The ‘progressive’ response to Pam Anderson’s anti-porn stance shows how misguided progressives have become

pamela anderson

How did we come to a place where protecting the feelings of male porn users was a top priority for progressives? When did the left become so incredibly apolitical? While I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, the endless responses to Pamela Anderson’s recent anti-porn op-ed, condescendingly telling her how terribly wrong she is to “shame” porn users, go to show how gutless and misguided progressives have become.

“Why Pamela Anderson is wrong to shame porn when denouncing Anthony Weiner,” reads today’s headline at the CBC. Earlier this week, a response by Tina Horn at Refinery29 concluded with an inspired comparison between porn and ice cream, because, as we all know, eating dessert is exactly the same as choking a woman with a dick until she cries (for the record, this is not the first time such a comparison has been made), saying:

“Porn and sexting are treats, just like ice cream. So treat yourself in moderation, if you’re so inclined. And don’t let anyone shame you — you deserve it.”

In The Independent, Cindy Gallop, a former advertising executive who believes the free market will create radical change, has used Anderson’s op-ed as an opportunity to advertise her own project, “MakeLoveNotPorn,” saying:

“The ‘epochal shift’ that needs to happen is for us to stop squawking about porn and start talking about sex. Normalize sex, take the shame and embarrassment out of it, welcome and support ventures like MakeLoveNotPorn designed to educate people about sex in the real world, enable everyone to own their sexuality, express it healthily and celebrate it, and watch the world become a much happier place.”

You deserve it! Let the market regulate itself! Don’t make the oppressor feel bad!

All classic leftist mantras, amirite?

I say “the left” and “progressives,” but of course these people are neither. Nonetheless, these concerns are echoed and largely accepted, today, by those who consider themselves to be both feminist and progressive. Anything declared anti-porn, anti-objectification, or anti-sex-industry is immediately deemed “moralistic,” “pearlclutching,” and “shaming.” But there is nothing progressive about pornography and whether or not those who engage in and perpetuate misogyny feel ashamed is the least of my concerns.

One cannot simultaneously call oneself a leftist while defending a multi billion dollar industry that profits from the exploitation and degradation of women. One cannot call oneself “progressive” while refusing to stand up against the commodification of women and while refusing to challenge an industry that depends upon the absolute selfishness of men who tell themselves that their orgasms are more important that women’s humanity. One cannot claim to care about equality while choosing to defend men’s hurt feelings over women’s hurt bodies. There is no debate. If you are a leftist, you oppose capitalism and you oppose the exploitation, commodification, and abuse of your fellow human beings. You oppose hierarchy, oppressive systems of power, and imagery and ideas that naturalize and sexualize inequality.

While Anderson’s analysis of pornography may not be precisely in line with mine (keeping marriages together is simply not a priority for me — in fact, I don’t think anyone should be getting married to begin with), and while I’m doubtful that her politics are either, the “progressive” response to her position is anything but.

At The Daily Beast, Amy Zimmerman writes, “Pamela Anderson is an icon of sex and screen — which makes her backward, unsubstantiated opinions on pornography even more disappointing.” Wait, what?? If anyone is equipped to critique the reality of the sex industry, it’s women who’ve left the industry and had time to look back and reflect on its impact. The mere fact that Anderson is female makes her well-equipped to speak to the harm of pornography, but the notion that because she herself was objectified within it somehow means she must remain supportive of the sex industry is ridiculous. Like, allow me to introduce you to the hundreds of thousands of prostitution survivors who look back on their time in the sex trade with horror…

While Zimmerman later begrudgingly acknowledges that Anderson is technically allowed to condemn pornography (I guess), she writes Anderson off as “out-of-touch.”

This reaction is familiar and exemplifies how badly the public and oh-so-open minded liberal masses wish to remain in their fantasy bubble, angered any time a woman dares question their lazy (and delusional) party lines: “Sex work is work!” “Porn isn’t real, it’s just a fantasy!” “Men need an outlet — they’ll die if they can’t jack off to racist gang bangs!” “It’s natural, harmless fun!”

Problem is, porn is real and woman are real. Those are real bodies and real people and porn impacts real bodies and real people. Are you really going to tell me that watching a grown man jack off onto the face of a supposed teenage girl has no impact on men’s sexualities and the way they treat women? Do you also believe that connecting orgasms to racist and misogynist ideas won’t shape men’s sexualities and the way they see women and people of colour in real life? If so, you are stupid and also wrong.

In reference to Anderson’s argument that porn contributed to the end of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin‘s marriage, Zimmerman quotes clinical psychologist David Ley, who says, “Calling Anthony Weiner a sex addict is a distraction from the important issues of personal responsibility and mindful choice.” And I actually agree with this statement. Weiner made choices that he should be held accountable for. I do not wish to medicalize his choices to the point where we are expected forgive men for their bad treatment of women and porn use because they’re just sick. Ley, though, goes on to say, “It’s also a sad form of slut-shaming.” Really? Like, really are you worried about “slut-shaming” Anthony Weiner?? Is this where we’re at? (Spoiler: yes.)

The notion that protecting men from feeling any sense of shame over their choice to objectify and exploit women should be of great concern to society is deeply misguided. While shame may not be the best tool we can use to combat misogynistic behaviour, I’m also not particularly worried about men feeling bad about something they should feel bad about. Like, are you also worried about “racism-shaming” racists?? Oooooh we don’t want those white supremacists to feel bad about using the n-word. No no. Too harsh.

Men should collectively feel ashamed about the way they treat women. You treat me as a thing instead of a real human being? Shame on you.

Likewise, on the CBC’s 180, Kristen Gilbert, director of education at Options for Sexual Health, believes shaming pornography and the people who consume it needs to end. She goes on to advocate for “thinking about sex in a positive and healthy way,” saying that “pornography can occupy a space in healthy sexuality”… Hmmmmm butitdoesn’t.

Whether or not you wish or believe that in some alternate universe there could exist some form of something called “pornography” that could maaaaybe “occupy a space in healthy sexuality” (and I’d argue that a thing that literally means “the graphic depiction of vile whores” cannot, in fact, be redeemed), the reality is that it does not. Most porn sexualizes male domination and female subordination and most porn presents women as fuckable bodies that exist for male pleasure. Is this something you imagine “can occupy a space in healthy sexuality?” I suppose if you believe that patriarchy, gender inequality, and violence against women are innately good things you might answer “yes.” But alas, that also makes you a shitbag who has no business speaking about human rights and the progressive project of working towards an equitable society.

The greatest concern progressive defenders of pornography seem to have is that criticizing porn equates to criticizing sex. But hey, wouldn’t it be swell if “sex” wasn’t assumed to be something that harms women? And, in any case, what the hell is wrong with criticizing sex? Is sex some untouchable part of society that must be protected at all costs from critical thinking? Because, in a rape and porn culture, that seems incredibly dangerous.

Gilbert asks:

What about if we taught people that sex is natural and human and beautiful and pleasurable and satisfying? How would we feel about watching porn then? Maybe we would be more inclined to see it as fantasy or a release.”

The obvious answer to this question is that, if we taught people that sex is natural and human and beautiful and pleasurable and satisfying, we wouldn’t watch porn. Because if people really truly believed that sex was intended to be “beautiful and pleasurable” they wouldn’t treat it as a one-sided thing, aimed primarily at getting men off, at the expense of women.

All these concerns about “shaming” men who use porn strike me as incredibly short-sighted. First of all, porn exists to shame women. It is used to hurt us. Increasingly, girls’ private “sexts” to boys are used to punish and humiliate them. The imagery we see in porn, too, explicitly aims to humiliate and degrade women. What other purpose does calling a woman a “bitch” and a “whore” while gagging her with a penis serve? Beyond the literal shaming of women that happens in pornography, though, men use porn to pressure and shame their female partners into engaging in sex acts they wouldn’t otherwise desire. Women who don’t like porn, whether for personal or political reasons (or both), are routinely called “prudes,” both privately, by their boyfriends, and publicly, by — that’s right — other self-described leftists and feminists. What purpose does this serve, if not to shame women into accepting sexual abuse and the degradation of women as not only “normal,” but healthy and sexy.

The fact that even progressives can’t imagine a world without porn is sad. As the left, our duty is to imagine a better world — a world without violence and oppression and hierarchy — and then to fight for that world. These knee-jerk “criticizing is shaming and shaming is bad!” reactions are irrational and beside the point. My interest, with regard to rejecting pornography, is rooted in a desire to restore women’s humanity and to end male power and violence. I have no interest in protecting the feelings of men who are opposed to that project.

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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  • MsTerry

    Jerking off to porn is like jerking off to boxing. It’s “consensual” violence. But only in porn have we been convinced it’s sexy.

    • Hannah

      Also the violence is one-sided in porn, pretty much only the women get it.

      • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

        Yeah, I’ve had people try to tell me, “butbutbut, what about (name extremely tiny niche) porn?!….like…you know….dominatrix porn?”

        Well, most of that has female dominatrixes abusing OTHER WOMEN for one. For two, I don’t give a shit about that. I give a shit about what 90% of people are watching. It would be like if 1000 people were murdered in your neighborhood and I said, “BUT WAAAAAAIT! ONE PERSON WAS MURDERED IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD! PAY ATTENTION TO ME NOW!”

    • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

      One of my favorite things to ask people who are all, “derp but she agreed! she consented! she got paid! derp!” is, “Well, if I offer you $100 to punch you in the face and you take the money and let me punch you, I’ve still punched you.”

      Also, saying those women can’t complain because “they took the money!” is like saying you’re not allowed to get a bruise after I punched you.

  • northernTNT

    And if sex was taught to be pleasurable and ok, we wouldn’t need a “release”. Pretty damned depressing that Kristen Gilbert is the director of education at Options for Sexual Health!

  • Raquel Rosario Sánchez

    I wonder how Pamela Anderson feels about all those think pieces. Genuinely would love to know her thoughts on it.

    Because the way I see it, “the left” (or at least those who wrote the think pieces) are telling her “You were awesome when you were posing naked on magazines and releasing a sex tape. LOVED THAT+TOTES SUPPORT IT! But your opinions about porn culture, now that you’re out of it, are killing my buzz, girl.”

    The Daily Beast said “her opinion piece is unexpectedly conservative, especially coming from a woman who has long been celebrated as an early symbol of sex positivity and female sexual empowerment.” Meaning what? Once your naked pictures are out there, you need to keep toeing that line? Or else you are a prude? This is called coercion. Coercion and shaming by reminding the derailed woman of her former porn fame.

    Telling a woman that we value her when she is naked yet dismissing her when she has opinions about said nakedness that counter what the sex industry has taught us is peak liberal femin… sorry, meant to say patriarchy.

    Pam Anderson, come hang out with us. We are mainly nice (in the radical sense) except to/with sex buyers, porn people, religious bigots, racists fucks, pimps, traffick…. We can find common ground somewhere and build on this!

    • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

      “…peak liberal femin… sorry, meant to say patriarchy.”

      Haha, I’ve been feeling like this more and more lately. And once you see it, you see it everywhere and you can never unsee it.

    • Novo

      How stupid of Daily Beast. The entire point is that she’s a ‘sex symbol’. This is the reality of ‘sex positivity’. She’s lived it. Really impressed by her courage and I hope she gets more involved in activism.

    • Sophie Jameson

      See my post on the same topic. That sex tape was only a turn on if you enjoy a woman being abused by the man who is supposed to love her.

  • Karla Gjini

    thank you

  • melissa

    “The fact that even progressives can’t imagine a world without porn is
    sad. As the left, our duty is to imagine a better world — a world
    without violence and oppression and hierarchy — and then to fight for
    that world.”

    Yes!!

  • One of the most honest, forth-right, and deeply-needed feminist/progressive commentaries I’ve seen in ages. Thank you for this! I could not agree more on the topic of sexual objectification and its harms dealt to all women as a sex.

  • Rurik Omnibus

    Wait a sec: are you implying that ejaculation on a woman’s face is not the most reliable method for bringing her to orgasm???

  • Zuzanna Smith

    Women deserve to be choked with dicks, but men do not deserve to be shamed for wanting to see women be chocked with dicks, got it Tina Horn.

  • Just trying to Understand

    Meghan, overall I do agree with your stance on porn. Would you consider a graphic video of the Karma sutra “pornography”? I’m trying to understand if your definition of pornography is different than “Anything that is Sexually explicit”

    • Meghan Murphy

      It would depend on the imagery in the video. I mean, in our patriarchal context, probably? But I don’t see all nudity or sexual imagery as pornographic, no.

    • Hierophant2

      In general, I follow three criteria to determine if something is pornographic:
      1. Is someone getting paid to perform sexual acts?
      2. Is it a product being sold to people who were not involved in the acts?
      3. Does it show verbal or physical abuse of women?

      • Just trying to Understand

        Would you consider paying a woman to masturbate while you video taped it, pornographic? What if it was a man? What if they posted a masturbation video to a website for no monetary gain? There is no hard fast rules for pornography.

        • Wren

          WTF?? If they’re not getting paid then they’re just an exhibitionist creep.

          And yes, PAYING a woman to masturbate on camera IS PORN. If she just wanted to do it, she would do it for free. The money acts as coercion cause SHE PROBABLY NEEDS IT.

          You are not “just trying to understand” if you refuse to see the difference.
          Duh.

  • frizzled

    “How did we come to a place where protecting the feelings of male porn users was a top priority for progressives?”

    Even more urgent: How did we come to a place where protecting the feelings of mentally ill men who claim to be women was a top priority for progressives?

  • Novo

    Great piece. I hope this gets widely read. Pam A has revealed before that she’s a rape survivor. How sad that the ‘sex-positive’ crowd couldn’t even try to empathize or reconsider their positions for a moment for her. Nope, they had to immediately get defensive because God forbid a man ever feels shame about anything, ever. Let’s stop wealth-shaming the Koch brothers while we’re at it. Maybe they get giant boners from destroying the environment! Maybe Donald Trump just has a sexual fetish for racist comments! After all, there’s plenty of porn featuring just those. Let’s not judge!

    • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

      Sex positive folks tend to be pretty sex negative. If you don’t believe in the sex lives they do, you’re a “slut shamer” or “prude.” So, maybe you don’t want to sext 20 pics of your tits to the frat house or bang 50 guys….that makes you a bad person….so if you’re a “slut” your sexual agency and choices matter. If you’re vanilla or even celibate, then your sexual agency and choices are just there to shame other women or some shit. UGH!

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, I believe the idea is that the ‘unreleased’ man will be violent towards women. He *needs* the ‘release’ of pornography in order to stop him from raping and harassing women. The irony of this, of course, is that porn sexualizes rape, normalizes rape culture, and is used as a tool to sexually harass women. OOPS. LOOKS LIKE THEY DIDN’T THINK THIS ONE ALL THE WAY THROUGH HUH.

    • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

      Have you seen the bullshit articles out of China saying that the shortage of women is making men violent because there aren’t enough women to marry/fuck? They make me indescribably angry.

      ….kill all the girls because we like boys better.
      ….uh oh, ran out of girls.
      ….uh oh, men are violent.
      ….better find women for them to abuse or they might…like…go out and abuse women or something….

      -dies-

      From the most populous nation in the world……

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thank you!

  • Sophie Jameson

    Pamela Anderson’s sex tape was a long time ago, but it was huge at the time. I remember my husband watched it, and found it really upsetting. He described what happened, said who wants to watch a woman being degraded by the man who was supposed to love her? He couldn’t believe that so many men thought it was so sexy when he wanted to scrub his eyes clean. She was very famous but that didn’t protect her from abuse.

    • Just trying to Understand

      It’s been a very long time since i watched that sex tape, but what was so bad or degrading about it? What did your husband describe that was abuse?

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks sister!

  • Independent Radical

    I don’t believe in marriage either. I think it’s unnecessary to waste thousands of dollars on a single day of your life just so the government and the church will acknowledge your relationship, but what Anderson means in this context is that long-term, loving relationships should not be ended because pornography corrupts the mind of an originally decent man. Of course, divorce should be allowed, but divorce is like chemotherapy and an unhealthy relationship is like a cancer and the metaphorical cancer cells are quite often made of pornography. Couples should have to get divorced because they shouldn’t be in toxic relationships to begin with. Pornography makes everything it touches toxic, including marriages and relationships.

    So I think the objection that pornography destroys marriages (if interpreted to mean that it destroys loving, long term relationships) is accurate and something we should be concerned about. Breaks up are not pleasant and should be minimised, not through stigma but through ensuring that there’s no reason for them to occur in the first place. Yes, the rhetoric of saving marriage is somewhat conservative, but in real life, not every who gets married and has their marriages destroyed by pornography is a conservative.

    Is Anderson a fully conscious radical feminist? No. Can her arguments be dismissed because of this or because she shoved her own butt and boobs at cameras? No. It is a fact that pornography destroys the lives of women both within and outside of it, as well as the capacity for men to form truly loving relationships with women and even the capacity of women to form loving relationships with other women, if they let it into their lives. Defending relationships from pornography may not be the most popular position nowadays, even among anti-pornography feminists (who too often try to compensate for their “prudery”, by embracing other aspects of “sexual liberation”), but I’m willing to take a stand for love.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “I don’t believe in marriage either. I think it’s unnecessary to waste thousands of dollars on a single day of your life just so the government and the church will acknowledge your relationship, but what Anderson means in this context is that long-term, loving relationships should not be ended because pornography corrupts the mind of an originally decent man. Of course, divorce should be allowed, but divorce is like chemotherapy and an unhealthy relationship is like a cancer and the metaphorical cancer cells are quite often made of pornography. Couples should have to get divorced because they shouldn’t be in toxic relationships to begin with. Pornography makes everything it touches toxic, including marriages and relationships.”

      I agree, though I guess I am generally averse to arguments that focus on ‘family’, as though keeping families together should be our top priority. I don’t value marriage for political reasons and I think the heterosexual family structure is obviously flawed as well.

      “It is a fact that pornography destroys the lives of women both within and outside of it, as well as the capacity for men to form truly loving relationships with women and even the capacity of women to form loving relationships with other women, if they let it into their lives.”

      Yes, for sure. Her angle just wasn’t particularly compelling to me from a leftist/feminist perspective. Though I don’t think she is wrong.

  • I think researchers have found an effect even when the porn is not abusive. I think the difference is in whether content is sexual or not – iirc nonsexual nudity has a different effect from sexual content.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thank you for letting us know, marv!

  • Sara Marie

    Thanks for speaking out about this, Meghan.

    Pam Anderson’s name brings back so many memories from my childhood. I never expected her to speak out against porn, and it seems so wrong to say that someone who has direct experience in the porn industry can’t be against it. Um, because, why?

    Anderson’s image was used to groom a lot of girls in my age range. Though, of course, she herself was also a victim of repeated sexual abuse.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

    Anyone know where to access the article that’s not behind a paywall?

    • esuth

      I think it’s quoted in full in the comments on the post about it on gender critical subreddit.

  • cday881@gmail.com

    But does avoiding shaming them help? At some point we may need to reduce if not eliminate porn. Or at least have genuine sex education so that teens can develop healthier views on sex.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

    So women are responsible for as much or more domestic violence than men, and yet women are the ones who end up dead. Dutton’s leaning a little “bitches be asking for it” in that second link. My brother had NO problem having the police arrest and charge his girlfriend for domestic assault after HE hit HER over the back with a chair. Interestingly, he’s expressed an interest in “men’s rights” in the past.

  • marv

    Anyone making that much money has an obligation to speak out against the inequalities of capitalism. If they cared they could collectively make a difference. Dishonor on them for remaining silent.
    Public ridiculing can be a useful tool in thwarting men from porn and prostitution use. Fear of being openly humiliated is a motivator for crime avoidance. John shaming is rational and effective.

  • Fanny

    As Tom Cruise would say in Magnolia, “RESPECT THE COCK”.

  • fragglerock

    Right! It’s not like porn is the result of crafty editing that only makes it SEEM like these women are getting pounded in every orifice. NOBODY is going to die without porn. I had a REALLY disturbing conversation with my younger brother recently in which he argued that it was somehow part of women’s right to life, liberty and happiness to get f@$!ed for money. When I told him I was against it, he looked as though a piece of his soul died–which may be true, but it probably happened the moment he was exposed to that crap.

    • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

      And how could he NOT believe that when even “feminists” are telling him that? Virtually NO ONE is challenging the, “HERPADERP AGENCY DERPDEEDERP EMPOWERMENT,” argument and anyone who does is relentlessly discredited.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Right. Being rich is still a choice. (And I’m not really talking about people who make $100K a year — some people make this much in academia and I don’t think that’s the worst thing in the world… But people who make millions and billions? Yeah… I kinda do blame them. They made a choice to support capitalism. No one needs that much money and generally people who are wealthy have gotten wealthy on the backs of others, somewhere down the line. You know, their family had slaves, or owned exploitative companies, became real estate tycoons, were engaged in otherwise unethical businesses, etc.

    • Tinfoil the Hat

      YES. You can’t be THAT unequally wealthy without some already disenfranchised people having been exploited somewhere.

  • Meghan Murphy

    xx

  • Meghan Murphy

    Missed the response to his position on porn, but after speaking out against prostitution, in solidarity with VRR, AWCEP, etc. he was accused of moralizing, not being ‘nuanced’ enough, perpetuating ‘whore stigma’, of being ‘vulgar’ and ‘triggering’, of ‘not listening to sex workers’, ‘ignoring agency,’ being a white saviour blah blah blah

    http://www.feministcurrent.com/2015/04/20/male-progressives-who-support-harm-reduction-need-a-lesson-in-feminism-and-in-radicalism/ https://ricochet.media/en/411/whose-conference-is-this-anyway
    http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/views-expressed/2015/03/chris-hedges-should-speak-sex-workers-not-them?utm_content=buffer80dae&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
    https://twitter.com/derrickokeefe/status/581678151199109122 https://twitter.com/derrickokeefe/status/580254891269992448
    https://twitter.com/publictransprt/status/674050456147087362

    These bros all loooooved Hedges up until the moment he spoke out against the sex industry.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, well, casually I do kind of see people who make 100k a year “rich” because, in comparison to what I make, they seem that way. When I was a teenager I thought anyone who owned a house was “rich.” Nonetheless, really, the 100k a year people are not the problem and I don’t think anyone who understands class and capitalism believes they are. Poverty doesn’t exist because of people who make 100k a year. Many more people could make 100k a year and we could still ensure that everyone else made a decent wage. The reference made was to the Koch brothers, who cannot be compared to an academic making 100k a year. The Koch brothers are billionaires and I don’t believe it is possible to be an ethical billionaire. You can be an ethical person and still make 100k a year and I can’t imagine how any rational person would deny that.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I have read and written about ongoing sexism on the left and am aware (and have included this history in my work numerous times) that radical feminism began specifically because the New Left not only refused to acknowledge or address women’s rights/sexism, but were in fact misogynist themselves.

    This time, though, I’m not talking about *just* men. I’m talking also about women who fancy themselves ‘progressive’ and even feminist (and I don’t believe in a feminism that isn’t leftist/socialist). So I suppose that’s the thing I’m seeing now that’s different — feminism and progressivism that is neither feminist nor progressive.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, I agree that no person really *needs* to make more than 100k a year. After that it just gets excessive. I guess I tend not to feel so perturbed when it’s academics making that kind of money, because I think academia is a valuable thing for society. Like, I don’t necessarily think an academic who makes 100k a year is a capitalist, nor do I think that their income rests on exploitation. The problem of poverty and class has nothing to do with academics who make 100k a year — there are soooo many people in this world who are getting rich off of unethical things/industries and I think we should be focusing on them (and, of course, the system). All that said, I mean, I get what you’re saying. I’ve only recently passed the point of surprise at realizing how much more money most of my friends were making, as compared with me… (Who all likely are very amused by my income.) I feel enormously resentful towards all the rich people in Vancouver (again, people I consider ‘rich’ haha — i.e. the loser yuppies buying up condos on Main st), pushing the rest of us out of our neighbourhoods. It always seems like this big mystery — where does all their money come from?!?! People’s money always astounds me. I don’t understand how some people can make so much while others make so little.

  • Wren

    “Porn is about necrophilia”
    YES!!! Exactly, they are watching a woman being killed slowly. Same with prostitution. Sooooo many killed.

  • Si Llage

    How do you know she didn’t try speaking with liberals and libertarians first before deciding to go with support from conservatives instead of sniggers from liberals and libertarians?

  • Meghan Murphy

    But people who make 100k a year *aren’t* really the problem. That’s not how class works and that’s not how this system works. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are capitalists. I mean, Microsoft and Facebook are huge corporations. Seeking to be billionaire is not a respectable or ethical goal.

    • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

      Don’t feed the troll.

  • Bleeps

    I personally don’t care if men and women are divided. I have no desire to see the sexes come together or to help men be better or ‘understand’.

  • susannunes

    It is all human rights violations regardless. It is exploitation regardless of the sexual acts being depicted. However, the vast majority of it is heterosexual and designed for het male consumption.

  • LuckPushedMeFirst

    I think it could be possible to have truly egalitarian porn *if* no economic coercion or violence/degradation are involved, so it would have to feature amateurs. And the problem with “amateur porn” is that it generally isn’t: it’s a porn studio gimmick designed to fool the viewer into thinking they’re watching something “purer” and completely spontaneous.

    “Feminist porn” (the kind with actual ethical standards and not the kind that tries to sell body diversity and the addition of a story as “feminist) is undoubtedly a better option than the standard fare. And as a visual person who’s readily aroused by erotic imagery, I can appreciate the goal you have in mind. I think the primary obstacle to changing society by way of changing the kind of porn men view is that “feminist porn” would already be the standard if that’s what men wanted.

    There’s also the well-documented “slippery slope” phenomenon to contend with. The kind of porn a person routinely views will fail to elicit the same level of excitement at some point in time, causing them to seek out more extreme porn in order to get the erotic rush back they’ve been missing. When men use porn regularly this phenomenon becomes unavoidable. Porn isn’t just an orgasm facilitator, it lights up the same reward center in the brain that drugs do. It’s ridiculously easy to get addicted, and once addicted, people will go to great lengths to recreate the high they’ve become dependent on.

    There are other, not insignificant, concerns. Porn artificially stimulates libido. There’s a sustained effect that doesn’t occur when masturbating without it, which means normal male sexuality gets a big, unnatural boost that can lead to, well, a host of problems ranging from pestering an SO for more sex to sex addiction/affairs. Just MHO, I think the myth of the Almighty Insatiable Male Libido
    probably stems, in part, from the mass production/consumption of pornography.

    It’s probably easier for us to decide it’s too much of a health risk and do away with it outright than try to impose reforms on it, but I don’t think any of us see that happening any day soon.

  • LuckPushedMeFirst

    Many of those “gay/lesbian porn actors” are actually straight. When you’re already willing to put your physical/mental health on the line for cash, playing gay isn’t that big of a deal.

    As for the real gay porn (which neither you nor I could determine by watching it– it’s not as if the actors are in it for the joy of sex), it usually mirrors heteronormative power dynamics. There’s still a “dominant” and a “submissive”, and the violence and degradation that go hand-in-hand with het porn. Economic coercion is the motivation for doing porn 99.99% of the time (only a tiny minority of porn stars make it big). If you’re doing it for money, you’re not really consenting to sex, you’re consenting to letting yourself be used sexually. A society that genuinely embraces the concept of enthusiastic consent would have no place for *any* type of coerced sex.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Very true, very true. Nice how they’ve cut out so many tenure track positions, but all these administrative higher ups got to keep their high salaries, eh?

  • Tinfoil the Hat

    “Release” is male orgasm. In my day, no release merely meant “blue balls” (not an actual physical ailment). Today, lack of release apparently means dudes have to murder someone.

    • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

      I lived in Japan for a while and every time you go into any kind of sex shop, you see the huge porn section….and there is a tiny section for “regular” porn, a tiny section for lesbian porn, a tiny section for black porn, a tiny section for gay porn, and like THREE FUCKING WALLS of rape porn! Seriously. It’s actually labeled “rape” in the way that books are labeled as “Science Fiction” or “Biographical.” After I got to be pretty friendly with several Japanese people, I couldn’t help but ask, “What’s with all the rape porn?”

      Every.

      Last.

      One.

      Said the same thing, “Well because if men don’t fantasize about rape, they will go out and do it. This is a way for them to get it out of their system.”

      …..

      • Rachel

        That is so disturbing.

  • Si Llage

    I don’t expect her to be a radical feminist and that’s okay with me. I didn’t emerge from my time as a porn-using libfem as a 100% onboard radical, I got there step by step, and I won’t judge women making their way up through the sewers because they’re not going fast enough.

  • Tinfoil the Hat

    I HATE AlterNet. Eric Alter is a sexist asshat.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Going the same way in Canada.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Totally good point. I was thinking of individual people, who were taking care of themselves. All that said, yeah, 100k doesn’t = rich — clearly not if that’s meant to sustain a family.

  • Zuzanna Smith

    You’re right, it doesn’t work but we’re going to do it anyway, we’re brave and stunning that way.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Totally insane and backwards.

  • Wren

    Exactly on all points. I didn’t understand anything about trauma, even though I have tons of it, until I started reading A LOT, such as Judith Herman and Bessel Van der Kolk.These books are all about trauma and somatic symptoms. Their books are tough reading cause they’re pretty academic, but you don’t need to read all of it to get the point. I also really find comfort in books by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz. Many of the stories are really inspiring. But anyway, the point is that they are all about the physical and mental effects of trauma, and how some “mental illnesses” are really a natural and logical reaction to abuse and chronic fear.

    I guarantee that all women in porn have sexual trauma and already have the ability to dissociate. Sometimes researchers ask them and they say “nooo, I have no trauma” but I would probably have said the same thing if someone asked me that when I was prostituted. Denial is a coping strategy many exploited women have to use to survive.

  • Wren

    And, although I’m grateful for Obamacare, schools have restricted course loads for adjuncts so they don’t have to provide insurance. So now my department has like 40 adjuncts.

    Thankfully I now also teach in a community non-profit so I get insurance there. But for many years, it was a real struggle.

  • Wren

    “Sex addiction” is non-existent ailment men created to get sympathy fucks.

  • TheMagus84

    Porn that has women who are doing it under duress would not be healthy or respectful so I don’t know why you thought that I would condone that.
    Many women enjoy making porn. I am not one to tell women what they can & cannot do. If some women want to make healthy porn because they enjoy doing it then who are we to tell them they can’t?
    I am obviously against women being disrespected & abused so I don’t know why you would reply with such hostility.

    • Wren

      “I am not one to tell women what they can & cannot do”

      What an arbiter of freedom you are!!!

      And what was so hostile about my statement? That I said men should respect their partners??? Seriously, you are incredibly transparent.

    • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

      Some black people like being slaves too so who am I to tell them they can’t be? Did you know that more acres of land were owned by black people in the Jim Crow days than now? So some of those black people must have been really empowered, so I suppose I’m not one to tell people they CAN’T live under Jim Crow because that’s their choice.

      The problem with this argument of, “Butbutbut SOOOOOOME women like it,” is used to excuse the 99.9% of women who don’t. Everyone hears of that one porn performer who just looooooves what she does (and btw, be very cautious to trust a porn performer who is still in the biz; these women still have to make a living and if they get up and say, “No, this is horrible, I hate it, it’s abusive,” do you think anyone will hire them again?), and they assume, “Well, SHE does this because SHE likes it, so I suppose all these women must like it too.”

      The other problem with these “empowered” women (who are imaginary, btw) is that they are causing harm to other women. Sure, you can feel good about yourself because you like doing porn, but you are actively making the world less safe for women and girls. I’m not interested in supporting the career decisions of anyone who is that selfish. If people end up in porn because they don’t have a choice, I can’t really say anything bad about them. No woman should be blamed for her own exploitation. But all these “happy, empowered porn stars” who don’t actually exist can fuck right off. I don’t care about them AT ALL. I care about the 99% of women who didn’t end up their on purpose.

      If your empowerment throws the rest of the female sex under the bus, it’s garbage,

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, I mean, I say “the left” in this post because these are the arguments preferred by those who consider themselves leftists — of course these are liberal arguments and these leftists are, in fact, liberals themselves. Like you say, the left has been almost completely destroyed in the US.

    “…but instead are presented with a schizophrenic ping-ponging between what purports to be radicalism and flaccid libertarianism.”

    Totally! This is a great way of putting it. They seem to pick and choose positions based on what sounds cool or radical without thinking about what is at the root of the arguments and whether or not they are indeed radical.

  • I think it’s that the content is sexual, and sexual content leads to arousal, which increases aggressiveness. Sex and violence in the media have similar effects in that way. Obviously context is also an issue, but even erotica is a problem. Nudism is not, though, apparently, if you can present it in a way that people won’t sexualize.

  • Wren

    “She’s not a politician, she’s a woman in this world, trying to wade
    through all the shit and lies she’s been fed. Imagine waking up and
    realising how disgusting men that used her really are, and that her
    entire life was dedicated to men jacking off over her. Gross. Poor
    woman.”

    Yes! I think many of us have been through that to a certain extent. If you are or have been abused, part of how you deal with it is to lesson your sense of self. You begin to feel that you that you deserve it because that helps to survive it, so you deny the abuse AND your own self-worth. For a loooonnnggg time I felt subhuman because to think that I was really, truly a worthwhile person just made it so much more tragic.

  • Wren

    very accurate

  • Jeanne Deaux

    The U.S. government first killed off and then jailed and deported many of the most active members of the Left when we still had a Left. It became literally life-threatening to espouse liberationist sentiments. Even when the government relented on the killing thing or–more likely–public sentiment turned against it, they could still threaten livelihoods for a good long time afterward, hence the House Un-American Activities Committee and other such institutions. I guess at some point we came to an uneasy truce where suddenly it was OK to talk about leftist stuff in the universities but that still comes with a heaping helping of loud complaint and noisome “exposés” and occasional threats of defunding.

    It’s no wonder leftism is not taken seriously when it’s just an intellectual exercise to these assholes.

    • Tobysgirl

      I think you are totally correct. Thus speaketh the daughter of a Communist father and a mother who was too radical to be admitted to the Communist Party (I’m talking 1930s here), her radicalism including feminism (she thought the CIO should be organizing secretaries).
      One must be willing to die for one’s beliefs and I strongly doubt the leftists in comfortable positions would be willing to do so. There are fragments of a left in the U.S. but we are isolated and marginalized to a fantastic degree while so-called progressives supposedly speak for us, one reason it is so important for actual radicals to resist, loudly and emphatically, crap notions such as transgenderism and prostitution as “empowerment” (god, how I hate that word).

  • Jeanne Deaux

    Some of us don’t actually like to be fat and feel that it’s not going to be good for our health in the long run. That might just be because we understand our own situations and WHY we’re fat and WHAT is involved with that as far as our bodily functions are concerned. In my case it’s a strong maternal family history of type 2 diabetes and that is the very worst kind of diabetes family history, since diabetes is an error of metabolism and you get your mitochondria (which drive a great deal of your metabolism) from your mother. Now I don’t believe obesity causes type 2. There are skinny diabetics and they aren’t all type 1s. But at the same time something is driving both the obesity and the diabetes and if I want to get rid of it, and possibly lose weight, I reject ANY effort to call me a “shamer” over that.

    If you’re fat and you’re actually healthy, not “I haven’t been to a doctor in thirty years because I’m afraid of what they’ll tell me” or “I don’t count metabolic syndrome or hypothyroidism as bad health,” then good for you. You do you. I would fight to the death for your right to do you. That’s fine. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

    Frankly someone who’s fat for medical reasons, as in it IS a sign of bad health, have nothing to be ashamed of either.

    (And getting fat drives overeating, not the reverse.)

    But you don’t get to shame me for not wanting to be fat, either. End of.

  • Wren

    yikes

  • will

    With sincere respect to all of the replies here, I do hope you all are right and she’s working her way out of the psychological imprints of being an object for masturbation and an abuse survivor. However, she is not just a woman in this world; she’s a celebrity with a great deal of social power. She has used that power in her role as the figurehead of a nefarious organization that has done significant damage to Inuit and northern communities. I cannot easily forget the extreme colonialism of PETA simply because she has recently aligned herself with an ultra-conservative reality TV clergyman who, himself, is anti-porn while continuing to be deeply sexist. I honestly hope that she will continue to deepen her critique and that we’ll see more statements from her about the damages of objectification as well as pornography. Maybe eventually she’ll also think and speak about the extreme classism and racism of the organization whose broad public power she helped to build.

  • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

    Way to miss the point entirely. I sniff a libfem.

  • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

    Have you read the article on this site about pedo culture? It’s a great example of what you’re talking about….way too young looking women being hypersexualized.

    I spent a few years in Japan and at the time my friends and I were horrified at the obsession with pedophilia. Everything was all about pre-teen girls and it was just considered normal and ok. We talked about how, in the west (at the time) it was different, that maturity was seen as a good thing, deep raspy voices were sexy, curves were sexy, experience was sexy…..Fast forward to today and we’re in the same goddamn place that I was horrified by 10 years ago. Now it’s all about talking like a baby and basically being a perpetual 10 year old with DD implants.

    ….Oh, but perhaps I should stop slut shaming and pedo shaming. XD

    • Rachel

      I have read that article – thanks for the reminder thought because I should read it again. I sometimes do that with articles on this site, as it helps me realise I’m not mad after all.

      You know, funny you mentioned Japan. I have always thought that obsession was strange also. I think it may be a bit the same in China? Not completely sure though, so don’t quote me. Sometimes I think it’s just me that thinks things have gotten worse than 10years ago. I was in my teens/ early 20s then, and I remember being envious of women who were well… Women. Not that I think any woman should be envious, but as young girls we are encouraged to be jealous of other women, especially those who receive more male attention. So when I was growing up, there was a focus on men being attracted to grown up women. Sure, there were still predators going after teens, but that was considered disgusting and abhorrent. Now, it’s pretty much expected that men should lust after teens (I make little disrespect between young or older teens, as they’re all too young for grown men). So many men make the excuse that “they look older than they are” but it’s just not true. A bit of makeup and high heels doesn’t make them look older. They still look like young people dressing as adults, it’s just men will use any excuse they can to lust after kids and teens these days.

      Like you said, it was prevalent in some cultures, but now it’s everywhere. I remember when Britney Spears posted in her underwear (no terribly revealing by today’s standards), and she was only 17 – there was a big uproar about it! Now, no one blinks an eye, because it’s absolutely everywhere. Ugh. Not only is the objectification of women in general, hard enough to swallow, but teens and kids too – it makes me not want to be on this planet anymore at times. Especially when men close to you leer at them, or act all stupid around them also. Is it safe anywhere?!

  • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

    Oh, but wait, there’s an answer to that! They’re just shills! They weren’t cut out for the job! Ok, maybe they were traumatized, but I’m empowered!

    -sigh-

    A little but of me dies whenever some mouth breathing libfem tweets #listentosexworkers. I’m like, I have….and that’s why I believe the sex trade is fucking horrible….but I’m not supposed to listen to THOSE sex workers. I’m supposed to listen to the fake Happy Hooker narrative…..-sigh-

    I have no hope.

  • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

    A wild TROLL appeared!

  • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

    That’s not true at all. Try yourbrainonporn.com.

  • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

    The funny thing is, the people who are always going on about “slut shaming” are the ones who are…well…slut shaming her.

    “Well, she’s a slut so she doesn’t get to complain about porn!”

    Um.

  • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

    AND OMMGGGGGG! You know porn actually saved my marriage! Because I never knew that I wanted a guy to choke me with a cock or cause me anal prolapse! It’s SUUUUUCH a good marital aide…..

  • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

    Also, what asshole DOESN’T cry when animals are hurt in movies?!

  • Katie MunchmaQuchi Smith

    There’s a reason so many porn performers grow up to bite the hand that feeds them….that hand was feeding them feces! Now that she has enough money to never have to go back the that kind of work, she can speak. This is why I don’t put too much trust in the hands of current porn performers. They still have to go to work the next day. If they come out and say how horrible it is, no one will hire them.

    • Rachel

      Exactly. Completely agree – they have no way out at that current time, whether it’s through no financial stability, being abused by a pimp, addiction, or even not being emotionally or mentally ready to leave – of course they aren’t going to tell of the abuses of the potn industry. They have to go back the next day. Funny how 99% of porn survivors who manage to escape, have nothing nice to say about it…

  • Meghan Murphy

    What planet are you living on?? Like, in what universe would feminists *ever* advocate to prosecute women who videotape consensual sex in their homes?

  • marv

    It’s not about prosecuting women in porn. Porn is hate speech so the objectified (the majority women) should be able to litigate against pornographers (overwhelmingly men) who have caused women harm through pornography whether they are porn models or any women.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipornography_Civil_Rights_Ordinance

  • Meghan Murphy

    You are ridiculous. No feminist has advocated to prosecute women who tape consensual sex privately in their own homes. You think that is what feminists are after, when they talk about fighting porn and the porn industry? Really??

  • I see you’re stll on here tearin it up, keep going sis- U make alot of sense. I see u

  • anne

    Holy shit Wren, you are absolutely right. It didn’t even occur to me, it’s too sick to contemplate, but it’s a likely truth. Yikes.