Category Archives: Radical feminism

Contortions to rationalize the belief that pornography is not violent, from Psychology Today.

Michael Castleman, at Psychology Today, made the bizarre claim that pornography is not violent. Anyone who would make such a claim has clearly never watched mainstream pornography, or is a pornsick stooge. He is a journalist that specializes in sexual issues, so probably the latter. How can anyone make such a blatant lie and expect to get away with it?

Well, the first tactic he uses is to lie about the evidence, so his audience (who will generally be unfamiliar with anti-pornography research) will think he’s got the upper hand:

In her 2010 book, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, author Gail Dines, Ph.D., asserts that 88 percent of porn videos contain violence against women…

Does 88 percent of porn really show violence against women? No way. But don’t take my word for it. Just browse any of the sampler sites that aggregate porn clips from thousands of sources (cliti.com is one example). The vast majority of porn videos, both professional and amateur, depict generally happy—or at least not visibly unhappy—people engaged in nonviolent, totally consensual sex.

First of all, Castleman clearly does not ever go on actual popular pornography sites on the Internet. He speaks from a position of pure ignorance. Secondly, this is a straightforward lie. Gail Dines does not say that 88% of all pornographic videos on the Internet contain violence against women. What her data says is that 88% of the most rented pornographic movies contain violence against women:

The data from the industry indicating that Gonzo is the most popular and profitable sub-genre of porn is backed up by a recent peer-reviewed study that conducted a large-scale content analysis of contemporary porn… Bridges (2010) and her team found that the majority of scenes from 50 of the top-rented porn movies contained both physical and verbal abuse targeted against the female performers. Physical aggression, which included spanking, open-hand slapping, and gagging, occurred in over 88% of scenes, while expressions of verbal aggression—calling the woman names such as “bitch” or “slut”—were found in 48% of the scenes. The researchers concluded that 90% of scenes contained at least one aggressive act if both physical and verbal aggression were combined.

Hell-bent on arguing against his own strawwomyn, Castleman then tries to explain why the results that he made up are wrong:

And how did the study’s authors—professors at four prestigious universities—come up with their figure? By totally misunderstanding one form of sexuality often depicted in porn—bondage, discipline, and sado-masochism (BDSM).

So this article is out to completely misrepresent both pornography and BDSM. He tries to prove his point, and wheezes, stumbles, and falls on his fucking face:

So, do people know violence when they see it? Not always. Consider this scenario: One man strikes another sharply between the shoulder blades. Most people would call that violence—hitting, assault. But if the two men are colleagues and they’re both smiling, the blow becomes a pat on the back for a job well done—not violence, but congratulations. In other words, violence must be judged not just by the action, but by the action in the context of the participants’ intentions.

Hitting someone in the back with an open hand is a ritual. To claim that this must be a violent act is to assume that one is ignorant of this fact. No one would confuse an act of congratulations with an act of violence. The participants’ intentions have nothing to do with this evaluation. If one person pats another on the back with murderous intent, we still would not see this as an act of violence. Likewise, someone punching another in the face with the very best of intentions is still committing a violent act. Intentions have no place in an ethical evaluation, such as the kind of impersonal judgment we make about acts committed by other people (moral evaluations are another thing entirely).

But most importantly, this is not the kind of violence perpetrated by BDSM advocates. Consider the following list: spanking, whipping, burning, cutting, strangulation, rape, torture. Do any of these acts sound anywhere remotely like the equivalent of a pat on the back? Do we have a common ritual of strangling people to congratulate them? Do people spank each other on the street as a routine greeting?

The argument is the result of a profoundly confused mind. There is generally no issue with identifying acts of violence. We may disagree on which are justified and which are not, but I don’t think identification is an issue.

He then goes on to describe the popularity of BDSM and BDSM-based literature, and offers another absurd whopper:

Porn critics rail against X-rated media, but oddly, don’t condemn romance fiction for the way the male characters dominate and threaten the female protagonists. Why? Because romance fiction is written to appeal to women’s erotic fantasies. Women understand that it’s fantasy. But the researchers who call X-rated media violent apparently don’t recognize that porn is also fantasy. They erroneously believe that porn represents men’s real-world sexual agenda. As anti-porn activist Robin Morgan once said, “Porn is the theory. Rape is the practice.”

Yes, it’s that old bromide again, “pornography is fantasy.” I don’t know how stupid you have to be to believe such nonsense, but pornography, like most filmed media, is not fantasy. It depicts real acts performed on real people. The only exception is special effects, but most pornographic videos, being produced extremely cheaply, do not use special effects beyond screen wipes.

To compare literature with film betrays a deep media illiteracy. Romance fiction does not involve real women performing real acts. Pornographic movies do. Novels are make-believe, filming people is not. Even if they are acting, you are still filming something that’s actually happening. Literature cannot show us things that are actually happening (at best, they are a recollection or a retelling of something that did happen, filtered through our conceptual understanding).

It’s hard to understand why a supposedly serious publication like Psychology Today would agree to publish such blatant lies and drivel, even if it’s only an online blog article. The only reason why anyone would even pretend to agree with it, I think, is because they are BDSM advocates and they wish to grab onto anyone and anything which attempts to justify or rationalize away the rape, violence, and cruelty in BDSM. But certainly they can do better than such pathetic nonsense.

Does gender abolition lead to the destruction of cultures?

People who support some dominant institution which faces criticism sometimes make strong, dramatic claims about the dire consequences of abandoning that institution. I think there’s two main reasons for that. One, spectacular claims divert attention away from their own lies and misrepresentations. Two, people who defend destructive social constructs have to make the alternative sound worse.

Some FETAs make the claim that the abolition of gender will lead to cultural genocide. This is a laughable claim, in the same way that all other dramatic claims about abandoning religion, or class distinctions, or race distinctions, are laughable. They are wholly unrealistic disaster scenarios which are predicated on the essential nature of their pet institution.

This essay by a “non-binary” FETA is as good of an example of this tendency as any, and was shown to me by commentator John Doe, so I thought I would use it as a debunking of this sort of nonsense.

When confronted, what they mean when they say gender abolition is the abolition of Gender Roles (and sometimes Gender Behaviors and Gender Expressions). You have to wheedle this out of them, because they will describe these three distinct parts of gender as if they are all one thing.
They are not the same thing, nor are they one thing. They are parts of gender, so what they really want to get rid of are parts of gender.

We have to be specific about what gender is, because the root of the disagreement between FETAs and feminists starts at their conception of gender. FETAs believe that gender is an innate feeling that one is supposed to act in certain ways. Feminists believe that gender is a hierarchy (with men at the top and women at the bottom), which imposes a link between biological attributes (sex) and certain actions and attitudes (gender stereotypes). This link is what we call gender roles.

So while they are technically not the same thing, they are all part of gender and they are all necessary for the existence of gender. Eliminate gender roles and you’ve eliminated gender. To a FETA, this makes no sense, because they believe their gender feeling is innate and that gender roles are only a product of that feeling. But when feminists say they want to get rid of gender or gender roles, they mean the same thing, because getting rid of gender roles does mean getting rid of gender. Without the gender roles to link biology to, there is no way to establish a hierarchy with one role being superior and the other role being inferior.

Now, the argument they will often use in defense of their statements is that they are arguing it from a feminist perspective. In this perspective, it explicitly excludes biological aspects — so referencing any sort of social construction relating to biology (such as saying that then only sex would be left) is in direct contravention to this idea, since the social constructions themselves are part of the social conventions and structures that are part of Gender.

This refers to the common FETA belief that sex is a social construct. I have already debunked this fallacy-riddled, anti-scientific belief. Sex is a biological fact, not a social construct. Likewise, gender is a social construct, not a biological fact.

As for the accusation that feminists do not care about the biological aspects, well, that’s exactly backwards: feminists are very well aware that gender is assigned to people based on their biology at birth. Babies who come out looking more like males are assigned as boys and babies who come out looking more like females are assigned as girls. It is FETAs who deny the biological aspects of gender, since they believe that we have an “innate gender” which has no relation to the composition of our bodies. But this is clearly not true.

The outcome they invariably arrive at is that the world would be a better place, so that the exercise really looks like this:

* Say we will abolish gender.
* ?
* The world is better!

If you don’t believe me, ask them how they plan to achieve that stuff in the middle.

This is the same old argument given to people who advocate the abolition of any institution. I’m sure people who argued against slavery, a feature of world cultures for thousands of years, faced the same objections. Same for people who advocate against prostitution, which has been called “the world’s oldest profession.” And yet neither of these fights were, in the end, futile. Slavery has been made illegal in most countries, even though it still exists. The Nordic model has been adopted in many countries already, and is picking up steam. Did the first opponents of these institutions have a clear vision of how this would happen? I doubt it.

This is also a logical fallacy. Even if every single feminist who advocates for the abolition of gender has no concrete plan on how to do so, how does that prove that gender is desirable? This is a variant of the argument from ignorance: just because we can’t explain right now how gender could, or will, be abolished, does not mean it cannot be abolished.

So let me get to the point here and address the accusation of cultural genocide:

Getting back to that question mark, they seem to think that somehow this one thing will overcome all the other social aspects of differing culturals and varying identities, and magically change the world for the better. Yet if you say to them they are engaging in magical thinking (literally) then they get defensive and deny it, and so you have to take them at face value if you are acting in good faith and that means they are willing to engage in the western notion of manifest destiny and righteous propriety and actively colonize and override and in the end force entire other groups of people who have very different ideas of gender and propriety and destroy those cultures.

The thing is, we (anti-genderists) are against all conceptions of gender, not just non-Western conceptions of gender. It makes no more sense to accuse feminists of being imperialists for objecting to gender as it exists in other cultures, than to accuse them of being terrorists for objecting to gender as it exists in our societies. Feminists aren’t imperialists out to destroy other cultures. Actually, most feminists are against imperialism and are quite opposed to FETAs when they co-opt other cultures’ conceptions of gender (like Native Americans and the “two spirits”) for their own dogma.

If family is the building block of a society, then gender is the building block of family. That is how deep it lies within a given culture — at the root, as they note and claim, and what that means is that in attacking it, the ripples throughout that culture and society will, ultimately, destroy it.

Abolishing gender means not indoctrinating children and not imposing this concept on other people. Eradicating native cultures means imposing colonialist values on people by indoctrination or force. These two concepts are directly opposite. The latter is more like the imposition of gender that people like this FETA preach… a deviation from what is natural in humans. Forming cultures is a natural thing, but gender is not, not any more than racism or childism.

Gender is a bigotry that is deeply encoded in our cultures. As such, it is true that abolishing gender means an upheaval of cultures, in the same way that making slavery illegal has been an upheaval in many cultures. Saying that this makes it a bad thing because it destroys cultures is illogical. Even though slavery was a deeply held bigotry, abolishing it (on paper, at least) in many cultures has not destroyed those cultures. The only way to argue this is to ignore the victims of these practices as not being part of the culture. And that’s real erasure and real hatred.

In the case of gender, we are all victims to a certain extent, which means that abolishing gender cannot, in any way, destroy the culture, because we, its victims, are all part of it. You can imagine a way of life similar to the Ursula LeGuin story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, where an entire culture is built around the suffering of a single child, and where the entire population minus one benefits from it in absolute terms: perhaps, in this case, one could argue that saving that one child is not worth it because it means destroying the culture its suffering is built upon (I would disagree strongly, but the concept is not absurd on its face). But the case of gender is the opposite of this. Everyone is a victim and, while men benefit from it compared to women, no one benefits from it in absolute terms. Everyone would be better off without gender.

To conclude their rant, the FETA crows that gender abolitionists will never win (when have we heard this before?):

The biggest issue is that gender is a social construct, and there has, in all of human history, never been an abolishment of a social construct.

While this may be true, many social constructs which used to be very important have lost most of their importance. I already gave slavery as an example. While slavery is still very much extant everywhere, making it illegal has greatly reduced its importance. Monarchies and royalty in general has lost most of its importance in the world. Religious constructs, like gods, sin, and salvation, are still widely believed but have lost much of their importance in society. So why can’t the same thing ever happen with gender? I see no particular reason to believe that gender is somehow immune to the human desire for freedom and fairness which have moved people to overthrow these other oppressive constructs. In the long run, if humanity survives that long, I think the concept of gender will be thrown away into the dustbin of history. Do I know how it will happen? No, I’m not a psychic or a soothsayer. Why should I be expected to be in order to say something should be abolished? My inability to tell the future does not prevent me from having a moral sense.

The myth of “consensual prostitution” and “consensual pornography.”

One argument by the pornstitution crowd is that sex trafficking is not consensual, while prostitution or pornography are. Here is one definition proposed by the “sex worker” lobby: “a person who consensually exchanges their own sexual labor or sexual performance for compensation.”

This, however, completely obscures one important issue: does a monetary exchange generate consent? As it so happens, the main proponents of “sex work” have already answered that question. By and large, they believe that the fact that someone gets paid to do something does not generate consent, and can often be explained by a lack of opportunities or a lack of education. They reject the premises of free market capitalism, including the sacrosanct authority of property owners over their employees.

In fact, they believe that monetary exchange does not, in and of itself, generate consent in any area of life except for “sex work.” In that area, they say that (monetary) “compensation” generates consent. Why? Because sexual activity, according to their sex-positive doctrine, cannot be questioned, prostitution and pornography are forms of sexual activity (according to them, anyway), therefore prostitution and pornography cannot be questioned. To cast doubt on the validity of the concept of “sexual labor” is heresy.

This is obviously, and deeply, illogical. If monetary exchanges cannot generate consent, then they cannot do so in the specific case of “sexual labor.” If they do, then either the principle is wrong, or the liberal is simply in error in the case of “sexual labor.” Either “sexual labor” is labor, in which case it is the result of social conditions which must be changed, or it is not labor, in which case the label is simply mistaken.

But let us imagine a different world. You go to McDonalds to buy a burger (I have no idea why you would do such a thing, but let’s go with it). The employees are all dressed like cows, with prominent teats. While the kitchen makes your burger, the cashier gives you a blowjob, or gives you a whip so you can whip them while it’s happening, or plays with their teats, whatever. No, these are not ideas for a future Joking and Degrading entry. It’s a way to make capitalism palatable to sex-positive liberals. If every transaction in a capitalist society includes “sexual labor,” then wouldn’t that make capitalism completely acceptable to them? We could call this liberal sexitalism. Imagine the fun, the exploitation of women codified in every single aspect of society. So it’s like today, except much worse!

Perhaps they would object that the McDonalds murder burgers would still necessitate the exploitation of other species, but what does that matter when they already endorse the exploitation of human women? Anyone who seriously supports pornography and prostitution doesn’t give a shit that marginalized women are getting sexually assaulted, raped, disappeared, and killed. So why should they be worried about a few tens of millions of cows? Or are cows that much more important than actual human women that we should care only about the former? I am as much against factory farming as the next leftist, but the correct reason to be against factory farming is not “because cows are more important than women.”

Why would anyone ever argue that monetary exchange magically generates consent in the case of sex? This makes even less sense in the light of the liberal argument that “sex work” is just like any other kind of work. If it’s like any other kind of work, and monetary exchange does not entail consent in any other kind of work, then how can it do so with “sex work”?

As it happens, I do think that pornography and prostitution are different from most types of work. I also think that neither are consensual under capitalism, so the difference has no relevance to the topic at hand anyway. But if there is one way in which they are different, it’s in that women in pornography and prostitution are at high risk of sexual abuse, rape, and PTSD… in short, they’re worse off than most workers, not better off. So, in my view, the liberals have it exactly backwards. They blame “sex workers” for their choices and for the abuses that result. I think that’s abhorrent.

We are also told that we (radicals) are against women in pornography or prostitution. The sole fact that I have yet to meet any radical feminist (or any radical, for that matter) who is against women in pornography or prostitution leads me to believe that this is absolute bullshit. This is pure projection, coming as it does from a group of people who blame women for the “choices” they make. The radical view is the systemic one, and blaming individuals is not the radical thing to do. It is, however, the neo-liberalist thing to do.

Pole dancers talk about the power in “empowerment.”

1ecbd61eed7a7e7eaa69281325b065e3_zpszubsjfdu

Empowerment can be painful. But no pain no gain, am I right?

I have previously commented on the twisted use of the word “empowerment” in our new post-feminism culture (i.e. liberal feminism, the belief that systemic analysis of gender issues is no longer valid or desirable). It’s all about personal feelings, not facts. “Empowerment,” in this sense, is about the individual woman (because it is mostly about women) dealing with the ways in which she is constrained. Being subject to the male gaze, she “empowers” herself by taking control of the way her sexuality is seen by others. But this has nothing to do with actual power.

This entry by Meghan Murphy received a heap of comments from ignorant “polers” (which is apparently what pole dancers call themselves now) complaining about how pole dancing has “empowered” them. I thought this would be a good occasion to try to get to the bottom of this belief. So I asked them:

“You say you are “empowered.” What ACTUAL power do you have? Physical, financial, political, ideological, or what? What power are you talking about? Can you actually name the specific ways in which you are actually “empowered”?”

I expected many responses, but I only got two. It seems like the “empowerment” dogma is not as solid as I thought it was. Here is the first response:

It’s empowering in the way we are pushing our body to new limits. Like any athletes. Before I started pole dance, I was so so bad at sport, my cardio was bad, etc. Now I am fit, more confident about myself because I used to think I was a lost cause with sports, but here I am today doing flags for fun, always pushing my limits further. So yeah i find it pretty empowering.

There’s nothing wrong with a woman becoming fit, but this is not “empowering.” It feels empowering because you’re able to do more with your own body, but the fact that you feel better and that you’re able to do more is not, in itself, power. In our Western societies, physical strength is no longer the source of power it used to be, mainly due to guns and other mechanized weapons, and to technology making labor less physically demanding. I daresay that very few people, if any, are powerful individuals because they are strong individuals.

I know this is different from what these people are talking about. They are not talking about power, they are talking about their feelings. But feelings of being powerful do not give you actual power, the kind of power that actually matters in reality. That is where the danger lies. People who don’t have power and have to deal with the consequences (like women dealing with objectification, black people dealing with racist violence, poor people dealing with capitalist exploitation) have to fight for their rights. That requires the ability to look at the dynamics of power in reality: who has it, how does it work, and how it can be seized. Equating power with feelings deprives you of the ability to criticize hierarchies, and that ironically prevents you from seeing how to gain real power.

The power elite always wants people to introvert, because it prevents them from coming under examination. Christianity has been such a perfect tool of control because it puts the blame on individual sin and demands that the individual looks within oneself to eradicate sin. Likewise, the post-feminist worldview keeps women busy by having them constantly tend to their feelings, and equating feelings with reality. Women are too busy to look at the ideological and social structures that keep them exploited and oppressed.

This is why I believe that this “empowerment” talk needs to be deeply examined and debunked. Post-feminism is a dangerous path that can only lead to complete disaster for all women everywhere. The only end point of this sort of global introversion of the oppressed is voluntary and cheerful slavery (as we’ve seen with democracy and the power elite’s interests).

The second comment (from someone else) is pretty long, so I’m going to break it up.

I was hesitating to answer because many people have already mentioned it in many different ways and it has been rudely dismissed and ignored. But here it is: Through pole fitness I rediscovered the strength in a body that is not the “standard” of beauty and I gained love and power over my own body by accepting my body as it is and by nurturing it. The ability to learn tricks and gain strength through training gave me more confidence in all areas of my life, I gained power to stop caring about what men (or women) thought or didnt thought of me or my looks, I gained power to speak up in situations where I wasnt being treated fairly and where before I didnt have the confidence to speak up about, this gained confidence helped me at my work when I decided to pick up new challenges that moved my career forward because I learned by experience that I was capable of doing more than I previously imagined, I gained power by having the physical strength to do many more things by myself without needing help from someone stronger (i.e. A man). I gained a lot of respect from being independent and strong, I gained power by expanding my support system within the community and we all have gained power by teaching more people that our bodies our ours and can be beautiful and do marvelous things without the approval or for the entertainment of anyone other than ourselves.

I have to repeat myself here because the argument is basically the same. There’s nothing wrong with a woman gaining confidence in her life. Actually, I think that’s a great thing. Everyone, especially women, should have the confidence to speak up for themselves, loving their own bodies, and not caring so much about what other people think. Here’s the thing, though: whether you care what other people think or not, it still influences their actions. Can you just ignore it? Sure. But that doesn’t change reality.

Does it benefit her to gain respect from her peers and having a support system? Of course. So there are actual tangible benefits there beyond personal feelings, which is great. But you can get those from a lot of different activities and hobbies, none of which give you actual power. I used to talk about ethical and political issues from a more mainstream perspective, just divergent enough to be different, and I got a lot of respect for it. So what? It wasn’t the way to a real understanding or the way to understand how to gain more power, individually or collectively. The only ideologies which lead to power are those that help you understand how power is gained and kept.

The power elite feeds the masses airy words like “democracy,” “freedom” and “human rights,” but in their internal documents and in their actions they seek only domination and obedience, and if you believe the airy words you are a gullible fool. To a large extent this is true of other hierarchies as well. Anti-feminism serves genderism: it preaches “happiness” and “choice” to the faithful but produces only voluntary, cheerful servitude to oppressive gender roles. Are there secondary benefits to obedience? There have always been, otherwise obedience would be much harder to enforce. It is always a big fallacy from those purveyors of post-whatever to equate the presence of some benefit, any benefit, with the belief that there cannot be any exploitation going on (men are nice and open doors for you, therefore rape is not a big deal). I am not saying that this is what the commentator is doing: I believe she is writing in good faith, but she falls into the same traps.

I get it that you won’t care about this and that your idea of feminism is different than mine, that’s fine. When someone says they are feminists I think they would be open to hear other women’s thoughts so I am respectfully sharing them in the spirit of creating conversation and learning so we can all improve our views on what women need to do or not to do to further our cause. We work hard to disassociate this thing that has given us so much from negative connotations that come from fear, prejudism, and yes, the patriarchy that you hate so much.

This is not an issue of what your idea of feminism is. While our beliefs about feminism may cloud our judgment on factual issues, the facts remain what they are. Something being empowering or not is a statement of fact, not a statement of belief, ethics or feelings. The radical feminist questioning of pole dancing does not come from a position of fear, prejudice, or from supporting the patriarchy. Insofar as the question I asked her was concerned, and insofar as this entry is concerned, I am simply stating that the “empowerment” they use as their main argument is, factually, a dangerous delusion which is counter-productive to feminism (i.e. the interests of women as a class and the elimination of the patriarchy). The fact that it gives some women more confidence or more ability to deal with life, while important, does not cancel this out.

It seems the commenter may have thought I was a woman (or perhaps she thought I was Meghan Murphy, or someone else in the conversation), but I will answer for myself. As a man, my responsibility is to be informed on the topics I write, and to present a dissenting (pro-women) viewpoint as a man and to other men. I know that what I write is always under scrutiny from feminist women, with good reason, so I’ve always been very careful in what I put forward as “feminist.” I have to exercise due diligence at all times. I say this not to elicit sympathy or support, but to point out that I cannot, as some have suggested, “listen to what all women say,” because there are plenty of women who are not pro-women, even women who call themselves feminists. “Conversation and learning” implies that the commenter and I have common premises and common goals. This does not seem to be the case, at least on the issue of “empowerment.”

No one is harassing you, we are doing our part in sharing our experiences and keeping the conversation open until women who want to take this as a hobbie are not labeled in negative ways and to make sure whoever wants to, has a safe space to learn and experience it. We are not expecting or wanting it to be everywhere all the time, we are just asking for people to be respectful of those who chose to do it.

We come back once again to the confusion of systemic criticism with a personal attack. To criticize pole dancing as not being “empowering” does not mean that we dislike “polers.” I’m sure most of them are really nice people. I know that there are very nice and kind and good people who believe and act on all the ideologies I criticize on this blog (religion, natalism, statism, whatever), and I respect those people. The fact that I respect them does not mean they are right. Whether a person is respected or not has no bearing on the truth of what they are saying. Many people get respect when they say the worse kind of nonsense, and many people who dare to speak with clarity against hallowed beliefs don’t get nearly as much respect as they should. Respect and truth have no clear relation of cause and effect.

It’s easy for people supporting “empowering” practices to think of themselves as trailblazers who are helping women. And I don’t have any objections about that. My objection is when this translates into an ideological battle, where the possibility of actual empowerment (expressed by a systemic feminist analysis of what they’re doing) is being stifled in the name of fake “empowerment.” The goal of most of the “poler” commenters on Murphy’s entry was to try to silence her analysis, to tell her to shut up because her analysis goes counter to their beliefs.

Users of pornography should rightly be ashamed.

Should users of pornography be ashamed? Pornography is the visual representation of the objectification of women and of violence against women. People who get orgasms from pornography are getting orgasms from the exploitation of other human beings. Anyone should be ashamed of reaping the benefits of someone else’s exploitation. Should Westerners be ashamed they’re getting cheap clothes and electronics from actual slave labor? Yes, of course. I would say you are a very dull and insensitive, or a very hateful, person if you didn’t feel some guilt about it.

To a lot of people who believe themselves to be “modern,” guilt and shame are considered passé, impediments that need to be eliminated. They associate any positive attitude towards guilt or shame as a religious thing, a pre-modern thing, an irrational attitude. So when feminists say that users of pornography should be ashamed, and that the ideal world is a world where no one watches pornography because they are too ashamed to get off on women getting abused, they already know how to interpret that: in fact, it dovetails nicely with their smearing of feminists as right-wingers (as nonsensical as that is).

This article quotes a so-called “educator” as saying:

“The idea that we should all feel ashamed of ourselves, that we’re all damaged losers is really preposterous… So, a simple equation might be the more you believe sex is bad or shameful or immoral, the more you believe that watching porn is harmful and that sex addiction is possible.”

There is a subtle equivocation going on here: if you think users of pornography should be ashamed, and are all losers, you must therefore first believe that sex is immoral. This is a “simple equation,” and like all simplistic theories about a complex phenomenon, it’s also wrong. There are sex-negative people who believe that sexuality should not be exempt from criticism, there are people who abstain from sex (whether they are asexual, or for religious reasons), and there are people (antinatalists) who believe that procreation is immoral, but I do not know of anyone who believes that “sex is immoral.” That seems to me like a huge straw man against feminists, in the same way that bigots say that Andrea Dworkin preached that all sex is rape (she didn’t). So she’s basically equating people who are against pornography with people who are (imaginary) extremists and therefore unreasonable.

Neither the conservatives who oppose pornography because they are against female sexuality (and have deluded themselves into believing that pornography is a representation of female sexuality) and who support the objectification of women only as long as it’s done within marriage, or the radical feminists who oppose pornography because they are in favor of female sexuality and against all objectification of women, are against sex. Conservatives do not oppose sex because they use sex as a tool against women, and radical feminists do not oppose sex because sex itself is not the problem, the objectification and the fact that pornography solely serves, and molds, male sexual desire is the problem.

I am sex-negative, but I do not believe that sex is inherently bad, shameful, or immoral. What I do believe is that all expressions of sex need to be analyzed critically, and that includes representations of sex like pornography. I do believe that using pornography is shameful and immoral. But to equate this with a hatred of sex is like saying that I oppose advertisements on television because I hate people recommending things to each other. Clearly the problem with advertisements and other “sponsored content” is not that it recommends things to us, but in how it does this and in how it infiltrates all areas of our lives.

The parallel is fairly obvious, I think: the main problem with pornography is not that it represents sex, but in how it does it and how it infiltrates our lives. If someone seriously tried to argue that advertisements should not be analyzed critically, and that watching advertisements is “healthy,” it would just be very strange. And yet when people say the same thing about pornography they are hailed as experts. It all depends, I suppose, on who is pretending to determine expertise in that case. I happen to have the weird opinion that anyone who makes bizarre statements without evidence should not be called an expert on the subject, but what do I know? I’m no expert.

If it’s healthy to use pornography, then why be ashamed of it? Sure, but what’s healthy about it? Pornography is not good for your sexual health or your mental health. It gives users unrealistic ideas about the female body, it makes men want to perform unsatisfying or hurtful acts on women’s bodies, and it changes men’s attitudes towards women in a very negative way. Pornography created a generation of men who believe that women owe them sex like they’ve seen in pornography, and that women actually like that sort of sex, that women love to be degraded and treated like sexual objects. This is not healthy by any meaning of the word.

To teach that pornography is shameful has nothing to do with “teaching people that sex is shameful.” To equate the two means to equate pornography with sex which, as I’ve said many times before, is the same as equating McDonalds with food. Pornography and McDonalds are a degraded, artificial, capitalistic parody of sex and food. We should not more defend pornography for selling us shitty representations of sex than we should defend McDonalds for selling shitty food. We should no less be ashamed of the existence of the pornographic industry than we should be ashamed of the existence of McDonalds.

A dude at Upworthy wants you to know that pornography shouldn’t be banned.

Evan Porter, writing for Upworthy, wrote a pro-pornography screed which is more imbecilic than most of the ones I’ve reviewed here before. I don’t usually go into the “feminism that caters to men is fun and edgy!” source materials, like Upworthy, mainly because they tend to be inane and devoid of logical argumentation. They inevitably degenerate into “choice” and “agency” rhetoric, self-ownership, equating feminists with misogynists, and other platitudes which are meaningless but make centrists feel tolerant and inclusive.

This one, however, has some twists to it. Very silly twists, but twists nevertheless. So I think it would behoove us to refute this nonsense, because people read this stuff and think it’s credible, mainly because they haven’t heard these arguments presented in that way before.

1. Anti-porn arguments are dangerously anti-science.

The anti-porn movement makes a number of scary-sounding claims: Men who watch porn will fall out of love with their partners; it causes them to lash out violently at women; it destroys the innocent, malleable minds of young people who view it.

The only problem is, most of this stuff is (probably) untrue.

Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist who specializes in human sexuality, says the majority of respected science reports viewing porn can have a positive, or at least a neutral, effect on a person. That hasn’t stopped opponents from twisting, ignoring, or even nearly fabricating results to say otherwise.

What Porter is presenting here is not the feminist view of the consequences of pornography, but the “drug scare” view of pornography. In the days before the Drug War, marijuana and cocaine were presented to people as leading to immediate violent crimes and to crippling lifelong addiction, and the right presents pornography in the same manner. So the mainstream view is that pornography should be illegal because it leads to men raping in the streets, marriages breaking up, and that it is an addictive substance, like a drug.

The feminist view does not present pornography as part of the addiction model, but as part of the conditioning model. Pornography does not turn the viewer into a sex-crazed maniac on the spot. Rather, it is, when repeated over and over, a conditioning tool, because the viewer gradually creates an association between their orgasm (a powerful stimuli) and what they are seeing on the screen, usually violent sex acts and the objectification of women. With more and more exposure, male viewers associate their sexual pleasure with violence against women and the objectification of women, while female viewers associate their sexual pleasure with their own objectification. Although we do know that many men develop an addiction simply because they become unable to orgasm without seeing pornography that has a certain level of violence, the addiction is not necessary for the conditioning to take place (we’re also conditioned by socialization, but socialization is not addictive).

As for the study that is presented to us as proving that pornography has a positive effect on people, well. You can read it yourself at this link, if you want a laugh. Look, for instance, at the “positive effects” of pornography:

Most people who view VSS [Visual Sexual Stimuli] believe that it improves their attitudes towards sexuality and improves their quality of life. More VSS viewing has been related to greater likelihood of anal and oral sex and a greater variety of sexual behaviors. This increased breadth of sexual behaviors could arise by increasing a person’s feeling of empowerment to suggest new sexual behaviors or by normalizing the behaviors. In any case, sexual novelty can increase pleasure in long-term partners. VSS can also promote pleasant feelings in the moment, such as happiness and joy. Additionally, VSS may provide a legal outlet for illegal sexual behaviors or desires. Increased VSS consumption or availability has been associated with a decrease in sex offenses, especially child molestation and inhibition of aggression.

Right now I can just imagine every woman who’s ever been pressured or coerced into anal or oral sex seething with rage, and every other woman laughing their asses off at this passage. I mean, I couldn’t make this up. This is pure misogyny disguised as a “study.”

The final claim is perhaps the most surprising. The two studies referred by the “child molestation” section are behind some kind of paywall or registration, so I can’t judge their contents. One of them claims that there is “evidence” (but not conclusive evidence) that pornography decreases child molestation rates, and the other suggests that pornography may be a reason for a decrease in child molestation in Denmark. Neither of these studies talk about the effect of looking at child pornography, which is the crux of the matter here. So, as far as I can tell, the “association” between pornography and lowered child molestation rates is a hypothetical one at best. The claim of “inhibition of aggression” simply repeats the claim that viewers of pornographic images do not become immediately violent, a claim that feminists do not make anyway.

For more on the bizarre no-subconscious model adopted by liberals to defend pornography (i.e. “if pornography does not make someone violent immediately, then it has no effect at all”), see this entry.

2. Attacks on porn are often attacks on the LGBTQ community.

There’s been a lot of talk about simply “enforcing existing obscenity laws,” which doesn’t sound so bad. After all, there’s nothing illegal about most porn featuring consenting adults, right?

Actually, within the law, the Supreme Court (and Trump’s likely extremely conservative appointments) has a lot of leeway to decide what is considered obscene and, therefore, legal.

Kitty Stryker, a writer and former adult actress, put it this way, “One of the first things to go in that kind of censorship is not heterosexual porn. It’s queer porn, gay porn, porn with trans people in it, porn with interracial relationships.”

Again, the argument here demonstrates that what Porter is really attacking is not the anti-pornography position (the position adopted by feminists), but right-wing prudery. Right-wing prudes are mainly against non-heterosexuality, not against the objectification of women. They fight what they (falsely) believe is sexual freedom. Feminists fight mostly against heterosexual pornography because patriarchy in sexuality is expressed mainly through heteronormativity: the position that we should all be heterosexual, have heterosexual sex, act according to our gender roles, and follow the heterosexual life plan (marry, have PIV sex, have children, have grand-children).

Generally speaking, while “queer” pornography, homosexual pornography, and trans pornography still tend to express misogyny in some form, we (anti-pornography advocates) do not see it as the crux of the problem. Our attacks against pornography are aimed at heterosexual pornography, not LGBT-related pornography. The fact that right-wing prudes don’t see it that way proves nothing except that right-wingers operate under a false set of beliefs (including extreme genderism and heteronormativity).

3. The anti-porn movement is often carried out in the name of feminism. Many would argue the opposite is true.

Feminist author and leading anti-porn activist Gail Dines writes, “The more porn images filter into mainstream culture, the more girls and women are stripped of full human status and reduced to sex objects. This has a terrible effect on girls’ sexual identity because it robs them of their own sexual desire.”

But maybe this isn’t so much a problem with pornography as it is one with our entire culture.

After all, actress Evan Rachel Wood famously skewered the MPAA for censoring a scene from one of her films that featured a woman receiving oral sex. Meanwhile, guys getting blowjobs in Hollywood movies is pretty much standard procedure.

Say what you will about the sultry looks and the over-the-top moaning that’s synonymous with porn films, but at least they’re not afraid to show female pleasure.
*&**

I have to give Porter props for quoting Gail Dines, the most prominent anti-pornography advocate at present. Her work is absolutely amazing and highly recommended to all my readers. And she is absolutely right. Objectification is carried over from pornography into mainstream media and into the public consciousness. Arguing that this is a cultural problem is akin to arguing that cancer is not really a medical problem, but rather a problem with our entire body, since our body is made of cells that divide. That may be so, but it is a singularly unhelpful statement. More to the point, saying that cancer is a body problem does not tell us what causes it, or how to fight it.

Likewise, saying that the objectification of girls is a cultural problem makes it sound as if girls just pick this up from the social aether, that it has no definite cause. This is clearly not the case. We know what the cause is: the pornified depictions of girls and women as sexual objects or as objects of desire. It’s not rocket science. Depicting a woman receiving oral sex is not acceptable because women’s sexual pleasure is not generally an accepted thing in pornography either. No need to invoke the entire culture to explain it.

As for the last line, I think it’s quite clear that Porter has not seen any pornography that was made in the last twenty years, which makes him uniquely unqualified to write on the subject (although you have to wonder, why is this dude who clearly never watches pornography defending it?). I have no idea what “female pleasure” he’s talking about, but again, there’s not much of that in pornography, except if you go in the absolutely softest side of pornography, where there is some concern for showing women having an orgasm and enjoying themselves and so on. But this is not the vast majority of pornography that exists, and not the kind of pornography that children are first exposed to.

4. They say banning porn is about fighting sex trafficking, but conflating the two just makes things worse.

Human trafficking is bad — finally, something we can agree on!

But experts say propagating the myth that porn and sex work are totally overrun with people being held against their will (they’re not, at least in America) makes it that much harder for people who truly need help to get it.

The refutation only makes sense because the argument presented is batshit insane. I have never seen any argument that pornography and “sex work” are full of trafficked women. Yes, there are trafficked women in both cases, but I am quite sure it isn’t the majority by any means, and I have never seen any anti-pornography advocate saying such a thing. This is a straw man, and I don’t even know of what. This point is really only there to lead into a spiel for the legalization of “sex work” as the safe alternative, which is just silly nonsense. Real life cases have shown that legalizing the exploitation of women does not make it safer, and it does not hinder human trafficking. Only the Nordic Model does both of these things.

5. A lot of the same people who want to ban porn also want to ban abortion and outlaw same-sex marriage.

Fight the New Drug, a leading anti-porn awareness group, offers a whole host of alleged scientific evidence that porn is harmful, but many of the studies it cites come from the Witherspoon Institute, a research body co-founded by Robert George, who’s also the founder of the National Organization for Marriage. (Take a wild guess what they do.)

There is no link to any Fight the New Drug page or the biased studies on the article itself, so I went to Fight the New Drug to find those studies. There are a total of 22 citations presented as support for the factual assertions from Fight the New Drug. Of those 22, 4 are credited to the Witherspoon Institute, which is a conservative institute with clear conservative aims and which should not be quoted as a source. I agree with Porter that this is regrettable.

However, this does not prove his conclusion. By and large, anti-pornography advocates do not want to ban abortion or attack same-sex marriage specifically, because they are feminists. The fact that an anti-pornography organization references a conservative organization does not prove that anti-pornography advocacy is conservative. And if it does, then let me make the following argument: Evan Porter quotes Gail Dines (and agrees with her!), and his article was approved by Upworthy, therefore a lot of the same people who support pornography also agree that pornography objectifies women and promotes violence against women.

The lesson here is, don’t make straw man arguments, because they’ll only make you look stupid.

Entitlement and privilege: hierarchy is the root problem.

It is not fashionable to blame hierarchies for systemic problems. It seems most people believe that hierarchies are necessary, and even beneficial.

The case of gender is no different. Gender is a hierarchy, where men are the superiors and women are the inferiors. Genderism, the ideological support for gender, is as strong as it ever was. One of the main consequences of this denial is the justification of entitlement and privilege. People don’t really oppose entitlement unless it is part of dysfunctional behavior (like young male mass shooters), in which case they single it out as “sick.” And privilege, as far as I can tell, is rarely opposed at all, except by those who are victimized by it (and not even then, if those victims have any hope of getting the privilege themselves in the future).

Hierarchy is a system of systemic and directed control. This system can be an organization (a school), an institution (the family), or a prejudice (genderism). Whatever the hierarchy is, it has superiors, people who wield control, and inferiors, people who are targeted by the control (not necessarily completely separated, as people can be part of both groups in different ways, such as in a workplace with layers of management). Superiors expect certain patterns of behavior from their inferiors (such as a submissive or humble attitude), and inferiors expect certain responses from their superiors if they fail, disappoint, or do the wrong things (getting reprimanded, getting fired, getting punished, losing resources).

Entitlement happens when a person feels owed something because of their social role. We all know the stereotype of the rich shopper who treats store employees like shit. Although it may not seem like it, this is directly related to hierarchy: the rich shopper has control over the employees because they have some influence over the managers.

There is no sense of entitlement that is not mediated by a hierarchy. We all expect to be treated in certain ways because we are aware of our status in the hierarchies we navigate in, and we all adjust our behavior accordingly. In those areas where we are either superiors or have influence over them, we naturally expect to be treated in certain ways and to be allowed to do certain things. This does not mean you can’t be nice about it: magnanimity towards your inferiors is considered to be a good trait, and even people who abuse their power don’t generally do it in the open (and when they do, it’s almost always a form of abuse which is supported and/or codified by the hierarchy or society as a whole).

Male entitlement is a good example of all these points. It is not only the result of the gender hierarchy, but it is also mediated by many other hierarchies, such as the mass media, the family, and capitalism. Men in relationships with women, or dealing with women in the public spheres, expect certain behaviors from women (such as meeting fuckability standards, or openness to being validated by men), and women prepare for certain responses from men (by putting on makeup, by preparing for self-defense, by not doing certain things such as being alone at night, by guarding their drinks, by making first dates in public spaces, and so on). Many men behave completely respectfully and appropriately towards women, but they still benefit from women’s responses, which are generally geared towards appeasing men.

Privileges are actual benefits granted to people on the basis of their social role. If entitlement is the psychological side of domination, privilege is the concrete side. Many people who hold to an entitlement are clearly mistaken, such as men who become shooters because they believe they are entitled to voluntary sex from women (while society does operate under the assumption that men are entitled to sex through prostitution or rape, that sex is not at all voluntary). People may feel entitled to something that is not their actual privilege, and they may not feel entitled to something that is their privilege. Privilege is all the benefits we actually get.

Again, all privileges exist because of hierarchies. White privilege, which is much talked about these days because of racial warfare in the United States, exists because of the racial hierarchy and is mediated by other hierarchies, like the justice system, the military, the government as a whole, and capitalism (and of course the mass media, as the servant of public opinion, which is largely racist). Being white confers a number of privileges, such as being assumed to be reasonably intelligent, trustworthy, and peaceful unless proven otherwise, not being targeted by the justice system and other government organizations, having an easier time finding a job and getting the highest levels of schooling, and being heavily represented at the highest levels of most hierarchies and in most media. While many white people believe they do not possess these privileges, they do, nevertheless.

Many white people interpret this as a personal attack against them, that they are personally oppressing black people. But as I pointed out about male entitlement, you don’t have to be personally coercive in order to reap the rewards of other people being coercive. But white people are not, by and large, aware of the effects of white privilege on black people, so this process is generally invisible to them. So they have no frame of reference by which they could systemically analyze the issue.

Compounding the problem is that superiors in a hierarchy typically have weak egos. When you are routinely not challenged by anyone or anything in an environment, you will not mature emotionally in relation to that environment. It is said that men are less mature than women, and that’s because they tend to encounter fewer challenges. Likewise for white people as regards to race.

I do atypical work for a white person, which is that I lead primarily white audiences in discussions on race every day, in workshops all over the country. That has allowed me to observe very predictable patterns. And one of those patterns is this inability to tolerate any kind of challenge to our racial reality. We shut down or lash out or in whatever way possible block any reflection from taking place.

Of course, it functions as means of resistance, but I think it’s also useful to think about it as fragility, as inability to handle the stress of conversations about race and racism.

This is understandable. If you are white or male, if this is part of your core identity, and you get constant benefits from it, then you would have no interest whatsoever in discussing whether being white or male harms other people. In general, people will not question anything their livelihood or personal identity depends on.

In all cases, entitlement and privilege are not the root problems, hierarchies are the root problem. Entitlement and privilege exist because hierarchies exist. Generally, the most unequal systems entail the highest levels of entitlement and privilege, and the more egalitarian a system is, the less entitlement and privilege can exist within it.

DD/lg as pedophilia and childism.

DD/lg (daddy dom/little girl) is a subset of BDSM which consists of older men doting on, and having sex with, younger women (sometimes actual children) who display infantile behavior and dress like children. Here are some examples of pictures used by daddies or littles (as they are called) on their blogs:





Please note that I have not deliberately chosen the worst or most squeaky images. These are only a sampling taken from a short, arbitrary interval of time.

Many people have been accusing the men involved in DD/lg (the “daddies,” a term I will not use because of its squeakiness) of being pedophiles. The standard reply from BDSM proponents is that, like all BDSM, DD/lg is not actual abuse but simulated abuse. This, however, is as poor of an argument as people who argue that pornography is not “real.” Both arguments assume that any degree of artificiality whatsoever means that nothing is real, either in a movie or in a BDSM scene. And yet this is clearly not true: how could pornographic actresses be raped on set and how could subs experience “sub drop” if nothing is real?

BDSM is not a simulation, as a simulation implies some kind of analogous, but not equivalent, situation (e.g. the car, train, or airplane simulator, used with a keyboard or controller, is analogous for using a real car, train, or airplane, which have completely different controls). Being in a simulation is not the same kind of experience as actually doing the thing simulated. Pornography and BDSM are the same kind of thing as abuse (i.e. actions performed by human bodies onto other human bodies), they are merely “softer” forms of abuse (unless actual rape is performed).

For the dom, DD/lg is about the fetishism of, and fantasy about, sexual activities with children, implemented through adult women (and sometimes actual children). This is literally pedophilia. Advocates will strenuously argue that it cannot be pedophilia because it involves adult women, but that is irrelevant to the issue of sexual orientation and sexual disorders, which we evaluate by looking at a person’s sexual fantasies. A gay man in the closet may have sex with women, but that does not make him heterosexual. Many people have fetishes or kinks that they do not act upon, but that does not nullify their existence. The fact that a pedophile may have sex with adult women does not nullify his pedophilia. It is the sexual fantasies that make him a pedophile.

[A]geplay and ddlg can ONLY be understood in the context of child abuse. the entire point of it is to imitate and act out scenarios in which children are groomed, punished, and sexually abused by an adult– specifically by their fathers or other male relatives in the case of ddlg.

The standard defense of pedophilia nowadays is to argue that the pedophile is a good person as long as they don’t act on their desires. Pedophiles even argue that their basic restraint should be seen as noble. I cannot agree that not raping children is noble or makes one a good person. I would say it is a very basic duty we all have as citizens and human beings, and that fulfilling it merely makes you not pure evil. There is no reason to give cookies for it. A fetish is not a compulsion, but even if it was, it would only demonstrate that pedophiles are innately dangerous and unworthy of freedom, not that they are noble people. If I had any kind of destructive compulsion, I certainly wouldn’t brag about it, and the fact that some pedophiles do so inclines me to believe that they don’t really have the restraint they claim to have.

Pedophilia is not in itself childism, because it is a sexual desire, not a theory, but it lends itself easily to childism. After all, pedophilia, and DD/lg as an expression of pedophilia, is based on the objectification of children as sexual targets. I think the above images explain this well enough. The pedophile does not see children (or children seen through a substitute) as persons with their own values and desires, but as passive receptacles for their sexual desire. The DD/lg dynamic reproduces this by having women dress us like girls and roleplay innocence, a sense of play, and other psychological traits we usually attribute to children, and then having them be used sexually by men who pretend to be their father or another adult male figure. The “little” is at the mercy of the “daddy”‘s sexual desire, like how real children are at the mercy of their abusers (usually their father or other male family member).

Furthermore, it does so by appropriating the language and behaviors of childhood. I know the word “appropriation” is somewhat overused, but in this case it is particularly appropriate. There are many stories of girls who find themselves ashamed of saying the word “daddy” or having braids because of DD/lg participants using them for sexual purposes. This appropriation takes place over the Internet, when girls looking for typical childhood interests see keywords invaded by DD/lg images and messages. It has also been noted that men seem to enjoy sexualizing media meant for children, and DD/lg is a big part of that.

Because children are generally not aware of their existence as a social class, and children are generally not informed enough to formulate a critique of DD/lg or BDSM in general (although I do want to point out that this is not universally true, as some children do criticize DD/lg), it is easy for DD/lg proponents to speak over children and their needs. This is why I identify DD/lg as being particularly childist. DD/lg gives pedophiles an open space to formulate rationalizations for child abuse, rationalizations which can be used by real offenders, just like BDSM supports and abets rapists and violent abusers.

The tendency of modern pornography to infantilize women has been noted a long time ago. This infantilization is mostly used to impose rigorous fuckability standards on women. DD/lg is a whole different animal: it is not only used to control women but also to sexualize infancy itself, and to rationalize that sexualisation. Both represent dangers to girls and young women, but the danger that DD/lg may be used to make pedophilia respectable is crucially important, both from a feminist standpoint and from an anti-childist standpoint.