With the spread of the internet, youth are exposed to pornography on an unprecedented scale. Some insist that the availability of porn to young people is a progressive step towards generalized sexual liberation, but the addictive and patriarchal nature of pornography points towards a much harsher reality. Having few places to learn about realistic, mutual sex, internet pornography is the new sex-education classroom. The lessons being learned are anything but progressive, and the addictions aren’t going away.
To be begin this discussion we have to define what we oppose. The word "pornography" comes from the Greek words "porno and "graphia" literally meaning "depictions of the activities of whores." Pornography is material that is created with the intention of sexually arousing the audience and/or eroticizing violence, sexist or racist distributions of power, or gender and ethnic stereotypes. Pornography is the rawest expression of the spectacle; it is the commodification and reification of sex and sexuality through any medium.
Regardless of how consensual and gender-equal the sex displayed in a porn film is, there exists a hierarchy between the viewer and the viewed. The relationship is always unilateral, with the people depicted reduced to objects and images for the viewer to get off to, and a unilateral sexual experience is an act of domination. Further, the viewer is almost always male. Well over 90% of the people who purchase and view pornography are men. This makes it hard to consider the porn industry as sexually liberating.
Think about 12-15 year old boys. They’re hitting puberty, with all of the hormonal and psychological changes that come along with that. They’re figuring out their sexual identities and being thrust head first into a scary world of teenage masculinity. Basically the only representations of sex/sexuality they come in contact with are male-dominated eroticized violence in the form of internet pornography or airbrushed plastic surgery ridden nude models in magazines. Now mix this with early drug experimentation (pot, alcohol, maybe cigarettes), addictive media like video games and television, ‘confirmation’ into religion, and the social hell of middle and high school. Quite a nasty combination!
Adding to this disaster is another detail: porn is addictive. The chemicals released by the brain when one watches pornography make the act analogous to drug use. To draw the connection further, many youth are exposed to porn at the same time they are exposed to drugs. Like pseudo-rebellion and conflicts with parents, using drugs and viewing pornography have become a rite of passage, an integral part of teenage masculinity; but unlike the stains on their jeans, porn addiction doesn’t go away.
The naturalizing of pornography (now more than ever images of sexual domination and humiliation are considered normal and attractive) is part of a deeper crisis in the totality of spectacular culture. This crisis is demonstrated vividly in school shootings, the millions of youth taking powerful psychological medications, eating disorders, extreme drug and alcohol use, and dehumanized sexual activity, all of which are encouraged by the profiteering of the corporate world.
Youth and other minority groups are constantly denied public space, leaving only malls and or in front of television and computer screens as places to go (all of which are designed for the sale of commodities and circulation of images). Anti-skateboarding laws, curfews, increased video surveillance, and anti-loitering ordinances have effectively dismantled formerly free public space and given us only one choice: to accept our role as a consumer in the existing system, the laws of which have already been made and are alien to us. In a world of generalized boredom and desperation, porn and drugs are ‘just another thing to do’. The violence of sexual domination and self-destruction stay just below the surface, easy to ignore until someone is raped or overdoses. But in the pathology of modern life, rape and suicide are just another thing to do as well. Boys will be boys. Alcohol poisoning and date rape are part of the party. Be silent, don’t get in the way of our fun.
Pornography and drugs do not cause rape, but they help perpetuate a culture where rape is accepted, augment a person’s willingness to rape, decrease sensitivity for rape survivors, and in the case of drugs, aid in the actual process of raping someone. Pornography that eroticizes violence and depicts rape plays an obvious role in encouraging them. The messages that most pornography sends about sexuality, particularly female sexuality (ie. women like anything men do, if a woman gets raped she'll end up liking it, sexual acts feel good which in reality hurt or are uncomfortable and degrading, women should always be sexually available, women are predominantly sexual and exist to serve men sexually, etc) also promote pro-rape attitudes.
Addictions are hard to break. Faced with the realities of our condition, self-destruction is tempting. But the roles of the alcoholic or porn addict are no different than the housewife or leftist in their total obedience to the system. Rejecting self-destruction is not an act of self-sacrafice, but the refusal to mediate our direct experiences with drugs and the rejection of pornography are not in themselves radical either. They are a start, a beginning to a complete process of individual self-realization pointing towards an uncontrollable revolt against capitalism; against morality, censorship, and pornography!
Resisting this culture begins with refusal. It begins when we throw away the porn movies and magazines and for once use our imagination, something this spectacle-obsessed culture has stolen from us. When we explore what turns us on instead of consuming the repackaged desires of someone else. When we experience every moment of our lives without clouding our vision or hiding behind chemicals. When we create a new world while the last capitalists drink themselves to death in hiding.
Alienation and oppression in this society cannot be distributed amongst a range of variants, but only rejected en bloc with this very society. The solutions to alienation, depression, and boredom provided by capitalism are unsatisfactory: the only way we can escape this world is to destroy it.
quote:Regardless of how consensual and gender-equal the sex displayed in a porn film is, there exists a hierarchy between the viewer and the viewed. The relationship is always unilateral, with the people depicted reduced to objects and images for the viewer to get off to, and a unilateral sexual experience is an act of domination.
On that basis, you could argue that viewing any kind of movie or picture is a "unilateral experience" and therefore an "act of domination". If I view an action movie in order to feel a thrill, does that mean I'm "dominating" the actors in it?
Your argument would also seem to imply that imagining any kind of visual image or fantasy during masturbation is an "act of domination", since it's also unilateral.
Which all comes dangerously close to saying that "masturbation is bad" (it's certainly very hard to masturbate with a blank mind). Is this really what you want to argue?
quote:Further, the viewer is almost always male. Well over 90% of the people who purchase and view pornography are men. This makes it hard to consider the porn industry as sexually liberating.
I totally agree, and I wouldn't argue that the mainstream porn industry is even vaguely liberating; it's exploitative, sometimes abusive, and often pushing images of sexuality which are very misleading and damaging. But does that prove that porn can never be any different?
(The manufacture of trainers is also a highly exploitative industry right now, built on sweatshops, but that doesn't make casual shoes inherently evil).
[This message has been edited by logic_grrl (edited 03-30-2005).]
I wouldn't argue with your statements about the majority of pornography and the demographic, but I don't believe that everything that can be considered pornographic is necessarily abusive (graphic novels, manga, writing, animation, no real live people involved), or that the effects are as horrific as you assume, provided the material reaches the audience it was intended for. I make use of media that I consider pornographic. There often are elements of domination involved, but I am legally old enough to get the stuff and I believe I am mature enough to separate reality from fantasy, which is the key issue in my book. I know I'm just one person and not an indicator of the whole but apathy towards rape and violence, which you attribute to pornography, is not applicable here. I feel as outraged by issues of REAL violence and abuse as I did when I had a relatively virgin mind, and I'm in a better position to do something about it than I was then. I think there should be better control of access to pornography and reformation of the mainstream industry overall, rather than an outright ban on all of it.
Posts: 65 | From: Caribbean | Registered: Sep 2004
| IP: Logged |
Speaking as a leftist and a future housewife who enjoys the occasional martini, of course. Also as a woman. What's your gender identity? I'm fairly curious.
There are, of course, many things I object to in pornography. The eroticization of violence, the presentation of the female body as spectacle, yep, right there with you. Except the eroticization of violence is a part of every movie from PG on up. (Did you enjoy the Matrix? I did, and that disturbed the hell out of me). Women are treated as spectacles on every billboard. Those themes in our culture go all the way back to the Bible. Pornography as it is today is a symptom of the culture, not the cause.
Though that translation is pretty interesting. The actions of whores. Wow.
Here's something to think about: porn, especially homemade and very lowbudget porn, is the most widely traded free and independent media on earth. Shouldn't there be some way to infiltrate and subvert it? But as far as I know, the most subversive widely-traded porn gets is the bald-bodied little pixies over at suicidegirls and those hippies (I like hippies) at ****forforests.
by the way, I've been reading the boards for a while, but I'm a new regular poster, and I don't really know the rules. If the last post was too specific about websites, given that the majority of the board users aren't eighteen, please take it down and let me know.
Posts: 11 | Registered: Mar 2005
| IP: Logged |
Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998
Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.