Porn is a symptom, not a cause

6 Jun

Porn Rescue

 

In a piece titled Porn’s Distortions on the ABC 7.30 Report of June 4 2015, it was claimed that the sexual expectations of the young are being unrealistically shaped by the pornography they view, and that there is no education available that presents them with a perspective other than that of the stereotype of male as entitled aggressor, and female as submissive.

It goes without saying that the discussion was confined to heterosexual relations, but I’ll say it anyway.

I’ll also say that the moral and religious alternative of no sex without love (or “romance”) is a load of codswallop as well. Show me a romance in which a woman is not ultimately required to be just as submissive as she is in mainstream porn, albeit in different ways. Consensual and satisfying sex is perfectly possibly without intense emotional involvement, and to claim that it isn’t is, in its own way, just as distorting as the model provided by stereotypical porn.

Young women are apparently feeling overwhelming pressure to perform sex as their young male partners, educated by porn, want it performed, and this can include the demand for sexual acts young women do not want and do not enjoy, but feel obliged to comply with if they want a boyfriend.

What struck me most forcibly about the role of pornography in this impoverished notion of sexuality is that it is a symptom, not a cause, and what it is a symptom of is the entitlement some human beings feel they have to use and abuse the bodies of other human beings for their own gratification. This profound dysfunction expresses itself most notoriously in the entitlement many men feel they have to use the bodies of women, for sex, as punching bags, as objects of ownership and in other indignities major and minor that we read of every day in domestic violence reports and most starkly, in the murders of two women each week at the hands of men.

I am not conflating the pornographically tainted sexual expectations of the young with the slaughter of women by murderous men, but I am pointing out the sense of entitlement to a woman’s body, her mental and emotional attentions, and the demand for her compliance that underlies both situations, and all the situations on the continuum.

I believe this is often referred to as “rape culture.” I prefer to think of it as “entitlement culture.”

Nor do I have any objection to pornography when viewed by consenting adults, but as a sex education tool I fear it has little going for it. On our honeymoon, my beloved late husband took me on a visit to a movie house in San Francisco famous for its porn screenings, just for the hell of it, and after the first half hour I was bored witless by the unrelenting pneumatic drilling and the fake ecstasy the women on-screen displayed at being drilled. The thought of the young being offered such scenes as modelling for an enjoyable sexual experience is, I admit, disturbing.

I don’t know how we are going to overthrow or subvert a culture in which male entitlement to women’s bodies, hearts, and minds is so profoundly entrenched as to be normalised, and goes largely unremarked. This entitlement is the root of the problem, stereotypical porn that enacts that entitlement merely a branch.

I want girls to be able to say to boys who demand sexual acts or any other performance a girl does not wish to engage in, piss off, I’m not doing that, and then to grow into women who can say the same thing.

A sense of entitlement does not allow for the acknowledgement of another’s humanity. A sense of entitlement breeds the perception of another as a means to an end, as less than human, as an object of gratification. The age of entitlement is far from over in heterosexual relations, and it serves nobody well, least of all the young.

Porn is not distorting anything. Stereotypical porn accurately reflects the prevailing cultural attitude of entitlement to women’s bodies. Anti-porn campaigners have got it the wrong way round. Abolishing porn, or restricting access to it will not change a thing. The problem runs far deeper, is far more confronting, and far more frightening. It’s that of human beings believing they are entitled to the use of another as a means to an end, and acting on that belief.

 

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42 Responses to “Porn is a symptom, not a cause”

  1. stefrozitis June 6, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    Interesting…I need to think about this more. It seems to make sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura June 6, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    The problem runs deeper, yes, but I still feel we need tighter restrictions. It absolutely breaks my heart that many boys and girls who have not yet experienced the thrill of a first kiss or crush have been exposed to hard-core pornography. It is SO easy to access. Pornography doesnt just reflect the entitlement men feel towards womens bodies but those that adults have towards children too. Child pornography is booming. Lets not forget that pornography is about $$$$$. Child pornography is not just the domain of paedos these days. I’ve read of organised crime becoming involved in its production because it is so profitable. This is a reflextion on our society.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hudsongodfrey June 7, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

      Excuse my asking, but how do you know that child porn in booming? It seems like an assertion that few could confidently make.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Fitz June 9, 2015 at 11:17 am #

        Maybe not an exact answer to your question, however, I am led to believe within modern pornography pubic regions are shaved bald. If this is done to provide additional titillation, I would suggest the that pre-pubescent genitals are now favoured. Can I surmise that an attraction to a representation of pre-pubescents is the same as an attraction to the real thing?

        Like

        • hudsongodfrey June 9, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

          I think you can surmise that visual attractiveness is both diverse (see rule 34 of the Internet), yet complex enough that somebody physically attractive is somebody you’re liable to appreciate no matter what form the pubic topiary takes.

          I also expect that some women express a preference for hairlessness especially those you’ll see in porn, perhaps in connection with hygiene or at least perceptions thereof.

          Putting fashion and hygiene aside to examine the oft made link between shaven female genitals and pre-pubescent appearance I think the bright line we should be insisting upon is drawn at consent. I’d want to be very careful about substituting any assumption based on pubic appearance for the presence of actual valid consent, for reasons I would hope are only too obvious.

          Beyond that if you prefer oral pleasure more without the inconvenience of nature’s carpet then by all means feel free to do whatever you enjoy.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson June 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

            That is probably one of your best posts ever HG

            Like

            • samjandwich June 9, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

              Crikey – politics, society, satire, fiction or fun stuff??

              Hygiene I’d say is arguable as I understand pubic hair is effective in guarding against infections… not to mention chaffing, oh!

              Consent, I’ve always thought is a problematic term as well – since it implies “yes you can do that to me” rather than the more appealing “let’s do this thing together” that might emerge from a perspective of “mutual agreement”… which in a society free from entitlement should be the test for rape.

              Still, I do respectfully and inoffensively agree with the sentiments – people should be able to do what they want with their own bodies, and vulvas are beautiful (as are backs of necks) so less hair is good!

              Like

              • hudsongodfrey June 9, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

                I was careful to qualify hygiene as a “perception” of benefit in the case of depilation. I thought the case might be that the process of hair removal opens up various avenues to infection of the follicles and pores. especially if one is careless… Ouch!

                Yours is an interesting and thoughtful take on consent and I think we can all appreciate the sentiment. It just isn’t where the bright line is drawn with respect to suggestions that shaven genitals are in a grey area whereby preferring that fashion is tantamount to fantasising about children.

                Like

  3. Mayan June 6, 2015 at 6:20 pm #

    Not only men. I was told by a woman, the state head of a women’s group for a left political party, someone whose job was as a teacher, that she and everyone else has a ‘right to sex’. Given the steady stream of stories of female teachers seducing their students, her attitude seems to have caught on.

    Sadly, this attitude seems to have infested our society, both men and women. I have a rather classical conceptual of rights as are things you have and can exercise without imposing on others. However, the notion of rights more commonly held these days includes claims on welfare, education, and so forth, all of which require action by others or the use of their resources, taken compulsorily by the state. Unintended consequences, perhaps, of endeavours that began with the intent to help.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson June 7, 2015 at 6:54 am #

      I suppose within a monogamous relationship a partner does have a “right” to sex, but I tremble to think of the parlous state of that relationship if sexual love has come down to a mater of “rights.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mayan June 7, 2015 at 9:05 am #

        The notion that ‘… within a monogamous relationship a partner does have a “right” to sex …’ is a succinct formulation of the cretinous logic behind the law in places and at times when marital rape has been and continues to be allowed at law.

        A view of the world in which rights include the ability to help oneself to another person’s time, labour or self, whether directly or using the state as a collection agency, will always be problematic.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson June 7, 2015 at 9:31 am #

          Yes, I agree with you. There is an assumption that monogamy confers rights to sexual access that may not be exercised, but give rise to dissatisfaction & resentments if denied.

          Like

        • Anonymous June 7, 2015 at 11:08 am #

          “cretinous logic behind the law……….continues to be allowed at law”…..Rape Culture
          I also think that our Patriarchal, Westminster legal system & most institutions that wield systemic power, promote rape & entitlement culture thro’ their enabling & protection of males who commit these crimes & other harmful entitlements they take for granted when it comes to females.

          Liked by 1 person

      • townsvilleblog June 8, 2015 at 7:22 am #

        I have had no right to sex for 17-18 years because I’m impotent, one wonders how your friend would advise me lol. I too believe sexual contact can mean a strong embrace.

        Liked by 1 person

    • hudsongodfrey June 7, 2015 at 11:39 pm #

      Far be it from me to neglect to mention that the right to pornographic sexual fantasy is often enjoyed “without imposing on others” because no “others” are involved.

      What we might then go on to say is that most of what we’d call porn, though not all of what has an adult rating, would have a more restricted role to play in intimacy between partners whose enjoyment is in pleasuring one another.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. doug quixote June 6, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

    It is a matter of education.

    People who participate in porn do so for money, and they do so in at least the expectation that they might “make it big”. Certainly some are trapped into it, and those trying to get out of it will often claim that. But those who watch porn (and isn’t that nearly all of us at some time?) need to understand that what they are seeing is fantasy.

    Male fantasy mostly, where women are compliant and love to be degraded and abused, and will do just about anything a human body is capable of doing – anal sex, double penetration, fisting, bondage and discipline (ie torture), and so on.

    But it is up to the parents of children and the teachers of children to teach them that it is fiction, fantasy and performance. Though I’d hesitate to call them actors, some of them can act, at least so that they seem to be experiencing pleasure. Probably some of them do.

    The BACWA (banning and censoring wowser agendaists) want to stop porn by any means they can, but the BACWA are doing that for all the wrong reasons. They want to prevent anyone having access to portrayals of sexual activity, mostly because they fear their own physical and mental reactions to the portrayals.

    And of course the BACWA go too far, trying to suppress any portrayal of nudity or sexuality wherever it is found. Some people need pornography, and they aren’t just the disabled, the less attractive and the lonely. Just about anyone’s sex life can be enhanced by a judicious use of pornography.

    And not everyone is the same; human beings have a remarkable appetite for portrayal and yes performance of the whole spectrum of sexual activity. Of whatever a human body is capable of doing.

    But to return to the theme, pornography is fantasy, performed by “actors”, most of whom have certain talents not to be found in the general population.

    Women and girls say they are pressured by men and boys, but the other side of the coin is that the less talented men and boys feel confronted and inadequate by the fantasy so depicted.

    They all need education. Nothing is gained by suppression.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson June 7, 2015 at 6:57 am #

      Yes, yes & yes, DQ. And yes again.

      Like

      • townsvilleblog June 8, 2015 at 7:25 am #

        I have owned a computer for a decade, and have wasted 2 minutes on porn, just to show another bloke that he could get it on line if he wanted it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie June 7, 2015 at 10:20 am #

      Just fantasy. Mostly male fantasy. What does that say about men if there prime fantasties consist of abusing & degrading women? Suppressing may not be the answer but there is nothing wrong with making access harder. It’s not just up to parents or teachers of children either, it’s up to society as a whole. We are failing our children on this. As a social worker who works with children, I see this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hudsongodfrey June 7, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

        As a male I would interject that I think of fantasy as something quite apart from reality. The two rarely intersect and then sometimes only due to some failing of the imagination.

        If you know what pornography literally means then you’ll know it references the oldest profession. A term I use not to be discreet, but rather to point out the futility of prohibition. Not that I’m saying I wouldn’t put a parental filter on my kid’s computer, but mostly to say we’re going to have to educate and when we do so I hope we don’t do them the disservice of imposing sexual repression.

        And yes, I do see this as a parental and educational function rather than a socially inclusive function on the simple reasoning that outsiders offering unbidden advice about sex to other people’s children are rarely thanked for it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • doug quixote June 8, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

        Oh come on Sophie. What do women fantasise about? I’ll bet that at least a part of it is having a man serve their every whim, obey their every command.

        Good luck with making access harder.

        I’ll agree that it is up to our entire society; but it is parents and teachers in the front lines.

        Like

    • Anonymous June 7, 2015 at 11:35 am #

      The separating fantasy/reality approach to this issue seems to be the dominant one put forward by those who are assumed to be knowledgable in this field.
      The whole area is a psychic minefield.
      Much psychotherapy is about separating fantasy from reality.
      How much of our fantasy World overlaps into our experiencing it as reality?
      And how many educators be they parents, teachers, psychologists, sex therapists, psychotherapists have an adequate understanding of these dynamics?
      I think it’s an area that needs rigorous research.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Anonymous June 7, 2015 at 11:39 am #

        meant to add Dr. Jennifer Lewis is one who is leading the way in this…anyone know of others?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Anonymous June 7, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

          Dr. Jennifer Wilson, (sorry)…(don’t know where that keeps coming from),..

          “Entitlement culture”…brilliant!
          -another Jennifer Lewis original?

          – Jenny or Jennifer?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson June 7, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

            I’m Jennifer Wilson. I don’t know Jennifer Lewis. Nobody ever calls me Jenny which I hate. Some people call me Guinevere.

            Like

            • Anonymous June 7, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

              can’t believe it..i did it again damit!…almost in the same sentence!..must be a v. mild form of dyslexia or amnesia.

              -only reason i asked about your name was because you call yourself Jenny in this post.
              – soo, try again,…”Entitlement culture”..brilliant!..another Jennifer Wilson original?

              Liked by 1 person

              • Jennifer Wilson June 7, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

                No, the Jenny Wilson who wrote the book in the image isn’t me! I just thought it was funny.

                Like

                • Anonymous June 8, 2015 at 10:36 am #

                  riiiight….the irony wasn’t wasted on me,…just thought it was you being v. cheeky

                  Liked by 1 person

        • townsvilleblog June 8, 2015 at 7:28 am #

          No, I do not know of others. If I were capable of making love I would be doing ‘the real thing’ 1970 No1 Aussie hit. why look when you can participate??? something else I don’t get, it seems. I’m boring ole’ hetro.

          Liked by 1 person

          • doug quixote June 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

            You may not always have a convenient partner. In fact I suspect most people do not have someone else who is always available and in step with their moods or wants.

            Besides, with solitaire you can be certain that the one you love will always love you and never stray. 🙂

            Like

      • hudsongodfrey June 7, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

        I’m sure you meant psychological minefield. I can’t imagine how psychics would mine this particular field other that to say they’d probably be digging for a shortcut to a quick buck!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Anonymous June 8, 2015 at 10:49 am #

          No, did mean psychic..in psychotherapy, the psyche refers to the unconscious.

          Like

          • hudsongodfrey June 8, 2015 at 10:55 am #

            If psychological wouldn’t cover it better then I’m perplexed about what positive links exist between sexuality and unconsciousness. There might be something subconscious to how our preferences develop from a neurological perspective I guess. Is that what you mean?

            Like

            • Anonymous June 8, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

              need to have a think about how to best respond to your question HG..will get back to you when i do.

              Like

    • hudsongodfrey June 7, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

      I’d even go so far as to add that there’s nothing wrong with saying intimacy, unlike most porn, can involve or even consist of acts of altruism.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. hudsongodfrey June 7, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    Bummer of a coincidence on the author’s name?
    According to her there’s a dangerous way to rescue your husband from porn, really? Maybe she should rescue herself from Christian Advisers in whose place I can but conjure the image of Dana Carvey as the Church Lady.

    But the article wasn’t about husbands, but the tenderly delicate minds of children, and something about wondering whether femdom fantasies could be romantic. I think they might….

    As for the effect of the knowledge of sex on teens and pre-teens it has something of the taint of “the knowledge of good and evil” in the garden of Eden about it. By which I mean to say I don’t believe in talking snakes any more than I do our society’s prudish attitudes towards sexuality, and I suspect this other objection is bullshit also.

    Okay sure it’s not the knowledge of sex, but the knowledge of sexual fantasy they’re afflicted by. The poor cherubs are obviously too young to comprehend it even though their culturally conditioned aptitude for suspension of disbelief when it comes to depictions of violence is completely normalised. Lines are blurred everywhere from Fast and Furious movies to Funniest Home Videos, while they’re told good children avoid paedophiles and sex in almost equal measure.

    Let’s face it porn is fucked up, but a lot of messages kids have to deal with are equally or more fucked up. And if they’re raised religious as well… don’t even get me started.

    Honest education would probably fix most of it, given that it’s tasked with unravelling all that other stuff we foist on younger generations and does a fairly good job most of the time even if we can’t entirely explain why so many of them grow up to vote for the likes of Tony Abbott….

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with porn in its place. The important thing to really remember about it is what that place is. That it is fantasy being produced to make money by titillating the viewer. Titillation on demand and with a view to gratification, or to put it slightly more crudely as adults we’re all entitled to a good owner operator experience in the privacy of our own domain.

    What’s going wrong here is that some parents, and it simply astounds me how often this comes up, simply don’t want to have to parent. They want to ban this, ban that, and ban the other thing with a frequency and scope of censure that defies all logic and tragically seems intent upon sanitising the most important aspects of their own roles out of their children’s lives.

    How about we just explain to our kids that sex is meant to be enjoyable, and fantasy doesn’t just stop at the age of when a child first tumbles to Tooth Fairies, Santa Claus, and with any luck all other manner of Gods and Monsters. Children should have time to grow in their understanding of the world in which they live, and youth is a time of beginning on a path of discovery that if we’re lucky continues throughout our long and fruitful lives. The worst possible thing anyone can do as a well-intended parent is to afflict the young mind with harmful lies. Sure there’ll be the odd harmless lie, but the ones we tell about our sexuality aren’t harmless.

    From the simple (in most cases) recognition of gender through to the sometimes complex acknowledgement of sexual orientation and freedom to experiment safely with our own preferences there are individual truths and experiences to be discovered that every human being should in these time perhaps more than ever be free to choose for themselves. To expect anything less would clearly be to project a set of misgivings about sex onto a child that are just as restrictive as the supposed expectations of the most formulaic pornography. It denies the very agency that you’re supposed to be preparing them to exercise in their own interests, and most importantly of all it fails to teach them the difference between porn and intimacy by assuming the former is in any way interchangeable for the later.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jennifer Wilson June 8, 2015 at 7:16 am #

      Ha! I saw her name and couldn’t resist.

      The difference between porn and the erotic would be a useful one to pass on to the young. But we would have to collectively be a lot less prudish about sex for that to ever happen.

      Like

      • hudsongodfrey June 8, 2015 at 10:50 am #

        I think I take people’s complaint that porn is almost unavoidable at least as seriously as I do the notion that the human sexuality lends itself to curiosity if not straight out temptation. There’s some truth to the idea that we simply have to differentiate fantasy from reality and porn from erotica.

        Prudish intent is completely self evident yet never openly embraced. Perhaps then there’s an opportunity to overlook the prudishness people won’t admit to when challenging it with better ideas. Maybe all it takes is somebody to say children aren’t incapable of dealing with truthful concepts about human reproduction and sexuality in a preparatory context.

        Like

    • townsvilleblog June 8, 2015 at 7:30 am #

      please don’t mention religion, it makes my blood boil.

      Like

      • hudsongodfrey June 8, 2015 at 10:32 am #

        I don’t think boiling blood was one of the seven tortures, but I’ll keep it in mind.

        Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Down Under Feminists Carnival #86 « A Bee of a Certain Age - July 2, 2015

    […] In the news recently, arguments that the easy availability of porn is shaping young people’s sexuality, especially young men’s sexuality, in worrying ways. No Place for Sheep responds that porn is a symptom, not a cause. […]

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