Porn use and Feminism...

(73 Posts)
MaBaya Mon 08-Oct-12 11:06:29

I am starting this off the back of a few recent threads. I'd really appreciate opinions, as it is something I struggle with on various differente levels. I would really like to achieve some clarity of thought on the issue!

I enjoy watching porn. I class myself as a feminist. I will go into much more detail a bit later but generally, thoughts?

FoodUnit Fri 12-Oct-12 12:48:39

Oh no! I wish I hadn't started looking at this thread.... As far as I've heard, the only difference between porn and feminist porn, is that in feminist porn the male performers are paid more. The controlling, abusive, misogynist acts and patriarchal narratives are no different when made by a woman who claims to be feminist.

Kritiq: Yup, and women are working to counter the misogynist messages in media by making media that isn't misogynist: feminist writers, artists, musicians, film-makers. And feminist pornographers.

KRITIQ Fri 12-Oct-12 11:02:00

In my view, it's all part of a "cornucopia" of sources of misogynist messages in society. Just because one is concerned about the messages conveyed by porn doesn't mean one can't also be concerned about the messages coming from other forms of popular culture, or indeed by how the "normalisation" of imagery and messages from porn has influenced other aspects of popular culture.

Actually, yeah you're right sad

It's mostly women's pain we are invited to enjoy in mainstream media, which further reinforces the fact that porn is a reflection of society, not an industry which drives people's attitudes. Look at the abuse and mockery showered on the likes of Kerry Katona (a woman with blindingly obvious mental health issues and subzero self-esteem), look at all the 'makeover' shows which concentrate on making women cry, look at all the slut-shaming on the Jeremy Kyle-type talkshows...

True, SGB, I just object to the idea that we should put up with shit because other women have to put up with worse shit elsewhere. Can't we aim for better than that?

I agree that mainstream culture is getting crueller but with reality shows and the like, the cruelty is not gendered in the way that porn is. It's not 'people's' pain we are invited to enjoy in porn, it is the vast majority of the time women's pain, mostly inflicted by men for the enjoyment of mostly other men.

Twibble Thu 11-Oct-12 12:30:05

Plenty I did say 'as things stand ' . I agree that no country on earth currently enjoys utopia with regard gender issues. But I will not revise my claim that current western culture is better for women than many existing alternatives. That isn't to deny that there is plenty to do yet. And i am aware that as a privileged male that is an easy thing to say, but i truly believe it. Apologies will have to leave discussion now, phone dying. Peace.

It is broadly true that the countries with a more liberal attitude towards porn are the countries with a better track record on women's rights (not just their 'right to be a fucktoy for men, but, you know, better representation of women in positions of power, state-funded childcare, commitment to equality, all that sort of thing... I am thinking Scandinavia and Holland, mostly).

As to the current 'worsening' of porn content ie that it is more violent/malevolent towards women, I think (and have said before) that this is a reflection of mainstream culture, which has been getting much crueller. THink of all those 'reality' shows which take vulnerable and unstable people and abuse them till they crack up, while the audience are encouraged to laugh at their pain...

Bananas, I think actually I probably mostly agree with you (don't get me started on the iphones!) but I'm just less hopeful re the possibility of 'reforming' the industry. I think it's just too rotten.

I'm also too much of a leftie to want a ban. I guess I just want to see more awareness of the harm caused, so that casual and occasional users might decide to give it a miss. I'd like to see it less normalised, so there is less impact especially on young people.

To me the biggest problem is the conflation of porn and sex. It's so hard to argue against the porn industry without being accused of somehow being against sex, or being repressed or whatever.

I think sex is a very important part of human life. I think we should strive to enjoy it in ways that do not cause harm or exploitation for other people. To me, that means the vast majority of porn is out.

TeaAndHugs Thu 11-Oct-12 11:44:15

Porn is one of those things that I don't think is intrinsically wrong, but have a lot of problems with in practice. Filming people having sex (with their permission of course!) and watching the film are not immoral actions. But the porn industry as it stands is often exploitative and produces porn that is often disturbing in the way it portrays women. I think porn should be improved so that the women involved are better treated, not banned.

I dunno, I thought it was pretty much the norm for men to freely choose partners, to not have sex they don't want with people they are afraid of, to be allowed to be a fully rounded person and not just a sexual object ... these are just normal human rights aren't they? Is it really idyllic and utopian to want human rights extended to both halves of humanity? hmm

Just because bad things are happening in that country >>>>> over there, doesn't mean we can't also look at the (different but related) bad things that are happening right here, especially as we are more likely to be able to change things here than in another country.

The problem here is not a lack of taboos around sex and nudity. I'm all for uninhibited, joyful sex and a matter-of-fact attitude to nudity and the human body. That is not what we have here though. What we have is the commodification and control of women for men's pleasure and at the expense of our own. The massively pornified culture we live in does oppress women and your pronouncement that this is better for us than the only alternative you can possibly conceive of - another system which oppresses women - comes from an incredibly privileged position.

I suspect that if women stopped having sex they didn't want there'd be quite a drought in the porn supply, at least in the short term. Maybe it would morph into something different that didn't abuse or oppress. It would be good to find out.

Twibble Thu 11-Oct-12 10:34:44

As an afterthought I would say that I find hardcore porn a real turn off, so I have no personal interest in defending it from that point of view.

Also, my text predictor turned 'hardcore porn' into 'hereford born' which sounds even more ghastly.

Twibble Thu 11-Oct-12 10:28:18

Hi plenty, I agree with every word of that.
Really my point was addressed to the poster who implied a causal link between pornography and the oppression of women in a society. Your idyllic sexual utopia sounds wonderful but no country on earth has truly achieved it. But as things stand the countries with less taboos about sex and nudity seem closer to it than those that stigmatise sexual freedom and pleasure
and sexual freedom and pleasure will bring porn along with it whether we want it or not.

Sorry about dodgy typing, writing this on a tiny mobile on a train...

SGB, I think sex will continue to be a bit of a 'front line' for feminism as long as the patriarchy continues. It's my (possibly crude) understanding that the patriarchy is all about men as a group controlling women as a group through their sexuality and fertility. At the same time, sex is the most intimate encounter we have with members of the oppressive group and by its nature it inevitably involves our physical and emotional vulnerability. Before somebody says it, I'm sure your nigel is lovely (so is mine :-) ) but lots and lots of women are not so lucky. We are all brought up in a toxic soup of misogynistic messages about sex and women. It's near impossible, IME, to totally disregard all these messages and not to let it affect how we relate sexually to each other and ourselves.

It seems to me, without any serious research admittedly, that sexually repressed nations are usually more oppressive to women than sexually 'liberated' ones. Crudely put I am sure most of you would rather be female in, say, germany than in most Arabian coutries. I stand to be corrected though if this simplistic worldview is misleading.

Twibble, your simplistic worldview is misleading smile

It's not a question of women either offering themselves up as fucktoys for whatever man wants to have sex on them (as happens in 'liberated' societies) or being outright owned by one man and covered in a giant bag so no other man sneaks a peek (as happens in 'repressed' societies).

Why should we settle for either of these scenarios? Neither of them has anything to do with women's pleasure.

We could instead just have enthusiastic consensual sex when we want it, and only when we want it, with partners we have freely chosen and who we at least fancy a bit and are not afraid of. Maybe we could even not have our entire worth reduced to our sexuality, you know, as if we were actual human beings wink

getmorebananas Thu 11-Oct-12 09:10:06

Not sure if this fits in but will give it a go....

If it was found that some brands of vibrators ( non essential pleasure ) were manufactured in exploitative circumstance would that warrent banning all vibrators or should efforts go into improving working conditions ?

< leftfield >

raincy Wed 10-Oct-12 23:04:44

If I am understanding SBG, I think she's saying that people seem determined to separate porn from other unethical industries because it is for "non-essential pleasure" (e.g. sex) as opposed to something fundamentally needed, like clothes, food, oil et. People on this thread have said that people should be more resolute in their determination to renounce porn than other unethical industries/products, because it is not an essential product and only serves the purpose of pleasure.

But actually as others have pointed out, lots of other products are only for pleasure. We don't need to eat animals, in many ways it would be better if we didn't and e stuck to grain and vegetables. But we farm, kill and eat them anyway, because they taste good. We don't need to spend so much money on clothes, shoes, cars etc, we could all get by with less than what we think we need, and contribute to unethical industries and imparity and injustice much less. But we buy a lot of what we buy not because we need it but because we like it, aesthetically, or we like the convenience it affords us, or the way it makes us feel. Porn isn't needed for survival, but I'm not yet convinced that means we should feel more compelled to renounce it than we should other unethical practices. But I think some people feel that it's worse than other things because it involves sexual pleasure instead of any other type...

Again I would repeat that I'm not trying to say "well yeah maybe its wrong but so is lots of other stuff so what the hell I'll keep doing it anyway". I'm just trying to engage with some of the arguments on the thread.

raincy Wed 10-Oct-12 22:52:09

Oh, and PlentyofPubeGardens (wow, what a name!) thank you for your response to my post on the last page. It's something I will be thinking about.

raincy Wed 10-Oct-12 22:49:44

I have a question: how do people feel about the morality of erotic writing that portrays rape, sexual abuse, violence etc? From some of the erotica sites I occasionally look at, these categories of writing seem to be very popular (I would add that I do not read them myself, nor am I inclined to).

Is it morally acceptable to get off on reading and writing about these acts because real bodies aren't involved and real people aren't being exploited? How does that compare to watching the same story consensually acted out by real people? Or to watching porn that appears consensual and non-violent but possibly involves an "unseen" element of co-ercion or sexual abuse?

KRITIQ Wed 10-Oct-12 22:39:02

Sex does not equal porn, simples. I seriously don't understand why you wish to conflate the two.

Oh now this is where discussions about porn always end up being fucking impossible to continue. Opponents of porn keep insisting that porn is some separate, alien, eeevil thing that is totally different and separate from any other form of media, entertainment or non-essential human pleasure, just as many of them keep insisting that sex is totally different and separate from any other human activity or interest. There was a point where feminist theory and activism involved looking at media, all media, acknowledging what was sexist and misogynistic and proposing, not blanket bans but ^making more, better, different media*. Just like there was a point when feminist theory and activism acknowledged that the existing social and cultural concepts of sexual behaviour were bad for women... and the solution to that was seen as increasing women's autonomy rather than stigmatizing their choices. Then some feminists went down the route of believing that women hate and fear sex, especially PIV and that it is inherently harmful to them, and so it's not possible for 'real' women to engage in sex for fun or as a performance unless they are coerced into doing so.

Twibble Wed 10-Oct-12 21:26:17

Op, thanks for allowing me to comment. It seems to me, without any serious research admittedly, that sexually repressed nations are usually more oppressive to women than sexually 'liberated' ones. Crudely put I am sure most of you would rather be female in, say, germany than in most Arabian coutries. I stand to be corrected though if this simplistic worldview is misleading.

KRITIQ Wed 10-Oct-12 20:43:48

But, this thread isn't about religion, it's about porn (is this an attempt at diversion I see before me? hmm )

I think religion is far, far more toxic to women than porn and always will be.

MiniTheMinx Wed 10-Oct-12 18:39:41

I seem to have been zapped ho hum...
Thank you KRITIQ I posted and had to run. Some women are more vulnerable to exploitation, the idea that they gravitate towards pornography was certainly not implied.

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