Monday, March 07, 2005

Down with Porn, Volume 1

I admit it, up until about 8 months ago, I wasn't terribly against porn. In fact, I've seen a large amount of it in my time, and it's "done the job" a few times, too. I can't believe I just shared that, but it's important that I tell the gory truth on this one.

Around 8 months ago I saw the inside of my first Playboy Magazine. Or I should say I saw the inside of my friend's Playboy for the first time. You hear about it from birth as it's a huge part of our culture (could someone bump Hef off for me, please?), and everyone knows that men just read the articles. I thought I'd see what all the hoopla was about. What is the big attraction??

The particular issue I viewed was the 50th Anniversary edition. LOTS of naked chicks....50 years' worth, in fact. As I sat looking at Playboy in broad daylight I felt an unmistakable, undeniable sense of sadness and disgust flow over me. 50 YEARS worth of this bullshit. 50 years' worth of airbrushed, not-even-close-to-normal women for men to ogle. 50 years' worth of eye-candy. 50 years' worth of disturbing fantasy. It's the same feeling I get when I pass Hooters or a strip club. Objectification. Unreality. It turned my stomach, and I started to examine, microscope in hand, my feelings about pornography (print and film) and how it affects our attitudes and expectations. I started to dwell on how pornography had hurt me personally. As a woman, pornography is a personal insult to me.

Porn, in most cases (there are always a few exceptions), can easily make a woman feel like crap. Raise your hand if your husband, boyfriend, best friend, lust object is into porn. If they are then you've probably felt its wrath at some point. Even if your signif other includes you in his viewing you start to question yourself...."am I not enough for him, why is this necessary, what does this do for him, if he says it doesn't do anything for him why continue to take part in it, does he think this is most women, does he think I should fit this mold, does he think that turns me on?" And a million other needling, pinching, itching questions.

The typical bodies showcased in porn aren't realistic representations of women, and the situations and execution sure aren't what most women want. Most women are not 24-inch-waisted, DD-wearing, sinuous "baby-dolls" that want to be slam-fucked on the hood of a car. Sorry guys...it's true.

Boys grow up passing the silicone valley on newsstands, filching Daddy's Playboy and Hustler from the back of the closet, and watching those bobbing boobies float through the lines on scrambled HBO. What are they learning?? What are they absorbing about real women? About real sexuality? Nothing. They're absorbing a fantasy and translating it to real life. Women want this in bed. Women look and sound like this during sex. I should perform like this to have a fulfilling sexual encounter.


Given, not all men are that dense. Not all men expect a Playmate's body and Jenna Jameson's performance, but as a culture it soaks in, and it's sad, and it's hurful to those of us on the receiving end. Some of us like it slow, some of us like it fast, some of us like to be touched, some of us like to be fucked WITH a kiss. Some of us are rail-thin, some of us are lumpy, some of us are flat, and some of us are fat.

"You're just jealous." How many times have we heard that? You're just jealous of those bodies. You're just jealous of that crazy sex-life.

The fact that any man would think us jealous because we have a negative opinion of porn and its effects on women and relationships just proves the point further. We shouldn't be jealous. We are not jealous. You think we're jealous because we don't match that ideal. We don't feel like we have anything to be jealous of. Apparently you think we have something to be jealous of.
That's the biggest, scariest, most hurtful crock of all. At that point we realize that you're just as aware as we are that we're not the ideal and you think we have something to be ashamed of.

24 comments:

  1. nobody held a gun to the women's heads and forced them to pose for the magazines or star in films. it's called freedom of choice. if someone chooses to be involved in pornography, then how can it be called objectification?

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  3. The woman (or man, too, actually) is being looked at as a sex OBJECT. Thus, objectification. Certainly there's freedom of speech and freedom of choice to participate in porn, but it still has a negative effect on relationships and stereotypes that are pushed on women in general. That's the issue that irks me.

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  4. Andi, really interesting post. I'm still in too minds over the whole porn deal though. I mean yes there is the feedom of choice issue, although I would say that most women (not all) who get involved in the porn business didn't choose, I mean do you really think that there are thousands and thousands of women want that. It is like the prostitute's "freedom". Other circumstances impact.

    So I guess if they weren't really women being photographed/filmed then I wouldn't mind.

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  5. spoken like a truly uptight hypocritical man-hater. if watching porn turned you on and "did the job" before you saw one issue of playboy,then what is your real problem? you really make me proud to be a woman.

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  6. Ahh, you're a woman, anonymous. Lovely that you can't allow me to have an opinion without getting personal and tearing me down. Love that. Thanks for your time. Apparently one isn't allowed to have a moment when they come to a conclusion about something they'd like to change in their life. Don't waste my time, and we'll agree to disagree.

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  7. Fence,
    True that some don't get involved because they want to, but I know others who do. Some even feel empowered by it. That's fine...their choice. I just hated the way it impacted me personally. It's a tough issue. Lots of sides to look at.

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  8. Andi,

    I think this was a great post. I agree completely. I had an argument with my last boyfriend about this. He said, "It's not harmful to women because those women choose to pose for the magazines" (similar to the anonymous comment here). I told him that it was harmful to women because women like that who choose to be seen as sex objects for money make it bad for the rest of us. I feel that it undermines the feminist movement as well, because women are trying so hard to say, we're more than sex objects! Look at us as more than that! And then these issues of Playboy come along, with women willingly fulfilling that stereotype, and making the rest of us look like jerks.

    And no, I'm not jealous! :)

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  9. Amen, dahling! Well-said. :o) Did you blog about that argument?? I can't remember, but it sounds familiar.

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  10. well....I don't have tons to say on this subject, but i will raise my hand to having a loved one who was addicted to the stuff. and thank God, he realized that it was a PROBLEM and is now away from it. Its harmful to guys too. many of them get involved with it when they are too young to really grasp what they're diving into, and then they are stuck the rest of their lives with these unfulfilling and unrealistic ideas about women. its sad. and scary.

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  11. Wow, I'm a little surprised Clack...knowing several of your loved-ones and all. Glad to hear it's cleared up.

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  12. I guess in a way it isn't the porn that is the problem, but the attitude that results from it; that people think what is represented in porn is reality.

    I'm also wondering what this discussion is going to do to your referrals Andi :)

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  13. I may have blogged about it, but I don't really remember. I've blocked out much of the time period when I was in that relationship :]

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  14. A lot of women willingly choose the sex industry, but does that make it a positive thing? A friend of mine used to work as a stripper and pretty much all of the girls (yes, girls, not women) had the same story. They were in it for the attention. Their appearance was the only thing they ever got positive feedback about. They got a sense of empowerment from manipulating men with their sexuality because they had no voice or influence anywhere in their lives.

    The men who frequented the club tended to misinterpret their motivations (partly because they were thinking with the heads that dangle between their legs.) and assumed the girls got the same thing out of sex that they do. What the girls were getting was validation, approval. Every woman wants to feel like they have something special that nobody else has. The trouble is, when they gained a little weight or got a little older, or just got boring because a new 18 year old hottie came along, they had no other sense of themselves to fall back on. Losing their looks hits them harder than it does other women because they had invested all of their self esteem in their sexuality. And the men were giving them feedback on their value tended to have distorted and dysfunctional attitudes about sex. I mean, they spent all of their time in titty bars and didn't have fulfilling personal relationships with women.

    There is a lot more going on than what we see on the surface. The harm for both men and women doesn't come from the sex part of the issue. It's the dissatisfaction that comes from chasing a fantasy at the expense of finding something real that will sustain you.

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  15. Anonymous,
    Women who don't like porn or don't like being compared to an impossible ideal aren't necessarily man-haters. If they hated men why would they worry about whether or not men found them attractive? What women don't like is feeling inadequate. A woman who doesn't like the things that make her feel undesirable is almost certainly a woman for whom sex is important.

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  16. i apologize. by reading your comments i just assumed you were a fellow lesbian. i stumbled upon your blog while scrolling thru alphabetically. btw my name is lisa

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  17. Welcome, Lisa. Your comments are always welcome...let's just not tear each other's heads off. ;o)

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  18. Catherine,
    Thanks for your comments. I don't know anyone who's ever stripped or anything, and I've never been to a strip club myself (no desire to go), so it's nice to have input about the goings-on.

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  19. Two comments:
    First of all to anonymous -- many women in the porn industry (and this has been proven) have been victims of rape of molestation, subsequently, suffer from PTSD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, drug and alcohol addiction and etc.... Additionally, many women in porn and the sex industry in general are victims of class standards. For example most of the women in porn come from poverty or they are single mothers trying to provide for their families.
    I worked in a strip club as a waitress and talked to many of the dancers (who sometimes do amateur porn)because I was on the fence. I was stuck between being against porn/stripping and thinking that it DID have the capacity to be empowering.

    What I learned is that most women in that situation had families they were trying to support and there is a great deal of money in porn, stripping, and, even, prostitution. I think that one should question a society that places higher economic value on a women's flesh (like her body is commodity) instead of TRADITIONAL female roles -- good look getting good pay for cleaning houses or teaching -- or working in a daycare.

    Second commet: Perhaps porn could be empowering if it was the female fantasy being acted out. Rather, it is completely for a male audience. Even in lesbian porn -- it is created with the male voyeur in mind. When a woman is stripping -- it is not her artistic expression she is performing -- it is a play to the male fantasy -- whatever makes the money goes. Therefore, stripping and porn are not just constraints of patriarchy, but also of an exclusively CAPITALISTIC society.

    Okay, enough ranting. And good job Andi!

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  20. Andi, good post, way to get across your point. Me, I have never really given a thought to it. I have watched my share, and I had a friend at A&M that posed for the college issue of Playboy in 2003. So I do own that copy just to see...and that was the most embarassing journey to go to porn shops to find a copy. I do have to admit that some stuff in the porn world is sexually stimulating for women too, but for the most part I find it freaking hillarious. I mean to think that we would beg to be f* in the ass and scream harder! As if. I feel bad for both the women and men that are involved in the porn industry demoralizing themselves by parading arould like a piece of meat for the opposite sex. I think the thing that really disturbes me the most is that the object of lust in some films and mags are made out to be virgin teens that want it from old sweaty men. And we wonder where all the sick bastards in society get their ideas.......

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  21. Amanda, great point about other professions like teaching, daycare, etc. paying less than the sex industry. It is sad and more than a little irksome.

    I heard of a couple of female porn directors that were making porn aimed more toward women....with content that would appeal toward women. I haven't seen any of it, but it would be interesting to know if there are any real differences. I still don't think I'd agree with it...still porn. Wish I could remember their names or the name of their company.

    Val,
    The marketing of "virgins" really pisses me off, too. It's just beyond the regular grossness. Know what I mean?? Ugg!

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  22. Short and sweet: AMEN SISTER! 'Course, if you wanna check out some way cool pro-woman theology, check the pope in "Theology of the Body" or Karol Wojtlya (the pope before he was pope) in "Love and Responsibility." If there was ever a way to love, that's it.

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