When we last left this, Chris Hedges had given the mic over to Gail Dines to project her standard nonsense about porn being both the template of men’s subjugation of women and capitalism’s primary source of power. To that end, Dines/Hedges now get really specific…and really nasty, too.
To keep the legions of easily bored male viewers aroused, porn makers produce videos that are increasingly violent and debasing. Extreme Associates, which specializes in graphic rape scenes, along with JM Productions, promotes the very real pain endured by women on its sets. JM Productions pioneered “aggressive throat fucking” or “face fucking” videos such as the “Gag Factor” series, in which women gag and often vomit. It ushered in “swirlies,” in which the male performer dunks the woman’s head into a toilet after sex and then flushes. The company promises, “Every whore gets the swirlies treatment. Fuck her, then flush her.” Repeated and violent anal penetration triggers anal prolapse, a condition in which the inner walls of a woman’s rectum collapse and protrude from her anus. This is called “rosebudding.” Some women, penetrated repeatedly by numerous men on porn shoots, often after taking handfuls of painkillers, require anal and vaginal reconstructive surgery. Female performers may suffer from sexually transmitted diseases and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And with porn mainstreamed—some porn video participants are treated like film celebrities by talk show hosts such as Oprah and Howard Stern—the behavior promoted by porn, including stripping, promiscuity, S&M and exhibitionism, has become chic. Porn also sets the standard for female beauty and female comportment. And this has had terrifying consequences for girls.
Once again, you have to admire Rev. Hedges and Her Holiness Pope Gail I for their seemingly superhuman ability to concentrate and distill so much pure bullshit in one small paragraph. For those of you who may not be historic readers of this blog, Extreme Associates and JM Productions were a couple of third-level porn production companies that specialized in the type of “extreme porn” that Dines so lovingly quotes. Problem is, these two companies were nowhere near the level of the major companies like VIVID or Wicked; and both companies were essentially bankrupted and shut down in the late 1990s and early 2000’s due to both lack of sales and the increased attention of the authorities. Rob Black, the mastermind behind Extreme Associates, even served some serious jail time due to tax evasion charges. (He now spends his time as a self-identified “critic” of the major porn companies via the porn tabloid blogosphere.)
Now, that’s not to say that there isn’t still a small subgenre of porn that includes the more aggressive type of porn so aptly described by Hedges and Dines; or that deepthroating and gagging or “swerlies” or “rosebudding” prolapse porn doesn’t exist. Bear in mind, though, that these are still the tiny fish in the porn ocean that is still dominated by three major genres: 1) girl/girl “gonzo”; 2) solo masturbation; and 3) sex between couples already romantically involved, as in husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend. (I’m actually surprised that Dines/Hedges didn’t go to the “Anal sex leads to uncontrollable bowel movements!!!!!!!!” card for special flourish.) In fact, most anal sex scenes in porn are not only well scripted in advance, but also well prepared in advance, too…and the girls who specialize in anal are also those who like anal in their private, personal sex lives. Contrary to popular myth, and in spite of the occasional trolling from fans, no porn girl/woman is forced under a gun to her head to do anal or deepthroating, or any other act that she doesn’t feel comfortable doing. The technical term for that, folks is RAPE, and that is still quite illegal. Plus, a woman does have a very strong counter for any man who dares to attempt to ram his cock down her throat without her permission: we call them teeth.
And remember about how all of this was supposed to be about attacking violence against women? So, how does “promiscuity”, stripping, and “exhibitionism” play into all this?? Or, the not-so-thinly veiled “S&M” smack??
All of the references to PTSD and “anal and vaginal reconstructive surgery” (ummm…I don’t think that means what Dines/Hedges thinks that means; I mean, isn’t labioplasty and anal bleaching more cosmetic than anything??) are simply langiappe for their obsessions. And come on, Professor/Reverend…can’t you give Oprah at least some credit for backing your other pet causes, such as the war against legal sex work…..errrrrrrrr, the war on “sex trafficking”??
“Women are told in our society they have two choices,” Dines said. “They are either fuckable or invisible. To be fuckable means to conform to the porn culture, to look hot, be submissive and do what the man wants. That’s the only way you get visibility. You cannot ask adolescent girls, who are dying for visibility, to choose invisibility.”
You mean, like, Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton or Beyonce Knowles or Michelle Obama or even Michelle Bachmann only get their sizable power from being “fuckable”?? OK, I’ll cede just a tad on Beyonce, since she’s hot, but she also happens to have a genuine singing voice. Also….has she actually seen some of the top porn starlets? “Submissive” would not be a term you would describe them as….at least, not to their face.
If there really is an issue with adolescent girls using porn women as role models (and considering the awesomeness of plenty of porn women, I really don’t see the issue), the real solution is to expand opportunities for women through increased access to education and high-wage, comparable work. Then, let them decide for themselves if they want to be “fuckable” off the clock. That’s what social agency is all about, and what feminism should be all about…at least before feminmentalists redefined it to mean “whatever we say it is.”
Next, Dines goes into her revisionist history of how Hugh Hefner hijacked capitalism for his own personal concubine, and how that led to the PornoRapeocracy of today. Or, not.
None of this, Dines pointed out, was by accident. Porn grew out of the commodity culture, the need by corporate capitalists to sell products.
“In post-Second-World-War America you have the emergence of a middle class with a disposable income,” she said. “The only trouble is that this group was born to parents who had been through a depression and a war. They did not know how to spend. They only knew how to save. What [the capitalists] needed to jump-start the economy was to get people to spend money on stuff they did not need. For women they brought in the television soaps. One of the reasons the ranch house was developed was because [families] only had one television. The television was in the living room and women spent a lot of time in the kitchen. You had to devise a house where she could watch television from the kitchen. She was being taught.”
“But who was teaching the men how to spend money?” she went on. “It was Playboy [Magazine]. This was the brilliance of Hugh Hefner. He understood that you don’t just commodify sexuality, you sexualize commodities. The promise that Playboy held out was not the girls or the women, it was that if you buy at this level, if you consume at the level Playboy tells you to, then you will get the prize, which is the women. The step that was crucial to getting the prize was the consumption of commodities. He wrapped porn, which sexualized and commoditized women’s bodies, in an upper-middle-class blanket. He gave it a veneer of respectability.”
Yeah. Right. Sure. OK…whatever you say, Gail. I won’t intervene with the inconvenient fact that the dawn of advertising really took place with the blowup of radio and television in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and somehow escaped the grasp of Hef’s Playboy magazine, which was founded in the early 1960’s and mostly restricted to the Chicago area due to the dominant ultraconservative sexual mores of that time. Using wealth and material goods to impress the ladies certainly was a theme of “gentleman’s mags” that Playboy mined with the additional sexiness of pretty topless nudes; but they were hardly alone….as the sale of Playtex push-up bras and Chanel perfume can attest to. Forgetting about their award-winning journalism and highbrow fiction doesn’t help Dines’ “theory”, either.
That, of course, was before the social protests of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the development of effective birth control, and the entry of women from the kitchen into the workplace and even the boardrooms, seriously modified and challenged that paradigm of consumer capitalism. Plus, you had Penthouse now muscling in from the libertarian Right, and some guy named Larry Flynt bringing in working class beaver and bad bathroom humor….and nearly sacrificing his life for expanding free speech.
The VCR, the DVD and, later, the Internet allowed porn to be pumped into individual homes. The glossy, still images of Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler became tame, even quaint. America, and much of the rest of the world, became pornified. The income of the global porn industry is estimated at $96 billion, with the United States market worth about $13 billion. There are, Dines writes, “420 million Internet porn pages, 4.2 million porn Web sites, and 68 million search engine requests for porn daily.” [Link to excerpts from Pornland redacted]
Here’s where context really matters, yallz. The Big Three Pornifiers weren’t pushed to “harder stuff” because of “gonzo porn”. They were challenged mostly because women pornographers (Club 90 and Pink Ladies Social Club in porn; Danni Ashe on the Interwebz) actually kicked their asses into the 21st Century by developing an alternative business model for bringing porn to that same group that had been neglected in the past: namely, women. What Candida Royalle, Gloria Leonard, and the rest of the “Femme” collective did with their creation of “women’s porn” set the stage for the success of glamour porn companies like Wicked and VIVID just when the Internet and On Demand cable markets started to kick in. Danni’s Hard Drive revolutionized the industry with their concept of girl/girl content trading and live streaming of hardcore g/g porn as an alternative to the harder b/g stuff for hard-pressed female performers, as well as being the first to exploit the concept of the interactive “camshow”. And, even though the initial efforts of Nina Hartley, Angel Kelly, Porsche Lynn, and Jeanna Fine to organize female performers in the 80’s wasn’t successful, it laid the foundation for today’s organizations like the Free Speech Coalition and ASAP, as well as the modernized testing protocols of first AIM and now PASS.
In other words, you simply cannot draw a breath about the evolution of porn as an industry without also including the talents and accomplishments of its workers. You would think that someone legitimately on the Left would be cognizant of that.
Oh, and let’s not get into the often hyperinflated stats about porn’s earnings and gross profits, which still probably match the yearly gross of Walmart by itself. And last time I checked, Walmart was and is still rabidly anti-porn (its sales of the book version of Fifty Shades notwithstanding).
Along with the rise of pornography there has been an explosion in sex-related violence, including domestic abuse, rape and gang rape. A rape is reported every 6.2 minutes in the United States, but the estimated total, taking into account unreported assaults, is perhaps five times higher, as Rebecca Solnit points out in her book “Men Explain Things to Me.”
“So many men murder their partners and former partners that we have well over a thousand homicides of that kind a year—meaning that every three years the death toll tops 9/11’s casualties, though no one declares a war on this particular kind of terror,” Solnit writes.
Of course, it would be shameful of me to intervene with the fact that all credible studies show that violence against women in all its modes (sexual included) have actually decreased in tandem with the availability of sexually explicit media. Also, there really is far more a link between antiporn attitudes stemming from antifeminist fundamentalist Christian mores and violence and aggression against women, than there is linking porn and such acts. Yes, misogyny is a real issue (ask the victims of Elliot Rodger’s rampage), but targeting porn is a major misfire and a delusive distraction. But, as Kermit would say, that’s none of my business…
Porn, meanwhile, is ever more accessible.
“With a mobile phone you can deliver porn to men who live in highly concentrated neighborhoods in Brazil and India,” Dines said. “If you have one laptop in the family, the man can’t sit in the middle of the room and jerk off to it. With a phone, porn becomes portable. The average kid gets his porn through the mobile phone.”
The old porn industry, which found its profits in movies, is dead. The points of production no longer generate profits. The distributors of porn make the money. And one distributor, MindGeek, a global IT company, dominates porn distribution. Free porn is used on the Internet as bait by MindGeek to lure viewers to pay-per-view porn sites. Most users are adolescent boys. It is, Dines said, “like handing out cigarettes outside of a middle school. You get them addicted.”
Ahhhh…..no. Not by a long shot. MindGeek (formerly Manwin) uses free porn as a hook for their websites, not just their PPV cable sites. Most of the users are in fact legal adults (18 and over), because only they can access credit cards or debit cards used to access the paid membership sites. Not to mention, there is serious consternation at MindGeek/Manwin from independent porn producers as well as talent, because the “free porn” model is seen as an absolute drain and a funnel sucking up their profits through tube sites and message boards.
Dines (and her proxy Hedges) also ignore the explosion of social media outlets where the talent can communicate directly with their fans without the need for middlemen. While many of those outlets are very restrictive in what they will allow adult performers to do (Facebook, Instagram don’t allow any nudity or adult advertising whatsoever), newer, more open outlets open up daily…and that allows for an alternative to the MG/Manwin Evil Empire for independents. Pooling talent into website networks such as Brand Danger, Pornstar Platinum, and the Vette Nation Army, is another alternate outlet for those escaping the Big Boys. For people who claim to know porn capitalism, Dines and Hedges sure don’t get out much to actually study it, do they?
“Around the ages of 12 to 15 you are developing your sexual template,” she said. “You get [the boys] when they are beginning to construct their sexual identity. You get them for life. If you begin by jerking off to cruel, hardcore, violent porn then you are not going to want intimacy and connection. Studies are showing that boys are losing interest in sex with real women. They can’t sustain erections with real women. In porn there is no making love. It is about making hate. He despises her. He is revolted and disgusted by her. If you bleed out the love you have to fill it with something to make it interesting. They fill it with violence, degradation, cruelty and hate. And that also gets boring. So you have to keep ratcheting it up. Men get off in porn from women being submissive. Who is more submissive than children? The inevitable route of all porn is child porn. And this is why organizations that fight child porn and do not fight adult porn are making a huge mistake.”
Because, you see, adolescent boys are totally incapable of processing images of naked women and people engaging in wild, crazy sex without degenerating into mad Black apes…..errrrrrrrrr, violent Ted Bundy wannabe rapists….right, Professor?? You mean that porn itself overwhelms even the even more prevalent imagery of romance novels, books, and mainstream TV which always promotes the virtues of monogamy, love, and intimacy….you know, those very values you claim to want?? And what about gay men, Professor? If porn carries such a powerful wallop on their psyche, how do they escape the transformation…or do they, just on another level?
In addition….aside from the fact that the women in porn are very much real women and not just androids or plastic dolls (at least, not yet), where is this lack of interest in sex with women you talk about? Are you saying that men should have more sex with the women/girls they directly befriend? Or…just the kind of sex you approve of? What “erectile dysfunctions” are you really talking about, Gail?? The kind that reduce sperm count so that less babies are produced? (Less White babies, maybe?? Errrrr..OOPS, there goes my inner voice again. Sorry.) Or, is it the spilling of too much seed into the ground rather than produce more radicalfeminists that is haunting you about all that nasty jack-off pornification, Professor Dines??
Scratch underneath the “leftist” veneer and patina, and you see the real motivation behind Dines and Hedges: a not so veiled hatred of working people (especially working-class women) for having feelings and desires that don’t meet her politically correct fine-tuned standards. In short, the same old right-wing repressive sexual fascism, only dressed with a nice pink body suit.
The “all porn leads to child porn” smack is the real opening to the true lack of a soul that burns within her.
The abuse inherent in pornography goes unquestioned in large part by both men and women. Look at the movie ticket sales for “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which opened the day before Valentine’s Day and is expected to take in up to $90 million over the four-day weekend (which includes Presidents Day on Monday).
Just a reminder that an R-rated movie that contains NO explicit sex scenes and only projects a caricature of what BDSM sex really about is about probably cannot be considered to be “pornography”, let alone the prototype for “abuse”. If Dines and Hedges feel this way about Fifty Shades of Grey, I guess a legitimate hardcore erotic BDSM novel from authentic players like, say, The Master of O, would absolutely send them into orbit. Oh, wait….Gail’s already been there and done that.
I really wish that was all to this….but there’s that final paragraph to Hedges’ essay in which he quotes Dines so lovingly. And what a beaut of a quote, which exemplifies everything about the fools gold faux-leftism that Gail Dines and Chris Hedges represent oh, so well. I must introduce a trigger warning for this quote, though, for it is their excuse to introduce some vividly obscene and shocking content that might not be suitable for sensitive ears…content that makes the 99 percent of porn which they wish to abolish in the name of “progressivism” quite tame by comparison.
Nevertheless, I present it in its uncensored, unvarnished form (with some emphasis added) as a service to free speech and expression. Unlike Gail Dines and Chris Hedges, I actually respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights…and free expression, even when I absolutely abhor what is said.
“Pornography has socialized a generation of men into watching sexual torture,” Dines said. “You are not born with that capacity. You have to be trained into it. Just like you train soldiers to kill. If you are going to carry out violence against a group you have to dehumanize them. It is an old method. Jews become kikes. Blacks become niggers. Women become cunts. And no one turns women into cunts better than porn.”
Your Honor? The prosecution rests.