Friday, September 21, 2007

Girls on Film

Graphic from Radical Women



I attempted to participate in a thread over at Women's Space/Margins, only to have my comments censored. Heart does not tolerate any dissent from any feminists at her site. (Instead of "women's space"--perhaps it should be called "women who agree with Heart's space.") Thus, I will continue here.

Heart, at Margins, writes:

This is the first of a series of posts I plan to do illustrating the intentions of, and reasons for, pornography.
To assume that all pornographers have the same intentions and reasons, is a little silly, doncha think?

If you mean analyze the sexism and misogyny in porn, that's something else again. Interestingly, I saw none of this in your post, just a blanket condemnation of all porn as "rape"--which any 14-year-old kid with internet access knows is simply not accurate.
I get thousands and thousands of spam comments day in, day out, almost all of them advertisements for porn. Right now there are something like 4,000-plus ”comments” — links to pornography, primarily – in my spam queue. Most of it is as vile as can be imagined.
"Vile"--meaning what, exactly? Vile is in the eye of the beholder. Do you mean violent? Say that, then, and be specific. Or is all porn "vile" to you, as I suspect? In which case, you are not in a place to discern which porn is "vile" and which is not.
I’m tired of talking to pro-pornography, pro-prostitution people, male or female, about pornography. I think I’m done with doing that.
When have you had any comprehensive discussion of this kind? I have seen no discussion. TALKING TO, as in, you expect to preach like the fundamentalist you are, and have everyone LISTEN? As you should know, that leads nowhere. People do not appreciate or learn from preaching; they learn from interactive discussion. And this is something I have NEVER seen you engage in.

I am a radical feminist, profoundly skeptical of porn and prostitution, and you even censor me. Therefore, I doubt you've been able to have any kind of civil political discussion with people who are diametrically opposed to you, including women who are currently employed as sex workers.

Thus, when you say "pro-pornography, pro-prostitution"--you actually mean the women employed in these businesses. You have placed yourself above them, and have no interest in discussing the reality of their lives and reasons for their employment with THEM. You prefer to talk over their head, as a preacher discusses the sinners that must be converted.

Their opinion, and whether they WANT to be converted, is of no concern to you.
Discussions with those who are vested in this stuff — who make a living by way of it, who use it all the time, who sell it, who perform in it — remind me of discussions I used to have in my old world with religious fundamentalists who could not be separated from their ideological fixations, obsessions and dogmas by love, money, cogent debate, force, or any combination of the above.
Funny you should say this, since I think you sound exactly like a fundie preacher, and IT'S NO ACCIDENT THE FUNDIES ALL AGREE WITH YOU 100% ABOUT THIS ISSUE.

The fundamentalists are too good to talk to the whores, and you are too. Like them, you simply believe you are smarter and morally superior to the women who actually do this work, and you don't have any reason to listen to anything THEY tell you. When they tell you what THEY believe would make their lives easier, you don't care. You know better than they do. You consider yourself superior in every way.

Otherwise, why not listen? Why not dialog? Why not grant these women the respect you grant the women on your site?
They stood ready to defend their beliefs — and that’s about it.
"Beliefs" are not tantamount to challenging someone's livelihood/job and ability to earn a living. You are the one who counsels sex workers that they should stop earning money this way, yet you propose no solutions for them. And that's about it.
They were pretty much incapable of even considering the possibility that they might have missed something, might not be seeing something, let alone that they might be wrong.
FTR, I think sex work sounds terrible. I would not want to do it, or have my daughter do it. I would also not want to pick grapes or soybeans out in the fields, or work on an assembly line, as my father did. However, I do want the migrant workers and factory employees to have rights and unionization, whether I think they are exploited or not--in fact, PRIMARILY and PRECISELY for this reason--to prevent FURTHER exploitation.

Do you in fact agree that workers need unions and rights? Why are you making an exception for WOMEN, in this case? Why have you bought into the MALE definition of sex work as SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS rather than a business transaction?

It's men who fantasize about the sex-work-scenarios being "real"--surely you realize they are not? They are part of the job, just as a car salesman laughs at our dumb jokes in hopes we will buy one of his cars. But you seem to have a totally different standard for judging women's work, in this instance, and what has historically been men's work. Men's work is respected by you, and women's is not, unless it's sewing, childcare, knitting or canning fruit.

Unless sanctioned by the Church, in other words.
I always find it perplexing, the way the pro-porn side invokes the spectre of fundamentalism in its arguments or diatribes or propaganda. My experience is, if there are fundamentalists in this debate, they are on the pro-porn side.
As I said, I agree with you that the business is nasty and exploitative to women. I agree it perpetrates misogyny. What I don't agree with is how you want to judge and punish women for their own oppression, therefore blaming the victim. You want to deny them all rights, reinforce their marginal legal status and you approve of the system that legally penalizes them.

You won't even listen to a radical feminist who disagrees with you, like me.

Umm, you can easily see why the "spectre of fundamentalism" is invoked, since you agree with the fundamentalists 100% about throwing hookers in the pokey? Don't you?

Aren't you the one who agrees with the fundamentalists that these women do not deserve Social Security benefits, Worker's comp, retirement, health insurance, and the other valuable rights gained by collective bargaining?

Aren't you the one who thinks these women aren't good enough to qualify for these rights, yet you are?

How is that different from a fundamentalist?
The 11 words at the top of the page tell us what pornography is about. It is about men forcing their bodies inside of and onto the bodies of women.
So, the women being paid for this, are in all cases being forced? No.

Again, you prove by this statement that you do not listen to the words of sex workers. You proudly and arrogantly ignore what THEY SAY, and you place yourself above them. You know more than they do, like a good Church elder.
It is about men forcing women to do things they do not want to do.
Even when they are paid and willingly want to enter this business?
Especially, the words communicate the interest men have in watching women being raped.
It isn't actual rape, Heart. It's a fantasy story about rape, that some men enjoy. (There are also porn-fantasies involving the rape of men by women and other men, you realize?) Sex workers make money off of men's fantasies; that is in large part what sex work involves. But their fantasies are not real. Why are you endorsing male definitions of porn as "reality"?
We all know a woman is depicted in the film those 11 words advertise, but she is a dehumanized woman. She has no name; she is a generic “blonde,” a generic “whore.”
Umm, you mean as in your previous paragraph: "those who are vested in this stuff — who make a living by way of it, who use it all the time, who sell it, who perform in it"--I see no names in that sentence, either. You invoke a generic sex worker, a generic whore.

If I am mistaken, how about you name some names of actual women? Or do you even know the names of any real-life sex workers you claim to care so much about?

Didn't think so.
The understanding and agreement between the maker and advertiser and the consumer of pornography is that nobody cares about the names, identities or lives of “blondes” or “whores” or any other woman being raped by men in pornography and nobody wants to know any of that.
And when these sex workers attempt dialog and actually try to comment on your site, you won't allow it. You won't even allow a feminist who disagrees with you, on your site...you don't want to know any of that, either, since it contradicts your world-view.
The agreement is that the porn consumer should be free to order up a constellation of body parts and the pornographer should stand ready to provide them.
Where is this "agreement" you speak of?
The agreement is the pornographer will provide images of rape and violence which humiliate and degrade already-dehumanized women whose names we do not know.
Again, where is this "agreement" you speak of? Certainly, you HAVE seen soft-core porn with kisses, hugs and fervent I-love-you's interspersed with copulation? Why are you saying here that all porn is about humiliation, when anyone can turn on cable TV and see otherwise?

Do you think these disingenuous statements help your argument? How?
The agreement, especially, is that this will be sexually titillating and exciting to the consumer.
Again, where is this "agreement"? What are you talking about?
This is what real men want to see: “blondes” and “whores” being raped. Available for cash, at the click of a link.

Comments, as always will be moderated. Men and women may comment, so long as they are anti-pornography. At some point, as anti-pornography activists, we are going to have to work to provide some sort of public counterbalance to the weight of the pornographic garbage passing for “discussion” and “debate” which we, and millions of others, find suffocating and deadly.
Really? Because I have never seen you do this even once. Gotta link to a real discussion? You are a very influential feminist, and I have found many of your discussions all over the web; I have seen you fulminate, proclaim, preach, huff-and-puff-and-blow-the-house-down, but never DISCUSS in good faith.

In fact, this whole post of yours strikes me as one long MASTURBATORY exercise for you--proving that everyone has various ways of getting off, and this is yours, isn't it?

22 comments:

Renegade Evolution said...

extra points for the duran duran song title.

:)

belledame222 said...

Discussions with those who are vested in this stuff — who make a living by way of it, who use it all the time, who sell it, who perform in it

Okay! And here once again we have the confusion between "this is my opinion, even a -really deeply felt one-" and "this is my LIFE." same as with her damn pronouncements on transgendered people. Hello, Houston, we have a boundaries issue. Of COURSE people are going to fight you tooth and nail when you make Pronouncements on their livelihoods, their daily lives, their -bodies- and what -they- choose to do with them; it's not like YOUR body is -directly- affected either way when you rally the troops to change the laws for this or that, when you ban this or that person from a rape relief shelter or a bathroom or even a damn campground.

THAT is why people call you a fundamentalist, Heart, even without the background. Your dogma =! peoples' actual lives. No one is "colonizing" you by getting a sex change operation. And if you're not talking about people who are -directly- coerced into making porn or being prostituted, I'm sorry, I don't know why you have any more leg to stand on here than any other form of media.

But her whole worldview is just so whacked. "They" have all the power, "we" have none, so whatever we do or say *can't* have an impact on anyone else, much less Maud forbid a harmful one, no matter -what- they say. It's THEM. Always THEM. Circular argument; see argument, circular.

just because you've changed the content of the dogma it doesn't mean you've stopped having a propensity for black and white worldviews. Or, not being able to tell where you end and other people begin.

belledame222 said...

I expect she'd say she's pro-Swedish model, thus avoiding the problem of "hookers in the pokey." Of course it still doesn't solve the problem of workers' comp, difficulty in getting "real" work (if such is wanted) with the stigma, the various problems that having one's -customers- criminalized might pose to one's already precarious livelihood, and so on and so on. The important thing is we Blame the Men, and Punish the Men; surely the rest will follow from there, right? I mean, that -always- works so well, first declaring what you're going to get destroy and THEN worrying about what you're gonna build over the smoking ruins, or who gets broken while you're blithely concocting your Brave New World omelet. It's so easy! Just put it on the boil, add dogma and stir!

Renegade Evolution said...

and see, this is where it gets oh so fuzzy for me...

"All women in porn are being raped"

"those who are vested in this stuff — who make a living by way of it, who use it all the time, who sell it, who perform in it"

SO wait, are we being raped or not, really? I say no. If I said yes, you know, I'd STILL be performing in it, making living by way of it. So what, porn performers just can't speak at all on the matter, for themselves? Or can they if they say they are being raped? It's only those who say otherwise who can't talk?

Not that she listens.

shrug.

belledame222 said...

oh and by the way, Heart: the person onto whose myspace you swept like an injured Queen the other day, Jill? she's -been- a sex worker. Not the privileged kind. She -was- a radical feminist. She's -done- the work in the trenches. -Helping actual prostitutes directly.- She continues to do so, albeit from a somewhat different framework than before. Can you say the same? If not, frankly, you've got a hell of a lot of brass trying to school her. But then, well, I'd expect no more from the person who yells at WOC that they -just don't understand- her Pain as a "race traitor," or y'know transfolk are oppressing nice totally gender-congruent wimminz like herself by fucking -existing- without apologizing for it, etc. ad nauseum.

Renegade Evolution said...

tis also obvious to me she doesn't watch a whole lotta porn. It's not all about depicting a woman being "forced to do things she doesn't want to do"...

Octogalore said...

Daisy, I hope this will be read as thoroughly as it deserves. Well done.

I agree -- the evaluation through the lens of benefit to men rather than benefit to women is rather suspect coming from a feminist.

belledame222 said...

oh yes: and of course who is and isn't a "real" lesbian, I forgot about that.

btw, how's your husband these days, Heart?

ArrogantWorm said...

Oooo, nice post. I thought this was slightly bemusing,

"Comments, as always will be moderated. Men and women may comment, so long as they are anti-pornography. At some point, as anti-pornography activists, we are going to have to work to provide some sort of public counterbalance to the weight of the pornographic garbage passing for “discussion” and “debate” which we, and millions of others, find suffocating and deadly."

So basically, no 'discussing' with anyone who isn't deemed an anti-pornographer, at least until *after* all group-decided rehtoric is finalized. I'm suprised it wasn't worded better, I expected at least an extra half-glance before twas caught on the first run.

Octogalore said...

Ren -- not unless the working assumption is that women per se do not want to do anything sexual. That, though, would be much too extreme, right? Right?

Alex said...

Ren, I just want to call something out from your comment again:

"All women in porn are being raped"

"those who are vested in this stuff — who make a living by way of it, who use it all the time, who sell it, who perform in it"

SO wait, are we being raped or not, really?


By her definition, you are. But she's also not going to listen to you about your experiences in it.

Does anyone else find that implication profoundly, deeply disturbing?

belledame222 said...

yes. it's what we were saying over at BnG just now too, viz an older comment ganked from somewhere: that if someone's "so called consent is meaningless" (in this charmer's view because most porn stars and other sex workers are "autistic," "mentally retarded," "drugged up," suffering PTSD from past rape/abuse, and/or "overgrown post-adolescents"), well, shit, then how is their -no- meaningful? To me that contributes HUGELY to the "_____ can't be raped" mentality.

WV; witzz

A.W. said...

"Does anyone else find that implication profoundly, deeply disturbing?"

Well, ye-es. But you get used to it. And, I think, that's the saddest part. Not that the behavior exists ~I expect it to, s'part of her complex~ but that it's so excessive that people get used to it. Like a facet of a children's caricature, but not nearly as benign.

antiprincess said...

I linked to you.

Trinity said...

Thank you for this Daisy.

I'm so tired of politics being used as a litmus test for how you should feel about something.

If you REALLY WERE A FEMINIST YOU'D BE DISGUSTED, well, that no longer flies in my book. Disgust isn't liberation.

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

(Deleted comment above mine, reposted here -- typos corrected!)

Can I just say I how happy I am to have found you in the blogosphere, Ms. D? How refreshing to find you, a self-proclaimed radical femninist, who does not censor, who does not blanket-judge, who encourages conversation about these topics?

It's too bad about Heart's heavy-handed censorship. There have been some posts over there which I would have liked to respectfully discuss sans name-calling and all of that rot, but I doubt she'd allow me to post. In any case, I'm not interested in even trying. It's unsettling the way she will not allow any comments which do not support her views.

There was a time I at least respected her, even if I disagreed with her. Anymore, I feel she is only interested in generating a fan club. For this reason, I no longer read her.

(President? Can you imagine her press conferences? Would she even allow the menz to even address her? Would anyone who disagreed be allowed a voice? Not likely, judging by her blog moderation. Again, for this reason, I don't think even Heart takes her so-called campaign seriously or she'd be more sensitive to these things.)

beansa said...

Hi Daisy - I got here via Belle & AP.

I'm baffled by the assertion that all porn = rape. Does she mean that all sex-workers/porn performers are truly unwilling, or that according to some theoretical construct, women are unable to consent because we have no agency? I'm really asking, because I've been lost about this whole issue for a while, and it's only now that I've read Belledame, Ren, AP and now you that I think I've found a safe space to ask this question - and one where I might get an illuminating answer as well.

belledame222 said...

I'd have to hunt for them, but she's had a number of comments to the effect that pretty clearly demonstrates that she does not, in fact, think that women have agency, and not just in the porn context either. for example: women cannot be transphobic, because it's men who have the power to oppress, men who created "gender," and...eh, i'd have to find the exact quote.

on the whole, an interesting perspective from a Presidential candidate, I must say.

then again, in a way, not all that far removed from the Fearless Leader we currently have.

"I didn't do it, you can't prove it, and anyway they started it and it's for your own good. --ooh, look, shiny thing! No one respects me."

beansa said...

I just finished some reading over at Heart's, and I found this comment interesting. It's from her recent post about Michelle Duggar & why people think it's ok to ridicule her for her reproductive choices.

"I was not brainwashed, and neither is Michelle Duggar, and neither are the women in the photos above. Speaking for myself only, in entering into fundamentalist religion I cut the best deal I believed I could cut at the time, given all of the circumstances of my life*. I believe this holds true for many to most women in conservative and fundamentalist religion throughout the world, particularly mothers or women who want to be mothers. They are cutting the best deal they can. There is one place, and one place alone, where women who want to be mothers can go when they don’t have support, don’t have supportive community, and especially, when they don’t have money, and that is into fundamentalist religious cultures. There they will be accepted, honored, protected, defended and supported in every conceivable way, and in ways they will never find support outside of fundamentalist community. Do they exchange their freedom and their personal autonomy and their right to pursue both for what they will receive in fundamentalist community? Yes, they do. Does that make them dull, stupid, or brainwashed? Hell no. It makes them shrewd, resourceful realists who at the very most might be unable, for many reasons, to see beyond a certain set of life choices**. Do they pay for what they choose? Yes, they do. Sometimes with their lives, always with their bodies, their hearts and their souls. Does every woman exchange something in this male supremacist world in order to survive in it? Yes, we all do. Do we pay for what we choose? Hell yes. Sometimes also with our lives, bodies, hearts and souls. Of all people, as feminists, we know this.

So why do some of us treat Michelle Duggar as though she isn’t a woman, just like us?

Instead of scapegoating this one woman and targeting her as though she is the enemy, why not make it our business to critique the real enemy– systems and institutions of male heterosupremacy which make the choices Duggar and women like her have made the best deal they feel they can cut?

(bolds mine)

Substitute "sex work" for "religious fundamentalism" in the above comment and you get a fairly cogent argument supporting the idea that women who do sex work are, in fact, exercising agency in their lives. Except for that nonsense about the respect, support and honor garnered by mothers in fundamentalist religions, WTF?

But more on point -why is the woman who becomes a christian fundamentalist, surrendering her personal autonomy and her womb to god, the church and her husband, because she wants a particular kind of life and sees no other way to obtain it, seen as a rational actor making the best of a bad situation while a woman who trades access to her body for cash is brainwashed and raped?

Seriously - I'd argue that religious fundamentalism is by far the greater danger to women, compared to porn - which (to extend Heart's logic, anyway) would make fundamentalist women teh evil enemy of radfem, right?

BTW - I am not endorsing the idea that all sex workers pay for their choices with their bodies/hearts/souls, or that all sex workers chose sex work, or that some women aren't prostituted against their will or that any argument about a class of people ever applies to everyone in that class. I know there are many shades of grey.

belledame222 said...

But more on point -why is the woman who becomes a christian fundamentalist, surrendering her personal autonomy and her womb to god, the church and her husband, because she wants a particular kind of life and sees no other way to obtain it, seen as a rational actor making the best of a bad situation while a woman who trades access to her body for cash is brainwashed and raped?

Well, whatever the reason, I'm sure it has NOTHING TO DO WITH the fact that the author of that pronouncement -was- a fundamentalist Christian, but was -not- a sex worker.

She's Every Woman; It's All In Her.

DaisyDeadhead said...

But more on point -why is the woman who becomes a christian fundamentalist, surrendering her personal autonomy and her womb to god, the church and her husband, because she wants a particular kind of life and sees no other way to obtain it, seen as a rational actor making the best of a bad situation while a woman who trades access to her body for cash is brainwashed and raped?

Seriously - I'd argue that religious fundamentalism is by far the greater danger to women, compared to porn - which (to extend Heart's logic, anyway) would make fundamentalist women teh evil enemy of radfem, right?


You have made a brilliant point here. Agree totally!

I think it's also as Belle says--the fundie women are worthy of respect for their choices (since Heart was one, it must on some level be okay), but sex workers are not.

In interrogating this comparison, we see that Heart thinks fundamentalist religion is acceptable, obviously, in a way that sex work is not and can never be. Why? She needs to tell us why, since it isn't self-evident.

And welcome, Beansa!