Pornography: what’s the magic number and where’s the magic line?

I have previously discussed the issue of human sacrifice and the question, which I think is fundamental if we’re going to discuss any policy (or lack of policy) which involves harming people in some tangible way, of how much harm is deemed acceptable in the name of that policy (or lack of policy).

People balk at quantifying this harm, and for an obvious reason: doing so means they lose the moral high ground. If a person comes out and says, yes I am perfectly fine with up to 3000 innocent people dying or getting beaten up in order to uphold my policy (whether it’s an anti-abortion policy or the death penalty or greater police powers or whatever), that makes them look like persecutors. No one is going to support someone who just comes out and says they don’t mind that innocent people die as a result of their beliefs.

So the cost has to remain implicit and silent. In this they must follow the motto: “the only good victim is a silent victim.” So you see, for example, the “sex workers lobby,” which is led by pimps and which devotes itself to (amongst other things) silencing the voices of ex-prostituted women.

If you can’t do that, then the next step is to demonize the victims. So you get the police talking about black men hulking up, pinning any crime they can on them, and so on. Generally speaking, defending existing policies is easy to do because anyone who goes against them is by definition a criminal, and we scapegoat criminals.

And if that doesn’t work either, then you can always blame the victim. One way to do that is to use the rhetoric of “agency” and “choice,” which I’ve talked about many times before. You can use New Age talk to argue that victims attracted their misfortune because of karma, negative energy, or, if you’re more of a Christian bent, sin.

I’m sure some people may reply, what about cases where a policy can cause harm but where inaction can also cause harm? Prisons cause an incredible amount of harm, but they may also prevent harm from being committed. In such cases, yes, there may be some room for discussion (although I am still very much anti-prisons).

But that’s not the situation in most cases under debate, where we discuss policies which, when brought about, cause additional harm which would not otherwise exist.

The legality of pornography and prostitution are two good examples of that. No harm comes about from making the demand side of prostitution illegal. In fact, doing so eliminates a lot of the harm that already existed. The production of pornography also entails a great deal of harm which would not exist otherwise, both for the actresses and for women in general. Maintaining legality, therefore, entails a great deal of harm, mostly against women.

People may object to the statement that no harm comes from making the demand for pornography or prostitution illegal. When I say harm, in the context of the “magic number,” I am referring mostly to physical harm: how many people may die, fall ill, receive injuries, and so on. No one’s going to die or receive injury from not having access to pornography or prostitution (“blue balls” myth notwithstanding).

There’s also no harm done from a political standpoint. I’ve already debunked the myth that pornography falls under “free speech” rights. Prostitution advocates do not even try to argue for the rights of johns, preferring to exploit the prostituted women themselves as their political motivation; but since feminists are against johns, not prostituted women, this is just irrelevant. The harm to prostituted women is overwhelmingly more important than some men’s hurt feelings.

I challenged people to give me their number in the case of abortion, and I have, understandably, not gotten any answer (except for people who are already pro-abortion, in which case the answer is a proud zero). So I don’t expect answers to the following questions either. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth asking.

1. What is the maximum number of rapes in the production of pornography that you are okay with?

We know women are raped in the production of pornography: they are raped when they are coerced to perform acts they do not wish to perform (all the way from threats of firing to being held at gunpoint, as in the famous case of Linda Lovelace), they are raped when they are “underage performers,” they are raped when they are prostituted women used for pornographic purposes (half of prostituted women report having been used for pornography).

It will not do for someone to reply that the industry needs to be cleaned up, but that there’s nothing wrong with pornography as such. By its very nature, which is the exploitation of women for increasingly violent depictions of sex, pornography cannot be produced without some amount of rape. Any “rape-proof pornographic industry” would not look anything like what we have today; we probably would not even recognize it as pornography.

Women are hurt making all porn, at all levels and types of porn. Sex slaves and children have been found in every single genre of porn, from mainstream Penthouse all the way down to foreign snuff films. Women and children have been exploited at every single level of porn. When one consumes porn one fuels a market that does hurt women and children, at every single level. There are no exceptions to this rule. Sure, not every woman in a given photo is a slave or a child, but they do exist and they have been uncovered almost universally in every manufacturer of mainstream porn…

Traci Lords starred in 77 full length movies before she reached 18. Seventy-seven movies. Seventy-fucking-seven. She was a child of 15. A freshman in High-School. MILLIONS of men, around the world, masturbated to this child, to this little girl being raped by 3 or 4 men. Millions of men and women alike got off to images of a 15 year old girl.

Given the proven fact that any pornography that a person watches carries with it the risk of being the product of rape or coerced sex, what is an acceptable number of rapes? One can also ask, what is the acceptable level of risk? These questions are equivalent: a certain level of risk translates into a certain number of actual rapes.

2. Where should we draw the line of “acceptable violence” against porn actresses and women in general?

Since most popular pornography depicts violence against women, we must assume that people who support the pornography industry also support violence against women. The question then becomes, how much violence is too much violence?

Violence in pornography is escalating. And this violence in pornography translates into violence in the outside world. Men want to reproduce pornographic violence on the women they have sex with.

I’m 23. Mine is the first generation to be exposed to online porn from a young age. We learnt what sex is from watching strangers on the internet, we don’t know anything else.

Here are some of the things that I have experienced…

– having my head shoved into his crotch, and held down while I sucked him off

– being told that my gag reflex was too strong, couldn’t I work on it?

– bullied into submitting to facials. I didn’t want to. He said (joking?) that he’d ejaculate on my face while I was asleep. He wasn’t joking – I woke up with him wanking over me.

– bullied into trying anal. It hurt so much I begged him to stop. He stopped, then complained that I was being too sensitive and it can’t be *that* bad, he continued to ask for it…

THIS IS NOW NORMAL. Every single straight girl I know has had similar experiences. Every. Single. One. Some have experienced far worse. Some have given in, some have resisted, all have felt guilty and awkward for not being “liberated” enough, not giving him what he wants.

Pornographic violence translates into real life violence against women, especially prostituted women. When does this violence become “too much” violence? Or is any level of violence acceptable?

In a similar vein, Independent Radical talks about the “rape line”:

Liberals spend a great deal of time debating the exact location of the “rape line” (they made an entire documentary devoted to it.) They ask questions like “exactly how drunk does a women have to be before a man who has sex with her can be deemed guilty of rape?” or “how enthusiastic should her consent sound before it could really be considered consent?”. They fail to recognise that such questions would not even come up if our culture did not push the view that sex is an act of conquest and encourage men to mix drunkenness with sex or pursue sex acts which their female “targets” were likely to find horrific and degrading.

Where is the magic line when pornographic violence becomes “too much”? This question must be answered reasonably, if the pro-pornography side is to have any credibility at all. If their answer is “no violence is too much,” then we must be talking to brainwashed, pornsick fanatics. Normal people will only admit to so much violence.

3. What is the maximum number of raped and murdered prostituted women that you are okay with?

Making prostitution legal, or keeping the current system, entails support for the widespread rapes, murders and PTSD that are inflicted on prostituted women. So the question becomes, how much of this suffering is acceptable to maintain the institution of prostitution?

The standard answer from prostitution advocates is to move the exploitation indoors, to hide the abuse, keep it off the streets. But that’s what abusers do, they keep their actions out of the public eye. Hiding abuse does not counter it, quite the opposite.

The legalization model has proven a failure: it attracts human trafficking and greatly boosts street prostitution (despite the insistent claims that it would move everything “indoors”). Furthermore, the Nordic model has proven itself in reducing violence against prostituted women and giving them some amount of control, which they cannot have in our current system where they are deemed criminal and have no rights.

These are inconvenient truths that advocates cannot address, for obvious reasons. They cannot simply come out and admit that they support policies which entail unnecessary rapes and murders. They also cannot associate themselves with human trafficking, which is why they waste so much breath arguing the bizarre proposition that prostitution and human trafficking are vastly different things.

4. Where should we draw the line of “acceptable violence” against prostituted women?

If prostitution must exist, as its advocates contend, then some women will always be more vulnerable, seen as social inferiors, and seen as legitimate targets of violence. So how much violence is too much violence against prostituted women? How many murders of prostituted women are an acceptable tradeoff for the continued existence of this institution?

If you’re a supporter of pornography or prostitution and wish to give your personal answers to these questions, then post them in the comments. I’d like to hear from you, because anyone who has the courage to do this exercise deserves, I think, a fair hearing. I think you are an absolutely disgusting human being, but at least you have the courage of your convictions.

50 thoughts on “Pornography: what’s the magic number and where’s the magic line?

  1. ShinashiZ October 13, 2015 at 21:19 Reply

    I quite enjoy pornography. However, 1) No such thing as acceptable violence (in reality) 2) Ditto. 3) None. 4) Refer to 1 and 2.

    YET! There are an issue. “Since most popular pornography depicts violence against women, we must assume that people who support the pornography industry also support violence against women.”

    Actually, no. Many things depict violence against many things, but that does mean that whoever supports the makers of these situations are supporters of those situations in reality? Of course not. Unfortunately, there are idiots (Sorry, I’m calling them idiots because they are. From a young age have I known pornography wasn’t real. Wrestling wasn’t real, etc. And YET there are these bozos) that re-enact the fantasy of pornography (just like certain people re-enact the fantasy of anything else). I wonder if that’s why many more porn sites spiked the legal age to view their material… Anyway! I feel all porn sites should enact that.

    Second, prostitution should be illegal AND women offered protection if they feel they must have sex for work. I don’t hear many prostitutes trying to keep prostitution legal.

    But I watch a lot of gay male porn, and when I watch females it’s usual an aggregation of female orgasms >.>, so maybe my vehemency against pornography is yet untapped. But I feel it’s like everything else, moderation moderation moderation (in quality and quantity)

    You might be wondering, a good thing, if you watch, read, etc. to pornography you are abetting this problem, but I’m highly doubtful you’re not causing harm someway, to someone, somewhere by doing what you do. We should all work to make whatever it is better.

    But no tears would be shed if pornography featuring actual people was ever banned.

    • Francois Tremblay October 13, 2015 at 21:36 Reply

      “I quite enjoy pornography. However, 1) No such thing as acceptable violence (in reality) 2) Ditto. 3) None. 4) Refer to 1 and 2.”

      Then you simply refuse to confront reality.

      “Actually, no. Many things depict violence against many things, but that does mean that whoever supports the makers of these situations are supporters of those situations in reality? Of course not.”

      Why ‘of course’? I don’t think the answer is obvious at all. Are we to believe that representations of violence have no impact on people’s minds at all? The consumption of pornography makes men more likely to support rape myths and to take other men’s side.

      “Unfortunately, there are idiots (Sorry, I’m calling them idiots because they are. From a young age have I known pornography wasn’t real. Wrestling wasn’t real, etc. And YET there are these bozos) that re-enact the fantasy of pornography (just like certain people re-enact the fantasy of anything else).”

      Why are you calling rapists and abusers “idiots”?

      “Second, prostitution should be illegal AND women offered protection if they feel they must have sex for work. I don’t hear many prostitutes trying to keep prostitution legal.”

      Not sure how you can have both an illegal industry and offer women protection for doing it. That doesn’t make much sense.

      “You might be wondering, a good thing, if you watch, read, etc. to pornography you are abetting this problem, but I’m highly doubtful you’re not causing harm someway, to someone, somewhere by doing what you do. We should all work to make whatever it is better.”

      Tu quoque fallacy.

    • unabashedcalabash October 15, 2015 at 11:44 Reply

      Hi, ShinashiZ. I think you’re confused about reality and fantasy. Pornography is real; it’s not acting, as real sex is happening. It’s filmed prostitution. All the same abuses that take place in prostitution take place in pornography (rape, coercion, trafficking of women for purposes of pornography, drug addicted or desperately poor porn actresses who simply need the money but are traumatized by what is done to their bodies, physical harms, pimping and other forms of mind control, as well as the strange societal brainwashing that leads young girls to think pornography is a good idea and will make them into stars when in the end they will leave traumatized, with the record of their trauma forever on film; prostitution at least doesn’t have all of society’s backing pushing young girls into it the same way, nor, if it is not recorded and the prostitute not scarred, does it leave a permanent, visible record; of course prostitution is less safe in the sense of violent beatings–although violent pornography also includes those–and murder–rarely there are snuff films that include that, but the incidence of murder is the biggest difference in harms between these two industries). So this is very real, not fantasy.

      Furthermore, countless studies show that repeated use of pornography has deleterious affects on people’s brains and relationships and attitudes toward sex/toward women. As I believe this blogger writes elsewhere, pornography is extremely different than other forms of television because you don’t masturbate to them. Have you ever heard of Pavlov’s dog? Orgasm is a powerful tool of conditioning. As people become ever more desensitized to simpler forms of pornography and require more hardcore forms to orgasm (which, again, is something that has been proven to happen and is a result of this conditioning, which works exactly like a drug as that’s what it is, a release of chemicals in the brain) they will seek out ever more abusive and bizarre forms of pornography and need ever more stimulation, something that will extend to the bedroom for the most-addicted users (which is many, many young men). They will not be able to get it up for nice, loving sex in real life anymore than they would on film. Furthermore, your comparison to violence in real life and violence on TV is specious, as violence (for most of us) is not an integral part of our lives the way sex is. If you were a violent criminal and always saw a certain caliber and brand of gun used on TV or a new kind of violent vicious reprisal among fictional criminals becoming popular you might well carry it over into real life (and I believe this has happened).

      Also, for the record, I think violence on TV and in movies does affect us, does incite and encourage real violence (some are more suggestible than others), does desensitize everyone to violence, real or otherwise (this is proven), and is, on the whole, bad for us, especially in the form it often takes now, which is rampant, gratuitous, and glorified.

      So, just as people become desensitized to violence by seeing violent acts on TV, people (often young men who watch a lot of hardcore straight porn, which is extremely misogynistic) develop callous, dangerous views about women; and because of the effects of conditioning (from masturbation) combined with the fact that sex is an everyday part of life (unlike violence) and many young people get their sex education from porn and think it is real, that that is what real sex is like/should look like (you don’t get a “violence education” from watching violent shows because you don’t normally commit violence and don’t need a violence education to know what violence should look like in your life), of course–of course!–that will manifest in male-female relations, out of the bedroom (because of increased misogynistic and objectifying views) and inside the bedroom, in the pornography user’s behavior toward his partner. Many young women have written about all the sex acts they’ve been pressured into, asked to perform, or had forced upon them which come straight from porn. This is not an isolated phenomenon.

      Your argument that porn is not “real” doesn’t begin to stand up, either from the perspective of the porn actors and creators or the pornography users.

      • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2015 at 18:35 Reply

        Fortunately (not unfortunately, as there’s nothing unfortunate about it!), I’ve banned the troll, so you’re not gonna get any reply, I’m afraid.

        By the way, I am online, if you wanna come by and chat.

  2. ShinashiZ October 14, 2015 at 08:43 Reply

    “Then you simply refuse to confront reality.”

    Then your initial questions were rhetorical? If not, what sort of answers were you expecting except someone to yaysay your entire post?

    “Why ‘of course’? I don’t think the answer is obvious at all. Are we to believe that representations of violence have no impact on people’s minds at all? The consumption of pornography makes men more likely to support rape myths and to take other men’s side.”

    I don’t know what you enjoy looking at, or reading, or hearing about, but to find enjoyment in fictional representations of them doesn’t mean you support them in reality. How could this be a foreign concept? Yes, they will have impact on people, but insofar as their own responsibility is concerned, depictions of fictional situations should be remembered as such, and not used in your personal life. These men need education and reality lessons. They sound like the type of people who would reenact Jack-Ass movies. Hell, that was even real, but most people didn’t blame the jackasses in the movie if someone decided to copy them.

    “Why are you calling rapists and abusers “idiots”?”

    I literally explained that in the parentheses, and the rest of the paragraph. Should I re-explain it?

    “Not sure how you can have both an illegal industry and offer women protection for doing it. That doesn’t make much sense.”

    I wasn’t clear. Ban prostitution. Catch a woman prostituting anyway? Give her resources and protection- don’t throw her in jail. Their pimps are human traffickers. Jail for life, or at least reeducation for life or medicine for life. Whatever is most effective.

    “Tu quoque fallacy.”

    And you’re just going to leave it at that? I didn’t say my fallacy to mean that your argument loses any of its steam just because your areas of improvement are located elsewhere than mine. But please don’t call people disgusting human beings. I’m sure your computer clocked together by overworked Chinese people doesn’t make you any better. But instead of never watching porn or never using a computer, we should make the lives better, like the people doing pornography correctly (because healthy sex is sexy) or giving living conditions to Chinese people (someone has to clock together our computers- like, literally… Like there has to be someone to watch paint dry), are more reasonable and globally more productive endeavors.

    • Francois Tremblay October 14, 2015 at 15:40 Reply

      “Then your initial questions were rhetorical? If not, what sort of answers were you expecting except someone to yaysay your entire post?”

      I expect answers that are consistent. If you support pornography, then your answers CANNOT be “1) No such thing as acceptable violence (in reality) 2) Ditto. 3) None. 4) Refer to 1 and 2.” These are not the answers of someone who support pornography.

      snip all the rationalization and excuses

      ““Tu quoque fallacy.”

      And you’re just going to leave it at that?”

      You committed a logical fallacy in your argument. Why should I have to do anything more? Correct your fallacy first.

      “I didn’t say my fallacy to mean that your argument loses any of its steam just because your areas of improvement are located elsewhere than mine. But please don’t call people disgusting human beings.”

      Why? You are a disgusting human being. But that’s not the worse thing about what you’re saying. It’s the irrational excuses and rationalizations you spout out to try to sweep your disgusting nature away. If you were honest about it, I wouldn’t be arguing with you

      “I’m sure your computer clocked together by overworked Chinese people doesn’t make you any better.”

      So instead of correcting yourself and admitting you were wrong, you double down on your fallacy. Great. What the FUCK does the origins of my computer have to do with pornography?

      Of course I know we all inflict suffering on other people. I’ve written about this in connection with antinatalism. We are all guilty parties. That doesn’t mean that I can’t point out that it’s wrong. For you to bleat that it’s not that wrong and that you’re not guilty is just disgusting and mendacious.

      “But instead of never watching porn or never using a computer, we should make the lives better, like the people doing pornography correctly (because healthy sex is sexy)”

      There is no such thing as “doing pornography correctly.” Pornography is the objectification of women. Pornography entails, by its nature, harm to women.

      “or giving living conditions to Chinese people (someone has to clock together our computers- like, literally… Like there has to be someone to watch paint dry), are more reasonable and globally more productive endeavors.”

      How much more scummy can you be? You want to rationalize harming people in a “reasonable” and “productive” way? Wow. And you try to tu quoque me?? Please never compare me to yourself again. At least I’m not plain evil.

      • ShinashiZ October 14, 2015 at 17:56 Reply

        Holy shit, Chekistocrat is right, you’re bloody awful. What’s more, you’re an awful hypocrite!

        “I expect answers that are consistent. If you support pornography, then your answers CANNOT be “1) No such thing as acceptable violence (in reality) 2) Ditto. 3) None. 4) Refer to 1 and 2.” These are not the answers of someone who support pornography.”

        The fact that it’s unacceptable and I would vote on laws that would deter or outlaw the business altogether is consistent with my response. I also support rather violent television shows, but if we dismantle our armies and do our best to keep guns out of too many hands, I’ll support that, too. Zero-tolerance policies to bullying, yep! Good! Will I still watch and support violent television shows? You bet your ass. That’s how I’m consistent. Constantly separating fantasy from reality is key to living life.

        snip your non sequiturs and really crazy ad hominems

        “So instead of correcting yourself and admitting you were wrong, you double down on your fallacy. Great. What the FUCK does the origins of my computer have to do with pornography?

        Of course I know we all inflict suffering on other people. I’ve written about this in connection with antinatalism. We are all guilty parties. That doesn’t mean that I can’t point out that it’s wrong. For you to bleat that it’s not that wrong and that you’re not guilty is just disgusting and mendacious.”

        Apparently, I’m a disgusting human being and that’s supposed to mean something. Unfortunately, that means nothing coming from someone like you.

        I never said that it wasn’t wrong, I didn’t say I wasn’t guilty, I didn’t say you couldn’t point out what was wrong- but you can’t call other people disgusting human beings unless you mean it in a way that we are all disgusting human beings in exactly the same way of supporting industries that do harm- but I’m reasonably certain that is not what you mean. If it is, my bad. But I doubt it.

        “There is no such thing as “doing pornography correctly.” Pornography is the objectification of women. Pornography entails, by its nature, harm to women.”

        Lol, well we’re just going to have to agree to disagree here. There is most definitely a way to do porn correctly (perhaps, according to you, it just have to be full of males- but I’d hate to make an ass of myself assuming too much out of you). Shit, I’ve, as a female, made porn and put myself into pornographic situations for the thrill of it. It’s my kink, really. And you’re just as bad as a nun who buries her head only in the sand she feels comfortable in, but I know there is always a way to make things better.

        “How much more scummy can you be? You want to rationalize harming people in a “reasonable” and “productive” way? Wow. And you try to tu quoque me?? Please never compare me to yourself again. At least I’m not plain evil.”

        I really don’t see where you got these assumptions. What does ‘rationalize harming people in a ‘reasonable’ and ‘productive’ way’ have to do with my statement? If you’re giving a standard and (more preferably) above standard living wages and environments to people you hire, you’re no longer harming them, now are you? That’s what I mean, but you seem utterly hell-bent on casting me as the worst demon imaginable. It’s unfortunate you aren’t as reasonable or common-sense or down-to-earth that I apparently pretended you were.

        • Francois Tremblay October 14, 2015 at 18:20 Reply

          “Holy shit, Chekistocrat is right, you’re bloody awful. What’s more, you’re an awful hypocrite!”

          I am not the one supporting pornography and speaking against it in the same paragraph. As for Chekistocrat, he seems to have come here solely to taunt me, which is childish and pointless. You two are obviously deranged.

          “The fact that it’s unacceptable and I would vote on laws that would deter or outlaw the business altogether is consistent with my response. I also support rather violent television shows, but if we dismantle our armies and do our best to keep guns out of too many hands, I’ll support that, too. Zero-tolerance policies to bullying, yep! Good! Will I still watch and support violent television shows? You bet your ass. That’s how I’m consistent. Constantly separating fantasy from reality is key to living life.”

          Great, but that’s not relevant to the topic. When you watch pornography, you could, at any time, be witnessing actual abuse or rape of women. You, as a viewer, have no fucking clue if it’s taking place or not (unless you’re watching porn which has been reported as the result of rape or abuse). So no, it’s not at all like watching a “violent television show,” which is fictional and made of special effects.

          “Apparently, I’m a disgusting human being and that’s supposed to mean something. Unfortunately, that means nothing coming from someone like you.”

          Goodbye. You’re both banned. If you can’t at least treat your superiors with respect, there is no point in continuing this conversation. Get off my fucking blog, psychopathic assholes.

  3. chekistocrat October 14, 2015 at 11:12 Reply

    “I’d like to hear from you even though you’re an utter bastard”. What a temptation. sigh

    I’ve talked about my use of porn elsewhere but I wouldn’t with you. Because you do posts like this as an excuse to insult people, and I’m not a masochist.

    • Francois Tremblay October 14, 2015 at 15:31 Reply

      Great, so don’t take the time to re-examine your beliefs in any way even though they harm other people.

      • chekistocrat October 14, 2015 at 15:39 Reply

        I have done, but it doesn’t matter to you because you’ve already told me I am a disgusting person. I mean, I really enjoy engaging with people who tell me that.

        Seriously, what was your point there? Come here for some abuse?

        • Francois Tremblay October 14, 2015 at 15:42 Reply

          What the fuck do I care about your whinging. Answer the fucking questions or get out.

    • ShinashiZ October 14, 2015 at 18:00 Reply

      @chekistocrat I’m literally a masochist, lol! But I won’t kink-shame :D If you’re more sadistic, you do you, boo ~_^

  4. purplesagefem October 15, 2015 at 06:18 Reply

    I came over here curious after reading your comments on Cheki’s blog. I think this blog post is mostly well-written, but I do have a comment on calling men disgusting human beings. Even though the porn users you refer to may in fact be disgusting human beings, calling them this isn’t going to win them over to your side. If your goal is to piss them off, then great! You’ve achieved it. But if your goal is to convince them not to use porn, I think you need to try a different strategy other than insulting them. Men have large egos, and if you insult their ego, they won’t listen to you. I recommend reading How To Win Friends and Influence People, the section where he talks about how to show someone he’s wrong without hurting his ego. That might help you convince men. I am glad that you are trying, but I suggest thinking about your strategies and whether they are really having the desired effect.

    • unabashedcalabash October 15, 2015 at 11:21 Reply

      Maybe Francois is tired of trying to placate (other) men…hasn’t the feminist movement said all along it’s not about trying to please men? Taken too far that results in third wave feminism, which is really nothing more than a collection of justifications for patriarchal practices (including beauty modifications, objectifying women, pornography, and prostitution).

      Unfortunately you’re also right. People who are in the wrong not only suffer from the backfire effect (they dig in their heels when confronted with incontrovertible evidence), but they are also (perhaps for the same reason?) the most dogged in their beliefs and refusal to listen to others’ point of view. This is why it’s always on the wronged party to be the Bigger Person. sigh

      I mean, I am against pornography and prostitution, yet I will also admit that in a minority of cases they can be egalitarian, respectful, truly chosen, and even empowering for the women involved. Unfortunately that doesn’t negate the fact that for the vast majority of those involved it’s just the opposite, and short of case workers to work around the clock with all sex workers making sure they’re really very certain they want to be doing it, are not being abused or traumatized, and are under no undue influence including the influence of desperate poverty or drug addiction (requiring the caseworkers to also be licensed investigators and psychologists), as well as laws about depictions of sex in pornography there’s just no way having it legal across the board is ever going to be possible to regulate (and prevent all the real abuse and violently misogynistic depictions of abuse that take place in these industries). People’s actions that are okay for themselves affect other people who are part of a broader institution (why we can’t just legalize prostitution for some people and not for others; desperate, impoverished, abused women and trafficked, threatened coerced women are going to say they “want it” too, when asked; that is, if it comes to their livelihoods and they’re given no other option).

      Furthermore, we cannot consider pornography (or prostitution) outside of the global context of oppression of women. We must consider how they both contribute to and further this oppression. Yet, “in a perfect world…”

      So, though I will readily admit exceptions exist, for reasons of the majority and of the cause of true liberation for women I cannot support these industries.

      Most pro-pornography and prostitution people seem unable to admit any problems with these industries at all!

      • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2015 at 18:31 Reply

        It’s not that I am tired of placating men, it’s that I am tired of people who will defend pornography at the drop of a hat. I am also tired of the hypocrites who, when I ask them to defend the harms of their position, say they want no harm to come about from their positions but then defend their harmful position. They’re lying to protect their ass. it’s as simple as that. They simply can’t be honest about their position because they would lose the moral high ground.

        Exceptions exist? Maybe, but even the most “authentic”, “soft core” companies are still under suspicion of unethical practices. In the end, we are far too removed from the end product to assert that it was made ethically.

        • unabashedcalabash October 15, 2015 at 19:45 Reply

          “In the end, we are too far removed from the end product to assert it was made ethically…” That’s such a great and succinct quote (I have trouble with succinctness, as you’ve no doubt noticed!). Absolutely.

          • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2015 at 19:51 Reply

            Well I personally envy people who can write as much as you do on a spur of the moment!

    • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2015 at 15:44 Reply

      I don’t think I can convince anyone not to watch pornography, no. I think that if anything does that, it’s a realization of the immorality of what they’re doing, which comes slowly and has to come from the person themselves. My goal on this blog is not to convince anyone of anything, but to try to analyze how these ideas work.

      I do think that someone who not only watches pornography but is willing to go on blogs to defend it is disgusting. I think pornography should be a shameful thing, done only at home, and not talked about to anyone.

      • unabashedcalabash October 15, 2015 at 18:07 Reply

        I dunno why this keeps happening to me…I’m feeding the trolls? But the user you blocked commented on my blog (which is a blog of some of my recent personal writing which, after creating a few months ago, I have shamefully not updated, but I will). This happened on lonesome yogurt’s blog too…I emailed her back a long reply trying once again, patiently, to explain things she might understand if she even googled them (such as, “why are people more concerned with women in porn than men in porn,” “why are Republicans against porn but believe in war and the death penalty and not in basic rights for women”), although there a lots of books out there too that give some perspective on these issues, if you’re smart enough to ask the question but not think of (and rule out) possible answers.

        So I guess I’m just tired of explaining to people (and why would they post a reply on an unrelated blog? Of course I’m not going to approve that comment that would confuse the hell out of people on my Mexico poetry page). I’m going to stop responding, I decided, to people who have obviously just not thought their position out yet come on other people’s blogs to defend it. Perhaps this is elitist of me, or as deluded as everyone who thinks their opinion is right, but I truly believe I have spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff from a large variety of possible angles, including how these issues all interrelate (public vs. private ownership of women’s bodies, for example, an easy way to boil down the liberal vs. conservative approach) and also don’t believe it would ever be as easy as “Republicans bad, Democrats good” or any other such nonsense (they’re as bad as each other with different justifications for their beliefs; for the record I think liberals who take the party line are more hypocritical whether they know it or not than social conservatives who actually live out their values, though neocons are the biggest hypocrites and liars of them all). I fully admit to being ignorant on a lot of issues–many philosophical and sociological issues on this blog, for example, as well as most things in the world–but on some issues (especially the issues of gender) I’ve taken a lot of time, done a lot of my own thinking and arrived at a lot of conclusions that I later see other more learned people arrived at in their books after a lot of research, so I’m not doing half badly (thinking using the scientific method–ruling things out–can be very useful; understanding opposing viewpoints is important too, for understanding the reasons for their mistaken thinking). Is it wrong to believe I might have a more valid opinion than others on an issue I’ve spent more time thinking about? I mean, even issues I’m new to I grasp pretty quickly, but I will mostly ask questions before doing a lot more research…I want to study economics next, which I know little about and therefore hesitate to put forth any opinions on (though I have them).

        I am not going to argue with people on the internet any more unless they can engage with my arguments and seem they’ve done their fair share of research. It’s not my job to educate anyone and rhetoric almost never changes people’s minds (as you say) but why should I have to provide them with a breakdown and an analysis? It’s exhausting…no more feeding the trolls, I’ve decided, on your blog or anywhere else. It’s not worth it.

        • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2015 at 18:33 Reply

          I don’t think it’s wrong of you to believe that your opinion is more researched than that of some pornsick troll who posts on a blog, no. With the caveat that there’s always more research to be done…

          • unabashedcalabash October 15, 2015 at 19:50 Reply

            Yes, there’s always more research!

            I guess I just don’t want to be some elitist know-it-all or something. The post she made on my blog was not all that bad on re-reading, she just seems to lack the ability to make connections between the larger cultural and her personal likes (pornography and kink)…I’ve just thought about it a lot as really pornography and prostitution have always bothered me and only recently, doing research, was I able to fully admit this to myself. So I feel like I’ve thought about it more than most people. But yes–more research to be done (not before I quit procrastinating on my book, though).

            • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2015 at 20:11 Reply

              Who are you talking about… chekistocrat or shinashiz?

              • unabashedcalabash October 16, 2015 at 10:05 Reply

                ShinaShiz…she responded to me on my blog (she thinks you are a lady, by the way!). I’m having trouble with my internet (it constantly resets, which means sometimes I have connection and sometimes I don’t, so I can’t do anything ongoing; I need to get the landlord in to reset the router in the building or replace it). Once I get it fixed I’ll drop by and chat.

                • Francois Tremblay October 16, 2015 at 14:16

                  A common problem with those bigots. They think anyone who talks about feminism must be a woman because it’s a “woman’s problem,” even though I make no secret of my name. And they can’t deal with it when they learn I’m a guy. It’s just so pathetic. They don’t care about insulting and issuing death threats to women, but when they realize I’m a man they usually just leave (although there is the occasional idiot who’s just too fucking stupid to be ashamed- I’ve met a couple of that type too).

                  Don’t worry about the problems. Anyhow, my weekend is over, so I won’t be able to get on before midnight my time for the next few days.

      • purplesagefem October 15, 2015 at 18:54 Reply

        Well, I think it’s possible to convince people not to use pornography, and I think that’s a good goal for a male ally to have.

        • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2015 at 19:00 Reply

          Any ideas on how to do that? Because I’ve never heard of anyone giving up pornography out of persuasion.

          • purplesagefem October 15, 2015 at 19:03 Reply

            Well, women give up pornography out of persuasion. We give it up when we realize how abusive it is. I think it is harder to convince men but there’s some men who want to be decent people. You aren’t a porn supporter–what convinced you?

            • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2015 at 19:05 Reply

              Reading about radical feminism, basically. Changing my whole ideology about feminism.

            • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2015 at 19:06 Reply

              To be clear, I was never a big consumer of pornography. I did look at videos occasionally but I was never into it or watched it regularly. So I was not pornsick or defensive about it.

          • unabashedcalabash October 16, 2015 at 11:04 Reply

            Oh, I feel terrible now…I sent ShinaShiz an email in response to her follow-up comment on my blog (after she was banned from here) and she did reconsider her position (her place as a consumer within the porn continuum, even if she believes the porn she consumes is fairly harmless). She said she’s into mostly gay porn or porn made for women (of the safe sane consensual variety) and everyone on these sites is of the same mindset as her, and she assumed that most other porn users were the same way (rather than that most are men, mostly straight men, who are warped by their use of misogynistic hetero porn). She totally got my point about people (particularly heavy users) confusing fantasy for reality being the norm, not an aberration (just some idiots). Then she read my comment on here calling her a troll and was very hurt. I feel bad about it.

            • Francois Tremblay October 16, 2015 at 14:17 Reply

              Don’t feel too bad about it. Her answers on here (if it is indeed a woman) were terrible to say the least. She deserves at least a wake-up call.

              • unabashedcalabash October 16, 2015 at 16:15 Reply

                Perhaps but…I have a feeling that any positive influence I might have had has been cancelled out by getting frustrated and calling her a troll on here (I hadn’t yet received her email back, in which she seemed to genuinely reflect on her use of porn; I think she just hadn’t thought about it before in this light). Maybe getting mad and calling people names isn’t the best way, I just got frustrated and am used to arguing with people who are not arguing in good faith (especially about the prostitution issue, what that whole comment about prostitution I made was about; pro-legalization advocates–who we must presume, to arrived at their position, have done the same research–being disingenuous in order to defend indefensible beliefs, and not arguing in good faith). Anyway I wonder if she would have at least thought about curbing her porn habits out of persuasion but now won’t…although if someone being rude or snarky invalidates good points they’ve made I suppose you never really reconsidered your position at all. Anyway the one time I call someone a troll online and I feel I’ve done more harm than good! I didn’t think she’d be back, to be honest…I hope that was a wake-up call that will stick with her despite her hurt feelings.

                I really want to chat sometime in future but I think this internet connectivity issue (as well as unrelated browser issue), which just began happening, is a sign. My extended vacation is coming to an end and it’s time to work on what I’m supposed to be working on, and procrastinating doing by commenting on internet blogs, the reason I did all this research in the first place (which was eye-opening and useful even if this book turns out to be a dud, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to do it). I’m going to log off for a while, maybe a month. However I will edit that comment a bit and send it to you (do you want me to just repost it on here)?

  5. unabashedcalabash October 15, 2015 at 11:25 Reply

    Oh, and I do not truly believe “in a perfect world” these industries would exist either (I lied), because in a perfect world there would be no financial exploitation of anybody (wage slavery), quite possibly no money, and men would respect women too much to treat them in these ways.

    It’s hard to stretch my head around the idea that maybe, in a perfect world, where men and women always engaged in sex on equal footing, there would be some great, mutual, non-exploitative representations of pornography, but it’s possible. Prostitution? I don’t think so. Prostitution requires having sex with people you don’t want to, for money, and that would never happen in a perfect world.

    • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2015 at 18:41 Reply

      Yea, I would tend to agree with what you said. There would be people filming themselves or whatever, but the concept of an entire industry built around it is so contrary to egalitarian principles, not to mention a threat to women.

      • unabashedcalabash October 15, 2015 at 19:55 Reply

        Good point…I meant that too (people filming themselves and sending it out into the commons). Industries almost always entail exploitation, sex industries even worse.

    • Independent Radical October 16, 2015 at 04:11 Reply

      I don’t think anything in which men and women interact as equals can reasonably be called pornography. If liberals are calling something pornography (or “porn” as they put it) there is a reason for it.

      That said, I do not not think any real sex acts should be filmed. Sex tapes are just another product of pornography culture. I think it is a violation of privacy even if people consent to it. I do not want to live in the sort of world where sex is something you do so that you can post it online in order to boost your status among your friends and people who failed to put videos of sex acts on their online profile were seen as prudes or accused of not actually having had sex. If you are happily having sex, please keep it to yourself.

      If you are experiencing problems you should definitely have the freedom to talk to people about it, but if you think your sex life is the best thing ever telling everyone about it (whether it is through face to face interactions or online videos, never forget that the Internet is public, not private) constitutes bragging.

      If we are going to depict sex in film it should be fake. There is nothing wrong with fake things in films. Films are supposed to be fake. If they were perfectly accurate depictions of real life with no editing they would be boring. The fakeness of films also protects the privacy of real human beings. Nobody should have their real private lives scrutinised by the public, even if they think they want (because they naively expect nothing but praise).

      Oh and thanks to Francios for linking to my blog once again!

      • Francois Tremblay October 16, 2015 at 04:26 Reply

        Your blogs are fucking awesome. I will never not link to them.

      • unabashedcalabash October 16, 2015 at 09:57 Reply

        You don’t think (for the sake of argument) there could ever be, in a truly equal world, a case to be made for the educational or entertainment value of sex videos by a couple? Or is there always an aspect of either bragging (and therefore pressuring others into similar exhibitionism in the spirit of competition) or exploitation when private sexual acts are released for public consumption (especially as they’ll likely be used for masturbation)? Is it so bad if they are used for masturbation, if the couple is aware of it and it’s with their consent? (Could that be another form of entertainment)? Personally, I think it’s possible, or perhaps simply a matter of opinion, in such a hypothetical; but since we’re so far removed from that I don’t think we’re ever going to know (and in fact, it might be impossible to determine if we’d ever reached the right conditions to make “ethical porn,” or however it would be termed, if people wanted to rename it).

        • Independent Radical October 16, 2015 at 17:14 Reply

          “You don’t think (for the sake of argument) there could ever be, in a truly equal world, a case to be made for the educational or entertainment value of sex videos by a couple”

          By a real couple? Nope. How many things are taught through videos of the actually thing? Not many in my experience. If the best way to understand something was to simply look at the real life version of it there would be no need for science. Most of the time you can get more information across in an abstract diagram and they are easier to make.

          If you wanted to use a video of sex for education purpose, I presume you would want to show the genital region (in fact being able to clearly show the genital region is the only supposed advantage of filming real life sex acts). That would require pubic hair removal (which is extrememly painful and would not otherwise be practiced in an egalitarian world) and awkward poses on the part of the performers (which occur in pornography all the time). Sex (or rather genital contact, which is what pornography centres on) is not supposed to be filmed and filming it is very difficult.

          And if you are not going to show the genitals you might as well just show a fictional representation of sex. I think that would be more educational and entertaining. I have heard that pornography is very boring to watch if you are not aroused. Real life sex is basically the same thing over and over again, much like a real life war. Fictional representations of such things allow us to capture the most exciting aspects of them, though we should of course be wary of glamorising war.

          “Or is there always an aspect of either bragging (and therefore pressuring others into similar exhibitionism in the spirit of competition) or exploitation when private sexual acts are released for public consumption (especially as they’ll likely be used for masturbation)?”

          Any time some “sexy”, “subversive” act has become popular it has eventually led to a scenario in which all women are expected to do it. This happened with leg shaving (originally practiced by prostituted women, now socially mandatory for all Western women), high heels (now mandatory in certain contexts) and oral sex (originally practiced in prostitution and hard core pornography, now mandatory for sexually active women). It could easily happen with sex tapes as well (which are increasing becoming normalised), especially given that people are likely to start demanding verification of sex acts which people say happened, once such verification becomes common.

          I think shoving the fact that you did something you think is impressive down other people’s throats (in the form of a big long video which they would have to devote a substantial portion of their time to watching) is always going to be a form of bragging. It would not be so bad if what you did was actually impressive (e.g. landing on Mars for the first time), but sex is quite mundane. So yeah, it is arrogant to think that the whole world needs to see your sex acts. It would be like filming yourself brush your teeth because you think you have the best teeth brushing technique ever. You don’t.

          “Is it so bad if they are used for masturbation, if the couple is aware of it and it’s with their consent? (Could that be another form of entertainment)?”

          The masturbation aspect is not what bothers we in this situation, it is the scrutiny element. You (by which I mean the person making the tape) might think your body and your physical motions are the most impressive thing ever, but other people think the same thing about themselves and they are going to nitpick what you do in order to validate their own way of having sex. It is far better to keep sex out of the realm of public evaluation (in so far as the sex acts are loving and egalitarian, rather than harmful and anti-egalitarian).

          I do not think consent alone justifies human rights violations. It is not okay to torture someone (sexually or non-sexually) just because they consented and it is not okay to deprive someone of privacy just because they consented. Many people are consenting to frightening levels of government spying in the name of combating terrorism, but it is still wrong, as is spying on people having sex (even if they enabled you to do so). It is a personal experience which people who love each other should enjoy without the fear of external scrutiny.

          “Personally, I think it’s possible, or perhaps simply a matter of opinion, in such a hypothetical; but since we’re so far removed from that I don’t think we’re ever going to know (and in fact, it might be impossible to determine if we’d ever reached the right conditions to make “ethical porn,” or however it would be termed, if people wanted to rename it).”

          A hypothetical perfect world would not just be devoid of the things that we all agree are evil (e.g. rape, murder, domestic violence). It would also be devoid of the practices and impulses that lead to those things (e.g. pornography, misogyny, excessive anger and aggression, violence glamorising media, anything that indoctrinates people into masculinity or femininity). So I don’t think the idea of a hypothetical perfect world can be used to justify things which are known to cause harm in our world. A perfect world would not magically stop such things from being harmful it just would not have them in the first place.

          • unabashedcalabash October 16, 2015 at 19:55 Reply

            I suppose I am still not entirely sure if other people truly think all such practices are harmful. I agree with you that sex should involve affection and respect, at all times (particularly respect, but personally I think affection is a part of that respect, even if it’s affection for a person you hardly know, which is possible, and which is also why casual sex without affection–even if there is attraction–without genuinely liking the person or feeling friendly towards them, is so hollow and unsatisfying, and feels like using or being used); but do all people think this way?

            Is there definitely one correct moral outlook on this? I don’t know, but I am inclined to think you are right, and in a perfect world no one would desire to use another or be used, and sex would be seen as private (almost like a secret between two–or more–people), as intimate, as spiritually/energetically/emotionally bonding, even if it doesn’t result in a relationship, would always be based on true affection and enthusiastic consent (regardless of the previous relationship, if any, of participants), and would be both a big deal–in its specialness as a human act and demonstration of a certain kind of tenderness and playfulness–and not a big deal, in that we wouldn’t obsess over it so much, if that makes sense. So I am inclined to agree with you.

            And yes, I think most people turn off pornography at the point of orgasm, don’t they? I can’t imagine watching it. And for unsimulated sex in an actual movie, unless everyone is masturbating in the theater it will just make people feel uncomfortable or bored if it goes on too long and seem unnecessary and gratuitous, I agree.

            I kind of feel similarly conflicted about nudity in movies (especially as it’s so often female). Is it necessary to the sex scene? But then again, why should it be a bad thing? Is it exploitative, or freeing? I think those are questions at the heart of the division in feminist ideologies. I am inclined to think it’s exploitative, in the context of this patriarchy; although of course it also depends on how it’s done and the naturalness of the scene (Halle Berry’s toplessness in a movie like “Swordfish” was so obviously exploitative, whereas Holly Hunter’s partial nudity in “The Piano” felt much more natural to the scene–not gratuitous–and was balanced out by Harvey Keitel’s nudity in the same movie).

            I am of two minds about the issue but I’m inclined to agree with you.I think a lot of straight women think the antidote to being used by men is using them in turn. Not only can that backfire (the woman ends up being used), but I think it’s immoral, and doesn’t help matters at all (relations between the sexes). Sex ought to be approached without any predatory motives whatsoever, and perhaps pornography being so calculated and unnatural is also contrary to this goal.

  6. L November 7, 2015 at 20:04 Reply

    I’m kind of amazed at just how much people will defend porn. Even if you enjoy porn, it’s a pretty disgusting industry to defend.

    After becoming interested in the lives of women in sex trafficking, prostitution and pornography, I spent a lot of time reading different blogs that mostly argued for legalization of prostitution as a way to help women; but the more I read, the more it seemed like the opposite was true.

    For questions 1 and 3, most people who watch porn are just going to say that porn doesn’t entail violence against women (like ShinashiZ) and that any rapes that occur are just examples of bad apples in the industry and not reflective of the industry itself. They are also just going to say that women in porn can “choose” what sex acts they perform.

    I find questions 2 and 4 interesting especially since bdsm is becoming so mainstream. Years ago, I read something about Sasha Grey doing a porn film and how surprised her male costar was when she asked him to punch her in the stomach…..I think the first time I heard the phrase consensual degradation was from her…since there seems to be this idea that women just love violence in sex soo much, probably the answer you’re going to get is whatever violence she is okay with and whatever doesn’t kill her..I guess that’s the magic line?

    • Francois Tremblay November 8, 2015 at 01:44 Reply

      “most people who watch porn are just going to say that porn doesn’t entail violence against women (like ShinashiZ) and that any rapes that occur are just examples of bad apples in the industry and not reflective of the industry itself.”

      Still, that means violence does occur, doesn’t it. It would just mean it’s not systemic violence.

      (obviously, I think it is systemic, but either way…)

  7. L November 8, 2015 at 13:33 Reply

    “Still, that means violence does occur, doesn’t it. It would just mean it’s not systemic violence.”

    Right.

    I would be pleasantly surprised and curious to see if you get legitimate, well-thought out responses to your questions from guys who watch porn or buy prostitutes. i.e., someone who is willing to give a specific number and a reasoning behind it. Like “I’m acceptable with 5% of women in porn being raped because…..”

    My comment was really my speculating on the kinds of answers you’d get based on the comments/articles I’ve seen on sites that are pro-prostitution/porn.

    • Francois Tremblay November 8, 2015 at 15:00 Reply

      No, I don’t. Actually, I never get reasonable answers to this sort of question. When I asked it about abortion, everyone either replied “0” (even the anti-abortion people) or refused to answer. No one wants to be reminded that they’re the bad guys.

  8. Kendall May 7, 2016 at 01:06 Reply

    I just wanted to let you know, this article convinced my sister’s boyfriend (and my really good friend) to give up pornography.

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