…Is also a reposting of my first lj post 😀 I think the only thing that has changed is that I now call “sadofascism” sadopatriarchy.
Pornography: Liberation or Oppression?
Whenever one discusses pornography, the meaning of the very word is often skewered into something miles from the true meaning of the word. Often the word is contorted into meaning sexual imagery, conjuring up images of people engaged in sexual activity, or even nudity, creating the image of an airbrushed, smiling Playboy Playmate. It’s even been defined as dirty words.
Regardless of all the verbal subterfuge, the word pornography has its roots in ancient Greece, where another of the words we hold near and dear to us comes from, democracy. Of course, being a patriarchal society, women, children, and slaves—or the vast majority of the population—had no part in this governmental system/tyranny, which many educated people are aware of. What, however, seems to draw shock and guffaws by many is that this status quo applied to sex. Women, children, and slaves—all considered deficient, inferior, and sexually desirable simultaneously by adult, free men—absorbed the sexual aggression of these men. Prostitutes were used the most. Two polar classes of prostitute existed, the courtesan—the only educated woman, the only woman allowed outside the home—and the slave-whore, the porne. Pornography is derived from the words porne, sexual slaves and graphos, (to depict in) a writing, etching, or drawing. Cameras and videos had yet to be invented, so no actual raw materials (women, children, and other slaves) had to be used. Even taking that fact aside, the pornography of the ancient Greeks had a particularly nasty character, featuring, for example, the widespread, heavily institutionalized sexual abuse of preteen boys, the gang rape of prostitutes at symposiums, and the rapes, beatings, and murders of women for fun. However, this pornography is by no means unique.
Take, for example, the work and life (they were inextricably entwined) of the Marquis de Sade, who kidnapped, tortured, raped, and murdered people, mainly female prostitutes and servants of both sexes, and wrote about it in novels back in the 1700s. He is often called a hero, a sexual liberator, or a victim of a repressive society who has a stick up its butt about sexuality. He even had Simone de Beauvoir, a feminist, apologizing for and minimizing his ugly life and work.1
Another prime example of the lionizing of sexual predators/pornographers is Larry Flynt, the founder of Hustler. In the 1998 film The People vs. Larry Flynt, Flynt is portrayed as a loving family man, devoted to his wife. In reality he sexually molested his daughters and had four wives, whom he simply abandoned and left in poverty. Also, the movie grossly distorts the pornography in Hustler. According to the movie, his “porn mag” contained non-violent, nude photos of women. However, in reality it contained “pseudo-child porn” (images of women made to look like prepubescent girls and the cartoon series entitled “Chester the Molester”), photos of Asian women bound and gagged, hanging from trees, the cover photo of a woman being fed through a meat grinder, bestiality, homophobia, and anti-Semitism.2
A third example of a pornographer, turned hero is Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, and the ensuing “empire”. From its conception in 1953, it has been viciously misogynist, warning histerically3 against the evil, gold-digging woman who would have the gall to request alimony and child support. Then, in the 60s, they began their feminist-bashing: “These chicks are our natural enemy,” wrote Hefner, “It is time we do battle with them…What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart. They are unalterably opposed to the romantic boy-girl society that Playboy promotes…Let’s go to it and make it a real winner.”4 In their nude spreads, women who aren’t celebrities are often just identified by their first name, reminiscent of the ancient Greek tradition of prostitutes only having a nickname based on bodily attributes. Playboy even publishes articles by pedophiles minimizing the trauma of child pornography and sexual abuse. Numerous articles and letters have bemoaned the “invention” of the “date rape myth.”
However, a common belief is that sexual imagery is a form of liberation. According to these sex-at-any-cost proponents, pornography is merely entertainment. But, entertainment for whom? For the woman inserting a 2-litre pop bottle into her vagina? For the woman being forced to say she likes being tied up, dominated, and slapped during sex? For the child being forced to fellate an adult man? For the man in chains, a dog collar around his neck, with another man holding the leash? For the women being called hos, portrayed as so indiscriminate in their choice of sexual partners that they’ll spread their legs for horses?5 It’s not incredibly difficult to figure out who it is entertainment for—men.
Another pro-pornography argument is that it is liberation. Bondage, maiming, sexual mutilation, rape, sex-murder, and so forth are not practices that free people. The chains, whips, and ropes African slaves were tortured with into submission did not liberate them, they enslaved them. The torture practices employed by the Nazi guards and doctors did not free the concentration and death camp inmates, they killed them, tormented them beyond reason, beyond belief. No one says that, except pro-pornographers and sadofascists.6 According to them, the mostly female Blacks and Jews are so voracious for slavery and torture, they will beg white/Aryan men to hurt them, to give them what they deserve, to give them what will cause orgasm. Generally, this type of racist-cum-misogynist pornographic hate propaganda does not hold any credibility, but your apple pie, mainstream variety of porn does.
Why is this? Why when women are harmed because they are women, is nothing wrong seen? Material glorifying the torture of racial and religious minorities are seen for the vicious lies they promote, but mainstream pornography is seen as just sex. All the impersonal sexual activities is seen by Left-wingers as good sex. The Right, of course, is against this on the “principle” that it’s a “sin.” The sin being, of course, non-marital intercourse.7 Right-wingers, strong believers in the validity of the virgin/whore dichotomy, are generally oblivious to the fact that the women in pornography (and any other sex-trade “profession”) are not evil harlots who snub their noses at all that is good and holy. Many of the women in pornography are poor, even homeless. Many have no post-secondary education, some haven’t even graduated high school, a large number are illiterate. But these aren’t stupid women. Sex-trade “work” is one of two jobs where the women make more than men. (The other is modeling.) It takes strength and life-intelligence (not academic-intelligence, though one can find both in one person) to make a living off this work, which few manage to do. It does pay far better than a lowly paid job, but the women’s careers are short lived. Generally, the “performer’s” career in this “business” lasts from their late teens to mid-twenties.
The Left, of course, makes it their goal to find the token women who make a living off “performing” in pornography and exercised some degree of choice in their becoming a masturbatory aid for men. Some, such as Nina Hartley, even call themselves feminists. This has some degree of validity. They have become criticizers of the pornography industry and seek reforms, as opposed to the radical/sex-critical feminist desire to destroy the industry. Whereas liberal or moderate feminists will seek some changes, radical/sex-critical feminists say to hell with the whole institution of male-supremacy (which pornography is a distillation of). With pro-sex feminists, anything goes as long as someone “desires” it.
When men consume pornography, they don’t look at the women in it and think/say anything that recognizes her humanity. One cannot look at pornography with the mindset that it’s speech or says something true about women or any of the other male-centred, sexist arguments for pornography and see someone as human and worthy of rights as oneself. What the consumers are seeing and thinking of is contempt for women.
1 Beauvoir is now deceased. She had written the influential, seminal, “second-wave” feminist book The Second Sex, originally published in 1954. For a short biography of de Sade, examples of his work, and critical acclaim see Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women, Chapter 3: The Marquis de Sade.
2 The film was directed by Milos Forman and produced by Oliver Stone, who are quite buddy-buddy with Flynt. See Diana Russell, “The People vs. Larry Flynt: A Feminist Critique and Protest.” at http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/Porn/rusflynt.html.
3 My own spelling of the misogynist “hysteria,” meaning “suffering of the womb”.
4 This was part of a memo leaked by secretaries for Playboy.
5 These are all actual examples of pornography on the internet.
6 Term coined by Nikki Craft as a more accurate word for sadomasochism.
7 The Right believes the only “sinful” vaginal intercourse to be non-marital. Homosexual sex, oral sex, masturbation, and other sexual activities where reproduction doesn’t have a chance to rear its head are opposed, ipso facto, especially by extreme Rightists.