December 17, 2002 11:02 PM

I'm tired of hearing women say Ick when faced with anything pornographic. That automatically triggered response - Ew! I accidentally saw porn! - both confounds and perturbs me.

What I find particularly confounding is that this attitude isn't limited to women one might expect to have some hesitance about the sex industry - the stereotypically moralistic christian or second wave feminist. I've seen it in teenagers, in hip, funky third-wavers who talk openly about sex.

And I wonder why.

I'm not saying no women dig porn. I'm not the only one, as is clearly proven by the wide array of woman-produced and woman-targeted porn. What I'm saying is that it freaks me out that so many otherwise sane and reasonable women recoil from the idea of pornography so quickly. It seems so pink.

Rev said something the other day about fantasy desire. Made me think. This porn thing that's been bothering me - porn is fantasy desire, too. Is avoiding porn a means of avoiding desire, or at least avoiding exploring fantasy?

Or is it something less personal, more cultural?

That is. Do women dislike porn because they're told that's what they think? We may or may not intellectually accept the conventional wisdom that men can be visually stimulated by a paperclip and women really just see sex as a vehicle for Love, but the fact that those ideas exist and continue to be prominently featured in our daily parlance of gender shows their influence isn't dead.

The arguments I've heard against porn touch on that slightly. It's visual only, it's fake, it's emotionless, it's for men. Given the cultural context, those may all mean the same thing. And I'll tell you: visual stimulation is fine with me, emotion or not. Honestly, I don't really believe the hype that you need love for good sex; a reasonable degree of trust and a nice ass work quite fine.

And then there's the other anti-porn expletive: exploitation. I hate this word. People use it to trump any argument, without needing any backup or definition. I know that second wavers were well intentioned when they rolled it out, and the word has served a purpose - but it also created an environment where all things sexual and all things female body can be seen as objectification and victimization of women. It created a presumption for many women at a distance from sex work and porn - that women in the sex industry are victims, that the sex industry is inherently victimizing and bad.

The dialogue on the sex industry and pornography isn't dying down within the feminist community any time soon. But the earliest, most widely published opinions are the ones that trickled down to the metaphorical masses. Thus, any woman on the street is likely to believe either that feminism is anti-sex or that sex work is dangerous and soul-destroying for the women who choose it, that pornography, as a representative of this, is bad for women - is, in short, dirty. [Or, dirrty, if you'd rather.] Neither of those things is true, of course, but it's easier to consume news and opinions as simple dualistic concepts.

In any case, I don't have answers on this subject, but I'll keep asking the questions.

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these are the thoughts of clear waters on August 2, 2004 12:49 AM

As I am currently struggling with my own views regarding porn, I find this editorial somewhat thought provoking. Why only somewhat? Because it seems dismissive as it attempts to consider opposing points. Mainly, the comment "stereotypically moralistic Christian". I'm not offended by this label but, I am rather disappointed. As a single, Christian woman, I sincerely want to know and debate with myself what makes porn so wrong (especially when it feels so...) anyhow.
Currently, I use porn to keep me "preoccupied" so that I do not go out and contract AIDS and other STDs and to protect my body and my emotions, as well as the body and emotions of the many men who are just as horny if not more so than I. Yes, there are condoms. However, they just don't provide the guarantee that abstinence does. Don't get me wrong when I say abstinence. I have a very strong drive and need to express myself sexually. Writing ala Song of Solomon alone was not cutting the mustard. Masturbation sans visual and auditory stimulus wasn't doing it either. I'm satisfied with masturbating and watching porn... for now. Eventually, I would like to marry a loving, intelligent, well hung, handsome man who knows how to make me and himself feel good. But until that time I use porn, as it can be very educational. It has definitely taught me how to enjoy myself and allowed me to be independent in achieving orgasm. I feel that it is because of porn that I am not ashamed or afraid of my sexuality nor am I ashamed of or grossed out by my vagina and its excretions. It is because of the grace of God AND porn that I don't have AIDS and other STDs.
Before I became celibate, it was the influence of porn that allowed me to be very open with the men in my life about what I wanted. I also had no shame in asking them what they wanted and shock when they told me. Had I not watched porn, I doubt I would have been so comfortable, thus making the sex bad for all involved. So now for the moral side.
Christian doctrine aside, as I have read in the bible, it looks like God intends for us to have good sex, inside a loving, respectful, monogamous relationship. At the worst side of it He's merely ok with it. But I guess the flaw that the "stereotypically moralistic Christian" might see in this pro porn view, is the absence of love in sexual relationship because I doubt those adult actors and actresses truly love each other. They're just doing their job. As long as there's mutual consent, and respect for boundaries, I don't see a lack of respect. There's also the issue of monogamy, which is absent in a lot of porn. However, I have heard there is porn featuring married couples for instructional or entertainment purposes. The last aspect, but not least, the emotional factor. Sex is a very emotional act for me. I have learned the hard way that I cannot have sex without emotional attachment. Though there are many people who would say that's typical behavior of a woman, I know there are men out there that feel the same. Despite their insistence that copious amounts of unattached and uninvolved sex is all they want, I know and have seen better. The bottom line is, after all this yacking I've done, is that each person should investigate, research, explore, and think considering all points of view, rather than flowing with the masses or eliciting some conditioned response or learned behavior. In the meantime, love, peace, AND joy.
written by: Mo Love

these are the thoughts of Mo Love on January 5, 2005 12:58 PM

Your point about exploitation is an interesting one. I, too, scoffed at it for the longest time. I am a male who recently made the decision to severely curtail my porn viewing. I did it for a lot of reasons, and one reason has to do with exploitation.

Not every porn I watched seemed to exploitative of women. But occasionally I would see something where the woman looked like she was unhappy, or maybe not in possession of her full faculties. Drugs? Alcohol? It made me uncomfortable. I got the sense from these supposedly very typical hardcore movies that exploitation was definitely an issue.

The thought of a woman there against her will or in an altered state made me pull away and try to spend my time doing something else. it creeped me out in a way that earlier viewings of porno didn't.

That's me though, your mileage will vary.

Best to y'all.
Peace out.

these are the thoughts of A Rod on June 2, 2007 04:04 PM

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