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Shelley Lubben’s “Lived Experience” as a Sex Worker and Porn-Actor November 24, 2009

Posted by FCM in authors picks, entertainment, feminisms, health, liberal dickwads, politics, porn, prostitution, thats mean, trans.
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here is a video of ex-porn actor and anti-pornography crusader shelley lubben, sitting in the lobby of the los angeles hotel in which she had turned her first trick (and unintentionally conceived her first child) as a teenaged prostitute.

part 2 is below.

i post these here because, for one thing, i wanted to point out to all the sex-pozzies who frequent my blog that not all sex-workers’ “lived experience” jives with a liberal/libertarian sex-positive agenda, although they really like to pretend otherwise.

but my main point is in regards to personal testimonies, and the fact that many liberal and so-called “fun-fems,” including transpersons and transactivists give tons of credence to sex-workers’ and others’ personal experience, (you know, when this self-reported “lived experience” supports their agenda) and value personal narratives over feminist theory. they also claim that personal narratives of  sex workers and transpersons are inherently feminist, and should be deferred to by feminists in lieu of a critical analysis or examining lived experienced in context.

but feminists who favor theory over experience, or who dissect and examine lived experience in context of feminist theory are the only ones who are being honest, here, arent they?

for example, shelley lubben is an outspoken, anti-pornography and anti-prostitution crusader, who reveals the horrors she experienced while working in the industry for many years.  in a series of video testimonies, she reports that she became impregnated during her first experience with prostitution, and contracted genital herpes on the porn set, among other things.

to a radical feminist like myself, shelley lubben’s story appears to be consistent with my own anti-porn, anti-prostitution stance.  and i was moved greatly by her words, and by her experience of an industry that i fully agree is harmful to women, and anti-feminist.  i have watched these videos over and over, and have been moved to tears, and to write.  were i a fun-fem, my analysis would stop there:  shelley lubben is a feminist, and her testimony is unproblematic!  except that in many ways, thats not the case.  not at all.

because shelley lubben, in addition to whatever else she might be, is also a born-again christian, and therefore anti-feminist by definition.  and indeed, her testimony is anything but feminist. for example, she uses a racist, fake asian “accent” when describing the encounter in which she became pregnant by a “half-chinese half-japanese” john.  and inexplicably, although she herself was a vulnerable teenaged stripper and prostitute, and admits to years of abuse at the hands of men in an exploitative sex industry, she underscores her adoration for her daughter who was conceived during one of the most traumatic experiences of her young life, in a sex-work transaction gone horribly, horribly wrong, by stating that her daughter is “hot!”  how could she refer to her daughter in sexually-objectifying terms, after she had just described the experience of her daughters’ conception in excruciating detail on the video, and her own years of victimization in an industry that sexually objectifies women?  (answer: because shes not a feminist).

she also invokes a decidedly christian sense of guilt and shame for what she “has done”, and for what her daughter experienced early in her young life, when pornographers and boyfriends would drive her daughter to school, as she was too “messed up” on drugs and sleeping too late to be much of a mother to her.  in other videos, she repeatedly refers to herself as a whore.  again, rather than twist the definition of “feminist” to fit shelley lubben and her experiences in the sex industry, where its clearly not warranted, i think a feminist analysis of the female gender role, forced motherhood, anti-abortion and religious rhetoric, and internalized misogyny would be helpful here.

but when it comes to the personal testimonies of sex-workers and transpersons that could be read as favorable to a pro-porn, sex-positive, or other (questionable)agenda, radical feminists and others are expected to accept these stories at face-value without examining them further, and as inherently feminist to boot!  (although it occurs to me that the transactivists and fun-fems would probably have no problem dismissing shelley lubben’s testimony out of hand, because it doesnt jive with their sex pozzie, pro-porn agenda. and they are the ones who supposedly believe that “lived experience” is so important.)

but how does, for example, FTM transsexual and porn-actor “buck angel, the man with a pussy! TM” support specifically feminist ideals (rather than sex-positive ones) when he acts in porn and tells male porn actors and porn consumers to “fuck my hole!” similarly, how are sex-positive MTF transsexuals who do not have female reproductive function unproblematic to feminism, when they support born-womens right to “fuck our way to freedom” in liberal, sex-positive fashion, but they themselves dont suffer the consequences we do to having sex with men, because unlike born-women, transwomen cant get pregnant, and have to constantly penetrate their post-operative neo-vaginas or suffer grave consequences to their health?

radical feminists are bravely examining these personal narratives in context, and are not shying away from a feminist analysis, even when it brings us down on the un-fun side.  anti-porn, anti-sex work radfems might be taking the fun out of feminism, but i personally question when and who decided that feminism should be “fun” in the first place?  somehow, i strongly suspect it was men, as sex-positive, pro-porn fun-feminism benefits only them, in the end.  call me crazy, and call me mean.  but thats not *my* feminism.  it never was.

Comments

1. maggieclark - November 24, 2009

Thank you, FCM!

This is precisely what I mean when I stress that critical discourse must be at the heart of all feminism. Feminism has ALWAYS included the critical interpretation, assessment, and risk-based comparison of varying lived experiences — we’ve never shied away from firmly pointing out when individual women use their positive personal experiences of difficult subjects (chivalry, the sex industry, hierarchical-based household structures, gendered office practices, etc) to suggest that all women should or even do want the same.

This is an especially crucial practice in helping young women who initially shy away from the language of gender empowerment (like myself, as I was raised to think hating myself and other women would help me get the positive approval I wanted of my father) learn to recognize the origins of their self-destructive, isolationist behaviour, and start the long, hard process of working their way out of this oppressive human paradigm.

Why is this same critical discourse of lived experiences considered “othering” or “transphobic” when feminism applies the same practice to transwomen?

I wasn’t automatically feminist. I had to learn how to start stemming the tide of gender oppression in my life. It’s an on-going process, and one I am so happy to see other women undergoing on a similar, on-going basis.

What could be more inclusive than challenging everyone in the feminist sphere to constant, rigorous reevaluation of how our individual actions amplify or deconstruct gender oppression on the whole?

factcheckme - November 24, 2009

glad you found this helpful maggie. thanks for posting.

2. Femspotter - November 25, 2009

I agree that this woman is not a feminist. Are you saying that feminists like me (I don’t agree with the label you’ve assigned to me) would uphold the notion that she is one? Certainly, her testimony is horrifying! But I point out again in this thread that it is an extreme, and it is my wish that we strive to prevent such occurrences without eliminating all pornography. I like some professional porn, in cases when this type of abuse is not present.

3. dirt - November 25, 2009

Because drugging and mutilating her body wasnt enough to assuage the pathological hatred “Buck Angel” has for her body, she further abuses it by having her pussy “consensually” raped in porn. Nothing feminist about that, pure pathological misogyny! Nothing new.

dirt

factcheckme - November 25, 2009

fem, i have asked you this before and you never answered. in fairness to you, i think its an impossible question, but thats kind of the point: as a porn consumer, how can you tell the cases in which this type of abuse is present and when its not? i thought the most compelling part of her testimony was where she said that her experience was actually quite normal: that many of the women get pregnant, many of them have abortions, and many of them have kids who are forced to live “the life” too.

my point was that, just because her testimony supports my anti-porn stance doesnt mean that shes a feminist, or a radfem like me. just like when the transactivists and sex workers support your sex pos, pro-porn agenda: it doesnt make them feminists, and it doesnt mean that what they say is supportive of feminst ideals, as much as the fun-fems want to believe it, and silence anyone who dares even pose the question.

4. femspotter - November 25, 2009

I would not enjoy rape or smut porn. I don’t know for sure of course, but I stick to happy stuff; I believe consent is possible, should be monitored and should be enforced. How do you know that the porn you’ve seen does contain this type of violence? My answer for clarity: I don’t know.

5. pmsrhino - November 25, 2009

I’ve always wondered about is the argument “you don’t know if the performers are being abused or not.” They claim it can happen, but they don’t FEEL the porn that view is anything like that “evil bad violent rapey” porn. But they also generally claim they don’t know for sure if it isn’t “evil” porn, but they FEEL it isn’t. So, if there’s even a chance that the person in that video is underage or there against their will you’re gonna take the chance that they’re not? I would think if there was ever a chance of someone in a video I’m watching being actually raped or mistreated I would just not bother at all. I do not feel like taking that chance. Why do some people feel that chance is okay to take?

Porn actors are ACTORS. They are paid to look like it’s all clean fun. Not saying that all porn actors are there against their will or do not want to be there, but the fact that there are many that are there against their will, are underage, or are in violent situations is enough to keep me from endorsing ANY porn.

That testimony was very moving, but I thought the anti-abortion bit really threw me off. I was with her, and then I was like “Wait, you KNOW how shitty it is for these women, you were in that situation for fuck’s sake, and you can’t understand WHY they got abortions or needed to get those abortions? You can’t condone it at all?” Just because YOU could do it and YOU have god on your side doesn’t mean everyone else can do it or has god on their side.

6. thebeardedlady - November 25, 2009

Thank you for sharing this with us. It is interesting to hear women’s voices, and even though it certainly wasn’t a feminist speech, it was quite powerful, I thought.

The most moving part of Shelley Lubben’s speech for me was when she said, Please stop using porn. Stop contributing to the sex industry. It hurts women. It’s not fun. It’s not glamourous. It’s ALL A LIE.

You think it’s the ‘happy stuff’, femspotter, or you want it to be, or you hope it is – but you’re contributing to an industry that hurts and destroys women’s lives.

factcheckme - November 25, 2009

pmsrhino, you have hit the nail on the head. why take the chance? when i ask this question of porn consumers, its not a rhetorical question: WHY (DO THEY) TAKE THE CHANCE? they have their reasons, but none of them really admit that they *are* taking a chance, or that there might be anything wrong with what they are doing. all their reasons for using porn *might* be valid reasons for watching people fuck on screen, (enhancing their sex life, getting their sex-pos on) but porn is much more than that, isnt it? its *not* just watching people fuck. its watching something when you dont know, and cannot know, what the situation actually is. and even whether or not consent was given, or whether the female actor is even legally capable of giving meaningful consent due to age or intoxication. i have made my opinion in this scenario known: if you dont know whether you are watching rape, and you dont care, thats a rape-mentality in itself.

TBL, i thought her testimony was very moving too. i hope i made that clear in the article. and the quote that stuck out for you also impacted me: stop using porn. it hurts women. you know, i strikes me that so many sex-pos seem to assume that porn-actors are sex-pos, like them. they seem oblivious to the fact (or you know, they dont care) that many of these women are actually religious, pro-life, etc and that they are literally selling out their values when they act in porn, but do it to survive. shelley lubbens testimony was heartbreaking in that exact way: she feels tremendous guilt and shame for what she did, and what the other women were doing, and its not anything that any sex-pozzie liberal is going to be able to talk her out of. she is a conservative christian, and at some point probably wondered if she was going to burn in hell for what she was doing. these women are tortured, and walking around like soulless zombies from the self-loathing and “self-medicating” that often follows. she spoke of the normalcy of drug and alcohol use, and while some people use drugs and alcohol recreationally, (you know…like sex-pos college liberals) there are many more who are using it to tamp down the horrible feelings of self-loathing and regret that comes from doing things you dont believe are “right”.

7. femspotter - November 25, 2009

Well, I am an evil “fun fem” after all. Or was it Sarah Palin; no an MRA.

My therapist announced the other day that she’s not a feminist and I was baffled by this admission. She is strong, articulate, intelligent. Seems she just can’t sign on to any of the established factions. I get that.

I came on too familiar in the last post because I am friendly with its author. I apologize for confusing everyone. But I am not the enemy. Furthermore, I do not condone violent practices in porn. What about unionization or some other actor agency to help ensure that this doesn’t happen?

I worry about restricting consumers from buying porn entirely because I think once made illegal it will still get made and it will get made with more violence owing to the speed and secrecy with which it must be created. Don’t we have drug and alcohol and gambling abuse problems on a larger scale than say Europe (for instance) because of our puritanical approach to educating our children about it?

Everything in moderation, right?

factcheckme - November 25, 2009

i didnt say it should be illegal. i said that any thinking person who is at all concerned with womens well being (ie. feminists and “good guy” men) will not purchase it, or condone it, or bash other feminists for being “puritanical” because we oppose it. and as for europe’s problems, well dont even get me started. they have the same problems over there as we have over here, when it comes to sex work and porn, because the problems are inherent to the industry. and there would still be no way to know what you were watching, as a consumer.

8. maggieclark - November 25, 2009

Hi FemSpotter,

Do you watch clips off XTube, RedTube, or similar? If not, why not?

We seem to be talking around two central axes of porn creation and viewing (not-for-profit versus profit on the X axis / the varying ethics of feminist viewing on the Y). Personally, I’d argue that it’s the centrality of profit-making that yields all manner of exploitative practices, up to and including rape, in the porn industry. (This seems to be confirmed by the impact of individual, not-for-profit efforts on porn industry strategies that heighten the risk to women involved.)

Meanwhile, when people elect to post their sexual adventures online of their own accord, and with little to no expectation of profit (some ambiguity necessarily arises around the ad-presence on YouTube videos), wouldn’t that be considered far “safer” viewing, from an ethical perspective, than any piece of porn you have to buy to view?

All the best,

Maggie

9. femspotter - November 25, 2009

FCM – I meant we Americans are puritanical and did not accuse you specifically of being puritanical. Sorry for any offense.

I am confused, however. If all porn is rape, and rape is illegal, then how do you get around making porn illegal? What is the practical application of your theory with regard to preventing future violence against women? You seem to be putting the onus for eliminating said violence on the porn viewer. Do you advocate a mass boycott of porn, and if so, how do you suggest implementing that?

MC – I’ve actually never bought porn beyond an educational video to help my husband and I learn some new approaches. His porn collection is mild: two or three videos featuring “nurses.” I guess I would agree that watching amateur, non-profit porn is “safer,” but I still would like to see us try and regulate porn through unionization or vigilant production registration and monitoring before I’d eradicate all professional porn because some of it is harmful. Historically, it hasn’t worked to tell people that they are wrong or immoral for consuming products because the product, even unbeknown to them, contains flawed or dangerous ingredients. (When trans fat and cigarette smoking in bars were banned in New York City, some people were very upset.)

Yes, in this capitalist economy we live in, consumer demand drives production. If women would stop buying beauty magazines with skinny models, for instance…perhaps, skinny wouldn’t sell. And if it doesn’t sell, it isn’t the exclusive thing we want to be.

My concern too in restricting porn and prostitution in this capitalist economy is that it prevents people from using their bodies as a last resort to earn a living. It is hypocritical of our government to champion capitalism and then institute moral restrictions upon it. People are getting rich in this system, but some women are starving because they can’t use their own bodies. And because prostitution is legal in two states and nowhere else, it allows brothel owners to charge huge percentage points on services offered by their employees. That’s exploitation under capitalism.

(Sorry for the tangent. No, I’ve never seen any of the clips you mentioned. Should I look for them?)

10. maggieclark - November 25, 2009

Thanks for the thorough response, FemSpotter!

Like FCM, I’m not for banning porn, because I know full well that cutting something out of the public sphere only reduces accountability and transparency, and most of all our ability to improve the outcomes of those within the industry. (It bears mentioning here that countries with stronger governance of the sex industry are also ones with very different engagements with capitalism — either social democracies with strong welfare states, or capitalist systems with collaborative policy-setting within the industries themselves (think “executive unionization”) to create a more educated, adaptable, and better protected intranational class of workers. So yes, capitalism as it stands in North America is too competition-based to provide for effective changes to the system — all the more reason it, too, requires reformation!)

But getting back to the main point: I doubt anyone here would say we should seek to ban the porn industry; rather, I think all of us would strive to improve the system in which it operates so women gain greater and greater protections over time. We could even add this as a third axis to the two I mentioned earlier.

Nonetheless, at the end of the day, there is social feminist action and there is individual choice. This is absolutely a matter of feminist choice — yours, and the choice of those who might be limited by the choice you make. A feminist is one who makes an informed choice not to limit the choices of other women. You yourself said you aren’t a big buyer of professional porn, and FCM and I both have come out saying we don’t want a ban on the porn industry.

If it weren’t for the fact that you said you only watch the “nicer” stuff (but not amateur, I’m to understand?) and take the chance that if it isn’t a porn film involving explicit rape, the persons involved weren’t exploited, I’d say you, FCM, and I are all on the same page here. But since you did come out in defense of watching professional porn that isn’t explicitly violent, I’d say we disagree insofar as whether or not your choice to watch sex videos without knowing if the acts therein were consensual means your choice is one that personally helps an industry profit off of limiting choice to other women.

Does this sound like a clear delineation of where our disagreement seems to lie?

All the best,

Maggie

11. thebeardedlady - November 25, 2009

I think that the assumption that being anti-porn means being pro-making porn illegal is a)wrong and b)a red herring meant to derail the debate into issues around censorship.

Just making stuff illegal doesn’t protect women. Rape is theoretically illegal, but rape laws routinely not only fail to protect women and deliver justice, but also are responsible for victimising women further. So I think it’s totally fair enough to question criminalisation/censorship of porn in terms of who it will protect. If it doesn’t make things better for women, then I have no interest in criminalisation/censorship per se.

I think that the derailing part is that the anti-porn position is assumed to be a pro-censorship one, authoritarian rad fems telling women what to do with their lives etc. And then we can all have a nice argument about how evil rad fems are (again).

There is, however, the choice for MEN to stop consuming porn and encouraging their female partners to consume it, too. Yes, a boycott of porn is a great idea. It certainly makes a lot of sense to target the consumer with education about how harmful pornography is to everyone involved with it, including consumers.

It’s difficult, of course, because a lot of men feel that their desire to be sexually gratified is way more important than the rights of women to live without rape and violence. But I certainly think it makes sense to try to educate people about the consequences of their behaviour.

factcheckme - November 25, 2009

i think its a red herring too TBL. and the conversation always, always goes there, doesnt it?

12. thebeardedlady - November 25, 2009

Maggie, you talked about when people elect to post their sexual adventures online of their own accord as being ‘safer’, and that profit being the cause of exploitation and rape in the porn industry. I’m not convinced about this. I think it’s all pretty problematic. The idea of it being ‘of their own accord’ is – well, how do you know? A lot of rapists and abusers have video cameras. A lot of women ‘consent’ to porn-type stuff in order to please a man. Some of it will be coerced, I’m sure.

Also, I was under the impression that a lot of the ‘amateur’ stuff involves footage of ‘real rape’ and other ‘real’ stuff – i.e. the appeal is that the women involved are known to not be actors but victims or volunteers.

It might be a little ‘safer’ viewing in some respects, but there are other issues involved with amateur porn. Such as the objectification of women, which is harmful to the women involved, the women watching, and the women whose boyfriends and partners are watching. The increasing ‘pornification’ of mainstream culture leading to the ubiquitous thong underwear and mandatory anal sex in het relationships. The effect of porn on the beauty standards expected of ALL women. The equation of sex with penetration and of pornsex with real sex. The way in which ‘soft’ porn eventually fails to satisfy the consumer, who then ‘demands’ to see more and more degradation of women in order to get off.

Even at the ‘safer’ end of the spectrum, even if it is consensual and broadcast ‘of their own accord’, I still think that porn is harmful. It exists only because of the oppression of women, and it serves to reinforce and uphold and reify the degraded position of women in society.

13. maggieclark - November 25, 2009

Agreed, TBL. It’s no different from the argument that being pro-choice = pro-killing things. If more people in the “pro-life” camp actually understood that banning abortion doesn’t stop it from happening — it just increases the number of women who die or suffer lifelong consequences from the procedures — we could just close that whole damn line of wasteful discourse and just be done with it.

No one here wants to impose a state ban, for precisely the same reason: we know that won’t work. But that doesn’t mean we can’t work — through education, through social policy, through individual choice — to reduce the social demand for it.

Although, christ, sometimes the news about sex work around the world just passes the pale — take the 60,000 child prostitutes in the Philippines, or the “50,000 and 100,000 individuals … involved in organized [child pornography] rings worldwide, one-third operating from within the U.S.

With figures like this, and the reality they forward, who the hell wouldn’t want to just ban the whole fucking industry if it would even make one bit of positive difference?

14. maggieclark - November 25, 2009

All really good points, TBL. Let me respond to them in detail.

Maggie, you talked about when people elect to post their sexual adventures online of their own accord as being ’safer’, and that profit being the cause of exploitation and rape in the porn industry. I’m not convinced about this. I think it’s all pretty problematic.

Profit absolutely creates scenarios where women fear losing their employment if they don’t perform, or are explicitly pressured to do more for fear of losing what they were already promised, or are compelled into “consent” through drug and alcohol cultures on set. Just as FCM noted on her porn post, it’s the notion that economic contracts can ever, ever mesh with the individual consent category imbued with sex that creates the inevitable grey area about what goes on. Without such a contract, what remains is the “regular” consent discourse that exists in relation to all sex acts, everywhere.

The idea of it being ‘of their own accord’ is – well, how do you know? A lot of rapists and abusers have video cameras. A lot of women ‘consent’ to porn-type stuff in order to please a man. Some of it will be coerced, I’m sure.

Here this possibly comes down to a very different viewing range: I watch amateur lesbian porn, which takes a lot of the penetrative pressure/perception of sex away from the act, and ends up being a great deal sweeter and more intimate (more “real”, if you will) than anything yielded by professional industry. You also talk a lot about beauty standards being reinforced… that’s really, truly not what emerges in what I’ve seen of amateur porn: without production values, without stars who’ve gone the whole surgery route to fight for viability after their adolescent looks wear off, the participants are all exceedingly normal folk, participating in a wide variety of sexual acts. And above all, again, there exists no financial incentive to exploit oneself or be exploitative, but beyond that, while men absolutely act on a very different understanding of “consent” from women for a lot of real life sex acts, the male gender norm is also possessiveness: if there’s no possibility of getting money out of it, the desire to pressure “their” women to be sexual for other men wanes sharply. One need look no further than how many men hate “their” women wearing too few clothes, or too much make-up, or talking too much to their friends, etc etc, for confirmation of that. Professional porn absolutely plays into that narrative of “owning” the woman; what I’ve seen of amateur porn involves a lot more intimate, sexually equalized interaction.

Also, I was under the impression that a lot of the ‘amateur’ stuff involves footage of ‘real rape’ and other ‘real’ stuff – i.e. the appeal is that the women involved are known to not be actors but victims or volunteers.

Uh… I’ve never, ever, ever come across such a clip on XTube or RedTube. I’d need more information about that. Maybe it comes up and remains there until someone flags it for removal? Again, never seen any such pieces on the ‘Tubes, so I’m afraid my knowledge is lacking in that area.

It might be a little ’safer’ viewing in some respects, but there are other issues involved with amateur porn. Such as the objectification of women, which is harmful to the women involved, the women watching, and the women whose boyfriends and partners are watching. The increasing ‘pornification’ of mainstream culture leading to the ubiquitous thong underwear and mandatory anal sex in het relationships. The effect of porn on the beauty standards expected of ALL women. The equation of sex with penetration and of pornsex with real sex. The way in which ’soft’ porn eventually fails to satisfy the consumer, who then ‘demands’ to see more and more degradation of women in order to get off.

As I mentioned above, not all amateur porn is penetrative (even with male/female videos), and the actors are absolutely lacking in the “glitz and glam”, the fake come, the impossibly large breasts, the ability to deep throat for hours on end, etc. The objectification also lessens greatly when the partners are plain and the acts are so varied as to not subordinate women. Again, though, the videos I elect to watch are mostly lesbian, where both participants interact with the actual camera at some point, and where the results are more “real” than anything you’ll see of “lesbian” porn (with all the “for-men” implications) anywhere else in society. Very refreshing in that light — but this might be a selective sampling: I have seen male-female videos on these sites, though, and the great majority didn’t even aspire to “live up” to professional porn standards. So I haven’t yet encountered anything that would shock me out of a comfortable ethics zone with this material.

I will mention two other things here, though, in response to this line: “The increasing ‘pornification’ of mainstream culture leading to the ubiquitous thong underwear and mandatory anal sex in het relationships.”

First and foremost, all the indicators I’ve seen, statistically, for a rise in anal sex fall into two groupings: A consequence of abstinence-only education, and a consequence of living in the suburbs (alongside a higher incidence of other “extreme” activity, including drug use and crime). While I recognize that the prevalence of anal sex in porn may guide young viewers to consider it equally prevalent in relationships, I haven’t seen any real-life or statistical evidence highlighting a real-world link. Which is to say, I’d greatly appreciate any information you might have about concrete anal outcomes caused by mainstream, professional porn — but in the meantime, again, the tremendous variety of actions, not always penetrative (even for m/f), in the amateur porn I’ve seen to date lends me to believe that amateur porn does not distend the reality of sex the way for-profit porn does, and so wholly eschews this matter of distorting male expectations.

Secondly, the phrase “The increasing ‘pornification’ of mainstream culture” troubles me. I’m generally not a fan of statements that suggest things are seriously worse today than they were decades earlier without any evidence to back them up. Was there less explicit or implicit porn on TV in the 1950s? Yes. But women at that time were also constrained to severe sex roles, such that the only times they appeared on TV were in extremely neutered, for-male-use-only roles. Certain things were also still considered inappropriate to say around women because they were “too delicate,” and a woman who wanted or needed more in bed than a man could provide her, and made the mistake of articulating this fact, was seen as emasculating him. No less oppression of women’s sexuality existed then as does now, in other words — but the difference is, women have, in the last 60 years, developed a great range of personal empowerment to be full-fledged members in that discourse — to articulate stories of their personal sexuality, and to have those stories recognized as something other than female “hysteria.” So I have difficulty with the notion that things are altogether more sexually oppressive now than they were for women in the media 60 years ago.

Now, of course, it’s clear that the blatant ‘pornification’ of women took a disturbing turn in the late 70s, when a push for hairless-ness started the continuing-to-this-day trend of denying the real female from the sexualization of women (perhaps a counter response to women’s sexual gains in the 60s and 70s?) in pretty much all mainstream media. But against this pressure to iconize “non-women” as the ultimate in sexualized femininity, isn’t the place of amateur porn all the more well-situated to continue the original work of women seeking sexual expression on their terms in the 1960s?

Even at the ’safer’ end of the spectrum, even if it is consensual and broadcast ‘of their own accord’, I still think that porn is harmful. It exists only because of the oppression of women, and it serves to reinforce and uphold and reify the degraded position of women in society.

And in closing, here we might have to part ways, because I disagree with the statement “[porn] exists only because of the oppression of women.” Certainly, professional porn does — it’s oppression almost by definition! But it strikes me as extraordinarily telling that when the photograph was invented, almost immediately after, the pornographic photo was, too. And yes, some of these photos were bought and sold by men, for men, in the same way Playboy is today. But many families also have pictures of grandmothers or great-grandmothers, who broke social convention by producing these affirmations of their own, vivid sexuality for themselves.

It further strikes me that, as sexual/biological creatures with a wide range of fetishes and predilections, it should surprise no one that women can and often are exhibitionists, too. My sister is one such case: Her current partner loves her very much, but she doesn’t desire him at all anymore, almost entirely because he has no desire to have sex in the risque fashion she desires.

So the question becomes, how does one embrace the full spectrum of women’s sexual choices in a world where these choices are often exploited by men, for men? And in answer to this question I find that use of a sex medium that in no way provides financial incentives for men to exploit women, or to distort what it means to be women by changing the nature of sex or female sexuality, is a truly safe bet. But again, here we might simply have to disagree.

All the best,

Maggie

15. maggieclark - November 25, 2009

Also, I sincerely hope that last made sense; I cobbled more than a few awkwardly phrased sentences together there, and it gives even me a headache to read it back now. So if anything’s unclear, please let me know.

The short short version is that without financial incentives, consent for sex videos falls into the same category as all consent for sex, everywhere. And that women have always been oppressed, sexually, by the media.

But we have also, in the last 60 years, found options for conveying our sexuality on our own terms, without playing into the culture of oppressive, for-male exploitation. My personal opinion is that we need to find a balance between embracing female articulation of female sexuality, and unintentionally supporting male-controlled efforts that are clearly about anything but female sexual discourse.

That, for me, is where the question lies.

factcheckme - November 25, 2009

for my part, i will reiterate the obvious: unless you were there, theres no way you can legitimately know what the situation was, at the time any sex acts were performed. it makes me very uncomfortable when anyone, including lesbians and feminists, tries to make the case that “MY porn is unproblematic! or “MY porn is different!” just because you feel comfortable watching it, for whatever reason. that said, i do think its interesting to discuss the ways that (for example) lesbian amateur porn is *different* than male-oriented, for-profit mainstream porn. having it be non-penetrative and non-profit is a big deal. but my problem with all porn is two fold, and these differences dont solve the problem or take the onus off the porn consumer/viewer who doesnt know what they are watching, and doesnt care. i am not 100% sure that it solves the consent problem either, but it certainly doesnt relieve the consumer of the fact that they *could be* watching the sexual violation of another, for pleasure.

16. maggieclark - November 25, 2009

No, I see what you’re saying, FCM — and if TBL finds cases of live rape disseminated on those channels, that would be a definite medium killer for me.

But I am confused by this: “but my problem with all porn is two fold, and these differences dont solve the problem or take the onus off the porn consumer/viewer who doesnt know what they are watching, and doesnt care.”

What’s the other half of the two-fold problem? That we can’t be completely certain of consent in any sexual context? How is that any different from the sex we don’t see — the heterosexual couple you know, whose company you thoroughly enjoy, and whose sense of respect for each other you take at face value, though for all you know the female partner’s pressured into sex all the time when they’re alone?

This is the distinction that I find curious. In both cases you take pleasure in some aspect of their relationship, and in spending time with them affirm the legitimacy of that relationship, but you can never really *know* if consent is present between them at all times.

Which is to say, when we take the financial contract / profiteering out of the equation, and when we further open the medium up so that it embodies a broader reality of the act, how is watching sex videos any more permissive an action, on the basis of the knowledge we have at hand, than engaging any persons sexually engaged with women anywhere?

factcheckme - November 25, 2009

maggie, i am not sure i understand your question, but see if this helps: i dont really care if i am eating dinner with the neighbors and one of them doesnt want to be there. i further dont care if someone wants to watch a video of two people eating dinner together, regardless of whether money changed hands. because the worst case scenario in each situation is that someone was eating dinner against their will.

sex is its own thing, different than other acts because of the consent problem: the worst-case scenario with sex is that its actually rape. the fact that theres no way for me to know, and that the worst-case scenario is so awful, makes me not want to watch any porn. if i just needed to know *everything* was consensual because i was concerned with the notion of consent (rather than with rape) i couldnt watch anyone do anything, including anything on television or movies, or even in real life as you say. but like i said, watching someone (fill in the blank) against their will isnt my concern. my concern is specifically with rape.

17. maggieclark - November 26, 2009

sex is its own thing, different than other acts because of the consent problem: the worst-case scenario with sex is that its actually rape. the fact that theres no way for me to know, and that the worst-case scenario is so awful, makes me not want to watch any porn. if i just needed to know *everything* was consensual because i was concerned with the notion of consent (rather than with rape) i couldnt watch anyone do anything, including anything on television or movies. but like i said, watching someone (fill in the blank) against their will isnt my concern. my concern is specifically with rape.

But that’s exactly my point: I’m not talking about eating dinner with someone. I’m talking about eating dinner with a couple who might be having non-consensual sex. It’s not about not knowing if everything is consensual, but not knowing if *every* sex act is consensual. And you don’t. You never do. You take at face value that your friends in relationships, especially m/f, are having consensual sex. If you knew otherwise, you sure as fuck wouldn’t be friends with the male. But you don’t, and until you don’t you legitimize their relationship with every moment you hang out with the both of them, teasing them about the foibles of their relationship, enjoying their collective company.

It’s no different with amateur porn. I agree wholeheartedly with your thesis that the contract work involved in professional porn, and the very profit-orientation of the field, creates huge risk factors, because suddenly exploitation becomes immensely profitable. Where’s the incentive to exploit in amateur porn? Where are the plethora of risk factors that arise when someone is forced to sign into financial contract that which cannot be tethered to such a framework of consent? Without male profit in the picture, there can be no financial incentives — and all the distortions of the female form and female sexuality, to say nothing of female rights and protections — that go with it.

All that remains is the same consent equation you find in ANY sex act. The same pressures that emerge in ANY sex equation. The same reality that, because you can’t know if your male friends are raping your female friends unless someone tells you (or you figure it out on your own), means you always have to act on the best information possible about the consent being given about sex happening all around you. The risk of accidental permissiveness is no less existent in real life than it is on real/amateur sex videos online. I don’t understand, on the basis of your own commentary about the role of financial contracting in altering the social perception of consent, how you believe there is more risk here?

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

maggie, i didnt say there was *more* risk. but to address your substantive point…spending time with my friends and “celebrating their relationships” will never, ever result in my watching and masturbating to a rape. and it will never, ever result in my possessing and/or being arrested for possessing kiddie porn. thats a 100% guarantee. thats because i dont watch them in porn of any kind, including amateur porn. what are you getting at here, besides engaging in exceptionalism when it comes to *your kind* of porn? this is a serious question.

as to the contractual and economic factors in industrialized porn, you are right that many of those dont exist in amateur porn, but there are more kinds of “success” in life now than just money, largely thanks to the internet. online “success” is measured in link-love and page views (and the possibility of a reality television series!) many people act as if these things are very, very valuable, dont they? couldnt the desire for page views and linkage (since thats the unique currency of the internet) cause the same escalating affect that the pursuit of money causes in mainstream porn? where there are increasingly bizzarre and intense images emerging, that give the same impression as mainstream porn: as long as the woman initally says “yes” you can do whatever the fuck you want to her? not that the viewer is *ever* likely to get any actual indication of consent. and not that the viewer is in any position to gauge whether or not the consent is meaningful.

i think any differences here between industrialized and amateur porn are differences in degree, not in kind. and the viewer is NEVER off the hook IMO, in that you dont know what you are looking at, and why the participants are doing what they are doing, and whether they are drunk, or of age. you could be watching a rape. sure, every time they have sex it could be rape as you suggest, but i am concerned with *my* participation in it, and how *i* could be contributing to a harmful industry. and i know dont. can you say the same?

the consent issue always lingers for me, in the back of my mind, so that i dont even think i could enjoy porn anymore, although i have watched it in the past.

18. femspotter - November 26, 2009

Response to MC:

“But since you did come out in defense of watching professional porn that isn’t explicitly violent, I’d say we disagree insofar as whether or not your choice to watch sex videos without knowing if the acts therein were consensual means your choice is one that personally helps an industry profit off of limiting choice to other women.”

Okay. I’ll concede that. It sounds very hateful, especially considering that my contribution amounts to $29.95 and especially considering my disagreement with TBL’s statement that porn “exists only because of the oppression of women.”

Interestingly, I just had a wonderful dinner with my husband and I wanted another perspective so I put it to him like this: “If you knew that in some cases of porn creation women were being damaged, even if the porn looked consensual, but behind the scenes women were being drugged, torn, raped and otherwise abused…would you still watch or purchase porn?” Now, since his collection of three videos is going on 15 years old, this is really like asking a vegetarian to give up meat. But I found his response interesting. “That’s horrible,” he said. He paused. “I guess I’d have to give up porn.”

So, my husband is willing to take a political measure and ban himself from porn to help our feminist cause to safeguard women’s health. Even I’m not willing to condemn all porn on the basis that some of it might be tainted. (Just found this interesting – not trying to incite hostility.)

However, I am still very confused about the logical outcome of condemning all porn as rape; and while MC attempted to answer my question about making porn illegal (not restricting it because of the negative side effects of restriction) and TBL added that making something illegal doesn’t necessarily stop it…I am still fumbling with the logic of considering all porn to be rape because of the consent “problem” and NOT making the creation of hetero porn (thus rape) against the law. ?? If rape laws aren’t doing much of anything productive to stop rapes, I’m sure you all aren’t advocating the repeal of anti-rape legislation. So, why not add porn creation to the punishable crimes list? Isn’t the creation of such a law proof of society’s disdain for porn’s alleged inherent rape? Doesn’t that collective condemnation justify the anti-rape law enough to make it a good first step?

Basically, I am looking for practical application solutions to the ongoing problem of rape in the porn industry.

BTW – Happy Thanksgiving!

19. maggieclark - November 26, 2009

couldnt the desire for page views and linkage (since thats the unique currency of the internet) cause the same escalating affect that the pursuit of money causes in mainstream porn? where there are increasingly bizzarre and intense images emerging, that give the same impression as mainstream porn: as long as the woman initally says “yes” you can do whatever the fuck you want to her? not that the viewer is *ever* likely to get any actual indication of consent. and not that the viewer is in any position to gauge whether or not the consent is meaningful.

This is very speculative, and doesn’t match anything in the real world I’ve seen in relation to escalation — and again, independent, not-for-profit porn has been around in many forms for a long, long time; so just as with TBL’s comment about the heightened “pornification” of our culture in the short term, I’d need to see evidence that this is relevant to the real world. What I DO see in the real world is that when you take the profit motivation out, a different manifestation of male oppression emerges in relation to women: that of possession, which is not even close to the kind of expressiveness made manifest in amateur porn.

You intimate that I could get arrested for kiddie porn. Not a chance — that I can say with full certainty. And I can also say with full confidence that I have as much chance of watching a rape as any person has of unsuspectingly making it harder for a friend to come forward with the fact she’s being raped, considering how close all her friends are to her abuser.

But beyond this, I really am mystified now by your porn post. You stress to great extent that the contract is what prevents consent. I wholeheartedly agree with that. But why on earth fixate on this fact if you think that there is no way for a feminist ever to watch any kind of porn? Doesn’t the contract, and the for-profit aspect, become moot if what you’re really trying to say is that “there is no way, ever, to be 100% sure you’re not jilling off to rape, so no good feminist should ever in a million years look at any filmed sex act, ever”?

20. berryblade - November 26, 2009

@femspotter
“I would not enjoy rape or smut porn. I don’t know for sure of course, but I stick to happy stuff; I believe consent is possible, should be monitored and should be enforced. How do you know that the porn you’ve seen does contain this type of violence? My answer for clarity: I don’t know.”

Then why the hell would you watch it if you weren’t 100% sure? That’s pretty fucked up IMSFHO.

Reminds me of this horror movie I watched once that I was fairly convinced was legit snuff so I turned it off. Why? Cos I don’t want to take that chance. Turns out it wasn’t real after all, but it sure as hell made me feel so fucking sick inside I won’t even repeat the name of the film here (it would surely send most of the readers here into psychosis)

@FCM

“its *not* just watching people fuck. its watching something when you dont know, and cannot know, what the situation actually is. and even whether or not consent was given, or whether the female actor is even legally capable of giving meaningful consent due to age or intoxication. i have made my opinion in this scenario known: if you dont know whether you are watching rape, and you dont care, thats a rape-mentality in itself.”

Word!

“, and while some people use drugs and alcohol recreationally, (you know…like sex-pos college liberals)”

Sorry dude but I am going to have to take offense to that. I don’t really drink any more cos of my meds, but I sure as hell love illicit substances (well, weed) and I’m no sex-pos college liberal. I would have thought radfem university hellion. Hahaha :p (note: may or may not be some level of sarcasm in this post)

@Maggieclark

“Meanwhile, when people elect to post their sexual adventures online of their own accord, and with little to no expectation of profit (some ambiguity necessarily arises around the ad-presence on YouTube videos), wouldn’t that be considered far “safer” viewing, from an ethical perspective, than any piece of porn you have to buy to view?

All the best,

Maggie”

I would have though personally, it would have been MORE problematic because of the INCREASED likelihood that it wasn’t consensually filmed, that the woman has no knowledge of it online, the consequences for it for women are pretty fuckin’ dire etc etc.

No offense dude but all I’m reading from your comments are “I like watching porn kind XYZ therefore XYZ is less exploitative than ABC” which just doesn’t float my boat.

And as for the real rape shit on youporn etc etc? It’s there. I’ve found footage of my own rapes floating around in the dankest, darkest depths of the internetz so I’m going to (I think) safely assume that countless other women have had these expierences as well. Which is fucked up. Seriously.

21. Loretta Kemsley - November 26, 2009

Several years ago, I was on Bourbon St. in New Orleans. A crowd gathered at a particular corner, with men standing in a ring in the street and more men standing on balconies above. One of the bars on the corner had an open window. In that window was a man with a microphone, asking women to come forward and flash their breasts. One woman was an obvious shill whose job was to intice other women to come forward. She worked hard to make it look fun and was estatic when the men tossed her cheap bead trinkets as “payment.”

One man was there with a young woman, who was probably of legal age but might not have been. She did not want to flash her breasts. That was apparent. He was encouraging her to in every way possible. His demeanor was such that he was definitely getting a payoff from the male energy surrounding him. No doubt he viewed himself as the hero/warrior who’d found prey for the village. The man in the window and the man posing as her date plied her with booze as they exorted her to do what she clearly did not want to do. Every time she tried to leave, her “date” grabbed her and brought her back. Not violentlym but enticingly as if he was wooing her. However, she at last was successful, slipping away into the crowd when he was distracted with his prancing for the other men.

I could see the same male motivation when it comes to amatuer porn. The payoff being the attention and admiration of the other men for “his” woman, of “owning” what the other men want.

Let’s be real about it. This is the primary reason why men want a good-looking woman on their arm while not caring about her as a person. Their self-worth is raised several notches when men ogle the woman who is with them.

22. maggieclark - November 26, 2009

Okay, I won’t watch amateur porn anymore.

Thanks everyone.

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

for real maggie? you are going to give it up, based on whats been said here? my sarcasm meter is on overload after berryblades comment, so sorry if i cant tell for sure?

and berryblade…no offense was intended for “radfem university hellions” or anyone else who uses drugs and/or alcohol recreationally. my point was only that these bullshit sex-pozzies cant think beyond their own experiences if they think that sex-workers are sex pozzies too. and if they think that the drugs and shit that are part of the porn- and sex-work lifestyle are because the girls are liberated and like to “party” rather than that they are addicted, or self-medicating.

23. maggieclark - November 26, 2009

I don’t think the porn I’ve watched has been exploitative. I don’t think the risk profile for amateur porn is higher than the risk I take every day with male friends who have sexual relations with my female friends. I don’t think the latter because I do see the issues with consent in porn only manifesting out of the huge problems with financial motivation — specifically, how it further empowers men at the cost of women. All the other shit, to me, is no different than the consent discourse that plagues every single sex act on this planet.

BUT.

Being a feminist means that I recognize my individual experiences cannot ever be taken as the norm — universalism requires that I recognize how other women feel about things that don’t upset me. I may see this as a healthy means of exploding sex norms, fighting the oppressive versions of female sexuality that have been imposed by mainstream media and the porn industry, and otherwise allowing women a venue to express their own sexuality on their terms. I may also have a great deal of difficulty understanding just where women are then permitted to assert themselves publicly as sexual beings, if this not-for-profit avenue is off limits.

But like I said above, there are hundreds of thousands of child prostitutes in the world. One third of the world’s child pornography comes out of the U.S. Maybe someday women can publicly acknowledge their sexuality in whatever ways they choose to, but when the least of us suffers more than I can even imagine from voyeuristic sexual exploitation, that suffering takes precedence over my desire for such a public place, and discourse.

That isn’t meant to be a backhanded, martyring comment — just a means of acknowledging the facts of it for me. I said to TBL that if there were instances of rape on these channels, that would turn me off. Berryblade says her own rapes may be viewable there. That’s reason enough not to go there anymore. And to feel bad about any women who may have felt their experiences similarly marginalized when I’ve mentioned in the past my own partiality for amateur porn.

24. thebeardedlady - November 26, 2009

Interestingly, I just had a wonderful dinner with my husband and I wanted another perspective so I put it to him like this: “If you knew that in some cases of porn creation women were being damaged, even if the porn looked consensual, but behind the scenes women were being drugged, torn, raped and otherwise abused…would you still watch or purchase porn?” Now, since his collection of three videos is going on 15 years old, this is really like asking a vegetarian to give up meat. But I found his response interesting. “That’s horrible,” he said. He paused. “I guess I’d have to give up porn.”

Femspotter – what I don’t get is why you posed this question as a ‘what if’? We KNOW that in many cases of creation women are damaged in all the ways you describe, even though it might look consensual. It’s not a hypothetical scenario, it’s a real, everyday one, and your husband’s response is human and humane.

And sounds like he wasn’t saying it just to ‘help’ the poor old feminists, either. Posing it as some kind of special pleading on behalf of feminists is a bit disingenuous, no?

Maggie, I will try to respond to your points later – right now I have to go to work!

25. femspotter - November 26, 2009

Some sex workers are “sex pozzies.” S.O.M.E.

Please answer my law question.

26. Laurelin - November 26, 2009

“having someone else’s morality enforced upon their person”

If that’s what you think radical feminists are doing in opposing an industry that thrives on the rape and torture of women and girls, then you are showing us no more respect than you claim we are showing you.

And if this is how you think, then you are not on my side.

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

loretta, thats a great parallel to make. i hadnt thought about that before, but you are right, and its consistent with my own point that there are other currencies besides money, and other payoffs to men for making amateur porn: they get to be “king of the hill” as it were. in addition to any payoff to the men, i would also point out that there are ALWAYS more risks to women than to men, in engaging in heterosexual penetrative sex: women are more easily infected with STDs, and they can get pregnant. i would sincerely ask, whats the benefit to women in doing it, in many if not most cases? furthermore, whats the benefit to them of doing it on film or on the internet, for everyone to see? and who would watch a sex act and become aroused by it, knowing that its more risky to the woman than to the man? why would that be? seriously. this is not a rhetorical question. a risk-benefit analysis is helpful here, in discussing any possible coercive factors in amateur or any porn.

again, i ask in all seriousness, why/who would become aroused by something thats so much more risky for the woman, and little to no risk to the man? who is the viewer supposed to be relating to, in most cases? and now that women want to watch porn too, how are they supposed to adjust their gaze, so that they are relating to the person in power, rather than the person taking all the risk on the screen? i am sure that watching porn isnt supposed to be a completely masochistic experience for women…is it?

at least in a relationship that *you* are engaged in, you know the risks you are taking, and why you are taking them. and you have the opportunity to discuss risk-sharing and outcomes with your partner. when you are watching other people do it, the problem is (again) that you just dont know. you dont know if they have discussed it. you dont know if they are taking precautions. you also never see the aftermath: *did* she get pregnant? what was the outcome of it? *did* she get an STD? this isnt anything that i have mulled over, like the consent problem, it just came to me just now. but its true. its like watching fucking russian roulette.

27. factcheckme - November 26, 2009


And, for the last time, I’m going to please ask, that if you really want to call yourself tolerant of transsexuality, you refer to trans women and trans men, using two words, not one. Anything else is refusing to acknowledge our identities. Do please demonstrate the decency of referring to people in they manner which they have asked to be referred to.


valerie, your male privilege is showing. so cut it out, and *do* make this the last time. k? my blog, my rules. you dont like it, you can get the fuck out of here.

28. femspotter - November 26, 2009

TBL – I guess I posed it to him as a “what if” because I wasn’t asking him to boycott porn. I was asking him a hypothetical. “What if somebody told you…” That kind of a thing. “If you knew this, what would you do?” I am not asking him to give up porn. No, I don’t think I was disingenuous. This is a man, btw, who flinches at dramatic depictions of violence against women. He can’t stand to look at it when it’s simulated in movies. I was just curious what his reaction would be to new information (for him) about porn. I didn’t want to bring him to a bad mood right before our night out in New York City. I am also really interested in asking my best friend. He’ll have much more to say on the subject. My husband is emotional and not cerebral when it comes to weighty issues.

MC said something about education being a way to eradicate rape in porn. I guess, if my husband is willing to give up porn because he is now educated to its occasionally harmful side effects, other men will too.

The law question… (I hear the Jeopardy theme in my head. I am just trying to understand how my following of your logic is broken.)

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

hey fem, happy thanksgiving! i am not ignoring your law question, i am still thinking about it. i think my initial reaction of “i am not saying it should be illegal” is due to the constant derailing tactic that TBL mentioned, whereby all discussions of anti-porn come down to discussions of censorship, and thats not what i am ultimately interested in. its also not the state of the law. we would have to change supreme court precedent if we wanted porn to be illegal, because the rape issue would come second (it always does, no matter what the context) and the “free peach!” issue of men needing their freedoms, their speech, thier sex and their porn would come first, because it always does. its just not where my head is at. i will think about it more.

29. thebeardedlady - November 26, 2009

Hey Femspotter, yeah, I wasn’t really asking for the details of your conversation/relationship, just wondering why you posed a hypothetical ‘what if this were the case?’ Instead of a more honest/realistic, ‘this IS the case, what do you think?’ Because the way you posed it sounded to me like you think there’s no problem, that the problems raised here aren’t actually real, but if they were, you’d do something about it.

I don’t watch porn of any kind, though I have in the past, and when people tell me about stuff they think is ‘soft’ or ‘happy’ I usually find myself flinching, because to me it sounds pretty vile and rough. I do think that porn in and of itself is problematic. To answer both you and Maggie about how porn exists only because of women’s oppression, I’d say this: its erotic content is mainly or solely attributable to the degradation of the women involved. It is an image system which is used both to encode and to police sexual relations between men and women. It’s a training manual for rapists. It does not represent loving, honest, sexual activity between equal and consenting adults.

I’m talking about porn that is aimed at primarily men.

I’m saying that I think porn wouldn’t exist in a post-patriarchal society. You might have visual and written depictions and descriptions of sexual activity, sure, and some people might find that erotic. But I think that sex itself would cease to become such a major big deal in a society where women were free and equal. People would probably have more sex, with more partners of all sexes, and would think about it a lot less than we currently do. Just my theory, of course – we’ve never seen a society where women are free and equal so I can’t say for sure. Neither can you!

Anyway, that’s all kind of beside the point really. The real point for me at the moment is that we KNOW porn hurts women, and by boycotting it we know that we’re not contributing to that hurt.

30. factcheckme - November 26, 2009


you threaten, by implication, attacks on my e-mail…


i dont think any reasonable person would interpret that i have threatened you *or* your email, valerie. and i have not threatened you, or even considered it. you are done here. bye.

31. thebeardedlady - November 26, 2009

Berryblade, the first time I was raped the rapist filmed it. (He forced me to watch a porn movie whilst he raped me. Meta, huh?) The sick thing is that it probably looks consensual, as I was terrified of what would happen if I didn’t go along with it. It also probably looks pretty mild by porn standards. Happy, even. However, this was 17 years ago, so it’s unlikely (I hope) to be on the internet. These days, everyone has camcorders, cameras with video functions, you can even record stuff on your mobile phone. So I’m pretty sure that this stuff is out there.

Maggie, I don’t watch any porn so I don’t know about the particular channels you speak of. Basically, I think the only kind of ‘porn’ that’s safe to consume is that which you read it in a book, or generate from your own imagination.

factcheckme - November 26, 2009


its erotic content is mainly or solely attributable to the degradation of the women involved. It is an image system which is used both to encode and to police sexual relations between men and women. It’s a training manual for rapists. It does not represent loving, honest, sexual activity between equal and consenting adults.


TBL, when one performs a risk-benefit analysis on heteresexual penetrative sex, relative to women versus men, i think it becomes very obvious that the eroticism of porn *is* due to the relatively high risk that the women are taking, compared to the men. (you call this “degredation” but i think we are talking about the same thing). its sexxxay that a woman would take that much risk just to have sex with *you*, and the *you* is the male pornography consumer. its sexxxay that *you* dont have to worry about anything at all, as the male, besides your own pleasure. women taking risks, up to and including life-threatening risks to have sex with men has long been portrayed as sexxxay…but who is really getting the benefit from this scenario? and how do women have to both engage, and disengage, when viewing porn, in order to become aroused by this scenario, or see it as unproblematic, or even (for the fun-fems) to believe that its the *woman* who has all or even some of the power?

and i agree that its a training manual for rapists. consent is irrelevant; you get to do whatever the fuck you want to her; there are no pregnancies or STDs to worry about, because you are going to be gone before she even knows what happened, and the consequences are hers alone to bear.

32. thebeardedlady - November 26, 2009

I find the other derailing tactic so often used in these discussions (apart from the trans trollery, which is just tiresome), is the question to feminists, ‘what are YOU going to do about it?’ You don’t want to ban it, so how are you going to make it safe for women? You want people to boycott it, well how are you going to get them to do that? You know, it’s not just consuming porn that’s a problem, lots of other consumer products are problematic – what are you going to do about those issues? Are you saying that women matter but you don’t care about children working in garment factories in the Phillipines? Etc, etc.

Did it ever occur to you that it’s not actually women’s responsibility to ‘deal’ with pornography and the fall out it has on our lives? It is produced by MEN, for MEN, and MEN buy it, making it – guess what? MEN’s responsibility.

Did it ever occur to you that feminists ARE already ‘doing something about it’ by using the only platforms they have to voice their opinions, stimulate debate, and encourage people to educate themselves about the harm pornography does? Not to mention the work that feminists do with victims of the porn industry and rape victims in general.

Did you ever think that our own personal boycotts of porn are us trying to ‘do something about it’, even if it is only on an individual level, because that is the only level at which we have any meaningful choices?

I don’t know about fcm, but I haven’t got a fully worked out white paper about how to change all this stuff in the world. And even if I did, what the fuck am I going to do with it? Just tell you lot, right? And you’d say, ‘yeah well, nice idea in theory – but how are you going to make it work?’

Femspotter:

I am still fumbling with the logic of considering all porn to be rape because of the consent “problem” and NOT making the creation of hetero porn (thus rape) against the law. ??

Sadly, fcm doesn’t have the power to make things be against the law. I think the point is that if you look at it from the consent angle, pornography is already breaching the rape laws. Trouble with rape laws is that they pretty much exist only in theory, and don’t provide any protection for rape victims. Especially not porn actor rape victims, one would assume. Secondly, I don’t want to speak for fcm here, but for me personally, advocating the criminalisation of porn isn’t a productive way forward, because of all the issues raised about how to protect women’s safety – knowing that the more illegal something is, the less protection women will have. So, for me, it’s a case of yes, in theory, porn should be illegal, and treated as criminal activity to produce it. In practice, that would be a dangerous thing to argue for.

33. rmott62 - November 26, 2009

Thanks so for using Shelley Lubben’s videos, I personally find them moving,

I think it very hard for survivors of the sex trade to named themselves as feminists, when too much of feminism betrays them, including some radical feminists.
This is blatant with liberal and “sex-positive” feminists who place women in the sex trade as empowered and liberated feminists. In many cases, making all violence in the sex trade disappear as that does fit their world view.

But as exited prostituted woman, I have found it very hard to communicate the complicity of that world to some radical feminists.
They can sometimes prefer statistics and an academic point of view, rather than the messy words of survivors.

I am not sure if I am a Christian, but to very honest with liberal and free-thinking Christians who work with exited prostitutes, I have often got more solid support and non-judgment from some radical feminists.

I do believe the vast majority of radical feminists are fighting an amazing battle against the sex trade. But they must take care not to be judgmental, such as saying the problem was not being a lesbian separatist – or constantly comparing being in porn or a prostitute with rape or domestic violence.

I find Shelley Lubben very inspiring. Although I find self-blaming form of Christianity quite upsetting, part of me does not care coz the massive amount of practical work she to get women out of the sex on a permanent level.

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

rmott62, thanks for commenting. i think you are right about shelley lubben, and the problems and benefits of her approach. the religious aspect of her crusade is troubling to me, for precisely the reasons that i think welfare should be (and the reason it is) state-run: we shouldnt have to depend on churches to take care of people, when “the needy” are going to almost certainly be subjected to religious prosthetyzing if and when they present for help. on the other hand…theres alot of good done by these religious-based organizations. shelley lubben’s “pink cross foundation” charity was set up to financially and emotionally support people who want to get out of the sex-work business and start over. i dont know how successful they are at doing that, but i think its a positive goal, and one that shelley lubben herself obviously believes in, and believes is needed, despite the presence of state-run welfare (although i sincerely hope that they assist their beneficiaries in applying for state assistance as well, if applicable).

and i agree that her videos are very moving.

34. Laurelin - November 26, 2009

What rmott said.

35. polly - November 26, 2009

Don’t we have drug and alcohol and gambling abuse problems on a larger scale than say Europe (for instance)

Would you like to produce some statistics to back this assertion up femspotter?

36. berryblade - November 27, 2009

@FCM “for real maggie? you are going to give it up, based on whats been said here? my sarcasm meter is on overload after berryblades comment, so sorry if i cant tell for sure?

and berryblade…no offense was intended for “radfem university hellions” or anyone else who uses drugs and/or alcohol recreationally. my point was only that these bullshit sex-pozzies cant think beyond their own experiences if they think that sex-workers are sex pozzies too. and if they think that the drugs and shit that are part of the porn- and sex-work lifestyle are because the girls are liberated and like to “party” rather than that they are addicted, or self-medicating.”

None taken! Actually that’s a fairly good point. People like that really fucking piss me off too.

@TheBeardedLady

“Berryblade, the first time I was raped the rapist filmed it. (He forced me to watch a porn movie whilst he raped me. Meta, huh?) The sick thing is that it probably looks consensual, as I was terrified of what would happen if I didn’t go along with it. It also probably looks pretty mild by porn standards. Happy, even. However, this was 17 years ago, so it’s unlikely (I hope) to be on the internet. These days, everyone has camcorders, cameras with video functions, you can even record stuff on your mobile phone. So I’m pretty sure that this stuff is out there.”

Oh shit, I am so sorry to hear that. That’s not fuckin’ cool & I know how damaging an experience like that can be/is. I hope your video never makes the light and the person who did that to you gets what you think they deserve. I just try not to think about it – considering for me most of this shit was recorded on a mobile phone/webcam. Ergh. I cringe whenever I read about “sexting” seriously. Makes me sick to my stomach.

@FCM”and i agree that its a training manual for rapists. consent is irrelevant; you get to do whatever the fuck you want to her; there are no pregnancies or STDs to worry about, because you are going to be gone before she even knows what happened, and the consequences are hers alone to bear.”

Totally agree with this statement also. Why else do you think most porno ‘scenes’ end when the dude’s ejaculated? She doesn’t matter. She’s just another whore etc etc

37. Loretta Kemsley - November 27, 2009

Why else do you think most porno ’scenes’ end when the dude’s ejaculated? She doesn’t matter. She’s just another whore etc etc

This is the underlying theme in all porn: she doesn’t matter. Since her body is made for his pleasure, the actual woman inside that body has less right to control it than he does to use it.

The alternative message is: Her satisfaction is derived by producing his.

When this is firmly implanted in the viewer’s mind, this helps them accept that its okay if women are forced to perform on camera (and off) for their pleasure. So what if she experiences it as rape? Since she’s getting off by getting him off, the message reads, that’s how she is experiences pleasure, therefore, he’s doing her a favor by raping her.

It is alarming that porn teaches this to each new generation and disgusting that the rise of feminism and resultant sexual freedom for women was used as a pretense for porn to distort women’s sexuality even worse than it had been distorted by centuries of religious prudery.

In their rush to reject religious sexual rancor, too many feminists embraced the sexual prison on the other end of the spectrum. It’s no more sexually progressive to submit to porn’s definition and control of women’s sexuality than it is to adopt the rabid religionist’s misogyny. They are equal when it comes to harming women.

38. femspotter - November 28, 2009

TBL – I respectfully disagree with you on many points.

1. “(Porn) does not represent loving, honest, sexual activity between equal and consenting adults.” The informational porn I bought has couples demonstrating positions and methods for oral and tactile stimulation. The women therein explain to their male partners how to effectively kiss and caress their clitorises. The couples then proceed to engage in sex for theirs and our benefit. It has been very helpful to our cultivation of a loving, honest sexuality. Furthermore, there are so many different kinds of porn. Some of it is harmful and degrading, yes. I agree wholeheartedly. We have a difference of opinion: I think some good porn aimed at men exists and you do not.

2. You say that “by boycotting (porn) we know that we’re not contributing to that hurt (of women).” But then you go on to call any call to action a derailment. Aren’t you asking for a boycott?

3. “Did it ever occur to you that it’s not actually women’s responsibility to ‘deal’ with pornography and the fall out it has on our lives? It is produced by MEN, for MEN, and MEN buy it, making it – guess what? MEN’s responsibility.” I take issue with this statement on many levels. The concept of equality has spread somewhat throughout the film industry over the years and there are many working female pornography producers and directors who make hetero porn aimed at men and women. (www.pornmoviesforwomen.com) The burden of equality, whether it has come to full fruition or exists in theory, is that we all become responsible for its upkeep. I have great respect and admiration for the suffragettes who starved themselves in work camps to get us the right to vote here in America. While we now have the equal vote, it becomes my responsibility to make an informed choice for our political leadership every year. It is also our responsibility as women and feminists, different though we may be, to make the world as safe as we can for our fellow women.

4.”Did it ever occur to you that feminists ARE already ‘doing something about it’ by using the only platforms they have to voice their opinions, stimulate debate, and encourage people to educate themselves about the harm pornography does?” Of course feminists are doing something about it. But the tendency on this and other forums to verbally berate any men who enter and speak, to accuse them of throwing their “male privilege” around, and not to listen and respond with maturity does nothing to educate these men and serves only to alienate them. We are also frequently disrespecting each other here. I think if we want to make a claim that our discussion here is for educational purposes, then we have to educate those who are in denial that a problem exists with patience and not contempt; and we have to be able to offer suggestions on how to help.

5. “Sadly, fcm doesn’t have the power to make things be against the law.” I think she does. I think we all do. Write to your Congress leaders. In addition, volunteer at Planned Parenthood. Send money to charities like Girl Child Network (learn about that at CNN: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/archive09/betty.makoni.html) or Amnesty International. I just renewed my ACLU membership this morning for another year. But I want to do more. I am still learning.

And how do you know that FCM isn’t a lawmaker? How do you know that other commenters here aren’t lawmakers? How do you know that lawmakers aren’t following this discussion right now? We are perhaps “The 4th Wave of Feminism,” we bloggers, as Jessica Valenti recently suggested to The New York Times Magazine. Maybe our leaders are listening.

39. femspotter - November 28, 2009

I don’t know if this is a good idea or not (still thinking about it), but one way to educate consumers and allow them to choose “cruelty-free” pornography might be to have a reputable organization offer a film and tv unit, much like the unit the Humane Society sends out to monitor animal action (http://www.americanhumane.org/protecting-animals/programs/no-animals-were-harmed/). I mentioned this on my renewal form to the ACLU. “No Porn Actors Were Harmed in the Making of this Film.” Would this be a possible way of monitoring/regulating the health and safety of the women on porn sets? Then porn consumers could look for the “cruelty-free” designation on the video box or on Web sites, much the same way I look for the cruelty-free symbol on the health and beauty care items I buy so I know no animal underwent painful testing for my shampoo, etc.

factcheckme - November 28, 2009

fem, again i think we are going to have to part ways here, because you seem very sure that we are all “powerful women!” and i am quite sure that the vast majority of us, in fact, are not. thats kind of the whole problem, in fact. and one that the fun-fems routinely fail to acknoweldge.

women, across the world, simply do not have the power to make these kinds of profound, sweeping change. particularly in regards to porn, the mens dander is up at the very thought of losing their precious “sexxxay”….they are fucking up in arms about it and wont even discuss it beyond a “free peach!” superficial, self-serving screeching-noise that i cant even listen to anymore. its fucking terrible.

as far as porn being illegal, i guess my answer for the time being is that rape is already illegal, and thats the problem i have with porn. the laws we already have should cover these scenarios, but they dont, do they? thats the problem with our treatment of rape in general though, i think. most rapes dont fall under the protections of our rape laws, even when its clear to everyone (or almost everyone) what actually happened, and even when violent force is used, or when the victim was drunk or unconcious. strengthening our existing rape laws would be the place to start i think, as well as educating the public on the problems with porn, economic coersion etc.

as far as cruelty-free porn…thats an interesting concept. i notice that your disclaimer would be gender-neutral: no “porn actors” were injured. was there a reason for the use of neutrality here? when its pretty obvious that its the women taking all the risks, and who are the most likely to be abused? i will think about that more. thanks for posting.

40. Loretta Kemsley - November 28, 2009

I have trouble with the concept of “cruelty free porn” because every example listed is of protecting animals. Is that what women are? Or what we should be compared to?

For centuries, men denied women had souls. We were said to be created by the devil just to tempt men. This alibied their treatment of women as less than human and codifying them in law on the level of property, including animals. Even though that is no longer the active argument, we are already treated as if we are sub-human by too many.

This makes equating us to animals in this discussion extremely misogynic, even if the intent was woman-positive.

41. Loretta Kemsley - November 28, 2009

Thanks for the Jessicia Valenti reference. It interested me, so I went looking. The interview is here, although not as detailed as I hoped:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/magazine/15fob-q4-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine

A deeper explanation is here:

http://jessicavalenti.com/?p=307

Well worth the read.

factcheckme - November 28, 2009


This makes equating us to animals in this discussion extremely misogynic, even if the intent was woman-positive.


yeah, i noticed that too loretta. and BTW i fucking hate jessica valenti. i will follow those links later, if i can get upn the mental and emotional strength.

42. thebeardedlady - November 28, 2009

Hi Femspotter,

I think we have to agree to disagree about this stuff. I feel comfortable with my decision not to buy or download any porn, because I don’t know whether I would be watching rape, or whether my consuming porn contributes to the harm women experience. I would never want to take that risk. I’m totally cool with that, and don’t feel any lack in my life through not watching porn.

I’d also say I don’t think ALL sexual imagery = porn. I read books which sometimes have erotic content. Actually, much of my fiction has a strong erotic content, though a bit warped. I haven’t got a problem with sex education videos in theory. It’s pornography that I think is problematic.

I don’t live in the US, (I know, weird huh?) so your stuff about congress etc is a bit lost on me.

As for how do I know that fcm and other commenters here aren’t lawmakers? Well, I kind of guessed from the fact that they are here blogging, rather than, you know…making law. Most women don’t have much power in the world. Blogging is a way of having a voice that reaches a small number of people. I tend to assume that if a blogger had a powerful voice and way to reach a bigger audience, they would be using it.

I also noticed the thing about comparing women to animals and would agree with everything Loretta said about that.

43. thebeardedlady - November 28, 2009

fcm, yeah I’m not a fan of Valenti either. That article seems to say – not a lot really. The wonderful thing about feminism is that we’re all so different, apparently. And now we have the internet, we can blog and talk to each other on facebook and email. There you go, saved you the bother of reading it.

44. femspotter - November 28, 2009

LK – I hate to point out the obvious to you, but yes, women (and men) are in fact animals. And protecting women who can’t protect themselves from rape is the same in my book as protecting rabbits from eye shadow testing. Now, obviously, if a rabbit and a woman were hanging off a cliff and I could only pull just one up… WTF do you think I would do?

Furthermore, misogynist implies a hatred of women. How can anything “woman-positive” be hateful? I love bunnies (too)!

FCM – Yes, I am sex neutral when it comes to the “cruelty-free” designation because I don’t think men deserve torn anuses from gay porn any more than women do from straight porn. (I learned this at our last meeting of the MRA – kidding!)

45. femspotter - November 28, 2009

Furthermore, FCM, I find the description you have placed upon me, namely “very sure that we are all ‘powerful women!,'” inaccurate. I think that empowered women such as you and me and many others should do heroic things like Betty Makoni has done in helping rape victims heal themselves and others. Don’t you agree? How can you hate men and then leave it up to them to solve our problems? We have to empower each other when we can!

factcheckme - November 28, 2009

fem, i am having a hard time knowing when you are being sarcastic, and when you arent. so, i am going to ask that if you continue to post here, that you be sincere from now on. i am fairly certain that you dont *really* think that i or anyone commenting on this blog “hates men” but frankly, i am getting pretty fucking sick of this MRA-looking bullshit on my blog, and i dont care who is writing it. and the other readers here have even less of an idea about your true feelings and your true intent than i do.

so please. no more disingenuous posting. okay?

46. Femspotter - November 28, 2009

Everything I have written is completely sincere except where indicated.

factcheckme - November 28, 2009

then your assertion that i *hate men* is grounds for your being spammed, fem. sorry.

47. Femspotter - November 28, 2009

Well, thank you for allowing me to participate in the discussion until now.

48. Loretta Kemsley - November 28, 2009

I too am troubled by the notion that feminism is about hating men. That reeks of either anti-feminist thought or a person who knows nothing about feminism.

As to FCM’s thoughts on not assuming responsibility for problems created by men, FCM is spot on. Why should women shoulder that burden? How is that freedom from male domination? If that were the case, all men would have to do to remain the dominant class is to continue to create more discrimination and saddle women with more responsibility. That’s patriarchal at its core.

49. Loretta Kemsley - November 28, 2009

@femspotter – I hate to point out the obvious to you, but yes, women (and men) are in fact animals. And protecting women who can’t protect themselves from rape is the same in my book as protecting rabbits from eye shadow testing. Now, obviously, if a rabbit and a woman were hanging off a cliff and I could only pull just one up… WTF do you think I would do?

Wow. How anti-woman is that? Woman = animal in value.

Are you aware there are more animal shelthers in the US than there are shelters for victims of domestic violence? Or that funding for the latter is far less than for the former? You seem to fit right into the dominant culture in your values.

The claim that we are no different than animals is spurious. First, animals have higher standards and more equality than humans. Second, the usual use for equating humans with animals is because of male violence toward women. That’s just an excuse for that violence to continue. There is nothing inherent about male violence toward women. It is a cultural need under patriarchy, which is why it is universally accepted in patriarchal cultures.

factcheckme - November 28, 2009


As to FCM’s thoughts on not assuming responsibility for problems created by men, FCM is spot on. Why should women shoulder that burden? How is that freedom from male domination?


actually i think TBL made that point, although i completely agree with it. it made me laugh that fem referred to “womens problems” because men *are* our fucking problem. men create a reality for women that is absolutely intolerable. this is what passes for *womens problems* like its fucking cramps or something? not that we dont rely on men to solve our medical problems too…because they are the ones who have the power to do it, and they arent big on sharing power. too bad they also dont really give a fuck about our medical problems, either. or that they *create* many if not most of them by injuring us. and by impregnating us. and pathologizing us even when we are perfectly healthy. womens problems indeed.

50. Loretta Kemsley - November 28, 2009

Sorry. I just assumed that you’d made that point because the post was aimed at you.

Your points above are well made.

I noted that in the “humans are animals” assertion, the following assertion was aimed at encoding women as animal equivalents under the law but not men, whose violence is the cause of equating humans with animals.

If the comparison truly was humans = animals, then violent men would be put down just like violent animals are. Instead, the proposed equivalence in law would be to lower women’s legal rights to that of animals under the guise of protecting them from the violent men. The “human” equivalent to that proposal would be to protect all humans from violent animals by putting them into a restricted class (needing supervision) while letting the violent animals run free.

Haven’t women been there before, with no rights under the law? Why would any feminist advocate a return to that status?

51. femspotter - November 28, 2009

Okay, I am spanned, but Loretta that is not what I wrote at all!

52. thebeardedlady - November 28, 2009

The idea that women ‘who can’t protect themselves from rape’ should be protected in the same way we might try to protect animals from violence is utterly fucked up in all the ways Loretta describes. I’d add that NO woman can protect herself from rape. The idea that some women can protect themselves from rape is really offensive, especially as it suggests that victims of rape are too stupid/poor/whatever to look after themselves like a smart woman would.

Rape is not a ‘women’s issue’ in that sense – something we can control and protect ourselves and others from. Rape is a men’s issue, actually, because it is predominantly men who rape, and women would stop getting raped if men stopped raping. It’s up to men to protect ALL women from rape by not raping and by educating other men not to rape and by not tolerating rape culture.

factcheckme - November 28, 2009


I too am troubled by the notion that feminism is about hating men. That reeks of either anti-feminist thought or a person who knows nothing about feminism.


theres alot about the fun-fems, in point of fact, that makes me wonder whether they know the first fucking thing about feminist thought. their wholesale acceptance of transactivism is a huge tip off that third-wavers, liberal feminists and fun-fems arent based in any theory at all, and its a problem that radfems have locked in on. but there are others. and any feminist that would accuse another of “man-hating” has obviously checked her critical thinking skills at the door. i mean really.

53. Laurelin - November 28, 2009

As far as I’m concerned, radical feminism means believing that men are fully functioning human beings who are able to change their behaviour and stop raping or supporting rape. It means men are moral agents, capable of doing right and not compelled by some force to do wrong.

That is the exact opposite of hating men.

factcheckme - November 29, 2009

well said laurelin. thats what andrea dworkin obviously believed too, or she wouldnt have bothered speaking to men about rape. and yet she is the most vilified of the allegedly man-hating radical feminists.

54. Loretta Kemsley - November 29, 2009

Femspotter wrote: Loretta that is not what I wrote at all!

I’m willing to believe that is not what you thought you said, but it is indeed what you said.

You should read up on the evils of paternalism. According to Gerald Dworkin, Paternalism = limitations on personal freedom or choice, done to benefit the person whose freedom is restricted. One excuse for paternalism, which you are promoting is that the adult knows the dangers, but has “weakness of will”
psychological or social pressure or irrationally discounts of danger due to short vs. long term consequences .

Paternalism is the foundation of patriarchy where all women are a “protected” class because they are deemed to fit the above rationale. They are restricted in all they do to “protect” them from violent men. That is the underlying excuse used by the Taliban and in the Bible. In both of those societies, women are subject to battering, rape and murder by their “protectors” all in the name of protecting them.

Paternalism is the underlying excuse that has consistently been used here in the US to oppose women’s rights of all kinds: voting, owning and controlling property, obtaining education, having a career, having access to birth control and abortion, even having the right to drive.

There are many who work constantly to undo those rights. Do a google search on “repeal the 18th Amendment” and you’ll find a wealth of websites claiming that women are so dumb we’ve ruined America, so we’d be better off if we lost our right to vote. We’ve all heard the abortion rhetoric. Not everyone knows that the same rhetoric is out there trying to ban our access to birth control. They also don’t know that men in the men’s rights movements have tried to force the closure of women’s DV shelters, to stop child support enforcement and have launched lawsuits that either try to force women to have babies upon demand from their sexual partners or the opposite: force women to have an abortion upon demand from their sexual partners. They have pursued both of these extremes at the same time. Some are opposing women’s right to obtain a divorce too.

Google “Phyllis Schlafly, martial rape”. She’s quite certain that rape cannot occur within marriage because, after all, when the woman said “I do” she gave up her right to say, “No.” She’s not the only one. She’s just the one that comes to mind.

Have you read Andrea Dworkin or Catherine MacKinnon? They would be a good place to start to understand why your suggestion received such a negative response.

You should also go to http://hustlingtheleft.com and read Nikki Craft’s opposition to Larry Flynt and Penthouse. Penthouse is, of course, only a print mag and not video porn, yet Nikki’s site reveals how intense the misogyny is even in still photos and cartoons. Flynt tries to pretend he’s “protecting” women by featuring articles on politicians caught in adultery, but all his paternalism does is exploit political wives and mistresses for the sexual pleasure of his readers. Flynt also features prominent men on both the right and the left. One such man was Norm Chomsky, who undoubtedly was paid for his interview. When Nikki accosted him to demand an explanation, his excuse was that he didn’t know Penthouse was porn. Her exchange with him is posted on her site.

After you’ve read up on this subject, you’ll understand why your stance is being viewed as anti-feminist and trying to diminish your responsibility to reject porn by asking all women to be put back into the paternalist class of “protected” so you can continue to use porn for your personal pleasure.

55. femspotter - November 29, 2009

I am not able to understand what you have written, Loretta,.8520/ as I am WAY TOO emotional right now. But rest assured that my love of animals does not interfere with my want for equality; and my hesitant suggestion requesting feedback for an idea did not imply that women are on the same level with rabbits, but we humans are animals against the other choices: vegetable, mineral. That’s what I meant. You accused me of only providing animal examples, but that’s all I can think of; and you subsequently proved my point by indicating the larger spread of animal shelters to women’s shelters. Hence, I think, we need to spend as much time monitoring human cruelty as we do animal cruelty. I think that all living creatures deserve protection from violence, including men, which is why my disclaimer read as sex neutral. And I am trying to find practical solutions to the rape problem. Sorry to have offended you. Good luck reshaping other women’s views. I think my mind works pretty well, thanks! Mine is just a different feminism than yours.

56. Loretta Kemsley - November 29, 2009

Femspotter,

There is a difference between being uninformed and being stupid. If I thought you were the latter, I would not have responded to you at all. My response was based on the thought that you truly didn’t understand why we were responding to you the way we did, thus I provided a lot of info for you to check out if you want to learn. Whether you do or not is entirely up to you.

As to your love for animals, I share it. I’m an avid horsewoman and have been every day of my life. If you want to learn more about me and my horses, check out http://lore.moondance.org

A high school teacher told me I’d be mature when I cared more about humans than I do about animals. It’s been almost five decades and I’m still waiting. I’ve worked with and lived with too many animals and species to enumerate, both domestic and exotic. My life would be empty without them and regularly participate in rescue work. So we’re on the same wave length there, except to to your equation of humans to animals because you do the animals a disservice.

Perhaps part of why you don’t understand my passion about this is because you are younger than I and have never lived under paternalism encoded into law and culture as it once was here. Here’s a few of the things I was “protected” from doing (or at least they tried) — for my own good of course:

Playing marbles with my older brothers so the boys couldn’t see my underwear. My response was to tell them not to look or to let me where pants, but that wasn’t acceptable either.

Climbing on the monkey bars or swinging on the trapeze for the same reason.

Riding ponies so I wouldn’t break my hymen, which would have meant no man would ever want to marry me.

Winning at any type of sports because the boys wouldn’t like me or date me.

Going to college because “a truly smart girl plays dumb.”

Being told what having an IQ of 149 meant because “girls don’t need to know that kind of thing” and “it would be too hard for me to understand.”

Once in college, being told by a professor that he would not give me the -A- I earned because “women don’t belong in business.”

Being refused a promotion because it would require some travel and I had children to take care of.

Being refused a raise along with men doing the same job because “they have families to take care of.”

Having men be outraged because the EEO was passed, which was going to destroy women by forcing them to do the same job as men.

Being told by a bishop that I was wrong to get a divorce just because he was violent and trying to kill me. After all, if only I was a better wife, he wouldn’t have to do what he did.

Having the judge in the divorce order me to go to counseling with my abuser and then give my violent ex the business that I created and ran “because he’s the man and will have to pay child support.” When I objected and said, “He will never pay child support,” he threatened to throw me in jail for contempt. He also gave him all the assets I owned before we married, even though that was against the law.

Having a DA tell me if was none of my business what they were doing about collecting child support, that I should “just relax and let them handle it.” I got the order in 1972. I received my first child support check last year after he applied for social security.

Having the cops, after I was two years into a divorce and had a restraining order, commiserate with my ex for “being married to a bitch” when I called them out after he broke in, tried to steal my stuff and battered me again. In the dozens of times I called for help, they never arrested him. Not once, even when he tried to kill me in front of witnesses, because “you’ll just want to make up with him later.”

So, you see, none of this is abstract to me. This is the results of paternalism and patriarchy. If my feminism is different than yours, then I hope mine prevails because it is important for women to be free of “protection” that is too often turned against them.

factcheckme - November 29, 2009


So, you see, none of this is abstract to me. This is the results of paternalism and patriarchy. If my feminism is different than yours, then I hope mine prevails because it is important for women to be free of “protection” that is too often turned against them.


this is what happens, i think, when we have people thinking that “there are as many feminisms as there are feminists” because thats simply not true. it cant be true, because we have women who are clearly *not* feminists, people who are clearly espousing anti-feminist views, and indeed people who arent even women, all saying that they are feminists, and that all feminisms are created equal.

i read jessica valente’s article, and (as a fun-fem) thats exactly what she seemed to be saying as well. that its “inherently feminist” to have complete and utter chaos with no clearly defined goals and call it a movement…because its not nice to exclude anyone, and its the opposite of what teh mean menz do (i guess? i dont even know why they would strive to “do the opposite” when they fucking love men so much, but whatever. nothing they do makes any sense.)

fuck that noise. we need some clearly defined goals here, and the radfems are the only ones who have consistently advocated for women around the world, as a sexual class. fun fems coming on the scene spouting off EXACTLY the same shit as the fucking MRAs do is not acceptable, and its not feminist. and i am not going to “protect” anyone here, if thats the behavior they choose to engage in, and they are summarily called on their shit.

sorry, fem. sorry, max. but theres no fucking way.

57. berryblade - November 29, 2009

Warning: This comment may contain content that will offend those with no sense of humor, don’t understand sarcasm or are “sex-pos sillies” (man, I need to start some rad fem stand up.)

@ Fem Spotter

“1. “(Porn) does not represent loving, honest, sexual activity between equal and consenting adults.” The informational porn I bought has couples demonstrating positions and methods for oral and tactile stimulation. The women therein explain to their male partners how to effectively kiss and caress their clitorises. The couples then proceed to engage in sex for theirs and our benefit. It has been very helpful to our cultivation of a loving, honest sexuality. Furthermore, there are so many different kinds of porn. Some of it is harmful and degrading, yes. I agree wholeheartedly. We have a difference of opinion: I think some good porn aimed at men exists and you do not”

I call a big fat stinking fucking bullshit. Maybe if you tried COMMUNICATING with your partner you wouldn’t need an “instructive video”. Just because it’s “instructive” doesn’t make it any less exploitative, intrusive or totally unjustifiable.

“3. “Did it ever occur to you that it’s not actually women’s responsibility to ‘deal’ with pornography and the fall out it has on our lives? It is produced by MEN, for MEN, and MEN buy it, making it – guess what? MEN’s responsibility.” I take issue with this statement on many levels. The concept of equality has spread somewhat throughout the film industry over the years and there are many working female pornography producers and directors who make hetero porn aimed at men and women. (www.pornmoviesforwomen.com) The burden of equality, whether it has come to full fruition or exists in theory, is that we all become responsible for its upkeep. I have great respect and admiration for the suffragettes who starved themselves in work camps to get us the right to vote here in America. While we now have the equal vote, it becomes my responsibility to make an informed choice for our political leadership every year. It is also our responsibility as women and feminists, different though we may be, to make the world as safe as we can for our fellow women.”

Translation: I LIKE THIS AND IT’S MY CHOICE THEREFORE IT’S FEMINISTZZZ!!!!!!!!111!!!

No seriously, don’t you realise your choices effect more womyn than just you? I’d love to know what you think of the womyn across the globe who have their rapes filmed, sold to the U.S and other international markets and get not a cent in return. Except for maybe a smack in the face, if she’s lucky that stupid whore. { / sarcasm }

“Of course feminists are doing something about it. But the tendency on this and other forums to verbally berate any men who enter and speak, to accuse them of throwing their “male privilege” around, and not to listen and respond with maturity does nothing to educate these men and serves only to alienate them. We are also frequently disrespecting each other here. I think if we want to make a claim that our discussion here is for educational purposes, then we have to educate those who are in denial that a problem exists with patience and not contempt; and we have to be able to offer suggestions on how to help.”

IMHO translation: OMFGZ WHAT ABOUT THE MENZzzzZZZ!!!111

“And how do you know that FCM isn’t a lawmaker? How do you know that other commenters here aren’t lawmakers?”

Because this is the internet.

“I mentioned this on my renewal form to the ACLU. “No Porn Actors Were Harmed in the Making of this Film.” Would this be a possible way of monitoring/regulating the health and safety of the women on porn sets? Then porn consumers could look for the “cruelty-free” designation on the video box or on Web sites, much the same way I look for the cruelty-free symbol on the health and beauty care items I buy so I know no animal underwent painful testing for my shampoo, etc.”

Yeah that’s all well and good but you have to remember the vast amount of humanity are fucked up , stupid, selfish arseholes who do not give a rats about the wellbeing of another. Why do you think so many people still eat meat?

@FCM


This makes equating us to animals in this discussion extremely misogynic, even if the intent was woman-positive.

yeah, i noticed that too loretta. and BTW i fucking hate jessica valenti. i will follow those links later, if i can get upn the mental and emotional strength.”

Yeah Valenti gives me the angry verbal shits too.

@Laurelin

“As far as I’m concerned, radical feminism means believing that men are fully functioning human beings who are able to change their behaviour and stop raping or supporting rape. It means men are moral agents, capable of doing right and not compelled by some force to do wrong.

That is the exact opposite of hating men.”

Seconded!

P.S sorry if any of this comes off as too harsh or rude because I’ve run out of my medication (not having a licence making getting it more difficult) and my bullshit tolerance is way too low and I am much too angry, honey. Oh the joys of PTSD & Borderline

58. thebeardedlady - November 29, 2009

So, you see, none of this is abstract to me. This is the results of paternalism and patriarchy. If my feminism is different than yours, then I hope mine prevails because it is important for women to be free of “protection” that is too often turned against them.

Well said. Me too, Loretta. It’s not abstract to me, either. I see the effects of paternalism and patriarchy in my own life, every day, and even inside my own mind, I’m not completely free. I too have experienced many, many instances of violence and oppression at the hands of men. I believe, like Laurelin said, that men can and should do better, and with all of you that radical feminism is the only feminism that actually strives to protect women, giving us a language to speak with that is wholly our own, and giving us frameworks within which we are able to resist oppression, both in theory and practice.

One of the great things about radical feminism is the insistence on critical thinking. We can always learn more, gain a deeper understanding, work through the logic of something. When your ‘feminism’ is based on personal feelings and an ‘anything goes’ philosophy, I don’t really call that feminism at all. I think it’s just part of the backlash against feminism, seeking to re-define it in terms of ’empowerment’, as in ‘women are empowered to be in porn, express their sexuality through being in porn,’, ‘women are equal because they spend more money on shoes’, etc. There is no consideration or love there for other women, only constantly trying to prove to men that they are ‘fun’ and non-threatening.

FCM, I agree with everything you said. I wish I was half as articulate and insightful as you and the other rad fems who comment on your blog. I appreciate that MRA language is not tolerated here.

59. femspotter - November 29, 2009

Loretta, I will examine the material you mentioned. My theories come from reading Freud, Foucault, Lacan, Sedgewick, Zimmerman and LeBlanc. I am a queer theorist and I am working on my English/Cinema dissertation. I appreciate the added reading material. Thanks again. I apologize for getting too emotional to listen.

factcheckme - November 29, 2009


FCM, I agree with everything you said. I wish I was half as articulate and insightful as you and the other rad fems who comment on your blog.


YOU ARE, TBL. seriously. i appreciate all your comments, and i am sure i am not the only one. but thanks for the compliment, and thanks for posting and participating!

60. berryblade - November 29, 2009

@FCM & TBL

Just stop it, the both of you. You’re both bloody brilliant and deserve over 9000 gold stars and points.
😀

61. berryblade - November 29, 2009

Also, sorry for double posting BUT

femspotter, you being a “queer theorist” explains *everything* IMHO

All I will add is Freud rhymes with Fraud for a reason. But that many seriously had a good thing going prescribing coke to people hahahahhahahahahhahaha

factcheckme - November 29, 2009

LOL yeah really, FCM and TBL. GET A ROOM YOU TWO!

62. rmott62 - November 29, 2009

As a survivor of prostitution and being used in “amateur” porn (which for the average prostituted woman is being filmed whilst sadistic sex is done, and not being paid) – I have little or no problem with believing that the vast majority of porn is filmed rape.

Most men that choose to view porn on a regular basis want to see women being degraded, raped and treated as sub-humans.
Some may start with the “light” stuff, but if they get addicted or think it is their right to watch porn, they soon turn to porn that depicts women as things to be dominated and preferably hurt very badly.

As an exited prostituted woman, I know in my mind, my body and my essence that porn is not harm-free.
Part of the “job” of being prostituted is to there for men to pour all their porn fantasies on a living woman or girl.

As for consent in porn, for the majority of “actors” that is a sick joke.
A great many actors in porn come from a long histories of sexual violence in their lives, many were abused from childhood onwards. Many actors in porn are moved from other parts of the sex trade, and are under the control of pimps or managers. Many actors have lost all hope or ability to understand the world outside of the sex trade.

In that environment, of course, the actors will look “happy”, their whole life is made of being roles. Pretending to be a porn queen, is just another one.

I was filmed being gang-raped, as they filmed they posed my body better for the “money shots”. I may of even smiled.
I was filmed during such sadistic sex that I lost consciousness. But it could be edited to look clean and like it was just fun.

I have no problem in banning porn – coz women and girls are being raped for it, women and girls are getting severe STDs for it, women and girls are getting extreme trauma because of it, and women and girls are killing themselves or being murdered because of it.
Maybe a few women are “happy” making porn or being in it. But is their pleasure to be put above the massive waste of lives of far too many women and girls.

Each time you look at porn, you must 100% sure you know the full life of the actor – know she has not survived child abuse, know she is not being forced to do as part of prostitution, know it is not rape to her, know she does look “happy” because she is really dead inside.
Only then can you watch porn with a free conscience.

63. Loretta Kemsley - November 29, 2009

@femspotter

First: never apologize for who you are or what you feel if it is genuine. Women need to stop apologizing for traits and emotions that patriarchy deems inappropriate. Apologizing for them simply mires us deeper in patriarchal disapproval of our essential being. It is the patriarchs that need to apologize, not us.

As to any label, I tend to resist them. Labels are self-limiting. The label of queer theorist seems an oxymoron to me because it essentially means you believe in fluidity of being, yet the label itself builds a barrier around that fluidity. I’m not saying it is invalid. I’m just using it to illustrate my objections to labels in general.

I cannot fathom how a feminist can reconcile Freud with her feminism. I far prefer to look to the archetypes of Jung.

Nevertheless, we are near in our interpretations. My approach is different than yours because I refuse to participate in patriarchy. As long as you fight against the rigid gender roles demanded by the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam), you maintain your presence within the gendered straitjacket monotheist patriarchy created. Prior to monotheism, women were honored by the sacred feminine, even within polytheist patriarchies. However, moving beyond that into matriarchal goddess beliefs expands our sexuality into the norms you seek.

Lao Tzu inspires me, especially his thoughts on water. Water flows around, under, over and through the barriers in its path. It is the softest of elements and the most powerful. It is both nurturer and destroyer. It creates life in a barren desert and destroys life along its flood path. When it arrives at its destination, the ocean, it rises in another form to begin again. From ocean, to vapor, to rain, to stream, to river, to ocean, it forms and reforms in rhythm to nature and to the universe, as expressed by the restless tides being in sync with lunar forces.

We are 98% water. We are as fluid as it is. We live in rhythm with the earth, in cycles inspired by other forces. We are all that water is, including both creative and destructive.

When we dissolve our perception of Self as separate from the rest of existence, we experience that fluidity. For someone like myself who holds nature as sacred and our sexuality as sacred and our feminine essence as sacred, it is an honor to let my Self become absorbed by Wisdom, the eternal expression of the sacred feminine.

Philosophy literally means, “Lover of Wisdom.” Sophia was the Greek name for Wisdom. She was their concept combining intellect (Logos, the word, masculine) and nature (Pneunma, breath, inspiration, feminine).

Wisdom is also the goddess of creation as described in Proverbs 8 where she speaks in first person.

Until Heraclitus, Greek philosophy centered around the concept that we are one with all that exists. They envisioned the universe as never changing. He rejected that. Here are some of his thoughts based on his philosophy of eternal change:

“All things are in flux; the flux is subject to a unifying measure or rational principle. This principle (logos, the hidden harmony behind all change) bound opposites together in a unified tension, which is like that of a lyre, where a stable harmonious sound emerges from the tension of the opposing forces that arise from the bow bound together by the string”

“The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny – it is the light that guides your way.”

“To be evenminded is the greatest virtue. Wisdom is to speak the truth and act
in keeping with its nature.”

“Wisdom is the oneness of mind that guides and permeated all things.”

“You cannot step twice into the same river for other waters are continually flowing on.”

As an expression of Wisdom, I am water. I flow. I Am

64. thebeardedlady - November 29, 2009

rmott62, I thought your comments were really powerfully expressed and very convincing.

I said previously in this thread that I wouldn’t necessarily support a ban on pornography because I worry that a ban would result in even less protection for women in porn. I note you are in favour of a ban, which persuades me that perhaps I’m wrong about this. As you say, women and girls are being raped and killed for it.

I wonder what other people think – do you support an outright ban, and would it be better if porn was totally criminalised?

65. Loretta Kemsley - November 29, 2009

We cannot ban porn. It is protected free speech per SCOTUS.

When we consider banning it, we have to consider the implications too. If we manage to pass a constitutional amendment limiting free speech in order to ban it, then we will limit other speech too. Is that what we want? Given that women have been denied the right to participate in public discourse for centuries, now would not be a good time to advocate for banning that right.

If we want to ban it based on sexual content, then what other part of sexual expression would also be banned? Again, we’ve just fought to have the right to define and control our own sexuality, so is now a good time to advocate against that?

As to criminality, if we’re speaking of violence inflicted upon women, that we can address. Much of it probably is already addressed in existing penal codes even if they have not been applied. However, would that stop the practices? Probably not. Porn can be produced anywhere in the world and sold anywhere else. What would stop a company from simply moving their production to a state or country that would be willing to look the other way while they continued to abuse women?

The only true deterent to harmful speech is more speech. That is what changes minds and inspires people to think about what their dollars are financing. Everyone who is participating or reading here will come away with a new way of thinking about porn whether or not they agree with each other. The discussion has inspired new thought and, hopefully, will inspire new consciousness of the harm caused by the act of buying porn. Whether that will translate into fewer dollars spent on porn by each individual is up to the individual. However, the ideas presented here will definitely accompany them to the cash register each time they consider purchasing a video.

66. rmott62 - November 29, 2009

Of course when you inside the sadistic parts of the sex trade – which is the mass of it – it very hard to not want it banned, and often want to have it wipe off the face of the earth – if you have lucky enough to survive relatively intact.
So as a survivor, I fight with a passion to rid the world of porn and prostitution, not for any moral reasons. But because I do not believe it is making a whole class of women and girls into sex slaves and that the world choose to ignore this.

In porn and prostitution, it is normal for the women and girls to lose basis human right.
You have no right to dignity, when any man can and will use you as his personal living sex toy.
You have no right to safety, when any man will and does rape and that is named that as your “job”, where being brutally beaten up is just another role you must do, no safety when the sex trade is built on making profit through sadistic sex and other brutalisation of the goods that are real women and girls.
There is no freedom of thought, when the sex trade will brainwash the goods to accept the unacceptable – and of course it is expected that we must smile and say loudly how happy we are.

That is why I fight to abolish porn and prostitution, for I believe that whilst it exists we are letting a whole class of women and girls be made sub-humans, and refusing them human rights.

But I am dreamer, and will dream bloody hard.

67. rmott62 - November 30, 2009

Although I agree with nearly everything that Loretta Kemsley, as a non-American, I find the defence of porn as “free speech” quite surreal.

In much of porn and a great deal of prostitution, pimps and managers used the excuse of free speech and we must never censor them ever, to get away with plain and simple torture of women and girls.
If this same type of torture is done to men, the same people who say that the sex trade should have freedom of speech, would be campaigning in Amnesty International or fighting to end those tortures.

Most tortures that are used as a political weapon against men, are the daily experiences of the women and girls in the sex trade.

Where is Amnesty in closed brothels where women are raped and sexually tortured until they lose the will to live.
Where is Amnesty as Hustler does articles and images that promote the sexual torture of women and girls.
Why do all governments turn a blind eye to violent and hate-fuel porn all over the net.

For me porn is not about free speech, it is the speech of hate.
Like race-hate speech, porn does and will means there is real violence. It is just with porn, too many choose to ignore that in the production there is often rape and degradation, choose to dismiss if a porn-user copy it’s words and images to do sexual violence.

Women and girls in the sex trade do no have the luxury of free speech. They will always be my priority.

Sorry to double-post.

68. Loretta Kemsley - November 30, 2009

We have to be clear what is and is not covered under free speech in the US.

Actual violence is not free speech, thus rape and sexual torture is not covered by the first amendment. It is a crime and can be prosecuted.

But discussing rape and sexual torture is considered free speech by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)

I agree. It is hate speech. So is the Klu Klux Klan advocating violence against Jews and Blacks. Their hate speech is also allowed under the first amendment.

The only way to change this is to pass a constitutional amendment, which is not an easy task. It must first be written and passed by Congress, then ratified by 38 of the states. We couldn’t get the Equal Rights Amendment passed because it fell short by three states.

Getting one passed that affect free speech would be even harder because no matter how carefully it is worded, it could be used to silence people who were not the intended target.

For instance, is women discussing the violence inflicted upon them by men hate speech? Misogynists would argue that it is. They make that argument every day on forums all over the Internet. Women are routinely harassed, victimized by sexual slurs and other negative reactions when they speak out in public. Public speech has historically been reserved for men because public discourse was considered a man’s domain.

We used to have laws that prevented women from speaking in public. Even when there wasn’t a specific law preventing it, other laws were used to punish women, like the suffragettes, who dared to argue in public for women’s rights. But some laws were specifically aimed at silencing women, not just in politics but in everyday life. Women were prevented from holding office or obtaining a law license, both of which are considered as requiring public speech.

Women (but not men) could be charged with the crime of being a “common scold.”

The penalty was to be placed in a scold’s bridle, which was an iron cage that enclosed her head and had a shank that was inserted into her mouth. The milder shanks simply held her tongue down so she could not speak. But some shanks had spikes on them and reached back into the woman’s throat. A chain was attached to the cage so she could be led around town by it. When the chain was jerked, the shank could break her teeth and jaw. It could also cause severe lacerations on her palate, tongue and throat. If it protruded into her throat, it also caused unlimited vomiting.

Another penalty was to be strapped in a chair on a trestle and dunked repeatedly in the nearest lake or harbor. Before she was dunked, the “scold” was paraded through town, sometimes with her bottom bared, while people ridiculed her. She could also be tied in the town square where people could again ridicule her and even spit on her.

The last common scold conviction was in 1971. A woman argued with two men over a parking space. Her conviction was eventually overturned, as was the law. Scold laws were brought to America from England.

As I said, women have to be careful when advocating a limitation on free speech because their speech will be the first speech affected in a society that believes women are lesser than men.

I blog under the name “an uncommon scold” to honor the women who were brutally silenced through all the centuries. Even though they knew they faced torture for simply speaking their mind, they still courageously spoke and, in speaking, helped endow women of today their right to speak freely without fear of criminal penalty.

factcheckme - November 30, 2009

thanks for that, loretta. i would also add that womens health information would also be the first to go, because anything discussing the breasts (for example) would be considered sexual, and anything discussing menstrauation would be considered obscene. dont forget who would be enforcing these laws, afterall. MEN. who would be pretty fucking pissed about having lost their porn to the evil wimmins.

69. Loretta Kemsley - November 30, 2009

Speech about women’s health is already being censored.

Schools employ software that prevents students from accessing porn. All words that describe women’s reproductive health on are the lists this software uses, which means that girls and college women cannot access sites that discuss their reproductive health, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and National Health Institute (NHI).

During the Bush years, valid medical information concerning women’s reproductive health was removed from both the CDC and NHI. Some of it was replaced by deliberately false statements like “abortion causes breast cancer.” Doctors employed by the government were restricted from disseminating correct information in their public speeches. Laws have been passed that prevent doctors from providing medically accurate information concerning abortion.

So women are already suffering from restrictions on free speech concerning their reproductive rights. This isn’t a new problem either. In the 1850s, the Comstock Law took effect at the federal level. It’s stated purpose was to prevent the dissemination of their version of porn (sexually explicit photos or text). However, it was used to block the dissemination of medical information concerning birth control and abortion, which was its true intent. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was convicted and sentenced under the Comstock Law.

Comstock was a Catholic who managed to encode his Catholic beliefs into law.

70. rmott62 - November 30, 2009

Of course, you are right. It is just the pain of not having language that is adequate the true horrors of surviving the sex trade can make want massive change.

I suppose I find “freedom of speech” a surreal concept, for the vast majority of women and girls have speech stolen from them – or much worse they are forced to speak the words that those who will destroy them want.

To me, that is where women who named themselves as feminists need to stand up and speak loudly for these women and girls who have been silenced and are threatened with violence if they do speak.

There are some very brave exited women from the sex trade that speak out – but the cost to them is immense.
The sex trade is furious with these women – who dare to be alive and sane enough to speak against the sex trade.

As an exited woman, who made the decision to speak out, I live with constant and relentless attacks from the sex trade and it’s supporters.
The sex trade does believe any woman who was under their control can ever have the right to free speech.

They portrays us as mentally ill, so that our words can be dismissed or ridiculed.
They say we just speak “sad stories”, but it was just our bad luck or we were weak.
They we were all abused as children, which in their world view means we don’t know what good sex is.
They say we are religious freaks.
They say we just hate men, and hate sex.
It is endless how the sex trade spends so much energy on the few exited women who dare to speak out.

For the bottom line is, we were not meant to have survive the sex trade with the ability to speak out.
The sex trade is built on that the vast majority of the women that go through it will leave with too much trauma to speak their truths – and of course, a great many women and girls will died through suicide or murder.

That is why I believe freedom of speech is a luxury for most women in or out of the sex trade.

So, I agree man-made laws will nothing to improve the conditions of the vast majority of women and girls in the sex trade, especially giving them a voice that will be heard.

I suppose if feminists could speak louder and with clarity about the conditions in the sex trade, that would ease my heart a little.

factcheckme - November 30, 2009

rmott62, as always, i appreciate your posting here, and what you have to say. and i agree with your assessment that “free peach!” historically benefits men over women, and this instance really is no different. mens rights are always more important than womens. and mens rights (and their very vocal defense of same) to speech, sex, porn, and female servitude will always carry the day. i would just clarify though that in the US there is not going to be a legal solution to the problem of porn per se. there are already laws in place regarding human trafficking, rape, and workplace safety that need to be ENFORCED. if we arent even enforcing the laws we already have, what makes anyone think that writing new laws that also wont be enforced is the solution?

and, the thing about writing laws is that there are always unintended consequences. in this case, outlawing porn would also serve to outlaw womens health information, and as loretta points out may even render womens speaking out against and describing their own sexual victimization illegal! thats not what we want. we need to therefore distinguish what makes porn “different” from these things, and outlaw the things that make it different. and those things that make porn different from sexually-oriented material that is educational or beneficial in some way (human trafficking and rape) are ALREADY illegal, in almost every case.

its not a perfect solution, and it wont be a quick or easy solution either. in fact, it absolutely enrages me that we have to do this, becuase it should GO WITHOUT SAYING. but unfortunately, it doesnt. so what radcial feminists are doing is educating the consumer to what they are actually buying into, when they support the industry, and making them understand the rape-mentality that they are displaying when they watch something that could be rape, and they dont care. most people probably dont see it that way, but that point has been made over and over. and we need to work on getting the existing laws enforced, which will only ever happen if rape and all mens violence against women is taken seriously. again, this is where the radfems have always done their best work.

i too would like to see more done as you say, to speak up loudly for the women who have been silenced. i think we shoud talk about this more. whats already being done on this front, and what more can we do? i am going to look into this some more. shelley lubben’s “pink cross foundation” is one anti-porn charity, thats trying to do just that. she has womens testimonials up on her website and blog. there must be others.

71. Laurelin - November 30, 2009

“outlawing porn would also serve to outlaw womens health information, and as loretta points out may even render womens speaking out against and describing their own sexual victimization illegal!”

I think it does depend how the laws are framed, though. The definition of porn in the Mackinnon-Dworkin ordinance was very good. I wish that had passed.

72. rmott62 - November 30, 2009

I do agree that we do not need more laws and we need to enforce existing laws to the benefit of women and girls in the sex trade.

I think part of what I write comes from a place of extreme trauma, which the usual aftermath of surviving the sex trade. That means I get very frustrated at the lack care and action to undermine the cruelty of the sex trade.

Personally I am surprise I spoke about banning, for like many prostituted laws have betrayed me over and over, and been used to protect johns or users of porns, or the profiteers of the sex trade.
So, I withdraw that I call for banning of porn, for that would just be used as another way to attack women. Please know I said it from a grief and pain, not with a wise head.

I have been reading Suki Falconberg, who is a journalist and academic, also an exited prostituted woman. I find her very inspiring.
Andrea Dworkin wrote amazing stuff on her views and experiences of prostitution.

factcheckme - November 30, 2009

mackinnon is a lawyer and law professor, so i am sure she came up with the best-possible wording. what was it? i will look it up myself later, but if you have it on hand, would you consider linking or copying it here? thanks.

73. Laurelin - November 30, 2009
factcheckme - November 30, 2009

rmott62, if i could ban it today, i would. i dont think you are wrong to want it banned. and i dont think that discussions about trafficked and raped women should be “unemotional” at all. we need to hear from people who have been there, and from people who are afraid of ending up there, and these voices are almost always going to women, and they are almost always going to be traumatized. only a man would tell someone that if its bad enough to upset you, its not worth talking about. thats usually because they are the ones who are causing the upset, so its very convenient (for them) to discount “emotional women”.

factcheckme - November 30, 2009

thanks laurelin!

PS. nom chompsky is here trying to post under YET ANOTHER handle. nom chomsky2. GO AWAY NOM CHOMPSKY. NOW. nom is the one who i ahve already banned twice (this is #3) and he wrote a disturbingly inadequate “rebuttal” to my rape-porn article on his blog, (the fine print of college life..WTF?) where he allowed his douchebag fratboy posters to insult me, and defend their right to their SEXXAY! how…unoriginal. yawn.

74. Laurelin - November 30, 2009

“he wrote a disturbingly inadequate “rebuttal” to my rape-porn article on his blog, (the fine print of college life..WTF?) where he allowed his douchebag fratboy posters to insult me, and defend their right to their SEXXAY! ”

A group of fratboys picking on a female blogger for objecting to rape culture? Wow what big impressive men! My knees are weak! Nothing cowardly or pathetic there, no sir!

75. Laurelin - November 30, 2009

When male bloggers keep coming back to insult me after I’ve told them to fuck off and that I won’t publish their drivel, I can’t help but get the feeling that they’re refusing to listen to my ‘no’.

76. rmott62 - November 30, 2009

I have found two quotes from Catherine MacKinnon from “Francis Biddle’s Sister: Pornography, Civil Rights and Speech” 1984 in “Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law” 1987.

“Show me an abuse of women in society; I’ll show it to you made sex in the porn. If you want to know who is being hurt in this society, go see what is being done and to whom in porn and then go look for them other places in the world.”

“We are, stripped of authority and reduced and devaluated and silenced. Silenced here means that the purposes of the First Amendment premised upon conditions presumed and promoted by protecting free speech, do not pertain to women because they are not our conditions. Consider them: individual self-fulfilment. To how does porn promote our individual self-fulfilment? How does sexual inequality even permit it? Even if she can form words, who listen to a woman with a penis in her mouth.”

factcheckme - November 30, 2009


When male bloggers keep coming back to insult me after I’ve told them to fuck off and that I won’t publish their drivel, I can’t help but get the feeling that they’re refusing to listen to my ‘no’.


yup. he (and others) did the same thing on the porn-is-rape thread, whilst explaining to me “their” versions of the concept of “consent.” ironic, no?

factcheckme - November 30, 2009

ZOMG! youtube is down….WTF?

77. Loretta Kemsley - December 1, 2009

The men who are abusive online display the same abusive traits of men who are violent in person. That’s probably why they become more aggressive the less that women want to discuss things with them. The root of domestic violent is the abuser’s feeling of inadequacy. How much more inadequate must they feel when they cannot stop women from expressing an opinion using nothing more than a keyboard.

They are so used to being able to define and control the women in their lives, that they have a hard time accepting that women on the Internet cannot be silenced. That is why I liked Valenti’s idea that the Internet is the next stage of feminism. It is something I’ve felt for a long while. There are no gatekeepers on the Internet to silence women. Not men who terrorize women in their homes and not men who control the publishing houses.

Every time I hear about how the media or the publishing industry is in trouble because of the Internet, I cheer. The sooner they lose the dominant control of what we hear or read, the better off women will be.

“In a nominally egalitarian society the ideal situation (socially speaking) is one in which the members of the ‘wrong’ groups have the freedom to engage in literature (or equally significant activities) and yet do not do so, thus proving that they can’t. But, alas, give them the least real freedom and they will do it. The trick thus becomes to make the freedom as nominal a freedom as possible and then-since some of the so-and-so’s will do it anyway-develop various strategies for ignoring, condemning, or belittling the artistic works that result. If properly done, these strategies result in a social situation in which the ‘wrong’ people are (supposedly) free to commit literature, art, or whatever, but very few do, and those who do (it seems) do it badly, so we can all go home to lunch. -Joanna Russ How to Suppress Women’s Writing

factcheckme - December 1, 2009

orlando is back yet again, acknowledging that hes been spammed, but returning anyway to demand that i accept *his* notion of consent. do these men know what irony even means? and that being unintentionally ironic is, like, totally embarassing?

78. Loretta Kemsley - December 2, 2009

Does he realize that men don’t get to define women’s “consent”? That’s what every rapist wants to do: claim his idea of “consent” is valid, thus he doesn’t have to go to jail for raping her.

factcheckme - December 2, 2009

exactly right loretta. no man is going to define “consent” in a way that does not benefit him, and all men. no man wants to go to prison for rape…even when they have, in fact, raped.

factcheckme - December 2, 2009

i have a new post up, for anyone who is interested. watch the video at the end if you need a good laugh. it actually made me LOL.

79. Miska - December 17, 2009

Does he realize that men don’t get to define women’s “consent”? That’s what every rapist wants to do: claim his idea of “consent” is valid, thus he doesn’t have to go to jail for raping her.

Grr! I just had this exact same argument with a dude over in the non-feminist internet.

And it works for the sexism argument too. We say that something is sexist or oppressive, and men are like “Nooo that doesn’t constitute oppression because blah blah etc”.

Sorry – men don’t get to decide what constitutes female oppression, because if they had their way nothing would be considered oppressive! It would all be considered “for our own good” and “natural”. Just like how it has been for the last 2000+ years.

FCM, I’m several weeks too late for this thread, but I thought those Shelley Lubben videos were a really good way to illustrate the disparity between the way sex-poz personal narratives are accepted, but ones that don’t gel nicely with this are dismissed. You certainly have a knack for hunting down excellent vids to illustrate your points!

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

miska, thanks for posting. i am glad that the videos were helpful for someone besides myself. i noticed that there was virtually NO ATTENTION PAID to her testimony on this thread, or the point of sex-positiveness being largely counterproductive for born-women. as always, the transactivists turned the conversation into something about themselves. as always, this is telling. but i am glad that the message got through, for those who were open to hearing it.

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

as much as i hate kate harding and her trans-cult lately, i thought i would post a link here to an excellent article she had a few weeks ago entitled “schroedingers rapist”. for some reason, the trans crew didnt take it personally, but they should have. any transwoman that laments her inability to use the womens restroom (lest she be RAPED by the MEN in the MENS ROOM) should read this article, and consider the source: kate harding. someone they trust isnt TRANSPHOBIC.

basically it goes like this: you have no way of knowing if a man (even one in a dress) is a fucking rapist UNTIL HE ATTACKS YOU. No. way. of. knowing. UNILHEATTACKSYOU. being on guard against all men, therefore, is NOT trans fucking phobic.

http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%e2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%e2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/


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