There are certain ways of speaking that I just can’t hear. For example, the anti pornography campaigner Gail Dines, currently doing the rounds of talk shows, Writers’ Festivals, and I believe appearing on Qanda tonight, speaks in a tone that I find so aggressive, so arrogant and so unrelentingly certain of her absolute rightness, that I can’t hear what she’s saying for the tone in which she’s saying it.
In an effort to be fair, I resorted to reading transcripts of her interviews with various media. Even reading what she says left me in a state of numbed exhaustion, and feeling as if I’d been held captive in a small cage stark naked and with Glenn Beck spitting on speed. This woman knows everything. She has no uncertainties. She takes no prisoners and brooks no argument. She is rude, she is bombastic, she has no respect for anyone who dares to disagree with her, and if you ask her where to find the evidence for her radical position on pornography she tells you to buy her book. If you offer another perspective she tells you you’re like a climate change denier, refusing to pull your head out of your arse and face up to the catastrophe that’s coming at us head on (so to speak) from Internet porn.
Dines damns porn of every variety and according to her it’s all “Gonzo”, that is hard core, brutal and degrading. And here we immediately come up against the dangers of accepting a single perspective on what is considered pornographic. There is no room in Dines’ world for dissent about this. She knows that men who watch pornography are, and I quote, “amoral life support systems for erect penises.”
Paedophiles, she further claims, adopt their unsavoury practices because they become “bored” with adult women, and to alleviate this boredom watch pornography in which adult women dress like schoolgirls. According to convicted child rapists Dines interviewed in jail, six months after viewing porn they started to rape children. This notion was entirely abhorrent to them, Dines claims, prior to their exposure to Internet porn.
How the hell, I ask, do we account for the raping of children prior to the Internet then? But Dines’ theories on this are so ridiculous it doesn’t do to dignify them with serious questions. Her only sources appear to be convicted paedophiles, who are no doubt only too happy to avoid responsibility for their actions by claiming the Internet made them do it.
People who think they know everything get right up my nose. They’re a variety of particularly unpleasant and noisy bully. They might also know a great deal, but I don’t care. I especially hate it when they wag their fingers at me, and so many of them do that. I would really like to smack them upside their heads, but I’m too civil. As I’m not prepared to raise my voice and compete, I resort to silence. This is exactly what they want. Even when they’ve temporarily exhausted their argument, by the time you open your mouth to respond they’ve recovered and you might get out one sentence before they drown you out again. I hope Tony Jones is on his toes tonight.
This is how bullies function – by silencing everyone else, and Dines is a masterful bully. Listening to her on a panel recorded by ABC Radio National at the Writers’ Festival last evening I was thoroughly impressed with the grace, respect, and restraint with which the other panelists dealt with her aggression and barely disguised contempt for them. Leslie Cannold was exceptional as moderator.
I would have flown out of my chair and slugged Gail Dines. I would have chucked a Glenn Milne at the Walkleys.Well, I probably wouldn’t have actually done that. I’m not good at physical violence except in my fantasies, and then only well after the event.
Dines is flogging some appalling garbage. Some important and interesting material might well be in there somewhere. But the combination of garbage and the manner in which it is delivered is too much for me. Surely the issue of violent and degrading pornography on the Internet, and what we can do as responsible adults to protect children from accessing this, is too important to be hijacked by this self – promoting flogger of pseudo sociological snake oil?
It’s all bad in Dinesland. If you visit, don’t stay there too long.
- Slutwalk may damage women’s rights cause, professor says (theage.com.au)
- Can sex films empower women? | The conversation (guardian.co.uk)