Category Archives: Radical feminism

Talking ’bout pedophilia.

The issue of pedophilia lies at the crossroads of childism and “sex-positivity,” with misogyny added for good measure. Pedophilia advocates are using the “innate sexual orientation” argument that has worked so well for homosexuals, hoping to dupe liberals and other “tolerant” folks into pitying their sad fate.

I have already given some idea of my position about pedophilia in this entry on why DD/LG (Daddy Dom/Little Girl) is pedophilia. Since then, I have had first hand experience with the rationalizations that pedophilia advocates use to defend their position, which is why I wanted to get into this topic further.

As I said, their main argument is that pedophilia is innate, and not a choice. And if it’s innate, then we can’t blame the individual pedophiles for it. While there are pedophiles who assault children, there are also pedophiles who do not. While “bad” pedophiles should be punished for their crimes, these “good” pedophiles should be pitied and helped (but only if they want to be helped, we wouldn’t want to infringe on their freedom).

The first, and most basic, issue with the argument is that we have no more evidence that pedophilia is innate than we have evidence that homosexuality is innate. This is not to say that I am against homosexuality (quite the opposite, actually), but that I see no reason to believe its “innate” framework until it’s been demonstrated. Likewise, I see no reason to believe that pedophilia is innate until that’s demonstrated as well.

This does not mean that I blame pedophiles for being pedophiles. I am a determinist, so I don’t believe in blame. To me, that’s a non-concept. However, not blaming people does not mean I don’t believe in personal responsibility. People are responsible for who they are and what they do, whether they are to blame or not. I’ve used the analogy of a machine in a factory many times before: if a machine is malfunctioning and producing defective products, you would shut it down and repair it, regardless of whether it is to blame or not (granted, the analogy is not perfect).

We know that pornography has something to do with pedophilia (as well as its greater acceptance). Pornographers have always tried to appeal to their clientele’s “inner pedo” (which is now bolstered by pseudo-science) with underage-looking women, or actually underage women with falsified contracts. People who are attracted to that sort of thing naturally “graduate” to actual child pornography, and from there to child assault. So there is some percentage of pedophilia which is not innate but the result of pornographic conditioning. What that percentage is, I have no idea. Pedophilic images from pornography have also leaked into the wider world, contributing to the normalization of being attracted to underage individuals.

it is true that there are pedophiles who do not assault children, but this does not prove that they are “good pedophiles.” While sexually assaulting children definitely makes you scum, we don’t usually praise people’s morality for not sexually assaulting people, because that’s a basic thing that everyone should be doing anyway. The fact that they refrain from assaulting children does not nullify the fact that they are sexually attracted to children.

In my opinion, this whole separation of “good and bad pedophiles” is a form of grooming, because it legitimizes pedophilia as a valid orientation, and that party line is pushed on young girls who complain about older men creeping on them. I’ve witnessed this bullshit many times on social media. Even if the pedophilia proponents are outraged that you’d even suggest that they’re grooming young girls, or would even deny that they support pedophilia (as in the case of DD/lg), that’s what they’re doing. Likewise with the constant insistence that “real BDSM” is nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey, which reinforces the notion that there is such a thing as “good BDSM” based on consent. These are all lies told to young women to get them to accept BDSM and pedophilia as normal and acceptable.

These ideas also contribute to pedophile culture. For more information on what pedophile culture is about, read this article on Feminist Current. The word “culture” in this context refers to a set of attitudes and rules which are mutually reinforcing and are accepted or thrive within a society (e.g. rape culture). Pedophile culture is not only expressed in the standards we set for women and girls, or in the way we talk about children, but also in the way it makes pedophilia itself invisible (just as rape culture makes many rapes invisible). People are simply unable to recognize pedophilia when they see it. And talk about “good pedophiles” and “real BDSM” contributes to that invisibility.

The belief in “good pedophiles” is also childist, because it posits that it is good for people to be sexually fantasizing about children. Children do not deserve to be sexual fantasies, and to say anything else is not only gross but a lack of respect towards children. Likewise, the pornification of children’s media and children themselves contribute to making the Internet a hostile place for children, as well as being highly disrespectful.

Pedophilia advocates have a number of arguments supporting pedophilia, but they mostly reduce themselves to two: the innateness arguments and the cultural relativist arguments.

There are two main innateness arguments, one that pedophilia is an innate orientation, and one that men are naturally pedophilic, which, as I said, is supported by pseudo-science. While it is true that pedophiles are by and large male, there is no evidence that pedophilia is innate and plenty of reasons to believe that it is a result of male socialization and pornographic conditioning. I don’t think there is any definite proof on the subject, but the burden of proof is on the pedophilia advocates.

Cultural relativist arguments center around the role of culture: one holds that past cultures show that pedophilia can be validated, while another holds that pedophilia is illegal in our societies only because of our repressive culture. But this is really cultural supremacism, not cultural relativism, because they are saying that the judgment of pedophilic cultures (e.g. Ancient Greece) that pedophilia is good should have precedence over our (Western culture) judgment that pedophilia as a general concept (if not in all particulars) should not be allowed. But why should we assume that pedophilic cultures are superior to ours? You can only arrive to that conclusion if you start from the premise that pedophilia is superior to the alternative, therefore it’s circular reasoning.

Furthermore, these arguments go against the “good and bad pedophiles” distinction, since they advocate open attraction or outright sex with children, which is in the “bad” category. Promoting pedophilia as innate makes no sense if you’re not also advocating for the expression of that orientation: to take their analogy with homosexuality to its logical extent, people who promote homosexuality don’t do so under the premise that gays should stay in the closet, but rather advocate for open homosexuality. Likewise, cultural relativists argue from cultures which allow open pedophilic expression, and the illegality they decry is the illegality of pedophilic expression (since it is not illegal to be a pedophile, as long as you don’t express it).

So now the pedophilia advocate is caught in a dilemma. If they want to use these arguments to support pedophilia, then they have to accept that they are also supporting child rapists. If they want to use a True Scotsman fallacy and separate the “good pedophiles” from the “bad pedophiles,” then all their arguments for pedophilia are refuted. Either way, it’s not a very good case.

“Girls just wanna have fun” and other infantilizations.

It’s probably one of the first things that anyone who converts to feminism realizes, and so it may be somewhat trivial, but the word “girls” used to designate grown women is pretty infantilizing. Adult females are women, not girls or chicks (newly hatched birds), and they should be called women.

That much is obvious, but there’s a lot more behind these words. There is a whole ideology of infantilization, and this is only the most visible manifestation of it. It is also one of the least significant, especially since these words have changed in meaning over time, like all words do. The words are symbols emergent from a disease, not the disease.

The infantilization of women takes many forms, from BDSM and DD/lg to mansplaining, the association of women with frivolous pursuits like shopping and shoes while serious things are associated with men, the belief in women as emotional and pre-rational beings, and so on. I have commented about most of these issues on this blog, so I will not repeat myself here.

Infantilization doesn’t just mean equating women with children. As I’ve discussed on the issue of childism, children are associated with wildness, and the need to be tamed and pacified so they can fit within society. Likewise, women have been associated with wildness, although in their case wildness means sexual depravity. So we get things like “girls gone wild,” and the association of “savages” with being oversexed and animalistic.

Some women have reappropriated this and have associated wildness with courage, adventure, and independence in general. But liberal feminists still associate women with being oversexed, by calling all women sluts and whores through the use of the terms “slut-shaming” and “whore-shaming.” Men, of course, also love to link women to oversexed terms, even women who refuse to have sex with them.

But infantilization is not strictly a gender thing. Think of Catholic priests, “fathers,” calling everyone “my child.” God being the “father” of all mankind, and humans as “his” property to dispose of as “he” wills, with violence if “he” finds it necessary. Citizens being the sons and daughters of the motherland/fatherland. People seeing pets as their children. The infantilization of people of color, especially indigenous populations. The paternalistic State. “Childish” being used as an insult: to be like a child is to be “immature,” that is to say, to not conform to social norms, to be disobedient, to remain “wild,” to not be serious or responsible. And while, clearly, not all abusive personal or social relationships are infantilizing, most abusive relationships have some elements of infantilization (e.g. “I really know better than you, so just do what I say”).

You don’t really hear anyone talking about any of these things as childist phenomena, or even as specific phenomena worthy of note (except for the infantilization of people of color, which has been analyzed in The Culture of Conformism, by Patrick Hogan, and probably others places I don’t know about). Childism is the very first hierarchy we experience, albeit not completely consciously, and a case can be made that that experience is where we derive our hierarchical dynamics, with the metaphorical father as the strict dispenser of “discipline” and punishments.

I think childism fits well with other hierarchies because there is no doubt in everyone’s mind that children are actually biologically and mentally inferior. Therefore, treating women or POC like children reinforces the belief that women and POC are biologically or mentally inferior, even to people who may not hold this belief consciously. Likewise, being treated like a child by a superior, whether explicitly or implicitly, is likely to make you feel inferior, incompetent, or irresponsible. And there’s the added bonus that, because we are so unconcerned by childism, infantilization most often passes under the radar. Being treated paternalistically may make you feel frustrated or want to escape the situation, but you’re not likely to jump from there to the concept of infantilization or childism.

The intersection of childism and sexual abuse.

The association between childism and sexual abuse is an old one. Many people have remarked about the absurdity of Freud’s theories about children having sexual drives which push adults to rape them. In that sense, the hatred and objectification of children has always come with acceptance of the sexual abuse of children. The concept that children were objects into which one could pour one’s anger or sexual frustration (as Lloyd de Mause calls it, the “child as poison container” mechanism) was historically a common belief, both in the Western world and in the ancient cultures we revere. In that sense, the idea that children have needs that should be fulfilled by their parents, and are not just objects to be used by the parents to fulfill their own needs, is a very new idea, historically speaking.

As I said, the modern formulation of childism came to us straight from the Freudian belief that young children who are abused are really seducing their parents, that children are the initiators of their own sexual assault, and that therefore the way to resolve issues with the adults who were sexually assaulted by their parents is for them to make their peace with their parents and to forgive them. This is a standard blaming the victim setup that we apply to all exploited people: how did they actually deserve it?

The answer is given to us by the layers of rationalizations. We frame childhood as a form of depravity, which is derived from its wildness (the same general principle applies to nativeness and other “inferior” ethnicities). It is socially necessary to keep children under control because otherwise they would run amok, de-civilize society, and, through their unending needs that constantly need fulfilling, rule over us. Or as a parent once told me, parents are slaves to their children because they are forced to serve them (although there’s no word on how that child somehow managed to force the parents to conceive it despite not existing, let alone being able to cause anything).

The idea of attributing malice to young children, despite a complete lack of evidence of such, is another widespread and bizarre phenomenon. I discussed a couple of examples in this entry. It seems that we automatically associate children with depravity, and that it takes at least some conscious effort not to do so. This is a powerful incentive for people to remain childist.

If we believe that children seduce adults into having sex with them, then the next logical step is pedophilia and its various sub-categories (DD/lg, ephebophilia, lolita, and so on). Children are eroticized because we eroticize infantile traits, such as hairless and blemish-free skin, big eyes, shaved vulva, and most importantly, “innocence” (a false concept that would probably take an entire entry to unpack). Men want to have sex with children because they possess those erotic traits, but they generally cannot do so, which gives rise to fake teen pornography, illegal child pornography, “loli” hentai, and so on.

Nowadays, pedophilia has been integrated within alternative sexualities because it’s “edgy” and “transgressive” (there’s even a push to call trafficked girls “sex workers”). Most heterosexual men are pedophiles, albeit of the mundane kind, and therefore not “edgy.” Mundane in the sense that they are attracted to girls, due to the eroticization of infantile traits, but they are also attracted to women. This is too mainstream, not “edgy,” and therefore unworthy of the attention of the new genderists. What interests them, however, are pedophiles of the extraordinary kind, those who are only attracted to children. That’s where the real transgression is.

The opposite error is to hold that children are “pure.” Children are human beings and have sexual needs, mostly a need to discover what bodies are all about. They are, after all, discovery machines, and preventing children from discovering is an aberration. Their sexual needs, however, do not exist to be exploited by adults.

A child does not become an adult, but is made an adult, by getting the wildness beaten out of them (metaphorically or, in sadder cases, literally). The cutoff age (whether 16, 18, or 21 years old) is just an estimate of when you’ll definitely have been beaten down, when you’ll be “responsible.” And adults are responsible for who they have sex with, children are not. To want to have sex with a child means, amongst other things, to reject their childhood and to demand that they should be seen as adults. But children are not adults, by definition. Children have this undefined, fantasy quality that we call “innocence.” Adults, almost by definition, cannot be “innocent,” as they have been filled by knowledge of, and experience of, the evils of the world.

Traditionally, the child is a container ready to receive the poison coming off of adults who are polluted by this evil. In this way they are themselves filled and are slowly becoming adults. The process of becoming “mature” is literally to be filled with poison, a pollution of the child’s mind and body. The child’s mind is naive, curious, filled with wonder, basically moral and egalitarian. A great deal of poisoning is needed to make it “normal.”1

Sexual abuse specifically introduces a dynamic that goes beyond childism and goes into misogyny as well, an intersection which which we could call something like pedomisogyny, the hatred and objectification of girls (non-adult females). An unwieldy word for sure, that will probably never catch on, but a word that designates a needed concept nevertheless. We know that the subjection of women starts with the imposition of gender on children. Boys and girls must learn their place in society, and girls in particular must be reconciled with their inferior status.

Pedomisogyny is what I had in mind recently when I saw an episode of America’s Supernanny where one of the first things the nanny did was to talk to the oldest girl and ask her how pretty she thought she was on a scale from 1 to 10. Ostensibly, she was trying to measure her self-esteem. Naturally, she made the immediate equation that a girl’s self-esteem was measured through how pretty she thinks she is. No one thought there was anything strange about that.

Sure, this is a pretty tame example of pedomisogyny. I think that most pedomisogyny takes place in the streets and in the schools, not in the home. But any time we equate the value of a girl with her appearance or attractiveness, that’s pedomisogyny. Every time we assume that a little girl will grow up to be a wife and mother, that’s pedomisogyny. Every time parents berate a girl for liking “boy things,” that’s pedomisogyny.

It is not random happenstance that girls are socialized to both be passive and to be physically attractive. Both are about reducing females to the status of sex objects, willing to spend their time to reproduce the labor force instead of pursuing a career or live alone. But pornography takes these two factors to a whole new level. It is little wonder that we are now talking about girls being groomed for sexual abuse, and that pedophiles are saying that “society does most of the grooming.” There’s no two ways about it, we live in a pedophile culture.

1 At least we have improved the process by filtering the violence out, but the end result is the same. If it wasn’t, you can be sure that violence against children would still be legal.

Liberal Relationship Advice Column

Welcome to the Liberal Relationship Advice Column by sex-positive guru and relationship expert Reefer Myst. People of all genders are welcome.

***

I am a 36 year old woman and I’ve been married to my husband for ten years. These past few years, he’s become violent towards me. At first, it started with telling me how much of a fuckup I am. More recently, he’s started to hit me. Mostly with open hand, but also with his fist, whenever he’s really, really angry and drunk. I want to leave him, but he’s isolated me from all my friends and I don’t have anyone to turn to. What should I do?

Black Eyes in Tuscaloosa

I’m sorry to hear that, Black Eyes. But like it or not, you’ve made a lifelong commitment to this man. You’ve known him for a long time, so think about his feelings. Your message was all about your feelings, and not about his feelings. How does it make him feel? There must be a reason for this escalation. What I am saying is, if you look into it, you’ll find out why he’s being violent and you can resolve this issue together, as a couple. You need to confront your role as an enabler in this situation, okay? It takes two to tango.

For you to stay with him for ten whole years must mean he’s a good person, at least most of the time, otherwise you’d have left a long time ago. Right? If he was that way before, he can be that way again. Also, the fact that there are even better husbands out there means that he too could be like that. All you gotta do is work with him. You can bring about gradual improvements in his character by constantly pestering him until he becomes the man you’ve always wanted. You could nag him to stop drinking, for example.

Divorce is the easy and messy solution. You’re better than that.

R.M.

***

My best friend joined some group called Landmark Education. When he came back from his first seminar, which lasted a whole weekend, he told me he was a new man, and was using many words in a different and weird way. I didn’t think there was any harm to it. But after two more seminars, it seems it’s the only thing he can talk about. But what’s more, he left his wife (he’s been with her for 15 years) and their two children, spent all his money on a new car, and is hooked up with a woman from Landmark. He’s telling me he wants to become a trainer himself and tried to recruit me. Help!

Concerned in Cincinnati

Concerned, I don’t understand why you’re being so melodramatic. Sure, your friend may be annoying right now, but don’t you tell your friends when you discover a new cool thing? And this sounds really important to him, so you should try to be nice and at least indulge him. Just be a good friend.

Now, you didn’t mention anything about how the relationship was going, apart from the length (15 years is a long time to be with someone else), so I can’t judge that situation. However, I did notice something while reading your question: everything you told me has been your friend’s personal choice. He chose to attend the seminars, he chose to leave his family, he chose to buy the car. If he really is your best friend, then you should stand behind his choices. Trust them to know what’s best for themselves, like you’d want them to trust you in your own choices. The best and fastest way to lose your friend’s trust would be to deny his agency.

Besides, I see nothing wrong with what he’s doing. More education is always good, and you should be happy that he’s still educating himself. After all, education is what determines a person’s worth in our society, as well as the merit and standard of living they deserve. Without education, we’d be no better than your average neoconservative redneck.

R.M.

***

I am a 24 year old straight woman who’s looking for a stable partner. The dating scene in my city has been pretty difficult to deal with. There’s not a lot of eligible bachelors, and the ones I’ve dated have been… works in progress. They don’t know how to talk to women, they have personal hygiene problems, or they’re a little crazy. I don’t know what to do! I’ve heard bad things about online dating, so I don’t really want to have to go there.

Lonely in a Small Town

Lonely? More like bossy! Listen, your attitude really stinks. You can’t just decide you’re never going to date someone who doesn’t fulfill some arbitrary criterion. If, for example, you were white and said you only wanted to date white men, that would be racism. Not wanting to date people because they have hygiene problems or don’t fit your ideal of a “normal” person (way to be neuronormative with that “crazy” comment, by the way) is just as prejudiced. Have you thought about talking to them about it, or are you just using it as an excuse to discriminate against certain men?

What if a man is unable to be decent? Should he be punished for his failings by being unable to be attractive to women? Having a coffee now and then with a man you most likely won’t find attractive is a small price to pay to make the online dating world a less shitty place for men. It’s what a good woman would do. Also, check your privilege, lady. There are many people who’d kill to get as many dates as you do. You should thank your lucky stars.

R.M.

***

I am a mother of one boy, Ira, who’s 12 years old. He is such a smart child! But recently he’s started giving me some trouble. At first it was just whining about having to mow the lawn for his allowance, calling it “wage slavery.” But now he just flat out refuses to do his homework, because he says doing his homework “means giving into the indoctrination system which provides a skilled labor force for the capitalist democratic imperialist hegemony and fractures the working class into largely hereditary economic castes,” whatever THAT means. I have no idea where he gets this stuff. How can I get him to do his homework?

Perplexed in Pittsburgh

Perplexed, you probably don’t read my column very often, because I say it all the time: disagreements always stem from ignorance. That is the reason why everyone who disagrees with me is an ignorant fool. So the answer is to educate your child. Clearly he’s been reading too much political stuff on the Internet and needs to be brought back to the real world. You have to sit your child down and calmly and politely explain to him that education is what determines a person’s worth in our society, and that if he wants to live a good life he needs to study and do his homework so he can get good grades. It’s really that simple! Maybe show him some hobos that live in Pittsburgh or take him to a soup kitchen or something. That’ll scare him straight.

If he still refuses to do his homework, then that’s perfectly normal. Children are not yet cooked, and their brains can’t really cope with the long term. They’re kinda dumb that way. So what you have to do it invoke things that he does understand, like guilt. Tell him that if he doesn’t do his homework, then you’ll be really disappointed in him and everyone will think you’re a bad parent. If that doesn’t work, then blackmail him by threatening to take away something he likes. There doesn’t have to be any clear relation between the task and the thing you threaten to take away. That’s why it’s blackmail and not something that makes actual sense.

But don’t ever use physical violence on your child. Violence doesn’t solve anything. Only education (and guilt, and blackmail) does. Always remember that and keep it close to your heart, or at least the part that goes pat pat pat.

R.M.

***

I am a 25 years old woman and I have a new boyfriend. I really love him, but recently I caught him watching a pornographic video. I was rather offended by this, but he said it was no big deal and that all men do it. I kept asking him questions and finally he admitted that he’s been watching them all this time we’ve been together. How can he truly respect me if he gets off on videos of women getting called “whores” and getting gagged by penises? Is that really how men see sex, as a violent act done against women, instead of a loving act?

Sad in Singapore

I get these kinds of questions sometimes and it really irks me. You have got to get rid of your backwards, conservative attitude towards porn. Porn is just fantasy, okay? It’s not real. They’re acting. When you watch an action movie, do you complain when a character is captured and tortured for information? It’s all movie magic.

And reality check, Sad: men need porn in order to masturbate. That’s how we get off! Men are visual creatures. So, yes, your boyfriend uses porn. That’s not a big deal at all. All men do it. And access to porn is a basic human right. So basically, you’re saying that you’re against your boyfriend’s human rights. And you say you love him? Really?

If you don’t want to be with someone who looks at porn, if you can’t handle it, then get a woman, get a dog, or get a blind guy. I’m sorry if you think that’s insensitive… no, wait, I’m actually not sorry.

R.M.

***

Hi Reefer, I’m a big fan of your advice column! Thank you in advance for answering my question. I am a 32 year old straight woman and I am having trouble with my relationship. My boss at work keeps asking me to do overtime and I have to do it because of a possible promotion coming up. I want to make a good impression. But I work so much now that when I come home, I’m just too tired for sex, even though my husband keeps asking me for it over and over. He says that his sex drive is too high and that he can’t stay with me if I don’t put out. What should I do?

Tired in Toronto

Well Tired, it seems to me, just from your message, that you’re setting yourself up to be the victim. I’m not going to validate your feelings of victimhood, especially since you choose to work late for your own benefit. Your husband is the victim here, not you. This is why it’s important to do the right thing and talk about sexual expectations at the beginning of your relationship, not in the middle of it. You should have known this would happen if you started to work late.

What you need to do is stop pitying yourself and use your hardship to your own advantage. You’re too tired to have sex? Then start roleplaying with your boyfriend: for example, you could be a patient and he could be a doctor, or you could be a corpse and he could be a necrophiliac. Basically, anything that involves you lying down and being limp would work. That way, you can both preserve your choices and satisfy your boyfriend sexually.

R.M.

***

I am a 35 year old man. A year ago, I was stabbed in a dispute with a (former) friend. While the physical wounds have healed, the wound to my ego is still painful. I am still traumatized and this has affected my relationship with my friends and family. I can’t trust anyone right now. I need help to deal with my fears.

Slashed in Sarasota

Slashed, this is a delicate psychological issue. One method that’s been very successful in dealing with trauma of that sort is re-enactment. It’s perfectly safe and will help you deal with your feelings. Join a local APRS (Active/Passive Re-enactment Scenes) club and get to know the members. Eventually you’ll be able to participate in one of the Scenes. In order to deal with your stabbing trauma, you would, for example, be stabbed by another person, in a manner similar to what happened to you, but in a safe environment with medical kits available on hand. The stabbing, of course, would be done on areas of your body that are not dangerous.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, getting actually stabbed would not be a good idea, but it’s just play-acting. I mean, yea, the stabbing is real, but it’s within a Scene, which makes it all right. You get comforted afterwards and it helps you. Many people swear by it. It’s definitely more cutting-edge than anything else you might want to try, like therapy or Scientology. I strongly invite you to look into it. You’ll thank me for it later.

R.M.

***

NOTE: the “having a coffee now and then” and “If you don’t want to be with someone who looks at porn” parts were lifted pretty much directly from things Dan Savage has said (but with better grammar). This entry was partially inspired by his unqualified, laughable “advice”.

“You’re using the wrong definition of pornography!”

Whenever one talks about pornography and how noxious it is, there is a fairly common sort of reply, which is to argue that we’re not talking about all pornography, that our discussion only addresses some pornography, and that there are things about it that aren’t “so bad.”

First of all, let me clarify once again what I mean by pornography. By pornography I mean a product of the mass capitalist production of representations of what is supposed to be sexual activity. By capitalist I mean to imply that some people are getting paid in exchange for their labor (in this case, “labor”) under someone’s orders.

This definition excludes a lot of things that most people call pornography. For example, it excludes two people filming themselves having consensual sex and keeping the video for themselves, or giving it to a few friends. It excludes pictures or videos of naked people who are not having sex. The feminist position on pornography, as far as I am aware, does not argue against either of those things. The main feminist arguments against pornography are as follows:

1. Many women are abused, assaulted and raped during the production of pornography.
2. Pornography is a propaganda tool for the patriarchy, depicting women’s submission and objectification in a way that is addictive for men and women and changes their attitude towards women (as well as POC and children).
3. Money does not entail consent. Getting paid to have sex does not entail that the act was consensual. Therefore, in the absence of contrary evidence, we must assume that any pornographic product may show actual non-consensual sexual acts.
4. Sex is not a commodity1, and having sex is not a form of “labor.” To posit that sexuality is labor means positing a person’s entire body, including its most intimate parts, as a means of production, objectifying them as a literal tool of production.

Note that these are not all the arguments against pornography, only the most important ones. As for the arguments for pornography, I have discussed them in various entries (e.g. see 1, 2, 3), so I will not repeat them here.

Now, you will note that the two cases I excluded above would not tend to run into any of these four arguments. While I’m sure there are exceptions, self-shot sex between two lovers will not generally contain abuse, objectification, or a monetary exchange. And while there may again be exceptions, pictures or videos of naked people who are not having sex will not generally involve abuse or objectification. Things like “camgirls” and paid pictorials enter a grey area, in that they do involve monetary exchange, but they do not generally involve a sexual act. So I would not tend to include these things in the category of pornography, although again some of them may be reprehensible. A depiction of sex does not have to be pornographic to be reprehensible.

Those are the reasons why my definition of pornography is narrower than the definition used by the general public, which seems to be basically “anything that shows intimate parts of the human body and is not safe for work.” I do not think that a naked human body is pornographic. It is precisely that, the body that we were born with and will die with. Anyone who takes offense from that is inane at best. It is not the vulva or the penis that is the problem, people who believe that those things are inherently erotic and dirty notwithstanding. It is the attitude that abuse and objectification are permitted as long as they are for sexual purposes, in short sex-positivity, that is the problem. If anything, people who claim that naked bodies are dirty and reprehensible (especially normal bodies) prevent healthy body images from being accepted, leaving us only the pornified and idealized sexual images. And both the purity-obsessed and the sex-positive are responsible for this state of affairs.

There are other areas that people usually bring up in such discussions. For example, drawn depictions of sex, such as hentai, are sometimes presented as a healthy alternative, because they do not involve actual people having sex. That is true, but hentai can still present abusive, objectifying stories, which have an effect on our subconscious. Drawn depictions of naked people not having sex would fall under the same category as real pictures of naked people not having sex.

Another example sometimes brought up is gay pornography. This is a silly response, but it is somewhat understandable by the fact that feminists are talking about women’s oppression, and gay pornography does not explicitly portray women’s oppression or involve women being abused. However, a lot of gay pornography does involve femininity as a mark of inferiority which targets a man for abuse. While women are not abused, the root of their oppression, their gender, is still presented as a reason for abuse. Furthermore, gay pornography is, well, pornography, which is reprehensible because of the arguments I listed (amongst others).

In any case, what we want to talk about is precisely that which I have defined as pornography. If a person is not satisfied with my definition and wants to define pornography with a wider scope, that is fine. I care mainly about the concept, not the definition. Whatever you want to call “a product of the mass capitalist production of representations of what is supposed to be sexual activity,” that’s what we need to talk about. Call it pornography, call it commercial pornography, call it X, it doesn’t really matter. We call it pornography because what we are talking about is by and large what pornography is in the real world, it is what people pay for, it is what sustains this gigantic capitalist industry, and it is what sustains the abuse and objectification of women.

1 I say this in the same way that a person might say “human beings are not a commodity.” The existence of slavery does not refute this assertion any more than buying and selling sex disproves the assertion that sex is not a commodity. What it actually means is that anyone who claims that such exchanges are valid is in error. In itself, it does not logically entail that such exchanges cannot happen or should not happen, but it does entail that they should not happen if there is no further justification for them.

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.