Wilson and Dines: together at the ABC Religion and Ethics website

21 Dec

It seems my review of Big Porn Inc annoyed the world’s foremost anti pornography campaigner, Gail Dines. She’s written this piece in response and Scott Stephens, editor of the ABC’s Religion and Ethics online, has put my review up as well, in the interests of balance.

If you look at the list of relevant articles beside my piece, you’ll see mine is the only one apart from Professor Alan McKee offering an alternative point of view, so they’re probable going to have to publish quite a few more before balance is attained.

16 Responses to “Wilson and Dines: together at the ABC Religion and Ethics website”

  1. Matthew December 22, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    God, don’t you just love her? First she says that those opposed to her “trot out the same old arguments without a shred of empirical evidence to back them up”, and then later says porn “makes the users emotionally impoverished and our collective culture even more degraded” without a scrap of evidence to back these claims up, seemingly without any sense of irony. So even if her story about porn companies disguising their product to look like amateur stuff was factual, so what? Is she anti-capitalist as well as anti-porn? If that’s her argument, she’s got nothing. She’s no better than Mary Whitehouse.

    Did Scott Stephens explain why Dines and MTR’s stuff is now on Religion & Ethics rather than the Drum?


    • Jennifer Wilson December 22, 2011 at 7:08 am #

      No, I didn’t ask actually, but I will. There were changes and R&E seems to have become an entity in its own right.
      I though Dines was the least abusive I’ve ever heard or read her – quite restrained for Dines!
      But I chuckled for the same reasons as you. Plus, I did a book review, which requires me to point out where the book lacks empirical evidence not to provide it myself.

      She’s probably right about how porn companies present their stuff as “amateur”, but that doesn’t mean “real” amateur porn doesn’t exist as well. It’s the all or nothing Dines crap again.


  2. Gruffbutt December 22, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    I’d be happy to watch some porn with Gail and point out the ones that are amateur and which are fake amateur. I somehow feel more qualified 😉 (‘Oh, and here’s a favourite site, Gail: Spankwire. Some “amateur” thought it was all about DIY rewiring. Can you believe it?’)

    Onward Christian soldiers! (Follow that Abbot guy with the saw in his hand. Whoops, sorry, a cross-thread…)


    • Jennifer Wilson December 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

      There’s probably nothing much left in the world that hasn’t been co-opted by capitalism for profit, so why anyone would think that isn’t going to happen in porn as well, I don’t know.

      I do find it hard to believe that a viewer can’t tell the difference between real amateur porn and fake. Whether or not it matters I don’t know, Gruffbutt!


  3. A. Mother December 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    I read with great interest the following passage between a Face Book member and Melinda Tankard Reist on her personal FB page. The exchange suggests to me that Ms Reist is far less interested in serious issues and immediate dangers to children from predators, say, as much as she is outraged by ‘sexist’ men’s magazines. It appears she likes publicity, more than reality.

    9 September ’11 at 18:40

    Richard Henderson –

    “Ms Reist. Mandatory internet filtering promises disaster for our children. Kids commonly use free proxies to circumvent school network blocks. Many of these are, in fact, “honeypots” used by unscrupulous free proxy operators to exploit kids’ email and social networking accounts. Some are fronts for pedophile networks and predators that set-up virtual servers to lure their prey. Instead of tightening the net on pedophiles, mandatory censorship will create millions of additional trapdoors where perverts patiently lay in wait for our kids. Is that avoidable, direct danger to our children an acceptable outcome of mandatory censorship which you clearly supported on ‘The Drum’? Why do eminent groups such as Save the Children, National Children’s Youth Law Center, The Australian Library & Information Association and Civil Liberties Australia all oppose mandatory internet censorship? The immutable fact is that if Labor censor the Internet, kids and teens WILL use these proxies, swapping them like we used to exchange bubblegum cards. ISP level filtering, meanwhile, will give parents a false sense of security, believing their children are actually limited from accessing age-inappropriate material. Not opposing this mandatory internet filtering legislation means that we – well-intentioned people – are literally helping to push them closer to danger. Finally, there are free opt-in ‘Net Nanny’ filters, one less since the Rudd/Gillard administration removed the government subsidised platform, why do we need mandatory ones? I hope you will acknowledge this on Q&A

    Melinda Tankard Reist –

    Thanks Richard. It is true motivated individuals will always be able to find their way to circumvent filters, however the purpose of the Governments policy to block RC content is to prevent inadvertent access to this harmful content so that the very many people who do not want to be exposed to it, won’t be. The Goverment’s (sic) policy is to only block RC content- child abuse material, sexual violence such as rape, bestiality, detailed promotion or instruction in crime or drug use and terrorism material. Just because some people break speeding laws doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have speed limits. The Government’s policy includes education, law eforcement (sic) and research recognising that there is no simple solution.

    Richard Henderson –

    Thank you for your reply, Ms Reist. The ‘motivated individuals’ you refer to are largely Internet savvy children and teens who can effortlessly circumvent any filter in existence over a matter of minutes. I am saddened that you chose not to address the grave issue of ‘honeypots’ … the fact that mandatory Internet filtering will likely bring our children into DIRECT contact with sexual predators. I don’t really understand your analogy that because some people break speeding laws doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have speed limits; I put it to you that society has a duty of care whereby we should not risk putting a predator into closer proximity with our children. Would you not be personally devastated to find that a child had been abducted or sexually exploited as a result of their email or FaceBook account being hacked due to phishing schemes – scams made infinitely easier courtesy of mandatory filtering and ‘honeypots’? Clearly, you would. As I mentioned in my earlier post, ISP level filtering will give parents a false sense of security, believing their children are actually limited from accessing age-inappropriate material. Again, this false belief that the Net is safe, or safer even, will actually result in marked reductions in parental supervision. There is a raft of far better ways to counter child exploitation, many of which actually lead to convictions of the perpetrators. I agree that there is no simple solution; however, mandatory filtering plays no part in any solution when it INCREASES real risk – and achieves so little. Lastly, I would appreciate your thoughts on my previous question – why do eminent groups such as Save the Children, National Children’s Youth Law Center, The Australian Library & Information Association and Civil Liberties Australia all oppose mandatory internet censorship?

    Melinda Tankard Reist

    [There was no further reply].


    • Jennifer Wilson December 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

      Well, that’s interesting, thanks so much for passing that on. I’m not surprised that MTR didn’t reply – I really think she has very little understanding of the situation and as you suggest, goes for headline grabs and personal publicity.

      Mr Henderson’s questions were so clear, and so sensible – not to mention important. I suspect MTR like some others has found a populist platform from which to launch herself and the goal is the furtherance of her career rather than addressing real difficulties we have to face.


  4. Jody December 22, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    [I also published this on the ABCs website] This from Gail Dines, in the ‘Myth of Free Porn’ article: ‘In reality, much of the content comes from … paid sites, and acts as teasers to get the guy interested so that they can then “monetize” the free porn by diverting him to paid sites.’ Gail, why single out men for this honorable mention in your piece? Who is this ‘guy’? 1 of 3 visitors to all adult websites are women, according to ‘Internet Filter Review’ – a non porn industry aligned resource [Actually, it is a Christian study aligned with a major anti-porn movement in the USA, in case you wish to question the source. Heaven forbid THEY would make it up]. Further, according to the study, 1 in 8 of women admit to accessing porn at work. This just shows the immediate bias this ‘authority’, Gail Dines, showers upon us. Oh dear, another man hater. Ho hum. It insinuates that men are bad, perverted and singularly exploitative of women. The viewers are evil. The producers are evil. The world is an evil place. Guess what, lady. I’m a girl. And I love a bit of porn occasionally. I have dozens and dozens of independent, educated female friends – and male friends – who enjoy a bit of titillation and fantasy. I guess we’re all going to Hell. I am sick to death of the Christian lobbyists and goody two shoes experts telling us that the sisterhood – which includes me – are being exploited. Please! Buy some software to save yourself from temptation and eternal damnation, but leave the rest of us alone. The only thing I can thank Gail Dines for today is indirectly introducing me to the enlightened Dr Jennifer Wilson and her moderate, intelligent views on this subject. Jodie


    • Jennifer Wilson December 23, 2011 at 6:46 am #

      Oh, well said, Jodie!! That’s just the kind of comment needed from women who are fed up with the anti porn attitudes. I hope they publish it at the ABC.

      And thank you for the compliment – I really appreciate it, because I think moderate, intelligent and questioning opposition is what the anti porn movement needs to be challenged with, and by women like you as well as men who stand up and refuse to be denied. Thank you!


      • Sam Jandwich December 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

        Yes and thank you from me too Jody. It almost seems to me that one of the reasons Gail Dines’ arguments are even given a platform is because there is some sort of cultural norm which assumes that men’s sexual desire is instrinsically exploitative of women. As a heterosexual man, any expression of this concept does put one in something of a bind.

        I do think we face a difficulty reconciling the amount of sexual violence that does occur and the fact that most people are capable of having absolutely no tendency whatsoever for violence or cruelty. According to this: http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/Publications/Freedom-from-violence/Violence-against-women-in-Australia-research-summary.aspx 40% of women in Australia have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, and 15% have experienced this from a previous partner. I’m always a little circumspect about statistics on this, but these are big numbers, and as a person who cares about the welfare of others they’re difficult to ignore. However my suspicion is that Gail Dines, for example, probably has a very strong emotional connection to this, such that she is unable to imagine that it doesn’t apply to most people.

        I don’t know, I always try to be as empathetic as possible over the reasons why people choose to argue in whatever way they can against perceived sources of harm. I do think Dines is fundamentally misguided in the approach she takes, but I think it’s important that we answer her in an intellectually competent way, rather than write her off as crazy – And that’s why I really appreciate Jennifer’s approach!

        Oh but what a cheery subject for a day like today. May all your christmases be filled with love and understanding for the important people in your lives, and frissions of passion for the ones you share your body with. So long, desk!


    • Jennifer Wilson December 24, 2011 at 6:40 am #

      I don’t think your comment has been published, Jody. Did you write it for the Dines piece? Bad ABC if they didn’t put it up.


  5. Matthew December 23, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    Melinda Tankard Reist; “ The Goverment’s (sic) policy is to only block RC content- child abuse material, sexual violence such as rape, bestiality, detailed promotion or instruction in crime or drug use and terrorism material. Just because some people break speeding laws doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have speed limits”

    Whereas speeding is illegal, it’s perfectly legal to own (unless you live in WA or in a prescribed area in NT under the intervention Act) pretty much anything within the “Refused Classification” range of banned material, child sexual abuse material being the obvious exception. RC runs from “detailed promotion or instruction in crime” which absurdly includes some graffiti culture magazines and videos, a video of a Iranian woman Neda Agha-Soltan who was killed by security forces during a protest, the Peaceful Pill Handbook, a video of the hanging of Saddam Hussein, various issues of soft core US men’s magazines like Penthouse and Gallery and course “A Serbian Film” and “Human Centipede 2”, both of which MTR had a hand in getting reviewed by the classification board and Refused Classification.


  6. Gruffbutt December 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Phew! Keep the writing coming, Jennifer. I wish I had more time to plough through the articles and comments and go off and do some sort of research to confirm my bias, er…sorry, I mean, get some further perspective 🙂

    Some thoughts:

    Good on Mr Henderson for keeping his cool instead of calling the speeding analogy the rubbish that it is;

    Agreed, more blasts from the Jody gallery, please;

    Sam Jandwich, you’re right on the money with engaging intellectually with Gail or anyone else wherever possible. That’s why I enjoy coming to sites like this to read the views of people who have the patience and knowledge to do so. I feel the likes of Gail just waste precious time that they and we could be spending on more urgent issues deserving of their and our attention;

    And Matthew, I had ‘The Human Centipede’ in my hot little hands for a long time, borrowed from a friend, and ended up giving it back unwatched (life’s too short) after asking other people’s opinions. If it had merit (quality, purpose, whatever, rather than gore for gore’s sake…and to me, the thrust of the film is in the title, so why bother otherwise?) I would have taken the risk of being a little scarred by my tendency to hang on to images, being a visual sort of person (I’ll occasionally watch surgery on TV but would rather not).

    The point is that I decided against watching a freely available DVD that you won’t find on a porn site (and did so NOT because it would have encouraged me to go out and make my own human centipede) yet, if I feel so inclined, I’ll trust certain porn sites to deliver something rather less stressful and pretty much ‘what’s written on the pack’ when I click on an image, with the understanding that the participants are consenting – indeed, willing – and of legal age, and that my attitudes to women affect my choices rather than the other way round. (And I’ll always go the freebie – sorry to disappoint, Gail – but I won’t judge those who want to pay for something more.) If people want gore, they’ll search for it. Same goes for porn. Or a combination of the two, if you’re twisted that way. And I get the impression that the most popular sites are the ones that take seriously the non-acceptance of illegal/under-age/coerced participation, i.e. most people self-censor when choosing sites, being the ethical lot we are.

    If only we could productively occupy the time both of violent misogynists – with liberal doses of their favourite variety of (violent) porn/gore/over-representation-in-dubious-anti-porn-research – and interfering moral crusaders – with mutual self-righteous validation in chat room gardens of Eden… So the rest of us can get on with it.

    Ahh! Sweet relief…


    • Matthew December 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

      Gruffbutt, I think both “The Human Centipede” (both films) and “A Serbian Film” are horrible little exploitation films (neither of which I’d describe as porn) and have no real desire to watch them, but I would rather MTR and her band of killjoys (Collective Shout) consider the fact that I am an adult and can choose what I want to watch. I don’t need them to protect me or the women/children/small rodents (or whoever the fuck she thinks she’s protecting) in my life. Both films gained some infamy before they were RC’ed in horror aficionado circles, but she put those two films in the spotlight of the mainstream due to her actions. And it takes about half a second to google up a link to a torrent. Also no dill (well not many anyway) puts up illegal pornography on a website. Certainly the Hidden Wiki does contain child sexual abuse images, but I think you’d have to be a bit of a moron to go there. As for coercion and performers being abused, none of the Gail Dines of this world can find a single case that shows someone was raped or forced to have sex for porn. They’ll bring up the Linda Lovelace case, but her claims are pretty dodgy to begin with anyway.


  7. gerard oosterman December 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Why doesn’t Dine and MTR just go back to Justice Frankfurt and his well proven test on what is pornographic and lewd.

    Justice Frankfurt was hailed as one one the most important champions, fighting pornography and dealing with literary works deemed to over-excite people.

    He had a test which became known as the ‘”Justice Frankfurt obscenity test”. At some stage he was given the task in defining the work of Phillip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint if it was obscene or not.

    He would be given time to read the book back in ‘Chambers’ and if the ‘angle of his excitement’ was more than 45degrees (to his thighs) the book was banned and declared obscene.

    Justice Frankfurt found it not to be obscene. However, rumours have it that his Honour found the excitement to be too much alright and had quick and light hand relief in his wig, no doubt getting the idea from Portnoy’s visit to the cinema…………having done the same… but deposited in his hat…remember?

    The memories came flooding back.


    • Jennifer Wilson December 24, 2011 at 6:38 am #

      Gerard, I LOL out your little story – I recently saw a long interview with Philip Roth, whom I like a lot, and he talked about writing Portnoy – it was a pretty brave thing to do then, and remains so I think. I don’t think it’s anywhere near his best book, but he broke through some big barriers.

      I hope you and Helvi have a safe and happy holiday time.

      Did I tell you the National Library are going to archive No Place for Sheep? I’m pretty thrilled about that – we’re all going to be saved as historically significant!


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