Today’s reader email is a dream come true. Blamer M (not her real name) actually asks for my views on porn! I may be a hungry gal in a taco-filled world, but come lunchtime or high water, I’m never too busy to bloviate on porn. My response follows. It’s nothing I haven’t spouted off a hundred times before, but as longtime readers are painfully aware, I Blame the Patriarchy is like a Tex-Mex menu: the same 4 cheap ingredients disguised as 6,793 different dishes. Which of them achieve the distinction of culinary triumphs remains a matter of individual taste.
By the way, M raises some other issues, too; readers are encouraged to enlarge on whatever of these themes falls within their personal grey areas of blaming expertise.
In the last few months I’ve become addicted to your blog. Even within the feminist blogosphere (or whatever it’s called), I find that you are the only person who cuts through all of the bullshit. I’ve been feeling very distrustful of feminists lately, because of my crazy experiences at the BUST lounge. I thought they were feminists — they say they are — but they yell at me constantly because I think porn is bad for women. I’m done posting there, because it’s just pointless. Many of them defend BDSM as “my choice!!! Whatever makes me happy!!! How dare you criticize me, you vanilla prude!!!” Many of them talk about the feminist/alternative porn that they watch.
I’m wondering what your take is on this “feminist porn?” i haven’t seen much, as I don’t like porn, but I’m wondering what you think of it? Is this truly resistance? Is it really that different? They seem to think that creating an alternative will somehow stop the mainstream degrading porn. Or something.
If you are ever bored — you can check out the thread on the BUST lounge — it’s under “The F Word” and it’s called (get ready to puke) “Porn: Is it cock-blocking feminism?” Seriously, that is the title. Anyways — I’m pretty much hated by the people in that thread. I’m not posting over there anymore, but I still just feel so ANGRY about it. I’m wondering if you can do your magical thing and explain this shit to me in the wonderful way you do.
Is it that they are too scared to admit the truth? I know it’s painful to see the truth, so maybe that’s it. Or, are they just so brainwashed by mainstream pornification that they truly believe this stuff? These are people who think that posing nude “can be empowering!” And that there is nothing wrong with sex work as long as “it’s the woman’s choice, and she’s happy about it.”
Is this just 3rd wave feminism? Is this the sex-positive crowd? Is this the backlash to radical feminism?
Also — one of my online buddies and I have been talking a lot about weight and body and attractiveness and all that crap. We’ve both noticed that even though, in our minds, we know that we don’t care what “men” think of us- but in our guts, we truly believe that men MUST find us attractive. We both have this big fear of being found unacceptable — even though we know it’s BS. I’ve been thinking though — is it that we don’t want to give up the sort of privilege that we get from being found attractive? I feel like it’s actually dangerous to go too far away from the ideal. Or to even admit that you don’t care about the ideal anymore. I don’t know if this makes any sense, but I’m a confused 30 year old, and I need help!
Well, M, the Twistolutionary manifesto argues that anything called “porn,” whether or not it is explicitly violent or BDSM-y or designed to titillate ‘feminists’ vs. sweaty, beer-gutted pervs, exists only to enthrobulate the fetishization of culturally-generated (and, frankly, comically hokey) constructs. It is readily apparent to the visitor from the planet Obstreperon that these constructs include arbitrary standards of physical sexihotness, arch-backed-heavy-eyelidded-ooo-baby body language, penetration worship, dominance and submission, corny fashion accessories, “the art of seduction” et al — and that they have, at their root, everything to do with a paradigm of dominance and nothing to do with actual sex between individuals with equivalent personal sovereignty.
So what’s the big whoop, the empowerful young feminist asks?
Well, in addition to pornography’s negative philosophic value, which anyone possessing even a sliver of sapience can see is reason enough to give it the old stink-eye , our world order is predicated on binary sex roles, one of which is privileged and dominant, the other of which is oppressed and submissive. In such a society, where a woman is a member of the oppressed sex class, her performance of sex in a film which is then consumed by paying customers to satisfy their prurience, this is not even remotely a politically neutral act. Porn — gay, straight, bi, live-action, animated, or ‘feminist’ — is the graphic representation of the oppression of the sex class. Until the sex class is liberated from male oppression, porn can be nothing else, no matter how many fun feminists claim it empowerfuls them.
Or, if you prefer, in order for porn to be politically neutral, it can’t be porn.
Merely announcing on the BUST boards that one’s participation in porn, whether as a consumer or as a prostituted woman, is voluntary does not make it so. This is because the women doing the announcing are, and have been since birth, deprived of such privilege as is necessary for them to freely make that choice.
When you’re already oppressed, it is, in fact, impossible to volunteer for oppression. A woman is a member of the sex class whether she “chooses” it or not. This pre-existing condition forms the backdrop to any fun feminist’s conclusion that her compliance with the patriarchal sexbot mandate is voluntary. She may believe otherwise, but her belief does not alter the fact that patriarchy — a social order predicated on an oppression to which she is already subject — is real and in effect and entirely beyond any unrestricted control she may wish to exert and only too glad to welcome her as a team player and sign her up for the rewards program.
The fun feminist confuses “empowerment” with the decision to acquiesce. This is understandable; it’s the one actual choice she has in this game: surrender, or stand and fight. She doesn’t have to be Candida Royalle to recognize that if she chooses the latter all she’ll get for her trouble is ridicule, hostility, suspicion, and the threat of bodily harm.
Whereas the rewards for surrender to male porn culture are not inconsiderable: social acceptance, male approval, little psuedo-privileges that accrue according to the degree of one’s conformity, and of course the enormous relief at not having to fight it anymore. The if-you-can’t-beatem-joinem gambit has enjoyed millennia of popularity for good reason. It gives the appearance of the shortest and easiest route to life’s rich pageant. Too bad that, once they get there, chicks are only eligible for the women’s auxiliary.
1. Porn’s negative philosophic value, in addition to its general assault on T & B (Truth and Beauty) spans the whole of women’s oppression, from Maybelline to rape culture.