Radfem Anti-Porn Sex Hate — Part Deux

Alrighty….let us all get out our noseclips and dive back into the river of free-flowing crap that is Stephanie Cleveland’s ode to antiporn radicalfeminist myopia, shall we??

When we last exited for air, Ms. Cleveland was riffing on the many ways in which "liberal men" and the "male Left" were turning a blind eye to how porn was innately causing the brutality and outright degradation of women as a class; we pick up the action now somewhere in the middle of the essay, where she now aims her sights on the alleged oxymoron of "feminist porn" [Once again, emphasis added by me]:

It has also been suggested to me by liberal men and some women, that rather than attack pornography, I should work towards putting control of the industry in women’s hands. The people who suggest this seem not to have noticed patriarchy is still pretty firmly in place. Men have the money and power to control what types of pornography get made, and by whom. And judging from the direction the industry has taken in the past decade, men who use pornography want to be able to use women—they want to be able to use us as objects, without having to worry about being ‘gentle.’

One male reviewer’s comments on ‘feminist’ pornographer Candida Royalle’s website seem pretty telling: “Not too much for my wife, but still arousing. I am not sure if it would be great to sit down to alone. I might want something a little less ‘lovable.’” Sadly, women, like men, can abuse other people, and women, like men, can be pimps. This is why the idea of a woman-run pornography industry is not only improbable, but awful. In that case, the industry would still be based on injustice—on selling people for sex—the only difference being, women would be the pimps as well as the victims.

Now, never mind the basic fact that there are known examples of women who do actually make erotica/porn exactly with women’s stated desires in mind (Candida Royalle is an example; or that there are women in positions of much power who manage to run whole enterprises (Christie Hefner of Playboy, Danni Ashe of DanniMedia; and various webmistresses who manage to run and maintain their own websites; orrrrrrr that even much of what passes for "male porn" actually runs against the stereotype of men abusing women (try Vivid Video or Video Team or any of the softcore late-night erotica on cable and try to find any violence, if you may).  In the mind of the likes of Stephanie Cleveland and her MacDworkinite sister travellers, it’s all the same as an Anabolic or a Extreme double anal gangbang…even when it clearly isn’t.

And for this "selling people for sex" deal…..I’d think that an educated woman like Ms. Cleveland would be able to ascertain the difference between a person performing sex acts for their and other people’s vewing pleasure; and someone actually doing sex with that person in exchange for pay.  (Of course, not that it would matter to her, since even if it was done for free, it would still be considered nothing less than horrible and degrading and male-dominant for the very reason of it involving hard-ons and penetration and semen and thrusting and grunting and orgasms and all those other "male-identified" intrusions on an "authentic female/feminist sexuality".

And it should be noted that even many feminist women see Femme Productions (Candida Royalle’s "women’s porn" project) as much too soft and romantic for their taste; and that there are plenty of men who actually do prefer that kind of more "sensual" porn (though apparantly not sensual enough for Cleveland’s tastes/political ideology, I’d assume).

The lives of women hurt by pornography should matter. The lives of those who feel broken by it should count, more than any bogus attempt to revamp the industry. The speech of those raped by porn users should be allowed to matter. Their voices should matter more than the ‘speech’ rights of men, who can very much live without porn. They should also count more than the voices of a small, elite group of women willing to dignify pornography professionally, and exploit women’s sexuality just as greedily as men. These women, who claim porn empowers us all, operate from a position of privilege. They don’t have to live through being assaulted by a father who uses porn, or being pushed into performing sex acts by a boyfriend who saw them in his favorite gangbang flick. This tiny group of women pornographers gets to stand behind the camera, producing about one percent of the industry’s porn, their privileged role provided for them, temporarily, by pro-porn men. The men, of course, are only too happy to support them and pay lip service to their idea of ‘feminist erotica,’ all the while continuing to film women fucked inside out, penetrated by two men at a time, raped, used, and sold as commodity.

The pro-porn ‘feminists’ claim they are entitled to their individual ‘freedom of expression.’ Feminism should be about giving women choices as individuals, yes, but it should also be about doing what’s best for the status of women as a whole. Some women may enjoy pornography, but many more have been brutalized because of it. Some women may see sex as power, but many more realize that power is still in the hands of men, whenever they get to buy us. Why women should have to reclaim an industry men came up with in the first place? Why should we try to make ‘lovable’ porn, instead of creating our own ideas about sex that don’t involve industry at all?

Ah, yes…the rights of the "victims" of porn should definitely outweigh the "rights" of women who are not even harmed by it or even gain much pleasure from it….even if most perpetrators of violence never viewed so much as a naked nipple or a shaved pube in his life, or that most rapists managed to harm women long before any porn video or Internet site (or even Kama Sutra carvings in caves); or that  there are far more vast sources for misogyny (such as traditional conservative religion, or the lack of political power, or the inequality of the economic system overall.  But forget all that…..only by banning and banishing images of explicit sex and converting men to radfem principles will women be able to overcome these obstacles and gain true equality. And…what about the vast majority of men who don’t particularly have the power to "buy" women for sex….or the power of the human sex drive and base sexual desire which induces men (and women) to seperate themselves from their money to attract these things?? The men may have most of the money, but it’s the women (and in the case of gay male porn, other men) who are inducing them to give up that money in the first place. So who, really, has the power? The person who pays, or the person who gets paid???

And now we come to the best part of the article…I promised you a Nina Hartley bashing, and heretowith…

On her web site, Nina Hartley claims to offer pro-woman pornography. One of her films is entitled Hot Cherry Pies. The cover features a woman’s vagina, neatly hidden by a smashed piece of pastry. A caption reads, “sink your teeth into a slice of hot cherry pie! 20 panty-soaked scenes of toy stuffing, muff munching, dong dunking fun, [courtesy of] pussy pro Nina Hartley!” A reviewer notes enthusiastically, “The box has a scratch and sniff on it. If you scratch the pussy it smells like cherries. It’s a great conversation piece.”

As a feminist, I want to be able to critique sexist images of women in the media. But how can I do that, if I have to accept Hartley’s version of the same thing as ‘liberating?’ Her ideas are the same as those found in male porn—that sex is about force, being stuffed, bitten into. The women marketed as lesbians in her girl-on-girl scenes don’t look like any lesbians I know—or even straight women for that matter—with their bleached blonde hair, fake breasts, and fully waxed bodies. The enormous range of touch, emotion and sensuality that encompasses women’s sexuality, or any kind of authentically human sexuality, isn’t even hinted at. The problem is—those aspects of sex can’t be captured by pornography; they can’t be commercially boxed and marketed.

Keep in mind, Clones, that Nina basically and correctly, IMHO, savaged Cleveland’s ally Chyng Sun a couple of years back….and apparantly, the hurt of the truth still lingers….how else would Nina’s name keep cropping up as Pu(l)bic Enemy Number One for the Radfem Sexxx Police.  Yet, even for the usual, the "Hot Cherry Pie" reference is, shall we say, one gigantic reach.  Sheldon Ranz, a journalist and porn auteur who knows Nina enough to have actually interviewed her a decade ago, decided to research the video reference….and promptly posted the results to Nina’s forum yesterday:

"Hot Cherry Pies" is a compilation tape – it’s not a Nina Hartley feature. That’s why it will never appear on my authoritative videography of her work. And any way, what Cleveland is referring to is the advertising, not the video itself. She has obviously never seen that actual clips in the video – she judges a book solely by its cover. This has happened to Nina before – the cover box to "Debbie Duz Dishes" originally depicted her as a Jewish American Princess, when in fact the video itself portrayed her as anything but.

It should also be noted that none of the sex acts promoted in the promo box cover for that video —  the "toy stuffing" (penetration by sex toys), the "muff munching" (oral sex), or the "dong dunking" (regular PIV sex) contain not a hint of violence or degradation of any kind.  And would it be misogynic of me to say that the "scratch the pussy and it smells like cherry pie" reference is more an ode to the infamous scene in the classic mainstream comedy American Pie, where the lead actor is caught by his father with his dick in a cherry pie because he was told by his friend that that was what sexual intercourse with a woman felt like?? But considering how much of an expert Ms. Cleveland is on porn (not seeing an actual porn video notwithstanding; since only fervent rehashing of the Dworkin/MacKinnon/Reisman microcode is more than enough for antiporn feminists to convey them as experts in human sexuality), it is no surprise at all that she can see the total misogyny where the rest of us can’t.

Not to mention Cleveland’s laughable bitching about the "lesbians" in porn not looking like any "real lesbians" she’s personally known….uhhh, Stephanie, ever heard of those people called "bisexuals"??? Or about straight women who just might actually like pussy on the side because….well….it’s FUN?!?!  And as for the typical reference to "fake breasts, blonde hair, and waxed bodies" (whatever the hell that means)…..she does know that Nina did actually appear in porn before she got her implants….and that there are plenty of naturally endowed (and some not so endowed), non-blonde, and non-anorexic women who have succeeded quite nicely (Marilyn Chambers, for example, was an actual A-cup brunette during her heyday; she didn’t get her boobs done until well after she had left the XXX business, during her softcore period of making Pay-Per-View specials during the early 2000s.)

Ohhhh…but never fear, because all this is all about developing an "authentic female sexuality", or simply a "human sexuality" that better represents "the enormous range of touch, emotion, and sensuality" that that bad, nasty old male-dominated porn just can’t touch.  Kinda like, say…romance novel sex, ‘ya think?? (Never mind that even that has been invaded by those evil male values of physical pleasure over "sensuality" thanks to the influence of "Romantica"…and that much of the move is driven by the main consumers of romance novels, which remain WOMEN…but I guess that Cleveland doesn’t really care about that, since that gets in the way of policing women’s desire by smearing men as rapists and human sperm fountains.)

Here’s how Cleveland concludes her little ranting:

Some of us would like to experience sex that is not commercial, but human; we are ‘pro-sex,’ to the point of wanting sex as human beings. What happens to us, if as women, Hartley’s pornographic version of sex doesn’t make us feel better? What happens when all the men we know use pornography and think of us as pussy? As a woman, I remember times when men have used words like those to hurt me. Trying to redeem them as sexy, seems as pointless as redeeming words such as ‘nigger’ or ‘kike.’

I don’t want to be ‘pussy’ or ‘pie.’ I want the chance to be a person, even in sex. As Andrea Dworkin wrote, “Girls want so much, not knowing they want the impossible: to move in a real world of action and accomplishment; to be someone individual and unique; to act on one’s own feelings, appetites, and ambitions.”

I have my own appetites; I don’t need the sexual script that pornographers—male or female—lord over me. I have my own ambitions. I want to find my own vision of sex. I want lovers who are willing to abandon pornography, so that I can have partners in respect and mutuality. I want to be, not the fuck-hole of male pornography, or the Hot Cherry Pie of Hartley’s, but a human being.

Now, for once I will actually agree with Ms. Cleveland…to a point.  No woman wants to be reduced to any part of her body (whether it’s her pussy, her womb, her boobs, her face, or her legs; and most of us do want to be seen as full human beings.  That is perfectly fine and fair and just; in fact, it’s a fundamental essentuality to be treated as a equal and fair human being.

The problem that radfems like Stephanie Cleveland will face is that for the majority of human beings, men and women, sex and sexual pleasure is an essential part of being human; indeed, in that it is sex that creates human life to begin with, it could be said that sex is the most essential value of humanity….as essential as food, shelter, and language. Only problem is, though, that sex sometimes has a way of defying attempts to criminalize and define and restrict its desires; it is no surprise that cultures that have attempted to repress sexuality to a narrow boundary have simply redefined desire in much more uncontrollable means. The Catholic Church’s repression of homosexuality and its vow of celibacy resulting in such gross sexual abuse by their priests of their pre-pubescent subjects is one example; the recent antics of homophobic self-denying gay men like former Congressman Mark Foley and Jeff Gannon are but a few other examples of sexual repression coming back to boomerang in abusive fashion. It’s one thing for radfems to say that porn does leave a lot to be desired when it comes to accurate information about sex or conveying the realities of human desire; but it’s quite another to use that as a crutch to attempt to replace one form of social and sexual repression with another model and call it "feminism" or "anti-capitalism".  Whether they like it or not, a woman’s vagina is as human as the woman whom uses it for her own pleasure (and the same for a man’s penis); and to deny her the agency to define her own pleasures for herself and experience the joy of sexual ecstasy is the exact opposite of what feminism should represent.

You may not like what most pornography represents personally, and that is your right…but when you decide to prejudge, indict and convict people who happen not to be harmed or to feel harmed by viewing sexually explicit media of crimes that they did not commit, you simply lose the right to call yourself a progressive…or, for that matter, a feminist.

What "feminists" like Chyng Sun and Stephanie Cleveland do does far more harm to women — in effect, dehumanizes and objectifies women — than anything Nina Hartley or Candida Royalle (whatever my disagreement is with her particular vision) has ever done on stage or online.  As far as I am concerned, the latter two are the genuine progressive feminists…..the former two are simply right-wing fascist wannabes cloaked in "leftist" drag.

A side note: The Adonis Mirror site from which Cleveland’s nonsense originated is actually more of a "male radicalfeminist" site mostly dirven by a man named Richard Leader; who wrote most of the essays featured there. Strangely enough, as I noted previously, Cleveland’s essay is the only essay written by a woman there. Not a trace of misogyny there about a bunch of men attempting to tell women how to live their sex lives, isn’t there??? (I guess that some "male Leftists" are more acceptable than others..ya think?? (Just Google for the actual link if you want; I’d rather not give them any more support than they deserve.)

 ————————————————————————————————–

UPDATE:  Nina Hartley just posted this righteous and succint response to Stephanie Cleveland’s nonsense over at her forum:

 

http://www.nina.com/vboard/showpost.php?p=37541&postcount=5 
(Posted by Nina Hartley ("Nina") on Dec. 13 @ 9:07 PM CST; "Kimberly" was another forum member)

Kimberly,

Thanks for your succint and pointed response to yet another dreary rehasing of a very tired anti porn rant that hasn’t changed much in nearly thirty years.

Sigh. She shows her ignorance by thinking that I had anything to do with "Cherry Pie." We are contractors: when we shoot the scene, we get paid and we go home. The producer does what he sees fit with the footage. That’s why one scene of me having sex on a pool table with Billy Dee where he comes on my face can show up: in the original movie ("Little Bit ‘o Honey," c. ’86); in a "Blacks and Blondes" tape; in a "Sex and Sports" compilation; in a "Horny, Cum Eating Blondes"; and a "Bubble Butt Babe" compilation. The performers have zero to do with any of this.

But that’s beside the point. What these types of porn bashers of either gender don’t seem to realize is that their morbid preoccupation with the "prostituting of women," etc., is THEIR psychiatric fixation and not necessarily an accurate depiction of the landscape. I’m not saying that x percent of porn isn’t ugly and distasteful. I don’t like a lot of it, myself and so don’t watch it. These people seek OUT porn they find particularly horrendus and then spend a lot of time getting worked up over its existance [sic] and what it "means" for the culture. Like the anit-communist hysteria in the ’50’s, they see female subjugation under every bush and in every bit of advertising.

Of course women who would prefer not to be sex workers should be helped out of their current situation, including those who’d prefer not to make videos. But porn is not keeping them there. Could it be that society still stigmatizes women with a less than ‘virtuous’ background, making it hard to get other, equally well-paying work? Could it be that our educational system does a piss-poor job of getting young people ready to make their way in the world? If the stats are true, that 25% of women are molested/raped by the time they’re 21, why aren’t 25% of our female citizens making livings as sex workers? Could it be that other factors than a history of sexual abuse lead performers to adult videos? Why don’t these "porn is bad for all women" women ever seem to pay ANY attention to male victims of sexual abuse/rape? To the lives of male performers? Could it be that they still labor under the delusion that "the patricarchy" somehow includes/benefits ALL male citizens, even when that is clearly not so?

If a woman’s boyfriend is so dopey that he can’t tell the difference between a movie and a real-life person, then she’s dating a jerk and needs to dump him. If she is so insecure that she feels a rivalry with a 2-D image, then she needs to understand why that is and quit blaming
a movie for her unhappiness in life/love. If the relationship is so strained that he thinks he can get/ask/have her do things that the model is doing without asking the girlfriend if she’s into it, then she need to get the fuck out or learn to speak up to/for her needs. No one takes advantage of someone without the implicit or explict permission of that person.

If she wants a man in her life, she needs to understand that-news flash-men like to look. As long as he doesn’t do it in front of her and hurts her feelings, that’s life. If she wants a doormat or a self-loathing man, she’ll see what kind of sex she gets from him: not much and not very good.

Just because SHE is disgusted/outraged/dismayed/angered by an act she sees on camera DOESN’T mean that the performer felt the same thing when she made the movie, and to have that notion is very childish and anit-intellectual. There are many women who love a kind of sex that I don’t get. I don’t watch their scenes, as their version doesn’t turn me on at all. But in person, they’re pretty sweet and clearly liking what they do. Has Ms. Clevland [sic] ever considered the notion that these are PERFORMANCES and not some documentary?

She gets to be angry, etc., about the world and how she sees it. She gets to be angry, etc., about porn. What is so infuriating is her arrogance in thinking that her version is the only version of events.

BTW, I encourage women to leave porn all the time. As well, I encourage many to never start in the first place, if I think this business wouldn’t be good for them. Guess what? These are young women with attitudes and they didn’t listen to Mom and they sure as hell aren’t going to listen to me. When they’re ready to listen, I talk to them again. This poster needs to get a copy of "Porn 101" to see just how strongly we take our responsibility to warn women of the realities of making that first movie.

Whether she like it or not, many of the women making movies now like what they do. Not all of us have the opportunity to be in academia like Ms.Cleveland. Most don’t have the choice of, "Hmm, porn or NYU?" Porn is very well compensated blue collar labor, better than working the chicken-plucking assembly line, and that’s where Ms. Cleveland’s "analysis" falls short. Like all of the other porn bashers out there, the class bias drips from her keyboard, as well as her amazing ignorance. When have any of these women EVER talked to me and heard my story? Never. No, it wouldn’t do, as my story contradicts their theory. They only want to talk to women who feel they’ve been harmed by their involvement with adult entertainment. It’s sort of like how Bushie got us into Iraq: only listening to those "advisors" who already agreed with him and not paying any heed to other voices.

These women have been silencing me for 22 years. If you’re anti-porn, you get invited to speak at congressional hearings and the like. If you’re me, you don’t get the time of day.

I make porn and I also make love with my husband as a full human person. He’s not married to Nina; he’s married to ME and loves ME and makes love to ME, as myself, not some creature I’ve invented to get my message out there.

Ooh, it makes me so fucking angry!

Enough freakin’ said.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Radfem Anti-Porn Sex Hate — Part Deux

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  3. OK, I’d like to take my own crack at the multifarious flaws in this piece.

    “A few weeks ago, I attended a Take Back the Night rally on campus….But there was one issue nobody seemed willing to talk about. No one said a word about pornography.”

    It doesn’t occur to her that, rather than not being “willing” to talk about it, it might just be that the speakers didn’t view the issue the way she does. But that couldn’t be: she possesses the Single Truth. How could any thinking person see it differently?

    “No one mentioned that over two thirds of them [porn workers] have lived through childhood sex abuse.”

    Antiporn feminists are notoriously loose with their facts, but let’s suppose for the sake of argument that this is true. What follows from it? First, that apparently a third of sex workers aren’t survivors of such abuse. How does that fit into her picture? Second, not only is correlation not causation, but causation isn’t symmetric. That is, “A causes B” is not the same as “B causes A.” If surviving sexual abuse does sometimes lead to taking up sex work, it hardly follows that sex work results in more abuse. After all, presumably a disproportionate number of those attending Take Back the Night rallies are survivors of abuse or assault. Does it follow that their participation is a continuation of their abuse? Cleveland, to the contrary, presumably would argue that this is a way of overcoming those experiences. Well, guess what – some sex workers say the same thing about their work.

    “Nobody talked about how the average prostitute is raped eight times a day.”

    I think we can safely assume she’s talking about consensual acts here, and not forced sex. She’s simply creating “rape” by ideological definition, and hoping to make it stick by throwing in the “eight times a day.” Kinsey’s group found that what people labeled “pornography” was reliably predicted by whatever elicited a physiological reaction they dubbed “visceral clutch.” The strategy we see here is to bypass our critical faculties by pairing the idea of prostitution with the VC many of us may experience at the thought of having sex with eight different men in a day. (In the terms of classical conditioning, that is: seriatim sex = original stimulus, visceral clutch = response, prostitution = conditioned stimulus.)

    “[A]nd no one dared [sic] question whether or not there were similarities between the descriptions often given by porn stars of how filming a scene feels (‘It’s like I’m outside of myself, like I’m watching what’s happening to me’) and the dissociation frequently experienced by rape victims.”

    She overlooks here that people also report out-of-body experiences that are not at all unpleasant. Just to mention one extreme example, OOB is a classic feature of near death experiences, which are usually described as beatific.

    “While everybody acknowledged that we live in a culture where men often feel they have the right to take sex by force,”

    I don’t know how true that is. I’ve heard it, but I’ve also seen how misleadingly some studies can be reported. Often the language used in describing results to the public is quite different from that of the questions posed to the respondents.

    “[N]o one seemed willing to admit [sic] that most men also feel they have the right to buy it,”

    With the seller’s consent, that is. Again she’s implicitly assuming that other people share her ideology, when she has no reason to. If you don’t start from the assumption that sex should be treated differently from other services, then the right to buy it is a nonissue, not something you’re willing or unwilling to “admit” to.

    “freely availing themselves of the forces perpetrated by capitalism.”

    And here she simply makes an unproven assumption about why prostitution exists – a very dubious assumption when prostitution not only antedates capitalism, but by some accounts patriarchy as well (viz., the reportedly matriarchal origins of “sacred prostitution”). And again it singles out sex work for no apparent reason, when the very same argument could be made about all sorts of other services.

    “[A]s an anti-pornography feminist, I oppose the selling of women for sex,”

    Leaving aside the routine verbal objectification of women who actually have agency, she’s saying here, “As an anti-pornography feminist, I oppose pornography in the name of feminism.” Did she really need to waste keystrokes on a tautology?

    “I oppose the businesses of pornography and prostitution because both hurt me, and both hurt other women.”

    Another unproven assertion.

    “As a woman, I would like to be treated as an equal human being. I would like equal treatment for all women, but I don’t see how we can reach that goal as long as some of us are being bought and sold as fuck objects.”

    Again the verbal objectification, conflating sex work with slavery. That has of course been the central strategy of porn-haters of all stripes for the past couple years.

    “I am not a closet-conservative,”

    No, you’re an open sexual conservative.

    “but am strongly pro-choice,”

    Not when it comes to sex work obviously.

    “Most of the men I speak to about pornography agree with me on these issues. They identify themselves as liberal and feel that the subordination of human beings is wrong. They believe that massive corporations do not have the right to exploit people in the name of global capitalism—unless, of course, those corporations are part of the porn industry.”

    And this is sheer invention. The issues of sex work as an occupation versus exploitation of sex workers by capital are clearly separable, the same as in any other industry.

    “The porn industry is the epitome of capitalist greed.”

    Why the “epitome,” she doesn’t say. Nor is “greed” much of an analytical category. As a structuralist and historical materialist, I don’t regard capitalism as a system based on “greed,” but on a particular set of social relations, maintained by political institutions. Blaming “greed” is most typical of liberal would-be reformers of capitalism, not radicals trying to overthrow it.

    “It is a ‘service’ industry, ninety percent of which markets women to men.”

    This is true of prostitution, but plainly NOT of the porn industry, which manufactures a product. Whether this really affects the argument I don’t know, but it does demonstrate how sloppy her thinking is.

    “[M]ost of the liberal men I know staunchly defend their right to use pornography despite their supposed commitment to social justice. They defend pornography despite that the fact that in the most popular pornography women’s humiliation is glorified.”

    Quite a leap here! If men (or women or trannies) defend their right to use porn, isn’t the kind of porn they use that matters, not the kind that’s allegedly “most popular”?

    “We are depicted as enjoying rape,”

    This is the area where I might have the most qualms. I don’t know whether belief in the “rape myth” is really as common as some claim, but it is still found not infrequently in porn, if I’m not mistaken. Though I can’t be certain that such portrayals really promote that belief, I’m concerned enough that I think I would avoid buying such material, or making it.

    “being fucked by strangers,”

    So now casual sex is inherently degrading, hmm? But apparently only for women.

    “and performing oral sex on large groups of men until they cover our faces with semen.”

    I can personally aver that the first part of that fantasy does appeal to me as a bi man. The second doesn’t, but I suspect she’d think no better of what I’d actually prefer (if not for the health concerns), which would be swallowing it all. If I want this as a man, who is she to presume that no women want it?

    “Many of these women might choose not to be fucked on film, contrary to popular belief, if they were not physically or mentally coerced.”

    “Might”? Sure, just about anything “might” be. That’s one of the weasel words of a crank, like von Daniken’s numerous “What ifs” and “Could it
    bes.”

    “But a lot can happen to a woman, if her boundaries are broken down early; and if she is poor enough to lack other options.”

    Here we see the technique of implying something as fact without actually demonstrating it. Notice also the presumption that only Cleveland’s kind of boundaries are healthy ones. She overlooks that we have no boundaries when we’re born; so if those of some adults are different from hers, this may simply mean that they formed differently in the first place, not that they formed the same and were later broken down.

    “A lot can happen in a culture that still teaches us sex is the most valuable thing we have to give.”

    Here she’s blaming the culture for “teaching” something that she presumes not to be true, so that she can again argue that sex work is pathological. But a look at the evidence suggests that this isn’t a cultural “teaching” but an economic truth. Sex workers are paid better than women with similar backgrounds employed in other areas. Sex work is therefore typically a rational choice, not a mark of pathology.

    “More importantly, pornography fuses men’s orgasms with women’s dehumanization.”

    Again, unproven.

    “At best, it connects male sexual pleasure with the belief men have the right to buy sexual access to women.”

    A nonissue if one hasn’t prejudged that women don’t have the right to sell it.

    “[A]t worst, it lets men jerk off to images of physical violence against us.”

    And even with respect to that sort of pornography, there’s no consistent evidence about what its effects might be. The general worthlessness of laboratory studies in this respect is demonstrated convincingly here:
    http://www.sfu.ca/~palys/court.htm. The name of the author, Dr. Ted
    Palys, actually appeared in the bibliography of an antiporn anthology I read last year; I guess the work cited was one he wrote before becoming disillusioned with that methodology. Ironically, seeing it there was what prompted me to finally read this article, which I’d bookmarked some time earlier, and which destroyed the provisional credence I’d previously given such studies.

    “Thus, pornography is about offering women sexual ‘choices’ just as long as we don’t choose something other than a cold hard fuck.”

    First, this ignores that some porn decidedly doesn’t fit that description. But more fundamentally, it’s just a rhetorical trick, like the “Feminists for Life” saying, “Abortion is about offering women reproductive ‘choices’ just as long as we don’t choose something other than killing our babies.” No single concrete thing can offer you all choices; for instance, porn doesn’t offer you the option of being a virgin either. What offers women choice, when it’s consistent, is the abstraction feminism.

    “For defenders of pornography, filmed violence against women is
    ‘natural,’ and cannot constitute sexual abuse.”

    Again, she cites no evidence for her claim, other than the unverifiable “most men and women I know who use porn.”

    “The underlying assumption is, deep down, some women just like to be hurt.”

    And the underlying assumption *here*, by implication, is that no women like to be hurt. Which view fits the facts?

    “What does that say about women’s status, or men’s view of us in general?”

    Let’s turn that question around. Since some pornography depicts men as wanting to be hurt, what does that say about men’s status? Does it demonstrate that we’re the oppressed sex? It must, by Stephanie Cleveland’s reasoning – the same reasoning by which she came to the conclusion that women are the oppressed sex. Since both conclusions can’t be true simultaneously – while the factual premises of each are undeniable – we must conclude by reductio ad absurdum that the reasoning is invalid.

    “Those who critique pornography are told never to think about what the woman being fucked might be feeling. We are told not to consider whether or not her ‘free choice’ hurts women exposed to pornography or women as a group.”

    More invention.

    “Most women in the sex industry are poorer, have had less educational opportunities, and fewer alternatives, than the men and women who defend pornography.”

    If so, this is equally true in relation to those who critique pornography. Proving exactly nothing in either case.

    “Yet, as a feminist, if I show concern for these women prostituted through pornography, I am usually accused of denying them agency.”

    I find that hard to believe. I don’t think “showing concern” is what invites that accusation, it’s what you do to “show concern” – like trying to restrict women’s choices in the name of protecting them from their own (presumed) bad judgment.

    “While liberal men and women agree that the poor are entitled to help and compassion from their governments, for some reason, they act as though women being sold through pornography and prostitution don’t deserve help to leave.”

    Oh, really? Insofar as you presume they’re doing it because they’re poor, doesn’t government help for the poor automatically accomplish that? And insofar as you presume that they’re doing it because of a mental problem, wouldn’t universal health care – which the “liberal men and women” of whom you speak presumably favor – also automatically accomplish that? What other kind of help do you have in mind? Career counseling and retraining? Even conservative DLC Democrats support those things.

    “I am an anti-feminist, they tell me, if I dare to suggest that all women deserve better than being turned into spittoons for men’s semen.”

    No, you’re an antifeminist if, under cover of such rhetoric, you attack women’s choice – again, just like the Feminists for Life who do so under slogans like “Women deserve better than abortion.”

    “I am the one making women into victims, and not the men who use them.”

    Yes, because you’re trying to take away their choice, and those men aren’t. If, in fact, they’d choose something else under different economic circumstances, then the political rulers maintaining the present circumstances can be held to blame – but not individuals making consensual decisions within the context of those circumstances.

    “Women in pornography should be unionized and well-vetted, its defenders repeat, but never, ever encouraged to leave.”

    Another invention. The problem people have with you is, I suspect, that rather than encourage women to leave sex work, you want to coerce them into leaving by destroying their ability to make a living in it – whether through direct state suppression, as your co-thinkers have done in Sweden, or other means such as shaming liberal men into thinking it’s sexist to patronize them.

    “It has also been suggested to me by liberal men and some women, that rather than attack pornography, I should work towards putting control of the industry in women’s hands. The people who suggest this seem not to have noticed patriarchy is still pretty firmly in place.”

    Quite the contrary – if they didn’t know that, they wouldn’t be suggesting attacking patriarchy within the industry, would they?

    “One male reviewer’s comments on ‘feminist’ pornographer Candida
    Royalle’s website seem pretty telling: ‘Not too much for my wife, but still arousing. I am not sure if it would be great to sit down to alone. I might want something a little less “lovable.”‘ Sadly, women, like men, can abuse other people, and women, like men, can be pimps. This is why the idea of a woman-run pornography industry is not only improbable, but awful. In that case, the industry would still be based on injustice—on selling people for sex—the only difference being, women would be the pimps as well as the victims.”

    Her she blatantly disregards what she just cited, insisting that women’s porn would be no different from men’s, immediately after providing a quote suggesting that it is!

    “The speech of those raped by porn users should be allowed to matter.”

    “Allowed to matter” – ooh, slick rhetoric. What she’s saying is that if she doesn’t get her way in the public policy debate, it means that her most appealing witnesses haven’t been “allowed to matter.” Emotional manipulation at its most audacious.

    Reminds me of the convolution in Diana Russell’s introduction to the same anthology I mentioned earlier, where she complained that women’s events were routinely insisting that if antiporn groups were allowed a table, then women on the other side also had to be. She said, “This seems to be the feminist equivalent of ‘shut up.'” I recall that my jaw gaped when I read that. Could anyone but a True Believer buy the argument that unless you’re given a captive audience who aren’t allowed to hear an opposing viewpoint, you’re being “silenced”? Incredible.

    “They should also count more than the voices of a small, elite group of women willing to dignify pornography professionally…. They don’t have to live through being assaulted by a father who uses porn, or being pushed into performing sex acts by a boyfriend who saw them in his favorite gangbang flick.”

    And how would you know what those women have or haven’t gone through?

    “This tiny group of women pornographers gets to stand behind the camera, producing about one percent of the industry’s porn, their privileged role provided for them, temporarily, by pro-porn men.”

    Insofar as we’re talking about independent producers, the pro-porn men you’re referring to must mean the consumers.

    “The men, of course, are only too happy to support them and pay lip service to their idea of ‘feminist erotica,’ all the while continuing to film women fucked inside out, penetrated by two men at a time, raped, used, and sold as commodity.’

    But the consumers you mentioned above have nothing to do with that. So you’re simply wrong.

    “Some women may enjoy pornography, but many more have been brutalized because of it.”

    Another undocumented assertion.

    “Why women should have to reclaim an industry men came up with in the first place?”

    Huh? So you’re saying that any industry invented by men – say, shipbuilding – is one that women shouldn’t try to win equality within. Sounds pretty defeatist for an allegedly “radical” feminist.

    “Why should we try to make ‘lovable’ porn, instead of creating our own ideas about sex that don’t involve industry at all?”

    Whence your presumption that if an idea about sex involves industry, it can’t be “our own”? Royalle’s ideas involve industry, but they’re clearly her own, inasmuch as most men recognize her product as something different. And ain’t she a woman?

    “The enormous range of touch, emotion and sensuality that encompasses women’s sexuality, or any kind of authentically human sexuality, isn’t even hinted at. The problem is—those aspects of sex can’t be captured by pornography; they can’t be commercially boxed and marketed.”

    This could be said about any aspect of mass culture, such as films, music, etc. Socialists respond to this capitalist conformism by advocating media democracy, not abolishing the film or recording industry. Consistent socialists do likewise for the “adult” industry.

    “Some of us would like to experience sex that is not commercial, but human; we are ‘pro-sex,’ to the point of wanting sex as human beings. What happens to us, if as women, Hartley’s pornographic version of sex doesn’t make us feel better?”

    To paraphrase a familiar pro-choice slogan, “If you don’t like pornos don’t get one!”

    “As Andrea Dworkin wrote, ‘Girls want so much, not knowing they want the impossible: to move in a real world of action and accomplishment; to be someone individual and unique; to act on one’s own feelings, appetites, and ambitions.'”

    We see here that Dworkin openly told girls that their most fundamental human desires are unattainable, and that therefore they’re doomed to an existence of if-only frustration. Sadly, people like Stephanie Cleveland show she was all too successful at convincing many of them.

  4. Eric….well freakin’ done with the dissection of Cleveland and antiporn “feminist” myopia.

    A special thanks for pointing out the gall of the likes of Diana Russell explicitly stating the notion that to even question or counter radfem antiporn ideology is tantamont to “shutting them up”….even as they openly propose to do the exact same thing to prosex and sex-positive individuals who directly challenge their theories.

    These fools are nothing more than the “feminist” fifth column of the New Right…..a fascist boot only slightly cloaked by a patina of “femininity”.

    Anthony

  5. I spent a little while reading all of the above, and frankly it reminds me a bit of the old thing about LSD. If you had taken LSD, you were intellectually suspect, as it had probably addled your brain, and if you hadn’t you could never understand the transcendent insights that lysergic acid instigated. (Personally I didn’t because I was scared I might go on a permanent trip.)

    How does this apply to pornography? Well, anyone who has developed the amount of expertise and knowledge about pornography exhibited by either Smackdog or Ms. Cleveland must have spent a hell of a lot of time watching the stuff. Way beyond the call of duty in fact.

    I am a whoremonger by avocation. That means that I have paid lots and lots of women to have sex with me–and there have been quite a few voluntary subjects too. I have also watched a bit of pornography, mostly on satellite TV in the Dominican Republic, and the fact is that the stuff is boring, boring, boring. Sure, there is a certain educational value in watching your first few pornos, but most of it bears no relation whatsoever to real life sex, and is churned out to satisfy the masturbatory needs of alcoholic fatsos in trailer parks.

    Yes, sex work is well-paid blue collar work for women, and screwing Mike Tyson probably beats the hell out of being fucked over by Tyson Chicken, but pornography is just a necessary evil. Like abortion, it is better to have it legal and regulate it than to drive it underground, but please let’s not pretend that it has any artistic merit or any power to inspire us to greater things. Most of what Ms. Cleveland says is actually true. It is garbage,and if she stuck to calling it garbage without trying to imbue it with political meaning, she would be quite right, but probably wouldn’t get anybody’s attention.

  6. Mr. Logwriter:

    First off, I guess that I should thank you for finding my blog and posting your comment.

    As always, you are entitled to your own opinions….no matter how totally whacked out and ridiculous I beleive them to be.

    So you think that the stuff is boring, wankfest material for “alcoholic fatsos in trailer parks”. Oh, really?? Funny, but I didn’t think that a $3-6 billion dollar industry relied solely on poor folks in trailer parks wanking away to XXX movies and Internet clips on their spare time (they have Jerry Springer, the tabloids, and most cheesy late-nite erotica on Blowtiime and Skinemax for them). Oh, but let’s not forget the meth-crazed, mullet-bearing illiterates who drive their prepaid credit/debit cards to the limit in search of Britney Spears crotch shots or hidden Paris Hilton sex videos, either!!!

    Yeah, right.

    Read my type, Mr. Logwriter: Sorry to disappoint you, but regular people do in fact happen to consume and enjoy adult material. And no, sir, we don’t have to bury our noses in smut to have a comment about it or defend the rights of those who produce it. Just because you may not like it doesn’t mean that there aren’t others who may really enjoy it….and most of them are sane, middle-class (though who am I to tell even a working-class person off on what gets them off??) non-smoking, non-drinking people.

    Oh, and a nice (if totally boneheaded and wrong) analogy between watching porn and using LSD….as if people didn’t already have the capacity for human sexual arousal without the introduction of sexually explicit media.

    Besides, you completely miss the point of my essay, Mr. Logwriter. It wasn’t to defend porn as an essentially beautiful art form (although some explicit media can be quite beautiful and artful, just as there can be just as much dreck); it was to point out the fatal flaws and innate prejudices in Stephanie Cleveland’s antiporn “feminist” ideology, and to defend the principle that those who make and consume porn (including women and even self-identified feminists) should be able to defend and justify their profession for themselves. Just as you should be able to engage in your chosen profession as a man-for-hire, so should these women and men be allowed the same right to consume or produce material that turns them on.

    Now, I can’t and won’t even try to speak for Ms. Cleveland’s porn viewing habits; but if you happened to venture upon any of my previous posts here, Mr. Logwriter, you would see my philosophy on sexuality and porn quite clearly….and trust me on this one: I may watch porn on occasion for personal pleasure (though not quite as you assume; since other matters like work and family and sleep get in the way), but I don’t view myself in any way as an expert on the genre.

    If you want to call most porn garbage and not view it, that’s your choice. If you want to condemn feminists and free women and men for choosing to enjoy such “garbage”, on the other hand, and then bring your personal ascetic elitism into your arguments here, then expect this progressive porn-defending sex radical Black man to offer a response in kind.

    In short, Mr. Logwriter; if you live near a sewage plant, don’t complain about other people’s shit. Given your own chosen lifestyle, I’d be real careful to condemn the rights of others.

    But again, as I always say: to each his or her own.

    Anthony

  7. Rght, but the fact is that the esthetics of porn are driven by the tastes of hard core porno addicts, because that is where the money is–in making cheap videos that focus on endless unerotic close ups of genitals in motion, fake groaning etc. Dilettante viewers who want occasional porn to spice up their sex life have to take it or leave it.

    The alleged debasement of women etc. is just a side effect of producing cheap, nasty pornos for addicts. That is about all that can be said. However, some people would argue that a lot of young people get their sex education from this kind of thing and grow up with a warped idea of sex. I don’t know if this is true, but based on some of my conversations with younger coworders, it seems plausible.

    (Here’s a quick example: A young male coworker asked me if it is true that black women are better at sex. I gave him a qualified ‘yes’. but on seeking qualification, he added that often young white women will cry ‘you are hurting me, huring me’ when they are fucked hard, and he wondered if black women take to hard fucking more readily. I didn’t go any further with the discussion, but it seemed to me that he might have obtained some of his preconceptions about sex from watching pornos.)

    If someone ever went to the time and effort to try to produce some porn that portrayed sex realistically, erotically, and artistically, the feminist objections would probably melt away. But I assume the reason why this does not happen is that it is not seen as profitable.

    Tne name of Candida Royalle always sees to get bandied about in connection with artistic porn. Her videos are available on Amazon and don’t seem to be very well reviewed. I think I saw one of her movies some time back in the 80’s, and believe me, she is no Quentin Tarantino.

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