Thursday, March 29, 2007
so let me get this straight - coupla hundred people spent a coupla days and whatever it cost for travel and meals to get together and discuss how we can all move on from the damaging Porn Wars of the 1980s "by reframing our thinking on pornography, especially in light of the important changes that have occurred in both technology and pop culture over the past two decades."
was any of that reframing actually done? or did everyone just get together to look at dirty slide shows?
Did people attend with the intention of developing an action plan of some sort, or try to get some questions answered? or did they attend for the sole purpose of sitting in a dark room with 100 or so of their closest friends and feel that shock - shock!- and horror! and fear! and disgust! and have that delicious, hair-raising, pulse-quickening sense of shared revulsion, shared outrage, shared pity, shared compassion, and feel that tremendous sense of group bonding against the terrifying monster embodied in image after horrible image, carefully arranged to slowly climb to a climax of ultimate deplorable degradation?
I mean, I wouldn't blame anyone if they did just go for the slide show. it must have felt great. exhilirating. cathartic. empowerful. like a fire-and-brimstone old-time revival meeting. Y'all must have felt like a real force to be reckoned with at the end of it all.
so, did you actually happen to get to the point of the conference, to wit:
What do such economic and cultural shifts mean for feminist theory and activism, and how can we rebuild a vibrant feminist movement that addresses the harms of misogynist images that help define our culture, our visual landscape and our sexuality?
was anyone able to actually answer that question? or did you get a little distracted?
and, while you're at it, did anyone proffer an opinion on what steps can be taken to really really eliminate those images, purge them completely, wipe them from our visual landscape? what can be done to completely obliterate that which you find offensive and damaging, and leave the world a safer place for women?
it occurs to me that no matter what great ideas can be employed, I don't think it's possible to keep the world safe FROM certain women, women like me for example.
women like me who, even after the knifepoint rape and the regular beatings and the general grinding into paste from all the humiliation and misery and bowel-curdling terror we've experienced, are nonetheless likely to say "oh, you just want to take a picture of my face looking out of a toilet seat? sure, whatever."
got a master plan for keeping the world safe from women like me? or do you have to sit through a couple more slide shows?
So, glad y'all had an amazing experience at the amazing conference. But unless y'all actually answered those questions, and more, I believe you did more to help yourselves than to help our poor downtrodden sisters.
Oh and Rootie: embrace the perviness!
but freakazoid that I am, I'm a monogamous freakazoid so we'll have to wait until antiprince drops dead to consummate our forbidden love.
and I've been feeding him good so that's unlikely.
touche, baby. touche. a fair question. there's a lot of yammering on about harm-reduction and ending trafficking and so forth but, similarly, maybe there's not a lot getting accomplished in relation to the amount of verbiage generated.
I don't know whether the conference was successful or not. I just know that what I've read of the conference summaries does not seem to indicate that the core questions were addressed. maybe they were and it's just that nobody has got around to summarizing that yet.
And I gotta say, one of the things I like least in the world is a conference. at the moment I'm more anti-conference than anti-anti-porn.
well, yeah - but I'm not so sure the "official" porn lobby is looking out for the rank and file so much as the stockholders of companies and consumers of their products, nor does it really much speak to the needs of non-professional pornographers (such as may exist) or people involved who are not US citizens.
which came first, violent men or violent porn?
yeesh. gotta be more careful.
who did I mean by that?
I don't mean people who exploit genuine fear and humiliation for fun. I mean people who are not involved in the porn business but nonetheless fool around in front of cameras.
I think that the obviously non-consensual stuff should be considered evidence of a crime.
but not everything that looks non-consensual really is. god, you could go around on that forever.
Violent men, because they exist even if there's no porn around.
I believe violent porn is an extension of preexisting violent tendencies. Tho I'm thinking it could also be an outlet- a release of sorts, that perhaps someone uses in order to circumvent violent behavior. Like, when I listen to Wagner...sort of. Keeps me from hitting someone.
which, a lot of folks say, that just doesn't happen. life imitates art, men get "ideas" from what they see, and go act on them. For many, the "safety valve" theory just doesn't stand up.
me, I don't know. maybe in men already prone to violence, it acts as a catalyst.
but the same old questions arise: what about women who view porn? they don't tend to turn into rapists. is that because of something innate in women? not all men are violent by nature. does porn turn all men into rapists? and on and on and on.
if both the anti-porn folks and the non-anti-porn folks could push all that aside, and get together and work on, say, trafficking, without wanting to blow up the conference table, that would be a good first step.
Anyway, also, as I've mentioned on my blog a few times, I've been knocking around the idea of a female sexuality/feminism/sex-positive unconference, to be held in Atlanta. Part of me is like, well, shouldn't someone more "qualified" organize it? And then another part of me is like, fuck it, if not now, when?
even so - why should some innocent person suffer just so a man can get horny? I think is the argument. or an argument, anyway. "wank fodder", I believe is the phrase.
and for those that suffer, yeah, I should help do something about their suffering. we all should.
yet, the last time pornography was out-and-out banned, what ended up happening was that information about health, birth control, and sexuality (just regular, non-pervy sexuality) was also banned. you could go to jail just as easily for a medical drawing as for a postcard of a woman with her breasts exposed. (I wonder if that repression led to all manner of weird little sexual "issues", which led to weird sexual behavior, which, now that I think about it, may have indirectly led to the porn we have today. maybe. I wonder about that.)
I'd like to see that concern addressed without the concomitant snide eyeroll.
is it the act, or the picture of the act, that is objectionable?
is it the act, or the picture of the act, or the feelings the picture might inspire in the viewer?
can the three be separated? is the picture of the act also the act itself, also the feelings inspired by the picture of the act? do all three aspects have to be present to make an image pornographic?
I don't wonder this from a purely navel-gazing la-la-frou-frou theoretical standpoint. I really want to know.
I think, for some people at least, neither the act nor the picture of the act is objectionable. The complaint is that there's no way of knowing whether the people consented.
While I think it's a bit tenuous in some cases, I at least understand that argument.
but then there's the idea that no one could possibly consent to name-your-activity, and also the idea that even if I Heidi consented to this activity, taking a picture of me doing this activity and then making that picture available to be shown to others will make it easier to pressure others to engage in the activity.
whew. that sentence made no sense.
Nuh-uh! Power to the people! Regular joes -you know, living, breathing, everyday us- is almost always (in my mind) the best candidate for activism. You're representing your beliefs, your agenda, your interests without partisan payment. I mean, no one's giving you anything to speak the truth and collaborate with others toward the common goal.
This concern, in particular, is about everyday us- the horny human -and if it's not represented by us, then who? Do it.
Hey, Amber~ Can you like go do all this important pro-active stuff? I'm gonna be busy making diiirrrrty home movies and I don't wanna get arrested for it or anything, so it'd be like really nice if you could effect positive change while I'm entertaining myself.
And there is the truth.
Belle - well, maybe I don't have as much right to be angry as people who have been hurt by the porno-industrial complex, so to speak.
but when has my anger ever been justified about anything.
I just don't see how sitting in a dark room looking at dirty pictures (and learning NOTHING that wasn't already in the antiporn canon) does those hurt people any favors, either.
How productive do you think it might've been had both sides been represented? I mean, they're saying they represent these people -acting on behalf of those who've been exploited/abused- but was there representation for those who feel otherwise?
That's all conferences are sometimes: us! we! And it has its benefits however ancillary. If there's going to be real discourse, true examination, you need at least a devil's advocate.
It took how many days, how much prior planning, god-knows-how many logistical and resource nightmares - all to come up with:
"You guys? Pornography? is BAD."
Personally, I don't like the idea that some people have a "right" to be angry about some things, but other people don't have a "right" to be angry over other things.
It's not about whether or not you have a "right" to be angry. You ARE. Those are your feelings and that's that.
he was one violent motherfucker.
AND he was, shall we say, addicted to the pornohol.
However, there were periods when he chucked it all, got "clean", purged his collection.
There was no corresponding drop in violence. it did, in fact, get worse.
had the damage already been done?
was he damaged before being exposed to porn?
Amber: HELL YES, DO IT! I will be there!
AP: I love you so much at this moment words to not have the power to express it. Thank you.
Bimbo said: "They're at least making an effort to do something collectively. ... what's the pro-porn community's equal measure response?"
I'm confused -- why is a response needed? Porn's out there, the anti-porn types are trying to make that not the case, what would the agenda of the pro-porn types be, exactly?
Do you mean a response at the conference itself? I think that would be effective only if it were specifically invited and welcomed. Otherwise, it would be just as effective as occasional non-radical commentary on radfem sites -- the online equivalent of being tarred and feathered with chopped up pieces of your pink miniskirt.
Indeed. Has such a thing ever occured? If so I never heard about it.
See, there are some issues that pretty much all feminists agree on. I've never heard anyone say "geez, I think trafficking is great, let's have more of that!". But if you were to read some of the stuff from the anti's...well, they seem to think that those not in agreement with them on every tiny little issue are in favor of trafficking, child porn and snuff movies. Which is kind of ridiculous, and makes dialogue a little challenging.
As to the conference itself...I've been involved in demos etc that essentially serve as a way to rally the troops and nothing else, and really, what's the point? If that's all that ever happens, why bother?
I'm interested to see if they ever did get to the actual agenda.
Another point...the "oh god that's horrible! Let's see some more!" response does seem to be common. I remember that feeling. I remember being in that same emotional place when I first read Dworkin in college and you know what? I think it's a bad idea. Sure, become aware of what's out there, but to get stuck in that initial "holy crap there's some scary shit out there!" space...how is that helpful? What are you accomplishing? And how much does it distort your view of how society as a whole works and how male/female relations on average work if most of your data on how men and women relate is taken from the freakiest porn you could find?
Once you start thinking that the whole "all men hate us!" thing starts to make more sense, but again, that's not actually all men. And therein lies the problem with the whole thing.
Also, just for the record, I tend to believe the safety valve theory. For some people the more violent porn may be the way they purge those urges. The ones who actually act on those urges...do we really believe that wasn't in them already?
Likewise, Judas Priest causes teen suicide. And, Marilyn Manson is solely responsible for Columbine.
I am suggesting that *had they been interested in real discourse and examination*, an opposing view point or at least a devil's advocate would have been represented.
The "occasional non-radical commentary on radfem sites -- the online equivalent of being tarred and feathered with chopped up pieces of your pink miniskirt" is highly effective. Look at the dialogue here and on other sites.
Rootie - I think you're supposed to make the boys listen to the Indigo Girls. Maybe Tracy Chapman. Enya's not feminist enough - she's far too "feminine".
And, for the record, I have no clue what the conference was like, or not like. Maybe they did come up with some good stuff. I wasn't there.
I am, however, vaguely confused by the notion that rejecting the notion that porn is the root of all sexist oppression somehow obligates me to do "Pro-Porn" activism. Seriously, the forced dichotomy pisses me off. Guess what? Of all the shitty things that happen to women all over the world, American porn actresses are just not at the top of my list of concerns. Porn, stripping, and consensual sex is simply not at the center of my feminist consciousness. Justice is. And, the US porn industry is just not the biggest source of injustice out there.
It's the either/or thing that pisses me off, too. Either you're 100% for or 100% against..except in real life most people are somewhere in the middle.
For me I just don't get why porn is a high priority. There are far, far worse things out there to be dealt with.
THAT! THAT! THAT!
DRIVES ME INSANE!
And, yeah... there's no allowing for moderate points of view. You're either with them or against them. If I wanted to play that fucking game, I'd watch FoxNews.
Also agree that "*had they been interested in real discourse and examination*, an opposing view point or at least a devil's advocate would have been represented."
However, that's my point. They're not, and that's why my comment about non-radical commentary on radfem sites. It's fun, sometimes, but usually ignored or reviled, where not welcome.
That said, I do think a more neutral forum with openness to both sides of the equation would be a great idea.
"Look at the dialogue here and on other sites." Yes, but I wouldn't call this a radfem site...
I agree that a let's call it bi or multi-partisan approach to talking about trafficking and pimp abuse and suchlike would be -really good-; which, well...we'll see if it ever happens.
where are you reading the accounts about this shindig, anyway?
1: I want to see this slide show. For academic and legal reasons, of course. Hell, I probably have “worse” in my OWN video library.
2: It was said that these scenes came from top selling porn popular films; I’d like titles, production companies, names of the directors, featured stars, and AVN rankings/selling data for them, please.
3: IF, as Britta implied, both bondage and sex were featured in them, at the same time, these were most probably not top selling CA porn valley porn films. Why? Because its not allowed to show a woman tied up and getting sexually penetrated at the same time. In fact, ‘tis illegal. This is not so in Europe, or on the net, but well, all the big selling porn films, aka, mainstream porn, (which is what they said these slides came from) come out of US production companies.
4: Porn performers sign consent forms and releases before filming movies. I.E., they consent to be in them, have their nude bodies doing sexual things filmed and sold for profit. The intended purpose of this? Production of a pornographic product. Did the Wheelocke crew obtain consent forms or gain legal proof of age from any of these performers, female or male, before including their images in their little slide show? Did they ask these porn down trodden victims if it was okay to plaster their naked, sexualized, objectified and violated bodies on a big screen in front of a large audience, without compensation, for the purposes of victimizing them and demonizing their industry? Some how I doubt it…how exploitive.
And Lastly, wherein Ren gets legal…there is this little thing called copywrite…and yes, even porn films have it…was permission granted from the studios to use stills from their copywrite protected products by these anti-porn academics? I do not think showing them in slide show form at a conference to hundreds of people counts as private, home viewing use, do you? I honestly would laugh my damn ass off if whatever studios/directors/actors sued the shit out of these people…
But I’m feeling rather evil about the whole matter…
Hey, cool, I was just asking. I didn't know, hence, I wondered aloud in print.
I do still find the "exploitation" of these women for "academic purposes" without their consent terribly ironic and grimly amusing.
I agree with you, Ren. It's exploiting these woman in order to argue that they shouldn't be exploited.
Seriously...I have no problem with me exploiting me, or someone who I have given written consent to exploiting me (as it were), but people like this? No. I never signed on to be their poster girl, and I am willing to bet NONE of the women in that slide show did either, nor did ANY of the women who's movie covers/ posters/ mag spreads are plastered all over certain anti porn blogs.
But of course, they care about knowing if the women were REALLY consenting to it and doing it of their own free will and because they wanted to.
Smells like shit to me...
Exactly. The anti porn feminists who are using these images as a display of shock and fear are using these women's images to sell their point of view, which isn't what these women agreed to sell. I suppose some anti capitalists might claim that there's some mitigating force to the anti porn feminists not literally selling anything for money. But it's hard for me to see a idea that they're not making some sort of profit from these women's images. They're selling indignation to one another, and doing it without these women's consent.
Meanwhile, hundreds of women are trafficked into the UK every year from Eastern Europe and forced to work in brothels tucked away in nice quiet residential neighborhoods, mostly in London. Most of those women were under the impression they were going to be waitresses or au pairs. Once they get to the UK their passports are taken away and they are unable to escape. If they do go to the authorities they are treated as illegal immigrants. They are essentially trapped.
Wanna guess which of these things I'm more concerned about? And yet certain feminist blogs based in the UK are eerily silent on the latter issue.
So much easier to just complain about the lad mags.
And, you know what? It's even easier to criticize the women in pornographic spreads and movies, lad's mags, jobs at a local strip club! Dissing other women makes feminism simple!
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