Living in a Porn Culture

by Gail Dines, Alex Doherty

Gail Dines teaches sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston. She is a founding member of Stop Porn Culture. She spoke to NLP’s Alex Doherty on her new book PornLand: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.”


Could you tell us what your new book ‘Pornland’ is about? What do you hope to convey?

Pornland is about how porn and the porn culture shape our ideas about sexuality, relationships, masculinity, femininity and intimacy. Thanks mainly to the internet, the porn industry has exploded over the last decade, with over 13,000 films a year released to the market. With this explosion has come an increasing pornification of our society, where the images, ideologies and messages of porn filter down into pop culture. If you just turn on the television, flick through a magazine or look at billboards, you will see that porn has now become a blueprint for how the media represents women’s bodies. Whether it be Britney Spears writhing around almost naked in a music video, or Miley Cyrus draped over a stripper’s pole, the images that bombard us daily look much like soft-core porn did a few decades ago. Today there is almost no soft-core porn on the internet, because most of it has migrated into pop culture. What we are left with is a porn industry that is now so hardcore that even some of the big-name porn producers and directors are amazed at how far they can go. 

I travel the country giving lectures on the harms of porn, and I am still surprised as just how few women and older men really know what today’s porn looks like. For this reason Pornland delves into the content of contemporary porn by walking the reader through the most popular websites. Gone are the days of women posing seductively as they coyly smile into the camera. Instead, we enter a world of distended anuses, red raw vaginas, violent oral sex where the woman ends up gagging, and gallons of semen often smeared over the women’s faces and bodies. As all this is happening to her, she is being called a filthy cunt, whore, cumdumpster, slut etc. In porn the man “makes hate” to the women’s bodies because all the emotions and feelings we associate with love – joy, kindness, empathy, happiness – are missing and in their place we see contempt, loathing, disgust and anger.

As the porn industry becomes more cruel and violent, fans are becoming desensitized and are looking for more hard core content. According to porn director Mitchell Spinelli, fans are becoming “more demanding about wanting to see the more extreme stuff.” The problem for the porn industry is that there are only so many ways you can show a woman being anally, vaginally and orally penetrated, and there is little left to do to the woman apart from killing her. For this reason, the industry is always on the lookout for new niche markets and Pornland looks at two of the most popular: Interracial Porn and Teen Porn.  Both niches aim to spice up the porn by promising to show sex that can “split”, “rip”, and “tear” women’s orifices. For interracial sex the spice for the user is watching a black man “defile” a white woman, while for teen porn it is the potential harm that an adult male’s penis can do to an immature vagina and anus. 

The question I pose in Pornland is, what does it mean to grow up in a society where the average age of first viewing porn is 11 for boys, and where girls are being inundated with images of themselves as wannabe porn stars? How does a boy develop his sexual identity when porn is often his first introduction into sex? What does it mean for a girl or young woman to see herself as a desired object rather than a desiring subject? What do heterosexual relationships look like when sexual identity is constructed within this porn culture? These are not questions that can be answered by experiments, but rather belong more in the field of critical cultural studies, which takes as its starting point that we are cultural beings who develop our taken-for-granted ideas about the world out of the dominant (that is, hegemonic) ideologies that swirl around the culture.  To think that men and women can walk away from the images they consume makes no sense in light of what we know about how images shape our sense of reality. 

The book does not rehash the old “porn wars” arguments but instead takes a fresh look at how we can understand the porn industry as both a capitalist enterprise and as a producer of ideology that legitimizes gender inequality. It gets under the skin, so to speak, of the porn industry to reveal the cruel and dark underbelly that is so often glossed over in pop culture. 

It’s often stated that there are no definite links between pornography use and violence. What is your view on the matter?

As a sociologist who studies media, I do not think that it is useful to focus on the “Does porn cause violence?” question, because it reduces the effects of porn to violence. A more nuanced analysis asks us to consider the ways in which porn ideologies shape our gender and sexual identities. By way of example, let’s look at how media scholars understand the effects of racist images. Few would ask whether racist images directly cause violence against people of color. Rather, the question would be, how do such images legitimize, condone and cement racist ideologies that whites internalize by virtue of living in a racist society? Such images would most likely not turn an average white person into a card carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan, but they would help to consolidate the way they think about race, whiteness and equality. 

When applying this to porn, I doubt that the average man will be driven to rape a woman just because he viewed porn, but that does not mean that the images have no effect. Men are already socialized by sexist ideologies before they look at porn, but nothing delivers such ideology as crisply, eloquently or as succinctly as porn. Porn doesn’t mess around; it tells men that women are whores who exist to be sexually used by men, that they are receptacles for penises rather than full human beings. In porn, women don’t need health care, safe housing, good jobs or free childcare; rather they need to be fucked in the most debased way that the pornographers can think of. The problem here, of course, is that women somehow have to convince porn users – those who are our partners, our fathers, brothers, employers and lawmakers – that what they are seeing in porn is a lie about women. What we really need to live a full life with dignity and human rights is real equality. This is a problem that all oppressed people have – how to convince your oppressor that you deserve equality – but no other group has their oppressor masturbating to images of them being dehumanized. Porn delivers to men sexist ideology in a way that is incredibly pleasurable, and it is this pleasure that masks the real harm that porn does to the economic, legal and cultural status of women. 

Why do you think so many women are at best indifferent to porn and the sexual exploitation industries and in some cases supportive of those industries?

This is a question that many of us in the anti-porn movement are preoccupied with. My experiences tell me that a good percentage of women have an outdated view of what porn is. They think of a Playboy centerfold from twenty years ago rather than the actual brutality that you see on sites such as Altered Assholes, Gag Factor, Anal Suffering, Fuck the Babysitter, First Time With Daddy, Ghetto Gaggers, and so on. After my lecture the majority of women are stunned because they had no idea how violent porn had become. Once they know, they feel very differently towards the industry. Their indifference gives way to both sadness and anger, and as an activist my goal is to harness that anger as a force for social change. 

Heterosexual women, especially young women, who condemn the porn industry are in a very difficult position because they will most likely date and marry men who are porn users. Many of the women I have spoken to who have asked their partners to stop have eventually had to leave them. For some women, it feels better to avoid the topic altogether and hope that his porn use does not spill over into their relationship. For those women who decide not to date men who use porn, they have a very small pool to pick from. Few people want to think that they will live their lives alone so they make compromises. If, however ,we are ever going to have real social change, then women need to stop compromising and start organizing. 

Another reason women tend to be indifferent is the way porn is represented in media. One of the results of living in a pornified society is the glamorization of porn in pop culture. Rather than showing it as a sleazy business that uses women’s bodies as bait, porn is represented as chic and edgy, and the few women who make it to the top – especially Jenna Jameson and Sasha Gray – are showcased as examples of just how great porn is for women. What’s missing, of course, are the stories of untold thousands of women who are spat out by the industry and end up unemployed or working as prostitutes. To get some insight into just how harsh the industry is for women, whom better to quote than Jenna Jameson herself: 

Most girls get their first experience in gonzo films—in which they’re taken to a crappy studio apartment in Mission Hills and penetrated in every hole possible by some abusive asshole who thinks her name is Bitch.  And these girls . . . go home afterward and pledge never to do it again because it was such a terrible experience.  But, unfortunately, they can’t take that experience back, so they live the rest of their days in fear that their relatives, their co-workers, or their children will find out, which they inevitably do
(Jameson, Jenna. 2004 How to Make Love Like a Porn Star.  NY: Harper Entertainment, p. 132)

The women who end up in the porn industry are usually working class and in a recession, porn, as it is represented in the media, is seen as a way to build a career. Many of the women who write about porn being empowering have real choices based on their class and race privileges, and hence can feel free to support an industry in which they will never have to work. 

For many women, there is a fear that being seen as anti-porn will mark them as prudish, which amounts to a social death in a porn culture. To question in any way the politics of heterosexual sexuality is to be misperceived as an anti-sex, man-hating feminist who screams rape every time a man and woman have sex. This is not a particularly appealing label for young women eager to meet a potential partner. Remember also that these women have been bombarded with pro-porn messages from women’s media and if they have heard of anti-porn feminists, it is most likely in a way that ridicules and trivializes our arguments. 

I have met a number of young women who do eagerly support porn as a form of female empowerment. Since porn is sold as edgy, chic and rebellious, support for the industry provides an identity that appears “hot.” This is attractive to men on the lookout for porn sex, and to be desired is, for women, to feel empowered. Getting men’s attention if we are giving a speech or asking them to do the dishes is not easy, but put on a porn star wannabe outfit and suddenly you become the most compelling woman in the world. That is, of course, until he is done with you and onto the next, since in a porn culture women are interchangeable, as long as they meet the standards of “hotness.” 

Those who critique porn are often accused of being anti-free speech. What is your take on this debate?

I am not going to spend much time on this because it’s what my colleague Robert Jensen calls a dodge, a way to close down any serious discussion on porn. My book does not address this issue as it is specifically concerned with the effects of porn and the porn culture on women and men. As a left-winger I see free speech as impossible under capitalism since corporations own much of the media and they use it to disseminate ideologies that legitimize capitalism and unequal power relations. The pornographers are capitalists and they control much of the speech on sexuality. Anti-porn feminists are repeatedly censored from mainstream media and silenced by the capitalist juggernaut that is the porn industry. 

Advocates of porn point to increasing consumption of pornography by women. What do you make of women’s use of porn?

I really question how much porn is actually being consumed by women. When I give talks to college students the women are usually shocked by what they are seeing. Few women I have met really know what is in gonzo porn so if women are using porn it certainly isn’t the porn that men use. My sense is that the porn women are using is more the feature type that has a (limited) storyline and is shot in a more up-market location than the usual gonzo. I have also heard that women tend to prefer woman-on-woman porn which makes sense since in many cases it is less cruel.

But before we try to answer this question, we need a reality check. An article in Adult Video News says that women make up only 15% of internet porn users. The author, Jack Morrison, makes the obvious claim that the products still appeal to mainly male users, and to attract women adult webmasters should create sites that involve interaction and education. According to Morrison:

Such sites would allow women to obtain advice, perhaps during teleconferences with experts, have elements of cybersex, and should play into women’s relationship fantasies. (i.e., a story of how a woman got a rich and powerful boyfriend because she knew how to give head better than any other woman - with instructions as to how she did it.) Such sites would be low on visual content, except as it serves the need for interaction and education. The site would have live interviews (with audience questions) with “hot” guys who tell what they like sexually. In other words, take the content of Cosmopolitan and Glamour, make it X-rated (not XXX), and provide for massive amounts of interaction.

Morrison assumes that women want rich and powerful boyfriends as a way to climb the social ladder and the way to get them is to give great oral sex. How sexist and reactionary is that? Porn is no friend of women and I strongly encourage women not to financially support an industry that exploits and degrades us for the sexual pleasure of men. 

You point to the use of racial difference to heighten sexual excitement. How does the industry behave on the question of race? 

To really appreciate how racist porn is let us take as an example the racist comments made by Don Imus when he described the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy headed ho’s.” Following a concerted campaign by the African-American community, CBS fired him amidst a public outcry and a mass exodus of corporate sponsors from his show. But what barely merited a comment was a press release issued three weeks later from the porn company Kick Ass Pictures, announcing its intention to donate one dollar from every sale of its new movie, titled Nappy Headed Ho’s, to the Don Imus retirement fund.

So the obvious question is why does the porn industry get away with a level of racism that would simply not be tolerated in any other media form? One answer to this is that porn, by sexualizing racism, renders it invisible. Instead of being seen for the racism it is, it is instead eroticized and classed as hot sex made hotter by the presence of a black male body that has historically been coded as deviant, animalistic and predatory. As Cornel West once said, one of the major stereotypes of blacks is that they have “dirty, disgusting, and funky sex.” What could be better than that for the pornographers?

Progressives have been amazingly quiet on the issue of racism in porn, and part of the reason, I suspect, is that they don’t want to get linked with the right wing groups that protest porn. But being silent on this issue ignores the fact that these images, like all racist images, impact on the way we construct our notions of reality, and the more white men use the images, the more they cement past racist images in the present. If this was acknowledged, then maybe we would also have to acknowledge that watching a woman being choked as she is called a filthy whore could affect the way we see women in the real world.

As you have noted dislike of porn is frequently conflated with a prudish dislike of sexual expression in general - Does “anti-porn” = “anti-sex”? 

To appreciate just how bizarre it is to collapse a critique of pornography into a critique of sex, think for a minute if I were criticizing McDonalds for its exploitive labor practices, its destruction of the environment, and its impact on our diet and health. Would anyone accuse me of being anti-eating or anti-food?  I suspect that most readers would separate the industry (McDonald’s) and the industrial product (hamburgers) from the act of eating and would understand that the critique was focused on the large-scale impact of the fast food industry and not the human need, experience, and joy of eating. The same goes for porn; what I am critiquing is not the human experience of sex or sexuality but the industrialization of sex. Sex in porn is not so much sex as a particular kind of representation of sex, formulaic, generic and plasticized. It is not a slice of reality. The pornographers construct sex in ways that debase and dehumanize women, and it is this debasement and dehumanization that makes porn sex “hot.” As a feminist, I am against anything that subordinates women.

All my adult life I have been fighting corporate power and I have had a community of people on the left. But once I turned my attention to the porn industry, the left became as hostile as the right. In my book I ask why is that people on the left – people who understand corporate power – suddenly forget that the pornographers are capitalists and see them instead as guardians of our sexual freedom? Since when did capitalists ever care about our freedoms? Pornography is like all industries, predatory and out to make a profit by any means possible. They commodify real human needs and wants as a way to sell products, and until we resist, the pornographers will continue to hijack our sexuality. 

Gail can be contacted at gdines@wheelock.edu. Stop Porn Culture will be holding a conference in June 2010 in Boston. For more details please go to: http://stoppornculture.org/

 

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First published: 15 April, 2010

Category: Gender equality

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17 Comments on "Living in a Porn Culture"

By Rob, on 25 April 2010 - 11:29 |

Good interview, thank you. This is a squeamish subject for a lot of people (mainly men, probably), and it is often ignored ; there is rarely a serious discussion on it that takes it head on, especially in political contexts. Everything should be put on the table for us to think about openly and honestly if we’re serious, not just the acceptable canon of war, poverty, elections and injustice.

By Mark Richardson, on 01 May 2010 - 12:57 |

The comparison between a critique of McDonalds and a critique of pornography does not support the point Dines’ is trying to make at all. Sex is not a real human need in the way that eating is a real human need. Freud made the point perfectly: unlike other animals, humans require the prosthetic support of fantasy in order to desire sex. Otherwise, we would be experiencing an internal fantasy food life in the way that we experience an internal fantasy sex life. Clearly, this is not the case. So the idea that porn hijacks our natural sexuality is completely mistaken. Our sexuality is already unnaturally sustained by fantasy.

So how to defeat this dehumanisation in pornography? I think our culture is burdened with a sorts of problematic ideas based on ‘the human’. If we were to dismantle the concept of ‘the human’ in a broader context than just pornography, then I imagine the erotics of dehumanisation would have significantly less efficiency and potency.

By Bess, on 16 June 2010 - 17:49 |

“The comparison between a critique of McDonalds and a critique of pornography does not support the point Dines’ is trying to make at all.”

Sure it does. She isn’t trying to convince you that sex is a human “need.” She’s trying to criticize porn without being accused of criticizing sex in general (anti-sex).

She’s explaining that the concept of sex/uality has been collapsed and reduced by the porn industry into “a particular kind of representation of sex, formulaic, generic and plasticized.” Her POINT is that while most people are able to differentiate an attack on the smaller sub-market of fast food (ex: McDonald’s) from a critique of food itself or the food industry in general; many people refuse to separate the very limited view of sex that pornography represents from the plethora of acts and meanings that collectively constitute expressions of sexuality.

By Mark Richardson, on 18 July 2010 - 16:17 |

Bess,

You are asking people to think illogically. In terms of formal logic and set theory, you can’t separate off a finite set from an infinite set, as the infinite set simply conquers each and every finite set. You can, of course, separate off a finite set from another finite set. And this is where, for Dines, problems begin… To separate off this so-called “limited view of sexuality” one would require the presumption of (at least the logical possibility of) a coherent, collective set of all the possible expressions of sexuality. Who makes this assumption? People such as the Marquis de Sade, who quite literally did try to produce this set of expressions in his writings. I refer here to perversion in its Lacanian psychoanalytic sense, as an attempt to know the Other’s desire, as an attempt to really know the full truth of sexuality. Perhaps Dines, the Marquis de Sade and yourself are all correct - there really is, in principle, a list of all the possible expressions of human sexuality which can be written out (or presumed to exist for the purposes of separating off the representations in pornography).

But, quite apart from the problem of perversion, I’m not sure that how you would prevent this grand, collective set of expressions from itself becoming pornography. This, of course, is the truth which de Sade encounters in his rather sad project.

There is no collective set which holds together all the possible expressions of sexuality - in fact, it’s the absence of such a list (and, crucially, to avoid the comparison with food, the absence of blind instinct) which generates fantasy (neurotic fantasy, rather than perverse fantasy) in the first place.

By Kippy, on 11 September 2010 - 21:36 |

Mark,
You are making the error of ascribing a qualitative difference between sex and food because of the fact that food is a basic human need in a way that sex is not.  In modern America, the debate relating to the multifaced implications of “fast food” on our society vs. “slow food/foodies” is apart from our human need.  Yes, there is hunger in America, but for the majority of us - - where this food debate is of relevance - - will never go hungry, and may have never experienced true hunger.  For modern American’s these issues of food and sex - - and so many other appetites - - are interchangable and what is relevant is their packaging/marketing by corporate interests and the impact on a human life and the larger society.

By Kibby, on 11 September 2010 - 21:53 |

Also wanted to add… I’ve read that >80% of men say that they use porn.  Well, there are plenty of pro-sex women who hate porn.  As a woman, I believe that if there was some way for the men that actually don’t like porn to get the word out - - those <20% of porn-disliking men would be VERY popular with women.  Those men could be having as much live real-life physical sex with actual human flesh women as the other 80% of laptop-masturbators combined.            Knowing that a guy consideed himself above the “crappy-McDonalds-level-of-sex,” and doesn’t really think about what our culture considers mainstream male porn, because he just considers it something for the dupes - - that guy would be a huge turn on - really hot.    As a woman, it would be very easy to let your guard down and let yourself enjoy that man.  I guess the porn-dupes don’t get it - - if you are showing live women that you commodify (AKA dislike/disrespect) them, that is not a turn on.  Women want sex and the typical porn-watching-dude is putting up an emotional and mental obstacle course around himself keeping live women out.

By Mark Richardson, on 12 September 2010 - 08:55 |

Kibby / Kippy

No. The reasons that food has become detached from need in the way that you describe is a question of economics, not metapsychology. We need Freudian metapsychology, not economics, in order to understand how fantasy functions before launching into a political and economic critique of pornography. Dines glosses over this necessary preparatory work by making the vaguest possible references to a base level “human experience of sex and sexuality” which is presumed to unproblematically exist from the outset.

Incidentally, I don’t subscribe at all to your attempt to speak for all women, when you write about “porn-disliking men being VERY popular with women.” I believe that women are just as capable of making intellectual and political judgements as men on this issue. (Most of my female Freudian friends and colleagues hold exactly the same position on pornography as I have articulated here.) And, I really wonder what model of female subjectivity is being proposed when you write: “As a woman, it would be very easy to let your guard down and let yourself enjoy that man.” As a feminist myself, I find that a hugely problematic sentence - as if womanhood should be associated with enjoyment at the expense of engaging one’s (presumably more masculine) critical faculties.

By Bess, on 13 September 2010 - 16:11 |

Mark, I missed your previous comment in July.

A *sub-set* of anything—regardless of the characteristics of the parent set (in/finite, need vs want, etc)—is necessarily NOT the whole thing. It’s a SUB-set. That’s the point of Dines’s McDonald’s analogy. END.

Whether sex or food is necessary for human survival is NOT the point. And the fact that the sub-set in question (porn) is so thoroughly manipulated by capitalistic, corporate interests simply furthers the argument that it is, indeed, a SUB-set (or a limited view) of the larger picture.

And Kibby/Kippy, right on! Porn creates emotional barriers to intimacy.

By Mark Richardson, on 14 September 2010 - 20:11 |

Well, Bess, good luck with that larger picture. As you’ll be following in the footsteps of the Marquis de Sade, I guess you’ll be needing it.

By Yure, on 25 September 2010 - 09:53 |

Mark - “...as if womanhood should be associated with enjoyment at the expense of engaging one’s (presumably more masculine) critical faculties.”

There is slightly misinterpreting something someone says, and then there is outright twisting of other people’s statements. While I of course can’t speak for the original poster of what you consider a “highly problematic sentence”, I can offer you my own interpretation of said sentence, which I believe to be a lot less influenced by what seems to be a slight overeagerness on your part to have the upper hand in this discussion.

Kibby spoke of a woman being able to let her guard down around a man that does not use porn as opposed to a man who does. You may be a feminist, but you have most probably never experienced what, I dare postulate, a majority of sexually active women experience several times in their lives: being seen or abused as a sexual object, discarded after the act or treated in a degrading way in association with their sexuality and gender. If we can agree that porn has something to do with such things occurring so frequently (which, from your posts, I am not sure that we can), and if we can agree that such experiences will naturally act as a detriment to a female’s enjoyment of sex, then I think we can also agree that Kibby’s statement says _nothing_ whatsoever about women having to disable the rational part of their brains in order to experience sexual pleasure - quite on the contrary! - (and where on earth did you take the assumption that this rational part would then be defined as ‘masculine’ by Kibby?), but rather that, having made such unpleasant experiences or even merely being confronted with a ‘pornified’ culture on a daily basis will lead to a certain wariness in women that, as you must surely understand, should not have to be part of a sexual experience, and which indeed makes pleasure and intimacy quite impossible. Kibby’s statement that sex would be a lot more pleasurable to women who are aware of and averse to this degradation and who can then be certain that their respective partner is _equally averse_ to it makes perfect sense, or at least it should make perfect sense to anyone who understands the concept of intimacy and its benefits for sexual pleasure. 

I certainly mean no disrespect, but if you are truly interested in discussing the topic, I think it would probably help to throw less Freuds and de Sades in people’s faces and rather listen to what they are actually saying. Trying to twist another feminists statements into a shape that turns her into an unenlightened female that perpetuates her own oppression is quite counterproductive.

By Mark Richardson, on 26 September 2010 - 07:42 |

Yure.

Let me quote what Kibby said, so that it’s clear what we’re discussing here:

“that guy would be a huge turn on - really hot.    As a woman, it would be very easy to let your guard down and let yourself enjoy that man.”

Of course, I accept the validity of your interpretation, although I feel that my own interpretation is more in line with the rhetoric Kibby deployed (“a huge turn on - really hot”). I also think there’s a quite incredible thesis being hidden in your statement that to raise feminists concerns about the assumptions contained in some of Kibby’s language is to turn her into an “unelightened female” that “perpetuates her own oppression.” Unless you are suggesting that feminists should never criticise each other’s positions, I assume you are promoting this thesis on the basis that I am male. Actually, as it happens, I don’t really take issue with the feminist position which says men have nothing to say to feminists, have no part in feminist discussions etc. But I do have a problem with a discourse which, on the surface, invites contributions from anyone regardless of gender, but when critical points are raised, provides the space in which the invitation can be immediately withdrawn (suddenly, abruptly, and on the basis of gender division) by an individual who wishes to defend their own personal position. It’s a really stupid strategy - after all, I could ask some of my female Freudian colleagues if they were interested in joining the discussion in my place. Or I could just post under a female-sounding username. Or, hey, how about this - I could just keep contributing to the discussion using all the rational resources I can supply.

As for a desire to “get the upper hand” in the discussion - if that is synonymous with using all the argumentative tools at my disposal in order to eventually persuade people, then yes, absolutely, I desire the upper hand. I thought that the points you put about intimacy and porn were valid and worth debating, but when you say that, instead of debating the points, I should be listening to what others are saying, I find that pretty offensive. That pretty much means: don’t debate the points, just shut up and listen. As for “throwing” Freud and de Sade in people’s faces, I agree that I did “throw” de Sade at Bess when I wished her luck in her project. But wasn’t I equally shown a lack of respect when, instead of actually being prepared to debate and discuss, Bess simply wrote “END” after having asserted the same points a second time round? So let’s be honest, I am the person here who is the most comfortable to try and persuade people, whilst it is in fact others who are just out to get the so-called “upper hand”, the last word etc no matter what.

So we’re having the meta-discussion now, rather than the discussion itself. As a Freudian, I do wonder what mechanics of repression might possibly be at work.

By 4ny, on 31 January 2011 - 18:40 |

fantastic interview ,
has helped me not use porn for another day !
thank you smile

By Yure, on 16 February 2011 - 12:28 |

Mark,

Please don’t be offended due to things I write. I don’t aim to offend, if anything my comment was not meant to lecture you but to actually improve things in this discussion and reduce hostility. The problem is that on the internet, everyone is a smartass and a bully, and even when you do finally meet someone who isn’t, it is easy to interpret everything that is said at the maximum level of hostility. I don’t know about you, but my interest in online discussions has dwindled ever since this seemed to become the norm for everything I read, not only in reply to statements made by myself. People don’t want to talk with others, they want to talk TO them, or, even more likely, talk down to them.

So I’ll just make clear that I am definitely not interested in any name-calling or patronizing, and with this clarification I am also not indirectly accusing you of this behavior. I just think that most online talks have reached a point where it is necessary to say this because the natrual assumption we all have started to make is that everyone else is only addressing us to shoot us down.

You said you were offended by what I wrote, and I’m quite sorry if that was the case, my intentions were sincere. I was not going to have a meta-discussion, and I was also not going to, directly or indirectly, accuse you or anyone else of having no place in the discussion, least of all based on gender. I assumed that a male feminist will also have the kind of mindframe where he finds it okay to be told by a female how she sees the situation, even if this means stating that perhaps one has to have experienced the world as a female to fully understand what is being said or how it is meant. I don’t see that as denying anyone’s right in participating in the discussion, or even as a statement indicating that a male’s, or your, take on things is less valid than anyone else’s.

As you said, you thought my interpretation was quite reasonable, even if you believe the person I was referring to didn’t actually mean it the way I interpreted it. I appreciate you saying that. Let me also say that I find it a little unfair of you to say we are now having the meta-discussion, as though I were merely another hateful antagonizer instead of someone interested in discussing the topic at hand. I’m not saying you actually accused me of being hateful or antagonizing, but people have reasons for getting involved in a discussion, and it seems that you interpret my reasons to be something other than discussing the actual topic. If you go back and read my comment again, maybe you can also see that most of what I wrote is quite on-topic, and not actually full of judgment about who gets to talk and who doesn’t.

Now, THIS comment was actually pretty off-topic, but I hope that you will appreciate reading it nevertheless. It leaves a nasty taste in my mouth to have attempted a sincere discussion and ending up at loggerheads with a toal stranger over things I didn’t even say or mean. Peace.

By M., on 23 August 2011 - 17:51 |

The Marquis de Sade… a man who abducted who raped prostitutes and other working poor women and Mark Richardson uses him as an example of how humanity of how morality are pluralist to try to _fail_ to defend an industry of misery? I rest my case.

By Mark Richardson, on 25 August 2011 - 12:34 |

Yure - I’m sorry I didn’t catch your reply back in February (I subscribe to this thread via email, but must have missed your post.). Anyway, I appreciate those comments.

M - try reading what I wrote. I claim that Dines makes the same error as the Marquis de Sade does in his writings. I am as critical of his position as I am of hers.

By seb, on 08 September 2012 - 21:26 |

And what do you all suggest to solve this? Nothing has changed ever just saying “it’s bad”, without offering a view of how things should be. Change needs a positive force, things need to be replaced, they can’t be just removed. And this positive force needs a real basis, which goes right to the primitive parts of our brains, to be able to compete with porn. Moral and rational thinking will be defeated by porn, since they are in a layer far weaker than instincts. The emotions you cause writing this article might drive people to think, and even think you’re right, but a few hours later, they watch 10 movies in gonzo XXX and forget completely about it. Later they might still think you’re right… maybe they think you’re right even while watching porn.

So, as long as you try to reach people only with rational arguments, on this not-rational problem, you are on the loser side. Not saying this is wrong, it’s a start, the fact that people are driven to write an article rationalizing this way indicates that there is a (non rational) force driving you to do it. The problem is, this force seems to be inaccessible for most.

By brazzers, on 14 November 2012 - 20:48 |

So, as long as you try to reach people only with rational arguments, on this not-rational problem, you are on the loser side. Not saying this is wrong, it’s a start, the fact that people are driven to write an article rationalizing this way indicates that there is a (non rational) force driving you to do it. The problem is, this force seems to be inaccessible for most.

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