Stop The Panics of ‘Porn Culture’

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In the wake of the Stop Porn Culture website I read this article:

Porn Stars And Prostitutes Picket Anti-Porn Conference

A comment under the piece got me thinking: “There is nothing intrinsically wrong with paying for sex, or porn, anymore that there is anything intrinsicallyy wrong in charging people for food, water, clothing, or a roof over their heads. As long as it only involves consenting adults, within the laws of the land, and as long as children and those who don’t want to see it are protected from it, let sex workers to their thing. These anti-porn feminists and religionists who oppose pornography are usually very damaged people with hang-ups about sex, sometimes coupled with an irrational fear and hatred of male sexuality which they clearly do not understand”.

I genuinely believe that as a society we have a deep seated fear of sexuality and the changing modes of exploring and enjoying our sexualities. The mainstream (rad fem) feminist voice is frightened and confrontational towards examining male sexuality or understanding female sexualities as anything other than coerced and passive to the male gaze.

I blogged about Youth Sexualities in Durham where the fabulous Dr Clarissa Smith spoke about the affective role of fear. Dr Smith talks from minute 25 onwards on the Intelligence Squared debate Is Porn Good For Us. I cannot recommend this enough.

Also my own paper Slut Shaming: The Anxiety of Excess where I quote Professor Danielle Egan (whose work I thoroughly recommend) “By displacing our impotence onto something more manageable and potent- the cultural and sexual corruption of the girl child- our rage, disgust and anxiety can be voiced and a fantasy of the future free of such defilement can be sought” (2013, p.9). I also recommend The Sexualization Report edited by Professor Feona Attwood, Clare Bale and Dr Meg Barker for examining the facts as opposed to the moral panics.

Let’s not forget how Dr Jude Roberts went from ‘Dr Jude Roberts’ To ‘Porn User’ in a debate. One is labelled and ‘othered’ for admitting to enjoying pornography.

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Dr Roberts speaks of her experience here in this blog post where she states: “Replacing my academic title with ‘porn user’ at just that moment feeds into the narrative that says that we can either be intellectual or we can be sexual, but we cannot be both”. I strongly agree.

You can always see Dr Roberts speak here on Newsnight mass-debating pornography.

At Youth Sexualities in Durham we laughed at the Martin Daubney documentary on porn ‘Porn on the Brain’ as it was so ridiculous. Yes it’s being shared via social networking sites as a serious piece of ‘evidence’. Another case of common-sense discourse versus common-sense. It is easy to frame porn as inherently bad, but this is a fear of sexual expression and drive .Porn, lap-dancing, sex work are ALWAYS framed as contagion, as corrupting innocent children, as a danger to us all it seeps onto the streets and decays our morality.

The same way when people are so keen to portray porn performers as ‘soiled goods’ they are actually regulating women who openly engage in and enjoy sex. We can’t bear the thought that porn stars, and porn users, are ‘normal’ people. Just check out Tyra Banks demonising Sasha Grey. It’s the reason the media love Jenna Jameson and calling her a ‘train wreck’. See, sex on camera must ruin a person. I mean look at Lovelace. Etc. When female porn stars are being policed and punished, all women are being policed and punished. Check out my post on MTV Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham, and how all women are put on trial.

Pornography is consumed for a variety of reasons, for education, for acceptance, for entertainment, for comfort, for fantasy, for release. I absolutely agree that sex being portrayed AS penetration needs to be addressed in our culture and porn, which are surely a reflection of each other, as I spoke about here. Pornography isn’t going away and we shouldn’t be shutting down conversation by conflating consensual porn with violence against women, and framing all discussions of porn by using the most extreme examples. Many different types of people consume porn and constructing them as deviant, and ignoring the millions of women who actively choose to use pornography is misleading and places women as inherent victims.

I would recommend Garden of Desires which mentions Plasticdollheads several times, inspired by the original My Secret Garden.We need more mainstream discussions about women’s desires that place the narrators not as the exception but as the ‘norm’. I am excited to hear some of Amy E Forrest’s papers.

These sex panics are overshadowing the need for a consent culture; we need to be educating young people on informed consent. Before people go to bed with someone they need to have open discussions about what they do and don’t want; what they do and don’t like. If they aren’t comfortable doing that, they shouldn’t be having sex. We need to teach young people to be assertive about what they want and to be respectful of their lover/s. We can’t blame porn for coercing women we can blame misogynists for that, who in the absence of porn would sill demand what their ex did/ what they fantasised/ what they want. We need to stop prioritising male sexuality over female, which the rad fems compound when they insist it is men who watch porn and women who are always coerced or only viewing to please men.


Talking Back Young People and the Pornography Research Online Project

Obscenity Lawyer

The Sexualization Report

Ban This Filth

The Dissident Porn Scholar

The ‘feminist’ pornographer from Bromley and what women really want to watch

The Feminist Porn Book

The Porn Studies Journal

Sex and Censorship

Pornstars to Stage Protest in London

Respect the Choices of Women Who Go Into the Porn Industry