Pornography isn’t the elephant in the room, it’s the unicorn.
Throughout most of my experience in the feminist movement, pornography as a medium, has and still is, treated as infallible.
Criticizing the misogyny of pornographers and how they’ve integrated their hatred of women into this “art form,” can get you labeled as anti-sex.
- Just some examples of how some pornographers feel about women:
- "I’d like to really show what I believe the men want to see: violence against women. I firmly believe that we [pornographers] serve a purpose by showing that. The most violent we can get is the cum shot in the face. Men get off behind that, because they get even with the women they can’t have. We try to inundate the world with orgasms in the face." - Bill Margold, porn industry veteran, quoted in Robert J. Stoller and I. S. Levine, Coming Attractions: The Making of an X-rated video; 1993.
- "There’s nothing I love more than when a girl insists to me that she won’t take a cock in her ass, because — oh yes she will!" - Max Hardcore, interviewed in Hustler (June 1995).
- "My whole reason for being in this Industry is to satisfy the desire of the men in the world who basically don’t much care for women and want to see the men in my Industry getting even with the women they couldn’t have when they were growing up. I strongly believe this… so we come on a woman’s face or somewhat brutalize her sexually: we’re getting even for their lost dreams. I believe this. I’ve heard audiences cheer me when I do something foul on screen. When I’ve strangled a person or sodomized a person, or brutalized a person, the audience is cheering my action, and then when I’ve fulfilled my warped desire, the audience applauds." - Bill Margold, porn industry veteran and Free Speech Coalition board member.
- "It might promote violence against women in the United States, but I say, ‘Good.’ I hate those bitches. They’re out of line and that’s one of the reasons I want to do this … I’m going through a divorce right now. … I hate American women." - What pornographers really think of women (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 14 October 1999)
Criticizing how women are sometimes raped on film and then have their rape uploaded online, accessible to millions, who can masturbate to a hate crime, can get you labeled as anti-sex.
For example: Linda Lovelace, the “Star” of the “iconic” vintage porn “Deep Throat.” Even though Linda has come out about being brutally physically assaulted and raped on set:
“During the filming of Deep Throat, actually after the first day, I suffered a brutal beating in my room for smiling on the set. It was a hotel room and the whole crew was in one room, there was at least twenty people partying, music going, laughing, and having a good time. Mr. Traynor started to bounce me off the walls. I figured out of twenty people, there might be one human being that would do something to help me and I was screaming for help, I was being beaten, I was being kicked around and again bounced off the walls. And all of a sudden the room next door became very quiet. Nobody, not one person came to help me. The greatest complaint the next day is the fact that there was bruises on my body. So many people say that in Deep Throat I have a smile on my face and I look as though I am really enjoying myself. No one ever asked me how those bruises got on my body.At another point in her testimony, Linda Marchiano said: Mr. Traynor suggested the thought that I do films with a D-O-G and I told him that I wouldn’t do it. I suffered a brutal beating, he claims he suffered embarrassment because I wouldn’t do it. We then went to another porno studio, one of the sleaziest ones I have ever seen, and then this guy walked in with his animal and I again started crying. I started crying. I said I am not going to do this and they were all very persistent, the two men involved in making the pornographic film and Mr. Traynor himself. And I started to leave and go outside of the room where they make these films and when I turned around there was all of a sudden a gun displayed on the desk and having seen the coarseness and the callousness of the people involved in pornography, I knew that I would have been shot and killed.
Needless to say the film was shot and still is one of the hardest ones for me to deal with today.” - Report of Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography, Final Report (1986) & In Harm’s Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings.
- "Sheila Jeffreys, in her book “The Industrial Vagina”, translates an account by European ex-porn star Raffaela Anderson, who describes it this way: “Take an inexperienced girl, who does not speak the language, far from home, sleeping in a hotel or on the set. Made to undergo a double penetration, a fist in her vagina plus a fist in her anus, sometimes at the same time, a hand up her arse, sometimes two. You get a girl in tears, who pisses blood because of lesions, and she craps herself too because no one explained to her that she needed to have an enema…after the scene which the girls have no right to interrupt they have two hours’ rest." - Kat Banyard, The Equality Illusion, The Booty Myth, p. 159
Another video I suggest you watch (although it can be EXTREMELY TRIGGERING) is from Ex-Pornstar Shelley Lubben who discusses the violent treatment of female performers in the porn industry, the hazardous, unsanitary workplace environment, the abuse of power by male pornstars and male pornographers, the rampancy of substance abuse by performers in the industry and much more.
- This is what she says about the video in her own words: “
This video has footage the porn industry doesn’t want you to see. Women are abused, screaming, crying, raped and in pain on the porn set…No woman should have to go to work only to return home beaten and traumatized.”
Addressing how studies have shown that men who consume high rates of pornography have the most misogynistic and chauvinistic attitudes towards women, can get you labeled as anti-sex.
- Regular users of pornography are more likely to think of women in stereotype, as “socially non-discriminating, as hysterically euphoric in response to just about any sexual or pseudosexual stimulation, and as eager to accommodate seemingly any and every sexual request. - Allan, K., & Coltrane, S., “Gender displaying television commercials: A comparative study of television commercials in the 1950s and 1980s”, Sex roles; 1996Dolf. - Zillman and Jennings Bryant, “Effects of massive exposure to pornography”, in Neil Malamuth and Edward Donnerstein Eds., Pornography and Sexual Aggression; 1984
- In 2002, a professor at a Texas University conducted a study of online pornography consumers (heterosexual men who used pornography via Internet newsgroups). On average, respondents looked at 5 hours and 22 minutes of pornography per week. Respondents were divided into three groups: High consumption (more than 6 hours per week), average (2 to 6 hours per week), and low (2 hours or less). The study found that the more pornography men use, the more likely they are to describe women in sexualized and stereotypically feminine terms. They were also more likely to approve of women in “traditionally female” occupations and to value women who are more submissive and subordinate to men. - Ryan J. Burns, “Male Internet Pornography Consumers’ Perception of Women and Endorsemrent of Traditional Female gender Roles”, Austin, texas: Department of Communication Studies, University of Texas; 2002.
To address how patriarchy has constructed male-female sexuality in accordance to male dominance and female submission, and how this manifest itself as the default presentation of PIV in pornography, can get you labeled as anti-sex.
- Findings of social science research have shown that prolonged exposure to pornography resulted in:
— a diminution, and eventually loss, of repulsion evoked by common pornography;
— an increasing need for pornography featuring less common forms of sexuality, including forms that entail some degree of violence;
— an alteration of one’s perceptions of “common” sexual behavior;
— a decrease of trust among sexual intimates;
— an increase of tolerance for violations of sexual exclusivity (Moral condemnation of sexual improprieties diminishes sharply); — a diminution of the desire for progeny (The strongest effect of this kind concerns the desire of females for female offspring);
— a discontent with the physical appearance and sexual performance of intimate partners;
— a loss of compassion toward women as rape victims and toward women in general;
— a loss of concern about the effects of pornography on others;
— a need for more violent and bizarre forms of sex;
— a desensitization to violent, hardcore pornography;
— an increasing acceptance of rape myths;
— an increased insensitivity toward victims of sexual violence;
— a trivialization of rape as a criminal offense;
— a trivialization of child sexual abuse as a criminal offense;
— a promotion of men’s belief of having the propensity for forcing particular sexual acts on reluctant sexual partners;
— a predisposition of the willingness to rape;
— an increasing sexual callousness;
— an increasing acceptance of violence against women. - Sources: Dolf Zillman & Jennings Bryant, “Effects of massive exposure to pornography”, in Neil Malamuth and Edward Donnerstein Eds., Pornography and Sexual Aggression; 1984; James Check and Neil Malamuth, “An empirical assessment of some feminist hypotheses about rape”. International Journal of Women’s Studies; 1985; Neil Malamuth and James Check, “Aggressive Pornography and Beliefs in Rape Myths: Individual Differences”, Journal of Research in Personality; 1985; Dolf Zillman, “Effects of Prolonged consumption of pornography”, in Dolf Zillmann and Jennings Bryant eds, Pornography: Research Advances and Policy Considerations; 1989; and Diana Russell, Against Pornography: The Evidence of Harm; 1993.
To demand that porn be not only analyzed, but criticized for promoting sexism, will most likely result in misogynists and feminists alike covering their ears and shaking their head.
More so, the fact that misogynists and [liberal] feminists share similar opinions about pornography says a lot about the current state of pornography.
When men can find a venue to express arousal and reinforce this arousal through sexual stimuli, at the idea of assaulting women and most feminists will applaud this as “sex positive,” - there’s a problem.
Sex positivity has been used as a non-directional, neutral phrase that is brought up to ignore how human sexuality is structured in context with oppression. This means that ideals of male superiority and female subjugation still have an affect on our sexuality, from what our culture tries to convince/coerce us into being aroused by and the things it successfully teaches us to pursue as desirable.
Why don’t we focus more on being “female-positive,” instead of just “sex positive?” This shift in what feminists are aiming for, in terms of female sexual agency, would help us be able to sift out and better understand fantasies formed from how rape culture, porn culture and patriarchy interact with one another.