Thursday, July 06, 2006

 
I'm pretty sure Amy at Feminist Reprise doesn't give two shits about me or my opinions. Nonetheless I'm moved to explore this post she has up re: porn vs erotica. I mean, I can only assume I am a flyspeck on her windowsill - filthy, but ultimately ignorable and meaningless - but boy she raises some fascinating questions that really make me think. And of course, I'd like to open it up to y'all's comments, that is if any of you feel moved to say something.

She makes a really interesting point about the distinction between porn and erotica having a class basis - porn for the blue collar guy, erotica for the white collar guy. She also says of erotica that she "perceive(s) an attempt to dress up its sexually explicit nature by appealing to the middle-class tastes of an educated audience."

I had never really picked up on the class distinction.

But this is where she starts getting really interesting:

I’m personally not interested in dialogue with folks who defend porn.

(I guess that's why she doesn't answer my gushy and starstruck email I sent her a while back when she referenced a post of mine...I didn't really care that she was negative about it - she was quite reasonable and didn't call me a poopyhead or anything.)

The question is this, and I ask this seriously, not rhetorically: Why do you want sexually explicit material? Why do you want “erotica” to be “okay?” Why do you need it? What does looking at naked pictures do for you? What is the personal and social value of the spectrum of materials from Britney Spears Pepsi commercials to “art” photographs of nude women to the latest Herotica volume of short stories to Playboy? What exactly would happen if this material vanished tomorrow in a puff of pale blue powder? How would our lives be worse? How would they be better?

Well, ask some serious questions, get some serious answers - the best I can manage, considering I'm not at all a scholar, just a really avid reader:

Why do I want sexually explicit material?
I certainly don't want ALL sexually explicit material ALL the time - but some of it is intriguing to me. Some of it I just find fun to read. Some of it comes quite close to documenting my own experience, which makes me feel less alone in the world. Some of it diverges wildly from my own experience, and by reading it I may deepen ad broaden my understanding of the experiences of others. Literature should increase empathy, even sexually explicit literature.

(Maybe Amy is implying that sexually explicit literature, by its very sexual nature, automatically decreases empathy? that once a work is rendered sexually explicit it is no longer literature?)


What exactly would happen if this material vanished tomorrow in a puff of pale blue powder? How would our lives be worse? How would they be better?

I could see where some (maybe many) people would feel a great weight lifted off their shoulders as all that pressure they feel to conform to certain standards is suddenly released in the absence of Plaything magazines and collections of dirty short stories and so forth. I remember back in my more ardently leatherdykey days getting very angry at Pat Califia and throwing her (this was pre-transition) works against a wall with extreme prejudice, because I did feel a strange pressure (not the good kind) when I read certain of those stories. So, life would absolutely be made better for those who feel pressured or otherwise interfered-with.

However, I'm pretty sure that not everyone feels that kind of pressure all the time with every work, and a lot of my negativity could have been due to my own weird and unhealthy headcake at the time. For my own part, I found parts of Rubyfruit Jungle and other works to be truly arousing - and I don't think I could have gotten through my adolescence without it. I needed to read about the aspects of human experience wherein women could love other women and not die. I needed that then, and I bet there are still people out there who need that now. My life would have been made worse without it, no question.

One could not possibly blue-powderize each and every creative work with sexual content - you'd always miss something, some weird little tale slipping under the radar because it does not contain obvious sexual content that appeals to the prurient interests of many people, but instead is laser-targeted to focus tightly on the obscure desires of a tiny fraction of the population. And what about the accidentally-erotic - the Sears catalogue, perhaps? Medical books? (I was big on medical books as a kid.)

And it seems to me that as feminists, we ought to place a premium on understanding whether any phenomenon under discussion contributes to ending women’s oppression. I’m drawing a blank about how “erotica” gets women free.

Empathy, baby. Sharing experiences. Consciousness-raising. At its best, erotic material can speak truth to experience, if not to power. It may not be true to say we can "fuck our way to power", but I'd say that talking about sex, even if that discussion causes blood to rush to parts of the body that are normally concealed under clothing, is better than not talking about sex. I don't think that being allowed to discuss sex in ways that just happen to produce a mad rush of endorphins is too much to ask. It may not set us completely free, but its absence would, in my opinion, only contribute to our oppression.

So chew on why you want “erotica” to be acceptable.

With all due respect - I think it's acceptable whether or not I or you or anyone wants it to be, acceptable in theory and acceptable in certain forms of practice. Some of it is, in actual fact, objectionable - but some is not.

And while you do that, I’ve got another point to make. Let’s just assume, for a moment, that someone succeeded in writing an erotic story that was arousing for many women but did not rely on pornographic conventions for its charge. I don’t think it’s possible, but let’s imagine for a minute some brilliant feminist writer managed it.

Ah - the task is clear. Maybe tomorrow morning I'll wake up and by some crazy twist of fate I'll be a brilliant feminist writer (HA!) and whomp up some totally arousing yet totally clean erotic material. (I mean, stranger things have happened...the Berlin Wall came down, after all...and I think a monkey flew out of my butt yesterday...) Seriously - I'd be very interested in attempting such a challenge.

The problem that I would still have, with this hypothetical politically pure, sexually arousing, fulfilling-in-every-way story, is that it externalizes sexuality. (emphasis mine)... All the other myriad harms of pornography aside, this is, in my opinion, what all material created with the express purpose of arousing and titillating does. Instead of experiencing our sexuality from the inside—the sensations, sounds, emotions that are present in a sexual experience whether we’re alone or with others—we’re experiencing somebody else’s idea of what’s sexually arousing, and we’re experiencing it exclusively through our brains.

That's okay with me sometimes. The brain is the most important sex organ the body has, in my opinion.

And if we masturbate to an externalized sexual narrative, we’re associatiing and reinforcing those thoughts, that storyline, with orgasm. But no matter how much we might wish otherwise, an “erotic” story can’t stroke our clitoris or tell us we’re beautiful or love us or respond to our touch. Externalized sexuality is a one-way street, download-only, instead of an experience of participating in the intricate web of feedback loops that are present when touch creates sensation which creates response which creates thought which creates pleasure which creates motivation to touch, whether we are alone or with others.

I feel like Amy's saying "why read about it when you could do it?" - and I can't argue with that. ;)

...I think, rather than attempting to differentiate “erotica” from pornography, our energy is better spent on a collective rejection of sexually explicit materials and a collective attempt to create sexuality based on feminist values.

Oh wow - see, this I can argue with.

I think that as a woman, I have an opinion that matters. I think that I have an opinion on what feminist values are that may conflict with the opinions of others. I think I have an opinion on what constitutes sexually explicit material and why it ought not be rejected, and that may (indeed does) conflict with the opinions of others. So there's plenty of room for argument here.

(Amy, I hope that, if you do bother to read this at all, I don't come across as disrespectful or rude or even the least bit snarky - I'd rather you see me as straight-up stupid than disrespectful.)

So - any thoughts?

Comments:
Some really amazing points here. I think folks (i won't say Amy specifically because i haven't read her stuff enough, but insert generic anti-porn argument) often argue that pr0n does decrease empathy. I strongly, strongly believe that this is a function of how porn and erotica are currently made, not a structural feature of the genre. But you're dead on that literature can and often does provide a point of entry into the views and life of an other...that the potential is there for erotic material to do the same.

Why do i want porn? I want my imagination. I want my sexual imagination. I want to be creative and think out my sexual idenity (construed broadly in terms of all the ways i might define that concept, not just the gender of my partner)...

It's about the definition that Belle put up some time back, that explains that in this country a sexual aim is not legally legitimate. In terms of queerness, i want to legitimize sexual aims...something that i think is often missing from the marriage debates.
 
>Why do you want “erotica” to be “okay?” Why do you need it?

1) I don't *need* quite a number of things.

I *desire* to make and enjoy erotica/porn because it's a form of expression, of art. And sexuality absofuckinglutely is one channel for creativity and higher expression. Which takes many many many many forms.

2) Chomp me.

and what sly civilian said, pretty much all of it.

As per porn vs. erotica: it is true that for a number of people the distinction pretty much seems to be:

Erotica: what I like
Porn: what that messed-up pervert likes

Sometimes it also means: erotica= more soft-focus, more "romance," more likely to be text than pictures; and, frankly, more bougie in its expressions (satin sheets, candlelight dinners, and a spectacular view of crashing waves tend to cost money, after all; as does looking pretty-pretty).
 
As for needing it to be "okay:"

Well, there are a couple of things wrapped up in that.

One is keeping Lily Law off my and my friends' ass. and yes, censorship (the real deal) is still alive and well in many ways and places, believe it or not.

The other is being tired of having one's experiences and feelings trampled on by people whom one has put emotional investment into.

particularly when said people are very big on having *their* experiences and feelings honored.

Reciprocity, *mutual* respect, I value: a lot more even than my collection of naughty stories and pictures.

For example, here I have the distinct impression that antip has put a fair amount of emotional investment into feminist-whosis (admiration, respect), and is quite hurt that f-r doesn't seem to have returned the favor.

this is a recurring theme. and i've been there myself.

where i am now, personally, with people who consistently do this, the one-way-street of demanding validation and respect but not returning it, well, see above re:

Chomp me.

That is all.

Life is too fucking short.
 
So - any thoughts?

Are we talking about whether feminism should take, as its aim, the wiping of the the vast, complex and incredibly important range of human experience (which we call the erotic) from all artistic, literary and cultural representation?

Um.
 
(ahem) you mean "chomp me, please", don't you, belledame?

remember, we strive for civility here. ;)

(sorry, bad joke)
 
it's likely that I'm quite hurt because I'm wildly oversensitive and weak of character, not because of any failing on the part of Amy.
 
>.I think, rather than attempting to differentiate “erotica” from pornography, our energy is better spent on a collective rejection of sexually explicit materials and a collective attempt to create sexuality based on feminist values.


Again with the collective. Speak for your damnself.

I happen to agree (as suggested above) that the differentiation between "erotica" and "porn" is bogus. I just come to a different conclusion: I'm not afraid to use the word "porn" to describe written and pictorial material that turns me on.

Per the rest of it (i.e. it's better to be doing it than making pictures and stories about it): funny, I was just reading a website about "primitivism," rather interesting; one of the articles was basically saying the same thing about *all* art.

which is the logical extension if you stop and think about it.

Be Here Now. as they presumably were in the Edenic days before "civilization."

Of course, he's writing all this to be published as an article on the Internets...

i thought about it. My problem--well, one of them--is this:

If you're all about the "be here now," then great; but it seems to me in that case you're probably not spending too much time exhorting other people to be as you are; you're too busy, you know, experiencing.

i mean, what's more "distancing" that criticism?

The other problem I have of course is that this kind of romanticization of some kind of mythic utopian past; which, particularly combined with a suspicion of art, sexual or otherwise, as "degenerate" (google "degenerate art," btw), is connected in my mind with fascism of various strains. Seriously.

If you're gonna "be here now," then BE here now.

which just might involve being a tad more forgiving of one's own and one's fellow humans' mortal failings.

tricky, isn't it?
 
>it's likely that I'm quite hurt because I'm wildly oversensitive and weak of character, not because of any failing on the part of Amy.

No, hon: from where I sit, it really isn't.
 
Winter - when you said: Are we talking about whether feminism should take, as its aim, the wiping of the the vast, complex and incredibly important range of human experience (which we call the erotic) from all artistic, literary and cultural representation?

was that in response to this by Amy:

...I think, rather than attempting to differentiate “erotica” from pornography, our energy is better spent on a collective rejection of sexually explicit materials and a collective attempt to create sexuality based on feminist values.

She's not saying that such materials should be burned or banned, merely that feminists as a group should reject them and feminists as a group should come up with something else that better reflects feminist values.

I think.
 
per fascism: i would amend:

"back to the land" stuff and romanticization of a mythic past; but especially emphasis on the "collective" over the individual.

you can't have one without the other, if you're interested in any sort of truly humanitarian, small-d democratic, progressive, whatever you want to call it, movement. IN my opinion. At the one extreme you have increasing social breakdown and isolation; at the other you tend, inevitably, toward authoritarianism.
 
>
feminists as a group should come up with something else that better reflects feminist values.

Terrific. You go first. I'll be over here.

i mean, since my input as a "porn apologist" isn't valued anyway, i figure i'm not a part of that particular group.

but no really, i can't wait to see what they come up with.

after all it's only been thirty-plus years' worth of this sort of argument; i'm sure the magic formula is just over the horizon, really.
 
I mean, if one is specifically saying that a particular kind of radical, direct-experience sexuality (as opposed to simply recreating a chaste wimmin-only version of patriarchal sex-neg monogamy) is wanted, sure, I can see that. That's the sort of work Betty Dodson had been doing, or used to; that's the sort of work institutions like HAI and Body Electric (the latter I can personally vouch for) is doing now. Direct, intimate, profoundly transformative. No pictures or tapes necessary (although they do make instructional DVD's).

And sure, I could see one attempting to recreate that kind of group work from a more specifically feminist perspective. Dodson did: BE was started by gay men in response to the AIDS crisis. Hell, a *lesbian* feminist sort in particular; after all, Dodson is bi and works with men as well as women.

So, yeah, that's one concrete suggestion.

Of course, since such folks tend to be allied with professional sex workers and "porn apologists" of various sorts, one might simply dismiss the whole thing as tainted.

in which case, again: Looking forward to seeing what you *do* come up with! I'm sure all that relentless critique will come up with *something* healing eventially. You just lemme know. I'll be over here with the popcorn and my fellow pervs.
 
sexually explicit materials can also stimulate the imagination. my orgasm isn't any less internal because it's stimulated by external images. i still *experience* it.

also, antip, i really appreciate how open and welcoming you are. some of the stuff written by other folks that you approach so intelligently and rationally just burns my grits (not your response, their statements), and i appreciate reading someone like yourself who can take the flame off my grit pan.

that was a long sentence. and i should like you to know that my grit pan is FIERY red.
 
honey, you can fire up my grit pan any old day :)
 
i find this sentence of amy's post *very* telling:

"But you know, back in the day I had my brushes with books like Herotica and The Anthology of Lesbian Erotica 1997; as far as I could tell, the stories that were sexy could have been in “Penthouse Forum,” and the stories involving women loving and respecting each other weren’t very exciting."

Especially that last bit.
 
yeah, mine too.

if Amy *is* reading this and truly would be open to engaging with antip, were it not for my snark: i humbly apologize. I Own My Own Snark (as we say on a VC i belong to: You Own Your Own Words)

I'm already steaming pretty hard about the way Heart responded, or rather didn't, to your post below.

Ultimately? For me? it's not about the porn. It's not even about teh Sex. It's about: are you sensitive to other people? Or are you just mostly sensitive to yourself?

And no in fact, wrapping up your own pain with the drama of All Women Everywhere does not automatically mean that you are not, in fact, completely self-absorbed. Real live people stand in front of you with open wounds; wounds that don't resemble yours in their form, but nonetheless are wounds. How do you respond? What's more important? Validating your worldview? Or seeing, really *seeing,* the person in front of you?

Because if it's the former, I really have to say I am disinclined not only to continue to put emotional investment into you, no matter how painful your own story (I can sympathize, but from a distance), but to take seriously any claims you have of striving toward some sort of utopian, egalitarian, progressive, humanitarian, blahblah.

Personal is political.

That works in a lot of ways, some subtler than others.
 
> and the stories involving women loving and respecting each other weren’t very exciting."

Especially that last bit.

Righto. "I didn't find it exciting; therefore other Women, especialyl *feminist* women, probably don't find it exciting, not *really.*"

own. your. shit.
 
...o, i just now saw the other implication of that as well.

well, again: whatever. own your own shit. that is a starting point.
 
exactly, belle! and it's an acknowledgment that she found all that "objectionable" stuff really SEXY. heaven forfend!

and ya know, more about her post...i didn't learn how to behave in bed from pornography. i certainly saw a little pornography when i was young, but for the most part, sure, i had assumptions about what i should do when i was new to it, and a lot of those i picked up from the way people spoke about sex. and, you know, from movies and tv. not porn movies. no, i'm talking yer average het missionary sex scene.

but here's the thing about experience, and being a freakin' adult: i learned my own way. i learned what i found sexy and what i didn't, i learned that throwing my head back didn't so much turn me on, etc. i tossed the other crap when it didn't work for me. cause i'm not a child.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
(edited slightly for tone).

indeed.

I want to clarify something here, too, by the way:

part of the reason i came off as harsh as i did here, besides my own personal triggers going off at witnessing antip's obvious dismay and hurt and (sorry, antip, i have to say this) turning it inward; which ime only causes more pain.

but the other thing specifically is this:

i have spent a bit of time looking at f-r's site.

and what really pushed me over the edge was the fact that she links to this site:

http://www.questioningtransgender.org/

The intrusiveness wrt TG folks, coming from people who are marginalized themselves, have as their primary thesis, or one of them, the extreme hurtfulness of being defined and invaded by others: that, that is my own personal Maginot line right now.

>This website is not about discrimination against people. It is about understanding the political ramifications of the politics that accompany the transgender movement--politics that go beyond human rights and civil rights and have the potential to destroy much of the social change and institutions that feminists have worked for.>

Bollocks.

"I have nothing against gay people; I support their right to not be discriminated against wrt housing and so forth. BUT..."

BZZT.

It is. none. of. your. business.

Look, make up any rule you want for your own personal clubhouse; it's allowed. But please. "Politics, not people."

"Love the sinner, not the sin"--

It's SOMEONE ELSE'S EXPERIENCE. It's someone else's BODY. You've got your own body and experiences to speak of--and god know, you do speak of them! Leave other people *alone.*

You don't go creating another whole website to further misrepresent people who are barely understood or even acknowledged by the mainstream to begin with.

and then turn around and whinge on account of *you're* so misunderstood, so marginalized, more than *anybody else.*

No.

Not on.

Not in my book.

No.
 
oh my god. that site is really, really awful.
 
i don't get how it is a serious question. we spent the bulk of our evolutionary history buck nekkid. not that we have to now but what is so alarming about nudity? and who really cares? there are a million and one things wrong with the world, pornography has only been a genre fr about 300 years, only in the last 50 or so has it been wide circulation.

The greeks had nekkid people fucking to decorate their baby plates and bowls.

congrats on your anniv. by the way.

now, i'm going to go crash and pray to go that the client cancels this meeting 'til tomorrow when I wanted to do it. i've been up all night and my entire body, hands, etc aches and i'm swollen up like a puff fish or seomthing from sitting on my ass working for 24 hrs straight.
 
oh I disagree strongly - with much love for y'all, and all appropriate civility.

1) I think Amy's site represents a more or less cohesive body of thought - embodies a philosophy with consistency throughout, and I appreciate that.

2) While I don't agree with much of what she has to say, that doesn't make her site "awful" in my book. She'd have to tell outright lies in an ugly typeface for it to be truly egregious.

3) she likes knitting. I like knitting. her knitting kicks my knitting's ass.

4) Although I'm coming late to the TG-controversy party and haven't done all of my homework on it, I agree that the "questioning Transgender" document deserves the fisking of a lifetime. However, I think that Amy's views on erotic vs pornography are totally worth discussing. To discount her opinion on "A" because I disagree with her opinion on "B" is just as bad as when she ignores my opinion on "C" because of my position on "D". For me it's a baby-bathwater issue.

However, y'all's mileage is sure to vary. That's what makes the world go 'round.
 
slip - just to clarify, I disagreed (politely, with much love) with belledame and mwt.

B/L - dude, you work too hard. get some rest. May your client get sucked into a black hole and dumped in the Everglades. Just for a little while.
 
ok - maybe not complete consistency, but an attempt at consistency.
 
And another thing -

the one negative thing I can think of re: Feminist Reprise is that there's no place for comments, so if you want to discuss anything you have to go off-site, which always makes me feel like I'm talking behind someone's back, which I hate.
 
@ belledame - you wrote: The intrusiveness wrt TG folks, coming from people who are marginalized themselves, have as their primary thesis, or one of them, the extreme hurtfulness of being defined and invaded by others: that, that is my own personal Maginot line right now.

I see your point. Maybe there are more Maginot lines than previously I thought.
 
I mean: it's her space. And I agree: in most respects it's internally consistent. She's welcome to it.

I think there is a way in which to discuss some of the points she's made--which are not unique to her, you know--without particularly needing her to join the conversation. She can if she wants to; if not, oh well.
 
my real Maginot line is: again, are you capable of reciprocation.

in that respect i find f-r's site to be remarkably consistent, from position wrt TG issues to how she goes about talking about porn/erotica to, as you note, she won't engage you and provides no space for comments.

so why bother trying to engage her?

seriously.
 
I want to clarify, from the post upthread:

> you can't have one without the other,

was referring to "individual" and "collective." Obviously one can romanticize the past, be a back-to-the-land sort, and not be a fascist.

it does sort of worry me when such impulses are combined with a heavy emphasis on the collective;

but then the latter worries me all by itself, it's true.

it just tends to express itself differently; but ultimately authoritarianism is authoritarianism.
 
antip: I just want to ask something.

Can you accept that a bunch of people agree with you, side with you, want to be your friend, *are* your friend for that matter? and that, speaking for myself, although I certainly see it in other regulars here: that that friendship and respect is not based on whether or not you disagree with me/someone?
That you've earned it.

Because, and this is my own personal shit, but: I gotta admit, it sometimes kind of smarts when i see you get so wounded by people who, as you say, may or may not give two shits.

Because some of us *do* give two shits; but (and I say this having been on the other end of this, sometimes it feels like one person's dismissal is weighted more than everyone else's genuine caring and respect, my own included.

Like I said: my personal shit; I would not expect you to agree that this is the case.

It's just kind of how I'm feeling right now, a bit.

And yes, I'm still your friend, regardless.
 
point taken. Another Opportunity for Growth.
 
I think many (or at least some) feel wounded, but are reluctant to speak up, feeling like it's pointless anyway.

I like people to feel like they count, even if I don't necessarily buy every single thing they're selling. I like to count too, so I feel like I should make the effort.
 
>but for the most part, sure, i had assumptions about what i should do when i was new to it, and a lot of those i picked up from the way people spoke about sex. and, you know, from movies and tv. not porn movies. no, i'm talking yer average het missionary sex scene.

Ditto.

and in some cases, as i said in the post a couple of doors down, i ended up eroticizing stuff that one wouldn't expect one to eroticize at all (three years old, playing around with mix-and-match educational cards). Who the hell knows why? All I know is: it certainly wasn't a case of "monkey see, monkey do" OR of reading someone else's theory.

my own strange little interpretation of the input i was receiving.

same as with everything else, pretty much.
 
Pursuant to a new and improved erotic imagination, such phoenix as can be created out of the ashes - what would you keep? what would you discard?
 
antip: I think you're right about that, probably.

at the same time: it's kind of up to them to say so ("I am not participating in this because I feel too hurt.")

And in a couple of cases I've been having what I feel like has been genuine communication with people, because we were both able to say pretty much just that. And hear each other, at least in regard to that; and try to hear a little more about each others' subjective experiences, even if we're still not seeing eye to eye on a number of ideological points and possibly never will.

That's a big difference, though. It can't just be one-way; and at a certain point, with some individuals, i think you just have to say, well...so be motherfucking it. Otherwise it's a terrific way to wear yourself out.

And in a way: in this case, I gotta say, whatever else about f-r, she's made herself pretty clear. She doesn't want to talk. She won't hold dialogue with "porn apologists;" she never answered your email; she doesn't have an open comments section. So, fine. She does however have some posts up for public view. Also fine. On public display=completely fair to talk about, in public. If she doesn't want to join in that discussion, that's certainly her right.
 
slippage.

in answer to that last: as i was saying: i am a very big fan of the work Body Electric does.
 
btw: wrt my own Maginot line:

I'll certainly have dialogue with anyone who initiates what feels to me like a genuine attempt at dialogue, regardless of where they're coming from.

Where I redraw the line is where it starts to feel like we're talking past each other.

It also doesn't mean that someone who's expressed what I feel to be vile (misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, racist, whatever) sentiments is now my bestest friend simply because sie's moved a quarter of an inch.

(seriously not referring here to anyone with whom I'm currently or have recently been engaged, just for clarification. have some earlier dialogues from the VC and real life in mind here)

still, it is important to recognize that quarter of an inch, if and when it actually happens.
 
...and now it occurs to me that in fact i have been misusing the term "Maginot Line," probably.

or not, actually.

o well.
 
...i could be wrong, but i thought mwt was referring to the "questioning TG" site as awful, awful, not f-r's.
 
finally (!) just to really, really clarify, or try to:

the "questioning TG" link is why i don't care to try to engage with this woman on a personal level or garner her good opinion. it does not ipso facto mean that she could never have a point about anything else which i might want to consider, no.

whether or not she actually has any real points in this particular essay is open to debate.

i suppose what you were getting at, antip, was interesting: so okay, what *is* this exciting new experiential egalitarian sexuality, and how does one go about attaining it?

i actually have a few more specific thoughts on that, but i'll wait till later--running late and running off at the keyboard again.

but when i said her approach viz porn/erotica was of a piece with her stance on TG issues (and the no-comments policy), what i meant specifically was the refusal to have dialogue with "porn defenders."

I mean, if yer not gonna dialogue, you're not gonna dialogue. it's not really about what she does or doesn't think about porn, for me.

but that does kind of fall in line with what i see as a decidedly one-way approach toward empathy (gimme gimme none for you), on the whole.
 
i suppose what you were getting at, antip, was interesting: so okay, what *is* this exciting new experiential egalitarian sexuality, and how does one go about attaining it?

i actually have a few more specific thoughts on that, but i'll wait till later--running late and running off at the keyboard again.


Yeah! yeah yeah yeah! what stays, what goes? how can sexual content be reconstructed to reflect what really goes on in a healthy sexual experience (and still be readable and exciting)?

more of that.
 
well, wait--first of all, are you talking about making better *porn/erotica,* or how to, as I guess f-r was saying, getting more in touch with oneself? staying "present," in other words, with yourself, with your partner(s).
 
i didn't mean her site, antip, i meant the "questioning transgender" site, which is terribly transphobic.
 
I guess, AP, that I can't address the question because each side of this debate start from profoundly different fundamentals.

E.g., Amy thinks it's possible to have feminist values that somehow exist outside of society.

I'm a sociologist. I don't think it's possible. We are social beings. We die , as infants, if we aren't minimally cared for. We are enormously dependent on others for a long time. The notion that we can uncover preferences, undistorted by society, makes no sense.

Amy's coming from a totally different set of understandings about the pysche, the self, society, and the relation between them.

Dworkin has a big beef with erotica. I don't have Radically Speaking right now, but in an interview she basically says that there wasn't any such thing until the porn wars -- that it became a politicized category advanced by the anti-anti-porn folks as cover for the appealing to what Belledame mentions: porn = yucky, what i don't like; erotica = not yucky, what i do like. :)
 
I also forgot to mention, to connect this to Belledame's comments about totalitarianism, that there is a literature on the phenomenon. totalitarian regimes, in order to exercise such power, nearly always have to appeal to some mythic collectivist identity in order to unite a disparate group of people.

Thus, as others have pointed out, appeals to a mythic past, as well as appeals to some mythic place free of current social relations, becomes a lynchpin for social systems that tend toward totalitarianism.

so, I don't think it's an accident and I see why BD is concerned.
 
anti-anti-porn, there's a label! heh.

yeah, and, too, if you buy Wilhelm Reich's theories (I do to a certain extent, problematic as a lot of his conclusions are; he was a product of his time): another of the lynchpins of totalitarianism is rechannelling of erotic energies into malignant aggression and rage, i.e. war.

what with the whole wimmin R speshul thing, not to mention probably not really too plausible, actual physical war started by this school of feminism was never really on the table.

but as we see, malignant aggression and rage can come out in other ways, and also have toxic effects.
 
that is to say:

I have seen a number of statements--online and offline, from radicals of various schools, left and right, not excluding feminisms--saying, effectively, Get angry! Stay angry! Anger is good for you!

and i'm like--

you know. I am not, personally, at this time, convinced by certain religious schools that all anger is detrimental and must needs be avoided/rechannelled/purged.

at the same time: it is obvious to me that it is plenty easy to find things to be angry about without deliberately whipping oneself up into a state of permanent rage.

and my question is: get angry, stay angry in order to avoid feeling what else?

*that* is toxic.

"A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion"--Radicalesbians, 1970

--honey, no. just, NO. seriously.
 
What I am interested in in f-r's essay, if anything, is this notion that it's important to try and really stay in one's body, connected with oneself and with one's partner(s); that porn (as she's experienced it) is distancing.

What I think is this:

The leaving-one's-body thing is very typical of abuse survivors of various sorts.

It is also very common in this modern woild to become further disconnected, on top of that. There are many people who've talked about this using broader frameworks than that of just (sexual) porn; the idea that the constant TV and media watching, the constant information overload, the emphasis on the visual at the expense of the other (more intimate) senses, the information overload; that it has a numbing, alienating effect. Alienation of course has been talked about for quite some time; there is, I think, good reason to argue that today *that* is more prevalent than ever.

and i assume that someone who has removed herself to live on the land in a communitarian setting has probably considered this broader perspective to some degree.

so, fine.

The thing is, though, from my view:

what's really completely important, erotically, first of all, is to become reconnected with one's own body, with the breath. That is Reich's good legacy, and it's been refined and improved on by his successors, i would say.

as I've said: early sex-pos feminists like Betty Dodson were all about this. Sit in a circle naked and really look at yourselves and each other. Masturbate. Get out the magnifying mirror and the speculum and take a look at what's inside. Make noise. Smell. Taste. Touch. Experience. *Breathe.*

and as I said, Body Electric also does this sort of work, although they were at first primarily focused on gay men during the height of the AIDS crisis. other people and organizations do similar work as well. not many. but a few.

The point of these exercises, though, is primarily to counteract the shame that is the legacy of being raised in a sex-negative culture.

How the sexual shaming thing works is:

you've discovered something really cool about your or someone else's body; hey, it does this when i do that! that feels good!

angry adult or sneering peers come along and

"that's disgusting! that's dirty!" SQUASH.

That actually takes one fuck of a lot of work to get over, all by itself. Reclaiming not just one's bodily experiences but one's psyche from the toxic, shaming invader.

And that is without the added abuses of actual physical violation which many are unfortunate enough to experience.

What drives me so frigging crazy about the Dworkin/Jeffries/TF/whomever school is that they are *doing the same goddam thing.*

"Hey, guys, guess what I just found out! I like this! This feels really neat!"

SQUASH.

This? Does not help. Anyone. At all. Ultimately. Really.
 
anyhoo, like i said: i am all eager to see what one comes up with after finishing (if it ever is finished) the project of "rejecting all sexually explicit materials."

i am sure that it will be splendid whatever it is.

and involve no ocean metaphors whatsoever.
 
she basically says that there wasn't any such thing until the porn wars -- that it became a politicized category advanced by the anti-anti-porn folks as cover

tell that to Anais Nin.
 
French chicks don't count.

tangentially, Marga Gomez has a routine about "Anais Nin in Disneyland" that's fookin brill.

"I wanted to take her. But not like a man. No. I wanted to take her like a mouse."
 
btw, antip: if you're into feminist knitters' blogs, i just came across this promising-looking one:

http://femiknitmafia.blogspot.com/
 
O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life's as cheap as beast's...


(Of course, Lear was a fuckwit; but, well.)

The thing that really grates on me about the question is that it rings of when people say, "Why are you reading that fantasy crap? It's not real, you know."

And in the bigger scheme of things: We need to tell stories and make pictures about our lives because that's what we do. That's what it is to be human; we live in story and memory at least as much as we do in the present, and I'm not convinced that's a design flaw. The fact that many of the stories and pictures are of made-up things that never happened doesn't change that they are often true, or point to a kind of truth. And sometimes the stories and pictures, or the things they point to, will be lies and atrocities; that's just the way of it. But we reject the idea of second-hand experience at our peril. To do so burns off a little of our humanity that I don't think we can afford.

Or, to put it another way: Saying that we shouldn't allow ourselves to be turned on by sexual art is like saying we shouldn't be moved by Exodus because it detracts from our ability to go up on a mountain and talk to God ourselves.
 
>"Why are you reading that fantasy crap? It's not real, you know."

Uh huh. Thanks for sharing! Now turn off the goddam computer and go outside and play. better yet: work. till the soil or some goddam thing.

be sure not to read anything or go to a movie or draw a picture or write or even daydream.

in fact, perhaps best not to speak at all; words are so distancing.

gah. listen--and Dan, I -know- I'm preaching to the converted here--but frankly there's a lot more "realism" in something like Buffy the Vampire Slayer than in a lot of "naturalistic" drama.

but here i am getting off into old theatre/writing-related rantage, i expect.
 
Saying that we shouldn't allow ourselves to be turned on by sexual art is like saying we shouldn't be moved by Exodus because it detracts from our ability to go up on a mountain and talk to God ourselves.

dan l-k - you RULE. That was beautiful.

\m/
 
...but you're right, of course; fantasy and especially horror occupy a cultural position that's probably "above" porn/erotica, but only by a small step or two. Similar criticisms, too: ranging from "it's dangerous" to "it's silly and a waste of time" to "it's all pretty much crap anyway."

and for similar reasons: both ("all" i suppose) genres look under the bright solid sunlit surface to examine the shadowy squirmy bits that most of us would rather not consider too closely; worse still, often find the process enjoyable, even powerful.

as P. Califia (or someone who inspired him in turn) once said,

"May you find wonderful things in the darkness."

which does *not* mean embrace the shadowy side wholeheartedly at the expense of the daylight; it means, integrate.

that is still not a terribly popular concept, that, particularly when it comes to sociopolitics: pretty much across the ideological spectrum.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
and I'll go a step further:

the fantastic and the erotic are both potential gateways, however secularized and diminished and even commericalized, to what's been called the "numinous."

there is a bigbigbig taboo against trying to explore that terrain, again across the boards. if you belong to a traditional religion, going outside the dogma-perscribed channels is *highly* dangerous; if yer a good old-fashioned follower of Marxism (or its many ideological children), you've probably taken "religion is the opiate of the masses" ($1 to BL), the idea at least, to heart. Reality, dammit. *Materialism.* just the facts, ma'am. don't stray too far off the path; that way not just frivolity/distraction but madness lies.

Back to Reich for a second: I'm looking at this excerpt from "Mass Psychology of Fascism" which spells out something i've been trying to pin down for a while:

"In some of the German meetings around 1930 there were intelligent, straightforward, though nationalistically and mystically oriented, revolutionaries-such as Otto Strasser, for example-who were wont to confront the Marxists as follows: "You Marxists like to quote Marx's theories in your defense. Marx taught that theory is verified by practice only, but your Marxism has proved to be a failure. You always come around with explanations for the defeat of the Workers' International. The 'defection of the Social Democrats' was your explanation for the defeat of 1914; you point to their 'treacherous politics' and their illusions to account for the defeat of 1918. And again you have ready 'explanations' to account for the fact that in the present world crisis the masses are turning to the Right instead of to the Left. But your explanations do not blot out the fact of your defeats! Eighty years have passed, and where is the concrete confirmation of the theory of social revolution? Your basic error is that you reject or ridicule soul and mind and that you don't comprehend that which moves everything." Such were their arguments, and exponents of Marxism had no answer. It became more and more clear that their political mass propaganda, dealing as it did solely with the discussion of objective socio-economic processes at a time of crisis (capitalist modes of production, economic anarchy, etc.), did not appeal to anyone other than the minority already enrolled in the Left front. The playing up of material needs and of hunger was not enough, for every political party did that much, even the church; so that in the end it was the mysticism of the National Socialists that triumphed over the economic theory of socialism, and at a time when the economic crisis and misery were at their worst. Hence, one had to admit that there was a glaring omission in the propaganda and in the overall conception of socialism and that, moreover, this omission was the source of its "political errors." It was an error in the Marxian comprehension of political reality, and yet all the prerequisites for its correction were contained in the methods of dialectical materialism. They had simply never been turned to use. In their political practice, to state it briefly at the outset, the Marxists had failed to take into account the character structure of the masses and the social effect of mysticism. "

And I hold that that's still true even now. All the handwringing and sneering about the irrationality or stupidity about the Religious Right won't do *squat* except alienate still more people. There is a fundamental human need here that frankly is still being better addressed by the radical right than--well, pretty much most of the left, from moderate to radical. Stuff like appeals to a mythic pre-civilization goddessy Matriarchy and so on are getting warmer, but they're pretty much guaranteed to not get more popular than they currently are (as dogma), for a bunch of reasons.

Where I part ways from Reich, I *think,* (I need to go back and reread more), is that i don't believe that unrepressing sexuality is *the* solution. (Most neo-Reichians even, do not hold to this, i believe). I *do* believe that being "beside oneself," being out of touch with the wisdom of one's own body, *is* still a very big deal, yes. That includes but is not limited to the body erotic.

and finally i think the poor bastard was sort of both a product of and ahead of his time wrt the whole crackpot-sounding "orgone" business.

what that was, was, i think, an attempt to reconcile the extreme scientific materialism of the day with what he must have sensed was operating according to different principles, or at least needed a different framework, a different language, a different approach.

as it was, it failed miserably.

but that doesn't mean he was totally off, either, i think.
 
so, yeah: the word i'm dancing around is "spirituality," i expect.

an area where there's even more to unpack than sexuality, on the whole, i think.

on a related note, to my mind: my pal howard at the Web Pen log has a great post on our cultural terror of/denial of death. (scroll down to "Celebrate Death," there's no direct link i think)

http://www.thewebpen.net/blog/
 
Thank you, antip. I'm just happy to be contributing something useful to this discussion despite being a big hairy male with dodgy taste in porn. :)
 
All the handwringing and sneering about the irrationality or stupidity about the Religious Right won't do *squat* except alienate still more people. There is a fundamental human need here that frankly is still being better addressed by the radical right than--well, pretty much most of the left, from moderate to radical.

IOW, it's not enough to just have The Facts on our side - we also need better and kinder lies.

And you're hitting on something very true wrt the connections between sexual art and genre art - we are all in the gutter, &c.

(And as another tangent, I'm reminded of something Alan Moore said about the practice of magic - that being a magician is more akin to being a plumber than anything else, in that you have to both know your way around the works and not be afraid to be up to your arms in shit. You can pretty much search-and-replace Art there as well.)

So, yeah. What You Said. And about finding wonderful things in the darkness - yeah, that's a fair summary of my life and aesthetics and philosophy, and one of the hardest things to communicate to people who are too caught up in their squick to even try to Get It. (It also sums up why Clive Barker pushes so many of my cool buttons: queerness and beauty and grotesquerie and spirituality and smut, frequently all at once.)
 
>IOW, it's not enough to just have The Facts on our side - we also need better and kinder lies.

well, myths, anyway; stories.

which in some peoples' minds are synonymous with "lies."

reification's a bitch.
 
or, as Lakoff puts, i suppose, framing;

except it's all a bit too neat and tidy, i find, reading him.
 
i knit too.. ;)
 
And I used to knit - the French way, of course ;)

"i don't get how it is a serious question. we spent the bulk of our evolutionary history buck nekkid. not that we have to now but what is so alarming about nudity? and who really cares? there are a million and one things wrong with the world, pornography has only been a genre fr about 300 years, only in the last 50 or so has it been wide circulation."

Au contraire. Women have been reduced to 'sex' for 2000 years - if not longer.

Actually, women have been reduced to 'sex' since the advent of patriarchial capitalism - whenever that was.

I seriously don't think Amy is critiquing either nudity or real sex in her post. She's critiquing acceptance of the patriarchal commodification of faked intimacy. Amy is advocating real sexual intimacy - without the intrusion of the contrived, pornographic/erotic narrative.

And she has a point. Sexual intimacy is so much more fulfilling without someone else's ideas of what it could/should be like spoiling the moment.

Personally, I think that anyone who needs someone else's 'erotic imagination' to stimulate their own ideas and responses is really sad. Particularly when you consider that any/all 'erotic' material - wild as it may seem at the time - is still tightly bound by a rigid political paradigm.
 
Heh. I'm trilling because I got post number 69.

Seems kinda apt, somehow.

;)
 
>Personally, I think that anyone who needs someone else's 'erotic imagination' to stimulate their own ideas and responses is really sad.

But we none of us live in a vacuum; or create in a vacuum; or desire in a vacuum.

Question. How do you feel about fiction in general?

That is: do you think it's "really sad" to need someone else's imagination to stimulate your (one's) own ideas and responses in any area *except* the erotic?
 
Heh. I'm trilling because I got post number 69.

Seems kinda apt, somehow.

;)


(giggle)

me personally, that is the least inspiring sexual position for me. I feel like I can't concentrate on my partner if I'm distracted by that particular physical sensation in my own body. I start to get nervous and worried (will I get carried away and bite something? will I try to ignore the distraction and please my partner? what if what if what if what about what about what about...)

not my favorite. in fact probably my least favorite. but I imagine it works well for some folks.
 
She's critiquing acceptance of the patriarchal commodification of faked intimacy.

I agree strongly that such is worth critiquing into oblivion. But doesn't one's personal experience of real intimacy, even if it is inspired by or similar to someone else's experience, count for something? And if I have had an experience of real intimacy, is it not natural to want to share that and compare it to others' experiences of real intimacy?

Amy is advocating real sexual intimacy - without the intrusion of the contrived, pornographic/erotic narrative.

I can see why someone would feel intruded upon. I did discuss that in my post.

And she has a point. Sexual intimacy is so much more fulfilling without someone else's ideas of what it could/should be like spoiling the moment.

I see what you're saying, but I'm not sure one can speak for all in terms of what constitutes fulfilling and what constitutes spoiling.
 
Yeah, I think it's heaping a lot of expectations onto The Act, honestly. why does it always have to be one thing?
 
>Personally, I think that anyone who needs someone else's 'erotic imagination' to stimulate their own ideas and responses is really sad

A couple of thoughts about this.

First of all: okay, let's say I'm reading i don't know "Ulysses," by James Joyce. (big assumption that i actually can finish the damn thing, but well nevermind that now). Now considered a "classic," chock fulla literary value. At one point it was indeed censored; it does have a number of seriously smutty (and frankly kinky) scenes. Among many many other things.

So let's say I'm reading the behemoth and having all sorts of emotional reactions and ideas in response to it:

the part where Bloom is making breakfast for his wife makes me hungry, and i go fix myself a bite to eat. maybe not what he's eating; or maybe i do think "hey, actually kidneys sound pretty good."

(not very likely that last part, but anyway)

so, okay. No one's saying there's anything "sad" or "unnecessary" about this. I think. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I keep reading. This chapter makes me cry. Fine. This one makes me very angry, and it reminds me to get up and write a letter to the editor about (something vaguely related, political). Well and good.

This next passage inspires me with its sheer poetry, and (consciously or not) the next time i go to write something creatively i am influenced by it; a reader reading it would probably say, "hey, you've been reading Joyce." Happens all the time, that. That's how writers learn their craft. As Stephen King put it: you're like milk in the refrigerator; you'll pick up the flavor of whatever you're standing next to. That's just natural. Sooner or later (ideally) you find your own voice/flavor. And at the end of the day, you're still milk (yourself).

So that's all okay. I assume. Again, if it's not, let me know; i am merely going off this assumption because i haven't read anything from you so far that suggests you might have a problem with any of this, or find it in any way "sad."

So all of that. Then I get to one of the "dirty" passages and, well, it kind of turns me on. To the point where i go masturbate about it. Or maybe i go have sex with a partner. And maybe i incorporate some of the specific images from that passage into my fantasy and/or try some of it with my partner (asking first, of course); or maybe i don't. but, whatever, it got me hot.

Tell me. Why (if this is indeed your position) is this "sadder" than any of the other ways in which my ideas and responses have been stimulated?
 
>Amy is advocating real sexual intimacy - without the intrusion of the contrived, pornographic/erotic narrative.

Okay, but--and I think this is the $64 thousand question that antip is asking, and i'm curious too: so how do you get there?

Specifically...mmm.

I mean: how much energy are you (one) spending on "purifying" oneself of the external narrative (however you determine where that starts and your own begins) as opposed to simply letting yourself stay present in the moment?

Which leads me to my other question, w-w:

in an earlier thread you'd said something about wanting to get people to the point where patriarchal such-and-so, erotically i guess (i am paraphrasing because i don't remember which thread it was in) inspires a "visceral" disgust, or shame. One of those words.

My question: how exactly does this work, for you?

I mean: do you find that shaming and disgust helps you get more in touch with yourself, with your own personal sexuality, with your partner? If so, how?

I ask because this has pretty much been the opposite of my experience. When I am flooded with shame or self-loathing or disgust--whatever the reason--it tends to shut me down.

and personally i can't just make the jump from

okay, i still feel shamed (to the core of my being) and dirty for indulging in whatever fantasy it was; but here, this act with this partner under these circumstances is acceptable. okay: love and joy and turn-on: ready set go.

doesn't work. ime.
 
that is to say:

I'm with you on the distracting-ness (word? anyway) of external narratives into intimacy with the person in front of you. (including yourself).

My thing is: the shame narrative--which, let's face it, also pretty much comes from external sources-- is even more of a distraction and hindrance to intimacy--particularly *sexual* intimacy--than stereotyped Hott fantasy #x from whatever magazine i read it in.

at least with the latter i'm turned on. even if it might in fact lead to my trying some stuff that doesn't really feel organic, perhaps to the annoyance of my partner. hopefully if i'm in tune with my partner i can see that sie didn't like whatever it was, and we can talk about it, and next time i'll pay better attention to what's actually going on with hir.

with the former...

yeah. i'm just not seeing it. that clenched sock-in-the-gut-i-feel-small feeling in the pit of the stomach; that does not make me want to open up to another person, sexually or otherwise. I just want to get away, if/when that happens.

frankly it's taken a lot of work to get over that shaming. i'm not at all sure i'm done with it, frankly. in fact, if i were, i probably wouldn't be having such strong emotional reactions to these "sex/porn/whatever war" online thrashes.

by the way: while societal homophobia is the source for much of the (external) shame narrative in my case, it's not the only one out there.

it's a pretty powerful one, though.
 
to amend: get away, or sometimes, attack. when i feel shamed, that is.

neither is particularly conducive to genune intimacy.
 
...i had to laugh.

just now over at BL's: she'd written she was going out for Thai food with a client.

and i wrote without thinking:

mmm, Thai food. pad Thai and green curry. damn. now i'm all hungry.

totally inspired me and my appetite.

no socially redeeming value whatsoever except: i'm hungry and want to please my palate, and BL's mentioning Thai food has excited me and given me ideas.

is that "sad?"
 
btw, antip--how did you feel pressured by Califia's stuff?
 
I've been thinking about this the last couple of days.

I do believe that we're all constantly engaged in discourse with narrative, for good or ill. I doubt there's a workaround for this; we are the storytelling animal, and we're shaped by our art both good and bad. But I really think the answer is that you decide what to keep and what to reject as you build your own conversation, just as every aesthetic movement has done since forever. I don't think the answer is to declare the whole thing irredeemably corrupt and burn it to the ground and start over. I mean, it's been tried before; c.f., Dada, and we see how well that went - assimilated into the conversation along with everything else.

And it occurs to me that a far more insidious and destructive thread than the sexual/erotic in our cultural aesthetic is the idea of romance and True Love, and yet it's possible to make informed decisions about what to embrace or reject about that tradition; and we don't need to burn Tristan and Isolde to get enough perspective to do so.
 
Or, another parallel, drawing once again on genre lit: Terry Pratchett observed that the first wave of genre fantasy had a relationship to Tolkien similar to Hokusai's relationship to Mount Fuji: the work either showed Mount Fuji up close, or off in the distance, or you couldn't see it because that's where the artist was standing.

There's a sense in which this remains true - Tolkien is present in modern fantasy even by his absence, in the deliberate spaces created by writers like China Mieville who reject Tolkien and all his works. And as much as Mieville might wish for it, we can't eliminate Lord of the Rings from the canon - and we've still managed to create a huge and diverse and vibrant body of fantasy literature anyway.

Why is it impossible to think that we could approach sexual art the same way?
 
because

AAAHHHH KREPLACH!!

But yes, you're right of course.
 
Well, it's also worth noting that there are good reasons to be allergic to Extruded Fantasy Product, much as there are good reasons to refute the uglier sort of porn.

It's just that if your kreplach-revulsion is so strong that you won't read anything with a dragon on the cover, well, I suppose I can see how you'd get there; but you're going to miss out on, e.g., Steve Brust, and that's a shame.

(And you might never have the chance to figure out that the damn dragons are not the problem - crappy writing is.)
 
Personally, I think that anyone who needs someone else's 'erotic imagination' to stimulate their own ideas and responses is really sad. Particularly when you consider that any/all 'erotic' material - wild as it may seem at the time - is still tightly bound by a rigid political paradigm.

...You know, people like me have been fighting a rigid political paradigm supported by her and people like her, one that in turn supports alienation from our bodies and their erotic potential. However pathetic it might seem to you, I needed other people to tell me that, yes, I was allowed to be a sexual being. Of course that requires negotiating political pressures. Does that mean that there's no political strength available as well?
 
Because on these terms, the argument isn't just that my sexuality deserves to thrive without political interference. The argument is that my (sexual) body would not exist were it not for that interference.
 
Dan:

you know, I know of at least one feminist blogger who writes in exactly those words that she has a personal "allergy" to porn. but she still isn't with the anti-porners; she gets the deal. And I get her deal. It makes total sense; yep, a lot of that stuff's crap; yep, it's difficult to tell in many cases just how much actual exploitation went on; yep, I can see where one would be squicked. No doubt.

It's still very different from turning it all into some sort of I don't know crusade, and attacking/refusing dialogue with your fellow feminists because they don't see things quite the way you do.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
>..You know, people like me have been fighting a rigid political paradigm supported by her and people like her, one that in turn supports alienation from our bodies and their erotic potential. However pathetic it might seem to you, I needed other people to tell me that, yes, I was allowed to be a sexual being.>

Thank you. Exactly. Me, too. Different destination, but similar journey.

It's all very well to say "but who cares what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom?" when in fact it's not your bedroom that's being policed.

Or to confuse "privacy" with "silence." Which, as we know, can kill.

and of course one can argue that in and of themselves, the anti-whatever feminists have relatively little real-world influence. So the fuck what? When it's heaped on top of the "mainstream" narrative, even laws, oppressing LGBT and other erotically marginalized folk, it...well, it damn sure doesn't help any. And frankly it's bogus to go "oh but *we* didn't do anything. We have no influence." Yeah, actually, you kind of do; you have enough. Just not enough (or focused in such a way) to actually *help* anyone.

but it's a lot easier to scapegoat than to actually do something constructive.

as for complaining when people, well, complain, what's that saying?

"when you point a finger, three more point back at you."
 
Well, I certainly don't want to seem as if I'm pretending that there aren't vast swathes of pornography out there that are varying degrees of horrible and/or stupid. There certainly are. I've had ambivalent feelings about a lot of it for years and years; it's just that after long consideration, I've had to come down firmly on the side of believing that just because something's always been done badly is not a good reason to never do it at all.

(I've been saying for a couple of years now, and only really half-joking, that I missed my calling as a pornographer, because no one else was going to make the kind of thing I wanted to see.)
 
It's all very well to say "but who cares what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom?" when in fact it's not your bedroom that's being policed.

Or when you're not being asked to divide yourself between two disparate lives. We aren't made to compartmentalize (I learned that the year I lived as my parents' daughter at home and a boy outdoors); my private life is my public life is me.
 
I am of the opinion that some folks care very much about what goes on in our own personal bedrooms.

Otherwise there wouldn't be so much noise about it.
 
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