important to listen to exited women. They have a much larger perspective than those who are still in it.

      Anyway thanks again. I’m hoping to be cured of Hep C within the next year or so. I’m just waiting for the new treatments to be funded in my country. That will be truly empowering.

  • Misanthropia

    Liberal feminists are just the patriarchy’s public relations department and nothing more. Liberal feminists don’t care about women. They are privileged women who think that just because THEY are enjoying their time in porn and prostitution being used like walking sex toys for men, the VAST MAJORITY of women and children who are forced into have should just shut up about the harsh realities of the sex industry. Even if you do this stuff by ‘choice’ you are still contributing to objectification. You are still contributing to hypersexualisation of women. And you can never look at a porn clip and say for sure that it is consensual or not. Also why are you so adamant on protecting the porn industry anyway, when porn producers have THEMSELVES said the most horrible shit about women. Even the softest porn commodifies women’s bodies, promotes unrealistic standards of beauty and how women’s genitals should look like. It is no coincidence that porn is watched so much by sex offenders and those men who hold misogynist views about women. It is no coincidence that men who watch porn think that rape and abuse is sexy, Porn teaches them that. This is not what healthy sexuality looks like, This is what stunted, abusive and damaging sexuality look like.

  • radwonka

    It’s doesn’t change the fact that porn is filmed abuse (men hurting women).

  • radwonka


    The research I’ve seen has found that sex offenders watch no more porn than non-offenders.”

    Of course males like porn, because it’s the depiction of rape and sexualised violence. The women in porn are REAL human beings. The violence (facef*ck, vomit, crying, blood, objectification, slurs, etc) is REAL. This what men want, and this is what men are watching.

    In other words: Sex offenders are no different than non offenders, both like to watch women being abused.

    Try again rape apologist.

  • omphaloskeptic

    “It means you can’t find satisfaction with a real woman.”

    I doubt this is true.

    I watch porn. Not because I can’t find satisfaction with a real man or woman. Rather, it is simply not practical for me to have sex as often as I experience an urgent, distracting need to orgasm. Who’s got the time? Instead of flaking on all my responsibilities, and selfishly expecting my partners to have sex whenever I want, I use both porn and erotic literature to get myself over the edge. (More often the latter, but the former too.)

    It is far less satisfying than sex with an actual partner. But you do what you can.

    “And there is growing phenomenon of men and teen boys demanding and coercing their partners to do painful stressful sex acts just like the porn stars do.”

    This may be true. Porn should come with a disclaimer: “Kids, don’t try this at home.” I think the way to counter the expectation that real human beings can have porn sex is by having better sex education, so that kids realize that porn does not depict anything remotely realistic.

    It troubles me that for many teens, porn is the only depiction of sexuality that they have regular access to. It’s a bit like expecting kids to learn engineering from watching old Road Runner cartoons. They need to know that’s not what reality looks like. Reality involves consent, negotiation, and agency. It involves condoms and (if applicable) birth control. Most women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm. Fellatio mostly isn’t deep-throating all the time. Anal sex in real life needs lube and gradual warming up, and may sometimes involve poop. Most penises are much smaller than that. Women do not walk around desperately wanting to fuck all men at all times.

    I think there are many troubling things in porn. I would like to see the porn industry massively overhauled so that kids can watch more realistic depictions of sex. That’s not going to happen anytime soon, however. The solution in the meantime is to actually talk about sex so that these ridiculous depictions of sex are balanced against more realistic ideas about sexuality. It’s not a problem to watch Road Runner. You just have to realize that it’s pretend.

    (I am at least somewhat encouraged by the emergence of amateur porn, which I think is more likely to depict realistic sex, complete with women who do not sound as though they are faking orgasms.)

    Most mainstream porn plays into a male fantasy of having a wildly enthusiastic, horny woman who is desperate to have sex with them and easily has multiple orgasms on their glorious, magical cock. The reason women in porn moan and appear to have (often fake) orgasms is that most men get off on women moaning and having orgasms. The reason women in porn beg to be fucked is that many men get off on women really, really wanting them.

    The danger from this is that it creates the unrealistic expectation that all women want sex — often extreme forms of sex — all the time. This is a fantasy, not a reflection of reality. Men need to be taught this.

    “Pornography is a male industry selling and capitalising on female submission and degradation. Even if there was ‘ethical’ or ‘feminist’ porn, the fact that there is little to no demand for it should tell what men really get off on.”

    [I note that although porn is certainly a male industry, a sizeable minority of porn viewers are women. Apparently around a quarter of pornhub’s visitors are female, for instance. See http://www.salon.com/2015/08/24/the_porn_women_want_to_see_partner/%5D

    By “ethical” porn, I mean porn made with the enthusiastic consent of all participants, where everyone was enjoying themselves. That includes but is not limited to what people usually refer to as “feminist” porn.

    Although not all straight porn involves female submission, that is certainly a significant theme within porn. It troubles me less than it does you, though. This is because I do not assume all men who watch this porn actually feel contemptuous of women.

    My reasoning goes as follows: I am aroused by sexual submission. Much of the porn and erotica I consume involves make-believe tropes of non-consent. In reality, I do not want to do anything non-consensual. In reality, I do not view women as weaker or lesser than men, and my sexual interests do not affect the way I interact with people outside of my sex life.

    Based on this, I can extrapolate and imagine that, just as my views of the world are not affected by my penchant for certain sexual tropes, so men’s may not be either. I do not assume that just because they watch male-dom straight BDSM, they consider themselves superior to women and view women as objects. The fact that I watch male-dom straight BDSM does not mean I consider men superior to me, nor do I consider myself particularly worthless, so I would never assume that someone’s sexual interests reflect their outlook and views of gender relations or their behaviour outside of consensual sexual activities.

    (Actually, in real life, the most degrading, objectifying men I have ever met — the ones who have little respect for women and do not view them as people — have tended to be the most vanilla. The most controlling man I ever dated was one of the few partners I’ve ever had who was unwilling to indulge my kinky sexual interests. Most of my kinky partners have been unusually progressive and egalitarian, and care about my well-being and sexual enjoyment to an almost obsessive degree. This is, of course, anecdata. I do not deny that there are many awful and abusive people in the BDSM world, just as there are many awful and abusive people in every domain of society.)

    • Jude

      It’s all abstract, in your mind. Keep telling yourself that. Keep self-justifying. Keep hiding from yourself. You go the language, you got the supporters who say you’re fine, just fine, totally normal and ‘healthy’ — why wander around the net trying to convince those of us who aren’t buying it?

    • radwonka

      I watch porn. Not because I can’t find satisfaction with a real man or
      woman. Rather, it is simply not practical for me to have sex as often as
      I experience an urgent, distracting need to orgasm.”

      Nah nah nah. You watch it because you want to see sexualised violence, let’s not act as if porn is just plain “sex”, it’s patriarchal sex.


      In reality, I do not want to do anything non-consensual.”

      In reality, the abuse in porn is real, which is why you watch it. If it was simulated you would the first one to complain and demand to see real abuse.
      In other words, in reality, what you see is reality.


      Actually, in real life, the most degrading, objectifying men I have ever
      met — the ones who have little respect for women and do not view them
      as people — have tended to be the most vanilla.”

      Uh uh, nice try @ you trying to turn radical feminists concepts such as “degrading and objectification” against non pro porn ppl.
      Please use your brain: “kinky” men are violent by default (sexualised violence is still violence, otherwise it wouldn’t interest males, especially violent males), so there is no need to say they’re “less” violent than other males, in fact they’re quite active since this sexualised violence is a ritual for them.

      And “consenting” to it only makes things easier for them to be be violent, it doesn’t erase the violence in itself.

      It’s kinda amusing that on one hand you claim that culture doesn’t affect ppl, even an agressive porn culture, but then imply that vanilla men are, bc they don’t watch porn, more “agressive”. Do you understand your own reasoning? You’re saying that:
      1. Agressive Culture has no impact ever

      2. Males who aren’t into Violent porn/sexualised violence (cultural institutions) are more “violent” and wouldn’t be if they were into it

      I need some consistency here….


      The most controlling man I ever dated was one of the few partners I’ve
      ever had who was unwilling to indulge my kinky sexual interests.”

      Ah I see, so this is what you call “violent”.
      No one ever, even men, has to indugle your sexual interests. Not indulging your sexual interests is NOT violence. It is NOT control. It is NOT shaming. Ppl can refuse sex and EVEN peculiar sexual acts, it doesn’t make them violent, and they don’t have to explain why they don’t want it. Shocking I know.

      But eh, what do “kinky” ppl know about boundaries?

      PS: the salon article is a MRA article, but we already know that you’re a male troll 😉

      • omphaloskeptic

        Actually, I am a woman.

        I don’t think anyone has to indulge my sexual interests. The reason I use the word “indulge” is that I view it as an act of generosity and kindness, not an obligation.

        I am dismayed that you have leapt to the conclusion that I think it is controlling not to cater to someone’s sexual interests. Nothing could be further from the truth. It wasn’t his disinterest in kink that made him controlling. It was the fact that he: (1) tried to control what I wore, (2) guilt-tripped me for spending time with people other than him, (3) tried to take over the way I approached my professional work, (4) got angry at me for disagreeing with him, (5) criticized nearly everything I did, (6) guilt-tripped me into making our relationship serious much faster than I was comfortable with.

        I would say those behaviours are controlling. I hope you would agree.

        Moreover, I wasn’t trying to claim that vanilla men have more hostile/disrespectful beliefs about women because they watch less porn. I merely noted a curious correlation I have noticed in my life, as an interesting aside. I didn’t systematically gather any data, nor am I foolish enough to assume my experience generalizes to the population at large. Even if it did, correlation is not causation.

        I think the reason I observe this correlation is that in my peer group, most people who oppose kink do so primarily out of religious conservatism, rather than because they believe it is violent. Such men tend to hold traditional views of the roles of women and often oppose feminism. So probably the subset of vanilla men who are also extremely conservative skews the rest of the pool.

        Regarding my reasons for watching kink porn, I addressed some of that in a comment below, so I’ll let you go read that. I’ll refrain from repeating myself here, except to note that I actually cannot watch kink when I think that the sub is not actually enjoying himself or herself. I find it viscerally repulsive rather than hot. Moreover, I am not sure why you think I would dislike make-believe sex scenes. Actually, I read erotic fiction much more often than I watch porn.

        • radwonka


          Even if it did, correlation is not causation.”

          Well this is what you implied. You’ve been asking for studies to prove that sex offenders don’t or do watch porn. Just like leftists MRA who claim that porn reduces rape (and both of you deny that the violent sexual acts in those movies are real… ), What you want to imply is quite clear.

          And since porn is not a simulated fantasy, and a patriarchal manipulative context (money, pressure, culture) needs to be taken into consideration, I’m not interested to divide males as “sex offenders watch less porn” and “non offenders watch more porn” categories. The situation is not that simple. (and doesn’t make sense, just see how many males harass women and call them prude/naive/sex hating if they’re not objectified or how many of them INSIST that their partner should follow the “submissive” popular norm; how many of them are only turned on when the violence is sexualised -and as I’ve already said, both sex offenders and non offenders are turned on by this, wonder why…- where/how did they internalize this norm?; but whatever, you probably don’t see them as sex offenders or even dangerous or violent).


          most people who oppose kink do so primarily out of religious conservatism”

          Yeah because MRA/libertarians who promote bdsm and porn, aren’t conservative at all and are just a minority lol. (in fact I would argue that BDSM is quite conservative and very stereotyped). The line between leftists males and right wing males is weak when it comes to feminism. Both objectify women, both sexualise violence and both think patriarchal sex is the only way to have sex, so… I get that that you ppl always want to paint male doms/pornsick males as progressive, original, and all, but you should read some MRA articles and porn forums (see for example some screenshots abt the James Deen case: http://notcisjustwoman.tumblr.com/tagged/PDJD). When it comes to sexualised violent both AGREE.

          “Moreover, I am not sure why you think I would dislike make-believe sex scenes.”

          Why do you think porn directors (or just every males) don’t want make-believe scenes? why are the tears, vomit, pain and blood always real hm? Maybe the abuse is real hm? maybe this is what males who watch these movies want, which makes them (directors/actors/fans) accomplice, if not the cause/responsible of this abuse.

  • omphaloskeptic

    I might as well respond to all my responders all at once, in one post.

    @Jude: I do not think sex is the same as fighting. You read too much into my post. I think they are similar in one aspect only: they are both contexts in which people sometimes to consent to having pain inflicted on them by someone else.

    Rachel’s post suggested that if women can be seen grimacing in pain during an activity, we should conclude the activity is bad. The only purpose of my post was to suggest that this does not follow, by providing a counterexample. I was not trying to suggest that fighting and sex are the same.

    Perhaps a better analogy to BDSM is this: It is a bit like coming home from work with really tight shoulders, and asking your partner to massage them for you. He starts out soft, and you say, “Go harder, really get those knots out.” He does, and it hurts a little, but it’s a good kind of hurt, and you feel wonderful afterwards and profoundly grateful that someone would cater to your needs.

    Because being a BDSM dom in the context of enthusiastic consent is really much more like indulging your partner and making the evening all about them, than it is like having a physical fight with them.

    @Rachel: When your opponent in a wrestling match is stronger than you and has you pinned to the ground, there is a clear power difference too. The important thing is that they had equal power in deciding whether to engage in the match to begin with.

    That’s a useful analogy for sex. What I care about is whether both parties had equal power in deciding whether to engage in the act, and have equal power in deciding whether to continue engaging in the act.

    In porn, that often isn’t true. There are significant problems with the porn industry, and much of it really is exploitative. I don’t think that is necessarily true of all porn, however, or even all kink porn.

    As it happens, I have never enjoyed watching James Deen either, because he gives off this creepy vibe and seems not to care very much about his partner’s experience. That is not true of all kinky porn, however.

    @Hannah: Among the people getting off on watching that infliction of pain is me, a woman, imagining myself in her shoes. Am I enjoying her pain? Not really — I am more enjoying the fantasy of feeling helpless and being pushed to the limits of my endurance.

    Are all the men and women who identify with the dom enjoying her pain? Perhaps some are. Others may be getting off on how much she is enjoying the pain, how it unlocks something primal in her. They may get off on the inverse of my fantasy — the idea of pushing someone to the limits of their physical endurance, of intensifying someone’s experience for them, of bringing them to a state of transcendent ecstasy in which they experiences intense emotions and physical sensations of a kind I cannot even begin to describe to you.

    You’re right, the fact that it’s consensual isn’t enough. I need something more. I need to know that the sub is actually enjoying him/herself and wants to be there. I want to know that (s)he is experiencing the same wondrous, beautiful, awe-inspiring experience I am when I do kink, that (s)he feels the same deep gratitude to the dom that I do, because finally someone is actually doing these things they’ve dreamed of as long as they can remember.

    I think most other kinksters — the majority who care about their partners and want enthusiastically consensual BDSM, not the few evil people who use BDSM as a cover for abuse — want that too. Have you ever watched a kink.com video? It starts with a scene in which the sub talks about what they want to do, then ends with a scene in which they talk about what things they loved most about the experience. Some people have suggested that these scenes are sometimes staged, and that may be true. But it should bring you some comfort that kink.com feels the need to include them in the first place.

    Why? Because it indicates that their audience wants to see the sub truly enjoying their experience. They are like me: they aren’t getting off on abuse, they’re getting off on someone experiencing something intense and transcendent and, well, genuinely enjoyable. They don’t want to see someone subjected to something they aren’t enjoying. Of course they don’t. That is horrifying.

    A litmus test: I get off on watching BDSM. But if I get the sense the sub isn’t actually enjoying it and doesn’t want to be there, my lady-boner disappears instantly and I feel revolted and horrified rather than aroused. I’ve heard others express this sentiment too. I’d bet you a lot of people who watch BDSM porn would tell you the same thing.

    I understand the horror you feel while watching this stuff, because I feel the same horror when I see someone who is actually being abused. When we watch BDSM porn, the only difference between you and me is this: Unlike you, I know that sometimes people can be truly enjoying something, even though they are screaming and grimacing in pain. I know that because I’ve experienced it.

    And I also know that many men who identify as doms (or switches) are a lot more like that amazing boyfriend who agrees to massage the knots out of your sore back, than they are like sadistic sex offenders. It’s just that in the context of their relationship, the set of generous acts akin to “massaging the knots out of my girlfriend’s back” has somewhat broader scope, because she experiences BDSM in the same way I do.

    • Candy

      To elaborate on my previous post to you, I googled “Belle Knox feminism,” curious to read other pieces regarding the subject, and stumbled upon this:

      http://dukeskywalker.com/missy-aka-belle-knox/ (NSFW and highly-triggering)

      Now, I’m personally unsure that images such as the ones at the top at the page and descriptions like:

      “Why? Because her favorite part of Facial Abuse is seeing the misery in the girls eyes. I’m guessing she chose Facial Abuse to do her first porn as she was sick of only watching and wanted to participate instead. Watching Missy aka Belle Knox take a fat cock in her tiny mouth is awesome. It was at this point that you could see the misery in her eyes as her innocence was taken away. As this scene goes on and she’s gagged, slapped, fucked and more, it becomes even more awesome. There’s something about making a feminist shut the fuck up using a cock that is a huge turn on. Thanks Duke for making your tuition so high that these bitches have to resort to being humiliated to make a penny to pay tuition with.”

      Descriptions like these are characteristic of what you find on Facial Abuse and related sites.

      a.) suggest anything positive about sexuality or the fact people are even capable of being aroused by it. In fact, what’s the appeal of violating taboo, much of which is rightfully deemed taboo? What does it suggest about human nature that sexuality is so associated with power imbalance and violence? What if feminism itself, as in the description of the Belle Knox video and the video itself, is used as a taboo to transgress (just as many of the women in their video descriptions are suggested to be mentally ill or damaged, and in Belle’s case shown to actually struggle with mental illness, to heighten the taboo of just how horribly they’re “taking advantage” of them)? Also common is a description of their “daddy issues” or how much they’ll regret the shoot.

      I clearly have a masochistic streak, as I clicked on a few pages to see how grotesque the video descriptions got. A quick glance at this page: http://dukeskywalker.com/jamie-sullivan-is-back-for-more-abuse-on-ghettogaggers/
      found a clear, mocking reference to the Black Lives Matter movement: “All lives matter (except whores”), a black woman holding the sign. Perhaps it’s worth contemplating why porn has reached this point. Sure, you might say this particular black woman enjoys being degraded for her race and gender, but the intent of performing in the video does not negate the effects, or why such a racist act would appeal to such a large audience.

      b.) contribute much of anything positive to society or subvert anything at all. Do there really need to be more images of women looking miserable than already exist?

      I think the proliferation of extreme, increasingly-degrading content may suggest something about men’s motivations: men have historically and scientifically been found to be more aggressive and violent in actuality and in play from childhood, and perhaps men watching these videos vicariously living out a power fantasy or acting out these scenarios are acting on similar predilections bubbling beneath the surface, being squeezed into a different avenue).

  • Misanthropia

    It is completely possible to have hot, passionate, energetic sex without BDSM or porn. Just learning about our bodies, both female and male, makes the sex better. It goes from an animal act to something more. There’s beauty in bodies taking and giving at the same time. There is that beauty in two bodies attracted to each other and honestly it’s so much better if you care about equality in the sex act.

  • omphaloskeptic

    I’m not sure that’s true. Let’s suppose a particular man does not find impact play arousing or appealing in any way. What if their partner asked them nicely, though? Might they indulge her, out of love?

    Have you never done things to indulge your partner that you are not particularly excited about? I certainly have. For instance, my ex really liked women’s fashion, so despite my extreme discomfort in malls, I would sometimes indulge him when he wanted to take me shopping.

    • Tired feminist

      Why is it exactly that you guys love to stick to hypotheticals completely disconnected from reality at large?

      “what if” some people are born missing both legs? Does it change the truth of the statement that humans are bipedal?

      Fuck off.

  • Tired feminist

    No. Because you’re too afraid of quitting porn and are desperate for a justification.

  • radwonka


    The big difference is that they commit sex crimes.”

    You don’t get it. BDSM is violence in itself, it is no better than what you call sex crimes. In fact the men just eroticize those sex crimes. The only difference is that male use the consent of their partner so they won’t be criticized.
    It’s still sexualised violence.

    “I’m asking whether porn causes sex offenders to commit sex crimes. Are
    you suggesting it does? If so, I would love to see you use actual
    research to argue that point.”

    What kind of loaded question??? I repeat myself: porn is violence against women (and I’ve already explained why, but I’m not surprise that you really don’t care about this point): the abuse is just filmed and glorified and sexualised. The violent sexual acts are real. And the men who’re violent (whether they’re “actors”/directors/fan) are the same as sex offenders here, they both enjoy and DEMAND sexualised violence. As I said it is not simulated.

    Moreover the sex industry is problematic (see the case of James Deen) but looks like this doesn’t bother you, you probably don’t include this in your definition of “violence” and “sex crimes”.

    But hey, If I’m not wrong what you call violence is “men who won’t indulge” your kinks. So yeah, dont pretend to care about victims when you only want to promote a twisted definition of what violence is.

  • Meghan Murphy

    If there were a porn industry that didn’t have ‘these problems’ it wouldn’t be a porn industry… The porn industry exists for a specific reason. I mean, if we didn’t live in a culture that treated women as commodities and as things that exist for men’s use and if men didn’t learn they were entitled to sexual pleasure at the expense of other human beings, there wouldn’t be a porn industry. It’s not as though porn is simply about naked bodies… It’s specifically about profit and it specifically exists because women are subordinate in our culture and that subordination is something men are socialized to enjoy masturbating to.

    • omphaloskeptic

      Well, I also thing a lot of people (myself included) just like looking at naked people having sex.

  • omphaloskeptic

    Thank you so much for the thoughtful reply (this and your other one)! It is more provocative than I can address properly in the next half hour of free time I have, so I’m going to get back to you in a couple of days. You raise interesting points and I’m very interested in continuing this discussion with you. TBC!

  • radwonka

    “You are wrong, and I already said so, quite explicitly.”

    It was your words, not mine. *shrug*

    “violations of people’s physical autonomy”

    That’s unclear, but I guess you probably think that consent erases context and makes sexualised abuse become non sexualised abuse, hence why you think that not indulging/or just criticizing your kink is a form of violence. *magic*

    Examples of sexual violence: sexualised violence, violent sexual acts, no consent (INCLUDING pressure through personal relationship/culture/money/media to manipulate women and any coercive context), incest, “insitutionalized” decorporalization, sex slavery (which is linked to the sex industry bc of the male demand), etc.
    Hint: all these situations involve psychological and/or physical pain/self flagellation (and it’s not a coincidence if the victims are always women).

    Like let’s not pretend that porn and bdsm aren’t about abuse and violence against women or that this industry and doms/pornsick are guilt free nice guys.

  • Melanie

    “People absolutely have an ethical duty to avoid porn in which the
    participants were either non-consenting or reluctant, or in which the
    working conditions did not meet reasonable safety standards.

    I deal with this quandary by (1) often reading (or sometimes writing)
    erotica rather than watching porn, and (2) sourcing my porn carefully,
    so that I am selecting porn that was made with the enthusiastic consent
    of all participants, and in which risks are appropriately mitigated”.

    You said you’ve watched pornography where you can tell that women are clearly in distress. You also speak enthusiastically about and have posted several links to a company that has reportedly allowed criminal violence to occur on it’s set despite it being common knowledge amongst both pornographers and performers, ignored consent and ‘safe words’ and placed the health and safety of women at risk for profit. It doesn’t seem to me like you’re sourcing your porn carefully at all.

  • Tired feminist

    We know where your “side” is “coming from”. Your “side” is boring, predictable, intellectually dishonest and plain misogynistic. We have zero interest in your “side” and you know that.

    Yet, you feel the need to come to a feminist website to spew your misogyny on women who openly and repeatedly point out your “side” to be bullshit. Seems to me more like the behavior of a)a troll; b)someone trying to convince him/herself that their misogyny is cool; c)a combination of both.

    You’re “comfortable” with your “sexual proclivities”? Whoa, what a surprise. We’d never have figured out you’re comfortable with sexualized torture of women.

    You find it “interesting” to “discuss”? Shocking. Who would have figured you have a thing for teaching women how they got all wrong? Who would have imagined that sexualized torture of women is no more than an abstract debate topic in your porn-sick mind?

    For the second and last time: fuck off.

  • marv

    Your definition of violence is liberal/conservative and therefore restrictive. Violence also refers to the structural inequality among social groups which has crystallized into
    institutions. In all civilizations male dominance has engineered the forms of government and economy providing the backdrop for physical and psychological violence against women to thrive. BDSM and pornstitution were born in these environments. They would disappear as societal entities if men and the affluent (generally the same people) did not have more power than women and the poor (usually the same people) as groups.

    In short, the subjugated are entrapped by male political configurations not just by
    men’s aggressive or kind behaviour. Patriarchy is violence and bondage by its very existence.

  • Candy

    “I think any guy who’s happy to date a rad fem isn’t your stereotypical porn user to begin with and would most likely succeed in giving it up for good.”

    Bingo. I don’t identify as a radical feminist, but I’m strongly kink and porn critical and not watching porn is a stipulation of dating me. My ex was porn-free was of his accord, and while my current boyfriend watched porn when we just friends he talked freely about how it negatively affected his ability to keep it up with his then-girlfriend and that he needed to wean off. We’ve since had a lot of interesting debates on the nature of sexuality, conditioning, and gender roles in porn, and he’s been porn free without the limp-dick for a while. Unicorns exist.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I agree, actually. Men who have a genuine openness and interest in feminism and, therefore, are in relationships with women who are anti-sex industry feminists, are not really very likely to be the kind of men who vehemently defend their right to access women…

      I also will say that my last boyfriend, who was very young and dumb, immediately stopped watching porn as soon as I told him I wasn’t ok with it, no questions asked. But I knew he never really “got” why. He just did it because I told him to. Which is kind of… Not the whole point. And was honestly pretty annoying. I want men to stop using porn but I also want them to know WHY they should stop using porn.

      My current partner and I have genuine discussions about this stuff and have even had a couple of arguments about objectification before he really “got” it. I’m not gonna not-my-nigel him so it’s not as though I am so stupid to believe his male socialization/entitlement is gone in a year and half, just because he met me and was introduced to radical feminism, but he’s learning and has a genuine interest in learning and listening, which is extremely important. More important than just blindly going along, imo…

      • Candy

        I agree, blind devotion isn’t the answer. It inhibits the formation of deeper rumination and opinion-forming on this stuff. While I don’t find these women’s feelings unjustified, I do differentiate myself from the women who request their boyfriends abstain from porn because it makes them insecure. I take an ideological stance and I invite men to try to puncture it. They see that they can’t peg me as the jealous woman (as I’m open to polyamorous relationships where most men are not) or a prude (I simply couldn’t be painted as a prude by anyone who knew me), and they see that their “some women like it” kink-related arguments hold little water with me, a kinky woman, so they’re forced to argue, well, “man to man.” I enjoy this, even if some of their justifications and conclusions make me want to hurl blood. I want to influence men with my intelligence, in what my experiences in life have led me to reason. None of this tethering a man by the balls nonsense.

        Having a man interested and willing to go against the “boys will be boys” grain, hearing his insights, having mine respected, seeing his views bloom before me – that’s the shit I like.

      • Bryan Brown

        I have been reading a lot of comments and articles on your site and while I sense a saddening (to me) amount of disdain for men here seemingly simply for the fact that they are men (or do I take you all too seriously and rank low on the humor scale?), the site has opened my eyes as a man and I find it very interesting. I am quite surprised at how I am looking at many things in a completely different way now having read a great deal here and thought about it. I am not going to declare the whole system across the board is a patriarchal f’d-up nightmare for all women but I think a huge part of society’s norms or much of the ‘system’ as a whole, if you will, are stacked against women and it’s unjust. I will say again I’ve been a victim of very frightening femaie aggression so I don’t buy this claim that men commit violence almost exclusively. That’s not my experience. Many many men struggle with the supposed patriarchal system you describe too … why are they committing heinous acts, killing themselves at an alarming rate, harming their families etc? It is not working for most men in fact. Many men out here agree there are huge problems facing women on the planet. Child/women trafficking, discrimination, pay gaps and violence simply are abhorrent to me. I just think more of us have to DO something about it rather than waste countless angry hours putting to rights here by keyboard alone.

  • Tired feminist

    Yeah, I had this same reaction. You know a troll claiming to be a woman is actually a man when the epitome of subjugation they can conceive is… going shopping with his partner.

  • Candy

    You’re making sense. I don’t appreciate it when dismiss women’s rightful insecurities, as men aren’t raised with and bombarded with influencing images and messages the way women are. Even in porn, men, except for the oversized dicks that seem to function as dominance for them to live vicariously through, are generally not presented as particularly threatening to the male audience, are not as young, are not as attractive as their female counterparts. Our reality is a fantasy that’s hard to relate to for them. A huge reason I prefer poly over porn (not that one must choose one or the other to placate dudes) is I find a guy actually having sex with a woman, actually pleasuring her and giving a shit to do so, a lot less objectifying than the same guy jacking off to often-degrading stolen images in which only he benefits. I struggle with issues similar to yours: if I could snap the concept of “beauty” away, I would in a heartbeat. I think it puts people in hierarchies that have little to do with their person (their ~souls,~ my hippy dippy side might say) and contributes to a lot of societal ills. It’s kept me up at night, and I feel it passionately. But unwavering idealism is never satisfied.

    • Rachel

      I wish I saw your comment sooner. That’s exactly what I prefer – I would prefer a partner to have sex with an actu person (I probably wouldn’t be comfortable with poly, as he wouldn’t be with me being poly either – therefore I think it’s an equal commitment for us). However if he were to cheat, I would get over this. And have done so in the past with previous partners. Porn, I would not get over. I’m glad to read someone who has similar views to me and understands the “madness”. He cannot understand why porn (and when I say porn I include what we now call “soft porn” I.e bikini shots and nudes) upset me so much. But yet cheating, although it would hurt, if dealt with openly and honestly, wouldn’t hurt quite as much.

  • Rachel

    That’s true, it really is everywhere. I just feel like there is a difference between coming across that kind of stuff in your day, whilst watching TV and even just walking through the shops, as opposed to actually seeking it out through predominately misogynistic media. Not sure if that makes sense. Like, there’s media that you may enjoy – TV/ music etc where sexualised women are just incidental. And then there’s actively using media which is very sexist, and “liking” scantily clad women/girls on sites which are mainly focused on this – usually cosplayers which is hidden under the whole “oh but she’s sexy and she likes being sexy and she likes games so it’s a-ok”. To me, it just feels like seeking out soft porn and then using the excuse that “it’s everywhere and it’s not even porn”. That probably doesn’t make much sense. I guess it’s just rampant in the gaming community. It’s not that I expect a man to shield his eyes and never see sexualised women – in fact, I don’t want that. I want a man who can come across it and see it for what it is, and see the women and children as humans first and foremost, as opposed to immediately using the socialised “men are visual” excuse and see just sexy objects to look at, appraise, and use. It’s just, it’s hard to be comfortable with knowing that someone seeks this stuff out through very male centric media. Hm. Tricky.

  • omphaloskeptic

    Ah yes, so you’re right! Apologies! I got caught up in things and forgot.

    First of all, let me clarify that I don’t approve of everything that happens under the banner of porn. I think porn can be good or bad, harmful or beneficial, depending on the content and context in which it is presented. I think empirical evidence bears this out. For instance, apparently porn is associated with increased harmful attitudes and behaviours among men who are already low on the “agreeableness” personality factor — in other words, awful people may use porn to justify or fuel their awfulness. But it has also been found to promote connection and sexual satisfaction in some couples. So it depends on what you’re using porn for. Are you doing it to get ideas for how to creatively murder people? Probably bad. Are you doing it to get ideas for how to explore new experiences with your partner? Possibly great!

    As far as I am aware, most of the country-level research into pornography suggests that societies with more pornography tend to have lower rates of sexual assault. There was also a study suggesting that people who view pornography are, on the whole, more likely to hold gender egalitarian ideas. These are correlational studies, so they’re of limited value in establishing causation. But I think it suggests that what you get from porn depends on what you bring to it. As in, pornography may cause great harm when viewed by particular subgroups, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it causes harm across the board.

    As someone with gender egalitarian views, I see some of the troubling things you mention as a way to take the power out of gender inequality. It’s a way to wave your wand and yell “Riddikulus” at the Boggart of sexism. You take this harmful attitude, and you reduce it to something you have power over, something almost silly, something that isn’t scary anymore. It’s a way of caging a hitherto uncontrollable monster and declawing it. The value to me of most art forms is that they allow you to explore frightening things in a safely constrained environment: plays allow you to feel, just for a moment, the wrenching pain of a terrible experience without having to actually endure it. So you can understand it, make sense of it. Sex to me is similar: it is a game of make-believe, or a play in which I am an actor. It brings about catharsis and understanding in the same way that watching a moving play does.

    So I think the stuff you’re talking about falls into two types: (1) a safely constrained exploration of something you’re opposed to and understand as awful; (2) a justification and reinforcement of awful attitudes that you actually hold. I approve of (1) but not (2). I think it’s sometimes hard to discern one from the other from the outside, which can be disconcerting. But I think the right approach, from a societal perspective, is to take actions that make (1) more likely than (2): contextualizing and educating and talking openly.

    Because if we have enough information to contextualize a boxing match as sport rather than cruelty, we can watch it or participate in it without learning that punching someone for no reason is okay. We can see wrestling as a display of skill and an exploration of physicality rather than an act of harm. I think the same thing goes with sexuality. The problem to me isn’t the fact that the content explores taboo tropes. It’s the fact that we don’t provide enough surrounding context to understand it as an exploration of certain attitudes rather than an example or promotion of them.

    In my own life, that is how I declaw sexism. There is something powerful about confronting awful attitudes and bringing them within your control. The question is: Is the other person participating with the same goal, or are they actually just awful? That’s the tricky thing. The same question goes for porn: Are the actors exploring something together — participating in a choreographed and symbolic sexual dance — or are they hurting each other? It can be hard to tell sometimes, but I think you get kind of a spidey sense for it.

    I think we tend to use depictions of violence to explore and take control of our fears a lot. For some 2000 years Christians have used an image of extreme violence — someone dying, tortured cruelly on a cross — as a way of taking control of whatever scares them in their lives, be it religious persecution, or the randomness of suffering, or the fear of death. As a way of connecting with exaltation. (Not that I’m much for religion in general, but I think it’s a similar phenomenon.) We create artistic renderings of terrible violence as a way to explore and understand it — that is what much of art is, that’s why it is cathartic and healing. I see the violent tropes of BDSM porn as much the same thing: a stylized, symbolic version of society’s evils that we use to understand and inoculate ourselves from harm. Porn has cliched and unrealistic tropes because those tropes are symbols. It is a stylized, symbolic form of sexism, one we can use to inoculate ourselves against sexism in the wild. You take the evil and you turn it into a symbol of your own strength. That’s how you win.

    Not that everyone does this. But I think many people do. Eroticization is how I take control of the things that terrify me.

  • genny

    Libfem is ALL ABOUT NARCISSISM. Me me me!!!!