Some thoughts on tattoos, porn, and respect for women

So I admit it. I’m so not up on the common vernacular these days that it wasn’t until early last year I’d ever heard of lower back tattoos on women described as “tramp stamps.”

I’ve always liked tattoos; the right tattoo on a woman can be very beautiful indeed. (The definition of “right” is highly subjective, of course, and will no doubt very from person to person. I tend to think that any tattoo involving pictures of Jesus nailed to a cross, or to anything else for that matter, or hearts with “Mother” written across them in fancy script, are not the right tattoo by any definition–but the end of the day, the only definition of ‘right’ that matters is that of the person who owns the tattoo. But I digress.

But until quite recently, I was blissfully unaware that tattoos on certain parts of the body were generally considered to be markers of questionable moral character, or that those who had tattoos were generally assumed to be sexually promiscuous.

The term ‘tramp stamp,’ as clever as it sounds (“Oooh! It rhymes! It must be true if it rhymes! If the glove don’t fit, the tramp stamp sits!” Or something) betrays what seems to me to be a very interesting idea about women. It’s a short, simple, 21st-century slang term that packages sixteenth-century ideas about sex and sexuality in a handy, bite-sized piece.

It’s hard to know where to begin. The notion that women who like sex are ‘tramps’ and therefore less worthy as human beings is pretty odious. On top of that is layered another blanket prejudice–the notion that a woman who wants to decorate a certain part of her body must necessarily be a woman who likes sex. (The tendency of human beings to invent stories in their heads to explain the motivations of other human beings, and the profound disconnect that exists between the stories we invent and the actual motivations of the people we invent these stories about, never ceases to amaze me.) Then, resting atop that like the cherry on a layer cake of stereotypes and prejudice, comes the notion that such a woman must not only enjoy sex, but be unselective about her choice of sex partners.

Now, when I first heard the expression ‘tramp stamp,’ I was like, “Okay, it rhymes, ha ha, very funny.” It’s only been recently that I’ve come to understand that there are folks who actually believe, like, for reals, that women who tattoo their backs are sexually promiscuous.


On another forum I read, there’s a conversation going on about anal sex, and specifically about whether or not there are any women who actually enjoy it.

Quite aside from the fact that I know rather a lot of women who enjoy giving it as well as receiving it (and thank God for that!), a surprising number of people maintain, often rather vigorously, that the woman who likes taking it up the ass doesn’t exist. A handful of folks opine that women do it only to please their mates, and that this makes them sad and pathetic creatures (on the idea, apparently, that doing something that makes your lover happy is one of the most stupid things any sad wretch could ever want). Those folks are merely ignorant of the full range and depth of the human sexual experience, which is sad but not surprising.

Another vocal handful, however, were unable to maintain this notion in the face of a considerable number of posters who said “Hey, I like getting jiggy up the butt!” and finally conceded that there are women whofavor anal–but then insisted that these women are inferior as human beings. One poster even wrote, I was brought up to treat woman especially lovers as on a pedestal. All this time, by these statistics I could have been treating half of them like whores.

And I think that speaks volumes, too, about the prejudices that some people carry around with thim regarding the ‘proper’ way for women to be.

It would seem that this man treats women with respect only as far as they behave the way he wants them to, and the moment they deviate from his expectations about how they should be, he tears them down off that pedestal and judges them ‘whores.’ Which is pretty fucked up, if you ask me.

I can’t quite rightly wrap my brain around the notion that a person’s value centers on the way that person acts in bed, nor around the idea that a woman who digs it up the ass, no matter what other qualities she may have as a human being, determines her eligibility for respect.

Yes, I know that there was a time when a woman’s value quite literally depended on her sex; that women were essentially bartered away by their fathers for use as breeding stock, and that in a day without paternity testing and with strict, if goofy, notions of inheritance and property rights, tracking a woman’s sexual activity was important to issues of estate. That’s also fucked up, and it hasn’t been true (at least in the First World) for…err, rather a long time now.

What baffles me is how tenaciously these ideas cling to life.

The guy who wrote the aforementioned bigoted nonsense defended this nonsense with a great deal of heat, at one point comparing anyone who thinks that anal sex is okay with the German Nazi party (I kid you not, though I seem to remember that the Nazis had their own views on anal sex, and it was probably more in line with this guy’s than he might realize).

I wrote recently that when a person holds on to some idea in the face of contradictory evidence, it’s usually because the idea is a distorted reflection of some part of that person’s underlying emotional landscape, but in this particular case I’m quite flummoxed about what that emotional landscape might be. I simply can not figure out why someone would care so passionately, and become so emotionally upset, over the notion that a bunch of women he doesn’t know and will never meet like taking a hard cock up the butt every now and then…or even don’t like teh analz, but think it’s okay if other women do.


Now we get to the part that might make some folks angry. This is the part where I say that, while musing on these notions that women who like sex are bad, women who get lower back tattoos are women who like sex, and therefore women who get lower tattoos are bad, and on the sorts of faulty wiring that can exist inside a person’s head to make him believe that a woman who likes any kind of sex that he thinks she shouldn’t like no longer deserves respect, I have reached the conclusion that there’s a certain brand of feminism that seems bent on keeping things this way.

In a completely different conversation on a completely unrelated forum, the topic came up, as it often does, about pornography and relationships. Several folks, many of whom identify as feminists, weighed in on the subject with the usual laundry list of criticisms–porn is coercive, porn is degrading to women, porn commoditizes women’s sexuality, that sort of thing. One woman even went so far as to say, without apparent irony, that she has no respect for any woman who would be in porn.

Which, to my mind, is no different from the guy who says he has no respect for any woman who would receive anal sex.

Now, I know that feminism is often sharply divided over issues of porn and sex, with some feminists ardently opposed to it and other feminists ardently in favor of it. I’ve written about my own views on the subject in the form of a parody Socratic dialog on the virtues of porn, but the woman who claimed not to be able to respect anyone who did porn brought up an entirely new absurdity in my mind–the idea that anti-porn feminists have internalized the very patriarchal ideas they claim to oppose, and as a result are swallowing the very same patriarchal ideas about women and sex that they claim to refute.

When your ideological enemy agrees with you about the proper conduct of people, in the very areas where your ideological differences lie, I think it might be time to re-evaluate your ideas.

In a sense, the anti-porn feminists are accepting the core values of patriarchy, merely dressing them in different garments. They are, in fact, accepting the notion that a woman’s sexual choices and sexual expressions should be limited, that women who make sexual choices that they don’t agree with are inferior, and that some part of a woman’s value does indeed rest on her sexuality. They are seeking to abridge both a woman’s right to choose her own sexual expression and her freedom and range of sexual action, by labeling certain forms of sexual expression off-limits.

And perhaps most ironically, the entire argument that porn is inherently objectifying and commoditizing is based on flawed assumptions.

Many anti-porn feminists argue that porn caters to men and reinforces oppressive male-centered sexual roles. Leaving aside the inconvenient fact that many, many women like porn (a fact that anti-porn feminists will often handwave away by the process of inventing stories to explain their motivations, saying things like ‘they only believe they like porn because they’ve been brainwashed by patriarchal society into accepting subservient sexual roles’–that is, when they bother to acknowledge the fact at all), in reality if you look at the most patriarchal, the most repressive, the most rigidly conservative men out there, you will see that those men don’t like porn either.

The idea that porn is the byproduct of repression and patriarchy does not stand up to scrutiny. Socially conservative men, those who most strongly subscribe to the notion of prescribed sexual roles for women, are quite often ardent opponents of porn themselves. These social conservatives–the ones who seek to control women’s sexuality and who feel that women should be ‘pure’ and ‘proper’ and stay within rigid social norms–often will go so far as to say porn should be outlawed.

In fact, the Taliban, arguably the single most sexually repressive, patriarchal, anti-woman group the world has ever seen, ruled that possession of pornography was punishable by death.

The more patriarchal a society is, the more likely that society is to prohibit porn. The more socially conservative a person is and the more a person believes that women must obey rigid gender roles, the more likely it is that that person is opposed to porn. The more threatened a person is by women expressing their sexuality in non-traditional ways, the more likely it is that that person opposes porn. Porn is the byproduct of oppressive male patriarchy? Far from it; oppressive male patriarchy despises porn, and the more strictly a society seeks to impose gender roles on its members, the more strictly that society forbids pornography!

The same holds true for religion; the more socially conservative, sexually repressive a religious doctrine is, the more vigorously that doctrine opposes pornography. Look at the Southern Baptists, whose core doctrine says that a woman’s place is to submit gracefully to the divine authority of her husband. How do you think the Southern Baptist Convention feels about pornography? (Let me give you a hint.)

It doesn’t help, of course, that nobody can even define what porn is. “I can’t define porn, but I know it when I see it,” when it comes to brass tacks, is basically nothing but a way of saying “If it makes me feel a certain way, then it must be bad. If I see something and I don’t feel that certain way, then it isn’t porn, but if it causes certain feelings in me, then it is.” Which is, I rather think, a piss-poor way of defining anything, especially for the purpose of determining if it should be socially accepted or not. (Anti-porn activist Catherine MacKinnon helped author Canada’s anti-porn laws…laws which have enough subjective wiggle room that, in practice, they are routinely applied to gay and lesbian erotica but rarely or never applied to heterosexual erotica.)


There are, it would seem, many feminists who would like to live in a progressive, egalitarian society that treats women fairly, as full and equal citizens whose standing is identical to that of men…yet at the same time like to see this society free of porn.

And I don’t think that’s even possible.

A society which respects women as the equal of men, and which does not value its members on the basis of their sexual activities, will be a society in which there is porn. The more egalitarian that society is, the more mainstream that society is likely to be, for the very simple and obvious reason that there are people who dig making porn.

One anti-porn feminist argument is that porn is coercive. And this is true, in societies that don’t accept porn. It exists in every society, without exception, even in places once ruled by the Taliban–but the more repressive a society is, the more underground the manufacture and distribution of porn becomes. When something goes underground, it tends to become corrupt, driven by the sorts of people who will abuse and coerce for profit. If the making of porn is illegal, which is what tends to happen in patriarchal societies, then the production of porn falls into the hands of criminal enterprise.

Progressive societies tend not to have this problem; there is no need to force women into porn when porn is legal, because, like I said, some people dig being in porn. The human species is vast in its range of expression, and for some folks, being filmed in bed is fun. For other folks, it’s a job, no different than any other, and a damn sight better than some. (You really want to know what objectification and exploitation is all about? Try working at a chicken processing plant, where workers, often poor or minority women, may be forced to wear diapers or piss their pants because their bosses refuse to let them leave the line to use the bathroom.)

Point is, people do, and enjoy, different things. Some women like tattoos. Some women like taking naughty pictures of themselves. Some women like being filmed for Gang Bang All Stars VII. That’s all a normal and natural part of human expression, and like it or not, castigating entire classes of people or valuing them less because they do things that you don’t like does not empower women, nor serve in the interests of freeing women from social constraints on their range of action.

Respect, real respect, must include respecting folks whose choices aren’t like yours, so long as they do not seek to impose those choices on others. This is a test which the Taliban, the Southern Baptists, the folks who label women who like lower back tattoos as ‘tramps,’ and the anti-porn feminists all fail.

254 thoughts on “Some thoughts on tattoos, porn, and respect for women

  1. Thank you for this post. I consider myself very feminist but I’m continually infuriated by many radfems’ willingness to disdain, disapprove of and patronize other women for their sexual preferences and practices — there’s a well-known radfem blogger who seriously and publicly derided women who “submitted” to anal sex (I believe the term “anal apologist” came up?) and also implied, bogglingly, that no woman would truly like giving a blowjob. Which is obvious hogwash; what I’m less dismayed at is that idiots like this exist (which is inevitable on the internet) and more dismayed that large portions of the feminist movement still take them seriously.

    Slut-shaming is an old and tired old anthem of oppression and hate. I don’t know why that sector of self-proclaimed feminists is so eager to take up singing along with social conservatives.

    • The wording of “no woman would truly like giving a blowjob” is intended to shut down debate and be an unfalsifiable statement.

      If everyone nods their head and gravely intones “Yes, it is so”, then the person who said that can feel good about being right. If a woman pipes up and says “Actually, I think it’s pretty fun”, then they can feel good about showing that poor deluded soul it’s not really enjoyable, and anyone who disagrees has been mindwiped by the patriarchy.

      Claiming to have more access to another persons mental state than they do is just about the most condescending thing I can imagine, and doesn’t strike me as a particularly good way to increase their freedom if they believe the claim. If, on the other hand, one is trying to cultivate an army of sycophants….

      Then again, I’m hearing this thirdhand and ranting about it, so what do I know about good argument?

  2. Thank you for this post. I consider myself very feminist but I’m continually infuriated by many radfems’ willingness to disdain, disapprove of and patronize other women for their sexual preferences and practices — there’s a well-known radfem blogger who seriously and publicly derided women who “submitted” to anal sex (I believe the term “anal apologist” came up?) and also implied, bogglingly, that no woman would truly like giving a blowjob. Which is obvious hogwash; what I’m less dismayed at is that idiots like this exist (which is inevitable on the internet) and more dismayed that large portions of the feminist movement still take them seriously.

    Slut-shaming is an old and tired old anthem of oppression and hate. I don’t know why that sector of self-proclaimed feminists is so eager to take up singing along with social conservatives.

  3. Oooh! It rhymes! It must be true if it rhymes!
    -nods solemnly- Wise words.

    The guy who wrote the aforementioned bigoted nonsense defended this nonsense with a great deal of heat, at one point comparing anyone who thinks that anal sex is okay with the German Nazi party
    Godwin’s law.

    (I kid you not, though I seem to remember that the Nazis had their own views on anal sex, and it was probably more in line with this guy’s than he might realize).
    I thought there was a lot of sodomy in the SS?

  4. Oooh! It rhymes! It must be true if it rhymes!
    -nods solemnly- Wise words.

    The guy who wrote the aforementioned bigoted nonsense defended this nonsense with a great deal of heat, at one point comparing anyone who thinks that anal sex is okay with the German Nazi party
    Godwin’s law.

    (I kid you not, though I seem to remember that the Nazis had their own views on anal sex, and it was probably more in line with this guy’s than he might realize).
    I thought there was a lot of sodomy in the SS?

  5. Okay, here’s one for you to chew on. I’m curious what you’ll make of it.

    I’m sure, once or twice, you’ve run across a woman or two who rather got off on being called names in a sexual situation. Who’da thunk it?

    Thing is, if there was this absolute acceptance across of the board of what got you off, where would be the emotional impact, perhaps the fun of the “naughtiness” of being talked to that way?

    • I have a number of lovers who get off on precisely this, but I’m not really convinced that its power would be diminished if women’s non-traditional sexual behavior were widely accepted.

      Speaking only for myself, as a person who also likes his partners to say these things, for me the emotional power doesn’t come from the taboo nature of the actions or the names I’m being called in society, but rather from the perception of objectification by my partner. In other words, it’s not that I’m in a position that’s socially taboo; it’s that I’m in a position where my partner is expressing that she’s treating me as a sexual object. And that’s something that’s still possible even if social taboos were to disappear.

  6. Okay, here’s one for you to chew on. I’m curious what you’ll make of it.

    I’m sure, once or twice, you’ve run across a woman or two who rather got off on being called names in a sexual situation. Who’da thunk it?

    Thing is, if there was this absolute acceptance across of the board of what got you off, where would be the emotional impact, perhaps the fun of the “naughtiness” of being talked to that way?

  7. A friend of mine knows someone who has a lower back tattoo that says “HARDER” in gothic blackletter font. It appears to be the general consensus among my friends that this is amusing and shows considerable good humor and a positive attitude towards sex on the part of the person with the tatoo.

    I do have a minor semantic quibble, though, with the lines:
    “If the making of porn is illegal, which is what tends to happen in patriarchal societies, then the production of porn falls into the hands of criminal enterprise.

    Progressive societies tend not to have this problem…”

    The opposite of patriarchal is matriarchal, not progressive.

      • I think a “strictly” anything society is, by definition, oppressive. Any society where a given section of the society is forbidden from engaging in an action permitted to the rest of the society is oppressing that portion of the society.

      • Me, I think that people are people, and whenever one group of people has the upper hand, regardless if that group is male or female, oppression tends to follow in direct measure to hop completely the favored group keeps the upper hand.

          • Meh. The Dems don’t have a supermajority, so they can’t ride roughshod over their political adversaries willy-nilly.

            I would, though, like to see more diversity in the US government. In my ideal world, there’d be more than two major parties, and a good number of independents in both houses. (I like independents. I often vote for independents in local and state elections.)

          • Our governmental system isn’t designed for that. In a “winner takes all” system even if another party gained power it would just supplant one of the existing two. Look at the early years of this country’s formation and the political parties back then and you’ll see it’s always been this way.

            In order to do that we’d need to have a parliamentary system.

          • A parliamentary system might be preferable to the one e have now. The more time goes on, the more I become convinced that a winner-takes-all electoral system is not a good idea.

            The down side of many parliamentary systems in practice is that they end up getting too fragmented, and as a result governments stand only for as long as inter-party coalitions hold, and collapse as soon as they don’t. I can see what the people who set our system up were trying to avoid.

            Seems like we should be able to find a system that incorporates the stability of ours with a more even representation like you might see in a parliamentary system, though.

          • It might help to simply outlaw electoral vote pooling, but that gets to an issue of State rights. In and of itself, that will only affect the POTUS. I postulate it would cause a greater emphasis on indie voting for POTUS, and therefore in other Federal elections.

            I’m right there with you on voting for independants. The downside is that we need an educated electorate to see when an outsider is incompetant vs. when the two parties are just cock blocking him (e.g. Ventura). I think the Millennials(aka the Naughties) are more politically educated and active than any generation since the 60s, so this might be self correcting.

            Was it Lincoln that quipped “A good democracy needs a revolution every 200 years”? Looking for that, I came across this:

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sanjiv-gupta/masters-of-the-universe-i_b_133062.html

            I’m still hopeful that our new leadership can make some fundemental changes to mitigate that for the next decade or two πŸ˜‰ Make no mistake, any set of rules is a game, and there will always be gamesmen.

      • As a matter of fact, a particular tribe (that I can’t remember the name of right now – I think somewhere in the Pacific Islands) that was matriarchal, when studied by sociologists, had its menfolk reported as making such statements as “I don’t like the women being in charge, I’m tired of being treated like a studhorse, only good for providing sex and cleaning house”.

        • I don’t know if this is what you’re referring to or not, but Margaret Mead wrote some stuff that sounds very similar to that. Her work has been seriously questioned — but I think the broader point, that strongly gendered authority roles are counterproductive regardless of the details, still stands.

          • I don’t recall her name, but my recollections of this reading when I was a sociology major were about a group of missionaries who originally found the tribe, imposed their patriarchal biases on their “research”, then about a century later, another research time came by, one who took the time to learn the language and do more observing than converting, and discovered that the tribe, previously believed to have a similar (but rudimentary) setup to patriarchal western civilizations, actually had a strong matriarchal governing system that placed men as second-class citizens in much the way strong patriarchal systems place women in second-class.

            This was unusual in that, as it was slowly being discovered, a great deal of tribal systems had more of an egalitarian setup, where things were divided up by genders, but both genders still had equal weight, such as two judicial bodies – one made up of female elders and the other of male elders, or women handling the spiritual matters while men handled the practical matters, or women ruling the property and home while men ruled the posessions and/or skills, stuff like that.

            Although I don’t have the quote exactly because I can’t find the source to cite, what stuck out in my mind was that this was brought to light because the later research team published a quote by a single male of the tribe that was, essentially, as I paraphased above, and all the men gathered around him nodded heads and murmured agreements. It most definately not the case of the Freeman/Mead controversy as spelled out in the Wikipedia article you linked to. What I read didn’t cover female sexuality at all. It covered the governmental system and that quote from a male who claimed to be tired of being a studhorse (I’m pretty sure that word was used, or an equivilent word meaning “for the purposes of providing sexual activity and/or genetic material for offspring”) and having no rights and he was bored doing housework, to which all the other males voiced their agreement.

            But yes, dividing anything among genders without regard to individual ability is counterproductive and leads the affected society with a loss of all those benefits that it *could have* had.

            There is a broader range among men and among women than there is between the group of men vs. the group of women.

      • I think a matriarchal society would be inherently oppressive, and I don’t know if you could evaluate strictness in a really meaningful way there. Not that I see oppression as a binary, but looking at the patriarchy, oppression is built into the system. Obviously I’ve got a lot more freedom in America than I would in Saudi Arabia, but that doesn’t mean the patriarchy isn’t oppressive here too, simply by being the structure of society.

    • Well, that’s true, but I wasn’t using “progressive” as the opposite of “patriarchial,” but rather “progressive” as the opposite of “oppressive.” (Western societies may be argued to still hold on to many of the social vestiges of patriarchy, yet they are still far more progressive than, say, Saudi Arabia.)

  8. A friend of mine knows someone who has a lower back tattoo that says “HARDER” in gothic blackletter font. It appears to be the general consensus among my friends that this is amusing and shows considerable good humor and a positive attitude towards sex on the part of the person with the tatoo.

    I do have a minor semantic quibble, though, with the lines:
    “If the making of porn is illegal, which is what tends to happen in patriarchal societies, then the production of porn falls into the hands of criminal enterprise.

    Progressive societies tend not to have this problem…”

    The opposite of patriarchal is matriarchal, not progressive.

      • err.. possibly poorly phrased.. I was feeling a bit testy… sorry ….
        but…. I have gone back & attempted read the oh so lengthy musing & you make a lot of good points… but there is a term for a promiscuous male isn’t there?
        I also agree that is an unneccessary stigma on women (& men) that are comfortable with their sexuality & are unashamed of it….
        kind of ironic that many feminists look on open sexuality as degrading one’s self…..
        (sorry my energy is fizzling so this might make less sense as I go *lol*) )…
        I dislike Brittany Spear because she’s a poor role model for little girls who aren’t emotionally nor physically ready for the challenges that sexuality brings to their lives… also… I suspect that the considerable danger of HIV/Aids might be causing the polarization against open sexuality….

        • There is no term for promiscuous males that has the same level of derision and derogatory overtones. There’s “bachelor” and “man about town”.

          In recent history, we have come up with ghetto slang words like “dog” and “playa”, but slut and whore (and any other term that means “a woman who likes sex/has lots of sex/has sexual partners) have been, and continue to be, the lowest of the low insults. Even the worst insults for men have to do with women having sex, like “motherfucker” and “son of a bitch”

          • Two reasons.

            First, because for centuries men made the standards, with no input from women.

            Second, because for centuries, economic and political structures depended on control of female sexuality. A woman who had more than one sex partner might have children whose paternity could not be determined. Since everything from estate property to political power was hereditary and paternalistic, and since there was no way to conclusively demonstrate the biological lineage of a child, economic and political stability was believed to rest absolutely on controlling a woman’s sexual behavior.

        • Evidence would suggest that Britney Spears is a poor role model for Britney Spears, too. πŸ™‚

          Britney Spears and other similar celebrity figures seem to me to exemplify the worst of both aspects of American society. We’re simultaneously fascinated by sex and repelled by it; we love sexual imagery in our advertising, as long as it’s not too sexy, but we’re also highly Puritanical and we treat sexuality with shame.

          So Britney Spears’ sexuality is a manufactured image, created by advertising executives for the purpose of selling a product–but when she started to believe her own hype and started to explore sexuality for real, she didn’t have the tools to be able to do so responsibly nor to analyze and learn from her mistake. She strikes me as being something of a repeating train wreck as a result.

          There are terms for promiscuous men, I’m sure, but they don’t seem to have the same “bite” as terms applied to women. Promiscuity in men is still a very different animal culturally, and it’s not met with the same scorn that it is in women.

          • I don’t care if Brittany is sexual… but I worry about the little kids that are obsessing over her….possibly her drug problem makes it worse…but if it’s manufactured? eh… not a very positive image of sexuality….
            hmmmm the label of males as promiscuous was a *good* thing?

            btw: an you think of a very sexual famous person that has a really good example of positive sexuality?

          • I don’t care if Brittany is sexual… but I worry about the little kids that are obsessing over her….possibly her drug problem makes it worse…but if it’s manufactured? eh… not a very positive image of sexuality….
            hmmmm the label of males as promiscuous was a *good* thing?

            btw: can you think of a very sexual famous person that has a really good example of positive sexuality?

  9. The wording of “no woman would truly like giving a blowjob” is intended to shut down debate and be an unfalsifiable statement.

    If everyone nods their head and gravely intones “Yes, it is so”, then the person who said that can feel good about being right. If a woman pipes up and says “Actually, I think it’s pretty fun”, then they can feel good about showing that poor deluded soul it’s not really enjoyable, and anyone who disagrees has been mindwiped by the patriarchy.

    Claiming to have more access to another persons mental state than they do is just about the most condescending thing I can imagine, and doesn’t strike me as a particularly good way to increase their freedom if they believe the claim. If, on the other hand, one is trying to cultivate an army of sycophants….

    Then again, I’m hearing this thirdhand and ranting about it, so what do I know about good argument?

  10. I have a so-called “tramp stamp” and by choice, I have not had sex in 1 1/2 years….

    sorta tears down that stereotype, eh?

    Also on anal sex… I’ve never had actual anal sex with a partner before but I love to play with anal toys and such and if done right, that often leads to more intense orgasms than clit stimulation and/or vaginal penetration.

  11. I have a so-called “tramp stamp” and by choice, I have not had sex in 1 1/2 years….

    sorta tears down that stereotype, eh?

    Also on anal sex… I’ve never had actual anal sex with a partner before but I love to play with anal toys and such and if done right, that often leads to more intense orgasms than clit stimulation and/or vaginal penetration.

  12. I have a number of lovers who get off on precisely this, but I’m not really convinced that its power would be diminished if women’s non-traditional sexual behavior were widely accepted.

    Speaking only for myself, as a person who also likes his partners to say these things, for me the emotional power doesn’t come from the taboo nature of the actions or the names I’m being called in society, but rather from the perception of objectification by my partner. In other words, it’s not that I’m in a position that’s socially taboo; it’s that I’m in a position where my partner is expressing that she’s treating me as a sexual object. And that’s something that’s still possible even if social taboos were to disappear.

  13. Well, that’s true, but I wasn’t using “progressive” as the opposite of “patriarchial,” but rather “progressive” as the opposite of “oppressive.” (Western societies may be argued to still hold on to many of the social vestiges of patriarchy, yet they are still far more progressive than, say, Saudi Arabia.)

  14. I think a “strictly” anything society is, by definition, oppressive. Any society where a given section of the society is forbidden from engaging in an action permitted to the rest of the society is oppressing that portion of the society.

  15. Me, I think that people are people, and whenever one group of people has the upper hand, regardless if that group is male or female, oppression tends to follow in direct measure to hop completely the favored group keeps the upper hand.

  16. Really interesting thoughts here. Your message (that people can and do enjoy a number of activities and it’s not right to judge anyone for it) is an important one. Keep spreading the good word.

    Originally I wanted to respond to your classification of “anti porn feminists” (wanted to say that I think it’s sort of dangerous to apply that label to all women who oppose most pornography, since a lot of pornography does genuinely exploit both men and women in the most real sense- poor people, people with substance abuse problems, people with serious psychological trauma).

    Then I was thinking about it and I think I missed the point there– (unless I’m mistaken) you’re saying that it’s the women who say ALL porn is bad, ALL women who like porn is bad, ALL porn stars are horrid who qualify as anti-porn feminists because that’s their major label they identify with, and that’s dangerous.

    I don’t know if that made any sense at all, but thanks for getting my brain churning.

    • I do my best to support women-made porn and the small genre of sex-positive porn that is made and sold in better adult toy/video stores….

      Porn does not have to be a bad thing, but the majority that is consumed is of the type you mentioned. As long as there is a demand for it, there will be a supply.

      But yes, we must remain conscious about labels and categorizing…

      Ok, I’m back to work!

    • Yep, in this context the phrase “anti-porn” means “opposed to porn across the board.” I see this as a very different thing from people who have no particular objection to porn per se but who also concede that it’s an industry where abuses can and sometimes do take place, and I think that separating those two philosophies would probably go a long way toward making people whose focus is those abuses rather than the notion of porn in general a lot more effective.

  17. Really interesting thoughts here. Your message (that people can and do enjoy a number of activities and it’s not right to judge anyone for it) is an important one. Keep spreading the good word.

    Originally I wanted to respond to your classification of “anti porn feminists” (wanted to say that I think it’s sort of dangerous to apply that label to all women who oppose most pornography, since a lot of pornography does genuinely exploit both men and women in the most real sense- poor people, people with substance abuse problems, people with serious psychological trauma).

    Then I was thinking about it and I think I missed the point there– (unless I’m mistaken) you’re saying that it’s the women who say ALL porn is bad, ALL women who like porn is bad, ALL porn stars are horrid who qualify as anti-porn feminists because that’s their major label they identify with, and that’s dangerous.

    I don’t know if that made any sense at all, but thanks for getting my brain churning.

  18. “Respect, real respect, must include respecting folks whose choices aren’t like yours, so long as they do not seek to impose those choices on others.”

    Now that’s just crazy talk.

    Nice deconstruction of the feminist anti-feminism argument πŸ™‚ I’m not sure it will convince many of them, but kudos for trying.

    • I doubt there is any convincing; I firmly believe that ideas like “porn is evil” fall into the category of “inaccessible to the light of disproof because the idea is really a reflection of some part of the internal emotional landscape.” I almost wonder if anti-porn feminists and anti-porn conservative religious zealots don’t experience the same or similar emotions when they see porn, and reach the same conclusions, but then rationalize those conclusions in very different ways (“it’s against God” and “it objectifies women”).

      • In my observation, the feminists who are most fanatically anti-porn are those who have suffered the most abuse–and usually that abuse directly involved porn.

        The religious nutjobs who oppose porn typically have little experience with or understanding of sexual abuse. They just really like that god tells them they get to be in charge.

        • What kind of abuse that involves porn? Do you mean people forced to watch porn, or people forced to act out what their partners see in porn, or something else?

          • I have heard accounts of both. I know folks whose parents forced them to watch porn, or forced them to watch porn before/while/after molesting them. One friend, in particular, was forced by her step father to sit and watch porn with him as a very young child. As to my knowledge, she is now so disgusted by the very idea of sex that she is damn near 40 and has yet to actually experience it. I know people who were sexually assaulted, and porn was used by the attacker before/during/after as a tool of manipulation or intimidation, or even as a reason or justification.

            Are you asking for graphic descriptions of abuse? I mean, I know the stories, but that seems like a weird thing for you to be asking me for.

            I have heard countless stories of rape, abuse and incest in which porn is at its best a direct representation of and at worst an integral part of the abuse. Nearly every woman I have ever witness speak vehemently against porn I have also seen speak elsewhere of her personal experience with sexual abuse and its direct connection with some sort of pornography–whether forced to emulate it, participate in it, consume it, or merely as a presence used to create an environment in which the abuse is possible–and I do not mean abstractly, I mean in the same manner in which someone might intimidate a potential victim by leaving weapons in obvious view.

            Like you, I wondered why a branch of radical feminism seemed to steer so far away from feminist ideas of bodily and sexual autonomy, so I started reading anti-porn literature and message boards. What I saw was story after story of serious sexual abuse in which the theme was porn. Men and women talked about partners who pressured them into viewing porn, and then forced the acts they saw upon them. People related stories of abuse (particularly child abuse) in which the attacker introduced the victim slowly to pornography, as a means to shame/silence/scare them so that the abuse could occur or continue.

            The creativity and ruthlessness with which sexual predators utilize porn to intimidate, manipulate, shame, silence, and abuse their victims is astonishing. I’ve also read the accounts of convicted rapists and child rapists describing with excitement the ways in which pornography facilitates and enhances their predation.

            I have actually personally been in several abusive situations of which porn was a key element.

            I’m not in any capacity stating my agreement with anti-porn ideals.M/b> I’m quite fond of porn, although I recognize the problematic elements. I think that it is inherently neutral, with the only positive or negative results being due to the intention and use of the creator or the viewer. I suppose it’s the “guns don’t kill people” argument, for me.

            I’m merely pointing out that there’s an experience and usually a motivation that exists among the ranks of the anti-porn branches of feminism that is different than the experiences and motivations of the religious anti-porn people. I think it’s important to note because I would imagine that you’d like to communicate with these people on some level–particularly if they’re attempting to legislate their experiences. In order to do so, you have to recognize what the discussion is actually about, for a lot of them. The argument doesn’t come down to privacy vs. abstract social trends for them. They use that language, certainly, but as you talked about there’s a visceral worldview under that. The worldview is that porn is a weapon that threatens their safety. Not the safety of their position of power (as in the case of the right wing fear of porn and women’s sexuality in general) but the actual safety of their bodies, and in some cases their lives.

            Most people talk to anti-porn feminists as if they do have the same mindset as their right-wing counterparts, and that’s simply useless. I believe it to be one of the main reasons the argument hasn’t gotten anywhere in 30 years.

          • Hmm. I see your point, particularly with respect to engaging anti-porn feminists in a different way than engaging anti-porn religious crusaders…but if porn is in fact linked to sexual abuse for them, I don’t think there’s any reasoning that will reach them.

            Human beings are hard-wired to associate environment with trauma, for obvious survival reasons. A person who has been attacked or sexually abused in connection with some kind of porn is likely to forever after associate porn with abuse, even if there is no causal connection whatsoever between them, and I doubt that there is anyhting which can undo that emotional response. In short, I don’t believe it is even possible to reason with abuse victims who have been abused in this way; there is nothing that can undo the connection between the porn and the abuse in their minds.

            What’s the answer? I don’t know. I don’t think there is one, honestly.

          • there is nothing that can undo the connection between the porn and the abuse in their minds.

            I was able to do it. I know plenty of other folks who’ve done it. That’s like saying someone who was sexually abused will never be able to undo the connection between sex and abuse. The statistic is, what, one in four? Do you think one in four women aren’t having sexual relationships or enjoying them?

            If you ever start a sentence with “I don’t believe it is even possible to reason with abuse victims…” it’s a good idea to stop, go back, and start over. You’re doing it wrong.

          • The statistic is that one in four of who is what? If you’re going to maintain that one in four people is victimized by an abuser who uses porn as part fo the abuse, I’m going to have to admit to a good deal of skepticism about that.

            And only a very selective reading would, I think, arrive at the conclusion that I said abuse victims can not be reasoned with. What I actually said, or tried to say, that if a person is victimized by an abuser who uses porn in such a way that the victim forms an emotional connection between the porn and the abuse, there ain’t no way logic alone is going to unmake that connection. No reasoned argument will, by itself, be enough to undo that association.

            Not that the association can not be undone; only that a reasoned argument alone can not undo it.

          • This conversation from my perspective:

            I started out saying that since a great deal of anti-porn advocates tend to have their stance rooted in previous abuse, perhaps taking a different approach with them than with religious folks would be a good idea.

            You responded that perhaps then one shouldn’t even try, since “if porn is in fact linked to sexual abuse for them, I don’t think there’s any reasoning that will reach them.” and “In short, I don’t believe it is even possible to reason with abuse victims who have been abused in this way; there is nothing that can undo the connection between the porn and the abuse in their minds.”

            I responded that isn’t the case, since I undid the connection between the two and have known others who’ve done the same–at least enough to quite enjoy its consumption. Further, I tried to express that I think your assertations are kind of flawed, considering that you could say the same thing about anyone who has been sexually abused in any way. Specifically, that they will forever link sex with abuse. If one in four women are sexually abused in their lifetimes (not porn related, just in general–this is the currently accepted statistic), then by your logic one in four women will never be able to have or enjoy sex since there’s “nothing that can undo the connection between [sex] and the abuse in their minds.”

            As a survivor of abuse I take exception to the notion from both radical feminists (and seemingly from you in that comment) that I can never have or enjoy sex because I can’t dissociate the two.

            That may not have been what you meant, but those are your words. Perhaps you just meant what you clarified–that it takes more than reason to sever the connection, and that’s certainly true. That isn’t what it seemed like you were saying, initially.

            I would still posit that it has more to do with the point I was originally trying to make. Rather than simply trying to “reason” with these folks, perhaps try communicating with them differently? It can be done. It just means taking the time and effort to address the complex nature of their experience, rather than blow them off as merely irrational thus further invalidating them.

            Survivors of abuse just have a different dictionary of experience that they’re drawing from. I mean, really, the same could be said of the religious fundamentalists. It doesn’t mean you can’t successfully talk to them or even persuade them. It just means you have to be informed when you do it.

  19. “Respect, real respect, must include respecting folks whose choices aren’t like yours, so long as they do not seek to impose those choices on others.”

    Now that’s just crazy talk.

    Nice deconstruction of the feminist anti-feminism argument πŸ™‚ I’m not sure it will convince many of them, but kudos for trying.

  20. I do my best to support women-made porn and the small genre of sex-positive porn that is made and sold in better adult toy/video stores….

    Porn does not have to be a bad thing, but the majority that is consumed is of the type you mentioned. As long as there is a demand for it, there will be a supply.

    But yes, we must remain conscious about labels and categorizing…

    Ok, I’m back to work!

  21. Meh. The Dems don’t have a supermajority, so they can’t ride roughshod over their political adversaries willy-nilly.

    I would, though, like to see more diversity in the US government. In my ideal world, there’d be more than two major parties, and a good number of independents in both houses. (I like independents. I often vote for independents in local and state elections.)

  22. I own and appreciate a fair amount of porn… and I’m appalled by how much casual misogeny is mixed in with the ‘good stuff’. Yeesh!

    If feminists have a large enough space to exist in, where we can disagree with each other without being considered, “not a real feminist”, I wonder if pornographers can put out mutually exclusive views of sex and gender, and not be all lumped together in the same evil boat.

    I think you’re really talking about the bad stuff that happens when people only ever associate with other people who agree with them.

    • I think you’re really talking about the bad stuff that happens when people only ever associate with other people who agree with them.

      Well, yes and no. It seems there’s a positive feedback loop; people encounter challenges to their ideas, recoil from those challenges while investing emotionally in their ideas, then seek the company of others who share those ideas as a defense against challenges. When they end up surrounded by folks who share those ideas, the ideas are reinforced, and become even less tolerant of challenges, and round and round it goes. Eventually oyu end up with absurdities such as a radical lesbian feminist activist writing legislation that is then used against lesbian literature, and folks who condemn women for being in porn on the grounds that it commoditizes sexuality and that’s bad because women shouldn’t be condemned for the sexual choices they make. πŸ™‚

      • Wow there’s a lot of ideas worth discussing in this thread.

        This illuminates a fundamental communication problem I have far more clearly than your previous thread about emotional investment. I actually seek out folks that challenge my beliefs, but often have negative reactions when that results in challenges to theirs. This may help – thanks.

        • Nope, not at all. But the law of unintended consequence can be pretty merciless. When an activist takes an extremist stance that is easily used to justify condemnation of the thing she is seeking to act against, well, there’s a problem. πŸ™‚

          There are certain tools–censorship, social condemnation, ostracism, and so forth–which are often used by the dominant groups in society to control that society’s members and reinforce its own power. An activist picks up these tools at great peril.

          Censorship in particular is a dangerous one. Censorship has traditionally been used as a tool of oppression against women and those with minority views for centuries. It used to be illegal even to discuss birth control, for example (something the Bush administration has sought to bring back); gay and lesbian ideas have long been a target of censorship. When some radical feminists–fortunately, very few–seek to use the tool of censhorship in the fight against porn, they can end up backfiring; the laws that Catherine MacKinnon helped bring about in Canada are often used against gay and lesbian materials, but not against heterosexual porn.

      • Unless you’re happy to be in a fight club, it’s important to be able to question the agenda of the group.

        The alliances I try to avoid, are with those who want what I want for reasons I disagree with.

        Conversely, there are (temporary) opponents out there who want different things from what I want, but for reasons that converge with mine. If I’m surrounded by allies of the first type, I’ll never notice these other kind of potential allies.

        • The “allies with people who want the same thing but for different reasons” bit resonates with me, as there are folks in the poly community who see fundamentalist Mormons, many of whom are activists for plural marriage, as an ally.

          They’re not; FLDS doctrine is appallingly cruel to women (and is white supremacist on top of the misogyny), and they seek plural marriages only in the form of a man with many wives; the notion that a woman can have multiple partners is strongly condemned. Their fight isn’t my fight, and I don’t see them as allies at all.

          • The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. That’s a false dichotomy. There are very rarely simply two options for anything, but particularly for something as complex as sexuality.

            I, also, do not subscribe to the “embrace everyone who wants alternative sexuality” model because some of them are just, IMO, wrong. I look for the fundamental core values that we have in common, not the superficial consequences.

            So, when it comes to the FLDS, I’m opposed because I’m not actually fighting for the right for people to marry, I’m fighting for the right of all individuals to choose their own path, one of which might happen to be marriage, and the FLDS is not in the market of promoting choice. We do *not* want the same things at all, superficial resemblances to the contrary.

            As I was saying during the whole Texas FLDS raid controversy – it’s not the marriage that should be the issue. We have laws to cover child abuse and rape and incest. If all of those laws take care of things, we don’t *need* to make plural marriage illegal for the sake of “purtecting the wimmenfolk”.

            But this is going off in another direction πŸ™‚

    • I don’t think that any subculture or minority group can escape the “you’re not a real ___” arguments. My friends who are people of color have gotten it (“you’re a banana/twinkie/coconut), I’ve seen it in the kink community, and the queer community.

      • It may be inescapable, but there’s no need to give it any more attention that it deserves. Since this is an internet kind of discussion, I have to believe anyone if they claim to be gay, or black, or feminist, or queer, or male, or female. “you’re not a *real* [fill in the blank] is just another ad hominim attack.

        I think it’s used by people to narrow down the area of discourse to what they want it to be about. If an objection is raised, they can call into question a person’s right to raise the objection.

        There are topics I only ever want to discuss with people who can eschew this kind of argument.

  23. I own and appreciate a fair amount of porn… and I’m appalled by how much casual misogeny is mixed in with the ‘good stuff’. Yeesh!

    If feminists have a large enough space to exist in, where we can disagree with each other without being considered, “not a real feminist”, I wonder if pornographers can put out mutually exclusive views of sex and gender, and not be all lumped together in the same evil boat.

    I think you’re really talking about the bad stuff that happens when people only ever associate with other people who agree with them.

    • Re: ‘Tramp stamps’?

      Heh. I’ve only ever heard the term “ass-hat” used to describe people with particularly obnoxious or odious ideas, such as the idea that women should not be allowed to choose their own form of sexual expression.

  24. err.. possibly poorly phrased.. I was feeling a bit testy… sorry ….
    but…. I have gone back & attempted read the oh so lengthy musing & you make a lot of good points… but there is a term for a promiscuous male isn’t there?
    I also agree that is an unneccessary stigma on women (& men) that are comfortable with their sexuality & are unashamed of it….
    kind of ironic that many feminists look on open sexuality as degrading one’s self…..
    (sorry my energy is fizzling so this might make less sense as I go *lol*) )…
    I dislike Brittany Spear because she’s a poor role model for little girls who aren’t emotionally nor physically ready for the challenges that sexuality brings to their lives… also… I suspect that the considerable danger of HIV/Aids might be causing the polarization against open sexuality….

  25. “I was brought up to treat woman especially lovers as on a pedestal. All this time, by these statistics I could have been treating half of them like whores.”

    That statement is full of fail on SO many levels. How is it such a horrible chore to treat women (*especially* lovers!) with respect? And in what way should “whores” be treated differently, anyway?

      • Unfortunately, that’s the point I can’t seem to make guys who subscribe to it see, from the person they’re supposedly putting up on that pedestal. *That’s* the real thing that I rant against in my journal entries – the ideology behind “putting a woman on a pedestal” is not the same as “treating people with respect”. I exaggerate the consequences sometimes to make the distinction more clear.

  26. “I was brought up to treat woman especially lovers as on a pedestal. All this time, by these statistics I could have been treating half of them like whores.”

    That statement is full of fail on SO many levels. How is it such a horrible chore to treat women (*especially* lovers!) with respect? And in what way should “whores” be treated differently, anyway?

  27. Yep, in this context the phrase “anti-porn” means “opposed to porn across the board.” I see this as a very different thing from people who have no particular objection to porn per se but who also concede that it’s an industry where abuses can and sometimes do take place, and I think that separating those two philosophies would probably go a long way toward making people whose focus is those abuses rather than the notion of porn in general a lot more effective.

  28. I doubt there is any convincing; I firmly believe that ideas like “porn is evil” fall into the category of “inaccessible to the light of disproof because the idea is really a reflection of some part of the internal emotional landscape.” I almost wonder if anti-porn feminists and anti-porn conservative religious zealots don’t experience the same or similar emotions when they see porn, and reach the same conclusions, but then rationalize those conclusions in very different ways (“it’s against God” and “it objectifies women”).

  29. I think you’re really talking about the bad stuff that happens when people only ever associate with other people who agree with them.

    Well, yes and no. It seems there’s a positive feedback loop; people encounter challenges to their ideas, recoil from those challenges while investing emotionally in their ideas, then seek the company of others who share those ideas as a defense against challenges. When they end up surrounded by folks who share those ideas, the ideas are reinforced, and become even less tolerant of challenges, and round and round it goes. Eventually oyu end up with absurdities such as a radical lesbian feminist activist writing legislation that is then used against lesbian literature, and folks who condemn women for being in porn on the grounds that it commoditizes sexuality and that’s bad because women shouldn’t be condemned for the sexual choices they make. πŸ™‚

  30. Re: ‘Tramp stamps’?

    Heh. I’ve only ever heard the term “ass-hat” used to describe people with particularly obnoxious or odious ideas, such as the idea that women should not be allowed to choose their own form of sexual expression.

  31. Did they? Wouldn’t surprise me, though I’m sure it wasn’t officially sanctioned; homosexual behavior was condemned (and gays and lesbians gassed) quite vigorously.

  32. I simply can not figure out why someone would care so passionately, and become so emotionally upset, over the notion that a bunch of women he doesn’t know and will never meet like taking a hard cock up the butt every now and then…or even don’t like teh analz, but think it’s okay if other women do.

    This would be, I’m guessing, because on some level he’d *love* anal sex, and he’s pissed off that other people aren’t torturing themselves by abstaining from it like he does. If people actually *like* getting it up the butt, then he can’t get warm fuzzies from self-denial anymore.

    One of the thing that seems like a “problem” with porn is that the patriarchy is very, very good at using sex as an oppressive weapon. Enjoying anything sex-related but not letting that make a hole in my brain for the patriarchy to wiggle in through is just plain difficult. For some people, it’s easier to just wave off porn entirely, but that’s really an unfair thing to do.

    The problem is the patriarchy; the casual misogyny that referred to that’s so prevalent in the industry is a symptom, and throwing away the porn is not a cure. But we as a society don’t yet have a good mental decontamination procedure for extracting the yummy bits of porn and leaving the patriarchy behind, and until we do, we’ll probably still have people who think that porn-in-general is too dangerous and we should get rid of all of it.

    I don’t agree with them, but in my darker moments, when I notice just how hard it is for people to shake off misogyny, I sometimes have sympathy for that point of view. Even if, in the end, I’m not willing to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

    • I think you’ve touched on something here, and that there’s a certain feminist philosophy that sometimes sinks into waving off not only porn, but sexuality in general, which is a damn shame.

      If we look at the history of the feminist movement, we see women struggling and struggling for the right not only to have a hand in their own sexuality and the freedom to express that sexuality, but simply for the right to enjoy sex. Repressive, anti-woman societies appear to hate and fear wommen’s orgasms, to the point that the most repressive of them will actually surgically mutilate women in order to ensure that sex can never be pleasurable.

      So the feminist movement has fought very hard just to get to the point where society thinks it’s OK for a woman to have an orgasm…only to see a small handful of self-described feminists go full circle and embrace the idea that they shouldn’t enjoy sex. (I had one such person actually tell me “My feminist beliefs mean I can never enjoy sex with my boyfriend.” Which makes me wonder: WTF kind of boyfriend does she have who would continue having sex with her knowing she doesn’t enjoy it?)

      • WTF kind of boyfriend does she have who would continue having sex with her knowing she doesn’t enjoy it?
        Possibly the kind similar to my ex-boyfriend who laughed when I wept in pain during sex.

      • sex, death, fear

        I’ve thought a lot about what sex is really for, and why it’s so scary, and does it have to be so scary all the time… In one specific regard, there’s a kind of fear that I don’t want to remove from sex.

        Sex is dangerous where it gives us the power to break another person’s heart… and no amount of creative accounting is going to reduce that basic fear.

        In another time, I would have said it was dangerous because the future of the human race is wrapped up in there, but now I’m guessing that’s only about 5 to 10 percent true in the circles I frequent. As long as people keep dying and having to replace themselves, it’s going to be somewhat true.

    • Enjoying anything sex-related but not letting that make a hole in my brain for the patriarchy to wiggle in through is just plain difficult.
      I empathize liek whoa.

      baby/bathwater=porn/patriarchy

  33. I simply can not figure out why someone would care so passionately, and become so emotionally upset, over the notion that a bunch of women he doesn’t know and will never meet like taking a hard cock up the butt every now and then…or even don’t like teh analz, but think it’s okay if other women do.

    This would be, I’m guessing, because on some level he’d *love* anal sex, and he’s pissed off that other people aren’t torturing themselves by abstaining from it like he does. If people actually *like* getting it up the butt, then he can’t get warm fuzzies from self-denial anymore.

    One of the thing that seems like a “problem” with porn is that the patriarchy is very, very good at using sex as an oppressive weapon. Enjoying anything sex-related but not letting that make a hole in my brain for the patriarchy to wiggle in through is just plain difficult. For some people, it’s easier to just wave off porn entirely, but that’s really an unfair thing to do.

    The problem is the patriarchy; the casual misogyny that referred to that’s so prevalent in the industry is a symptom, and throwing away the porn is not a cure. But we as a society don’t yet have a good mental decontamination procedure for extracting the yummy bits of porn and leaving the patriarchy behind, and until we do, we’ll probably still have people who think that porn-in-general is too dangerous and we should get rid of all of it.

    I don’t agree with them, but in my darker moments, when I notice just how hard it is for people to shake off misogyny, I sometimes have sympathy for that point of view. Even if, in the end, I’m not willing to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

  34. This’s my friend Heather:

    That’s a real tattoo. Heather’s a body piercer, tattoo artist, and nude/fetish model.
    She got that tattoo as a deliberate slap to the people who use that phrase.

    BTW, I see you posted Tristan’s book… did you catch my comment the other day with the links to her LJ & LJ comm?

  35. This’s my friend Heather:

    That’s a real tattoo. Heather’s a body piercer, tattoo artist, and nude/fetish model.
    She got that tattoo as a deliberate slap to the people who use that phrase.

    BTW, I see you posted Tristan’s book… did you catch my comment the other day with the links to her LJ & LJ comm?

  36. I think I love you. You may have noticed that I tend to struggle to clearly express my “intuitive” style of thinking. This winds up leading to some fairly serious cognitive dissonance that I fight with pretty hard. This post helped me a LOT, and it’s probably going to be a big help to another friend of mine pretty soon (when she has time to read it). Thank you.

    …. you are putting this up with your other xeromag essays, right?

  37. I think I love you. You may have noticed that I tend to struggle to clearly express my “intuitive” style of thinking. This winds up leading to some fairly serious cognitive dissonance that I fight with pretty hard. This post helped me a LOT, and it’s probably going to be a big help to another friend of mine pretty soon (when she has time to read it). Thank you.

    …. you are putting this up with your other xeromag essays, right?

  38. “Yes, I know that there was a time when a woman’s value quite literally depended on her sex”

    still does, it’s just much more subtle now.

    While this post is a lovely one about your discoveries and learning, and thoughts, it’s still sad that this is a surprise to anyone. There should be more awareness of these realities.

    • It does, but not nearly to the same extent that it used to. In Iran, a woman can still be executed if her husband claims that she was not a virgin on her wedding night; in parts of rural India, it’s still socially acceptable to murder your wife by setting her on fire if her family doesn’t cough up a large enough dowry. (I shit you not. They’re usually recorded as “cooking accidents”–wtf kind of cooking accident would set a person on fire?).

      In American society, a woman who’s an unwed virgin is not completely at a loss for any future happiness. We don’t demand dowries from the family of the bride, women can and do succeed in business and industry…if a woman’s value depends on her sex, it’s in a much less literal and much more indirect way.

      Which isn’t to say that the current state of affairs is acceptable, or that the level of discrimination women face today is okay. It’s more an acknowledgment that the struggle for equal standing in American society has made tremendous progress over the past century.

      Of course, I do think I’m a bit spoiled; the women I surround myself with tend to be strong, smart, capable, independent, and unwilling to put up with bullshit. Two of my sweeties are currently seeking Ph.D.s in hard sciences; one of my sweeties will have her Master’s degree in engineering in a couple of weeks; I have a sweetie who’s upper management at a Fortune 500 company and another who’s a successful and published sex-tech author. None of these things would have been possible, or even conceivable, even a century ago.

      None of that takes away from your point, that these biases still exist and society is still prone to value women on the basis of their sexuality. But it’s getting better.

      • in parts of rural India, it’s still socially acceptable to murder your wife by setting her on fire if her family doesn’t cough up a large enough dowry. (I shit you not. They’re usually recorded as “cooking accidents”–wtf kind of cooking accident would set a person on fire?).

        I did a comparison of rape legislation, prevention programs, etc. in India and the U.S. my freshman year of college. It’s not “cooking accidents” so much as “exploding stoves.” Easier to stage and plausible, as it actually does sometimes happen.

        This vaguely reminds me of all the women in Ireland who get bank loans (for new major household appliances, I think it was) so they could afford to go to England to get an abortion.

      • And don’t forget the sweetie that works manual labor and mechanical manipulations for a living! That would have been unheard of even as recently as the ’80s when movies were starting to be made featuring women in positions of authority. But the physical end of employment is still largely unexplored by women, although that’s gaining ground very quickly now that we have machines to compensate for our on-average smaller sizes and it only requires an equal ability to operate the machinery.

  39. “Yes, I know that there was a time when a woman’s value quite literally depended on her sex”

    still does, it’s just much more subtle now.

    While this post is a lovely one about your discoveries and learning, and thoughts, it’s still sad that this is a surprise to anyone. There should be more awareness of these realities.

  40. A few things…

    I have been known to refer to this category of tattoo as a “tramp stamp” because, well… I like how it sounds! rhymes are pleasing to the ear and evocative…. primal stuff there. Are they suggestive of a woman’s sexual proclivities? I think so, the cleavage at the top of the ass is a very compelling physical/sexual cue (I believe some research has suggested that the visual similarity is the reason why the peek of breast cleavage is such a powerful sexual image)… and so, to intentionally adorn it tends to lead one to think that a message is being transmitted. Perhaps that may not be the intention of the inkee, but it is natural, I think, to read it as such if no other input is included.

    That being said, the terms “tramp” along with “slut” “cunt” “doxy” “wench” “whore” and the myriad of other traditionally derogatory terms for women who are freer within their sexuality than the prevailing social actors would prefer, are for me, very positive descriptors. I like sluts, always have. I don’t really use those words, in any serious way, as perjoritves… although within a play environment I might snarl one or two as an epithet, if it would be likely to get her off.

    Incidentally, my favourite version of a euphemism for a lower back tattoo on a female person is “Arse Antlers” … perhaps a Canadian thing? Not a rhyme, but alliteration is fun too.

    As for the rad-fem take on porn… yawn… such an old and non-productive discussion, hell if you want to dig deep enough into rad-fem philosophy all male-female penetrative sexual activity is perforce rape. I can barely be bothered to raise an eyebrow for it anymore. There are plenty of feminist thinkers and writers out there who are challenging and independent and vocal and somehow still manage to be hetero-sex positive.

    • One woman even went so far as to say, without apparent irony, that she has no respect for any woman who would be in porn.

      Which, to my mind, is no different from the guy who says he has no respect for any woman who would receive anal sex.

      Yes, yes, YES.

  41. A few things…

    I have been known to refer to this category of tattoo as a “tramp stamp” because, well… I like how it sounds! rhymes are pleasing to the ear and evocative…. primal stuff there. Are they suggestive of a woman’s sexual proclivities? I think so, the cleavage at the top of the ass is a very compelling physical/sexual cue (I believe some research has suggested that the visual similarity is the reason why the peek of breast cleavage is such a powerful sexual image)… and so, to intentionally adorn it tends to lead one to think that a message is being transmitted. Perhaps that may not be the intention of the inkee, but it is natural, I think, to read it as such if no other input is included.

    That being said, the terms “tramp” along with “slut” “cunt” “doxy” “wench” “whore” and the myriad of other traditionally derogatory terms for women who are freer within their sexuality than the prevailing social actors would prefer, are for me, very positive descriptors. I like sluts, always have. I don’t really use those words, in any serious way, as perjoritves… although within a play environment I might snarl one or two as an epithet, if it would be likely to get her off.

    Incidentally, my favourite version of a euphemism for a lower back tattoo on a female person is “Arse Antlers” … perhaps a Canadian thing? Not a rhyme, but alliteration is fun too.

    As for the rad-fem take on porn… yawn… such an old and non-productive discussion, hell if you want to dig deep enough into rad-fem philosophy all male-female penetrative sexual activity is perforce rape. I can barely be bothered to raise an eyebrow for it anymore. There are plenty of feminist thinkers and writers out there who are challenging and independent and vocal and somehow still manage to be hetero-sex positive.

  42. Our governmental system isn’t designed for that. In a “winner takes all” system even if another party gained power it would just supplant one of the existing two. Look at the early years of this country’s formation and the political parties back then and you’ll see it’s always been this way.

    In order to do that we’d need to have a parliamentary system.

  43. I am so glad…

    I saw you on OK Cupid and added you to my friends list. This post just makes me want to meet for coffee even more… or at the very least, I’ve got tickets for Frolicon next year, perhaps we can share a conversation. You are an incredible, amazing, brilliant and gifted man, and I am grateful that I know you, even if it is only “virtually.”

  44. I am so glad…

    I saw you on OK Cupid and added you to my friends list. This post just makes me want to meet for coffee even more… or at the very least, I’ve got tickets for Frolicon next year, perhaps we can share a conversation. You are an incredible, amazing, brilliant and gifted man, and I am grateful that I know you, even if it is only “virtually.”

  45. Franklin, I love you. Really and truly I do. I think you’re a benefit to humanity, in ways I’d need all my digits to count.

    But I hafta say, you lost me there when you started in with an articulate defense of an awfully old meme: “It’s feminism’s fault.” (It’s not often you remind me of Dennis Prager, you know? http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/06/dennis-prager-knows-what-women-want.html)

    Those people who came up with the word “tramp stamp”? I’m pretty sure they aren’t feminists. The guy who thinks women who enjoy anal sex are whores? He’s not a feminist either. (Just ask him, I beg you.) The idea that women should not have self-determination over their bodies and their sexuality is not a feminist idea, it’s a patriarchal idea. Most feminists are too busy working on projects like ensuring I make equal pay and have child care to get too exercised about what anybody’s doing with their bottles of handlotion out in cyberspace.

    But even feminists who dislike pornography dislike it precisely because it has historically been and often still is used as a tool of oppression, used strategically for *taking away* women’s self determination. There are plenty of women involved in pornography — as pornographers and consumers — who are feminists, self-actualized, doing just what they love to do just the way they love to do it. Carol Queen, Susie Bright, we could both name dozens. More power to ’em.

    But there are also women, lots of women, who are coerced into involvement in pornography — as sex workers or as partners or as consumers — because they have no other or no better options. There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out, and saying it isn’t fair and something should be done about it. Everyone ought to have the right to pursue their own version of sexuality without coercion.

    But there’s a deeper layer still, and that’s the layer where people start rolling their eyes: oooh, feminists say all p-v sex is rape, oooh, look how stupid and crazy they are. (I think it was actually Andrea Dworkin who is said to have said this, and anybody who sets her up as their strawwoman should look into what she said exactly, first: http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/LieDetect.html)

    But here’s the truth buried in the strawstack: inequality between men and women is built — socialized — into what we think is hot. All of us. Even the most liberated among us. Women have more fantasies about being “done to” sexually; men have more fantasies about “doing.” That’s interesting; it means something. It does something to our relationships and our sex lives. And not always something good.

    Franklin, I love your writing and thinking about sex. I think it’s funny, and clever, and useful, and hot. But I have often had the thought, reading your work, that I wished you were a feminist. That I wish you wrote more interestingly about the gender implications of your own and your partners’ sexualities, and about how this plays out for society in general. I wish you pushed your own boundaries in this way. (Gina’s article on Onyx turning her into a lesbian? Terrific. And I’d love to read an article on Franklin’s experiences playing Onyx in a group full of men. Not to make you gay — I believe your claims of persistent heterosexuality — but just for sake of exploration and reportage and just for fun, you know?)

    Take a vote. I can’t be your only reader who thinks that would be both enlightening and hot. More enlightening and more hot than reading a dazzling vilification of a movement that’s fundamentally on the side of you going to bed with whomever wants to go to bed with you.

    • But I hafta say, you lost me there when you started in with an articulate defense of an awfully old meme: “It’s feminism’s fault.” (It’s not often you remind me of Dennis Prager, you know? http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/06/dennis-prager-knows-what-women-want.html)

      Those people who came up with the word “tramp stamp”? I’m pretty sure they aren’t feminists. The guy who thinks women who enjoy anal sex are whores? He’s not a feminist either. (Just ask him, I beg you.) The idea that women should not have self-determination over their bodies and their sexuality is not a feminist idea, it’s a patriarchal idea. Most feminists are too busy working on projects like ensuring I make equal pay and have child care to get too exercised about what anybody’s doing with their bottles of handlotion out in cyberspace.

      Of course they’re not, and naturally, I’m not trying to say “it’s feminist’s fault.” I am saying, though, that the folks who did come up with that expression, and who deride women who enjoy anal sex–male misogynists all–share one thing in common with some radical anti-porn feminists: the idea that there are only certain sexual choices a woman “should” make, and that any woman who strays outside those sexual boundaries is worth less because of it.

      But even feminists who dislike pornography dislike it precisely because it has historically been and often still is used as a tool of oppression, used strategically for *taking away* women’s self determination. There are plenty of women involved in pornography — as pornographers and consumers — who are feminists, self-actualized, doing just what they love to do just the way they love to do it. Carol Queen, Susie Bright, we could both name dozens. More power to ’em.

      But there are also women, lots of women, who are coerced into involvement in pornography — as sex workers or as partners or as consumers — because they have no other or no better options. There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out, and saying it isn’t fair and something should be done about it. Everyone ought to have the right to pursue their own version of sexuality without coercion.

      Yep. Agreed without reservation. That’s why I tried to be careful to limit my criticism to those particular feminists who condemn porn across the board, and even to say (in another comment) that the folks who condemn feminism across the board can muddy the water for folks who confine themselves to pointing out flaws and abuses in the porn industry–wich is rather a different thing.

      It sounds like you may be seeing a hostility to feminism in what I’m writing, when my criticism really only applies to a very small subset of feminists.

      But here’s the truth buried in the strawstack: inequality between men and women is built — socialized — into what we think is hot. All of us. Even the most liberated among us. Women have more fantasies about being “done to” sexually; men have more fantasies about “doing.” That’s interesting; it means something. It does something to our relationships and our sex lives. And not always something good.

      What’s interesting is that even though I take on the dominant role in many of my sexual relationships, my own fantasies often turn to “done to” as often as, or more often, than they turn to “doing.”

      I get what you’re saying, though. I belong to the most privileged race, class, and sex in the country–and arguably in the world. As a white male heterosexual First Worlder, I live in a sea of privilege that I was born into. If I do something exceptional, nobody says “wow, he’s amazing for a guy,” and if I do something profoundly stupid, it’s unlikely anyone will ever say “Well, it just goes to show you about whites.” Nobody accuses me of trying to “promote the heterosexual agenda” or of seeking “special rights for men” or any nonsense like that.

      And I do understand that being born into this position both endows me with privilege that’s largely invisible to me, and also shapes the way I think about and relate to other people.

    • Part II

      Franklin, I love your writing and thinking about sex. I think it’s funny, and clever, and useful, and hot. But I have often had the thought, reading your work, that I wished you were a feminist.

      In the sense that I promote a society free of constraints based on sex or sexual roles, and believe that in all matters not requiring physical possession of a penis or a vagina, men and women are and should be inherently equal, I am a feminist.

      In the sense I think you’re talking about, when it comes to understanding the issues faced by women in a society with a centuries-long tradition of male dominance, I think that many women would probably argue that it’s not possible for me to be a feminist, because it’s not possible to have the experience of being a woman that would provide the context.

      That I wish you wrote more interestingly about the gender implications of your own and your partners’ sexualities, and about how this plays out for society in general. I wish you pushed your own boundaries in this way. (Gina’s article on Onyx turning her into a lesbian? Terrific. And I’d love to read an article on Franklin’s experiences playing Onyx in a group full of men. Not to make you gay — I believe your claims of persistent heterosexuality — but just for sake of exploration and reportage and just for fun, you know?)

      I’ve actually played Onyx only a small handful of times myself, hard as that might be to believe. In all but one of those cases, I wasn’t the only man present. In fact, the majority of my group sex experiences have involved situations with more than one man, and that really doesn’t bother me at all, though I’m not particularly interested in pursuing sexual contact with another man.

      I do get your point, though, and it’s something I have invested a good deal of time and effort thinking about, if not writing about.

      This is a conversation that I’ve had on several occasions with Shelly, in fact. While I’m not interested in hot guy-on-guy action, I am interested in sexual activities that place me in a role that would generally be associated with the female or submissive gender role–having partners use strap-ons on me, for example. At one point, before she started school, Shelly and I were engaged in a systematic exploration of where the line is in my head that defines gender boundaries, though that was some time ago.

      Take a vote. I can’t be your only reader who thinks that would be both enlightening and hot. More enlightening and more hot than reading a dazzling vilification of a movement that’s fundamentally on the side of you going to bed with whomever wants to go to bed with you.

      Again, it sounds like you’re reading an attack against the whole of feminist thought where none is really intended.

      • Re: Part II

        Heh. Appreciate your quick reply and not scolding me for blogging on *your* blog. πŸ™‚

        To me, a feminist is a person who believes men and women are equal and ought to have equal rights, privileges, responsibilities; it means standing up against oppression of women when it occurs, and it means being thoughtful and proactive about the ideas, images, and prejudices one holds about men and women, including as they apply to oneself. Having a vulva or not having a penis isn’t required. If you want to be a feminist, you can come to *my* bra-burning. (Not that I’m likely to be holding one. I’m a 34G; bras are not optional for me.) πŸ˜‰

        My difficulty with “anti-porn feminists” is largely that they’re straw figures. Andrea Dworkin, Catherine MacKinnon; I’ve read them, I have some admiration for some of their work, and they don’t say what everybody says they say. (It was Dworkin, not MacKinnon, who is usually blamed for the Canadian law thing, and she didn’t do it. For example.) The people who wanted censorship of pornography in the 1980s when video made porn suddenly pervasive and accessible and scary were 99.5% right-wing ideologues and .5% feminists, but feminists are what people waste time writing about, as if they were the real threat. Feminism is a cheap shot; especially when the American Taliban have apparently taken over California. Anyway, you get my point.

        I still say, though, whatever your personal inclinations, that you should submit to some hot guy-on-guy action for journalism’s sake. But that could just be me. πŸ˜‰

        • Re: Part II

          did mention in more than one place that he was speaking of a very specific type of person who happened to be a small portion of the overall group labeled “feminist”.

          Unfortunately, your “straw figures” exist all over the place. I’ve met quite a few of them, and blogged about one recently. Although they are not the majority of feminists, and although they are not the majority of those hurting the fight for equality, they are a particularly notable bunch because of the hypocrisy involved in claiming to be for “equal rights for women” while simultaneously working to undermine true equality.

          They do quite a bit of damage all on their own, because, though their numbers are small, their voices are loud. The right-wingers even use their positions as self-proclaimed feminists to boost their own ratings. Take the whole McCain/Palin debacle, for instance. The Republican presidential campaign hoped to win all the Hilary supporters by nominating a woman as VP candidate, but their right-wing policies clash with actual feminsts, so they had to get a member of “Feminists For Life”, who used her femininity as a tool to further oppress women. They damn near succeeded too, gathering quite a few females who jumped on the “progressive” move by McCain before learning anything about Palin herself.

          No, they’re not a majority, but they sure are loud.

        • Re: Part II

          I still say, though, whatever your personal inclinations, that you should submit to some hot guy-on-guy action for journalism’s sake. But that could just be me. πŸ˜‰

          I’d sign up to buy that video. πŸ˜‰ But hey, I roll that way….

        • Re: Part II

          My difficulty with “anti-porn feminists” is largely that they’re straw figures. Andrea Dworkin, Catherine MacKinnon; I’ve read them, I have some admiration for some of their work, and they don’t say what everybody says they say.

          I’ve read both Dworkin and MacKinnon, and been largely unimpressed. I’m also aware that their real views are often distorted; there’s even a Snopes page about the ‘all sex is rape’ thing.

          MacKinnon is something of a different case, and in all honesty, I think her ideas–which are strongly opposed to porn in all cases, across the board–are harmful and destructive. She champions a direct, casual connection between viewing porn and acts of rape, one which is completely unsupported by empirical evidence; she even claims that snuff films exist, and that they’re the natural extension of pornography. (Snopes has a page about that, too.)

          Writing in the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, she said, “as you think about the assumption of consent that follows women into pornography, look closely some time for the skinned knees, the bruises, the welts from the whippings, the scratches, the gashes. Many of them are not simulated. One relatively soft core pornography model said, “I knew the pose was right when it hurt.” It certainly seems important to the audiences that the events in the pornography be real. For this reason, pornography becomes a motive for murder, as in “snuff” films in which someone is tortured to death to make a sex film. They exist.”

          On the subject of women who voluntarily participate in porn, Ms. MacKinnon had this to say, during an interview on PBS with Ben Wattenberg:

          MR. WATTENBERG: But suppose a woman did a porno film voluntarily– there was no gun to her head, got paid for it, and had a royaltycoming from each time it was shown for profit. Would you, A, regard that as pornography, and would you make that illegal?

          MS. MacKINNON: Well, the product itself, no matter what the conditions of production are, do — those products do produce a whole series of harms to other women.

          I find the notion that any sexual depictions of women in any situation, even when it is voluntary and consensual, to be harmful to women in general somewhat questionable at best, and would even go so far as to say that it has, embedded deep within its assumptions, the very same notions of women’s “proper” behavior around sex that are the root of ideas like the notion that a woman who has unconventional sex is a ‘whore’ and is unworthy of respect.

          We see this notion in other expressions of this particular brand of feminist ideology. Ms. MacKinnon also said that pornography is “[A] lie about who women are and what they want.” The notion here–that there is only one thing women want, that women’s dignity means behaving in only one certain way–is one I fond extraordinarily misogynistic and extraordinarily dangerous. It sets forth, exactly as the idea about anal sex does, that there is one right way that women “should” be treated, and that women “should” behave. (Activist and feminist Betty Friedan responded to MacKinnon’s calls for civil legislation against porn producers by saying “I want to express my view, on behalf of a great many woman in this country, feminists and believers in human rights, that this current move to introduce censorship in the United States in the guise of suppressing pornography is extremely dangerous to woman.”

          MacKinnon may not have said that all heterosexual sex is rape, but she certainly has said a great many things which can’t be supported by empirical evidence and which I believe represent a dangerously backward approach to feminism that in practice does more harm than good.

          The central thesis I’m trying to make is that the “righ” way to treat a woman is the way she wants to be treated; that the human condition is vast and varied, and real respect means recognizing that; and that a woman’s right to control her body naturally extends to the right to control her sexual expression, even if that sexual expression includes taking (or giving!) it up the ass, or getting it on in front of a camera.

          • Re: Part II

            I have actually read and loved Dworkin , though a few things she says piss me off. But hey, Pat Califia has also said a few things that piss me off, and that doesn’t lessen my adoration for him.

  46. Franklin, I love you. Really and truly I do. I think you’re a benefit to humanity, in ways I’d need all my digits to count.

    But I hafta say, you lost me there when you started in with an articulate defense of an awfully old meme: “It’s feminism’s fault.” (It’s not often you remind me of Dennis Prager, you know? http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/06/dennis-prager-knows-what-women-want.html)

    Those people who came up with the word “tramp stamp”? I’m pretty sure they aren’t feminists. The guy who thinks women who enjoy anal sex are whores? He’s not a feminist either. (Just ask him, I beg you.) The idea that women should not have self-determination over their bodies and their sexuality is not a feminist idea, it’s a patriarchal idea. Most feminists are too busy working on projects like ensuring I make equal pay and have child care to get too exercised about what anybody’s doing with their bottles of handlotion out in cyberspace.

    But even feminists who dislike pornography dislike it precisely because it has historically been and often still is used as a tool of oppression, used strategically for *taking away* women’s self determination. There are plenty of women involved in pornography — as pornographers and consumers — who are feminists, self-actualized, doing just what they love to do just the way they love to do it. Carol Queen, Susie Bright, we could both name dozens. More power to ’em.

    But there are also women, lots of women, who are coerced into involvement in pornography — as sex workers or as partners or as consumers — because they have no other or no better options. There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out, and saying it isn’t fair and something should be done about it. Everyone ought to have the right to pursue their own version of sexuality without coercion.

    But there’s a deeper layer still, and that’s the layer where people start rolling their eyes: oooh, feminists say all p-v sex is rape, oooh, look how stupid and crazy they are. (I think it was actually Andrea Dworkin who is said to have said this, and anybody who sets her up as their strawwoman should look into what she said exactly, first: http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/LieDetect.html)

    But here’s the truth buried in the strawstack: inequality between men and women is built — socialized — into what we think is hot. All of us. Even the most liberated among us. Women have more fantasies about being “done to” sexually; men have more fantasies about “doing.” That’s interesting; it means something. It does something to our relationships and our sex lives. And not always something good.

    Franklin, I love your writing and thinking about sex. I think it’s funny, and clever, and useful, and hot. But I have often had the thought, reading your work, that I wished you were a feminist. That I wish you wrote more interestingly about the gender implications of your own and your partners’ sexualities, and about how this plays out for society in general. I wish you pushed your own boundaries in this way. (Gina’s article on Onyx turning her into a lesbian? Terrific. And I’d love to read an article on Franklin’s experiences playing Onyx in a group full of men. Not to make you gay — I believe your claims of persistent heterosexuality — but just for sake of exploration and reportage and just for fun, you know?)

    Take a vote. I can’t be your only reader who thinks that would be both enlightening and hot. More enlightening and more hot than reading a dazzling vilification of a movement that’s fundamentally on the side of you going to bed with whomever wants to go to bed with you.

  47. But I hafta say, you lost me there when you started in with an articulate defense of an awfully old meme: “It’s feminism’s fault.” (It’s not often you remind me of Dennis Prager, you know? http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/06/dennis-prager-knows-what-women-want.html)

    Those people who came up with the word “tramp stamp”? I’m pretty sure they aren’t feminists. The guy who thinks women who enjoy anal sex are whores? He’s not a feminist either. (Just ask him, I beg you.) The idea that women should not have self-determination over their bodies and their sexuality is not a feminist idea, it’s a patriarchal idea. Most feminists are too busy working on projects like ensuring I make equal pay and have child care to get too exercised about what anybody’s doing with their bottles of handlotion out in cyberspace.

    Of course they’re not, and naturally, I’m not trying to say “it’s feminist’s fault.” I am saying, though, that the folks who did come up with that expression, and who deride women who enjoy anal sex–male misogynists all–share one thing in common with some radical anti-porn feminists: the idea that there are only certain sexual choices a woman “should” make, and that any woman who strays outside those sexual boundaries is worth less because of it.

    But even feminists who dislike pornography dislike it precisely because it has historically been and often still is used as a tool of oppression, used strategically for *taking away* women’s self determination. There are plenty of women involved in pornography — as pornographers and consumers — who are feminists, self-actualized, doing just what they love to do just the way they love to do it. Carol Queen, Susie Bright, we could both name dozens. More power to ’em.

    But there are also women, lots of women, who are coerced into involvement in pornography — as sex workers or as partners or as consumers — because they have no other or no better options. There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out, and saying it isn’t fair and something should be done about it. Everyone ought to have the right to pursue their own version of sexuality without coercion.

    Yep. Agreed without reservation. That’s why I tried to be careful to limit my criticism to those particular feminists who condemn porn across the board, and even to say (in another comment) that the folks who condemn feminism across the board can muddy the water for folks who confine themselves to pointing out flaws and abuses in the porn industry–wich is rather a different thing.

    It sounds like you may be seeing a hostility to feminism in what I’m writing, when my criticism really only applies to a very small subset of feminists.

    But here’s the truth buried in the strawstack: inequality between men and women is built — socialized — into what we think is hot. All of us. Even the most liberated among us. Women have more fantasies about being “done to” sexually; men have more fantasies about “doing.” That’s interesting; it means something. It does something to our relationships and our sex lives. And not always something good.

    What’s interesting is that even though I take on the dominant role in many of my sexual relationships, my own fantasies often turn to “done to” as often as, or more often, than they turn to “doing.”

    I get what you’re saying, though. I belong to the most privileged race, class, and sex in the country–and arguably in the world. As a white male heterosexual First Worlder, I live in a sea of privilege that I was born into. If I do something exceptional, nobody says “wow, he’s amazing for a guy,” and if I do something profoundly stupid, it’s unlikely anyone will ever say “Well, it just goes to show you about whites.” Nobody accuses me of trying to “promote the heterosexual agenda” or of seeking “special rights for men” or any nonsense like that.

    And I do understand that being born into this position both endows me with privilege that’s largely invisible to me, and also shapes the way I think about and relate to other people.

  48. Part II

    Franklin, I love your writing and thinking about sex. I think it’s funny, and clever, and useful, and hot. But I have often had the thought, reading your work, that I wished you were a feminist.

    In the sense that I promote a society free of constraints based on sex or sexual roles, and believe that in all matters not requiring physical possession of a penis or a vagina, men and women are and should be inherently equal, I am a feminist.

    In the sense I think you’re talking about, when it comes to understanding the issues faced by women in a society with a centuries-long tradition of male dominance, I think that many women would probably argue that it’s not possible for me to be a feminist, because it’s not possible to have the experience of being a woman that would provide the context.

    That I wish you wrote more interestingly about the gender implications of your own and your partners’ sexualities, and about how this plays out for society in general. I wish you pushed your own boundaries in this way. (Gina’s article on Onyx turning her into a lesbian? Terrific. And I’d love to read an article on Franklin’s experiences playing Onyx in a group full of men. Not to make you gay — I believe your claims of persistent heterosexuality — but just for sake of exploration and reportage and just for fun, you know?)

    I’ve actually played Onyx only a small handful of times myself, hard as that might be to believe. In all but one of those cases, I wasn’t the only man present. In fact, the majority of my group sex experiences have involved situations with more than one man, and that really doesn’t bother me at all, though I’m not particularly interested in pursuing sexual contact with another man.

    I do get your point, though, and it’s something I have invested a good deal of time and effort thinking about, if not writing about.

    This is a conversation that I’ve had on several occasions with Shelly, in fact. While I’m not interested in hot guy-on-guy action, I am interested in sexual activities that place me in a role that would generally be associated with the female or submissive gender role–having partners use strap-ons on me, for example. At one point, before she started school, Shelly and I were engaged in a systematic exploration of where the line is in my head that defines gender boundaries, though that was some time ago.

    Take a vote. I can’t be your only reader who thinks that would be both enlightening and hot. More enlightening and more hot than reading a dazzling vilification of a movement that’s fundamentally on the side of you going to bed with whomever wants to go to bed with you.

    Again, it sounds like you’re reading an attack against the whole of feminist thought where none is really intended.

  49. I’ve got to second the “ass antlers” comment. Its more descriptive, and a lot less negative, though I agree its still pejorative.

    Other than that; I’ve gotta say I love reading your journal. πŸ˜€

  50. I’ve got to second the “ass antlers” comment. Its more descriptive, and a lot less negative, though I agree its still pejorative.

    Other than that; I’ve gotta say I love reading your journal. πŸ˜€

  51. As a matter of fact, a particular tribe (that I can’t remember the name of right now – I think somewhere in the Pacific Islands) that was matriarchal, when studied by sociologists, had its menfolk reported as making such statements as “I don’t like the women being in charge, I’m tired of being treated like a studhorse, only good for providing sex and cleaning house”.

  52. There is no term for promiscuous males that has the same level of derision and derogatory overtones. There’s “bachelor” and “man about town”.

    In recent history, we have come up with ghetto slang words like “dog” and “playa”, but slut and whore (and any other term that means “a woman who likes sex/has lots of sex/has sexual partners) have been, and continue to be, the lowest of the low insults. Even the worst insults for men have to do with women having sex, like “motherfucker” and “son of a bitch”

  53. Unfortunately, that’s the point I can’t seem to make guys who subscribe to it see, from the person they’re supposedly putting up on that pedestal. *That’s* the real thing that I rant against in my journal entries – the ideology behind “putting a woman on a pedestal” is not the same as “treating people with respect”. I exaggerate the consequences sometimes to make the distinction more clear.

  54. Re: Part II

    Heh. Appreciate your quick reply and not scolding me for blogging on *your* blog. πŸ™‚

    To me, a feminist is a person who believes men and women are equal and ought to have equal rights, privileges, responsibilities; it means standing up against oppression of women when it occurs, and it means being thoughtful and proactive about the ideas, images, and prejudices one holds about men and women, including as they apply to oneself. Having a vulva or not having a penis isn’t required. If you want to be a feminist, you can come to *my* bra-burning. (Not that I’m likely to be holding one. I’m a 34G; bras are not optional for me.) πŸ˜‰

    My difficulty with “anti-porn feminists” is largely that they’re straw figures. Andrea Dworkin, Catherine MacKinnon; I’ve read them, I have some admiration for some of their work, and they don’t say what everybody says they say. (It was Dworkin, not MacKinnon, who is usually blamed for the Canadian law thing, and she didn’t do it. For example.) The people who wanted censorship of pornography in the 1980s when video made porn suddenly pervasive and accessible and scary were 99.5% right-wing ideologues and .5% feminists, but feminists are what people waste time writing about, as if they were the real threat. Feminism is a cheap shot; especially when the American Taliban have apparently taken over California. Anyway, you get my point.

    I still say, though, whatever your personal inclinations, that you should submit to some hot guy-on-guy action for journalism’s sake. But that could just be me. πŸ˜‰

  55. I agree with pretty much every word you’ve written here.

    But I would like to make a note here about my own observations about the use of the term “tramp stamp”.

    Very few people get tattoos that they do not wish to display (although I can think of a couple of people). Most of the time, tattoos are meant to be seen.

    So when a tattoo is placed in or near an area that is typically covered up, or traditionally thought to be an area that *should* be covered up, one can only assume that the wearer of said tattoo wants that body part to be seen.

    And, typically, those same types of women *do* wear clothing designed to show off that area of the body, such as low-waisted pants, often paired with the aforementioned high-waisted thong.

    Which is not to say the onlookers are justified in their derogatory comments, just saying that the tattoo itself isn’t necessarily where the comments come from – it’s the fact that they women are “advertising” by wearing sexually flirtatious clothing to show off a body part that, historically, not your average onlooker should have been able to see.

    Personally, I don’t like the clothing style because it’s uncomfortable and impractical, and the women who tend to wear clothing like that also tend to be (in my experience) impractical … at least the women who come to a manual labor job and then wear jeans too tight to squat in and too low to bend over in are impractical, and I find that to be a character flaw.

    • I’d just like to point out that a lot of people spend a lot of resources on clothing, body modification, grooming, and personal care for parts of their body which are only intended to be appreciated by a select segment of the population. It is not safe to assume that the placement of a body mod on a traditionally “hidden” part of the anatomy implies that one is interested in sharing this part with the general public.

      • I think it’s pretty safe to assume that one is interested in sharing (if only visually) with the public any part of their body that they show to the public.

        I dunno about anyone else, but I only have opinions about strangers’ body mods & ornamentation if I can see ’em.

      • Seconded. Of all my various decorations and modifications, very few have been seen by people who are not lovers or close friends. πŸ™‚

        Though I will also say that if a woman wants to wear something that exposes her midriff, or her back, or whatever else it exposes, then it’s her prerogative to do so, and it doesn’t necessarily say anything about her sexual promiscuity at all. Control over one’s body seems to me to logically extend to control over how one ornaments, decorates, and dresses one’s body.

        • I completely agree that it is anyone’s perogative to dress how they want to dress. But I disagree that it doesn’t necessarily say anything about her sexual promiscuity at all.

          I think one can’t make any guarantees about the validity of one’s assumptions based on someone’s clothing, but we cannot completely divorce ourselves from our society’s cultural values so I think we can make some assumptions, as long as we are aware that they are assumptions and not facts.

          People often choose their attire deliberately, particularly those we are speaking of in this thread. Their choices are made with regards to the type of message they want to send based on cultural values.

          It is true that some people do *not* consciously make the statements other people read from their clothing, but I’d say that 1) they’re in the minority and 2) that shows a shocking lack of cultural perception.

          Although a woman most definately *should* have the right to wear low-rise jeans and not be subjected to catcalls or assumptions of “slut”, whatever that might mean, when she chooses to wear a pair of low-rise jeans in a society that typically associates the ass as a secondary or tertiary sexual area, she is either deliberately making a statement about her sexuality or she is completely oblivious to the consequences of displaying a culturally-taboo body part. Ockham’s Razor would suggest that it’s the former. Wearing low-rise jeans intentionally to make the opposite statement is much more complicated and would require, say, a t-shirt with a slogan saying “I’m not a slut just because I wear low-rise jeans” or conversation of some sort, so I argue that the ironic statement is not a likely candidate for this discussion.

          Again, this doesn’t mean that the cultural taboos are right and it doesn’t excuse poor behaviour from the onlookers. It only means that clothing choices, particularly the ones we’re discussing here, are often deliberate and do send a message even if one does not intend to send that message … law of unintended consequences and all that.

      • If one wears clothing designed to display that body part, body mod or no, I think it is safe to assume it’s meant for the general public, hence my qualification of those individuals who do have some “private” tattoos

    • Seconded.

      People, female or otherwise, who ornament and display their butt-cleavage, are saying they want you to look at their butt-cleavage. Whatever one may infer about them from that.

      Or else that they have a really poor grasp of likely consequences of their choices. Which is depressingly common…

  56. I agree with pretty much every word you’ve written here.

    But I would like to make a note here about my own observations about the use of the term “tramp stamp”.

    Very few people get tattoos that they do not wish to display (although I can think of a couple of people). Most of the time, tattoos are meant to be seen.

    So when a tattoo is placed in or near an area that is typically covered up, or traditionally thought to be an area that *should* be covered up, one can only assume that the wearer of said tattoo wants that body part to be seen.

    And, typically, those same types of women *do* wear clothing designed to show off that area of the body, such as low-waisted pants, often paired with the aforementioned high-waisted thong.

    Which is not to say the onlookers are justified in their derogatory comments, just saying that the tattoo itself isn’t necessarily where the comments come from – it’s the fact that they women are “advertising” by wearing sexually flirtatious clothing to show off a body part that, historically, not your average onlooker should have been able to see.

    Personally, I don’t like the clothing style because it’s uncomfortable and impractical, and the women who tend to wear clothing like that also tend to be (in my experience) impractical … at least the women who come to a manual labor job and then wear jeans too tight to squat in and too low to bend over in are impractical, and I find that to be a character flaw.

  57. Re: Part II

    did mention in more than one place that he was speaking of a very specific type of person who happened to be a small portion of the overall group labeled “feminist”.

    Unfortunately, your “straw figures” exist all over the place. I’ve met quite a few of them, and blogged about one recently. Although they are not the majority of feminists, and although they are not the majority of those hurting the fight for equality, they are a particularly notable bunch because of the hypocrisy involved in claiming to be for “equal rights for women” while simultaneously working to undermine true equality.

    They do quite a bit of damage all on their own, because, though their numbers are small, their voices are loud. The right-wingers even use their positions as self-proclaimed feminists to boost their own ratings. Take the whole McCain/Palin debacle, for instance. The Republican presidential campaign hoped to win all the Hilary supporters by nominating a woman as VP candidate, but their right-wing policies clash with actual feminsts, so they had to get a member of “Feminists For Life”, who used her femininity as a tool to further oppress women. They damn near succeeded too, gathering quite a few females who jumped on the “progressive” move by McCain before learning anything about Palin herself.

    No, they’re not a majority, but they sure are loud.

  58. I have not commented on your posts in the past, but this one stood out so well that I had to say bravo. As Red said, it’s a shame these facts are surprising to many people. THe last two paragraphs are particularly memorable. I’d like permission to repost this as a quote attributed to you of course.

  59. I have not commented on your posts in the past, but this one stood out so well that I had to say bravo. As Red said, it’s a shame these facts are surprising to many people. THe last two paragraphs are particularly memorable. I’d like permission to repost this as a quote attributed to you of course.

  60. I’d just like to point out that a lot of people spend a lot of resources on clothing, body modification, grooming, and personal care for parts of their body which are only intended to be appreciated by a select segment of the population. It is not safe to assume that the placement of a body mod on a traditionally “hidden” part of the anatomy implies that one is interested in sharing this part with the general public.

  61. One woman even went so far as to say, without apparent irony, that she has no respect for any woman who would be in porn.

    Which, to my mind, is no different from the guy who says he has no respect for any woman who would receive anal sex.

    Yes, yes, YES.

  62. “It would seem that this man treats women with respect only as far as they behave the way he wants them to, and the moment they deviate from his expectations about how they should be, he tears them down off that pedestal and judges them ‘whores.’ Which is pretty fucked up, if you ask me.”

    I think this point of view is kind of biased. Let me explain…

    If a man has a code of values to which he holds himself to, he would only engange with people who hold a similar code of values. If he expects women to act in a certain way (which is consonent with the way a person would act in accordance with his code of values), then he would be offended if they acted in a way that was against this code, i.e., if his code of values regarded anal sex as deragotory to the person’s body and self-worth/self-esteem. If they act in this way, they are, according to his code of values, acting in a sense of self-disrespect, and could only lead to him concluding that they are worthy of disrespect.

    However, if someone finds that to be a value, they, of course, would find the person who is willing to take it up the ass very respectful. But to the person who wishes to keep there anus a one-way-street, they would harbor great disrespect for this person.

    In both cases, granted, each person could respect the wishes of the person in anal-question to their own anal-sovereignty. However, from what I see from this post, it seems that if you’re against anal sex in the moral-volitional-sense, that you must be some kind of bad person, that if you view anal sex to be bad you must think it’s a “whore”-ish activity reserved for the whores, and that’s wrong. But this simply is not the case. It’s your body, you choose what you want to do, regardless of what your boyfriend or girlfriend or someone on the internet says, and if you feel disrespected by having a dick shoved up your ass, then by all means, don’t have anal sex.

    That’s my comment on that part of your post.

    • It’s important to distinguish between holding values and holding empirical ideas which are falsifiable.

      People who hold similar values do tend to gravitate toward one another, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I would not expect an observant Shi’ite Muslim to marry a porn star, for example. Sexual compatibility includes compatibility in ideas and values around sex.

      But something like “A woman would only like anal sex because she has low-self esteem” is an empirical statement, not a value–and it’s an empirical statement that can be proven to be false. A person who holds an idea like “I would not date a woman who takes it up the butt because women who take it up the butt have low self-esteem” is falling into the trap of making up an internal story to explain other people’s motivations, then passing judgement on other people based on the story he’s invented about their motivations. Some people who take it up the butt have low self-esteem; some people do not. By holding on to that idea, that person is in fact prejudiced; he is pre-judging the motivations of folks he doesn’t even know.

      • I’m considering this response…

        But what of the person who takes it up the butt who thinks the person they are with who doesn’t like to give it up the butt as if they were some kind of uncultured swine? Just reversing the scenerio a bit. What if this person is really offended by this fact, not out of prejudice, but out of sheer respect for the nature of the body (i.e., the fact that only shit comes out of the anus and nothing really ought to go in)? Wouldn’t the person who wants to take it be a bit prejudice in expecting someone else to act in a way that’s contradictory to their personal values?

  63. “It would seem that this man treats women with respect only as far as they behave the way he wants them to, and the moment they deviate from his expectations about how they should be, he tears them down off that pedestal and judges them ‘whores.’ Which is pretty fucked up, if you ask me.”

    I think this point of view is kind of biased. Let me explain…

    If a man has a code of values to which he holds himself to, he would only engange with people who hold a similar code of values. If he expects women to act in a certain way (which is consonent with the way a person would act in accordance with his code of values), then he would be offended if they acted in a way that was against this code, i.e., if his code of values regarded anal sex as deragotory to the person’s body and self-worth/self-esteem. If they act in this way, they are, according to his code of values, acting in a sense of self-disrespect, and could only lead to him concluding that they are worthy of disrespect.

    However, if someone finds that to be a value, they, of course, would find the person who is willing to take it up the ass very respectful. But to the person who wishes to keep there anus a one-way-street, they would harbor great disrespect for this person.

    In both cases, granted, each person could respect the wishes of the person in anal-question to their own anal-sovereignty. However, from what I see from this post, it seems that if you’re against anal sex in the moral-volitional-sense, that you must be some kind of bad person, that if you view anal sex to be bad you must think it’s a “whore”-ish activity reserved for the whores, and that’s wrong. But this simply is not the case. It’s your body, you choose what you want to do, regardless of what your boyfriend or girlfriend or someone on the internet says, and if you feel disrespected by having a dick shoved up your ass, then by all means, don’t have anal sex.

    That’s my comment on that part of your post.

  64. Re: Part II

    I still say, though, whatever your personal inclinations, that you should submit to some hot guy-on-guy action for journalism’s sake. But that could just be me. πŸ˜‰

    I’d sign up to buy that video. πŸ˜‰ But hey, I roll that way….

  65. I really need to make a memory tag called “ hits it out of the park again”. I had such a beastie for some of ‘s better entries, but she seems to have deleted a lot of them, darn it.

  66. I really need to make a memory tag called “ hits it out of the park again”. I had such a beastie for some of ‘s better entries, but she seems to have deleted a lot of them, darn it.

  67. Seconded.

    People, female or otherwise, who ornament and display their butt-cleavage, are saying they want you to look at their butt-cleavage. Whatever one may infer about them from that.

    Or else that they have a really poor grasp of likely consequences of their choices. Which is depressingly common…

  68. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that one is interested in sharing (if only visually) with the public any part of their body that they show to the public.

    I dunno about anyone else, but I only have opinions about strangers’ body mods & ornamentation if I can see ’em.

  69. A parliamentary system might be preferable to the one e have now. The more time goes on, the more I become convinced that a winner-takes-all electoral system is not a good idea.

    The down side of many parliamentary systems in practice is that they end up getting too fragmented, and as a result governments stand only for as long as inter-party coalitions hold, and collapse as soon as they don’t. I can see what the people who set our system up were trying to avoid.

    Seems like we should be able to find a system that incorporates the stability of ours with a more even representation like you might see in a parliamentary system, though.

  70. Evidence would suggest that Britney Spears is a poor role model for Britney Spears, too. πŸ™‚

    Britney Spears and other similar celebrity figures seem to me to exemplify the worst of both aspects of American society. We’re simultaneously fascinated by sex and repelled by it; we love sexual imagery in our advertising, as long as it’s not too sexy, but we’re also highly Puritanical and we treat sexuality with shame.

    So Britney Spears’ sexuality is a manufactured image, created by advertising executives for the purpose of selling a product–but when she started to believe her own hype and started to explore sexuality for real, she didn’t have the tools to be able to do so responsibly nor to analyze and learn from her mistake. She strikes me as being something of a repeating train wreck as a result.

    There are terms for promiscuous men, I’m sure, but they don’t seem to have the same “bite” as terms applied to women. Promiscuity in men is still a very different animal culturally, and it’s not met with the same scorn that it is in women.

  71. I think you’ve touched on something here, and that there’s a certain feminist philosophy that sometimes sinks into waving off not only porn, but sexuality in general, which is a damn shame.

    If we look at the history of the feminist movement, we see women struggling and struggling for the right not only to have a hand in their own sexuality and the freedom to express that sexuality, but simply for the right to enjoy sex. Repressive, anti-woman societies appear to hate and fear wommen’s orgasms, to the point that the most repressive of them will actually surgically mutilate women in order to ensure that sex can never be pleasurable.

    So the feminist movement has fought very hard just to get to the point where society thinks it’s OK for a woman to have an orgasm…only to see a small handful of self-described feminists go full circle and embrace the idea that they shouldn’t enjoy sex. (I had one such person actually tell me “My feminist beliefs mean I can never enjoy sex with my boyfriend.” Which makes me wonder: WTF kind of boyfriend does she have who would continue having sex with her knowing she doesn’t enjoy it?)

  72. It does, but not nearly to the same extent that it used to. In Iran, a woman can still be executed if her husband claims that she was not a virgin on her wedding night; in parts of rural India, it’s still socially acceptable to murder your wife by setting her on fire if her family doesn’t cough up a large enough dowry. (I shit you not. They’re usually recorded as “cooking accidents”–wtf kind of cooking accident would set a person on fire?).

    In American society, a woman who’s an unwed virgin is not completely at a loss for any future happiness. We don’t demand dowries from the family of the bride, women can and do succeed in business and industry…if a woman’s value depends on her sex, it’s in a much less literal and much more indirect way.

    Which isn’t to say that the current state of affairs is acceptable, or that the level of discrimination women face today is okay. It’s more an acknowledgment that the struggle for equal standing in American society has made tremendous progress over the past century.

    Of course, I do think I’m a bit spoiled; the women I surround myself with tend to be strong, smart, capable, independent, and unwilling to put up with bullshit. Two of my sweeties are currently seeking Ph.D.s in hard sciences; one of my sweeties will have her Master’s degree in engineering in a couple of weeks; I have a sweetie who’s upper management at a Fortune 500 company and another who’s a successful and published sex-tech author. None of these things would have been possible, or even conceivable, even a century ago.

    None of that takes away from your point, that these biases still exist and society is still prone to value women on the basis of their sexuality. But it’s getting better.

  73. Re: Part II

    My difficulty with “anti-porn feminists” is largely that they’re straw figures. Andrea Dworkin, Catherine MacKinnon; I’ve read them, I have some admiration for some of their work, and they don’t say what everybody says they say.

    I’ve read both Dworkin and MacKinnon, and been largely unimpressed. I’m also aware that their real views are often distorted; there’s even a Snopes page about the ‘all sex is rape’ thing.

    MacKinnon is something of a different case, and in all honesty, I think her ideas–which are strongly opposed to porn in all cases, across the board–are harmful and destructive. She champions a direct, casual connection between viewing porn and acts of rape, one which is completely unsupported by empirical evidence; she even claims that snuff films exist, and that they’re the natural extension of pornography. (Snopes has a page about that, too.)

    Writing in the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, she said, “as you think about the assumption of consent that follows women into pornography, look closely some time for the skinned knees, the bruises, the welts from the whippings, the scratches, the gashes. Many of them are not simulated. One relatively soft core pornography model said, “I knew the pose was right when it hurt.” It certainly seems important to the audiences that the events in the pornography be real. For this reason, pornography becomes a motive for murder, as in “snuff” films in which someone is tortured to death to make a sex film. They exist.”

    On the subject of women who voluntarily participate in porn, Ms. MacKinnon had this to say, during an interview on PBS with Ben Wattenberg:

    MR. WATTENBERG: But suppose a woman did a porno film voluntarily– there was no gun to her head, got paid for it, and had a royaltycoming from each time it was shown for profit. Would you, A, regard that as pornography, and would you make that illegal?

    MS. MacKINNON: Well, the product itself, no matter what the conditions of production are, do — those products do produce a whole series of harms to other women.

    I find the notion that any sexual depictions of women in any situation, even when it is voluntary and consensual, to be harmful to women in general somewhat questionable at best, and would even go so far as to say that it has, embedded deep within its assumptions, the very same notions of women’s “proper” behavior around sex that are the root of ideas like the notion that a woman who has unconventional sex is a ‘whore’ and is unworthy of respect.

    We see this notion in other expressions of this particular brand of feminist ideology. Ms. MacKinnon also said that pornography is “[A] lie about who women are and what they want.” The notion here–that there is only one thing women want, that women’s dignity means behaving in only one certain way–is one I fond extraordinarily misogynistic and extraordinarily dangerous. It sets forth, exactly as the idea about anal sex does, that there is one right way that women “should” be treated, and that women “should” behave. (Activist and feminist Betty Friedan responded to MacKinnon’s calls for civil legislation against porn producers by saying “I want to express my view, on behalf of a great many woman in this country, feminists and believers in human rights, that this current move to introduce censorship in the United States in the guise of suppressing pornography is extremely dangerous to woman.”

    MacKinnon may not have said that all heterosexual sex is rape, but she certainly has said a great many things which can’t be supported by empirical evidence and which I believe represent a dangerously backward approach to feminism that in practice does more harm than good.

    The central thesis I’m trying to make is that the “righ” way to treat a woman is the way she wants to be treated; that the human condition is vast and varied, and real respect means recognizing that; and that a woman’s right to control her body naturally extends to the right to control her sexual expression, even if that sexual expression includes taking (or giving!) it up the ass, or getting it on in front of a camera.

  74. Seconded. Of all my various decorations and modifications, very few have been seen by people who are not lovers or close friends. πŸ™‚

    Though I will also say that if a woman wants to wear something that exposes her midriff, or her back, or whatever else it exposes, then it’s her prerogative to do so, and it doesn’t necessarily say anything about her sexual promiscuity at all. Control over one’s body seems to me to logically extend to control over how one ornaments, decorates, and dresses one’s body.

  75. It’s important to distinguish between holding values and holding empirical ideas which are falsifiable.

    People who hold similar values do tend to gravitate toward one another, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I would not expect an observant Shi’ite Muslim to marry a porn star, for example. Sexual compatibility includes compatibility in ideas and values around sex.

    But something like “A woman would only like anal sex because she has low-self esteem” is an empirical statement, not a value–and it’s an empirical statement that can be proven to be false. A person who holds an idea like “I would not date a woman who takes it up the butt because women who take it up the butt have low self-esteem” is falling into the trap of making up an internal story to explain other people’s motivations, then passing judgement on other people based on the story he’s invented about their motivations. Some people who take it up the butt have low self-esteem; some people do not. By holding on to that idea, that person is in fact prejudiced; he is pre-judging the motivations of folks he doesn’t even know.

  76. I’m considering this response…

    But what of the person who takes it up the butt who thinks the person they are with who doesn’t like to give it up the butt as if they were some kind of uncultured swine? Just reversing the scenerio a bit. What if this person is really offended by this fact, not out of prejudice, but out of sheer respect for the nature of the body (i.e., the fact that only shit comes out of the anus and nothing really ought to go in)? Wouldn’t the person who wants to take it be a bit prejudice in expecting someone else to act in a way that’s contradictory to their personal values?

  77. If one wears clothing designed to display that body part, body mod or no, I think it is safe to assume it’s meant for the general public, hence my qualification of those individuals who do have some “private” tattoos

  78. It might help to simply outlaw electoral vote pooling, but that gets to an issue of State rights. In and of itself, that will only affect the POTUS. I postulate it would cause a greater emphasis on indie voting for POTUS, and therefore in other Federal elections.

    I’m right there with you on voting for independants. The downside is that we need an educated electorate to see when an outsider is incompetant vs. when the two parties are just cock blocking him (e.g. Ventura). I think the Millennials(aka the Naughties) are more politically educated and active than any generation since the 60s, so this might be self correcting.

    Was it Lincoln that quipped “A good democracy needs a revolution every 200 years”? Looking for that, I came across this:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sanjiv-gupta/masters-of-the-universe-i_b_133062.html

    I’m still hopeful that our new leadership can make some fundemental changes to mitigate that for the next decade or two πŸ˜‰ Make no mistake, any set of rules is a game, and there will always be gamesmen.

  79. Wow there’s a lot of ideas worth discussing in this thread.

    This illuminates a fundamental communication problem I have far more clearly than your previous thread about emotional investment. I actually seek out folks that challenge my beliefs, but often have negative reactions when that results in challenges to theirs. This may help – thanks.

  80. I don’t care if Brittany is sexual… but I worry about the little kids that are obsessing over her….possibly her drug problem makes it worse…but if it’s manufactured? eh… not a very positive image of sexuality….
    hmmmm the label of males as promiscuous was a *good* thing?

    btw: an you think of a very sexual famous person that has a really good example of positive sexuality?

  81. I don’t care if Brittany is sexual… but I worry about the little kids that are obsessing over her….possibly her drug problem makes it worse…but if it’s manufactured? eh… not a very positive image of sexuality….
    hmmmm the label of males as promiscuous was a *good* thing?

    btw: can you think of a very sexual famous person that has a really good example of positive sexuality?

  82. in parts of rural India, it’s still socially acceptable to murder your wife by setting her on fire if her family doesn’t cough up a large enough dowry. (I shit you not. They’re usually recorded as “cooking accidents”–wtf kind of cooking accident would set a person on fire?).

    I did a comparison of rape legislation, prevention programs, etc. in India and the U.S. my freshman year of college. It’s not “cooking accidents” so much as “exploding stoves.” Easier to stage and plausible, as it actually does sometimes happen.

    This vaguely reminds me of all the women in Ireland who get bank loans (for new major household appliances, I think it was) so they could afford to go to England to get an abortion.

  83. Re: Part II

    I have actually read and loved Dworkin , though a few things she says piss me off. But hey, Pat Califia has also said a few things that piss me off, and that doesn’t lessen my adoration for him.

  84. No, it wasn’t officially sanctioned in the least, but sodomy in the SS did come up a few times in the class I took on social outsiders in Nazi Germany. Apparently it wasn’t rare, but it wasn’t as prevalent as some historians have claimed.

  85. I think a matriarchal society would be inherently oppressive, and I don’t know if you could evaluate strictness in a really meaningful way there. Not that I see oppression as a binary, but looking at the patriarchy, oppression is built into the system. Obviously I’ve got a lot more freedom in America than I would in Saudi Arabia, but that doesn’t mean the patriarchy isn’t oppressive here too, simply by being the structure of society.

  86. I don’t think that any subculture or minority group can escape the “you’re not a real ___” arguments. My friends who are people of color have gotten it (“you’re a banana/twinkie/coconut), I’ve seen it in the kink community, and the queer community.

  87. WTF kind of boyfriend does she have who would continue having sex with her knowing she doesn’t enjoy it?
    Possibly the kind similar to my ex-boyfriend who laughed when I wept in pain during sex.

  88. Enjoying anything sex-related but not letting that make a hole in my brain for the patriarchy to wiggle in through is just plain difficult.
    I empathize liek whoa.

    baby/bathwater=porn/patriarchy

  89. In my observation, the feminists who are most fanatically anti-porn are those who have suffered the most abuse–and usually that abuse directly involved porn.

    The religious nutjobs who oppose porn typically have little experience with or understanding of sexual abuse. They just really like that god tells them they get to be in charge.

  90. It may be inescapable, but there’s no need to give it any more attention that it deserves. Since this is an internet kind of discussion, I have to believe anyone if they claim to be gay, or black, or feminist, or queer, or male, or female. “you’re not a *real* [fill in the blank] is just another ad hominim attack.

    I think it’s used by people to narrow down the area of discourse to what they want it to be about. If an objection is raised, they can call into question a person’s right to raise the objection.

    There are topics I only ever want to discuss with people who can eschew this kind of argument.

  91. Unless you’re happy to be in a fight club, it’s important to be able to question the agenda of the group.

    The alliances I try to avoid, are with those who want what I want for reasons I disagree with.

    Conversely, there are (temporary) opponents out there who want different things from what I want, but for reasons that converge with mine. If I’m surrounded by allies of the first type, I’ll never notice these other kind of potential allies.

  92. sex, death, fear

    I’ve thought a lot about what sex is really for, and why it’s so scary, and does it have to be so scary all the time… In one specific regard, there’s a kind of fear that I don’t want to remove from sex.

    Sex is dangerous where it gives us the power to break another person’s heart… and no amount of creative accounting is going to reduce that basic fear.

    In another time, I would have said it was dangerous because the future of the human race is wrapped up in there, but now I’m guessing that’s only about 5 to 10 percent true in the circles I frequent. As long as people keep dying and having to replace themselves, it’s going to be somewhat true.

  93. What kind of abuse that involves porn? Do you mean people forced to watch porn, or people forced to act out what their partners see in porn, or something else?

  94. The “allies with people who want the same thing but for different reasons” bit resonates with me, as there are folks in the poly community who see fundamentalist Mormons, many of whom are activists for plural marriage, as an ally.

    They’re not; FLDS doctrine is appallingly cruel to women (and is white supremacist on top of the misogyny), and they seek plural marriages only in the form of a man with many wives; the notion that a woman can have multiple partners is strongly condemned. Their fight isn’t my fight, and I don’t see them as allies at all.

  95. Nope, not at all. But the law of unintended consequence can be pretty merciless. When an activist takes an extremist stance that is easily used to justify condemnation of the thing she is seeking to act against, well, there’s a problem. πŸ™‚

    There are certain tools–censorship, social condemnation, ostracism, and so forth–which are often used by the dominant groups in society to control that society’s members and reinforce its own power. An activist picks up these tools at great peril.

    Censorship in particular is a dangerous one. Censorship has traditionally been used as a tool of oppression against women and those with minority views for centuries. It used to be illegal even to discuss birth control, for example (something the Bush administration has sought to bring back); gay and lesbian ideas have long been a target of censorship. When some radical feminists–fortunately, very few–seek to use the tool of censhorship in the fight against porn, they can end up backfiring; the laws that Catherine MacKinnon helped bring about in Canada are often used against gay and lesbian materials, but not against heterosexual porn.

  96. Two reasons.

    First, because for centuries men made the standards, with no input from women.

    Second, because for centuries, economic and political structures depended on control of female sexuality. A woman who had more than one sex partner might have children whose paternity could not be determined. Since everything from estate property to political power was hereditary and paternalistic, and since there was no way to conclusively demonstrate the biological lineage of a child, economic and political stability was believed to rest absolutely on controlling a woman’s sexual behavior.

  97. I have heard accounts of both. I know folks whose parents forced them to watch porn, or forced them to watch porn before/while/after molesting them. One friend, in particular, was forced by her step father to sit and watch porn with him as a very young child. As to my knowledge, she is now so disgusted by the very idea of sex that she is damn near 40 and has yet to actually experience it. I know people who were sexually assaulted, and porn was used by the attacker before/during/after as a tool of manipulation or intimidation, or even as a reason or justification.

    Are you asking for graphic descriptions of abuse? I mean, I know the stories, but that seems like a weird thing for you to be asking me for.

    I have heard countless stories of rape, abuse and incest in which porn is at its best a direct representation of and at worst an integral part of the abuse. Nearly every woman I have ever witness speak vehemently against porn I have also seen speak elsewhere of her personal experience with sexual abuse and its direct connection with some sort of pornography–whether forced to emulate it, participate in it, consume it, or merely as a presence used to create an environment in which the abuse is possible–and I do not mean abstractly, I mean in the same manner in which someone might intimidate a potential victim by leaving weapons in obvious view.

    Like you, I wondered why a branch of radical feminism seemed to steer so far away from feminist ideas of bodily and sexual autonomy, so I started reading anti-porn literature and message boards. What I saw was story after story of serious sexual abuse in which the theme was porn. Men and women talked about partners who pressured them into viewing porn, and then forced the acts they saw upon them. People related stories of abuse (particularly child abuse) in which the attacker introduced the victim slowly to pornography, as a means to shame/silence/scare them so that the abuse could occur or continue.

    The creativity and ruthlessness with which sexual predators utilize porn to intimidate, manipulate, shame, silence, and abuse their victims is astonishing. I’ve also read the accounts of convicted rapists and child rapists describing with excitement the ways in which pornography facilitates and enhances their predation.

    I have actually personally been in several abusive situations of which porn was a key element.

    I’m not in any capacity stating my agreement with anti-porn ideals.M/b> I’m quite fond of porn, although I recognize the problematic elements. I think that it is inherently neutral, with the only positive or negative results being due to the intention and use of the creator or the viewer. I suppose it’s the “guns don’t kill people” argument, for me.

    I’m merely pointing out that there’s an experience and usually a motivation that exists among the ranks of the anti-porn branches of feminism that is different than the experiences and motivations of the religious anti-porn people. I think it’s important to note because I would imagine that you’d like to communicate with these people on some level–particularly if they’re attempting to legislate their experiences. In order to do so, you have to recognize what the discussion is actually about, for a lot of them. The argument doesn’t come down to privacy vs. abstract social trends for them. They use that language, certainly, but as you talked about there’s a visceral worldview under that. The worldview is that porn is a weapon that threatens their safety. Not the safety of their position of power (as in the case of the right wing fear of porn and women’s sexuality in general) but the actual safety of their bodies, and in some cases their lives.

    Most people talk to anti-porn feminists as if they do have the same mindset as their right-wing counterparts, and that’s simply useless. I believe it to be one of the main reasons the argument hasn’t gotten anywhere in 30 years.

  98. Re: With that in mind

    I didn’t want to say anything, but this entry is so fantastic I thought you’d want to know. I’m sure it’s going to be linked to and reproduced all over the place.

  99. I can’t quite rightly wrap my brain around the notion that a person’s value centers on the way that person acts in bed, nor around the idea that a woman who digs it up the ass, no matter what other qualities she may have as a human being, determines her eligibility for respect.

    my 2 cents (adjusted for inflation):

    People do all sorts of things behind closed doors, that they never tell anyone. I always wonder at people who think to judge on the basis of sexuality.

    I mean one of those crazy fundie Christians calls George Bush a “righteous man” worthy of respect even though he and his cabal led thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people to their deaths. But if a woman worked in a soup kitchen and was a good wife and mother but had an abortion at age 16 or something, she would be written off as “evil”.

    I guess that’s why people generally don’t talk about sexuality. Too much prejudice associated with it in our society. Must be cuz it’s mysterious and no one talks about it. Like a vicious cycle.

    I kind of live by this Spanish saying: Una dama en la sala, una puta en la cama. πŸ˜‰ (rough translation: A lady in the living room, a whore in the bedroom.) Cuz what the hell. Life is short. Y’know?

    p.s. in case anyone’s wondering, I don’t equate anal sex (or any sexual activity) with abortion. it’s just an example. weirdo fundie christians seem to go crazy around anything even vaguely relating to sexuality.

  100. I can’t quite rightly wrap my brain around the notion that a person’s value centers on the way that person acts in bed, nor around the idea that a woman who digs it up the ass, no matter what other qualities she may have as a human being, determines her eligibility for respect.

    my 2 cents (adjusted for inflation):

    People do all sorts of things behind closed doors, that they never tell anyone. I always wonder at people who think to judge on the basis of sexuality.

    I mean one of those crazy fundie Christians calls George Bush a “righteous man” worthy of respect even though he and his cabal led thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people to their deaths. But if a woman worked in a soup kitchen and was a good wife and mother but had an abortion at age 16 or something, she would be written off as “evil”.

    I guess that’s why people generally don’t talk about sexuality. Too much prejudice associated with it in our society. Must be cuz it’s mysterious and no one talks about it. Like a vicious cycle.

    I kind of live by this Spanish saying: Una dama en la sala, una puta en la cama. πŸ˜‰ (rough translation: A lady in the living room, a whore in the bedroom.) Cuz what the hell. Life is short. Y’know?

    p.s. in case anyone’s wondering, I don’t equate anal sex (or any sexual activity) with abortion. it’s just an example. weirdo fundie christians seem to go crazy around anything even vaguely relating to sexuality.

  101. Can I just say how much I love you for writing all of this?? πŸ˜€

    I will admit that I’m not a fan of people getting *flash* tattoos which show no vestige of creativity or artistry, but I’m making an aesthetic decision, the same way I’m not a fan of most breast implants or heavy-duty earlobe stretching. I find some body mods to be hot, and others to be unattractive.

    I certainly don’t judge the merits of a *person* by their choice in personal decoration (although I may give them points for creativity!), and I don’t understand the idea that getting a tattoo in a certain location (unless, as in “Robot Chicken,” it’s a lower back tattoo that reads “Maximum Capacity: 3”) indicates a woman’s sexual availability.

    As for feminism’s denying that women have the right to wear red heels and red lipstick and take naked photos — that is just as repressive as a “patriarchy” that would have us barefoot in the kitchen. Grrrr.

    Although I did have to come to terms with the idea that I’m not a failure as a kinkster just because I don’t enjoy anal sex — I’m not repressed, I just don’t care for it. However, watching my Dearly Beloveds enjoy it VERY MUCH right in front of me? That’s hot as hell, and not an experience I’d ever deny them just because it doesn’t trip my personal sexual trigger.

    It really is funny how these assumptions set in, though — just because you’re _x_, you must believe/enjoy/espouse _y_, and that’s so often not actually the case.

    — A *in total agreement*

  102. Can I just say how much I love you for writing all of this?? πŸ˜€

    I will admit that I’m not a fan of people getting *flash* tattoos which show no vestige of creativity or artistry, but I’m making an aesthetic decision, the same way I’m not a fan of most breast implants or heavy-duty earlobe stretching. I find some body mods to be hot, and others to be unattractive.

    I certainly don’t judge the merits of a *person* by their choice in personal decoration (although I may give them points for creativity!), and I don’t understand the idea that getting a tattoo in a certain location (unless, as in “Robot Chicken,” it’s a lower back tattoo that reads “Maximum Capacity: 3”) indicates a woman’s sexual availability.

    As for feminism’s denying that women have the right to wear red heels and red lipstick and take naked photos — that is just as repressive as a “patriarchy” that would have us barefoot in the kitchen. Grrrr.

    Although I did have to come to terms with the idea that I’m not a failure as a kinkster just because I don’t enjoy anal sex — I’m not repressed, I just don’t care for it. However, watching my Dearly Beloveds enjoy it VERY MUCH right in front of me? That’s hot as hell, and not an experience I’d ever deny them just because it doesn’t trip my personal sexual trigger.

    It really is funny how these assumptions set in, though — just because you’re _x_, you must believe/enjoy/espouse _y_, and that’s so often not actually the case.

    — A *in total agreement*

  103. Hoop earrings ?

    Women who wear big hoop earrings like sex.

    Only gay men wear earrings.

    The ‘adventurous’ girls in high school wore black bras.(Pre Victoria’s Secret)

    Women who wear a thumb ring like women.

    All of those statements were at one time relatively accurate. But times change and as do the ways we choose to advertise our sexual availability.

    Too bad about the thumb rings though, it was a happy thought.

  104. Hoop earrings ?

    Women who wear big hoop earrings like sex.

    Only gay men wear earrings.

    The ‘adventurous’ girls in high school wore black bras.(Pre Victoria’s Secret)

    Women who wear a thumb ring like women.

    All of those statements were at one time relatively accurate. But times change and as do the ways we choose to advertise our sexual availability.

    Too bad about the thumb rings though, it was a happy thought.

  105. I don’t know if this is what you’re referring to or not, but Margaret Mead wrote some stuff that sounds very similar to that. Her work has been seriously questioned — but I think the broader point, that strongly gendered authority roles are counterproductive regardless of the details, still stands.

  106. I don’t recall her name, but my recollections of this reading when I was a sociology major were about a group of missionaries who originally found the tribe, imposed their patriarchal biases on their “research”, then about a century later, another research time came by, one who took the time to learn the language and do more observing than converting, and discovered that the tribe, previously believed to have a similar (but rudimentary) setup to patriarchal western civilizations, actually had a strong matriarchal governing system that placed men as second-class citizens in much the way strong patriarchal systems place women in second-class.

    This was unusual in that, as it was slowly being discovered, a great deal of tribal systems had more of an egalitarian setup, where things were divided up by genders, but both genders still had equal weight, such as two judicial bodies – one made up of female elders and the other of male elders, or women handling the spiritual matters while men handled the practical matters, or women ruling the property and home while men ruled the posessions and/or skills, stuff like that.

    Although I don’t have the quote exactly because I can’t find the source to cite, what stuck out in my mind was that this was brought to light because the later research team published a quote by a single male of the tribe that was, essentially, as I paraphased above, and all the men gathered around him nodded heads and murmured agreements. It most definately not the case of the Freeman/Mead controversy as spelled out in the Wikipedia article you linked to. What I read didn’t cover female sexuality at all. It covered the governmental system and that quote from a male who claimed to be tired of being a studhorse (I’m pretty sure that word was used, or an equivilent word meaning “for the purposes of providing sexual activity and/or genetic material for offspring”) and having no rights and he was bored doing housework, to which all the other males voiced their agreement.

    But yes, dividing anything among genders without regard to individual ability is counterproductive and leads the affected society with a loss of all those benefits that it *could have* had.

    There is a broader range among men and among women than there is between the group of men vs. the group of women.

  107. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. That’s a false dichotomy. There are very rarely simply two options for anything, but particularly for something as complex as sexuality.

    I, also, do not subscribe to the “embrace everyone who wants alternative sexuality” model because some of them are just, IMO, wrong. I look for the fundamental core values that we have in common, not the superficial consequences.

    So, when it comes to the FLDS, I’m opposed because I’m not actually fighting for the right for people to marry, I’m fighting for the right of all individuals to choose their own path, one of which might happen to be marriage, and the FLDS is not in the market of promoting choice. We do *not* want the same things at all, superficial resemblances to the contrary.

    As I was saying during the whole Texas FLDS raid controversy – it’s not the marriage that should be the issue. We have laws to cover child abuse and rape and incest. If all of those laws take care of things, we don’t *need* to make plural marriage illegal for the sake of “purtecting the wimmenfolk”.

    But this is going off in another direction πŸ™‚

  108. And don’t forget the sweetie that works manual labor and mechanical manipulations for a living! That would have been unheard of even as recently as the ’80s when movies were starting to be made featuring women in positions of authority. But the physical end of employment is still largely unexplored by women, although that’s gaining ground very quickly now that we have machines to compensate for our on-average smaller sizes and it only requires an equal ability to operate the machinery.

  109. I completely agree that it is anyone’s perogative to dress how they want to dress. But I disagree that it doesn’t necessarily say anything about her sexual promiscuity at all.

    I think one can’t make any guarantees about the validity of one’s assumptions based on someone’s clothing, but we cannot completely divorce ourselves from our society’s cultural values so I think we can make some assumptions, as long as we are aware that they are assumptions and not facts.

    People often choose their attire deliberately, particularly those we are speaking of in this thread. Their choices are made with regards to the type of message they want to send based on cultural values.

    It is true that some people do *not* consciously make the statements other people read from their clothing, but I’d say that 1) they’re in the minority and 2) that shows a shocking lack of cultural perception.

    Although a woman most definately *should* have the right to wear low-rise jeans and not be subjected to catcalls or assumptions of “slut”, whatever that might mean, when she chooses to wear a pair of low-rise jeans in a society that typically associates the ass as a secondary or tertiary sexual area, she is either deliberately making a statement about her sexuality or she is completely oblivious to the consequences of displaying a culturally-taboo body part. Ockham’s Razor would suggest that it’s the former. Wearing low-rise jeans intentionally to make the opposite statement is much more complicated and would require, say, a t-shirt with a slogan saying “I’m not a slut just because I wear low-rise jeans” or conversation of some sort, so I argue that the ironic statement is not a likely candidate for this discussion.

    Again, this doesn’t mean that the cultural taboos are right and it doesn’t excuse poor behaviour from the onlookers. It only means that clothing choices, particularly the ones we’re discussing here, are often deliberate and do send a message even if one does not intend to send that message … law of unintended consequences and all that.

  110. Hmm. I see your point, particularly with respect to engaging anti-porn feminists in a different way than engaging anti-porn religious crusaders…but if porn is in fact linked to sexual abuse for them, I don’t think there’s any reasoning that will reach them.

    Human beings are hard-wired to associate environment with trauma, for obvious survival reasons. A person who has been attacked or sexually abused in connection with some kind of porn is likely to forever after associate porn with abuse, even if there is no causal connection whatsoever between them, and I doubt that there is anyhting which can undo that emotional response. In short, I don’t believe it is even possible to reason with abuse victims who have been abused in this way; there is nothing that can undo the connection between the porn and the abuse in their minds.

    What’s the answer? I don’t know. I don’t think there is one, honestly.

  111. there is nothing that can undo the connection between the porn and the abuse in their minds.

    I was able to do it. I know plenty of other folks who’ve done it. That’s like saying someone who was sexually abused will never be able to undo the connection between sex and abuse. The statistic is, what, one in four? Do you think one in four women aren’t having sexual relationships or enjoying them?

    If you ever start a sentence with “I don’t believe it is even possible to reason with abuse victims…” it’s a good idea to stop, go back, and start over. You’re doing it wrong.

  112. The statistic is that one in four of who is what? If you’re going to maintain that one in four people is victimized by an abuser who uses porn as part fo the abuse, I’m going to have to admit to a good deal of skepticism about that.

    And only a very selective reading would, I think, arrive at the conclusion that I said abuse victims can not be reasoned with. What I actually said, or tried to say, that if a person is victimized by an abuser who uses porn in such a way that the victim forms an emotional connection between the porn and the abuse, there ain’t no way logic alone is going to unmake that connection. No reasoned argument will, by itself, be enough to undo that association.

    Not that the association can not be undone; only that a reasoned argument alone can not undo it.

  113. This conversation from my perspective:

    I started out saying that since a great deal of anti-porn advocates tend to have their stance rooted in previous abuse, perhaps taking a different approach with them than with religious folks would be a good idea.

    You responded that perhaps then one shouldn’t even try, since “if porn is in fact linked to sexual abuse for them, I don’t think there’s any reasoning that will reach them.” and “In short, I don’t believe it is even possible to reason with abuse victims who have been abused in this way; there is nothing that can undo the connection between the porn and the abuse in their minds.”

    I responded that isn’t the case, since I undid the connection between the two and have known others who’ve done the same–at least enough to quite enjoy its consumption. Further, I tried to express that I think your assertations are kind of flawed, considering that you could say the same thing about anyone who has been sexually abused in any way. Specifically, that they will forever link sex with abuse. If one in four women are sexually abused in their lifetimes (not porn related, just in general–this is the currently accepted statistic), then by your logic one in four women will never be able to have or enjoy sex since there’s “nothing that can undo the connection between [sex] and the abuse in their minds.”

    As a survivor of abuse I take exception to the notion from both radical feminists (and seemingly from you in that comment) that I can never have or enjoy sex because I can’t dissociate the two.

    That may not have been what you meant, but those are your words. Perhaps you just meant what you clarified–that it takes more than reason to sever the connection, and that’s certainly true. That isn’t what it seemed like you were saying, initially.

    I would still posit that it has more to do with the point I was originally trying to make. Rather than simply trying to “reason” with these folks, perhaps try communicating with them differently? It can be done. It just means taking the time and effort to address the complex nature of their experience, rather than blow them off as merely irrational thus further invalidating them.

    Survivors of abuse just have a different dictionary of experience that they’re drawing from. I mean, really, the same could be said of the religious fundamentalists. It doesn’t mean you can’t successfully talk to them or even persuade them. It just means you have to be informed when you do it.

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