OK….enough dilly dallying around; time to shake the trees and rake the leaves; mow the grass and kick some…..ahhhh, I mean, debunk some Maggie Hays lies.
As long winded and long that essay was, it doesn’t compare in sheer lunacy to an earlier essay that the Grand Sage of Antipornography Feminists had posted which supported to debunk what she perceived as “Bullshit Pro-Porn Arguments,” which she proposed that antiporn feminists could dispatch “With Confidence”.
Problem is, though, that most of Maggie’s inventive straw arguments that she claims to overthrow are simply inventions of her own cracked mind, pretty much used for the usual buttressing up of her standard boilerplate agitprop about porn’s capital offenses against “women and children”.
I will use the same methods and syntax as Ren Ev did in her debunking of the “Porno-iarchy” blast; but the words spoken by me are mine alone.
And no, I did not ask permission to paste this from Maggie’s blog; unlike her, I know what Fair Use is.
And a-waaaaaaaaay we go:
Begin with a photo of a broken record; then Maggie starts up:
See this? Yeah, that’s a broken record. I chose this image for this post because I sincerely believe that all the pro-porners, pro-prostitutionists, pro-sexploitation folks, pro-hate speech & pro-”sex work” activists (or whatever you rad fems wanna call them) sound like a fucking broken record with all their “same old shit” reactionary arguments that do nothing whatsoever to help women as a class, arguments that, on the contrary, bolster the patriarchal anti-woman status quo. Thus, I have decided to write a a list of the porn apologists’ bullshit arguments.
Ahhh, Maggie, dear…bad analogy; most of us now use CD’s and DVDs and iPods and mp3 players, now. Get with the program, please.
I’ll get to the delicious irony of Maggie Hays calling anyone out as “reactionary” and talking about “women as a class” soon enough.
I know these are all parts of the same broken record we hear every day; I know that some people (especially some men) are so stupid and stubborn in defending such a widespread violation of women’s bodies in order to maintain their own selfish sexual pleasure, I know all this. I also know that the pro-pornstitution folks are not only folks we meet online. The pro-porners we meet online are so easy to avoid or dismiss when we want to ignore them (thank fuck for that) while the pro-porners we meet offline are most often our co-workers, classmates, friends, even sometimes partners and so on. These offline people who defend porn aren’t so easy to avoid and, more or less often, we find ourselves in a conversation on pornography with them at some point.
It usually happens like this: They suddenly bring up pornography or prostitution for whatever reason, as part of a “joke” that we don’t find funny at all (but rather sad — as we do know that there’s a terrible sexual slavery going on out there and people keep on denying it) or simply because they’ve been influenced by pornified pop culture. Then we feel like we cannot tolerate these pro-porn arguments any longer so we start informing them on what we know about the sexual slavery industry. But, unfortunately, we’re feeling so upset that we just stop talking. There is just so much to say and we don’t know where to start. And, on top of that, there they go! Talking the same old reactionary bullshit arguments we’ve heard ten thousand times again and again, sounding like the same old broken record. . . And we start losing our confidence. . . so we stop talking.
Therefore I prepared this handy “Porn Apologists’ Bullshit Arguments List and How to Respond to Them with Confidence” collection in order to help myself and other rad fems to challenge those apologies confidently IRL. I constructed it as a dialog:
Just call it “The Official Maggie Hays Talking Points for Shouting Down Critics of Their Ideology” list, I guess. Perfect for witnessing those on the fence.
The list then starts rolling: I shall debunk each one as they come. “Porn Apologist” is the role played by the hypothetical “pro-porn” strawman argument; “Rad Fem” refers to Maggie’s response. (I’m also keeping all the links they use to their biases sources alive, just to prove the point.)
Porn Apologist: Women freely choose to sell their bodies in pornography and in prostitution. How can you criticize the women’s consent to be in porn?
Rad Fem: Contrary to myths, radical feminists have never criticized women’s involvement in the pornography industry as performers. Instead, we focus on the difficulties within which they make their choice to participate. Documentaries and articles on pornography in the mainstream media (which generally pick a very small number of performers out of the so much larger number of porn performers out there) typically show pornography performers as “happy women who have made a totally free choice”. However, the reality of the circumstances within which the vast majority of those women entered the porn industry are very much different from this whole mainstream media glamorization crap. A lot of thorough research on prostitution (based on interviewing hundreds and hundreds of prostituting women) has shown that child sexual or physical abuse or neglect, poverty, economic hardship, past experience of battery or rape, trafficking, socialization to the sexist and racist pornified culture, etc. are key factors for women who enter the ‘sex’ industry. Feminists do not condemn the women who are in the industry, but we empathize with them. We understand that they are terribly exploited and harmed in this industry. As one woman who used to prostitute said that, while she was in prostitution, she would have yelled from the roof-tops how wonderful being a prostitute was, but that, while now she’s still healing from her prostitution experience, she has “found that the worse thing of exiting prostitution is seeing the real reasons [she] became a prostitute. Seeing it could of never been a choice. It was just a way to self-destruct.”[sic]
Hmmmmm, never criticized women’s involvement in porn, Maggie??? Really?? So this wouldn’t be considered criticism of women performers, in your mind:
“Look at the industry’s biggest star, Jenna Jameson, who appears to control her business life. However in her book [How To Make Love Like A Porn Star] she reports that she was raped as a teenager and describes the ways in which men in her life pimped her. Her desperation for money also comes through when she tried to get a job as a stripper but looked too young — she went into a bathroom and pulled off her braces with pliers. She also describes drug abuse and laments the many friends in the industry she lost to drugs. And this is the woman said to have the most power in the pornography industry.” — Gail Dines and Robert Jensen, Article Pornography is a Left Issue (2005).
[transcribed from "Jenna Jameson: Porn Star Myth" from AgainstPornography.org]
Who cares that Jenna has publically in the same biography that Bob and Gail quoted so lovingly made clear that she has never been coerced by anyone within the porn industry, and that all the choices she made within the industry — including the bouts with drug abuse — were solely her responsibility, not the industry’s?? In the mind of the antiporn “feminists”, it’s all the same.
Oh….and how can Jenna’s career in porn directly be related to her rape as a teenager?? Osmosis?? Karma?? The notion that only women who suffer such traumas as rape are the ones ending up in porn, if not becoming successful?? OK, then what does that say for women like Nina Hartley, who has, by my last recollection, never been raped?? Or women like Vicky Vette, who only started out in porn in her late 30s…and whom has also never been raped as a teen or young adult??
And no, Maggie…simply quoting a former prostitute-turned-radical antiporn antiprostitution activist (however her personal experiences should be respected and acknowledged) as if she represents ALL porn performers (never mind that Rebecca Mott never did porn to begin with, BTW) just won’t wash either.
But then again, when you are as much of an ideological zealot as Maggie is, nuances like the diversity of experiences and respect for individuals don’t tend to enter the picture.
And once again, notice the way that Maggie conflates porn and prostitution as the same entity. For the last time (today), Mags: Prostitution is when you pay someone to have sex with them; Porn is where you pay to SEE someone have sex WITH OTHERS or WITH THEMSELVES. There is a difference.
Porn Apologist: Women in porn make a lot of money anyway.
Rad Fem: Some research and testimonies have suggested that most strippers, prostitutes and pornography performers do not make a lot of money. Although some do, the idea that all of them make a lot of money is another part of the pornographers’ and the mainstream media’s propaganda. Most female porn performers do not get rich, particularly due to their brief “shelf lives” — male consumers often want to see new women being exploited — so even if pornstituted females initially command a high rate per scene or per movie, their market value as “fresh meat” declines rapidly. Thus, even if there are a few really famous porn “actresses”, the vast majority of the women in pornography leave that business feeling exploited, pained and ashamed by this terrible experience or after being considered “overexposed” by the consumers and producers. So, the pornography industry keeps using and discarding female bodies after having used those human beings as if they were pieces of meat. There have been words coming from people who have been involved in the industry to testify of this brutal reality. Besides, even if these women get paid for performing in porn, does it mean that it should excuse the extensive physical, psychological and emotional harms done to them? So, once a woman has been paid, the torture committed against her body is expiated, huh? Well, that’s an incredibly cruel and unfair way of reasoning! No amount of money whatsoever should excuse any harm done to a woman’s body.
Well…let’s see. Now, there are the few contract girls and former Playmates/Pets/Honeys who can make a ton of money through websites and feature dancing as well as porn performing, and some, with decent financial planning and a sense of what they want to do, can even thrive enough to get rich. And then there are the many in the majority who get in, get their hits in for enough to supplant their middle-class lifestyles, and then get out to do less strenuous and more mundane tasks for a living. How they actually leave the business, though, is mostly a reflection of how they entered the business and what attitudes and objectives and goals they went into the business with. Obviously, some experiences are more traumatic than others; but to say that “torture” and “physical, psychological, and emotional harm” should be considered the default experience for ALL porn performers is nothing short of libelous to the many performers who don’t share Maggie’s ideological bias.
And what a bias she does show, too. The one source that she cites to prove her position that porn is innately evil: An article from AgainstPornography.com citing quotes from Traci Lords (and remember, SHE lied about her age to get into adult videos), to the antiporn documentary Not For Sale, to even Shelley Lubben’s blog. (That would be Shelley Lubben, the former starlet turned born-again Christian. You were saying, Maggie, about your movement rejecting Christian Rightists???)
Also….see Ernest Greene’s breakdown of the typical porn pay structure taken from here:
In het porn, female players can and do charge by the specific act. A few make big bucks, but most have pretty standard rates. Lesbian porn, as distinct from girl-girl material made for male audiences, is mostly pro-am for small production companies and it commands the dead-lowest rate, somewhere south of five hundred dollars per scene.
I can’t resist wondering aloud if the poster here who suggested that straight guys who don’t like their rates should just bend over and spread for other men would make a similar suggestion to lesbians. Somehow I very much doubt it.
Pro GG with no extras (vanilla licky-licky with fingers and a small toy or two) brings in anywhere from six hundred bucks to a grand, depending on the performer’s current popularity. Use of an anal toy kicks that up another couple of hundred.
A BJ-only boy-girl is rarely more than five hundred for the girl.
A vage-only boy-girl for a female performer is typically around seven hundred, with a few players being able to command a thousand. Twelve hundred is the going rate for anal with one male partner, though fifteen hundred isn’t outrageous for someone with an established name. A first anal or a first BG might run up to five thousand dollars, but that trick only works once and only for a fortunate few who come in as former Penthouse Pets or whatever and can command a premium for existing name value.
Stunt sex – DPs, ATMs, ATOGMs, double anals, double vages, cream pies, gang bangs and so on obviously escalate the price, sometimes into the thousands, but there are plenty of female players who do stunt sex for a lot less. However, you can bet that whatever they’re making, they’re making more than the guys they’re doing it with.
This is not because, as someone on this thread has suggested in a display of breath-taking ignorance, there is such a glut of male talent just clamoring to get in here they’re practically a dime a dozen. That would be good for a laugh if it weren’t such a blatant insult to the few men who actually do try to make the cut. In fact, the reason you see the same dudes over and over and over and over in video after video is because they are the ones who not only will have sex for the camera, but can do so with predictable results. That is a very small group of men. Sure, lots of horny dudes think they’d make great porn studs. About one male civilian under thirty in every ten I meet asks me if I thought he could be then next John Holmes. It takes me two questions to sort them out. Does he have a dick that’s at least ten inches long fully erect? Can he get it fully erect, keep it that way for an hour and then have a visible ejaculation in front of a room full bored men with no other source of stimulation, visual or otherwise? If the answer to either is negative, he has no chance.
In other words, Maggie, it isn’t just a matter of Average Man with HYOOGE Dick reporting to the studios with his dick hard and having a woman picked off the streets to plow into. And it’s just a bit more than just evil looking men in trenchcoats riding along in SUV’s and Hummers tracking down young women and locking them up in dungeons to have their way with them. There are still consent forms and procedures and HIV/STD tests and pre-shoot preparations before anything even begins to happen.
Porn Apologist: Pornography is not prostitution.
Rad Fem: The fact is that pornography IS prostitution, plus a camera.
See the last paragraph responding to point #1 above. Plus….if porn is prostitution with the camera, then would married couples having sex for free but taping their “sexcapades” for their own pleasure be considered prostitution, or porn?? Or both??
Porn Apologist: Look, prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. It should be legalized and regulated. That would make it safer.
Rad Fem: Prostitution is NOT the oldest profession, pimping is! Countries where prostitution has been legalized have become Number One destinations for traffickers. There is no evidence that legalization in any way benefits women in prostitution — indeed it simply legalizes the harm caused to women. Prostitution is inherently a form of violence against women and a violation of women’s human rights and dignity as persons. The belief that prostitution is “sex work” is being a direct cause for the widespread international and domestic trafficking of women and children for prostitution. The Netherlands (where prostitution is regarded as “just a job like another”) remains one of the primary destinations for victims of human trafficking (as again recently reported in the article “Home Office goes to Amsterdam for prostitution ideas” in politics.co.uk) and half the window brothels over there have been closed since 2006 because of an exponential rise in organized crime and money laundering and also the trafficking of women and children. Legalization is, in effect, a failed experiment.
Oh, this be prime bullshit here….let’s break this one down, shall we??
Never mind that “trafficking of women” is far more likely to occur in areas where prostitution is expressly criminalized (ever heard of Thailand, Maggie?? Indonesia??? The Cayman Islands???) and where attitudes about porn and women and sexuality are the most conservative and reactionary and explicitly “antifeminist”….and nearly as zealous about “protecting women from pornography and prostitution” as Maggie is. And forget about the basic fact that the same people who are most likely to support criminalization of sex work and sexual media tend to be the biggest consumers of porn and the ones most likely to be busted doing the same damn activities they would put others in jail for…or worse. See Senator Larry Craig, Senator David Vitter, former Governor Eliot Spitzer, Jimmy Swaggart, et.al.
Now, it should be noted that Amsterdam does have currently a more conservative government that is now in the process of questioning their more liberal stance towards sex in general….but that in no way justifies Maggie’s view that legalization is so failed and that her beloved “Swedish Model” is the only solution to the problem. (And also note that New Zealand has its own experiment with legalization that is five years old; the book is still out on that one, I’d think.)
And of course, the idea that legalized brothels in Amsterdam have anything whatsoever to do with the lives and professions of porn performers and sex workers in the United States — most of which operate out of their homes in private with their own websites and mom-and-pop productions, is a mystery that only Maggie can solve in her own special fashion. Not even the legalized brothels in Nevada, all of Melissa Fairley’s and Bob Herbert’s slanders notwithstanding.
Porn Apologist: Sexuality is good. Why are you anti-sex?
Rad Fem: Being against pornography and prostitution does not equate being against sex, FFS. Sexuality is just a part of being human and may involve a lot of strong feelings of affection and connection to another person when a sense of genuine care is involved. But pornography is stripped of any empathy and it fuses sexual desire with the degradation and abuse of women. Being against pornography does not mean being against sex, it simply means having recognized that there is a sexual world of imagination based on equality & respect and that goes beyond sexuality as simple “domination/subordination”.
This be another good one: the old “We’re not prudes, we really do LOVE sex…just OUR kind of sex” meme that is thrown up constantly in the “You’re victimizing us!!” frame. As porn literally speaking simply means the depiction of sex acts between human beings, the question certainly can be asked of Maggie and her allies: Is there any explicit depiction of sex involving a man and a woman together that you wouldn’t consider to be “degrading” and “abusive” to women?? I mean, loving couples can indeed have anal sex, or oral sex, or pretend to play dominant/submissive roles or role play, and single women can indeed masturbate using dildos and vibrators for their own pleasure. But being against that doesn’t make you any more of a prudish, anti-sex bigot…now doesn’t it???
If the shoe fits comfortably, Maggie, why not just wear it with pride??
Porn Apologist: Only conservative right wingers criticize porn. Are you a religious zealot?
Rad Fem: Radical feminists have, for a long time, opposed Christianity by recognizing it as patriarchal religion. Mary Daly, for example, is a prominent radical feminist writer of the feminist critique of Christianity. Radical feminists usually see Christianity as patriarchal and oppressive to women. So, no, I’m certainly not religious and I’m very much of an atheist. Perpetuating the myth that radical feminists “are siding with religious zealots” just because we oppose pornography has always been one of the favorite pro-porn tactics of the so-called “sex poz” lobby.
Oh, Maggie, just stop it!! We are well aware that there has always been a grand tradition of Puritanism amongst not only the Left, but of secularists and atheists; no one group is immune to anti-sexual discourse and ideology. And just because “radfems” may reject the explicit piousness of organized religion and the specific rhetoric of direct slut-blaming of women (particularly “feminists” who defy the supposedly Christian role of the woman as wife and mother) for the social ills of society, doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of confiscating antiporn and anti-sex rhetoric for their own purposes.
And as for the alliance between radicalfeminists and Christian/Islamic Rightists: well that is so well known to be dismissed; from the passage of Catherine MacKinnon’s famous Indianapolis antiporn ordinance in the mid 1980′s through a Republican majority council; to the Meese Commisioner’s Pornography report which basically appropriated the Dworkin-MacKinnon doctrine of “porn degrades women by reducing them to sex objects” (while rejecting their methods of attacking porn through “civil rights” ordinances, preferring the old school form of obscenity enforcement and jail sentences); to the Bush Administration’s funding of “anti-trafficking” activists like Fairley (with the full approval of leading antiporn feminist activists like Donna Hughes, who even called Dubya a positive force, regardless of his overall antifeminism).
Porn Apologist: If there weren’t any porn, there’d be more rape.
Rad Fem: Do we ever suggest that the availability of loads of films showing children being beaten up would reduce child physical abuse? Of course not, because we know it’s not the case. So why would it be different with pornography? Few rapes get reported to the police and correlational studies only based on reported rapes have limits. While a few studies have shown a decrease in reported rapes, many other correlational studies, as shown here, have shown dramatic increases in sexual violence with the availability of pornography. Pornography has no “catharthic” effect whatsoever. Also, this “catharthic effect” porn apologist excuse quite sounds like a threat: “We need pornography or we will rape more!” Blah-the-fucking-blah. . .
By the numbers here:
1) Aside from the lunacy of comparing depictions of children being beaten with images of consenting adults having sex, there is this nagging fact that actually taping the act of children being beaten is evidence of a crime (corporal punishment aside). Besides, no one has seriously argued that actively censoring depictions of children being beaten would in any way reduce the rate of child physical abuse (as opposed to, I don’t know, prosecuting the abusers themselves, maybe???)….so why should porn be held to that standard??
2) “Correlational studies”, Maggie?? Yeah, right….you think that we wouldn’t notice that your “correlational studies” are all tainted by bias towards your position….and all of them have been thoroughly debunked by more reputable research?? (No wonder you attack them as “anti-woman”, ehhh??)
3) And of this “carthartic effect”: the only such theory that I’ve heard from is that porn induces men to sexual arousal (Ahhh..duuuh!!!!), which is quickly relieved through masturbation (which, in case you haven’t heard, Maggie, rapes no one but the offending hand); thusly, porn offers a safe relief valve for sexual arousal that would otherwise be resolved in less safe ways (through the next door neighbor or the nearest alter boy or simply whomever’s availaable at the moment). But of course, masturbation is nothing more than a male-centered means of imprisoning women to the patriarchy/”porno-iarchy”..so that’s gotta go, too!!
And once again…consider the source that Maggie uses….which includes some activists once again from the Religious Right.
Porn Apologist: Pornography has no effect whatsoever. It’s only a fantasy.
Rad Fem: So why do corporations spend billions of dollars each year on mass-mediated advertising if not precisely because they know ads have effects on people? Why would it be different with pornography? Pornography HAS effects, negative ones! Besides, as I said before, “an industry which relies on the suffering of half the population in order to keep catering to its ever-expanding demand is not fantasy!” Fantasy is in the head. Pornography is mediated and mass-marketed. I feel a lot more free not having my fantasies being controlled by pornography. . . Freud argued that the sexual abuse that his female patients had been experiencing in childhood (and had been telling him about) was just a fantasy. Freud knew that child sexual abuse was pervasive in his time, but he kept on denying it as “fantasy” (Source: Testimony of Jeffrey Masson, author of The Assault on Truth, in “The Los Angeles Hearing, Los Angeles County Commission for Women, April 22, 1985″; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds., In Harm’s way: The pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.)
Ahhh, Maggie, but you forget that fantasy only becomes known when it leaves the head and is expressed through media, whether written, celluloid, video, or pixels. And why should porn take the hit for what advertising does in general: exploit general fantasies and emotions for the purpose of selling products. The only difference with porn is that sex IS the product they are selling as fantasy. Actually, porn is much closer to mainstream media in that it attempts to play on emotions that human beings already have. Comedy makes us laugh; drama makes us cry; action movies make us rise to the end of our seats in anticipation of what happens next (or what will blow up next; and so on. Why are the typical fantasies of getting filthy rich, or powerful enough to blow whole groups of people up considered less hazardous and damaging than porn?? Could it be because of all that SEX?!?!?!
And on the point of bashing Freud for denying the existence of sexual abuse of children: Aren’t there people a bit more qualified than Jeffery Masson (who happened to be Andrea Dworkin’s life partner and a former playboy himself prior to being converted to an antiporn activist) to
analyze Freud’s take on child abuse?? Does that mean that ALL accusations of child abuse (of girls, of course…Maggie could care less about boys being abused, except when it serves her cause) should be taken as proven as true, in absence of any evidence??
Porn Apologist: Where is the harm in porn?
Rad Fem: The first people who are harmed are the prostituted women constantly used, abused and discarded by the industry. Then, the harms extend to the women outside of the industry. The easiest way of making violence invisible is by sexualizing it, making it appear as “just sex” to the viewer. Pornography makes rape, sexism and racism sexy. It makes force look like a thrilling sexual experience to men. Pornography desensitizes its users to female degradation, it makes them believe that women enjoy all sorts of pain and humiliation. Pornography increases the belief in rape myths. Pornography is pure woman-hating propaganda! Many women are coerced by their boyfriends and husbands into sexual acts they do not want because of those men’s pornography use. Pornography also increases the violence perpetrated against prostituted women. As reported by former prostitute J.W. in Massachusetts, for instance, she “considered the men who were into pornography to be the most dangerous and potentially violent since that is what aroused them”.
This mighty rant assumes a variety of myths: 1) that women who perform in porn are innately forced into it against their stated will; 2) that the depiction of people having sex automatically in itself promotes rape, racism, and misogyny independent of the influences of the overall outside culture, the State, the church, and other social and cultural institutions; 3) that penetration of a woman’s vagina by anything resembling a penis or a penis itself not directly motivated by “intimacy” or procreation amounts to prima facie rape, and that any sex act not motivated by the same emotions preapproved by Maggie’s ideology automatically counts as “degrading”, “humiliating”, and “violent” in and of itself; and 4) that the very act of persuading women to even engage in sex with men (even trustworthy boyfriends, husbands, and significant others) is in itself an invitation to rape; as if otherwise, women would have no need for sex in the first place. And you still say that you are not fundamentally anti-sex, Mags???
The idea that watching a woman willingly engage in sex increases the belief that she “enjoys” being sexually assaulted against her will is a figment only in Maggie’s imagination….and the most hateful antifeminist, woman-hating man as well. Only those who would hate sexually assertive women enough to want to punish them for inciting such desires would even come close to believing that consensual porn amounts to “woman-hating propaganda”.
OK….that’s enough fisking for now….we will continue this tommorow.