Pornography is not sexual liberation.

Maya Shilayen asks the important question: how is “feminist porn” feminist?

Lost in the emphatic “hurrahs!” about freedom and empowerment is any honest discussion about what happens in porn, how women get into it, or how it impacts women outside the industry.

“I never met any woman that had a professional career and left it to go into porn just for fun,” recounts Vanessa Belmond, an industry veteran turned anti-porn activist. “Many got into it because of financial desperation. Many also had abusive childhoods. I had a roommate who had been on the streets, prostituting herself since the age of 14, and by the time she got into porn at 18, it was all she knew.”

That women in porn are usually there because they lack other options is a well-known fact – one that even pro-porn feminists don’t deny. In a documentary called After Porn Ends, pornography apologist Nina Hartley admits: “They don’t know how to do anything else. They don’t know how to do retail; they don’t know how to do Excel spreadsheets. Many people [in] adult entertainment… are not suited for nine-to-five work.”

Instead of asking why some women are so disenfranchised, pro-porn feminists seem happy to leave these women where they are – at the bottom of the barrel…

But is “sexual freedom” really just reducible to more sex, no matter the circumstances?

“I did coke occasionally, but I was mostly a drinker. And then I got into painkillers – those are really popular in the industry, especially for women that do a lot of anal. And I smoked a whole lot of weed, too. I wouldn’t have been able to do [porn] otherwise. You can’t do that stuff sober,” Belmond recalls.

This is not a picture of a sexually liberated woman. It is, in fact, the picture of a woman who must lay back and think of England in order to “endure” sex. Those who denounce anti-porn feminism as “puritanical” have ignored the fact that pornographers do exactly what the Puritans did: deny women sexual self-determination.

3 thoughts on “Pornography is not sexual liberation.

  1. Independent Radical November 20, 2015 at 03:25 Reply

    I do not particularly want to validate “sexual liberation” as an aim. It sounds a lot like “economic freedom”. Neither sex nor the economy are human beings. They are not even sentient beings. Thus hating sex is a victimless crime and women should have every right to hate it, given what is often called “sex” nowadays.

    Are gentle hugs and kisses considered “real sex”? No, they are only “foreplay” and once you have completed your foreplay you have to move on to “real sex”, which used to mean vagina intercourse, but that is no longer enough nowadays. Now you have to practicing oral, anal or sadomasochism to be “sexually liberated”. Of course, sadomasochism is viewed as an adequate substitute for vaginal intercourse rather than foreplay, even though it does not even involve people touching each other’s skin. It is no longer acceptable for women to only consent to vaginal intercourse, it is seen as stepping stone to acts that supposedly represent higher levels of “sexual liberation”, which naturally make one wonder what will come next? Pornographers have done everything short of murdering women to pursue “sexual liberation”.

    I see this as the natural outcome of wanting to liberate sex rather than human beings.
    Even is sexual liberation were about the liberation of human females through sex and even there is so much more to genuine freedom than the freedom to have sex, particularly if you talking about the kind of mindless, loveless sex favoured by liberals.

    How about the freedom to actually find love, instead of just pursuing empty physical pleasure? How about the freedom to have a healthy body that is free from pain instead of having to constantly alter your body for the sake of sexiness? How about the freedom to speak your mind instead of having to regulate your every word regarding sex and female bodies to ensure that people who find violence and degradation sexy do not get offended? How about the freedom to substantially change the world for the better (e.g. ending environmental destruction, poverty, etc.)? While sex can be pleasurable, all these things are way more important to long term human wellbeing than sexual arousal.

    The pursuit of sexual liberation should be secondary to these more essential pursuits and it should be carried out with the recognition that sex ought to be an egalitarian, loving experience (which means that it should take place in a society that already values such things, not a highly hierarchical one like ours). Liberal attempts to improve sex always centre on physical pleasure, rather than on other concerns. Thus outright domination and submission is considered perfectly fine so long as it generates sexual pleasure. If we radicals are going to try and improve sex, we need to ensure that equality and love are valued too, instead of physical pleasure being the centre of everything.

    I may not want women to think of England (although England has done some pretty cool things when it was not being a brutal empire, LOL), but I do not want them fantasising about six packs, biceps or whips either. I think it would to stretch (and an act of capitulation to the pro-pornography side) to say that I wanted to “liberate sex” in any form. I will just stick to liberating humanity, as well as promoting love and equality within relationships.

  2. Francois Tremblay November 20, 2015 at 04:34 Reply

    “How about the freedom to actually find love, instead of just pursuing empty physical pleasure? How about the freedom to have a healthy body that is free from pain instead of having to constantly alter your body for the sake of sexiness? How about the freedom to speak your mind instead of having to regulate your every word regarding sex and female bodies to ensure that people who find violence and degradation sexy do not get offended? How about the freedom to substantially change the world for the better (e.g. ending environmental destruction, poverty, etc.)? While sex can be pleasurable, all these things are way more important to long term human wellbeing than sexual arousal.”

    Amen to that!

  3. […] is a great comment from Independent Radical which I thought was worthy of further […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: