[personal profile] flexibeast
Reading the sarcastically-titled "Save the sexually violent males" made me again ponder the issue of the extent to which we regard people in general, and men in particular, as responsible for their actions. In particular, it made me consider those feminists who claim that porn 'causes' men to behave badly whilst also claiming to defend the right of women to not have to avoid dressing 'provocatively' in order to avoid being sexually assaulted.

My feeling is that such feminists can't have it both ways. If porn needs to be banned because it incites men to treat women as sexual objects they can use and abuse, this must be because men have little to no control over their behaviour once they've interacted with porn. This in turn implies that we should ban anything that might, like porn, 'provoke' men into behaving inappropriately. Why shouldn't that include banning women from dressing 'provocatively'? Particularly given that any women who dresses in a 'sexy' manner is only doing it because she's internalised patriarchal values and is regarding herself as a sexual object whose primary purpose is pleasing men? :-P

No, as i've said before, i think that we shouldn't be giving men yet more reasons to not be held accountable for their behaviour, or to avoid thinking about their privileges and behaviours based on those privileges. Feminists typically don't think it's acceptable for men to defend their sexual assault of a woman based on how she's dressed; why should it be acceptable for them to use the "porn made me do it" defence?

Porn doesn't exist in a vacuum; most people have patriarchal culture instilled into them for at least a decade before they encounter porn. Given this, i don't think it's useful to spend more time lambasting the negatives of porn (which are legion) to the detriment of lambasting the general patriarchal beliefs and values to which people are exposed during most of our waking lives. After all, the latter form the crucial foundational context within which many people interact with porn. To me, the sexist perspectives often found in porn are a symptom of patriarchal society, not the cause. i don't feel that sexually explicit material is, and must always be, inevitably sexist, because that implies that sexuality is a purely male domain - and that, to me, is indefensibly essentialist twaddle.
 

Date: 2008-07-04 08:32 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] indigo1.livejournal.com
tsk... tsk... that's the kind of misguided thinking that nearly got me kicked out of the women's studies department at deakin...

Date: 2008-07-05 07:45 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flexibeast.livejournal.com
Only nearly? ;-)

Yes, i seem to recall hearing that sort of thing about the Deakin WS Department before . . . . was it dominated by radical / cultural feminists during the time you were there? Do you know what it's like nowadays?

Date: 2008-07-05 13:47 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] indigo1.livejournal.com
dominated by 'radical' feminists. not cultural. none of that touchy-feely women's festival goddessy stuff there - and definitely none of that faggoty french theory - only deadly serious political lesbian separatism and worshipping at the feet of the twin deities dworkin and mackinnon.

i first got into trouble for pointing out that the idea that porn was intrinsically sexist was, as you so nicely put it, essentialist twaddle. i had a few other spats along the way but i finally blew it by taking a cudgel to sheila jeffries' essentialist crap about sex work, not realising that the lecturer (and head of department) was a good friends of hers, and also her publisher... (and we had to buy jeffries bloody book - a required text!) anyway, i was in so much trouble that for the last subject i had to do to finish my major they had to get outsiders in to mark my work.

the women's studies department at deakin no longer exists. they backed themselves into an ideologically driven corner, refused to engage with anything outside their own little cannon of radical feminist theorists, and screamed about sexist victimisation when told to pull their academic socks up. the university finally got just too embarrassed by it all, and shut down the department. i can't say i'm sorry it happened - the place was a stunning example of the bad things that happen when academic considerations are overrun by political ideology.

Date: 2008-07-14 11:21 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flexibeast.livejournal.com
faggoty french theory

lol!

i was in so much trouble that for the last subject i had to do to finish my major they had to get outsiders in to mark my work.

! :-/

the women's studies department at deakin no longer exists. . . . the place was a stunning example of the bad things that happen when academic considerations are overrun by political ideology.

Wow. Thanks for filling me in on all this! Yes, as far as i'm concerned, Jeffreys are her camp followers are not merely an embarrassment to feminist theory, but an active obstacle to the long-term success of the feminist program (which for me is ultimately about getting rid of patriarchy).

Date: 2008-07-14 12:30 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] indigo1.livejournal.com
yes, and i'm quite fond of faggoty french theory. it's fun. but deakin women's studies didn't want to be friends with gay men, queers, transsexuals, bisexuals, any kind of pervert, and they didn't want to have anything much to do with heterosexual women unless they were suitably ashamed and apologetic about it.

bah humbug! i didn't realise i was still so bitter about it all. imagine an academic department studying gender issues in the early 2000s that wouldn't engage with french theory except to warn women against trusting gay men. fuckwits.

and yes, if it wasn't for people like jeffreys, mackinnon and dworkin we'd have a lot easier time convincing people that feminists are reasonable (and sane). that lot came -this- close to me dumping the feminist label altogether because it was just too broken to fix while they were alive...

Date: 2008-07-17 08:11 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flexibeast.livejournal.com
they didn't want to have anything much to do with heterosexual women unless they were suitably ashamed and apologetic about it.

*snortle*

that lot came -this- close to me dumping the feminist label altogether because it was just too broken to fix while they were alive...

*sad nod* But i must say i have more respect for Dworkin and Mackinnon than i do for Jeffreys, who seems to get more and more way out each time i learn something new about her views . . . .

Date: 2008-07-04 08:58 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cheshire-bitten.livejournal.com
You rock, I don't say that enough.

Date: 2008-07-05 07:47 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flexibeast.livejournal.com
*blush* Thanks! That means a lot to me. :-)

Date: 2008-07-04 09:01 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eumelia.livejournal.com
Wow, I have had this argument so many times I can't imagine.
I mean, I dunno how many more times I can say: Porn doesn't create Patriarchy, Patriarchy creates porn.
I mean it seems pretty obvious to me.

I'm known to be "The Angry" one in my various circles of friends (sometime "The Funny" one, but I digress) and it always surprises people when I say; look, the mainstream porn industry is bad not because of the product, but because it treats it's workers like crap, the product is isn't the sex that may or may not have happened in front of the camera, it's been edited to suit what the producers believe get them the most profit and seeing that in society at large women are regarded as objects to be used and changed, why specifically target porn, which simply does it in explicitly sexual situation?

So, Um... yeah, I agrees with thee!

Date: 2008-07-05 08:10 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flexibeast.livejournal.com
Yes, one of my favourite quotes with regard to this issue is from Leonore Tiefer, who i've quoted here before:
If the target of the feminist campaign is violence against women, the question must be asked whether pornography is really the best place to try to make some headway against violence. Mainstream movies and TV are notorious for their violent imagery, and the claim that sexuality is the prime locus for violence against women ignores these genres entirely. As feminists we might ask why sexuality and pornography need to be included at all. If what we are interested in eliminating is the subordination of women, why does it have to be sexually explicit material that we target? Servility, injury, enjoying pain - why do they get banned only if they involve sex? The honest political answer is that no one is about to ban violent images in this country [i.e. the US] - they are too mainstream. Only sexual images are sufficiently offensive to large diverse groups, and targeting seemingly violent sexual images would be the only way for feminists to get widespread public support. But the consequence of picking on sexual images is that sexuality itself becomes the target. This result is a major setback for those groups within the women's movement whose goal is to de-repress women's sexuality.

Date: 2008-07-04 10:29 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tacomonkey.livejournal.com
I was actually nodding in agreement at my laptop as I read this. Yes, yes, yes.

Date: 2008-07-06 03:31 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] happyevilslosh.livejournal.com
I'm afraid I can't give you any names as this is second hand information and not my area of expertise, as such take with grain of salt, but I've been told that in the studies done on violence arising from porn there are two cases. One is where porn has absolutely no effect, and this is the by far most common. Whereas if porn does lead to sexual violence it's because the person in question is already predisposed to such behaviour.

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