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Hershele Ostropoler

As my feminism evolved, my (always limited) tastes in porn changed. I never really *liked* demeaning stuff with a serious power imbalance, but lately it've found it a turn-*off*. Where I used to be able to ignore that aspect of a story unless it was egregious, I no longer can.


"The problem isn't nudity or sex. The problem is that these publications promote and are motivated by a demeaning view of women."

That sums up my feelings exactly.


I suppose there could be actual damage to women by demeaning pornographic images, but I'm skeptical. (I am, of course, completely sidestepping the issue of women and men who have been actually coerced into participating in or mistreated during the creation of porn, since the immorality and harm there is inherent and beyond debate.) I've read that Japanese porn is much more violent than American porn, and yet they have a much lower reported rate of sexual violence. Also, a study by a Clemson professor suggests that the expanded availability of porn to teen males occasioned by greater access to the internet was correlated with a decline in rape, though some have taken issue with some aspects of the study's methodology.

Basically, I think this is looking at the problem from the wrong angle. belledame put up a great post about hard-core porn and violent porn which I think is nonetheless relevant here. She quotes extensively from a book which analysed the emotionally mangled way boys are raised in America, which lies at the heart of the demand for demeaning pornographic images in the first place. Renegade Evolution also has some thoughts about this (though once again, the focus is on the more violent varieties of porn, I think there is an overlap in the origin of the desire for 'rough' and 'demeaning' images).

The Happy Feminist

I wasn't referring to the notion of porn causing or contributing to rape (not that I buy the notion that it decreases rape either). More just that it may contribute to a generally demeaning view of women both by men and by women themselves.

The Happy Feminist

Depending on how it's presented of course.


ballgame, i've seen the argument about japanese porn vs sex-based violence many times, and each time somebody has pointed out that in japan both rape and domestic violence figures underestimate the problem by a lot. i wish i could cite something concrete for you, but hey, if someone said it on the internet it must be true!

also there are lots of takedowns on the "porn access --> less rape" thing, the most recent one i've seen being amanda's at pandagon a week or two ago, that you might want to read. i think they are pretty reasonable; amanda for example calls herself "porn-liberal" meaning she's not philosophically anti-, so it's not about debunking the idea on principle. i can't read the study you linked because adobe freezes every time i try to open it, but either it's a piece of speculative fluff or every favorable blog post i've read about it is doing it terrible injustice. the bloggers who've written that the study makes a lot of sense don't make a lot of sense themselves, and when i tried to reason out their positive interpretations of the study i got the feeling it was challenging to defend logically. (here i deleted examples because i was afraid of over-derailing, but i promise i'm not just saying this.) so i too am skeptical.


these publications promote and are motivated by a demeaning view of women


Porn is not sex. Neither is GGW.


roula: I think your skepticism about the Japanese porn/rape correlation is reasonable and warranted. By which I mean I don't neccessarily believe that it's false, but it certainly isn't proven either and I'll certainly be open to the idea that are significant reporting challenges in Japan, since my knowledge of that culture is pretty limited.

Professor Kendall's study, OTOH, had more meat to it than it's been given credit for, in my impression. Most of the critiques I read fell into the "purely negative" category, and as Marvin Harris used to say, "purely negative criticism does not kill a research program." I would most emphatically NOT characterize it as "speculative fluff" … the study's methodology seemed basically sound and Prof. Kendall himself was not shy about spelling out the study's limitations. There was one critique that I thought DID have merit — someone discovered an oddly inverted correlation with PC ownership and internet access that Kendall never discussed — but, unless there was some blatantly erroneous math in it, I'd say its conclusions were significant and that it's up to its critics to either come up with a better explanation of the data or come up with better data. But, once again, I would agree that the study falls far short of "proving" porn can function as a substitute for rape.

happy: isn't the futility in trying to define what is and isn't "demeaning" kind of fatal to the whole project of trying to reduce its prevalence? After all, there are certain sex acts (and I don't know how graphic you do or don't want to get here) that were probably widely thought of as demeaning in the past but which are now thought of as pretty ordinary. Doesn't the whole 'eye of the beholder' issue pose a pretty much insurmountable challenge?


I always thought it was the articles that were the most sexist part of Playboy.


That's a good point ballgame, sexual norms shift in culture and correspond to how closeted the behavior is. I believe in emotionally mature adults having the capacity to separate fantasy and reality, and perhaps there in lies the rub. Assuming that the individuals who consume the pornography are emotionally mature. Kink has turned people on for ages, sexual urges often times cannot be erased only handled responsibly with a healthy consensual partner.

I am not troubled by the hardcore porn per se, it is more the general attitude of men and women that declare those who perform and enjoy such acts as damaged and not worthy of respect. It's the whole "fool around with the whore, marry the madonna" complex, I believe there can be a happy medium. It would have to be a shift from the perspective of relating rather than pornography though.

Is it the pornography that causes the demeaning, or is it the demeaning that causes the pornography, or is it demeaning because we as a culture say so?

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