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Oct 12 2013

Internet porn: is there any problem it can’t solve?

Yay internet porn! says Matthew Yglesias. It’s solving a pesky social problem, that of how to facilitate the displacement of poor people from their seedy neighborhoods by an influx of glowing, poverty-averse yuppies.

How does internet porn do that? Well, apparently, now that American disgust-o-pervs can beat off to women’s degradation via WiFi whenever and wherever the fancy strikes, the seedy urban porn theater of yore is on the decline. That’s because the only clientele remaining are pervs too poor to afford an internet connection, so the theaters are shutting down. Whither goeth the smut parlors, so goeth the impecunious and unsightly letch-a-holics, leading to rising property values in gentrifiable neighborhoods and, according to Yglesias, “cleaning up America’s cities.”

“Many people do not want to live near a porn theater,” Yglesias asserts. What he actually means is that many people don’t want to live near a porn theater that’s open to the public. Many people, if the stats are to be believed and 276.9% of all internet traffic really is porn-related, have no problem whatsoever turning their laptops into personal porn theaters and addressing their throbbing incontinence privately.

Yglesias doesn’t delve into it, but the reason people don’t want to live near porn theaters is that, on some level, they are at least dimly aware that pornography is gross, and that the gross people who are attracted to it are not their sort of people. Paradoxically, they believe this even if they are themselves gross porn consumers. I base that last assertion on the fact that, except for my mother, I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t consumed porn, yet at the same time I’ve hardly ever met anyone who would describe himself as “gross.” Which leads to a corollary hypothesis: most people have an unrealistic and inaccurate sense of their own personal grossness.

But that’s another post.

Yglesias omits to comment on the following aspect of the Internetian democratization of porn access: that, by popular demand, porn — that is, the graphic sexification of women’s oppression — has been thoroughly normalized as a legitimate hobby. Its damaging effects are downplayed if not contravened outright, its detractors vilified as prudes and pearl-clutchers. Porn is normal.

How normal? Pretty goddam normal, according to the Huffington Post. And, as the news site of record for sideboob, they oughta know. Says HuffPo, “the Internet is for porn. Everybody knows that,” a claim they back up with a helpful infographic entitled “Everyone You Know Watches Porn.”

According to this infographic, 70% of men and 30% of women use internet porn, they visit porn sites an average of 7.5 times a month for an average of 12 minutes at a time, everyone looks at porn at work, etc. Then it segues into sex advice, helpfully proposing porn as a therapeutic remedy for the deplorable state of the female orgasm with respect to vaginal intercourse. A spot of hottt XXX action is all that’s needed to put a recalcitrant gal in the mood.

It turns out that the infographic is actually an advertisement for an internet porn site (claiming “legit” statistics that I cannot verify because I can’t read its teeny-tiny sources list). It appears to be an attempt to reassure the furtive, self-loathing porn consumer that fetishizing women’s oppression, however sketchy it may sort of vaguely feel, is in fact perfectly ordinary, healthy behavior, which these “legit” statistics prove. The overwhelming majority of the populace gets off on watching the oppression of low-status sex drones, therefore there can’t be anything wrong with it. Everyone’s in on porn culture! “It’s human nature,” the porn site ad chides. “We’re beings, not robots. Grow the f!*#k up.”

Ironically, the pornmongers, who make their money off fucking an oppressed sex class, can’t spell the word “fuck.”

I would suggest that shifting the consumption of porn from the public square to the private lair is the exact opposite of “cleaning up America’s cities.” All it does is turn an open sore into a septic, festering abscess. You can put a Whole Foods where the porn-a-rama once stood, but the porn isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is now integrated more seamlessly than ever before into the daily lives of otherwise normal people by dint of its round-the-clock smartphone in-yo-faceness.

Snap out of it! Oppression is gross!

66 comments

  1. ew_nc

    It’s sad, but I’m sure Matthew Yglesias thinks he’s written a probing (!) piece of sociological commentary. Never mind that it was quite a cognitive boarding house reach to connect porn and real estate values. But then I’m sure social trends and porn have less than six degrees of separation, anyway.

    The preponderance of porn has made it so that women really have no connection to a personal sense of sexuality. I know I sure don’t. I’ve never known what it’s like to experience sex without man-pleasing being the first order of business. Being post-menopausal, I no longer really care, but the younger me is pretty pissed off for me.

    The porn industry has become a sacred (and I don’t use that term lightly) institution. And yeah, that’s totally gross.

  2. MJ

    ‘I’ve never known what it’s like to experience sex without man-pleasing being the first order of business. Being post-menopausal, I no longer really care, but the younger me is pretty pissed off for me.’ Yes, yes, yes. This is EXACTLY how I feel.

  3. birdie

    But of course it’s YOUR website that gets blocked when I try to read it at the public library. I don’t know whether the actual porn gets blocked, but probably not, going by some of the language of the clientele, sitting happily next to children. The censorship quite clearly states that your website has been blocked because it is porn. Given the language you use, one suspects that the censorship algorithm has detected porn on your site because you use the word ‘porn’, and therefore it probably shuts down all criticism. Convenient.

  4. shopstewardess

    I used to work at a place which claimed to block access to porn sites: this was revealed to be less than convincing when one of the staff left abruptly and a large amount of child porn was found on his computer.

    I don’t think anyone really knows what percentage of people look at porn, do they? I’m certainly not going to click on a link to a porn site to find out what they think the numbers are.

    Unsupported statements such as “everybody does it” can in themselves have undesirable effects. A culture among teenagers that “everyone is having sex” makes it harder for teenagers not to have sex. A culture that “everyone does drugs” or “most people do drugs” is actually untrue (at least in my society, what figures are available suggest that even for “soft” drugs the percentages are low, and below 50% even in the groups most likely to do drugs), but again can have the effect of “giving permission”. I live in hope that societal change will bring social pressure against harmful activities (porn, prostitution, paedophilia, harmful illegal drugs) without reversing progress already made towards equality and freedom for the oppressed, but that probably goes beyond optimism into fantasy.

  5. XY Feminist

    The internet isn’t for porn, the internet is for videos of cats.

    Porn is never as big as they say it is. When I look at Alexia’s list of top 500 websites worldwide, it’s Google, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Twitter, Amazon, Blogs, the usual suspects. The first porn site only comes in at #45. And despite that site being free, it still comes in behind the newbie startup Pinterest! Sounds to me like the Internet is for 44 other things besides porn. ;-)

    Hell, if porn was half as popular as they pretend it is, they’d be able to make tons of money off it. But they can’t, because their numbers are fake. The financial numbers were so bad for pornography that Motley Fool lamented the failure of online porn due to the prudishness of if the Internet (ha!).

    They don’t actually sell porn to eager customers, they push porn for free into every corner of society that they can. Like Bibles in hotel rooms, its a money-loosing culture push, not a money-making hot commodity. And it costs a lot of money to subsidize this cultural oppression. The 1% dumps a ton of capital, like it does into controlling the mass media, into pornography. And it has to cause this trash bleeds money. After loosing money for years, Hefner bought Playboy back at a paltry $200 million, and Penthouse recently went bankrupt .

    But of course some rich douchebag will come out from under a rock and pour millions of dollars in to save these “cultural icons” and “valuable brands”, the joe-average dudes will be shocked, shocked! that their pretend #1 entertainment on the planet could fail so badly, but then they’ll intentionally forget about it a weak later. Meanwhile Yglesias and his ilk will continue to hail porn’s fake hegemony in an attempt to normalize women’s oppression as the dominant cultural pastime that it never was. And the vicious cycle will limp on.

    *sigh* I’m going back to icanhascheezburger.com to drown my sorrows. At least they know what net positive cashflow looks like.

  6. Mildred

    I’m kind of conflicted on this.
    On the one hand I want nudity and sex to just be like, no big deal, so that its not such a HUGE DISGRACE when some starlet has her boobs stolen off a camera phone published on the internet, or some girl who did porn in college suffers zero consequences in the long run. But then I feel that the whole appeal of porn is the degrading of the female image, that if it was truly no big deal, not taboo, there’d be no thrill.
    I think of it like this, women don’t tend to get off on the concept of degrading men, its a rare kick because its not a socialised one. So when you see a male celebrity with a sex video out there and its somewhat popular, you get an accurate picture of how many people would watch that business because they genuinely want to see that person have sex, as opposed the sick joy of seeing a woman be ‘degraded’. Okay, compare the popularity of say, Nadia Suleman as compared with Colin Farrel, the latter is far more famous but I can bet my bottom dollar which one was downloaded the most. Now you might say, there are far more straight male consumers than straight women, I think that 70/30 ratio would level out seeing as there isn’t much on the market in the way of attractive male celebrities and so many featuring women that surely the market is saturated, therefore, surely the numbers would have to even out.

    So my longwinded point is this, if porn didn’t totally celebrate power and humiliation, and it was as neutral as watching a natgeo couple of arctic foxes in Alaska ‘do it’ then yes, broadcast it everywhere, about time this silly dance was demystified.
    Even the most ‘tame’ material out there is 100% based on the joy of reducing a woman to a 1 dimensional object. Plus for the woman personally the double edged sword of keeping that ‘dirty little secret’ on the dl forever or revel in that loved/hated/we’re all fucked anyway image of the ‘bad girl’ (putting it mildly). I don’t like those options. Without a fetishization of dominance and submission there would pretty much be nothing to watch, and few people would be interested. I can’t believe that even feminist pornographers with the best of intentions still portray this dynamic. Just because it turns you on doesn’t mean it comes from a good place.
    After the revolution, I think there would be porn, but it would be unrecognizable. Probably a small industry, about as popular as duct tape wallets.

  7. Mildred

    Your blog is blocked at my work for ‘hate speech’.

  8. Lidon

    Yes, the appeal to popularity argument, “Everyone/almost everyone does it, so therefore it’s right.”

    “…but that probably goes beyond optimism into fantasy.” Shopstewardess, I know what you mean. I’m not holding my breath at the moment.

  9. Ashley

    it’s soo disappointing, everything you say is true. It IS our culture now. Women, instead of really trying to further women’s states, have reverted to competing, with a new edge: who can have the best career while in her personal life looking and acting like a sex worker? yaaaaay. my mother campaigned for the ERA for this s$%t.

    It is also why relationships with men are impossible now. everyone I’ve tried to date and explain on numerous levels why I don’t want to be with someone who consumes porn, doesn’t get it.

    -it makes individual women in their indiividual relationships feel insecure
    -to me it’s cheating. i’m not out there hacking away at a keyboard to find pictures of penises. I like, love and respect my partner. why? in the world would I do that. seeking same.
    -it’s horribly degrading, it’s the end game/purpose of child molestation? I believe a segment of women are farmed for this side of patriarchy from childhood through molestation and abuse.
    -it destroys women’s souls
    -it is ugly-
    -it is empty
    -it reinforces other abuses and lowers the general level of respect for women on the street, in their workplaces, marriages, homes, families. fuck THAT
    -those things are happening to real women (Andrea Dworkin)
    -it makes it easy for stupid men to keep using the word bitch publicly, which is just as bad as the n-word yet still unchallegned, because in their minds all they see when they look at you standing up for yourself is a big, socially reinforcing bukkake orgy.

    uuuuuuuugh.

  10. quixote

    I’m not sure it matters whether “everyone” is porning. If enough people are doing it to create a current of men whose minds are infected with visions of women as cum dumps, the damage is done. Even “respectable” Patriarchy is already at least half way there and is more than ready to latch on to humiliating women. The infection spreads to plenty of people who don’t watch garbage.

    It’s also why private porn is so insidious. Only a few small percent of men had the desperation to actually go to the sleazy loser theaters. Way more, even if it isn’t “everyone,” jerk off in their own rooms.

    Another factor is age. I don’t know if I’m right about this, but I get the impression it was mainly older sleazebags at the loser theaters. At least, when I was a kid passing through the Boston theater district in the early evening with my mom, I remember seedy guys who were a million years old. (Of course, I was about 10, so for all I know maybe they were thirty year-olds.) But I get the impression that with web porn there’s at least as many young guys using it. The earlier your mind is infected, the worse it is, usually.

    There has absolutely definitely certainly been a sea change in the mainstreaming of porn. Playboy magazine started the trend toward insisting that using women as sex toilets was just healthy happy fun. But back then it was hard to find people who wouldn’t at least act like porn was something so horrible you didn’t mention it in ordinary society. Now you’re an uptight Victorian grandmother if you think women have any other function. The only way that could happen is if enough people use porn.

    Oh, and Matt Yg was the slime who said Bangladeshis were free to die in collapsing factories because that was just the price of working there. Why does he even still have a job?

  11. Layo

    I’ve noticed that young women writing and commenting on blogs feel insecure that they aren’t up to having athletic porn sex – specifically, being on top and bouncing up and down vertically without leaning on their hands. They watch porn and think there’s something wrong with them because they don’t enjoy what “looks good” on camera. So now women don’t just feel bad for not having perfect bodies, they feel bad for not enjoying the kind of sex guys like to watch. There’s also a lot more pressure to wax the crotch and have anal sex than there was when I was young thanks to porn. It makes me wonder what guys are bringing to the table that makes all of this seem worth it. As far as I can tell, they ignore their girlfriends in favor of getting high, gaming and internet sleaze.

  12. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Despite the almighty government space agency firewall, a dude in the Finance division looked at internet porn all the livelong work day. Got paid north of $75K a year to do it, too (your tax dollars at work.) He has since retired, but I have zero doubt that he still spends a large percentage of his time doing it (“throbbing incontinence”, ha!) at home.

  13. ivyleaves

    Yes, the reason internet porn wouldn’t be making money would be because the main consumers are cash poor pre-teen and teenage boys. It’s so bad now that girls are EXPECTED to remove all genital hairs, except for landing strips, or they are just too gross to be your girlfriend – in high school. What we older folks regard as very weird, or reserved for surgery or childbirth, has become an expectation to the younger generations.

  14. Bianca

    My nephew is about 4 years away from being engulfed in online porn: http://sciencenordic.com/online-generation-starts-watching-porn-earlier

    I don’t know how to deal with the reality of that.

    I have a seething hatred for internet porn and an intense loathing for the dudes who consume it.

  15. Mildred

    Internet porn is ubiquitous, and yet look at the shitstorm directed towards butt-dancin’ Miley Cyrus for her enpornulated performance at the VMA’s.
    Yep, almost all dudes are looking at it but it doesn’t lessen the stigma AT ALL for actual women whose literal bodies are creating this stuff, oh and if you don’t like it/are against it eff you for being a massive prude. DOUBLE FUCKED.

  16. Keira

    “the reason internet porn wouldn’t be making money would be because the main consumers are cash poor pre-teen and teenage boys.”

    Actually, wouldn’t it be more likely that the reason it doesn’t make squillions is because dudes don’t think they ought to pay to watch women be degraded – they’re entitled to see that shit, for free, whenever they want. Just like they’re entitled to sex in the flesh when they want it, and shouldn’t have to pay/beg/act like decent human beings to get it.

    Sex is owed to dudes, in any format they so choose. IBTP

  17. ew_nc

    Well said, Keira.

  18. Ellesar

    It sounds like those who believe that getting rid of a porn cinema is cleaning up an area whilst accessing porn online are suffering from cognitive dissonance. Like you say Twisty, they know at some level it is not OK,so those who are more public about it are cleaned up so that the rest of them can continue in their stupefying hypocrisy.

    The last debate I had about porn was with a libertarian on youtube who was roundly criticising Gail Dines. I put forward my issues with porn (so many and varied) and all this young man could think to do was tell me that I was indoctrinated (I haven’t actually read any of the famous anti porn texts apart from Dworkin’s many years ago) and then he deleted ALL my comments! Libertarian?! I don’t think so!

    I find the idea that the consumption of porn as a part of ‘normal healthy sexuality’ very unsettling, as your average porn is anything but healthy sexuality.

  19. tinfoil hattie

    Can internet porn scrub my kitchen floor?

  20. Val

    Ha, TH – mine right after yours!!!

    Against my better judgment (I wanted to see “Gravity”), I took my boys (husband & teenaged son) to see “Don Jon” last weekend & was pleasantly surprised to find it contained many Teachable Moments…

    [Spoiler alerts]

    A.) JG-L preferred whacking off to porn even over real-life sex w/SCARLETT JOHANSSON
    B.) Variabilities in his penance for sins were amusing – as when JG-L counted out his prayers while doing reps at the gym
    C.) It was NOT a horrible fate for him to end up w/”the grandmother” (thanks a lot, son – after all, Julianne Moore is only 3 yrs older than me!)

    Even if it only convinces a few young men to reconsider clicking on a porn site or sparks a few dialogues, it would be worthwhile.

  21. Morag

    “Yglesias doesn’t delve into it, but the reason people don’t want to live near porn theaters is that, on some level, they are at least dimly aware that pornography is gross, and that the gross people who are attracted to it are not their sort of people. Paradoxically, they believe this even if they are themselves gross porn consumers. ”

    Paradoxically, hypocritically, and also hopelessly middle class. Good people don’t live near porn joints (or gambling establishments, or people who pick bottles from the trash, etc.). The porn theatre, in all its obvious, seedy, material reality is just a little less obscene. At least, being visible, we can point at it and yell “see?!”

    “I would suggest that shifting the consumption of porn from the public square to the private lair is the exact opposite of ‘cleaning up America’s cities.’ All it does is turn an open sore into a septic, festering abscess.”

    Exactly. Not unlike the supposedly ideal social unit, the nuclear family, where abuse and sickness can fester undisturbed. Nowadays in this private lair–which is itself in a nice, clean neighbourhood–almost everything a man “needs” is just a click away. In a way, it makes me think of this horror-comedy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtxDJCZ2Rr8

  22. TwissB

    “I can’t believe that even feminist pornographers with the best of intentions…”

    “Feminist pornographers” – oxymoron defined by example.

  23. awhirlinlondon

    Am sitting in on a cyber forensics class and the crime they’re investigating has to do with child pornography. What is fascinating – and unsurprising – is that most of them are using the term “pedophilia” interchangeably with “consumers of child pornography,” but refusing entirely the (surely logical, in their own terms) corollary of “rapists” and “consumers of pornography.”

  24. Morag

    awhirlinlondon:

    The parallel you’ve drawn here made me say “a-ha” out loud. It strengthens the connection between rape and pornography that’s already there, but that is–as we well know–fragile from constant attack. Why do they refuse the corollary? Why doesn’t the logic of it drop like a bomb? I mean, I know it’s the patriarchy to blame, but it’d be interesting to dissect how male supremacy functions here, in specific terms. How it thinks.

    I suspect an argument against your analogy would begin with a focus on the differences between the victims, i.e., between children and women, and end with children “winning” the status of victimhood, and thus their victimizers properly named and shamed as consumers of pornography = rapists. This type of focus can be counted on whenever it’s pointed out that one person is consuming the pain of another for pleasure: a close analysis of the target who is consumed, rather than of the perpetrator who consumes. It’s practically guaranteed to happen in almost all instances from rape to workplace harassment that the validity testing will focus largely on the victim, with the unstated but express purpose of discrediting the damaged one in order to salvage the reputation of the one who did the damage .

    But the face of domination shows up readily, and in sharp relief, only when it’s placed on top of what our culture has deemed as pure, blameless innocence. Naming THAT is allowed (children, good people can agree, are off-limits), but it seems to be only a concession. Because, otherwise, domination is so valued and so cherished as a resource and as sustenance (a kind of mother’s milk) that pornography apologists won’t even speak its name (except in terms of “fun” or “play” or “imagination”). Just to speak it is dangerous, because domination/rape is like a secret stash of drugs or money–a stash that might be found out and, alas, taken away.

  25. tinfoil hattie

    Holy kamolee, Morag. You just blew my lobe to smithereens – in a good way! – with that awesome blaming.

  26. Ruby Lou

    Morag, in a couple of paragraphs of outstanding analysis you just illuminated some fateful ugly dark clouds that have been hanging over my life for a long while. I always knew they were wrong and trouble, but I could never really identify them. I was still strong enough to feel repulsion when my then-husband nagged me to go to a porn theater with him, in hopes it would improve my sexual performance. And I knew the whole scenario – wife assumed as sexual property of husband, pornographic movie theaters for fun and profit, pornographic content featuring degradation and domination of women by men – was wrong in the most sickening way, but that’s all I knew. Reading your post helps me sort it out tremendously. This is why I need this blog. It helps me become conscious of all the unseen patriarchal assumptions riding around in my brain. It hurts but it’s a birthing kind of pain.

  27. sloopin

    Wait, how do I pronounce “Internetian”? I can’t tell without a footnote.

  28. ivyleaves

    “Not unlike the supposedly ideal social unit, the nuclear family, where abuse and sickness can fester undisturbed. Nowadays in this private lair–which is itself in a nice, clean neighbourhood–almost everything a man “needs” is just a click away. ”

    I just came across this, and it is probably deserving of a trigger alert, It has everything: ultra-patriarchal religious domination and control of the law, the church, and the family, coupled with rampant rape and incest as a natural result: “Ghost Rapes” of Bolivia

  29. ew_nc

    Internetian rhymes with “Venetian”. Pretty sure, anyway.

  30. Mildred

    Then of course there are those female children whose victimhood status isn’t fully agreed upon when they come from the wrong side of the tracks.

  31. earlynerd

    In a real what-about-the-menz moment, a very young man said to me that I was the first woman to whom he’d ever made love as a whole human being. He said it blew him away. All the other sexual experiences of this intelligent, raised by a single mom man had been as someone manipulating a fearful object to gain some sort of release.

    Human beings cooperating in sex, that most transcendent of experiences, are being sold for the price of advertising, porn and the false ascendency of one half of humanity over the other.

  32. Morag

    Ruby Lou–Regarding that formless, dark repulsion that resists lucidity, or even taking on a recognizable shape: how I hear your complaint and the psychological/emotional toll it takes! It’s difficult enough to bring it up into consciousness, let alone to trust one’s mental processes about it. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on one small piece of it, at least intellectually, some other stinking piece of the patriarchal landscape breaks off and crashes into your life–in a really personal way, perhaps–and then the entire struggle to name and identify, to sort out that shit, begins anew.

    Patriarchy (including, of course, individual men) can and does do really bad stuff to a woman’s mind. Blaming is hard work. A helluva lot harder than some man nagging his partner to watch porn with him, which requires from him barely any effort at all, since women usually come pre-softened-up. Ugh. That kind of nagging is just plain abuse, as surely as a slap across the face is. Yet, it could take a woman years to see that truth, plus all the energy that uses up, while, for him, it costs practically nothing at all to create all those dark, ugly clouds in the first place. Yeah, it hurts to get a clear snapshot of even the tiniest part of a rotten system.

    Mildred–Yes. Kind of a case-in-point of how slippery and complicated it is to firmly pin down any one pattern emerging from rape culture. Institutionalized racism and/or classism are part of the picture, so the harm done to girls and boys–but especially to girls–is also minimized or disappeared depending on who they are. A variety of oppressions ensures a steady supply, doesn’t it? There’s no grand plan and implementation for all this, I realize–no patriarchy headquarters–but, boy, it sure does seem that way sometimes.

  33. TwissB

    Morag – “There’s no grand plan”.. but it sure does seem that way sometimes.”

    I endlessly quote John Adams’s assurance to Abigail Smith Adams: “Depend upon it – we know better than to repeal our Masculine Systems” because it perfectly describes the pervasiveness of a broad social system that systematically privileges and pays off for some at the expense of the others.

    But Ann Jones nails it:
    “In reading recent books on women’s history, I notice that it is the
    fashion, particularly among academic historians and literary
    historians, to disclaim any notion of male conspiracy in the
    oppression of women. It seems to be incumbent upon the author to
    say that readers who gain from the book the impression that men as
    a group have done something unpleasant to women as a group are
    entirely mistaken, for the author never intended any such thing. ‘For
    my part,’ I must say with William Lloyd Garrison, ‘I am not prepared
    to respect that philosophy. I believe in sin, therefore in a sinner; in
    theft, therefore in a thief; in slavery, therefore in a slaveholder; in
    wrong, therefore in a wrongdoer; and unless the men of this nation
    are made by women to see that they have been guilty of usurpation,
    and cruel usurpation, I believe very little progress will be made.’ If
    this book leaves the impression that men have conspired to keep
    women down, that is exactly the impression I mean to convey; for I
    believe that men could not have succeeded as well as they have
    without concerted effort.”
    —Ann Jones, Foreword to Women Who Kill, Fawcett, 1981, xvii.
    .

  34. Morag

    TwissB–Following up on your quotation from John Adams, the first link I opened quotes more excerpts from their letters discussing male domination. Fascinating stuff. If anyone’s interested, this is the link:

    http://abetterworldisprobable.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/john-adams-to-abigail-we-know-better-than-to-repeal-our-masculine-systems/

    Men’s arguments against feminism haven’t changed at all! Except for the fact–which is your point– that John Adams fully admits it’s a deliberate system of social control, and that it’s a system that could be overthrown or dismantled, but that they will not allow that to happen. Oh, and the consolation prize for the losers–for women, children and oppressed races and classes–is that men will try not to use their power too harshly. Snort.

    Thank you thank you for this. And also for Ann Jones’ view that all evidence points toward men making a “concerted effort” to keep women down. Now I’m looking for a copy of Women Who Kill (surprise, surprise–my public library doesn’t have it in its catalogue!).

  35. TwissB

    Morag — While we are on this line, there is a copy at http://www.equality4women.org of the key exchange between Abigail and John with annotations categorizing the classic elements of his response to her demand for a constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law for women.

    John’s 1776 response to Mr. Sullivan’s question re John’s view that only propertied men should have the vote closes with a slippery slope example of dreadful results of letting a man without a farthing cast a vote. Boys would think themselves entitled and WOMEN too. Why, it would reduce all ranks to one common level -which is what we were taught was precisely the intention of the American Revolution and the foundation of our glorious democratic government. Snort, indeed.

  36. Morag

    TwissB–Ah, those annotations (“To silence a woman, use: Ridicule, Contempt, Iron Fist, [etc.]“) are so helpful. They read like chapter headings in a User’s Manual for Male Supremacy. Interesting also is that any good book on battery and emotional abuse will expose and explore these very SAME tactics, but under slightly different terms such as “gas lighting,” “blocking” and “projection.” So, the pattern is there, from the high levels of government and legal systems to intimate relationships (with this key correspondence between Abigail and John Adams being a perfect illustration of the consistency of the pattern–the marriage as microcosm).

    These time-honoured and effective silencing tactics, when reduced and laid bare this way, are drained of any heat and passion (heh, she’s so cute when she’s “saucy”), and no longer resemble a debate/argument/conflict of ideas, but something much more chilling–mechanical and impersonal. As in, the central characteristic of “Masculine systems” appears to be sociopathic, no? Or, as Abigail wrote, “all Men would be tyrants if they could.” Which, if that’s accurate, would mean that negotiations, and appeals to empathy, are almost entirely useless.

  37. noshoes

    Nine days since Twisty’s last post. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am jonesin’!

  38. gingerest

    I would never dream of pressuring Aunt T for a post, not least because she warns us over yonder in the sidebar that blogulation is sporadical, but *if* she was at a loss for a non-lobe-exploding quick-update topic, I would love to hear how ole Dreadful Acres and the horses are holding up.

  39. MMargaret

    Morag, I’m blown away. The headings, “Ridicule, Contempt, Iron Fist, etc” tell it exactly like it is without the emotional dumbing down of words like “gaslighting” “blocking” and “projection”. Wow. Thank you.

  40. Barbara P

    My problem with the conspiracy idea is simply that I’ve observed too many oppressive and abusive acts carried out by women themselves (women who really did have the power to choose differently). I would have to conclude that the whole human race is in a conspiracy against women. Maybe that’s it.

  41. quixote

    Not a conspiracy against women, but a plot against anyone marked as weaker. You could see all the human past as starting from “Me bigger. Me take coconut.” and gradually increasing circles of who is worth treating fairly.

    Women are still out there somewhere, beyond the pale, wild animals of some kind you catch and use. But, like everyone else, once in the ingroup, even if it’s just the slums on the edge, the poo-flinging at the outgroup is automatic. No conspiracy needed. You can’t even call it human nature. It’s social animal nature.

    The only way anyone ever seems to move beyond that is the few people, seems like vanishingly few but thicker on the ground at Savage Death Island, who jump up and down and shout about rights for everyone equally. To the extent they succeed, people look around and say, “ZOMG. We’re all way better off. How’d that happen?”

  42. ew_nc

    Thanks quixote. I struggle a lot with trying not to be angry at women who hate on other women. My intellect knows why they do it, but the anger still happens. What you said helps with that.

  43. LabRat

    Women who hate on other women is difficult to digest. Knowing they’re just operating from their social conditioning is sometimes small comfort when they could use their higher brain function to choose not to do so.

    There is vast evidence among all social primates that females will create hierarchy within their group. In some primate species, only certain females are allowed to breed, and the dominant females and sometimes males will kill the offspring of the lower caste females. Of course, the idea behind that is that provisioning offspring is resource intensive, and it’s in the best interests of the whole troop to focus resources on only a sustainable number of offspring each season. Still, the hierarchy that persists outside of breeding can cause other issues among the females. But it varies with each primate. Some like gorillas participate in very little of those shenanigans. In baboons, it’s quite codified and brutal.

    I would like to think that 1) we should have evolved beyond mere primate thinking and 2) our particular social organization benefits not from hierarchy among women but cooperation among women. Since in western cultures, we don’t have too much to fear from infant mortality, and since in western cultures, choosing to not have offspring is a viable option, it really does not follow or appear to be of any benefit at all for women to compete with each other. We get more benefit from mutual support and cooperation. Seeing as how the real enemy is patriarchy.

    Even with social animals who have entrenched female hierarchy, they do have the ability to cooperate and bring it when there’s a group-wide threat like maurading males from another group. Lions can be quite hierarchical, but all the lionesses will get together for some old fashioned ass-whooping when roving young males show up.

  44. ew_nc

    Interesting stuff, LabRat. In the absence of competition for breeding rights, I think female competition stems from the need for male approval. We’ve been raised to believe it’s necessary for our survival. In some ways, it is.

    I should know, in my younger years I sucked pretty hard on the crack pipe of male approval. I honestly felt that when I had that, I was somehow ok in the world. It wasn’t until I grasped the enormity of that, did I begin to radicalize. So I try to have compassion for women who can’t or won’t see the light. But some of them make it very difficult.

  45. quixote

    Labrat, “we should have evolved beyond” that. Yeah, but evolution takes tens of thousands of years and involves the stupidos dying off young. (I’m sure I’ll get banned if I put one of those sticking-tongue-out-razz-faces-here, but I really, really, really want to.)

    We have to put our hope in higher brain functions, so I think I’ll go hit the margs early. (Another razz-face, dammit.)

  46. Androgyne

    From what I’ve seen (and I’ve seen far too much unfortunately), the only type of porn that isn’t dehumanizing and disgusting is where the porn is 100% CIS MEN WITH OTHER CIS MEN. Yet again, gay men get what they want, while having a blast talking about how “oppressed” they are and how “disgusting” women are (particularly the few who don’t kiss their ass).

    Sorry to rant, but I just got back from yet another supposed “gay night” in my supposedly enlightened, dyke-loving, super-liberal town. What happened here? Well, I went with an acquaintance and her Nigel. My “bisexual” acquaintance very quickly gravitated towards to one of the three half-naked sexbots on platforms. I don’t know if she intended to “kiss” them for her Nigel’s sake or for her own (can’t really figure her out), but one sexbot quickly told her to make haste. The other sexbot was getting felt up by the straight dood who managed the club. The third sexbot was being watched by her macho female partner, who, rumor has it, beats the crap out of her and calls all females “bitches”.

    Nigel is bisexual, and was soon being fawned upon by all varieties of gay men at the club. The few patrons there who were not gay men were either playing at the pool tables and talking misogynist crap or sitting and watching their girlfriends while competing with each other. It was really depressing–it was as if every “lesbian” had divided themselves into either Macho Mean Men or Competitive Patriarchy-Friendly Women and acted accordingly. Meanwhile, the gay men–including bisexual Nigel–all just had a blast together. In comparison to the three sexbots, there were about eight gay guys all gyrating naked on a big stage (as opposed to the little platforms), and they were happily solicitous to all comers (as long as they were either born with a penis, or, if they weren’t, they could humiliate them by pointing at their genitalia and then holding their nose, which everyone found ‘hilarious’).

    My acquaintance told me about her Nigel’s porn obsession. I didn’t have much to say. After all, I had spent the night hearing the “femmes” on the sidelines fret about how they weren’t “hot” enough, and the “butches” at the pool table drool over porn stars like Belladonna and Sasha Grey and wishing their girlfriends were “hotter”.

    I hope it’s different in other places, but here, half of the dykes act like porn-obsessed doods while the other half talk about nothing but how to be ‘hotter’ and ‘sexier’, of course in a self-empowerful way, for their “if you can’t beat them then join them” girlfriends. I mentioned rad fem ideology (particularly Dworkin and Stoltenberg) to one self-described femme after she told me that she was raped by her girlfriend (and she WAS, but she refused to believe it because they ‘enjoyed S/M and sometimes I like it when she hurts me’) and she told me that I was just a ‘prude’ and couldn’t accept that ‘feminism means that women can choose to be hurt as long as its by another person who was born female.’ I feel like I’ve entered some kind of horrible Twilight Zone (ie the NEW Stupidnee Meyers one with Bella DumbAss and her rapist stalker vampire boyfriend who’s face looks like a swollen foot) and can’t get out. When did most lesbians become either frat boys or sorority girls and, respectively, worship porn or hate themselves for not looking/acting like one of these sexbots?

    By the end of the night, I found that I actually agreed with my acquaintance (as she sobbed in my arms while her Nigel got serviced by a boy in a neighboring alleyway): “Gay men are the only ones who have fun and get to watch porn without seeing themselves treated like slaves.”

    So why do so many dykes enjoy seeing fellow females being treated like slaves?

  47. Mildred

    I sure am keen for a new installment here! Not being ungrateful or anything!

  48. roesmoker

    I wonder if you’ve seen this – Swedish cinemas are implementing a rating for the Bechdel Test:

    http://www.pennlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2013/11/swedish_movie_theaters_launch.html

    Despite the misleading title of the article and snide “so-called” modifier, the rating is not intended to either censor movies nor give them a feminist stamp of approval. Dudebros are blowing up on FB about this (I know, stop the presses). Alison Bechdel is in favor of the rating, despite her (understandable, IMHO) ambivalence about being more famous for the test than all the rest of her work put together. Here is her blog post about it:

    http://dykestowatchoutfor.com/testy

    More information (and some good blaming, especially at the Hathor Legacy) at the following links:

    http://www.feministfrequency.com/2012/02/the-2012-oscars-and-the-bechdel-test/

    http://thehathorlegacy.com/the-bechdel-test-its-not-about-passing/

    http://thehathorlegacy.com/why-film-schools-teach-screenwriters-not-to-pass-the-bechdel-test/

  49. Veganrampage

    When I attended that famous feminist bastion known as Smyth College I was assigned a work study job in the computer lab. Each day the male employees that worked there, and they were all men, had a screen saver shot entitled “blow-job of the day.” It was graphic and gross. When I complained I was told I had no sense of humor and was ostracized. My complaint was also ineffective.

    There was a fellow theater major who also had work study there, an undergraduate therefore naturally a young woman. She not only agreed with the male employees but thought the whole she-bang was “cute and funny.” At the time I was pissed at her. Naturally now I don’t blame her. You know who I blame.

    Is it any wonder that the rapist Scene Design professor who had 16 formal complaints against him was not only NOT fired until he was actually caught raping an undergraduate and then lead off the campus in hand cuffs? It must follow that I was told I was only the fifth or sixth woman to complain about him. How many women must complain before that complaint is taken seriously? It must make perfect sense that the rapist got a shining recommendation and is now teaching and I just know in my heat of hearts raping away at another college at this very moment. After all he got away with it as far as I know, though I heard about a law suit against said college though never could find any concrete info. This after spending hours in the town clerk’s office, trying to find the suit so I could bear witness. Beware Professor Nick Ularhu, Romanian, and rapist. His FB fails to mention Smith College, even though he taught there for at least 4 years. Wonder why?

    My point, and I have one, is where porn is interwoven and accepted into the fabric of everyday life then crimes like rape are normalized, minimized, and chiefly ignored. Gee, porn might even encourage this type of behavior. Jill wrote it better, but I’ll never get over my unheeded warning to “adults” in charge of keeping young women safe.

  50. quixote

    Being a scientist I’m always thinking about measuring things. So it occurs to me that the question of how many women have to complain for it to count against one man is an indicator of women’s percentage of humanity.

    Never listened to? 0%. Cattle.
    16 complaints finally lead to some kind of action? 6.25% human.
    And so on. I’m guessing if you read thousands of boring police reports and contacted tens of thousands of people in the neighborhoods of perps, and got a statistically useful sample size, 6% would turn out to be a bit above the odds. Possibly, it being a college and all, they’re more able to make the vast mental leap needed to recognize a smidge of humanity in the genitally othered.

  51. LizzeB

    not that’s its entirely too relevant here, but I just threw my (54 year old, otherwise boringly thoughtful) Nigel out because he wouldn’t stop looking at porn. I kept trying to tell him that oppression isn’t sexy, but apparently he couldn’t hear me over the sound of his knuckles dragging on the ground. good riddance to your festering abcess of ‘normalcy’, old dude. have fun with yourself.

  52. Veganrampage

    Dear quixote,

    Sadly they never did listen. These MF’s waited until a young undergrad was raped, and the said rapist was lead off campus in hand-cuffs. The chair of the department still, still, still gave the rapist a recommendation, and as is written above still teaching and most likely raping away on another campus.

    That is why I cannot get over it. I spelled it o-u-t for them, as did many others. It was so obvious this man was a problem, but we were all silenced or ignored. Even the best people did nothing to urge the administration to fire this fucker. On the contrary, we who spoke up were given a terrible time by almost everyone in power. A terrible time, and I even pointed out to them they were breaking their own policies concerning retaliation and threats. That made them angrier. I had to keep telling myself, “hey, you are not the one in the wrong here.”

    Though I screamed it from the rooftops and was retaliated against, I cannot help but feel I should have done more to stop him. I so wish I could have stopped him.

    Thanks for your thoughtful response.

  53. skeptifem

    Not trying to spam, I emailed twisty but no response so far- I had a baby. I know most people here are opposed to that but I really wanted to for reasons I won’t go into now. I found that abuse of pregnant women is endemic in maternity care (yeah, midwives too). Please visit my blog if you want more information on everything that happened.

    Part of what is so frustrating about it is that a lot of feminists seem to just not care about maternity issues because they don’t plan to have children, or they boil everything down to natural birth vs hospital. If we could recruit more moms some shit would really get done- the majority of women have children, and pass their values on to their kids.

  54. Morag

    Dear skeptifem–congratulations on your baby! I would like very much to read your blog, and will, when I have the emotional fortitude to read about the abuse of pregnant women. You see, I try not to remember my birth experience, and reading yours will remind me.

    Of course maternity issues matter! Feminism needs mothers; and, of course, mothers need feminism.

  55. Bushfire

    Congratulations Skeptifem!

  56. skeptifem

    Morag- sorry you had a bad time. I deleted a lot of the stuff at my skeptifem site, it was attracting a lot of MRA’s. If you google ‘shame on better birth’ you can find the main site. If you have the strength to leave reviews for whoever traumatized you I would encourage it. You don’t get to forget it- why should they???

    bushfire- thanks. Its pretty great, despite everything…

  57. Barbara P

    Since nothing much is going on here, I’ll post this interesting article:

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/08/a-feminist-kant/?hp&rref=opinion&_r=0

    This idea has come up a lot on IBTP – to what extent is it our “duty” to resist our own oppression?

  58. tinfoil hattie

    skeptifem!!!! Congratulations! I am an unabashed lover of all things baby and child. I will go read your blog! Wish I lived near you and could come help out.

  59. Renae

    Hi there! Just wanted to bring somethng to your attention, i am running a magazine for radical feminists around the world. if you have some time please check our our website! i think you will all really like it!

  60. Blue

    I agree that there’s a problem with the modern porn industry. It’s often degrading to women (and men).

    But the solution is not shame. Isn’t slut-shaming one of the primary tools of mysogeny? I’d prefer to see a more targeted critique that doesn’t try and make me feel bad about myself.

    As a woman who’s “into” kinky stuff, I get enough of that from wider society. I was not expecting to feel attacked, blamed and shamed when I went reading around the feminist blog-o-sphere. On Being a Feminist Writing Dirty Kinky Porn.

  61. quixote

    Miss you, Twisty! A good New Year to you and to all the other Islanders here.

  62. Bushfire

    Hey Twisty, have you seen this?

  63. Qiuning

    Everyone hates internet porn, but everyone watches it .

  64. Fleepy

    Have ya seen Ted Bundy’s final interview, talking about how violent porn contributed to his becoming a serial killer? Straight from the murderer’s mouth:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsVJ8p1UPc8

  65. Aconsernedwomen

    Look at this garbage!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O-J-p_UilY

  66. Randie

    To Lidon,

    What you said about the appeal to the popularity argument that everyone or almost everyone does it so therefore it’s right,I’m sure you already know that an entire society can be sick and the majority are wrong.The pornography is sick,sexist,woman-hating,distorted,violent male dominated damaging sh-t,but the pornography teaches,sexualizes,and eroticizes all of this as normal over and over again,both inside the pornography itself,and then in the media and society outside of it,

    In the Nazi society the majority of people and the whole society was sick and wrong. There were mothers and fathers who were Nazis,teachers,doctors,lawyers etc.The whole white racist slave owning society was sick and wrong,and many respectable people owned Black people as subhuman slaves,and lynched them,and many men who wrote the American constitution owned slaves,Thomas Jefferson was one of them,and many owned women as property too.

    We live in a very sick,sexist,gender stereotyped,woman-hating,pornographic male dominated society,and it’s mostly because of pornography that we do.

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