|Dr Abigail Bray, whom I mentioned in my article on the Drum yesterday, left the following comments on Sheep last night:
Mr Wilson, having skimmed your prolific … blog… I find some of it ……
I was struck by your recent opinion that opposition to hardcore porn is a tyrannical middle class plot to censor the internet. What are you trying to say here? That working class people dig hardcore because they are working class and that as a champion of the oppressed one should defend the bent lusts of the lower orders ? Try knocking on the doors of a council estate in the UK and ask the women if they agree with you. As someone who grew up in a council house I have to warn you that they might greet your ideas with a short, succinct: ‘eff off you pervy pratt’. On the other hand if you go knocking on the doors of some well-heeled champagne socialists who have done lots and lots of expensive psychotherapy, studied Foucault (but skipped the bit about how the discourse of ‘choice’ operates as a dominant strategy of neoliberal governance) they might greet your ideas with a lot of ‘baaa baaaaa baaaaa’. (Which is the sound someone makes when they are eager to agree with correct displays of upwardly mobile neoliberal tolerance. It is also the noise a sheep makes btw). But of course this is ‘no place for sheep’. Sheep place for no, place no for sheep, for no place sheep, place for sheep no. There, I’ve done a little cut up to give you further proof of my hysteria. Now you can write a whole new blog about how MTR is associating with a cut up artist of dubious sanity. OMG!!!
Of course I have no scientific data to support my hypothesis that you will be greeting with a eff off or a baaa baaa which might make my hunch seem anti-intellectual or rapid, or even worse, like I am not as sexy as you. But please, do try a door knock and report back. Try Paulsgrove council estate.
Dear Dr Bray,
Thank you for taking the time to look me up and respond to my article.
You and I apparently share the experience of growing up on council estates – mine was in North Yorkshire, where I was raised until I was seven by my grandfather who was a coal miner, and my grandmother who had been “in service” prior to her marriage. I was then transferred to a professional family and educated.
Having established that my working class credentials are as solid as yours, let’s move on.
I have indeed read Foucault on the discourse of choice, and a range of feminist opinion on his theories. Because I don’t necessarily agree with a theory or count it as relevant at the time, does not mean I am unaware of it. I recall an earlier article of mine on the Drum where you left a comment claiming that I had never read Helene Cixous. You seem to want to engage me in some kind of intellectual pissing contest, as well as to trump me in a class war.
I made no mention of a working class in the latest article. I suggested that middle class anti porn activists are engaged in creating a deviant class, to whom they attribute a lower social status than they hold themselves. In my experience, “deviants” can emerge from any class, not least of all the middle, however when they embark on their “deviations” their class is likely to abandon them.
I have nowhere claimed that “opposition to hardcore porn is a tyrannical middle class plot to censor the internet.” This is a deliberate conflation on your part. I have no doubt that your opposition to such porn is founded in genuine concern, and I respect that concern. I do, however, oppose your beliefs that the way to address these concerns is to censor the internet. I have asked, many times, how you propose to put a stop to people profiting in any way from hard-core porn if you aren’t planning to censor the internet. Nobody has yet answered this question.
To return for a moment to the question of “choice.” I wrote the following in a post a couple of days ago:
If you want people to stop engaging in self-harming behaviour you don’t go about it by first shaming and marginalizing them. You first acknowledge their inalienable right to their subjective experience, however vastly it may differ from your own.
It’s a matter of respecting the human being without having to endorse her choices, and respecting her right to make those choices on the basis of her life’s experiences. Anti porn activists totally fail to appreciate this. Instead they frame women in porn as a deviant underclass exploited by other members of that same class. They make them “other,” outside of what is considered mainstream “normality.” They construct women in porn as victims, brutalized, and incapable of choice and they seek to appeal to them as such. In this they are completely misguided. It doesn’t matter how damaged one might be, human beings still desire and need recognition of our inalienable right to totally fuck ourselves up, and unless we get it, we’re unlikely to hear anything else.
However conditioned our “choices,” and I agree that none of us escapes conditioning unscathed, they are still the choices we make within the parameters of our individual lives, and as such, they are to be respected as the decisions of a human being with the human right to act. Even if other people don’t agree with our actions, think they are destructive, or don’t consider them choices at all.
I seem to recall that Foucault also made some interesting arguments about power that might be well be applied here.
I must point out that I’m not a medical doctor or surgeon, I hold a PhD. Therefore I haven’t earned the right to the title “Mr,” but thank you all the same.
You are “not as sexy” as me? Isn’t that a reference to some kind of patriarchal sex contest designed to make us envy and hate one another as we fight for male attention?
- Dangerous or a rite of passage (theage.com.au)