Sunday, 23 March 2014

Thoughts on Porn.


Jumping into ‘The Feminist Sex wars’ (Began in the 80s)

  • There's a difference between porn as a concept and porn as a business/industry.
  • Those who work in porn example of are workers( proletariat/ working class)   therefore by definition, are exploited/oppressed.
  • Why are people more offended by sex workers than sweat shop workers or any other workers.
  • We should not be prudish either. We should not demonize nudity. There's nothing inherently degrading about being naked or images of nudity. It's the context in which it is presented which is the important issue.
  • There's been a problem with puritanical authoritarian kinds of feminism e.g. Dworkin. 
  • There's different types of porn so people experience it differently therefore we should void sweeping absolutist statements about porn. We should neither be uncritical of porn nor totally dismissive of it. This seems another issue in which women are caught between the dangers of two extremes- between avoiding puritanism/repression and  avoiding commodification/objectification and it's not easy to navigate.
  • Lots of the writing on porn is terrible.
  • anti-porn feminists seem to only pick out examples from hardcore porn.
  • I'm opposed to both of the absolutist extremes in this debate. It's requires nuance.
  • I think you can be feminist and watch porn or feminist and take part in the porn industry.
  • Porn is not inherently objectifying or oppressive. There is porn which gives space to show women etc as having personalities, having conversations  and might include people who have real life relationships having sex.
  • I think the kinds of porn which are less oppressive or less objectifying are closer to what sex is like in real life. So that's things like home made or amateur porn.
  • The less directed by someone outside the sex acts  the less oppressive and objectifying.  
  • The less professional/staged/ commercial   by someone outside the less oppressive and objectifying.
  •  Showing conversations either before/during/after sex acts reduces objectification.
  • Humour, mistkes, silliness, imperfection, clumsiness, awkwardness etc reduces objectification.
  • Those who work in the porn industry are sex workers. I'd say the same about those in porn as any other workers - they should totally control their workplaces without bosses/managers/ union bureaucrats/ vanguards or politicians.
  • Sex workers should be unionized globally.
  • The uncritically pro-porn side is inclined to dismiss oppression/exploitation/objectification/commodification. My best example of this is Right-wing Libertarian Wendy McElroy who calls herself a 'Individualist Feminist' .
  • I am equally opposed to censorship (Dworkin and MacKinnon’s position) .Censorship is repressive. It tends to be led or inspire conservative cultural attitudes. Control of sexuality is extremely dangerous and disempowering. Isn’t denying the possibility that  women can choose to watch porn or be in it, a denial of their agency and humanity- the very reason porn is criticized?
  • Censorship has been used to deny rights to LGBT + people.
  • "One aspect of the whole phenomenon of porn that is often left out of the discussion is that of homosexual porn. Much of the pornography produced today shows men having sex with men, with a growing proportion depicting woman-woman sex. The anti-porners tend to ignore homoporn because it gives the lie to many of their arguments."
  • Porn can be sex ed for people who live in repressive environments.
  • Done in a certain way ,representations of cock sucking can express domination and subjection which in the context of patriarchy can seem oppressive. That's not to say it's inherently oppressive.
  • For some reason hardcore porn seems to be the most problematic.
  • Women can and do enjoy porn. 
  • Objectification is a real concept and denial of it weakens anti- capitalism. Representations of women, Trans* people, fat people etc in our current society re terrible pretty much across the board so kinds of  porn aren't  much different.
  • Porn does have negative aspects :Porn can be objectifying( encouraging passivity and disempowerment),can  encourage  bad body images, porn can give unrealistic ideas of sex,relationships,women etc.
  • The problems start when people think certain kinds of porn represent reality - "Some of these men prefer porn to sex with an actual human being. They are bewildered, even angry, when real women don't want or enjoy porn sex"
  • Is what the anti-porn feminists want women to be, a new kind of gender role?
  • Since we exist in a patriarchal capitalist white supremacist society it's inevitable that porn will express that . Porn can and often does express the oppressions of our society. For this reason the porn industry cannot be completely empowering and must by necessity be exploitive and oppressive.
  • BDSM: Is BDSM sexist or oppressive? Not inherently.  Only if it is carried out by people who  re oppressive in our contexts. Carried out by feminists it can be fine. Obviously it should always be voluntary and consensual and under mutually greed conditions.
  • There are people trying to make feminist porn. I think it's good to try though while in our current society I think it's very difficult and wouldn't be mainstream. It's more akin to  a commune within capitalism than real change of the system.
  • I don't believe porn inherently leads to rape but I don't think it's innocent of being part of rape culture sometimes too.
  • Is what we’re seeing a less sexually repressive society? Is that reduced repression being exploited by capitalism? 




 Resources:-

 http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/02/gail-dines-pornography - example of anti-porn feminism.

 
Stoya on Ethics, Porn, and Workers' Rights-  http://www.vice.com/read/stoya-on-ethics-porn-and-workers-rights . Example of pro-porn feminism. But very un-nuanced and not my position.
 

Boston Anarchist Drinking Brigade An Anarchist Defense of Pornography http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/Boston_Anarchist_Drinking_Brigade__An_Anarchist_Defense_of_Pornography.html

-Isn't careful or nuanced  enough for my tastes.

 
 "The rescue industry commits violence against sex workers, if you support people like Somaly Mam and Nickolas Kristof then you need to do some research into what they actually do because unless you think locking sex workers up and taking away their rights and freedoms is a good thing then you need to question who they are really helping"
 
"While our society is highly controlled and deeply sexist, pornography may mirror sexism, but it never created it. Most porn is incredibly stupid and quite evidently exploits women as objects with wide-open orifices, beckoning: “I’m lovely, I’m your plaything, do what you want to me”. However, it is misleading to claim that all porn is violent and dangerous.
Anti-porn campaigners often state that all women hate pornography; adding that all women working in the sex industry are victims. Rather than calling for safer working environments for sex workers, middle class moralists, bigots and intellectuals have called for more repressive laws and social stigma. The result is that it unofficially gives the go-ahead to the way both police and punters brutalise women working in the sex industry — and that is violence and sexism."

"Feminists who want the law to clamp down on porn and the sex industry claim that they are not anti-sex. When pornography has been stamped out they say they’ll be more than happy to see it replaced by ‘erotica’.
Apparently, ‘erotica’ is aesthetically pleasing, whereas porn is simply manipulative. But class prejudice and aesthetics go hand in hand — if the middle and ruling classes like a sexy image, they sanitise it by calling it erotic art. At the same time, the things that turn the working classes on get labelled as ‘smut’. We’re not referring to, or advocating things like the ‘Carry On’ films or ‘Hustler’ magazine either.
Who then has the right to decide what’s art and what’s smut? Usually it’s middle class academics who assume the right. They have never been known to support either class struggle, or in this case, the sexual liberation and freedoms of both working class women and men, regardless of whether they’re gay, straight or bisexual.
They do, however, fulfil a very similar role to the scientists of Victorian England, with their ‘biological arguments’, and the moralists of old who wanted women to be chaste and pure women before they had the right to vote."


"Sex can be and should be enjoyable for all those taking part in it, and we should certainly not be sanctioned and frowned upon if sex is our way of earning a living, feeding our kids, and having a life rather than just surviving.
That doesn’t automatically make prostitution or porn OK — no more OK than having to get up before dawn to build homes for the rich, or clean sewers or get our brains numbed in some production line or other. Neither does this make any excuses for the social fuck-ups and inadequates who rape, molest and abuse. "


Closest to my views is this http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/organise-anarchism-and-sex
From Organise!

Some quotes:-

"However, the view that pornography (and in this case lap-dancing) in some way incites men to commit violence or rape against women is very dubious. Also, the simplistic overview of pornography and the sex industry in general — which is seen as a place where the women involved are super-exploited victims — seems to me to be one built on a form of conservatism or liberalism, crypto-religious moralism, with a large helping of sensationalistic media mythology thrown in for good measure. But only a smattering of this view is based on the actual reality of sex work or the sex industry, which, in truth, is extremely broad and multifaceted. Yes, sections of it are horrendously exploitative, sometimes tantamount to real (non-wage) slavery, and being little more than a means for commercial interests big and small, legitimate and illegal, to coin it in.
But I’d say that (certainly in this country) many sections of the sex industry are no more, no less exploitative than any other capitalist concern and other sections still are about as unexploitative as you can get under capitalism.
So to generalise about the sex industry too much leads to a very limited and naive understanding of it and says nothing about actual conditions there. "

"
Now I tend to think of lap-dancing clubs as, well... crap. But in the socio-economic scheme of things, within capitalism, I’d put them in the above ‘no more, no less’ category of the system’s exploitative industries. In lap-dancing clubs, there are usually strict safety rules of ‘no physical contact’ between dancers and spectators and if you don’t mind being gawped at by some bloke or blokes, then the money isn’t that bad and pays a lot better than most other working class jobs. It’s also the kind of job where you can come and go as you please and the hours can often be quite flexible. True, employers usually discriminate by only employing women deemed stereotypically ‘attractive’ or ‘sexy’ and by having an upper age limit — on the basis of that being what brings in the paying punters.
So as anarchist communists, our attitude to a lap-dancing club should be pretty much on a similar basis to our attitude to a cinema or a foundry or a supermarket — in other words, it’s about business as usual. But, of course, it isn’t that simple, is it? Why do people get so up in arms about these clubs that they want to campaign to shut them down more than they do the local rag trade sweat shop that pays ‘illegal’ workers a quid fifty an hour for a 12 hour day? Is it because in the former a woman has the audacity to dance naked or semi-naked for a few hours for a half-decent wage? Or is it because the campaigners don’t want to have (admittedly not very) naughty goings on behind closed doors in their neighbourhood?
And why are people much less inclined to bother about campaigning against the local rag trade sweat shop? Is it because it’s ‘just a bunch of foreigners’ working there and they actually don’t give a shit about refugees working long hours, in awful conditions with little or no health and safety regulation, and getting paid piss poor money? Is it because working in the rag trade is at least ‘honest toil’ where no one has to get their kit off? Or are people just OK about having those kinds of seedy things going on behind closed doors in their neighbourhood?

Now when talking about what I call this middle bracket of ‘no more no less’ exploitative sections of the sex industry (e.g. lap-dancing clubs), I get the sneaking suspicion that what it all comes down to is morality. What’s really at issue here is that people use their bodies in a sexual manner for money. “And only a really, really exploited person would do that, wouldn’t they? Or someone psychologically damaged... sexually abused as a child... a helpless dupe... someone on the side of the enemy... Well, how can any self-respecting woman allow herself to be objectified in such a way?”
Well I’m sorry to say this, but it’s as if some of us haven’t really moved on from Queen Victoria’s day and sex is still the big taboo it always was. Sex for sale, sex as a commodity, sex in public, sex in print and on film, offbeat, bizarre, kinky, fetishistic, wayward sex, missionary style sex, in fact any kind of sex at all in a public arena is the issue.
People who choose to attack the local lap-dancing club but not their local petrol station do so because of personal morality/moralism about sex. Sex makes it a moral issue because if we were just talking about a simple economic relationship, then it really is as humdrum as the next industry. But we’re not, are we? So, when certain anarchists single out the lap-dancing club or the adult bookshop, they’re not basing their actions on a class analysis, but on what they think is morally good or bad for the rest of us (which actually brings into question their interpretation of anarchism). This elevation of their opposition to the sex industry is a personal moral choice, but it’s got absolutely nothing to do with either a revolutionary class analysis or with anarchism itself"


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

No comments:

Post a Comment