Sunday, 12 December 2010

Men and porn

Now here's a really interesting article - I found it through an email from Spinifex, the Australian feminist publishing house, which put out Pornland by  Gail Dines earlier this year. The article originally appeared in the Guardian under the title "The men who believe porn is wrong". It was reprinted in the Melbourne Age with a different headline: "Men who hate porn". Here are some quotes:

'[Matt] McCormack Evans, now 22, has just co-founded an online project to get men talking about their use of porn. Other such projects have often come from a religious, conservative standpoint, but the Anti-Porn Men Project is grounded in feminist principles, in the notion that pornography is an important social issue, and has a bearing on violence perpetrated against women and wider inequalities. There are, so far, 10 other people who will be writing on the site, and the idea is to create a community, he says, "where people can share their experiences and problems, and find an alternative voice".

In setting up the site, McCormack Evans is one of the few men worldwide to publicly discuss pornography from a feminist perspective – positive about sex itself, open to the idea of people engaging in the widest range of consensual sex acts, but concerned about the industrialisation of sex and where this leads....'

'While an enormous amount has been written about how pornography affects women – particularly the terrible way in which they are sometimes treated within the industry – less has been written about how it affects men, which seems odd given that, as McCormack Evans says, pornography is a product predominantly "made by men, marketed by men, and consumed by a massive male majority".


One obvious problem for many porn users is the conflict between their stated belief in equality and respect for women, and the material they're watching in private. McCormack Evans says he used to exist in a "kind of double consciousness. For that half hour when I was watching porn I thought, 'This is separate from my life, it won't affect how I view the world.' But then I realised it did."

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

One obvious problem for many porn users is the conflict between their stated belief in equality and respect for women, and the material they're watching in private.

I only watch porn where women are treated with respect and dignity. I can't watch shit porn, I hate seeing women treated with disrespect and it doesn't turn me on. I just turn it off, delete it.

While I agree with there conclusions about 99% of porn (good porn is rare), I can't agree that all porn promotes violence against women. Most might. But not all.

I have one publisher who seems to care that the actors are happy. Lots of smiles between the actors, and they do like each other. They treat each other nice, and all get along. No nasty scenes. Helps this is a site that does only lesbian porn.

I prefer viewing porn with my partner. Its hotter, promotes intimacy and honesty. Dudes who don't include there partners are missing out bigtime.

- Persh

Hugh said...

I can't agree that all porn promotes violence against women because, good porn/bad porn dichotomies aside, there's a significant amount of porn that doesn't even depict women.

Hugh said...

Oh and Persh, what the hell do you mean by "nasty scenes"?

Anonymous said...

Oh and Persh, what the hell do you mean by "nasty scenes"?

Mild denigration and bullying e.g. "lick my clit you little bitch!"

I can't agree that all porn promotes violence against women because, good porn/bad porn dichotomies aside, there's a significant amount of porn that doesn't even depict women.

I suppose if gay porn contains similar displays of male dominance and bullying, then it would at least support the idea that men can/should demand sexual service from their partners. Same message, different context.

- Persh

Hugh said...

I see. So people who require that sort of scenario to be aroused should just be denied access to pornography?

Anonymous said...

Hugh, which sort of pornography are you talking about ? The stuff I refer to as "nasty" or the gay male dominance stuff ?

Assuming "nasty":

I'm not passing judgement, but I have some sympathy for the idea that associating abusive behaviour with being sexually turned on could be problematic.

I *am* saying that I don't enjoy "nasty stuff", yet I can see how it could actually be part of edgy scenario where there is permission to "talk nasty". Perhaps the pornographers think this kind of permission is implicit if you are making porn. I dunno, but it just doesn't work for me.

I see. So people who require that sort of scenario to be aroused should just be denied access to pornography?

I don't advocate censorship. I do think the porn industry should be clean, there shouldn't be abuse in it, actors should have rights to veto any scenes/activities that they are not comfortable with.

If someone is happy making porn that I would term "nasty", they should be able to do that.

My main point is that I can't stand this fundamentalist position that "all porn is bad, m'kay ?"

I've found some that I am happy with, that treats the actors with respect, and basically looks like women making good money for having a good time. Can you ask for more than that ?

- Persh

Philip Masterson-Bowie said...

"I see. So people who require that sort of scenario to be aroused should just be denied access to pornography?"

Hey Hugh, when did the UN decide porn was a human right?

People don't "require" degrading pornographic scenes to become aroused; they might have a pavlovian response after using violent scenes to become aroused but human sexual arousal is not dependent on violent or degrading pornography.

What is being proposed is not "denying access" to pornography but rather awareness of the harm of watching pornography. When men talk about the disconnect and double think required to view women as respected equals and also as pornographic material they aren't "denying" anyone anything, but rather adding to a social dialogue.

You might like to try adding to a social dialogue :-)
For example you could talk about the benefits of violent pornography to society while we talk about the benefits of treating women with respect.

Hugh said...

Persh, I think you and I are basically on the same page. I also think that, while the current porn industry has a lot of room for improvement, there is nothing innately degrading about pornography.

What I object quite strongly to is the criteria by which you're dividing good from bad, or at least one of the criteria. I understand that you're not into pornography that involves verbal abuse, but when you say that there's a connection between that and abusive behaviour you are essentially stigmatising the entire BDSM community. That stigmatising is something that is all too common in these discussions about pornography and, in my opinion, needs to be challenged.

As for you, Phil, my comment was directed at Persh, for whom the idea that we have a right to access pornography is a common ground. I'm tempted simply not to respond to you because I find your contention that only by agreeing with you that pornography is harmful will I be capable of "adding to the social dialogue", but I also think that what you're saying needs to be challenged.

Firstly, by saying people don't require violent scenes to be aroused you are, like Persh, essentially erasing the identity of members of the BDSM community.

I'd also be interested to know why you think viewing pornography makes one see women as unequal. Leaving aside the issue of pornography that doesn't actually depict women, it seems odd to me that watching a sexual scene that shows both a man and a woman innately degrades one and not the other. Sure, pornography exists in an environment of patriarchy but it seems odd that it's the only form of expression that is incapable of rising above that. If we can have feminist films that don't feature explicit sex within a patriarchy, why does the insertion of explicit sex make that impossible? If we can have actual no-fooling empowered feminist sex in the real world, why can't we have it on the screen?

nznative said...

Most porn is very poorly acted.

Most porn depicts male fantasys of what they'd like to do to women.

Most has nothing to do with intimacy ............ and is all about the sex act.

Its unrealistic and I believe it can damage people and warp their expectations of sex.

This creep here probably watched too much porn
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/4468274/Incestuous-brother-abused-sisters-trust

.......... and as far as i can tell this jerk got to rape his sister and only had to pay a fine.

Maybe the judge watches to much porn as well .............

If you read the case the brother copped a guilty plea on ONE incident ............ and the judge sentenced him like it was a fucken traffick infringment or something.

Sick.

Random Lurker said...

To me porn isn't the problem. The problem is our lack of openness about sex. Porn is fantasy, like any other depiction of fantasy. Unlike other depictions of fantasy, we don't have a reality to compare it with. I know I can't expect Star Trek because I can see the real world. I know I can't expect action films to be real because the last time I stepped out to the street nobody shot a car causing it to careen into a fuel tanker creating a spectacular explosion. I know it's not normal to jump through glass windows. I've seen real glass windows - they're tough and they shatter into shards not harmless little bits.

Unfortunately, there's no visible reality when it comes to sex. The real world of sex is hidden and unspoken of. The fantasy world of sex however is very visible. It's no surprise that people's attitudes to sex and their expectations will be skewed as a result.

The women in porn really seem to enjoy the things done to them. In the absence of any other information...

Hugh said...

Nznative, I think if you're gonna claim there's a connection between pornography use and the case you're discussing you might need to explain how. Because right now it just looks like a derail.

Anonymous said...

Many female porn stars were dirt poor and needed money for education or to raise children that fathers have deserted financially.
So when you watch pornography you are taking advantage of those womens poverty and the opportunites often denied to them by a sexist society. We are not paid to be mothers and because the state requires by law that children under 14 not be left alone women cannot raise kids alone and meet the state requirements. If they leave those kids to try and earn a decent living they are quickly in court. There is no legal requirement for help with meeting the 24 hour care law or compensation for this forced labour from husbands.The domestic purposes benfits all around the western world are not enough to meet basic costs. This enables men to exploit women in marriage and sexually in pornographhy. Then they have the nerve to look down on those women. Poverty created hundreds of thousands of prostitutes in thailand and the disgusting NZ men who use them then imagine they are better than them. Well they are worse by a long shot.
I will never date a man who has done this to a poverty striken young woman when he could have offered her some money to get out of it rather than take advantage of her poverty.

There's nothing wrong with sex whats wrong is the impoverishment and degredation of women for asking for financial support for the children that result from all the fun.

The provision for women and children is still largely governed by religion becuase men can get a large amount of labor out of women for very little return if there are meager financial alternatives outside of marriage.

And it looks like the National Party are helping NZ men kick women into the financial gutter behind their backs with the removal of the Gift Duty.

This will allow men with trusts to put their businesses straight in where at the moment it takes years to transfer matrimonial property into trusts due to large penalties for amounts over 27000 due to the gift duty. Many women have no idea that they cannot get matrimonial property out of trusts easily and are conned by their husbands
who do know very well into putting family assetts in trusts where in 50% of cases the wife is not a trustee. There is no legal requirement for law firms to tell both spouses that they may not have access to those assetts in trust should they seperate. It looks to me that many NZ law firms are acting on behalf of husbands, knowing full well in many instances that the wife has no idea that she has just kissed her property goodbye.

Women are being cheated out of matrimonial property and the laws do not actually work as you have to prove that your partner deliberatly decieved you and so it comes down to a wifes word against a husbands which cannot easily be proven and to do so requires a lenghty court battle with very high legal costs.

So girls if your poartner has a trust and a small business don't expect to get any of it if you need to leave the pig. I would not work my guts out for a man who wants to ensure I have no security and he has it all. Kiwi men have more trusts than any other country.

So there you are guys more women will be forced into poverty by our National party. We will have more prostitutes so its all good for you. I will be leaving the country as it makes me want to vomit to look at men now.

Sorry, but I Imm not a good woman who can be bashed by the sexist machine and sit there and say I like you. In don't. Do something decent and i might give you the time of day but you cannot abuse my gender and get my complicity. i don't want to breed males in poverty being a good woman living on the smell of an oily rag enduring everything for the good of my male children. Look at what John Key has just done to the mothers of NZ behind their backs. Thats the amount of respect sons have for their mothers. Vomit