Myopia is defined in most dictionaries as ” total inability to understand and comprehend the truth.” If this week in antiporn activism is of any indication, then the Force of Myopia is running particularly strong with certain antiporn/antisexwork “activists”. This is actually a three part series…but only parts 1 and 2 will appear here; Part 3 will be on my next post.
We begin with the adventures of our favorite ex-porn girl Ministress, Shelley Lubben…who got caught early last week by Sean Tompkins of The Real Pornwikileaks attempting to crawfish her way out of one of her most embarrassing moments: the historic Porn Star Kareoke event of 2009. That would be the one where Shelley was filmed getting her tits signed by porn legend Ron Jeremy after sucessfully bidding for a “date” with him..then cutting it up on the dance floor with stripper moves that Shyla Stylez would be impressed with.
Problem is, though, that doesn’t quite jibe with the image of a stout, austere, anal-retentive fundie Christian out to “save” impressionable porn girls from their clits that Shelley would rather put out in public.
So, when one of her peeps attempted to get Lubben’s side of the story on what she was actually doing at that PSK fundraiser, the Ministress came up with an explanation worthy of notice. And, that would be “worthy” as in….the craziest and most hilarious Goddess damn lie pulled out of her ass since the many dicks that used that particular orfice in Roxy’s Gangbang 3. Image courtesy of The Real Porn Wikileaks:
Yeah, right, Shelley. If you really knew Ron Jeremy as a “close friend of yours”, then why would you assume that he would ambush you like that and force his Sharpie on your “clavicle” like that?? That a man whom almost all his peers describes as a total teetottlar who doesn’t even drink socially, would go out and essentially sexually harass a close personal friend..or any woman, for that matter?? And also, don’t you think that most normal, sane women would respond to someone putting a Sharpie anywhere on their person with something a bit more direct than looking up at the sky and “praying to God”, and then waiting one month later to admonish him for his “boorish” behavior?? More than likely, the only prayers that would be given would be for Hedgehog’s life after the offending woman kicked the living shit out of him….right before the cops arrived to arrest him for sexual assault with an ink pen.
The other issue with Shelley’s tale is that she forgot that people carry mobile phones with them…the kind that make pictures which are posted to YouTube and websites like TRPWL. You know….like this one??
Yeah…she sure looks real sad and angry that RonJ is signing her “clavicle”.
And she looks even sadder and angrier outside the club, too:
I guess you’d feel “sad and angry,” too, if you just wasted $700 of your ministry’s cash on attempting to “bear God’s witness” to a porn hunk like Ron Jeremy. Or…maybe, it’s just the Seroquet and Henny kicking in to numb the pain.
Oh, but Shelley wasn’t finished with her rationalizations. Far from it.
Oh, yes, indeed. You see, Clones, only us freakin’ heathens and porn-addicted losers would see a woman dressed in her perfect Sunday-go-to-slut-out gear and spend $600 of her own ministry’s money to act like a squeeful fangirl and get an autograph from a legend in his field. I guess that in private, she would have sealed the deal of “saving” Jeremy by signing her name on his dick, then??
And what, Ministress Lubben, of this video showing you dancing wild and free?? Was that the Holy Spirit and the Holy Annoiting flowing..or was it just a tad too much Patron??
Pink Cross Foundation President Shelley Lubben cutting up the rug at the Porn Star Kareoke fundraiser in 2010 (via YouTube, h/t Jordan Owen)
‘Course, no one — not even me — begrudges even Shelley Lubben of her right to cut it loose and have a swell time on occasion, and even get a bit carried away in the spirit of alcohol. All of God’s children stray from time to time. The problem is, Minitress, just own up to it and acknowledge it, and stop trying to pretend that you are so above being human and that you can impose ruleson others that you yourself won’t follow. The road to Hell is not paved with temporary strayers….but chronic, deliberate liars. And, especially, hypocrites.
Our second journey into Antiporn Cloud Cuckoo Land comes from another reliable and dependable source for sheer lunacy: Wheelock College professor and preiminent antiporn “feminist” activist Dr. Gail Dines. (OK, so her doctorate wasn’t in sociology; but how so much more powerful she seems with the title attached to her name.)
Gail, of course, is still hard at work with her world tour and her continuing mission to spread the secular gospel of “radical feminism” as a viable alternative to the supposed dead end political funk that the Left suffers from, and strenuous opposition to adult consensual sexual expression and media (what she deems as “pornography”) as the template for degradation of, objectification of, and ultimately, rape and violence against women and children, is one of her essential foundations of her crusade.
Pushing the Left head first into the deep and empty pool that is “radical antiporn feminism”, though, is not an easy task, because there are still those renegades and apostates and holdouts who still insist that people should be able to evaluate and make choices in their own lives based on their own experiencs, and that not all or even the majority of porn expresses the type of brutality that Dines so graphically expounds.
Never underestimate, though, the capabilities of Gail to use every trick in the book — fair and unfair — to trip up these infidels and win the day for her side.
This week, a
Canadian British political group called New Left Project released the transcripts of what was supposed to be a debate on how the Left should deal with porn. Gail Dines, through her now classic propaganda screed Pornland: How Porn Is Hijacking Our Sexuality, represented the radfem antiporn “Left” view; freelance writer/journalist Sarah Ditum represented the more progressive, less censorious view. The format was basically standard for written debates: Ditum published her critique of Pornland; then Dines would respond, then Ditum would rebut, then Dines would counter rebute, and then the two would summarize their thoughts (with Dines getting the last word in).
Problem was, as usual, Gail just couldn’t handle the trenchant critique of Ditum, and promptly bailed herself out of the debate at the “second rebuttal” stage…but not without her usual bit of fireworks and Scud missile launching and histrionics towards women who don’t follow her exact template for “liberation” from the Evil Capitalist Patriarchial Porn Conspiracy.
Thankfully, another prominent Dines critic, Jordan Owen, was able to obtain the transcripts of the debate, complete with all the whackiness; and he has some choice words in response to Gail’s whackadoodle, as well as her chickening out. It’s a long vid, but worth the visit.
But, if you don’t have the time, I can hit on some highlights.
The main thesis of Ditum’s first critique was that Dines was playing fast and loose with definitions of “pornography”, and that her sourcing was both woefully inadequate and completely distorted and warped to support her POV that porn was the center of both women’s oppression and capitalism. Some snippage:
Maybe that sounds like quibbling. After all, most of us would know pornography when we see it. But there’s no definition of pornography in UK law: “obscenity” is covered by the Obscene Publications Acts (obscene material is defined as that with “tends to deprave or corrupt”), and there’s also the legal category of “extreme pornography” (“grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character”) introduced in 2008. But these definitions are intended to be narrow, and there’s obviously a huge volume of material that is pornographic, and yet doesn’t fulfill the criteria for with obscenity or extremity.
The dictionary definition, conversely, is wide. Here is the OED’s most recent take on pornography: “The explicit description or exhibition of sexual subjects or activity in literature, painting, films, etc., in a manner intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic feelings; printed or visual material containing this.” Suddenly, the field of pornography is a vast and muddy place. Amateur-authored slash fiction – in which fans of a book, film or TV show invent non-canon relationships of varying profanity between favourite characters – is probably in, according to this definition. Shoots of topless girls in lad mags like Nuts or Zoo are in (but the magazines are not pornographic works as a whole, because they include sport and lifestyle features).
In Pornland, I believe that Dines’ comes up with the least useful and most dishonest definition available. While she uses the word pornography to discuss her target, and expands her argument in the broadest cultural terms (she enumerates the ways in which pop videos, HBO and Hollywood cinema have all contributed to the process of “pornification”), the material on which she bases most of her discussion is the sub-genre of video pornography known as gonzo. (From the introduction: “I want to make it clear that when I talk about ‘porn’, I am referring mainly to ‘gonzo’.”)
On page 88 – that’s several chapters into the case she has been building against porn – Dines finally offers what could be interpreted as her working definition of pornography. It is, she writes, “depictions of cruel acts that one group [ie men] is perpetrating against another group [ie women].” (It’s notable that Dines elects not to look at gay or lesbian pornography, thereby depriving herself on an opportunity to test her thesis about porn’s modelling of male-female sexual relationships by comparing it to the presentation of male-male or female-female relationships.) In other words, she has defined porn a priori as cruel.
Now, I won’t get into again how Dines continues to make the fatal error of defining “gonzo” as a subgenre rather than a particular filming style that puts the viewer as if (s)he’s part of the action, or how Dines one more time truncates the definition of “porn” to fit nicely into her reductionist view of male-female sexuality as close to rape….never mind how Dines merely flips off gay male/lesbian or transsexual porn as irrelevant.
So…how does Gail respond to such a critique? The only way she knows how….by slut-baiting and cum-dumping on Ditum as an “elitist neoliberal” out of step with the “real world” that “radical feminists” like Dines are committed to transform through destroying “the porn industry”.
First paragraph of Dines’ response gives her game away.
How wonderful that Pornland has evidently been what Sarah Ditum calls “astonishingly successful.” It is about time someone other than the pornographers got public airtime to talk about what is probably the most influential form of sex education today in the western world. The book has had its fair share of criticism, mainly from adolescent boys (by adolescent I refer to their emotional rather than chronological age) who, after much analysis and thought, decide that the problem with Pornland is that it was written by someone who “needs a good fuck.”
Of course, Ditum had wrote that Dines’ book was “highly influential“, not “highly successful”, and not even the sternest of critics (like Jordan or moi) have ever, ever written that Gail only “needs a good fuck” to solve her alleged puritanism. (I did say something in the past about a vibrator, though…but that’s different.) And, of course, Ditum said nothing of the sort, either. The reduction of Pornland critics to “emotionally adolescent boys” is a nice touch, too.
As to Ditum’s claim that Dines focuses on the most extreme content that justifies her biases and ideology at the expense of other subgenres of porn that are far less corrosive and violent….well, Gail has a retort there, too: Why study the plankton and the goldfish when the whales and sharks are right there, eating everything in sight?
My failure to give a detailed definition of porn, or my refusal to celebrate porn as a diverse set of cultural products, comes not from laziness or oversight but a commitment to a radical political economy. Located within a wider Marxist framework, political economy is a way of studying how media images both produce and reproduce systems of inequality. It is concerned with macro questions of class, race, and gender oppression, and aims to understand how media as a system of images, messages, norms, and ideas construct hegemonic discourse in ways that serve the interests of the ruling class.
So political economists interested in how the news media shape people’s ideas about politics are not going to look at, say, the New Left Project, Socialist Review, or the New Statesmanas examples of how most people in capitalism get their news. Instead they are going to go toThe Daily Mail, The Sun, The Mirror, BBC, ITV, and so on, since it is these outlets that shape the hegemonic thinking about political power, capitalism, and (in)equality. This does not mean that left-wing media are not of interest to study, but it will not be of much use to anyone who wants to understand why the rich continue to get away with robbing the workers blind.
Hence, why would I—a radical feminist who is interested in how porn shapes masculinity, patriarchy, and hegemonic discourse—spend my time looking at porn that maybe a handful of people get to see? Why would I bother with marginalized imagery that has virtually no impact whatsoever on mainstream culture? What I look at is what business and technology studies people call the “Dominant Design.” This refers to “a basic architecture of product or process that becomes the accepted market standard.” Today the dominant design of the porn industry is gonzo. This is not something I made up. It is not me “fixing the debate” or “propagandizing against all pornography,” but the reality of the porn industry today.
That would be a viable retort, Gail, if you manage to finangle the meaning of the term “pornography” to include such things as nude pictorals from Playboy or Penthouse, sexy music videos from MTV or BET, and even glossy backpage ads from Cosmopolitan and the lad mags; mix them all up with the mostly free picture/video trading of amateur homemade porn videos through tube sites and Bit Torrent downloads, and fit them all in a nice package you mark as “gonzo” and fire at your opponents.
The main problem is, though, it just doesn’t fit the real world. Actual Gonzo/POV porn is more profitable for producers of commercial porn, mostly because it is cheaper to produce than “feature” porn or “vignette” porn requiring somewhat of a plot or setting or scenario to justify the sex. Those profits are mitigated, though, by the fact that anyone with a digital phone or camera, a website, and access to coding, can create and sell their own pay website in an instant, or, simply post it free of charge to any web forum or message board for all to see. That kinda undermines the profit motive pretty damn quickly…and in fact, it has been the accessability of free porn that has done more to undercut the profits of “the sex industry” more than any other factor (the economy in general excluded).
And really, Gail: “Why would I bother with marginalized imagery that has virtually no impact whatsoever on mainstream culture?” Marginalized, you say?? You mean, that Tristian Taormino’s pioneering videos teaching women to enjoy anal sex safely have had NO impact on “mainstream culture’s” acceptance of anal as a legitimate heterosexual act?? That Nina Hartley’s “Sex Guide” videos promoting active female pleasure is simply some “marginalized” efforts in a sea of “body punishing sex” promoted by Meatholes and Max Hardcore?? And for someone so willing to dismiss the actual experiences and abilities of women within porn, you sure have a way of using women in porn when it suits your purposes of ideology (as in Jenna Jameson or Belladonna or Shelley Lubben).
I’ll just skip over Dines’ jeremiad on the supposed “expansion” of porn in capitalist society, since Jordan in the video covers that pretty well.
The real fun comes when Dines tries to go after Ditum for allegedly misinterpreting and twisting out of context the infamous Neil Malamuth study attempting to link porn usage with sexual aggression. Here’s Ditum’s original:
The problem, again, comes back to that definition. If we accept that porn is ipso facto cruel, then it makes sense to ask whether porn inures its users to violence against women. But if we reject Dines’ synthetically narrow idea of what pornography is, then the causal relationship between porn use and misogynistic violence becomes more difficult to believe in. And if we look for evidence, it starts to fall apart completely. Dines claims in the text that there are “a slew of psychological studies to support [the] claim” that “porn does indeed help to shape the worldviews of men who masturbate to it”, and yet in the endnotes she only cites one review from 1989. This is poor scholarship, but at least it’s reflective of the general insufficiency of the whole field of study. As Dr Petra Boynton points out, “The evidence base on the effects of pornography is not particularly clear, given that many studies are limited by small samples; riddled with experimenter expectancy effects and demand characteristics; poorly designed and poorly reported lab-based research that often features male undergraduates who’re not representative of the wider population.”
Naturally, Gail takes serious offense.
I was surprised to find a very clear error in Ditum’s account of Pornland. She states that when I discuss the studies, I cite only one study, from 1989. She then goes on to say that this is poor scholarship. Damn right it is! Who can make a generalization from citing one study? Not me. I cite the 1989 study in footnote 6 of chapter 5. Then, in footnote 7, I cite Pamela Paul’s qualitative study from 2005, and then in footnote 12, I cite an article by Neil Malamuth, Tamara Addison, and Mary Koss from the Annual Review of Sex Research. I talk about this article in the book because it is a review of meta-analytical studies of the effects of porn. This means that Malamuth and his colleagues do a detailed analysis of over 30 years’ worth of studies. They do not “cherry pick” studies but instead examine the weight of the evidence and conclude that “experimental research shows that exposure to non-violent or violent pornography results in increases in both attitudes supporting sexual aggression and in actual aggression.”
Does Ditum think that Malamuth, one of the most respected researchers in the world in this field, is going to make some wild claim without first looking at the body of research that has accumulated over 30 years? Ditum wants “sturdy evidence” before she will accept that porn has an effect on consumers. If hundreds of peer-reviewed articles don’t constitute “sturdy evidence,” then I don’t know what does.
That would be fine….except that the Malamuth study comes to the exact OPPOSITE conclusion of what Dines says it does!! Ditum reads Gail the scoreboard in Rebuttal #2.
[…] If exposure to pornography were demonstrated to be a cause of harm to the psyche of the viewer, then it would be necessary to weigh up the public goods of a right to free speech and a right to a private life (in which an individual may make or consume pornography), against the public ill – if that ill could be proven. But it has not been proven.
Not by Dines in her book, and not by the Malamuth study which she proffers so enthusiastically. According to Dines, this meta-analysis proves that “experimental research shows that exposure to non-violent or violent pornography results in increases in both attitudes supporting sexual aggression and in actual aggression”. Actually, while Malamuth et al tentatively endorse the idea of an association between pornography consumption and sexual violence, they stop a very long way short of asserting a causal relationship. I will quote from the paper at length: “on the basis of the research available, it is not feasible to gauge the relative importance of media influence generally, and of pornography in particular, in relation to other factors […] It is unlikely that in and of itself any type of pornography exerts a powerful influence on large numbers of people.”
Ouch. Even I had to feel that one.
Small wonder that Gail felt the need to go all Pat Buchanan/Braveheart/Joan of Arc all over Ditum and turn the debate into a classic crusade between the “populist” antiporn “radicals” and the “elitist” liberals. I’ll just post the last three graphs and allow you to feel the effects of a raving lunatic.
In the end the debate between Ditum and me is much bigger than Pornland. It is a battle over the heart and soul of feminism. And what is at stake is not just a debate about porn, but ultimately the nature of this movement that made all our lives better. The battles are not between generations or waves (as some would argue) but between those who adopt a radical understanding of power, institutions, capitalism, empire, and liberation, and those who seek safety in a more liberal, don’t-rock-the-boat ideology that celebrates individual empowerment over collective social change. No surprise that this appeals to the more privileged group of women, since they have been the ones to benefit mostly from the crumbs thrown to women post-1960s.
Ditum, and similarly minded women who support an industry built on the backs of poor and underprivileged women, are empowered. To varying degrees they have economic, educational, and skin privilege that allows them to celebrate porn from a safe distance. They won’t be the ones taking it up the ass on camera, so they can afford to wax lyrical on the ways that porn can be “messy, sometimes unpleasant and sometimes delightful….” I remember giving a lecture at a hideous conference at Yale University Law School in which I was the only anti-porn feminist on a panel of six. Nauseated by the pro-porn drivel coming from the other panelists, I went to sit in the library at lunchtime, away from my “colleagues.” I got talking to the cleaner, a woman pulling a double shift on a weekend to pay for her daughter’s college tuition at the nearby public university. I wondered what this woman would have made of listening to a bunch of academics talk about porn as empowering for women when she was scrubbing floors for her daughter’s education. I bet she would have thought that these academics had lost their minds.
What feminism has lost is radical politics. I joined a feminist movement that refused to collaborate with patriarchy, but over the years I have seen it become something that has slowly but surely capitulated to the demands of the power structure. It is now as unthreatening as Cosmopolitan, since what is there not to love about a “feminist” who fights for the rights of men to jerk off to porn? And while we women debate each other about how difficult it is to define porn, the predatory capitalists are busy building new niche markets and developing new and improved ways to degrade and debase women. So please don’t ask us radical feminists to waste our time coming up with scholarly definitions. We have an industry to close down.
And then, even that is a mere appetizer to the main course of human foie gras and fartage that Gail dropped in her final response to Ditum where she declares herself the victor and then tucked tail and ran away from her stinkbombs. I’ll just quote it in full for posterity’s sake, and add emphasis to the .
This debate feels like a marriage gone sour. After years of fighting with the same person, you know exactly what they are going to say, and with equal tedious predictability, you know what your response is going to be. It is a bit like fighting by numbers. This debate has been going on for thirty years, so instead of me arguing about capitalism, free speech and definitions of porn, I am going to end this debate by saying that there is no solution. There is no single study (or multitude of studies) I can cite that will shift those who sympathize with Ditum, and to be fair, this holds true for feminists who are anti-porn. At root what we have here are deep philosophical differences about the nature of agency, freedom, capitalism, sexuality, heterosexuality and power.
I am a radical feminist who is opposed to the commodification of human life. I do not believe that we should let a capitalist media industry shape our culture, sexuality, and gender relations, and I am opposed to the systems of inequality that supply the sex industry with human flesh. Women, and men, end up in the sex industry because they are the losers in the capitalist roulette. Yes, you may very well know someone’s cousin’s best friend who has a law degree but chooses to do porn, but this does not change the reality of how the vast majority of people end up in the sex industry. Take away capitalism, racism, and sexism, and tell me how you will staff the sex industry. Remove all the systems that make life unbearable for a majority of people on this planet, and my bet is that you will have not have thousands of women who volunteer to be in porn so that nameless men, who think they are nothing more than a cumbucket, can jerk off to them.
The ascendency of a toxic mix of neoliberal ideology and postmodern notions in the academy makes it almost impossible to recognize structures of power and the reality of exploitation, or to argue against the idea that we are all rational individuals freely choosing an empowering lifestyle. This insidious virus has infected feminist thinking, resulting in a feminism devoid of any political or structural analysis. This ridiculous turning away from feminist roots has made radical feminists look like relics of a bygone era who hold on to outdated notions of systematic power and systemic inequality that limit the life chances of women and shape the choices we make. We look like a bunch of party poopers who refuse to celebrate all that great agency young women now have as they are encouraged to strip, wax, and fuck themselves into empowerment.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Republicans have declared war on women’s bodies, women still earn less than men, are still the ones who are responsible for child care, are still raped, harassed, molested, trafficked, and are increasingly having to deal with men who are stuck in perpetual adolescence (what the sociologist Michael Kimmel calls Guyland, the parallel universe to Pornland). These men are their buddies, their bosses, their politicians, their lawyers, their doctors, and their partners. Guyland men continue to make laws that limit women’s lives economically, medically, legally and politically, because — like for all adolescent boys with hard ons — women who are not fuckable are invisible to them.
I have no studies up my sleeve to prove to Guyland men that women deserve true equality. As with civil rights, this is a political principle, not an empirical question. In any event, studies do not change the world. The only thing that makes a difference is collective organizing and education, and that is what radical feminists do. We believe in a future free of oppression, and a cornerstone of this future is a world free of commodified sex and a media landscape that does not reproduce patriarchal culture. This is a truth we hold dear and there is no study, argument, or theory that will persuade us otherwise.
So as you see, Clones, rehabilitating sexual puritanism and castration as a radical cutting edge revolutionary strike against the Patriarchy and capitalism doesn’t need any steenking studies or arguments; just trust us and either lead, follow, or get run over.
And, of course, in a perfect “radical feminist” society, finding people who like sex to film themselves having sex for their own pleasure will be impossible…mostly because if folk like Dines have their way, people will be so brainwashed….errrrrrrrr, “reeducated” with the idea of loving, caring, emotionally dependent monogamous “intimacy” that orgasms and erections will be rendered useless. Of course, criminalizing erections and the depiction thereof will sure help things a lot, won’t it?? (Also…since even adolescent boys don’t have erections 24/7, what in the hell does that make “unfuckable” women then?? And how do you make women invisible in the first place?)
Of course, the women who actually DO take it up the ass, in the mouth, and in their vaginas (or, whatever combination thereof they prefer, both on camera and in private) will have no voice or no choice of their own when Dines’ “radical feminist” revolution actually does go down. And the men who harm no one, rape no one, and live as free and law-abiding citizens, who just so happen to jerk off to porn that harms and threatens no one, and who manage to muddle through their lives without reducing women to anything less than full human beings, will also have no choices or voices when they are castrated or herded into jail or “john/pimp schools” to reeducate them on the joys of sexual guilt tripping when the Dines/Jensen/Ghally policies of “feminist” sexual shaming are enforced by the next enlightened “anti-capitalist” regime.
And while all this is happening, real human trafficking and economic slavery will continue to thrive and survive, thanks to all the newly “liberated” women and children freed from their “oppression” and dependency on “punishing body sex”…and the money from those professions that allowed them to survive and escape even worse fates.
But, I guess that by then, REAL socialists (you know, that actual word describing real anticapitalists that Dines refuses to use?), the ones who actually take Marxist anaylsis about class relations and workers’ activism seriously and not just as rhetoric to sell a fundamentalist sexual reactionary agenda, will have to come in and show fascist pretenders like Gail Dines that there is a distinct difference between voluntarily and consensually taking a dick in the ass and really getting involuntarily screwed by the State.
Oh…and on that cleaning lady that Gail attempts to mime ala “Joe The Plumber” (aka Samuel J. Wurzelbacher), I’ll just allow Sarah D to have the last word on that (from her review of the entire debate):
In my opener, I argue that Dines has misrepresented the evidence and failed to offer a coherent idea either of what pornography is or why it’s necessary to be against it. Dines’ response begins with a gesture of bad faith when she misquotes me in the first paragraph (I called Pornland “astonishingly influential”, not “astonishingly successful” – picky maybe, but she could at least have tried to get that right), and then tries to smear my position by referring to critics who “decide that the problem with Pornland is that it was written by someone who ‘needs a good fuck.’”
Now, I’m sure many people have said this about Dines, but I didn’t, and by characterising her opposition in this way, she’s making an early effort to discredit all my criticism by association. Perhaps she felt it was necessary to be cheap because her responses to the points I actually make are uniformly weak. Charged with not offering a substantial definition of pornography, she says, “please don’t ask us radical feminists to waste our time coming up with scholarly definitions.” (I thought “highly regarded academics” were meant to have at least a minimal engagement with “scholarly” standards. Silly me.) Challenged on her use of evidence, she offers a cherry-picked quote from the Malamuth study. She condemns my understanding of capitalism, while giving an account of industrial relations with no mention of workers.
The best bit, though, is when she accuses me of speaking from privilege and then puts words in the mouth of a cleaner in order to support her argument. Seriously:
I got talking to the cleaner, a woman pulling a double shift on a weekend to pay for her daughter’s college tuition at the nearby public university. I wondered what this woman would have made of listening to a bunch of academics talk about porn as empowering for women when she was scrubbing floors for her daughter’s education. I bet she would have thought that these academics had lost their minds.
I’ve italicised the conditional phrases in that section. What it means is that she didn’t ask the cleaner what she thought, and the cleaner didn’t say that she agreed with Dines. Dines could bear to think a little more about her own privilege before she makes sock-puppets of any adjacent manual workers. I could have attacked her substantially on that alone in the next part of the debate, but instead I wanted to focus on her use of evidence. She had cited Malamuth, so I quoted further from that study, showing how she had sheared off the caveats and qualifications applied by the authors to their findings.
And her reaction to this is the most revealing part of the whole exchange. Having previously claimed that she had a “slew” of evidence on her side, she now cut the debate short with the statement (in the yet-unpublished part four) that “there is no study, argument, or theory that will persuade us [i.e. radical feminists]“. This is an amazing admission, because what she’s saying is that the evidence doesn’t matter. Confronted with her own misuse of the research, she states that the research has never influenced her beliefs anyway. The reason Pornland reads as though is was constructed from the a priori belief that porn is bad is because that is exactly how it was written. Every claim it makes is compromised by this deep intellectual bias.
There’s the essence of Gail Dines right there: accuse others of “elitism” and not caring about the opinions of the “working class”…and then promptlly stealing a working-class cleaning lady’s voice and appropriating it for herself without even asking her. But…only sex positive leftists and “pro-porn” feminists are “privileged”. Seriously, indeed.
Feminism reduced to the likes of Gail Dines is feminism truly lost. In other words: right-wing feminism. At least Sarah Ditum’s brave enough to call bullshit out in public. More of that on the Left would do it some good.
I haven’t even gotten to the craziest of the antiporn whackiness (the invasion of the Freethought Blogs by Taslima Nasreen…but that will have to wait until my next post. I’ll just let you digest this for now.