White Coat Underground

I’m not sure what to write about this, but I feel a need to write something. There has been an interesting and infuriating discussion going on at Jason and Zuska’s blogs.

Jason, whose posts on learning and cognition rock, started the discussion with an examination of a small amount of scientific literature on pornography. He’s young, so he might not be aware of the extensive literature going back at least 25 years, including writings of Dworkin, MacKinnon, and many others. There’s a lot of it, some of which I’ve read, but not for a very long time.

He starts by wading into a deep swamp of patriarchy without the appropriate flashlight.

Let’s make a few things clear: I am not taking sides in the issue of whether or not pornography should be censored or restricted (but most forms of censorship make me very uncomfortable). This is meant to review some of the research that’s been conducted on whether or not there is a reliable causal relationship between pornography and various Bad Things.

Jason is young and naive, and probably suffers a bit from the incredulity of privilege. You cannot lay down words on a critical topic such as porn and claim that you are not taking sides. The act of addressing it with certain words and certain biases is taking sides, and sophisticated readers are going to call you out on it right quick. I think that Jason truly believed there was a way to address this “purely” without being influenced by the patriarchal culture we live in. That would be nice.

Zuska countered with brief and characteristically incisive post pointing out that asking whether or not porn leads to sexual violence glosses over the fact that porn <i>is</i> sexual violence.  

Porn is, from a medical perspective, dangerous work, exposing people to an inordinate number of human pathogens (yes, I know “all those people get tested all the time.”  Whatever.).

But what’s interesting is that in Jason’s piece, all the men jumped to his defense to protect him from the anti-porn feminist commissariat.  At Zuska’s place, they just went for the jugular, and quick.  Comments came in a few basic memes:

“You’re wrong, lady”

Comment 10 starts it off:

So claims about women being trafficked to appear in porn or otherwise being coerced require a bit more substantiation than just “Linda Lovelace said so” (especially when for every ex-pornstar claiming to have been coerced there are a dozen claiming the opposite).

The fact that major police operations failed to turn up actionable crimes is once again asking the wrong question. Women being coerced into porn is not just about having a gun held to one’s head (although that happens too). Being impoverished, enslaved by drugs and the people who distribute them, and coerced into believing that being the object of degrading acts on film will help lift you out of your suffering is, in fact, coercion, even if there isn’t a law against it.

“I have no point to make and you’re an overly emotional girl”

At #18:

Unless “Science” means “agreeing with Zuska’s half-prejudice, half cherry-picked conclusions,” this post is mistitled.

This is, of course, in reference to nothing.

“I love porn but won’t let my chattel women do it”

At #45

Just jumping in here to say something about the reaction to Andrew G’s comments. Particularly the pathetic non-sequitur provided by Zuska along the lines of “If you don’t think women are forced into porn and prostitution then why don’t you let your wife and kids do it?”.

Are you serious? That’s the most childish thing I’ve ever heard. I wouldn’t want my wife doing porn or becoming a prostitute because I don’t want her fucking other men. Is it really that difficult to understand?

Nope. I got it.

“I hate you bitchez”

Wait, so, ALL women in porn are rape victims? And ALL women in porn are on drugs? And ALL women in porn are being trafficked? And ALL women in porn are battered by their partners?

Really?

Sounds like a bunch of ludicrous bullshit to me. I usually regard Rush Limbaugh as a bigoted asshole living in a delusional neocon fantasyland, but he got one thing right: feminazis do, in point of fact, exist.

Yes, acknowledging that sexual violence and porn are connected is just like being Rush Limbaugh. Exactly.

And finally,

My god, Zuska’s a fucking dumbass.

Here’s my admittedly amateurish interpretation. Zuska is seen as a threat to male dominance and pleasure via their female chattel. The comment section is clear on this. It is full of tortured rationalizations about porn being good and an wonderful thing for you and yours. “Hey, I’m into goat-fucking, and goats sometimes consent, so don’t kill my buzz, bitch!”

You don’t have to have aced Feminism 401 to see how quickly Zuska’s brief observation lead to violent reactions on the part of the commenters, and how this actually means something about the role of pornography in our culture.

Comments

  1. #1 Rogue Epidemiologist
    June 7, 2010

    I read both threads and come away with some serious disappointment. I know I’m not the only woman around who appreciates pornography. I am quite dismayed by what I perceive to be Zuska and skeptifem’s reactionary and antiquated notions about pornography and sex work.

    Yes, I acknowledge that exploitation exists in the sex industry. I find this deplorable and do not support it. But I also do not support a blanket condemnation of pornography.

    When I view pornographic images and video or read pornographic literature, I look for stuff that is produced humanely (using safer sexual, business and social practices). I prefer porn where the actors use condoms. Heck, I also prefer the actors not be acting (there are real couples who enjoy producing pornography).

    You may not know about this genre of erotica because it is a niche market, but there are pornographers whose works focus on pleasure, consent, safety and artistic merit.

    I am not going to link the sites, but I think adults who are curious about socially-concious pornography should check out the Femmerotic Network as well as Good Vibrations.

    And lastly, I think all the threads so far have been heterosexist. Neither Zuska nor Jason considered gay porn in their arguments.

    FWIW, my own curiosity about sex and pornography led me on a convoluted path to my career in epidemiology. So I thank porn for the job I have today.

  2. #2 Mu
    June 7, 2010

    Zuska’s well written, unbiased comments on the subject of feminism, based on a solid academic background in the field, are always such a joy to read, only surpassed by the well informed comments of her followers.

  3. #3 Bob O'H
    June 7, 2010

    You don’t have to have aced Feminism 401 to see how quickly Zuska’s brief observation lead to violent reactions on the part of the commenters,

    Zuska does encourage strong reactions – look at the rhetoric she uses (e.g. how she respond to Andrew G.). Compare that to Jason’s rhetoric, and how the rhetoric in the comments goes. The aggressive comments on Zuska’s post are a result of her own aggressive comments.

    Quite frankly, I think the participants in these sorts of debate need to eat more watercress sandwiches.

  4. #4 JohnV
    June 7, 2010

    I thought it odd that Zuska’s first comment (#10) in Jason’s post was stating what men think and feel. I gave up on the post pretty soon after that because I knew how things would turn out. But I did amuse myself briefly playing “reverse the genders” and imagining the response had a man gone to one of Zuska’s posts and told her what women think and feel about a topic.

  5. #5 MTiffany
    June 7, 2010

    “Yes, acknowledging that sexual violence and porn are connected is just like being Rush Limbaugh. Exactly.”That was not the point I was making. I was trying to point out that the absurdity of the blanket statement skeptifem made when she implied that ALL women performing in porn were doing so against their will — all on drugs, rape victims, coerced, battered, etc — is the most extreme and irrational form of feminism which is rightly mocked and derided.

  6. #6 PalMD
    June 7, 2010

    I am absolutely certain that it is not “Zuska’s rhetoric” that causes men to lose their shit.

  7. #7 Sierra
    June 7, 2010

    There is an important parallel here between the men’s reactions and larger narratives of rape apology. If men have a reaction to a woman, it must be the woman’s fault. Her rhetoric was too extreme. Her clothes were too revealing. The common theme: men are not responsible for their own emotional reactions.

    If a man has an emotional reaction to something, it’s the woman’s fault, not an indication that the man needs to STFU and think about it some more. The more extreme the man’s reaction, the more wrong the woman must have been. No further introspection on the man’s part is considered necessary.

  8. #8 Bob O'H
    June 7, 2010

    Why are you “absolutely certain”? And how do you explain the difference in rhetoric between the comments in Zuska’s post and Jason’s?

  9. #9 Calli Arcale
    June 7, 2010

    I think a bit of nuance is in order when addressing porn — not least because porn is not, in fact, a concrete item easily addressed. We all know the famous “I know porn when I see it”. There are no clear dividing lines between that what is exploitative trash and what is art.

    Some things are clear; coercion is wrong, as it is in any industry, but particularly so in this one, and much of it has been built on coercion. There are certainly willing porn stars. I suspect there are a lot more who turn to it reluctantly, or who are outright forced, or who were simply bamboozled. (“No, the contract is fine, just sign it,” followed by “you signed the contract, you gotta do it,” and they’re too naive to realize they can actually question that under contract law. There have been a few lawsuits along those lines, and unfortunately, the porn actors in question didn’t realize what their rights were, contractually speaking, until after the damage was done. Which made the lawsuits more expensive for the porn studios, but that’s not much consolation when you’ve just been diagnosed HIV positive or suffered an anal laceration when you’d been assured you wouldn’t have to do anything that would put you at risk.)

    Censorship is also wrong; I don’t think that’s the way to combat the dark side of porn. I tend to think we would fight the darkness better by shining a light on it than by shoving it into the closets and under the rugs. People need to *know* what happens, be outraged, and address it through laws that are already supposed to protect people from this sort of exploitation. I think it would also be very helpful if porn were to grow up and become a proper art form. There are stories to be told which no one is telling, because the serious storytellers don’t want to be associated with porn, and because the porn-purveyors can’t be bothered. (They just want to turn out a cheap product, which is why they’re so exploitative of the workers. Sort of like a Chinese manufacturer, really.) That would be much more interesting than the cheap thrills that presently comprise the bulk of pornography.

  10. #10 MTiffany
    June 7, 2010

    I guess it all boils down to whether you believe the following assertion is true or false:

    “All depictions of women in pornography are rape.”

    I believe that statment to be false. Which, if I am reading Zuska’s and Skeptifem’s comments correctly, also makes me an evil man.

  11. #11 Orac
    June 7, 2010

    I am absolutely certain that it is not “Zuska’s rhetoric” that causes men to lose their shit.

    In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure that’s true, and I tend to side with Bob O’H on this one. Zuska does seem at times to revel in using rhetoric that inflames rather than promotes understanding. All well and good if that’s what she wants to do, but don’t pretend otherwise. I also realize that I’m probably going to be tarred as a clueless “d00d” for having the temerity even to suggest this, but I no longer care.

    There’s a reason I don’t jump into these arguments anymore, except for very rarely.

  12. #12 Mu
    June 7, 2010

    I prefer to think it’s her rhetoric that inflames the males, because the only other option on her blog would be her picture.

  13. #13 ewe-man
    June 7, 2010

    Pal, what gets me is that one of the super-enlightened critics over at Zuska’s actually referred to another poster who agreed with Zuska’s stance as someone who will ‘cut a bitch’ simply for disagreeing with him/her.

    What an interesting choice of metaphor…but perhaps I am just too sensitive to understand such edgy hyperbole.

  14. #14 MTiffany
    June 7, 2010

    “Zuska does seem at times to revel in using rhetoric that inflames rather than promotes understanding.”
    Well, don’t throw a punch if you can’t take one. Or, in Zuska’s case: don’t bait people with inflammatory comments and then run away when they hand you your ass.

  15. #15 David
    June 7, 2010

    MTiffany, that is a complete strawman.

    You cannot deny that much pornography depicts actual, real rape, of trafficked women, of intoxicated women, of abused women and girls, of people who are being exposed to diseases.

    While it’s possible that you are the one person, pure of heart and soul, in all the tubes who has hever seen anything but the most wholesome, uncoerced, safety-first porn, but we’re online, so it’s fucking unlikely.

    How do you know when you’ve found consensual porn? What standard do you use to judge the consent of a woman you’ve never met in a video you found online? Did you ask her yourself? Did you check her ID? Her blood alcohol level? Her passport?

    I bet you use the “she looks like she’s enjoying it” standard. That’s the problem.

    That is the question men refuse to address, instead freaking out about Zuska’s language and projecting their own emotional reaction onto her. That is the question that is avoided when pornbrains shriek about, “OMG you’re saying ALL PORN IS RAPE! My delicate sensibilities are so offended by such unseemly rhetoric from a mere lady!”

    Take 5, porn-defenders, calm down, wait for the blood flow to return to your brain. Think it through logically, and only then, post.

  16. #16 Jason G. Goldman
    June 7, 2010

    You’re right, Pal. I was stepping into the field without the appropriate flashlight. I shall certainly go back to the dogs and fishes and monkeys :-)

    If only my posts on spatial memory in octopuses or ant navigation or social learning in domesticated silver foxes got as much attention.

  17. #17 D. C. Sessions
    June 7, 2010

    What I found remarkably telling was the reaction [1] to the purely functional argument that legalization and regulation are more likely to produce improvements in the lives of the “sex workers” [2] than any kind of prohibition.

    [1] Or lack thereof.
    [2] Not scare quotes, just acknowledging that the term is a poor generalization over a large group.

  18. #18 Pteryxx
    June 7, 2010

    I’m responding to Orac, not to disagree or correct him, but just to consider his comment:

    Zuska does seem at times to revel in using rhetoric that inflames rather than promotes understanding. All well and good if that’s what she wants to do, but don’t pretend otherwise.

    It’s interesting to me that PZ does much the same on Pharyngula: he’s often inflammatory, knows he is, admits he is, and says there’s no reason to be polite and considerate when people refuse to educate themselves or even conceive of the possibility that their own views might be wrong. Maybe being inflammatory can shock a clue into an obstinate mind; personally I’m not sure whether shock is any more effective than patient explanation, or some combination, and accumulation, of both. I’d also point out that it’s not being inflammatory per se that stops the reader’s understanding, but the reader’s becoming inflamed; it’s possible to separate the argument from the emotion, theoretically at least.

    But Zuska’s already given some insight into *her* purpose, in her post right before the one that sparked this discussion:

    My blog is not primarily about assuming that people are reasonable and well-intentioned and trying to get messages across to them. I’m not exactly sure what it’s all about, but one thing it is about is a place for me to give voice to the decades of accumulated frustration and anger, to not have to talk reasonably and peaceably and calmly to douchenozzles that are driving me fucking crazy. Very few people who work for a living can ever afford to give voice to those feelings and thoughts in public, to analyze the douchebaggery for what it is. I couldn’t when I was working. Now I can.

    So I suggest that while being inflammatory may not promote understanding of the actual issue at hand, it can and does promote an understanding among victims and the sympathetic that there really is an issue here, that real people are hurt every day by oppressive behavior, and that frustration and rage are warranted responses, whatever their usefulness as teaching tools might be. Almost all abuse victims have to learn to acknowledge their righteous rage at some point instead of pretending they have no right to feel it.

    I recently saw “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” on Zuska’s recommendation. After all its violence and vengeance, is this quote to the best of my memory:

    “I would never do something like that… but I understand why you did it.”

  19. #19 ambivalent academic
    June 7, 2010

    Nice post.

    I might add to the

    “Hey, I’m into goat-fucking, and goats sometimes consent, so don’t kill my buzz, bitch!”

    and

    “Wait, so, ALL women in porn are rape victims? And ALL women in porn are on drugs? And ALL women in porn are being trafficked? And ALL women in porn are battered by their partners?”

    tropes (though it’s been said before), even if not ALL goats or women* are coerced or raped, what is the acceptable number of coerced or raped goats or women? How many is OK?

    *Oh, wait, did I just conflate women and livestock? Erm, I wonder how that happened?

  20. #20 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    June 7, 2010

    @8:

    Why are you “absolutely certain”? And how do you explain the difference in rhetoric between the comments in Zuska’s post and Jason’s?

    I can’t answer for Pal, but I agree with him completely – and I’ll tell you why I think that.

    (a) Why absolutely certain? Experience. I’ve seen this over and over again, for years, in many different contexts. Privileged people who don’t realize how privileged they are constantly lose their shit when they’re confronted with facts that don’t jibe with their self interest. I’m saying this as someone who reacted this way in the past, and got appropriately smacked down. It took more than one smackdown to get through my skull.

    (b) Difference between comments on Zuska vs Jason’s posts? Jason is a man; Zuska is a woman. Once again – I’ve seen this over and over again; woman dares to tell a man that he’s full of shit? People go absolutely batshit crazy.

  21. #21 Andrew G.
    June 7, 2010

    That is the question men refuse to address, instead freaking out about Zuska’s language and projecting their own emotional reaction onto her.

    Take 5, porn-defenders, calm down, wait for the blood flow to return to your brain. Think it through logically, and only then, post.

    Pretty ironic, given that in that thread I was the person posting least emotionally and generating the most emotional responses (none of which were in the least bit accurate or rational).

    Here’s an example:

    I bet you use the “she looks like she’s enjoying it” standard. That’s the problem.

    In comment #19 on Zuska’s thread I answered a question along those lines as follows:

    Can I? I don’t know, because I have no reference for comparison.

    But why do you think that is the question?

    The reaction this provoked was … extreme and irrational, to say the least.

    In fact, I make no attempt to judge whether something is consensual by the “looks like she’s enjoying it” standard, for the simple reason that I do not have a reference for comparison; I have not knowingly seen footage of someone being coerced into pretending to enjoy it, so I do not know whether I can tell the difference between someone enjoying it, someone pretending to enjoy it because they want the money (but who is not under any undue financial pressure), someone pretending to enjoy it because they need the money in order to not starve, or someone pretending to enjoy it because of outright physical threat. (I’ll leave aside the question of those genres in which the performer isn’t supposed to look like she’s enjoying it; read the link Greta posted at Zuska’s for more on that.)

    I personally judge the issue of consent by the circumstances of the production (who produced it, where, when, how) and the off-set behaviour of the performers (what other producers do they work for? who else do they work with? are they involved in the commercial or production side at all? do they write about their work? do they travel? do they appear at trade or award shows? are they setting their own limits on what they will do on-set?).

    Maybe I have higher standards than most. Who knows.

  22. #22 MTiffany
    June 7, 2010

    that is a complete strawman.

    You cannot deny that much pornography depicts actual, real rape, of trafficked women, of intoxicated women, of abused women and girls, of people who are being exposed to diseases.

    As a matter of fact I can deny your assertion because it’s complete bullshit. How much is “much porn?” Does that mean a majority? A significant fraction?

    So far as strawmen go, the real strawman is the argument that you’re implying: “We all admit that some porn involves coercion and threats of violence; since we cannot differentiate between porn produced via coercive means and porn produced with consent, we must therefore assume that all porn is coerced.” That’s the strawman argument, that’s the bullshit, and it’s yours.

    While it’s possible that you are the one person, pure of heart and soul,…
    Yes, it is possible, and I am; and I judge you deficient. Kindly stop breathing my air. Oxygen is wasted on you.

  23. #23 becca
    June 7, 2010

    “Zuska does seem at times to revel in using rhetoric that inflames rather than promotes understanding.”
    Projection, thy name is Orac

    Just for the record, if one is coming to the issue from the perspective that “a significant subset of porn is produced under ethically problematic conditions” (a view I believe Zuska shares, and I certainly do), then this:
    “What’s a responsible scientist to do? An experiment, of course. I know: I’ll watch a TON of porn, and then see if I become sexist or racist, or feel any more aggressive than baseline.”
    is *itself* aggressive and inflammatory.
    Now, what is the reason Jason didn’t get called out on being aggressive and inflammatory directly?
    I imagine it’s some combination of the following:
    1) he probably doesn’t come to the issue from that perspective; i.e. at the time he wrote it, he probably wasn’t thinking about endorsing exploitive practices (and I sincerely hope that offensive obtuseness is something he’s gotten past; whilst we can certainly ask as different questions ‘the ethics of the production of porn’ from ‘the effects of porn’ you can’t ACTUALLY consume a TON of porn without contributing the exploitation of people, excepting perhaps if you are unusually careful about where the porn comes from; indeed, if there was one valuable thing I learned from this entire discussion it is that it *is* possible to try to ‘source’ porn in this way, and it seems to me that that’s the minimal ethical responsibility of the consumer)
    2) he can hide behind ‘it was a joke’
    3) he is male
    4) I am far nicer to Jason than Zuska’s critics are to her. This could relate to 3) or also to the fact that Jason hasn’t gotten on my shit list prior to this, and Zuska is on many people’s already. At least some of the vitriol she got was just Generic Troll is Generic.

  24. #24 Jason G. Goldman
    June 7, 2010

    Becca: I appreciate that you (and most others) are nice! I am glad that I’ve only been a little bit skewered, and not totally. And, yes, that WAS intended as a joke (however much in poor taste it may have been), and it wasn’t about endorsing exploitation.

    In fact, I haven’t yet – anywhere – stated what my opinions are, until now: I think that any normalization of the objectification of women or violence against women – even if the women portrayed are doing so ostensibly consensually – is not okay.

    I, further, thought that it was reasonable to ask questions about the effects of a certain product, separately from the whether or not that product should be made in the first place. And I thought I could do so objectively. But, as Pal says, perhaps that is naive.

    This is an incredibly divisive issue, for many reasons, and I unwittingly walked into a major battlefield without, as Pal says, the proper flashlight. And in doing so, I (unintentionally) offended a handful of people I care about, as well as many others, and for that, I apologize.

    You can find me back among the monkeys and dogs and octopuses and fishes, now.

  25. #25 PalMD
    June 7, 2010

    While Jason is a mensch trying, like many of us, to understand this shit, i predict a comment in 3…2…1… to the effect that “Jason has been cowed by the feminazi gestapo and their collaborators and has been robbed of his freedom of speech…”

  26. #26 Ronald
    June 7, 2010

    This article presumes that all porn involves sexual activity. I call BS on that. I just like to look at shapely naked women. Many shapely women like to pose naked. I see no harm in it. The ‘rape’ charge is ridiculous.

  27. #27 Andrew G.
    June 7, 2010

    even if not ALL goats or women* are coerced or raped, what is the acceptable number of coerced or raped goats or women? How many is OK?

    None.

    Now, under what circumstances is it appropriate to take the perfectly plain factual question “How many women in porn are trafficked?”, and turn that into an accusation that the questioner believes that some number other than “none” is OK?

  28. #28 MonkeyPox
    June 7, 2010

    So, if >1 woman in porn is being trafficked, then porn is bad, amirite? Therefore for porn to be good, zero women must be harmed, amirite?

  29. #29 David
    June 7, 2010

    “As a matter of fact I can deny your assertion because it’s complete bullshit. How much is “much porn?” Does that mean a majority? A significant fraction? ”

    To echo ambivalent academic, “even if not ALL goats or women* are coerced or raped, what is the acceptable number of coerced or raped goats or women? How many is OK?”

  30. #30 Andrew G.
    June 7, 2010

    What proportion of clothing, consumer goods, agricultural products etc. are produced by forced labour?

    Does asking that question imply that forced labour is OK?

  31. #31 David
    June 7, 2010

    “”We all admit that some porn involves coercion and threats of violence; since we cannot differentiate between porn produced via coercive means and porn produced with consent, we must therefore assume that all porn is coerced.” That’s the strawman argument, that’s the bullshit, and it’s yours.”

    I’m glad you acknowledge that it’s a strawman argument, because nowhere did I say that last bit. Stop having the argument you want to have, and read for comprehension.

    It would help if you took a break from fantasizing about my death by asphyxiation.

  32. #32 steve
    June 7, 2010

    I quit reading Zuska’s blog some time ago, when it became apparent that – quite unlike PZ and Orac – she shoots first, never considers any opinion other than her own, and then along with her buddies buries your point or shuts off comments from anyone who does not accept her premise. And no, I will not fall for the specious argument that compares her hate speech to PZ or Orac’s rational thought and cutting wit. She is in no way the female equivalent.

    I am not even addressing the issue of porn. There is simply no way for an alternative viewpoint to be heard on Zuska’s blog. It is her blog, her rules, and I am o.k. with that. I just won’t tolerate that kind of vitriol, and so I vote with my feet.

  33. #33 MonkeyPox
    June 7, 2010

    Good for you steve! I’m sure she gives a rats ass about how you feel, since of course, it’s all about you.

  34. #34 Sierra
    June 7, 2010

    Andrew,
    A video of a woman being raped is not the same as a shirt made by the forced labor of a child.

    The reason is that the distribution of the video of the woman being raped constitutes an additional crime against that woman. The distribution of a shirt made by a child does not.

    Let’s consider if the product of child labor were videos of children working – sometimes apparently happily, sometimes with violence.

    Imagine you said, “Well, maybe they’re just acting – a big family.” And you said this in a world where a large fraction of the children around you had actually been forced to work, and some subset of those were videotaped. Wouldn’t that sound kind of deluded and ignorant?

    Especially to people who had experienced the violence of coerced child labor and suffer it’s sequelae, perhaps having nightmares or having a video of themselves being forced to work circulated, affecting their reputation, their employment, potentially their future careers

    Does that make it clearer?

    In coerced porn, the product is the crime.

  35. #35 MonkeyPox
    June 7, 2010

    More important is that it is an idiotic comment. The fact that there is also slave labor makes sexual assault OK?

  36. #36 Sierra
    June 7, 2010

    For the people asking the question “what fraction of porn is coerced?” You really need to stop and think.

    If you’re making money off selling porn, are you going to go for the most expensive actors, or cheaper actors? Who is gonna be cheaper on the spectrum of wealthy white American adult to impoverished, trafficked adolescent? The adult with options and choices, or the adolescent who is trafficked and enslaved?

    Or to put it another way, who do you think picks your grapes, and under what conditions?

  37. #37 steve
    June 7, 2010

    monkey pox, it has nothing to do with how I ‘feel’. It has to do with how I think. I do not watch Jerry Springer or read Zuska for the same reason; both are pandering to an audience that ‘feels’ a sense of entitlement to abandon rational thought for a good burn comment.

  38. #38 MonkeyPox
    June 7, 2010

    “feels a sense of entitlement”??

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

  39. #39 PalMD
    June 7, 2010

    A sense of entitlement to what, human rights?

  40. #40 Andrew G.
    June 7, 2010

    Amazing how people are still not able to get this point.

    Let me try another analogy: does asking the question “how many people die from prescribing errors?” imply that some level of deaths from prescibing errors is OK?

  41. #41 Ramel
    June 7, 2010

    For anyone who hasn’t read all the comments on Zuska’s post I recomend Greta Christina’s

    http://scienceblogs.com/thusspakezuska/2010/06/science_fail.php#comment-2570190

  42. #42 PalMD
    June 7, 2010

    Oh, andrew…so much fail, so little time. Prescribing errors are some serious shit, but when we are prescribing, we are helping people, and because of our imperfections and the vagaries of human physiology, some get hurt in the process.

    Is porn important enough to be put on the same level as prescription medications?

  43. #43 steve
    June 7, 2010

    Palmd, that was a fair question. Sorry, I was not clear.

    A sense of being entitled to abandon discourse for the burn comment.

  44. #44 PalMD
    June 7, 2010

    I do find it interesting that my discussion of this issue has become derailed into a discussion of how people hate a particular hairy-legged feminazi. Hmm…

  45. #45 Andrew G.
    June 7, 2010

    If you’re making money off selling porn, are you going to go for the most expensive actors, or cheaper actors? Who is gonna be cheaper on the spectrum of wealthy white American adult to impoverished, trafficked adolescent? The adult with options and choices, or the adolescent who is trafficked and enslaved?

    The obvious counterexample is that there are a significant number of non-enslaved, non-coerced, adults working as performers in the porn industry and by all accounts making at least reasonable money at it. Your argument would imply that these people would not be able to find work, which is provably not the case.

    Bear in mind that in the US, for example, there are strict record-keeping requirements imposed on porn producers, and the risk of dealing in trafficked performers may be entirely unreasonable given that as the first step in any investigation, the authorities are going to demand your 2257 files (which if you’re in the US, must contain copies of US-issued identification documents). Penalties for violating the record-keeping requirements are very high even if no other offence is involved.

    These assertions that trafficking is ubiquitous in the industry simply do not pass the most obvious credibility tests, which is why I am repeatedly asking HOW MANY women are involved, because that (and examination of the sources for such figures) are the ONLY way to distinguish the real facts from the hype, moral panic, and wolf-crying that dominates this issue.

  46. #46 Andrew G.
    June 7, 2010

    Pal @42:

    Still missing the point!

    Why can you not acknowledge the simple fact that asking a factual question (“how many happen?”) does not imply a position on the ethical question (“how many is OK?”)?

  47. #47 MTiffany
    June 7, 2010

    @46 Because that would refute his proposition that all porn is sexual vioence (even the porn where all the actors are consenting adults making an informed decision to participate in a recorded pornographic performance — which is most of it for sale in US and Europe).

    “Zuska countered with brief and characteristically incisive post pointing out that asking whether or not porn leads to sexual violence glosses over the fact that porn is sexual violence.”

    He’d be copping to the fact that his own opinion is rhetorical nonsense.

  48. #48 Roxanne
    June 7, 2010

    I noticed that there are a few main questions being conflated here in this discussion and I just wanted to separate them out a little. And I want some legit answers to these questions my fellow blog people.

    The first set of questions is ethical, moral, legal and philosophical questions posed to both ‘sides’ of this discussion.
    1. Is porn in of itself always by definition violence against women? What about men? What about gays and lesbians? Are lesbians in porn being violent against themselves?
    2. What exactly do we mean by porn, anyway? i.e. are we only being critical of heterosexual porn or gay and lesbian porn as well? What about porn with only one person masturbating?
    3. Even if porn is okay and not always violent then are there at least valid criticisms of porn in general for perpetuating certain misogynistic ideas?
    4. Should porn be legal or completely banned?
    5. Legal or not is porn morally good, bad, neutral, or a mixed bag of all three?

    The second set of questions is about the claims being made by both anti-porn and pro-porn people.
    1. Is it really a common practice for the porn industry to use trafficked people or is it the exception?
    2. Is porn really beneficial in anyway (to the consumer)?
    3. Is porn hurtful in anyway (to the consumer)?

    I just wanted to pose some of my questions first then add my take later. I hope I made sense and worded what I wanted to ask correctly. I apologize if I’m not being clear.

  49. #49 MTiffany
    June 7, 2010

    @48 I can answer a few of your questions (IMO only, that is, other people YMMV, and probably will.)
    Q 1.1) No. No. No. And No.
    Q 1.2) Depends on who you ask. Generally contact with a person’s genitals and/or erogenous zones alone or with a partner or partners for the purpose of sexual or erotic arousal.
    Q 1.3) Yes, there are valid criticisms of porn. But not all porn is de facto “sexual violence against women.” (Especially the stuff where no women are involved)…
    Q 1.4) I think it should be legal. Banning it won’t stop it from being produced.
    Q 1.5) Mixed bag.

    Q 2.1) No. The arguments about trafficking are a moral panic which is this decade’s equivalent of the late 80′s/early 90′s ‘satanic cult/ritual sexual abuse of children’ nonsense which was completely and thoroughly debunked. (See F. Crews, “Follies of the Wise”)
    Q 2.2) Yes. It can be.
    Q 2.3) Yes, it can be.

  50. #50 Roxanne
    June 7, 2010

    I do believe MTiffany and I are on the same page here. Of all the questions I posed it is the first one that confuses me the most.

    Many anti-porn people rightly point out the negative aspects of porn yet take those real issues to an extreme conclusion that porn has to be, must always be violence against women.

    Which may be true sometimes but it not always. It just doesn’t make sense. As I pointed out above, there is such a thing as gay and lesbian porn and you don’t get to ignore homosexual sex just because that’s not the ‘real’ porn you are concerned about.
    Gay porn is porn too and if you are going to claim that all porn is violence against women and always 100% of the time misogynistic then you are also going to have to claim that lesbian porn is violent too and you are also somehow going to have to explain away homosexual male porn as violence against women (unless, of course, you also believe porn can be negative and violent against men in addition to women).

  51. #51 Andrew G.
    June 7, 2010

    Q 2.1) No. The arguments about trafficking are a moral panic which is this decade’s equivalent of the late 80′s/early 90′s ‘satanic cult/ritual sexual abuse of children’

    I disagree slightly. Trafficking provably does happen for forced labour and (to a lesser extent, at least in the UK, according to official statistics) prostitution, so I regard it as unreasonable to claim (in the absence of good evidence) that it never happens anywhere for porn (whereas satanic ritual abuse literally did not exist).

    But to suggest that it is part of the current mainstream, for porn produced in the US or Europe? That is an implausible claim, and therefore requires evidence. I find it extremely significant that no one making the claim has produced anything to back it up (other than vicious emotional responses when asked for numbers).

  52. #52 SC (Salty Current)
    June 7, 2010

    This is a shame for Scienceblogs.

    The motivations and experiences of people who work in porn – a varied and complex field, to be sure – are empirical questions. Why aren’t people taking the time to do research and review the literature on the subject before writing blog posts about it?

    “You cannot deny that much pornography…”? I don’t have to deny it – I can dismiss it as unevidenced assertion. Make a case based on concrete evidence.

  53. #53 History Punk
    June 7, 2010

    Clearly, what we need is some form of fair trade pornography which will ensure that those women who genuinely want to perform in the field can do so, while preventing the exploitation of women.

  54. #54 Jackie
    June 7, 2010

    This is a shame for Scienceblogs.

    The motivations and experiences of people who work in porn – a varied and complex field, to be sure – are empirical questions. Why aren’t people taking the time to do research and review the literature on the subject before writing blog posts about it?

    “You cannot deny that much pornography…”? I don’t have to deny it – I can dismiss it as unevidenced assertion. Make a case based on concrete evidence.

    That’s really the impression I’ve gotten out of this whole discussion. It’s a bunch of people making assertions, having no evidence to back it up, then being condescending to anyone who’s skeptical. Nobody, on either side, has presented one scientific study or objective string of logic to back up their point. I’m just enjoying staring at the train wreck.

    And it looks like Jason deleted his blog post. What’s up with that?

  55. #55 Wyman
    June 7, 2010

    The poor guy made a post looking at scientific studies concerning pornography consumption and people accused him of supporting sex slavery. I don’t think it is very surprising that the post has vanished.

  56. #56 Jackie
    June 7, 2010

    So Jason did have science and then deleted it. Can’t decide if that makes this more or less of a train wreck.

  57. #57 SC (Salty Current)
    June 7, 2010

    And it looks like Jason deleted his blog post.

    Wow.

  58. #58 Andrew G.
    June 8, 2010

    I’ve made relatively few factual claims in this discussion, but anyone wanting references for them has only to ask. (I don’t tend to post links by default since some people have low moderation thresholds.)

  59. #59 MTiffany
    June 8, 2010

    @56: It makes it far more of a train wreck because all he did was give an analysis of someone else’s research. He didn’t inject his views or opinions or make any subjective value judgments (although if some people are to be believed, ahem, it is not possible to make any factual statement about pornography without also making a subjective value judgment — as in “According to an estimate made by Mark Kernes of Adult Video News, the US porn industry had revenues of approximately $6 billion in 2007,” is tantamount to saying “I wholeheartedly endorse the violent sexual exploitation of women.” [Which I don't BTW]).

  60. #60 lwwalker
    June 8, 2010

    This is a shame for Scienceblogs.

    The motivations and experiences of people who work in porn – a varied and complex field, to be sure – are empirical questions. Why aren’t people taking the time to do research and review the literature on the subject before writing blog posts about it?

    “You cannot deny that much pornography…”? I don’t have to deny it – I can dismiss it as unevidenced assertion. Make a case based on concrete evidence.

    That’s really the impression I’ve gotten out of this whole discussion. It’s a bunch of people making assertions, having no evidence to back it up, then being condescending to anyone who’s skeptical. Nobody, on either side, has presented one scientific study or objective string of logic to back up their point. I’m just enjoying staring at the train wreck.

    I’ll blockquote that to save myself re-typing a similar sentiment.

    It seems likely that some women in porn are being exploited, and some of them are being raped, but clearly not all of them are. It also seems likely that there is no surefire way to be sure which of the above you’re looking at.

    I don’t think there’s anything inherently unethical or damaging about porn, but it’s equally clear that tolerating exploitation is unacceptable. The solution, it would seem, is on the law-enforcement side of things. While porn is legal, trafficking, coercion and rape are not. I’d think that activist effort would be better spent on enforcing existing laws, helping women who want to leave the porn industry, etc. than trying to convince people to stop liking porn. People like sex, and often enjoy looking at it — I don’t think eliminating demand is a realistic goal.

  61. #61 Summerspeaker
    June 8, 2010

    I’m pleased to see Jason came out against pornography in the end. In that sense it’s less of a train wreck than it could have been.

    Roxanne, male-only pornography can absolutely be misogynistic. It commonly involves the same sort of gendered hierarchy as male-female porn. One of the dudes assumes the feminine role, which can include explicit verbal and/or physical abuse.

  62. #62 Roxanne
    June 8, 2010

    “Roxanne, male-only pornography can absolutely be misogynistic. It commonly involves the same sort of gendered hierarchy as male-female porn. One of the dudes assumes the feminine role, which can include explicit verbal and/or physical abuse.”

    What do you mean ‘female’ role? By whose definition is that the female role? Some people may see it that way but not all. Clearly you see it that way.
    And what about porn that involves one person masturbating? How the hell are you going to make that always anti-woman?

    That’s the point you are missing. I’m not at all saying porn in never anti-woman. I am merely saying that porn is not by definition hateful of women.

  63. #63 R2
    June 8, 2010

    I think, as has been mentioned by Roxanne before, the question we should as is: Is porn inherently exploitative?

    If the answer is yes, then it should be banned.

    If the answer is no, then it should be regulated to prevent exploitation.

    I think it is the latter (there is amateur porn).

    Maybe I am simplifying it too much, but it seems to me like a good starting point.

    I also don’t think that the question of ‘how many?’ is invalid. By itself, and not the reasons behind why some might ask that question, it can let us see how big the problem is. That can give us information to aid us in figuring out solutions.

    (As has been mentioned before, not all porn includes women, so you can’t say it is inherently misogynistic, though it still can be inherently exploitative.)

  64. #64 SC (Salty Current)
    June 8, 2010

    [Sorry if this is a repost. Hasn't appeared for a while.]

    So Jason did have science and then deleted it. Can’t decide if that makes this more or less of a train wreck.

    Well, he had – under a title that was something like “How bad is porn?” – three studies that appeared to have been chosen fairly randomly. These weren’t contextualized within the vast literature on porn consumption, but in any event he didn’t address production at all. When this became something of a focus in the comments, he acknowledged it only insofar as to say that this wasn’t what his post was about. Yes, that was a problem. He’s superficial and evasive in any case, so I wouldn’t be that surprised if he deliberately deleted the post and comments. Maybe it was an error, though…?

    I’ve made relatively few factual claims in this discussion, but anyone wanting references for them has only to ask. (I don’t tend to post links by default since some people have low moderation thresholds.)

    My comment was directed primarily at the three bloggers, but solid citations on the subject would be appreciated. I’ve worked in areas related to this (not sex and gender, but labor* and migration), and in a few seconds found a book (Sex for Sale) with a chapter on porn actors**, but any scholarly citations would be worthwhile here, I’m sure.

    *By the way, I saw this years ago

    http://www.livenudegirlsunite.com/

    as part of a union benefit (not for them).

    **Most of the chapter can be read on Google books. By no means the authoritative or last word on the subject, or of course fully representative, but it’s something.

  65. #65 R2
    June 8, 2010

    Summerspeak wrote: “Roxanne, male-only pornography can absolutely be misogynistic. It commonly involves the same sort of gendered hierarchy as male-female porn. One of the dudes assumes the feminine role, which can include explicit verbal and/or physical abuse.”

    Ick. That first of all assumes that the bottom is feminine because he is getting penetrated. It ignores the fact that sometimes roles are switched, sometimes there is no penetration, and, as has just been mentioned, that there are solo masturbation scenes.

  66. #66 Siamang
    June 8, 2010

    Wow. I tend not to post my point of view in these, lest I be accused of having an opinion and being male.

    I think that mainstream heterosexual porn is pretty anti feminist. If it’s really all the things folks here are saying about it, I want to know the real facts and statistics so I can argue that point and join the battle to stop it. But Just as an observer of this discussion, I see that one side completely failing to make the point.

    But if I voiced that opinion, I feared i would get attacked. And my gender would be attacked. And somehow by not being a 110% anti porn crusader and hoping to see facts and dialog and data so that I could gain understanding, I would somehow be construed as a man who was stupid, didn’t ‘get it’ didn’t understand, didn’t care, or worse, was anti feminist, anti woman, pro-rape or whatever.

    Which is why I wanted Greta Christina to write on the subject, because she’s far more pro-porn than I’m ever likely to be, but also she has the advantage of not being explained away, attacked or condescended to for being a straight male.

    I’d like to see this subject tackled by people who will bring level heads to it, and skip the sophistry. Who will bring the statistics and data to back their assertions. And who will be able to discuss this like adults, without garbage like, excuse me, the title of this post.

    What a shitty conversation, here on science blogs. One thread closed, one deleted.

    I guess I just man-splained or something, because sharing your opinion while being male is anti-feminist or something.

  67. #67 Mike Mike
    June 8, 2010

    I, like some of the other commentators, am a bit miffed by the pseudo-scientific psychoanalytical theories that people are trying to pass of as evidence that pornography harms people. We don’t have to talk about metaphorical scripts or (what almost always seem to be thinly veiled sexist comments) arguments about how men or women would feel in certain situations to talk about pornography causing harm. We need to somewhat objectively define harm (say, in terms of measurable changes in attitudes, bodily harm, monetary loss, etc.) and then get around to quantifying it.

    That said, the psychobabblers have got the right goal, but totally irrelevant methods (this includes Zuska, whose post doesn’t appear to do much besides muddy the waters of this already difficult-to-be-bipartisan-about debate.) You don’t need to use inflammatory rhetoric to point out how much porn harms people (this is one of the reasons I disliked Dworkin’s writings so much) because the data on it can speak for themselves. Furthermore, if we (being scientifically-minded anti-porners) try to speak too much for the data, we’ll end up radicalizing ourselves and become much easier to ignore.

    I think it’s an interesting issue, in terms of political theory. Can we outlaw something because it often happens to involve an illegal act, even if it doesn’t necessarily, and we already have laws against the specific illegal acts it causes? Could we license pornography-makers, the way we license gun owners? I draw this parallel because guns, like pornography, often hurt people, but don’t necessarily and have other (presumably valid) reasons for existing besides to hurt people.

    Maybe more poignantly, how are we (as feminists), grounded in a history of fights for liberation in various venues, to justify censoring anything? I am not saying that pornography is not damaging, but only that my knowledge of the feminist movements as being essentially focused on ensuring women’s freedom seems inconsistent with a blanket opposition to pornography, as opposed to an opposition to certain genres or producers of pornography.

  68. #68 Andrew G.
    June 8, 2010

    On the failure of Operation Pentameter 2 to find anyone to prosecute:

    The Guardian, Tuesday 20 October 2009

    On the relative numbers of trafficking victims for sex work vs. forced labour, UK Human Trafficking Center figures for the year ending 31st March 2009 (I didn’t find a full year’s newer figures available yet), see the bottom of page 5 of:

    Statistical Data for Defendants and Victims 01 January 09 to 31st March 2009

    (despite the report date it includes a full year’s worth of data in the relevant table)

    (Remember that the UK legal definition of “trafficking” for sexual purposes (but not for forced labour) does not require coercion or deception – almost any assistance given in travelling to the UK can count.)

  69. #69 Siamang
    June 8, 2010

    Summerspeak, by extension then if I masturbate is it misogynistic because i’m forcing my hand to be the girl?

    Sorry, this discussion has become asinine.

  70. #70 Roxanne
    June 8, 2010

    Summerspeak, I’m not trying to pick on you or anything but to continue my thoughts… If you really have a problem with some male-only porn (or any porn really) because one of the guys is in a ‘submissive’ position (which you call the female position) then you actually have not made an argument against porn, pe se, but you’ve really more or less made an argument against willing adults participating in BDSM sex behaviors in their private lives.

    And I’m sorry to say that I do not think you can tell willing adults that they cannot engage in whatever sexual act they want with each other. You have every right to think such sexual behaviors are bad to do but you have no right to say they can’t to do it and film themselves doing it if they want.

    Also to be clear, I am not really rapidly pro-porn here. Not at all. In fact I have mostly negative views about it. I also do think that too much porn really can have a negative effect on a man’s relationship with his partner.
    But I’m not willing to utterly ban porn or say that it is always bad forever and ever.

    You know, you can be anti-porn but still be reasonable enough to admit that a little bit of some kinds of porn are not going to destroy women and feminism.

    And I second Siamang about Greta Christina. I was really hoping she’d comment and she did. I’ll link to her comment again even though someone already did.
    http://scienceblogs.com/thusspakezuska/2010/06/science_fail.php#comment-2570190

    I’d like to link to another post she made on Blowfish Blog but I don’t know if the moderation will allow it. But you can search of the blog post entitled “Porn, Social Criticism, and the Marginalization of Kink”.

  71. #71 Andrew G.
    June 8, 2010

    Incidentally, on the subject of trafficked women working in porn, I have failed to turn up any official stats at all, since every official report on the subject I can find seems to lump all forms of “sexual exploitation” into one category, while implying in discussion that this consists of prostitution (adult and child) and child pornography, with adult pornography not getting any mention.

  72. #72 Jackie
    June 8, 2010

    I guess I just man-splained or something, because sharing your opinion while being male is anti-feminist or something.

    Here’s a fun and educational experiment you can try at home! Go to a blog post about gender issues. Make the same argument three times: once under a male name, once under a female name, and once under an ambiguous name like Sam or Pat. Make sure the argument is objective and not colored by personal experience. And make sure you word each comment differently, and use three different computers so the blogger can’t follow your IP address and ban you for sock puppetry. See how people respond to each of your personas. Then see who the real sexists are.

  73. #73 Roxanne
    June 8, 2010

    Jackie, no. Just no. I am not sure about the other posters but I am not a man pretending to be a woman. I am not Siamang pretending to be Roxanne. I am Roxanne (screen name on Scienceblogs) and I am a woman from Florida. I do not know anything about Siamang.

    You are being very disingenuous and frankly calling other women sexist because they do not quite share your opinions on matters of feminism and porn is just plain stupid. It is also stupid to assume that I must really be a man and I’m not really being a True Feminist and I’ve freaking had it. I’ve been cordial and nice but you are pushing it.

    Instead of actually arguing against anything anyone said in the comments, including mine, you go right for the emotional ‘man-splaining’ comment of Siamang and just make a bunch of non-sequiters and false accusations instead of, you know, adding anything relevant to the discussion. I am only reiterating the same arguments some others have made because they are correct.

  74. #74 hibob
    June 8, 2010

    PalMD: So was Susie Bright young , naive, or suffering a bit from the incredulity of privilege back when she started writing responses to Dworkin and MacKinnon’s views on porn? If you’re going to go back 25 years, she’s an important part of the literature.

  75. #75 Jackie
    June 8, 2010

    What the hell are you talking about? I never accused you of being a man. I wasn’t even talking about you. I was just talking about the general trend that men’s opinions are never taken seriously in conversations about feminism, regardless of what those opinions actually are. Seriously, it had nothing to do with any specific person, including you.

  76. #76 Roxanne
    June 8, 2010

    Oh, freaking frak. Frickity frak. Sorry Jackie,sorry. So many people who disagree with me tend to go around saying I must be a man in secret, that I jumped the gun with your comment. (No posting after 2AM anymore for me). I thought you were actually saying Siamang was going round pretending to be other people or a woman.

    Which, you weren’t. You were actually saying to literally try that posting under different names experiment to see how others responded to the same thing being said by different people. Yeah. I see that now.
    Again no more wine and late night posting for me. Causes stupidity clearly.

  77. #77 History Punk
    June 8, 2010

    @ #20

    Privileged people who don’t realize how privileged they are constantly lose their shit when they’re confronted with facts that don’t jibe with their self interest

    I have found that allegedly non-privileged people “lose their shit” when confronted with the fact that they are making stuff up. :)

  78. #78 V. infernalis
    June 8, 2010

    It’s a shameful day on ScienceBlogs when a contributor (Jason) effectively gets shamed into self-censorship by some sort of Puritan witch-hunt.

    Way to promote free inquiry and open discourse guys (and ladies).

  79. #79 Jackie
    June 8, 2010

    No hard feelings, Roxanne, mistakes happen. I should be getting to sleep as well.

  80. #80 Roxanne
    June 8, 2010

    Yeah, Jackie thanks. Nighty night!

  81. #81 Bob O'H
    June 8, 2010

    MarkCC @20 –

    (a) Why absolutely certain [that it is not "Zuska's rhetoric" that causes men to lose their shit]? Experience. I’ve seen this over and over again, for years, in many different contexts. Privileged people who don’t realize how privileged they are constantly lose their shit when they’re confronted with facts that don’t jibe with their self interest.

    You don’t present any evidence specific to Zuska or Jason – just prior knowledge. People lose their shit for all sorts of reasons, not just because they feel their privilege threatened. Sometimes they lose their shit because someone starts shouting at them.

    (b) Difference between comments on Zuska vs Jason’s posts? Jason is a man; Zuska is a woman. Once again – I’ve seen this over and over again; woman dares to tell a man that he’s full of shit? People go absolutely batshit crazy.

    Again, you ignore any other explanation. Here’s how I see it: Jason didn’t go batshit crazy in his post, so people didn’t respond in kind. Zuska did – her post is little more than aggressive snark. She set the tone with the post, so it’s no surprise if people felt they could respond in kind.

  82. #82 Brian
    June 8, 2010

    Pal, this was a point I was trying to make with Zuska before the overwhelming choir of porn=empowerment drowned me out. Asking the question of “does porn lead to sexual aggression/violence?” is important even in the absence of the question “is porn made by sexual violence?”

    Because porn is not going away. Ever. And the prerequisite of reading the last 50 years of feminist sex-positive/negative, empowerment/exploitation stylings on porn has nothing to do with this issue. If porn were made perfect tomorrow: enthusiastic women demonstrating their empowered sexuality on film, the issue of porn consumption and sexual aggression would still stand.

  83. #83 Brian
    June 8, 2010

    Now, when I said “absence” I of course meant “presence”. Sorry.

  84. #84 Roxanne
    June 8, 2010

    Does porn lead to violence, Brian? I’m not completely sure. It is an important question. It is true that most victims of sexual violence are women and most of the aggressors are men. That’s just what the crime statistics show.

    But another thought to ponder while asking that question is to keep in mind that various polls on porn watching have shown that anywhere between 85% to 95% of men do watch porn. And I do not think that 90% of all men (at least in the US) are going around sexually assaulting women in either a physical or emotional way. And also important is that in those same polls a decent percentage of women also watch porn and that number seems to be on the rise (although I think some of those women have always been watching porn but many of them may have been ashamed to admit it).

    However, having said that I do think that many, many men at the very least may treat women like they are less of a person perhaps in part because of the messages that porn can often convey. And I also wonder about the affects on women.

    Oh and just for general knowledge I do not quite agree with some women who see porn as empowerment. I mean, I understand why some women feel that way but I’m not entirely sold on the idea.

    Again let me say I am not a huge huge fan of porn. I merely do not think that a total and complete ban on willing adults having sex on film (no matter how risky it may be to their physical and mental health) should be illegal. I really cannot come up with a good argument for banning it. I just can’t. So long as the people involved are willingly doing it so be it. I do not like prostitution at all but just like with porn I cannot come up with a reason for its illegality. But I can come up with plenty of reasons why they are both bad for society.

    There are plenty of things in culture and entertainment that are bad for our society but we don’t ban all of them. I think things like Sex and the City has done more than porn ever could to perpetuate some odd stereotypes of women but I wouldn’t ban it. A lot of people think religion is to blame for all the ills of society but we are not going to ban all religion.

    The legality of porn is a different issue from ‘is it bad for our culture?’ (But they are related questions of course). And all I’m saying is porn bad or good should probably not be completely 100% illegal with no exceptions.

  85. #85 Roxanne
    June 8, 2010

    last sentence was worded a little odd. I meant to say that whether porn is good or not does not strictly matter to its legality and it should not be always illegal 100% of time.

  86. #86 History Punk
    June 8, 2010

    Before we all get to invested in this conversation, keep in mind that these cost-free women’s rights themed posts are as deep as PalMD’s committment to women’s rights gets. You might also have guessed this from the fact that palmd’s posts on this theme are generally tag along posts that follow in the wake of his female blog buddies like Isis or Zuska.

    Now, if PalMD really wanted to advance women’s rights, he’d roll down to the nearest recruitment station, pick a service, sign up, and then proceed to accept, cash, and then spend one of the rather significant enlistment bonuses the US military is handing out to medical professionals these days, and provide PCP care to the men and women righting to repell the mygonists forces trying to reverse tide that might bring Afghani women out of the dark ages with regard to their rights.

    However, signing up for the MIARNG or MIANG requires real work. In addition to spending his enlistment bonus, he’d sacrifice a whole weekend each month along with two weeks each summer serving with his unit. Not to mention a slight risk of being mobilize to Germany or even Iraq or Afghanistan, and an even tinier risk of death or injury. Plus, his liberal chat friends are not yet ready to accept the reality that the US military has become one of the leading advancers of women’s equality on the planet. So, it’d be awarkward to explain.

    Now, maybe I am wrong and PalMD’s bloggings are somehow equal to my friend’s two tours in Afghanistan with regard to advancing women’s rights.

  87. #87 Ed Yong
    June 8, 2010

    I am absolutely certain that it is not “Zuska’s rhetoric” that causes men to lose their shit.

    FWIW, the last time I wrote a post on gender issues that deigned to suggest that sexual objectification of women was an issue, it drew the same kind of denialist comments that these threads are now experiencing. Obviously that’s just a single anecdote, but given that the post was written by a man and was a straight non-inflammatory write-up of a paper, it would support Pal’s “it-ain’t-the-rhetoric” hypothesis.

  88. #88 Anna
    June 8, 2010

    @48 Late but oh well.

    A 1 & 2. The definition of “porn” I use is “material intended to arouse the consumer, often with little artistic merit”. This no matter what medium it is in, whether sound, video, text, comics, and so on. Though I think artsier stuff can be porn too, without detracting from their value as art. This is the definition I first was made aware of, and this is the definition I mainly see in dictionaries (the “of little artistic value” one).
    A 3. A lot of porn does encourage unhealthy attitudes (where unhealthy is defined as contrary to positive psychology, see e.g. Maslow’s work for examples of positive psychology).
    A 4. Banning porn will be extremely unwise and make it more dangerous for people involved, see e.g. The Prohibition in USA for reference. The amount of victims will probably increase. There is not just one alternative to banning everything, though. There are a lot of options.
    A 5. Mixed bag, obviously. It depends on the specific porn, as porn still isn’t a homogenous blob.

    B 1. The definition of the “porn industry” would probably matter to most people. A lot of e.g. Americans would think of the more legit video studios that keep churning out porn after porn (being ignorant of any potentially bad practices the studios might have), and disregard other porn producers as insignificant. I personally have no idea, though I would not be surprised if the majority of video-taped porn made with the intent of being sold, no matter the size of the “company”, is dubious (as in unsafe sex, or maybe even sex slaves and so on). I suspect that sex slaves are more common for prostitution though. But I don’t think banning porn is the answer. Steps need to be taken to decrease the bad and unwanted cases, and to increase the desirable cases.

    B 2. I would claim yes. Sexual arousal is mostly in the head of the participants, so it can be very helpful for not only singles but also partners, in many different kinds of situations.

    B 3. Mixed bag, depends on the kind of porn and the consumer. Someone ignorant taking “unhealthy” new porn at face value does not get the same effect as someone experienced taking the same piece of porn as ridiculous entertainment or example of how disturbingly unreal that porn is.

    TL;DR summary:
    A1. NO.
    A2. Anything produced with the intent of being sexually arousing to the target audience.
    A3. Yes.
    A4. Legal, but with regulated process etc.
    A5. Mixed

    B1. Possibly: not relevant to my points.
    B2. Yes.
    B3. Yes: depends.

    I apologize for mainly re-stating what many others have said and not posting links/references to studies and articles, but I needed to get this off my chest.

  89. #89 Roxanne
    June 8, 2010

    No no, never too late, Anna. I pretty much agree with you. You may have been re-stating some things but you still added to the discussion.

  90. #90 MarkusR
    June 8, 2010

    We men must stop raping our hands! We must stop enforcing our own hands onto our genitalia! And when we have sex with our wifes, we must tie ourselves to the bed, and abstain from any pelvic movements, for our penises are our spears that we use to impale women! If the woman so chooses, they may use our bodies as they see appropriate. We must do this while patiarchy roams free!

    /self-hating sermon.

  91. #91 "GrrlScientist"
    June 8, 2010

    i also read both blog entries and (attempted to) read all the comments. i can see both jason’s and zuska’s points but i think they are not talking to each other at all, instead, they are talking past each other. i also wonder if i’d written such a blog entry if zuska would have reacted the way she did.

  92. #92 ildi
    June 8, 2010

    Jason really did delete his post… on scienceblogs. That’s just wrong.

    He’s young, so he might not be aware of the extensive literature going back at least 25 years, including writings of Dworkin, MacKinnon, and many others. There’s a lot of it, some of which I’ve read, but not for a very long time.

    So, you don’t know the status of the current literature.

    Jason is young and naive, and probably suffers a bit from the incredulity of privilege.

    I’ll bet if you’d tried just a little bit harder, you COULD have been more condescending, old man.

    asking whether or not porn leads to sexual violence glosses over the fact that porn is sexual violence.

    Gotta love this blanket statement with no data to back it up.

    Porn is, from a medical perspective, dangerous work, exposing people to an inordinate number of human pathogens

    A lot of jobs are dangerous work. The most dangerous job for women is working as a convenience store clerk. Convenience store work = violence against women! Let’s ban convenience stores! Do you shop at convenience stores? Why do you hate women?

    But what’s interesting is that in Jason’s piece, all the men jumped to his defense to protect him from the anti-porn feminist commissariat.

    …all the men? None of the women? Let me go check.. Oh, right, I can’t because he deleted it.

    Being impoverished, enslaved by drugs and the people who distribute them

    My heart bleeds for convenience store clerks. We need to stop this major source of violence toward and exploitation of women immediately!

    Here’s my admittedly amateurish interpretation. Zuska is seen as a threat to male dominance and pleasure via their female chattel. The comment section is clear on this.

    Amateurish? No, your inflammatory evidence-free rhetoric seems pretty polished to me.

  93. #93 D. C. Sessions
    June 8, 2010

    I think, as has been mentioned by Roxanne before, the question we should as is: Is porn inherently exploitative?

    If the answer is yes, then it should be banned.

    That doesn’t follow. We can agree that some practices are undesirable without agreeing that banning is better than allowing. The classic discussion relates to recreational drugs, but there are plenty of others (closer to home is prostitution.)

    What fascinates me about these threads is that there have been several voices making that exact point, and they’re totally ignored. Not refuted, not seconded, ignored. I’m not sure what that means, but I find it telling.

  94. #94 Saint Zuska
    June 8, 2010

    This popular sciencblogs meme that Zuska is always right because people react angrily to her is so lame. People react angrily to Zuska because she is an aggressive, bullying, hateful, sadistic person whose blog exists solely to cause the drama she craves. She enjoys insulting, belittling and swearing at people. On the rare occasion someone replies to her in a similarly aggressive tone, she throws a hissy fit worthy of Scarlett O’Hara herself.

    Zuska’s whole purpose in life is to spew vitriol, which people think is justified because she’s a ‘feminist’. But she hates everyone, man or woman or undeclared, who doesn’t share her ideology. Feminists shouldn’t hate other women, even ‘unenlightened’ ones.

    And her whole schtick is so tired. Literally anyone who is able to type ‘I won’t do your work for you’, ‘mansplain’, ‘d00d’ and ‘cookie’ could take over her blog. Her toxic, spooky relationship with her fangirls is just beyond sad. The IKEA thread – where they worked themselves into a tizzy about people in an IKEA commercial supposedly talking to their appliances as if the appliances were black people – was a truly frightening glimpse of a cult of fanatics succumbing to Manson-style ‘folie à plusieurs’. She is not a scientific writer, she is the priestess of a debilitating and unwholesome cult.

  95. #95 Bob O'H
    June 8, 2010

    Ed @ 86 – can you give the link?

    Of course, you realise that I have an n of 2, so I’m up to the level of “data”, not “anecdote”. :-)

  96. #96 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @Andrew G: YOU are the one who, when faced with evidence that there ARE SOME women who are trafficked into sex work, actually made the defense that more are trafficked into simply forced labour. As if the fact that the number sent into forced labour is probably larger than the number sent into sex work made the “trafficked into sex work” problem insignificant!

    You also entirely ignored the point that I made about “how exactly are we supposed to get exact numbers, when the people who do this are in fact taking great pains to conceal the people in question? ~And the fact that, the fact that we have discovered some inevitably means there are more which are undiscovered.

    FFS, don’t try to pretend that you haven’t been answered and you are just being “rational.” You seem to be going to great lengths to avoid admitting that there are ANY women being abused and exploited in this industry, or that it constitutes a serious issue.

    In a more general note, I was also making the point that legalising sex work and regulating hell out of it, including making sure that sex workers of all and any type have legal protections and health protections is probably a better way to tackle abuses than driving it all underground by making it illegal. And incidentally, the greatest abuse I got was by the same people giving Zuska abuse.

  97. #97 Mu
    June 8, 2010

    PalMD, you’re usually so well read and present science based posts. Reading the unusually condescending original posts I thought you just got carried away by Zuska’s writings and the heated discussion, but your comments throughout the thread show you seem to have abandoned any critical analysis for political correctness in this point.
    There are probably countries where the porn industry is dominated by coercion and trafficking. There are also countries where medicine is dominated by witch doctors, homeopaths or acupuncturists. As you won’t demand the abandonment of SBM due to the existence of bad medicine, you can’t advocate the end to all porn solely on the abuses. Unless of course you subscribe to the notion that porn is bad purely because it debased women (even in it’s all male form, that one really made me snicker).

  98. #98 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    …Oh goody, trollboy is here. Our day is complete; what fun could we possibly have had without a thoroughly hateful and vitriolic person complaining about how hateful and vitriolic someone else is?

  99. #99 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    Incidentally, Mu, I think you are flat wrong and don’t think you have tracked this sufficiently, but I was not referring to you in my last post.

  100. #100 Saint Zuska
    June 8, 2010

    Our day is complete; what fun could we possibly have had without a thoroughly hateful and vitriolic person complaining about how hateful and vitriolic someone else is?

    I didn’t start a blog just as an excuse to write screeds against everyone who disagrees with me – Zuska did. Why do fangirls like you act so shocked when someone responds to Zuska in exactly the way Zuska addresses everyone of whom she disapproves? Why can Zuska use whatever tone she likes, but others must address Zuska with reverence? Because, as I said, your relationship to her is an unhealthy one of uncritical worship.

    ‘Trollboy’ is nice, though – almost worthy of Zuska. I like how you’ve decided I’m male – because obviously it would be impossible for a woman to disagree with Her Holiness. You’re very petulant and hateful and volatile, though – you should rise quickly in the ranks of the Zuska organisation.

    I’d point out, too, that this super-erudite conversation started with the comparison of porn-watching to goat-fucking. Don’t act as if you were all sitting around listening to the music of the spheres before I lowered the tone.

  101. #101 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    Uh-huh. You were forced to seek out Zuska’s blog, and then hang around there.

    I don’t need to say anything more about you, trollboy; you speak for yourself well enough. I don’t need to add to it.

  102. #102 Saint Zuska
    June 8, 2010

    Uh-huh. You were forced to seek out Zuska’s blog, and then hang around there.

    Well, did I say I was forced to do anything? No. Everything you say is such a bizarre non-sequitur. It’s like arguing with Salvador Dali.

    I do have the right to respond to Zuska’s vicious attacks on human decency and civil society. Though a political moderate, hate groups of all kinds fascinate me. It’s amazing to be able to see the nascent stages of a group I fully expect to become notorious. I may even get a call from CNN to offer expert commentary when you and other Zuska-ites slaughter a mansplainer (and his running-dog wife and children) and smear the walls with their blood.

    I don’t need to add to it.

    Well, as you don’t have a single original thought in your head, what you have to say is of no interest to anyone. Everything you’ve ever written is either regurgitated Zuska-scripture, or, as here, hysterical defenses of Dear Leader, designed to quell the the frightening awakening of an independent mind and conscience that you feel stirring within you.

    And my name isn’t Trollboy, it’s Saint Zuska. Or are you afraid to take her name in vain?

  103. #103 PalMD
    June 8, 2010

    The fact that you feel free to launch into a hate-filled, personal, misogynistic attack that is in fact a complete non sequitur speaks volumes. Asshat.

  104. #104 Saint Zuska
    June 8, 2010

    misogynistic attack

    Sciencebloggers seem to be under the misapprehension that any disagreement with Zuska is an attack on all women. Zuska is one woman, not all women.

    I can’t imagine why you, a man, would defend her. One can never ingratiate oneself with a person who despises one’s whole sex, anymore than one can make nice with a person who despises one’s whole race or class or nationality.

    And again – why do you support Zuska, whose whole schtick is the constant spewing of vitriol, yet get upset when someone replies to her or her followers in Zuska-like language? Why do some people have special permission to be as nasty as possible? You compared your opponents to goatfuckers, making you almost as bad as Zuska, but you expect deference from others.

    Whatever. Look, enjoy Zuska-Worshiper’s Hour. Let me know when Helter Skelter’s gonna come down, so I can buy a suit for the CNN appearance. Bye, Zuska-lovers!

  105. #105 analytic-feminist
    June 8, 2010

    “He’s young, so he might not be aware of the extensive literature going back at least 25 years, including writings of Dworkin, MacKinnon, and many others. There’s a lot of it, some of which I’ve read, but not for a very long time.”

    It’s totally worth noting that MacKinnon defines pornography as “the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women” (Only Words, 1993, p. 121). So, if you’re going to categorically assert that pornography is violence against women, then going to authors that explicitly beg the question is a great way to do so.

    Anyways, it’s my opinion that Nussbaum is quite a bit more spot on when it comes to sex work in Sex and Social Justice (1999). I don’t find pornography, considered de dicto, to be problematic and supposing that social conventions and regulations for pornography were different I would have little to no issues with the field. As it currently stands there are very serious issues with sex work, and the question of how we should deal with it is an important and complex question that is actively debated in the literature.

    As to the tone of responses to various comments, I think it is also quite telling to look at the responder immediately following Greta Christena in Zuska’s thread, who tells her to go do more research, despite the fact that Greta is a relatively well known commentator, and discussed some of her personal experiences in that very thread.

    I know that “epistemic closure” has been thrown around as a term for the phenomenon where the right closes themselves off to evidence, and as a philosopher, I prefer the term “agnotology”, but whichever term you use, I think it’s fairly safe to say that it describes the reaction from some of Zuska’s supporters and other elements of the feminist blogging community who have weighed in on this (as well as those being critical of Zuska, I too was appalled by some of the comments which were critical of her).

    And to anyone who can help: I have been having difficulty finding statistics on the rates of incidence of coercion in the pornography industry. I think Andrew’s question is a relevant one, and disentangling coercion in pornography from coercion in other aspects of the sex trade is useful in terms of determining how we should act w/ respect to pornography in society.

  106. #106 Annick
    June 8, 2010

    male-only pornography can absolutely be misogynistic. It commonly involves the same sort of gendered hierarchy as male-female porn. One of the dudes assumes the feminine role, which can include explicit verbal and/or physical abuse.

    Ah, the role of women is to be submissive and abused. Got it.

    As a lesbian who enjoys ethically produced porn, (I know because I know the actresses who work for the company,) this sort of garbage from feminists who think that feminism is telling me what to do with my body is as dumb as d00ds who ask whether my wife or I are the man.

  107. #107 Andrew G.
    June 8, 2010

    Luna @95:

    Can’t you tell the difference between factual statements and ethical ones?

  108. #108 Pteryxx
    June 8, 2010

    I do find it interesting that my discussion of this issue has become derailed into a discussion of how people hate a particular hairy-legged feminazi. Hmm…

    Posted by: PalMD #44

    QFT.

    First off, someone can be vitriolic, even insulting, and still be correct in their argument. Or polite and wrong. Zuska’s tone doesn’t in itself invalidate her point of view.

    In fact, her direct response to Jason seems merely blunt, with suggestions, as any commenter would do:
    #2568996

    And yes there are women who disagree, see for instance Greta Christina’s comment:
    #2570190

    But it’s abundantly clear that discussion of pornography is going to be extremely emotionally loaded regardless of who’s doing it or which blog it’s on. PalMD opened up this space for discussion. Can we at least try?

  109. #109 MTiffany
    June 8, 2010

    @103: “Sciencebloggers seem to be under the misapprehension that any disagreement with Zuska is an attack on all women. Zuska is one woman, not all women.

    “Although from the size of her, you could be forgiven for making that mistake.”

    Let’s see – ad hominem, misogynist, and lipophobic! Triple bonus points in Insult Scrabble for me! Woo-hoo!

  110. #110 Andrew G.
    June 8, 2010

    @104: I suspect the comment at Zuska’s immediately responding to Greta’s was an attempt at sarcasm.

  111. #111 Jason G. Goldman
    June 8, 2010

    Yes, I had taken down the post while deciding what to do with it. I’ve decided to re-publish it, stripped of all speculation and editorializing, so all that is left are descriptions and explanations of the studies that were conducted. Also left intact are all of the original comments, though no new comments can be added.

  112. #112 analytic-fem
    June 8, 2010

    @108

    *checks sarcasm detector’s batteries*

    Huh… dead, better get on that.

  113. #113 J. J. Ramsey
    June 8, 2010

    The fact that major police operations failed to turn up actionable crimes is once again asking the wrong question

    skeptifem brought up the question of actionable crimes when she wrote,

    Trafficked women appear in pornography. Women who are high on drugs appear in pornography. Some have notoriously abusive partners who force them into pornography with violence (Linda Lovelace was raped repeatedly this way).

    (The above was quoted in Zuska’s post.) If someone is going to claim that actionable crimes such as trafficking and rape are endemic in the production of porn, then addressing whether that claim holds up is hardly asking the wrong question.

    I wouldn’t want my husband doing porn or becoming a prostitute because I don’t want him fucking other women. Is it really that difficult to understand?

    Do we really think that this woman thinks her husband is chattel? Obviously not, since our society doesn’t have much, if any, history of treating men as sexual chattel subservient to women. Yet her attitudes are obviously understandable, since marriage is typically an exclusive relationship where neither partner is supposed to be having sex with anyone else. Why then should we assume that this statement,

    I wouldn’t want my wife doing porn or becoming a prostitute because I don’t want her fucking other men. Is it really that difficult to understand?

    implies that the one who made it thinks his wife is chattel?

    And how is responding to this claim,

    How many people working in porn are doing so as a result of coercion or trafficking?

    All the women (and children) and probably lots of the men. HTH.

    with incredulity equivalent to saying “I hate you bitchez”? The statements quoted look like the sort of absurd broad-brush generalizations of the fictional straw feminists of right-wingnut fantasies, a.k.a. “feminazis,” and it’s no wonder that the person who objected to such statements had said that they showed that so-called “feminazis” were real after all.

    Here’s my admittedly amateurish interpretation. Zuska is seen as a threat to male dominance and pleasure via their female chattel. The comment section is clear on this. It is full of tortured rationalizations about porn being good and an wonderful thing for you and yours. “Hey, I’m into goat-fucking, and goats sometimes consent, so don’t kill my buzz, bitch!”

    No, mostly, the comments section is full of people calling BS on poorly evidenced claims and strawmen. Zuska is usually pretty good, but this time she acted like PZ Myers on a bad day. I suggest that you actually read what the commenters wrote instead of reading things into them that aren’t there.

  114. #114 Siamang
    June 8, 2010

    Analytic-Fem,

    Thanks for the post. I agree completely with your assessment of the conversation. I’d really like an elevated and serious look at these issues.

    JJ Ramsey, if Zuska acted like PZ Myers on a bad day, then Pal MD acted like Glenn Beck on acid with his “goat-fucker, don’t kill my buzz, bitch” screed.

    I mean, jeez. How could you hope to parody that? It’s so over the top that the top doesn’t exist anymore.

  115. #115 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @Andrew G.:

    Your starting comment on Zuska’s post concluded:

    So claims about women being trafficked to appear in porn or otherwise being coerced require a bit more substantiation than just “Linda Lovelace said so” (especially when for every ex-pornstar claiming to have been coerced there are a dozen claiming the opposite).

    You were lampooned as claiming that it must all be consenting (which in retrospect, DOES look a little like what you were saying).

    You repeated:

    How many people working in porn are doing so as a result of coercion or trafficking?

    People responded to you that [given that there are some] why is the exact number relevant? And

    The question is: can you differentiate between a woman enjoying herself and a woman being forced to pretend to enjoy herself?

    To which you responded

    Can I? I don’t know, because I have no reference for comparison.

    But why do you think that is the question?

    …Then I sent you some links to stories about actual, real, documented trafficked human beings, and said

    Asking if we know exactly how many trafficked women there are, though, is a bit fucking disingenuous considering that the whole point is that the traffickers try to make these women unfindable. The only thing we really have to go on is the testimony and numbers of those found or escaped, which is inevitably going to be much, much lower than the numbers of those who exist.

    To which you responded, merely, and I quote it in its entirety:

    Luna @22: the figures from that second article, especially, support statements from the UKHTC (and its statistics) that trafficking for forced labour outnumbers trafficking for sex work. (In spite of the fact that the legal definitions are much broader for the latter case.)

    To which we must all respond
    SO. THE. FUCK. WHAT.

    The point is, the whole discussion has the appearance of you trying to make out that women being coerced into this, trafficked or abused, is insignificant. If that isn’t what you mean to do, you should be aware that this is very distinctly how it is coming across.

  116. #116 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @J.J. Ramsey, I should hope that you noted that I, among others, took issue with the idea that ALL women in porn were coerced, and I pointed out that many aren’t. And indeed, many of those women have voices of their own, on twitter and blogs among other places. However, I believe the point that was also being made — and ignored — was that some women are coerced, drugged, and raped for porn — and that some is too many. If it’s a few dozen, it’s too many. And I would personally say that there’s more than a few dozen, given the observation that this kind of porn is easily findable, it’s the cheap drek on too many shelves and in a number of places on the web, where you can see obviously-involuntarily-restrained, hurt, obviously-stoned-out-of-their-gourds women. That means that yes, there IS a problem.

    I disagreed vehemently with Cara and I don’t think Zuska handled it well, but you (and Andrew G., and other commenters) really do also seem to be trying to ignore the situation which ignites emotions in the first place.

  117. #117 analytic-feminist
    June 8, 2010

    @113/114

    “I should hope that you noted that I, among others, took issue with the idea that ALL women in porn were coerced, and I pointed out that many aren’t. And indeed, many of those women have voices of their own, on twitter and blogs among other places. However, I believe the point that was also being made — and ignored — was that some women are coerced, drugged, and raped for porn — and that some is too many.”

    Speaking for myself, I agree with this assessment. Any is too many, and we should be looking at what we can/should do to eliminate this. Part of forming appropriate judgments about this sort of thing, however, is gaining more information, and the information that Andrew is looking for I find to be both pertinent and hard to find.

    I find his question relevant because it can help me to determine how best to lobby, for example. Is it major porn studios? Perhaps unionization, inspection and regulation may be the most productive angle to attack the situation. Is the trafficking heavily run at the level of local clubs? Dodgy internet porn run out of the back of vans? The way in which we can work to address this depends on knowing more.

    Finding this sort of thing out is pertinent not only to political action but also for theorizing as an ethicist: knowing more about how trafficking and porn are related can help us make appropriate judgments about how pornography is instantiated in our society.

    I know back-handed rhetorical tricks are the norm on the internet, but at the same point in time, having meaningful dialogue about the issues involves being open, respectful, and not attributing the worst motives.

    And, even if the posters claiming endemic coercion lack such a study, then it seems that such a study would be a good starting place for interdisciplinary feminist work. While I have some other research I’m working on atm, it’s certainly something I’ll keep in mind, especially if there are no definitive studies on this topic.

  118. #118 CW
    June 8, 2010

    wouldn’t want my wife doing porn or becoming a prostitute because I don’t want her fucking other men.

    I have no wish to defend “Paul” but you’re colouring well outside the lines when you equate mutual sexual exclusivity with chattel ownership of people.

  119. #119 DuWayne
    June 8, 2010

    David -

    That is the question men refuse to address, instead freaking out about Zuska’s language and projecting their own emotional reaction onto her. That is the question that is avoided when pornbrains shriek about, “OMG you’re saying ALL PORN IS RAPE! My delicate sensibilities are so offended by such unseemly rhetoric from a mere lady!”

    I would rather appreciate it if you acknowledged that was not what all the men over there were doing. I actually addressed that very issue in every comment I made on either thread. And I was not shrieking, nor was I offended because the claim was being made by a woman, or that it has anything to do with my interest or lackthereof in porn. My personal position on consuming porn is entirely irrelevant.

    My point is that the rhetoric that all porn is rape, is demonstrably false and fosters the same attitude that the patriarchal right used to make laws that punish women and make it easy to exploit them in horrific ways. Read; I have the same goal in mind as the anti-porn contingent, that of reducing to every extent possible, the exploitation of women in porn (and other forms of sex work) and for that matter men as well. I add the latter because while it is rare in hetero porn, exploitation is not at all uncommon in gay porn.

    I have no problem with the idea of people disagreeing with me. I do have a problem with people making claims about my motivations, when I make them quite clear. I am not disagreeing with anyone about the serious problems of exploitation in porn, I am merely disagreeing with the methods they advocate to reduce that exploitation. And the reason disagree, is because the puritanical goal of eliminating pornography is exactly what created this situation in the first place, by pushing teh porn industry into a largely unregulated underworld.

  120. #120 ildi
    June 8, 2010

    I, among others, took issue with the idea that ALL women in porn were coerced, and I pointed out that many aren’t. And indeed, many of those women have voices of their own, on twitter and blogs among other places. However, I believe the point that was also being made — and ignored — was that some women are coerced, drugged, and raped for porn — and that some is too many. If it’s a few dozen, it’s too many.

    Why this absolute standard of some is too many being set for porn, but not for any other occupation such as domestic work or manufacturing?

  121. #121 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @analytic-feminist:

    I also think that finding out where these victimised women are would be a Good Thing. Two things, though — first, given that these are women who are being trafficked, drugged, and raped, and that such things are illegal and prosecutable, the people who are doing it have a very strong vested interest in them NOT being found, especially by people who are not consumers and as such complicit in the action. So getting “exact numbers” isn’t exactly like running a survey down in the Red Light district, which is challenging enough. In fact, given that slavery is still a big issue in many places and ways, there are a number of well-funded and highly-trained organisations of both government and charity flavours trying to get a handle on exact numbers, and even THEY can’t do so, the risk is that you are asking for something impossible to get. Be aware of what you are asking, at least.

    The second thing, I’d like to point out Andrew G.’s opening sally again:

    So claims about women being trafficked to appear in porn or otherwise being coerced require a bit more substantiation than just “Linda Lovelace said so” (especially when for every ex-pornstar claiming to have been coerced there are a dozen claiming the opposite).

    …and his unhelpful comments since that point. He may have raised a valid question, but (1) it was embedded in a lot of “it’s not a significant problem” language, and (2) there was a lack of any substantive or good-faith engagement with what direct answers he DID get. So it’s not simply a matter of “the question being ignored”, there was a reason for some of the responses to him.

  122. #122 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @ildi, seriously? “Some is too many” is too many for any women being raped, drugged, coerced etc. — porn is merely the industry which packages this act as the product, so that the victimisation explicitly continues with every sale. It’s also the specific setting that we were talking about, eh?

  123. #123 Saint Zuska
    June 8, 2010

    @107″Let’s see – ad hominem, misogynist, and lipophobic! Triple bonus points in Insult Scrabble for me! Woo-hoo!”

    Yeah, what’s misogynist about pointing out that Zuska behaves atrociously? She treats others badly, her sex is irrelevant. Men who, without provocation, belittle and swear at and denigrate others are bad, women who also do so are just as bad.

    How is ‘ad hominem’ a relevant point when what I’m complaining about is not her opinions per se, but her presentation of them. It’s precisely her personal style that’s at issue. She has every right to her opinions – I’m asking why they have to be couched in inflammatory, hateful rhetoric of the most shocking and distressing kind.

    Lipophobic is a stupid buzz word, and you should be ashamed of using it. That said, where have I been lipophobic? I haven’t mentioned anyone’s size. Do you just assume that everyone who disagrees with your ideology shares all the same prejudices? ‘All the baddies hate fat women!’ That’s ludicrous.

    I was going to refrain from further comment, but since you decided to libel me by inventing false claims about me, I just wanted to debunk them. The Zuska-ites seem as ready as fundamentalist Christians to lie about their opponents. Fanatics are all the same, aren’t they?

  124. #124 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    Whoops, forgot to close the <i>…

    @DuWayne, I didn’t get the impression that David’s comments were aimed at you. If they were, then I will back you on this one. You were definitely contributing substantively and reasonably.

  125. #125 J. J. Ramsey
    June 8, 2010

    Luna_the_cat: “J.J. Ramsey, I should hope that you noted that I, among others, took issue with the idea that ALL women in porn were coerced, and I pointed out that many aren’t.”

    I definitely noted it, and you count among those who were, as I put it, “calling BS on poorly evidenced claims and strawmen.” I cited Cara’s post because one of the comments that PalMD quoted, the one he summarized as “I hate you bitchez,” was replying to that post of Cara’s. You, of course, replied to it as well, but PalMD wasn’t making a distorted summary of your post.

    Luna_the_cat: “I disagreed vehemently with Cara and I don’t think Zuska handled it well, but you (and Andrew G., and other commenters) really do also seem to be trying to ignore the situation which ignites emotions in the first place.”

    I wasn’t trying to ignore the situation so much as trying to limit my comments on the matter, since I’m not as well-informed as an insider like Greta Christina.

  126. #126 ildi
    June 8, 2010

    any women being raped, drugged, coerced etc. — porn is merely the industry which packages this act as the product, so that the victimisation explicitly continues with every sale. It’s also the specific setting that we were talking about, eh?

    So, you’re using a circular definition of porn a la MacKinnon. What part of the entire universe of porn falls into this category? Why should all types of porn and all methods of porn production be treated the same? It’s this homogenization that I don’t understand.

  127. #127 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @ildi, don’t be a twit and don’t ascribe to me something I didn’t say.

    Porn packages rape as the product when the women are raped. Women who are working as domestic labour and who might be raped in this situation, this is not the case. Jesus wept, do I need to use one-syllable words?

    Find where I’ve claimed that ALL porn is this. Good luck.

  128. #128 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @J.J. Ramsey: fair enough!

    [...sorry for the multiple comment responses. I have a bad habit of hitting "Post" too soon.]

  129. #129 JBC
    June 8, 2010

    The basic facts are that here, on ScienceBlogs, there have been three posts written on this topic. Only one of them, Jason’s, was comprised of empirical findings and associated arguments. He made an attempt at objectivity. The other two posts are irrational vitriol that cite no sources for their claims. Are Pal and Zuska wrong? Maybe, maybe not. We have no way of deciding other than using our own personal biases because they present ZERO evidence for their side. Roxanne and a few others made this point very well. Zuska even went out of her way to call Jason’s post bad science, then promptly went on to write one of the least scientific posts I’ve seen on this blog collective. Truly a disappointing day here at SB.

  130. #130 analytic-feminist
    June 8, 2010

    @ 118

    For what it’s worth, many feminists I know are also politically minded about the trafficking and mistreatment of women in general. So, while porn is the issue at hand today, there is focus on other issues. If you’d like, I can dig up a good paper I read on issues regarding domestic workers. I think it was by Joan Tronto, I don’t happen to have my external with my collection of papers with me.

    Suffice to say, we’re morally outraged in other areas too; there’s a lot to be politically worked up about.

    @119

    I agree that such a study would be difficult to conduct, but I think for major studios/actors it wouldn’t be impossible. And you can work down from there. It’s hardly as if the pornography industry is monolithic, and the working conditions could be substantially different from the 1970s.

    As Annick noted, there is ethically produced porn, so getting an estimate of the number of producers which are committed to ethical standards would also be useful information.

    It may also be worth distinguishing between coercion and trafficking; while trafficking may be difficult to get a handle on, surely it is not impossible (though it may be difficult) to poll actors/actresses anonymously, and while it may seem radical, we should also let actors/actresses speak for themselves on this topic.

    As to his tone, I don’t necessarily get that from the bolded part of his post, though I can see how one can get that. On my part, I take it that the target is the claim that coercion and trafficking is endemic in the porn industry, and not the ethical claim that we ought to be concerned with the current level of trafficking and coercion.

    Not that I really care to press the point about rhetoric. Doing so sweeps the actual ethical issues under the rug, and obscures the really significant parts of the debate over the ethics and reality of sex work.

  131. #131 Andrew G.
    June 8, 2010

    You were lampooned as claiming that it must all be consenting (which in retrospect, DOES look a little like what you were saying).

    It only looks like that if you are TOTALLY BLINDED by your preconceptions.

    What I’m saying is that the claim of widespread non-consent requires ACTUAL EVIDENCE. Since when is the request for evidence to back up a fact claim not a legitimate request? Notice that throughout the whole thread both at Zuska’s and here, NOBODY has supplied ANY evidence regarding the incidence of trafficking or non-consent in porn. All we’ve seen are assertions that it is widespread; without some factual substantiation, those assertions are no more credible than the claim that 70% of the UK’s prostitutes are trafficked.

    Why is the number relevant? I’m not even asking for an exact number, I’m asking for ANY number. Don’t you think the difference between 0.01%, 1%, 50% or whatever matters? Do you think you could (other than in some fantasy world) shut down a multibillion-dollar industry just because one person, somewhere, might have been trafficked into it? What about identifying which parts of the industry (and which countries, especially) are using trafficked workers? Don’t you think that the most effective action to eliminate trafficking and coercion might actually depend on the real facts on the ground?

    For the “no reference for comparison” comment I posted a detailed explanation above. Go read it.

    …Then I sent you some links to stories about actual, real, documented trafficked human beings, and said

    Asking if we know exactly how many trafficked women there are, though, is a bit fucking disingenuous considering that the whole point is that the traffickers try to make these women unfindable. The only thing we really have to go on is the testimony and numbers of those found or escaped, which is inevitably going to be much, much lower than the numbers of those who exist.

    It’s not disingenuous at all. It is ALWAYS legitimate to ask for data to back up a fact claim. The testimony isn’t relevant except to show that the problem really exists, which nobody ever denied; the problem (to which I am trying to draw your attention) is that the attempt to whip up a moral panic over the issue involved wholly speculative numbers; the fact that “traffickers try to make these women unfindable” is not license to simply invent statistics out of whole cloth.

    The trafficking of even a small number of women is a serious problem that must be stopped; nobody doubts that. But it’s not going to be solved by falsely claiming that the number is larger; if anything that’s going to hurt. Don’t you agree that policy based on actual facts is more likely to be successful than policy based on fantasy and speculation?

    To which you responded, merely, and I quote it in its entirety:

    Luna @22: the figures from that second article, especially, support statements from the UKHTC (and its statistics) that trafficking for forced labour outnumbers trafficking for sex work. (In spite of the fact that the legal definitions are much broader for the latter case.)

    Putting a problem into context doesn’t make it any smaller; again, this is a factual statement and not an ethical one.

    The problem of definitions is a serious one. Current UK law conflates voluntary and coerced “victims” in the case of trafficking for sex work, but not for forced labour. This means that the official figures both under-report and over-report the true number of victims.

    Of course, the obvious approach to the problem (legalization, regulation and inspection of brothels) isn’t likely to be politically acceptable (currently in English law, prostitution is legal but brothels are not).

  132. #132 analytic-feminist
    June 8, 2010

    @129 “Of course, the obvious approach to the problem (legalization, regulation and inspection of brothels) isn’t likely to be politically acceptable (currently in English law, prostitution is legal but brothels are not).”

    Hopefully precedent is shifting on this, or at the very least the definition of brothel. Did you follow the recent case involving Claire Finch at all?

  133. #133 lumbercartel
    June 8, 2010

    I have no problem with the idea of people disagreeing with me. I do have a problem with people making claims about my motivations, when I make them quite clear.

    DuWayne, we’re in territory where people routinely misrepresent their motivations, either disingenuously or from lack of self-awareness. Thus you may have been quite clear about what you want people to believe are you motives, but which others are not bound to accept as such.

    I am not disagreeing with anyone about the serious problems of exploitation in porn, I am merely disagreeing with the methods they advocate to reduce that exploitation.

    Once again, these discussions often feature people claiming the purest of motives and shared objectives, only concern over the relative efficacy of different means while actually serving an agenda which is covertly hostile.

    Bottom line: whatever you say you’re trying to do and whatever you claim to be doing with your posts simply can’t be accepted at face value.

  134. #134 Endor
    June 8, 2010

    I,for now, NEVER get sick of the “this young guy deigned to spend three seconds on goggle research so his shallow opinion is totally more accurate the that femnazi who’s been active on this topic of YEARS” argument.

    Nah, no blantant privileged blindness there.

  135. #135 ildi
    June 8, 2010

    Porn packages rape as the product when the women are raped. Women who are working as domestic labour and who might be raped in this situation, this is not the case.

    I’m sure that is a great comfort to the woman who is enslaved as a domestic. Rape is also used as weapon of coercion in an industry that sells sex as a product, we agree on that, but they’re not the same.

  136. #136 MTiffany
    June 8, 2010

    @115 And, even if the posters claiming endemic coercion lack such a study, then it seems that such a study would be a good starting place for interdisciplinary feminist work.

    But the posters claiming endemic coercion don’t need a study. Once you (reasonably) stipulate that even though you don’t believe coercion to be endemic, that some coercion must exist somewhere in the world of pornography (because hey, there are some bad people in this world, and it’s really just a matter of statistics when dealing with billions of people, after all), the feminazis and their supporters spring the first rhetorical trap:

    “Well then if you admit that some women are coerced in porn, then how many is too many?”

    If you say anything other than “none” you are an evil inhuman person, ie, a man with functioning penis (Eeeeek!) So you say “none.” (Again, very reasonable.) So now that we have admitted that some coercion exists, and that even one woman coerced is one woman too many for people of good conscience to tolerate, the feminazis and their supporters in the righteous crusade against porn spring the next rhetorical trap:

    “Well then how can you differentiate between a woman enjoying herself and a woman being forced to pretend to enjoy herself?” (See Luna @113, above)

    Anyone who says that they can tell the difference runs the risk of being branded either a self-hating woman or a predatory rapist man. So to avoid getting tarred and feathered by the angry mob, you have to admit that you can’t tell the difference, at which point the feminazis and their supporters in the righteous crusade against porn claim victory with a grand rhetorical flourish of a logical fallacy of colossal proportions (and chained prepostional phrases!):

    “Since we all admit that some coercion exists in pornography, and no one admits that they can tell the difference between a woman who actually consented to perform and a woman who was coerced, we must therefore assume that all pornography is coerced, otherwise we deny the victims their humanity by denying they exist. Therefore, we must all admit that all porn is coereced and is therefore sexual violence. Next on Oprah!”

    And that is how erstwhile feminists degenerate into feminazis: by resorting to logical fallacies and rhetorical tricks when they can’t stand the thought that someone else might disagree with an opinion critical to the coherence of their world-view, like “all porn is sexual violence.”

    Which it isn’t.

  137. #137 Andrew G.
    June 8, 2010

    @128 and @119:

    Remember that the porn industry operates under strict record-keeping requirements, and therefore detecting trafficking in porn ought to be vastly easier than detecting it in forced labour, much less detecting it in prostitution.

    I’m using the figures for prostitution despite the fact that it’s almost certainly a completely unrelated problem because (a) those are the only figures there are, and (b) for the case of the UK in recent years the figures for prostitution clearly demonstrate the disconnect between the inflated claims driving the moral panic and the actual facts.

  138. #138 MTiffany
    June 8, 2010

    Andrew G. @135 Remember that the porn industry operates under strict record-keeping requirements, and therefore detecting trafficking in porn ought to be vastly easier than detecting it in forced labour, much less detecting it in prostitution.

    LOL. You think the existence of a little thing like Title 18 U.S.C. 2257 (Law requiring record keeping of proof-of-age and identity of pornographic performers) is going to persuade the people we are both (separately) arguing against to check into reality for even the briefest of moments? The “all porn is sexual violence” crowd seems to be entitled to their facts (“just make them up as you go along!”), not just their opinions.

  139. #139 Endor
    June 8, 2010

    And thanks for telling the silly girls what they think, feel, believe and want. Cuz you certainly know better than they do. There’s no need to actually read what they say, just dismiss them out of hand. You’re right, they’re wrong. Automatically.

  140. #140 Endor
    June 8, 2010

    Addendum: it’s deeply satisfying to see Mr. tiffany’s laborious efforts here prove Zuska’s and PalMD’s point so perfectly. If you point out that porn involves trafficking and that one can’t be sure that, by consuming it, they’re not participating in it is FEMNAZIDOM!!!!!boogboogaboogaa!!!

    LOL. Comedy gold. Thanks for that.

  141. #141 Andrew G.
    June 8, 2010

    I,for now, NEVER get sick of the “this young guy deigned to spend three seconds on goggle research so his shallow opinion is totally more accurate the that femnazi who’s been active on this topic of YEARS” argument.

    Nah, no blantant privileged blindness there.

    That’s easily fixed, just CITE THE RESEARCH.

  142. #142 MTiffany
    June 8, 2010

    @138, I just want to be clear Endor, you actually believe that:

    Since we all admit that some coercion exists in pornography, and no one admits that they can tell the difference between a woman who actually consented to perform and a woman who was coerced, we must therefore assume that all pornography is coerced, otherwise we deny the victims their humanity by denying they exist. Therefore, we must all admit that all porn is coereced and is therefore sexual violence.

    is a logically valid argument?

    Yes or no?

  143. #143 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @Andrew G.:

    It is legitimate to ask whether coercion/rape in the making of porn is common, and how much so. What I’ve been trying to point out is that realistically you are NOT going to get an exact number. Even the numbers on straight forced-labour slavery aren’t exact because of efforts to conceal the principle victims and keep them away from authorities. What you are asking for is something which you may simply not be able to get, but that is not a reason to discount the whole possibility of a problem. I will refer you to the anecdote in the middle of Skeptifem’s comment here; I will add, yes, this is anecdote, not data. I know what she’s talking about, though. Encountered it myself. It is really, honestly, not hard to find. Have found it on the web, when I was researching, years ago — photos of women up as porn, women whose look was not “I’m an actor playing desperation”, more “I’ve been drugged and please, someone, anyone, help me” — it’s a desperation that is hard to fake. And anyone who thinks it ISN’T out there is out of their minds and hasn’t looked very hard. (No, I am not going to try to link.) Anecdote, not hard data — but the fact that it DOES exist, and examples of it can be found in sleazy stores and websites without a huge amount of difficulty, means that it can’t exactly be vanishingly rare, either, logically.

    Am I saying most porn is like that, no. Because I don’t have evidence for that. Some porn is. It isn’t that rare. There is, of course, a great deal of higher-quality porn as well, and as I absolutely agree, a large number of people in it voluntarily. Can’t tar them all with the brush. But it’s not exactly a sheltered position of high naivety that I’m posting from here, there’s plenty of the nasty shit out there.

    And, if you seriously think that a legal requirement to have age and health records for porn actors means that the records are all accurate, that all porn producers ACTUALLY comply, then you are engaging in some seriously delusional wishful thinking. Yes, I approve of that act. Yes, it helps curb some of the worst abuses. No, it doesn’t prevent them. Nor does it tackle the underground real-rape stuff. There is not nearly ENOUGH openness, regulation, and legal resource to tackle the problem areas.

  144. #144 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    As I do not want to reinvent the wheel, I’m linking this:
    http://feminazi.wordpress.com/2007/12/29/porn-statistics-and-research/

    Not all these studies address this issue directly. Many do. Among these are studies which document the question, does consumption of porn affect perception of women negatively — and obviously depending on the porn, sadly the answer can be yes.

    I will also point out http://www.sagesf.org/ — this is in the US, not the UK, but it is an organisation founded for survivors, by survivors, and I believe that some of the people they have helped include trafficked women who were used for porn. I shall write to them for information regarding that.

  145. #145 ildi
    June 8, 2010

    What I’ve been trying to point out is that realistically you are NOT going to get an exact number.

    um, no you haven’t. You’ve been accusing Andrew of

    going to great lengths to avoid admitting that there are ANY women being abused and exploited in this industry, or that it constitutes a serious issue.

  146. #146 MarkusR
    June 8, 2010

    In 40-year old virgin the gf looses it when she finds the big box of porn at his apartment.

    Why?

  147. #147 D. C. Sessions
    June 8, 2010

    I have no problem with the idea of people disagreeing with me. I do have a problem with people making claims about my motivations, when I make them quite clear.

    DuWayne, we’re in territory where people routinely misrepresent their motivations, either disingenuously or from lack of self-awareness. Thus you may have been quite clear about what you want people to believe are you motives, but which others are not bound to accept as such.

    I am not disagreeing with anyone about the serious problems of exploitation in porn, I am merely disagreeing with the methods they advocate to reduce that exploitation.

    Once again, these discussion often feature people claiming the purest of motives and shared objectives, only concern over the relative efficacy of different means while actually serving an agenda which is covertly hostile.

    Bottom line: whatever you say you’re trying to do and whatever you claim to be doing with your posts simply can’t be accepted at face value.

  148. #148 Tale
    June 8, 2010

    I’m seeing two positions against porn in these discussions.
    1) “Porn is violence.” This one seems to imply that all negatives in the creation of porn apply to all porn. They all rape, drugs, or other forms of coercion. As a blanket generalization presenting an intentionally false premise, I don’t even feel it is worth acknowledging in the debate.

    2) “Some porn is violence, and it’s impossible to tell which is which.” This I will agree with and debate. But what I don’t agree with is the implication that if you don’t know, you should assume the worst for all cases. This is almost FUD. FUD can exist with genuine fact. You could watch porn, but that porn might be rape. It’s just fearmongering around what someone doesn’t know.

    If I have to give up porn because of the possibility of rape and coercion, I have to give up soda because the possibility of murdered union works, I have to give up clothes because of sweat shops, and I have to abandon using cars and plastics not only because of increasing climate change concerns but also because I saw Syriana. I’m not one to support ignorance, but I don’t have the time, patience, or energy to rigorously investigate the backgrounds of every transaction I make to ensure nobody got murdered. It’s a sad state the world is in where there is a possibility that someone got murdered or enslaved for every $5 I spend at the market or online, but it’s the world we live in. I can pick and choose my battles, protesting specific injustices (this porn worker was coerced) instead of generalized ones (all porn workers are coerced or might as well be) or I can run off to the woods to grow my own food while hoping the seeds I bought didn’t come from some wage-slave farm worker.

  149. #149 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @ildi (remind me — why am I bothering to respond to you again?):
    Andrew G. has given the appearance, in many of his postings, of saying “if you can’t give me an exact number then this probably doesn’t exist.”

    I do not get the impression that *you* are particularly trying to deal with this discussion in good faith. If you can’t come up with a substantive contribution, I probably won’t respond to you again.

  150. #150 J. J. Ramsey
    June 8, 2010

    Luna_the_cat, one of the things I noted in that list of porn stats is this:

    12. MALES BELIEVE PORN ACCURATELY DEPICTS AVERAGE WOMEN
    Porn users assume that porn is very similar to real life, and that they can learn useful information about real sex with average women from porn. A survey by the Kinsey Institute found 86 percent of porn users believe porn can be educational. The respondents were 80 percent male.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/porn/etc/surveyres.html

    The headline is misleading, since there is a huge difference between saying that porn is educational in some unspecified fashion (which is what the survey mentions) and saying that it portrays average women (which is what the headline says). If there’s this kind of mistake in an item that I can easily check, I have to wonder about the slant in cases where fact-checking harder to do.

  151. #151 MTiffany
    June 8, 2010

    Luna_the_cat @141 Encountered it myself. It is really, honestly, not hard to find. Have found it on the web, when I was researching, years ago — photos of women up as porn, women whose look was not “I’m an actor playing desperation”, more “I’ve been drugged and please, someone, anyone, help me” — it’s a desperation that is hard to fake. And anyone who thinks it ISN’T out there is out of their minds and hasn’t looked very hard. [Emphasis mine]

    And here we have: @113 The question is: can you differentiate between a woman enjoying herself and a woman being forced to pretend to enjoy herself?

    You can’t argue both sides here. Either women who are coerced into appearing in porn must appear to enjoy it (on pain of pain) or they have a look of “desperation that is hard to fake.” Pick one.

  152. #152 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    J.J. Ramsey: I agree that one is overstated. I suspect it may have been written as it is in light of the earlier entry which pointed to this:
    http://www.dianarussell.com/pornsrole.html [WARNING: that website uses a colour scheme which hurts the eyes!]

    …For other things, well, I’ve promised DuWayne I was going to look up more of a bibliography anyway.

    I’ll have to come back to this, though. I need to go offline for a while.

  153. #153 MTiffany
    June 8, 2010

    @146 If I have to give up porn because of the possibility of rape and coercion, I have to give up soda because the possibility of murdered union works, I have to give up clothes because of sweat shops, and I have to abandon using cars and plastics not only because of increasing climate change concerns but also because I saw Syriana.

    You left out having to give up: computers, cell phones, and every other consumer electronic device which contains transistors made with niobium; because the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/198/40150.html) are funded by the sale of coltan ore (the source of niobium) which is mined through forced labor (and there’s systematic rape to go with it too. Bonus!)

  154. #154 Dave Ruddell
    June 8, 2010

    I’m still hoping this thread will turn to a subject we can all agree is bad; homeopathic porn.

  155. #155 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @MTiffany — are you confusing me with someone else? You are attributing something to me which I have not claimed or, to the best of my knowledge, said anywhere.

  156. #156 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    @MTiffany — oh, wait, I see; in 113 I was quoting a question put to Andrew G., not by me, which he did not give a very satisfactory answer for.

    [Again, sorry for multiple replies.]

  157. #157 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2010

    OMG, just caught this. Shorter Tale:
    “I can’t be bothered to try to tell if my porn is produced by consenting adults! I shouldn’t have to give up my porn if people are being raped for it! Other things could be produced bad ways too and I don’t give THEM up!”

    jeezus, cry me a river. What an excellent example of precisely the kind of entitlement which PalMD mentions as a problem. MTiffany, it’s telling that you approve of this.

    …Right, I’m going offline now.

  158. #158 lwwalker
    June 8, 2010

    Porn is a red herring. Violence and coercion are unacceptable in any setting, and should be opposed on all fronts. Porn is neither necessary nor sufficient to prove violence. If porn is a correlate of violence, we should remove the violence, not castigate everybody who enjoys or makes porn.

    Why aren’t there porn actress unions? Why don’t porn consumers hear about boycotts against specific bad-actors in porn? I’d speculate that the stigma and guilt connected to both porn producers and consumers doesn’t help.

    Also: if you use the term “feminazi” with any degree of seriousness, my mental image of you includes a dunce cap. Just sayin’.

  159. #159 Andrew G.
    June 8, 2010

    It is legitimate to ask whether coercion/rape in the making of porn is common, and how much so. What I’ve been trying to point out is that realistically you are NOT going to get an exact number.

    I’m not asking for an exact number. I’m asking for a number. Any sort of number. That could be official figures for women rescued, or results of any sort of quantitative research, or pretty much anything; the only requirements are (a) an actual number (i.e. not just “some” or “many” or “most” and not just anecdotes), and (b) a source and a methodology.

    What’s so hard about this? Do the numbers not exist? In that case, what justifies the fact claims made by so many people in this thread?

    And yes, the record-keeping requirements really do have an effect. Of course there is no guarantee that the records are 100% accurate and that everybody complies, but anyone producing porn in the US who isn’t keeping them knows perfectly well that it takes only one crusading prosecutor (and how many of those are there in the US?) and they’re stuck with jail terms and massive fines. It’s a lot easier to prosecute someone for record-keeping violations than it is to prosecute them over content, so even companies operating on the edges of legality have a strong incentive to keep them.

    Of course there’s an illegal fringe, but you can’t blame trafficking or non-consent on the illegal producers and then turn around and blame the consumers of mainstream legal porn.

    Plus, you know, numbers?

  160. #160 ildi
    June 8, 2010

    @ildi (remind me — why am I bothering to respond to you again?):
    Andrew G. has given the appearance, in many of his postings, of saying “if you can’t give me an exact number then this probably doesn’t exist.”

    I do not get the impression that *you* are particularly trying to deal with this discussion in good faith. If you can’t come up with a substantive contribution, I probably won’t respond to you again”

    Well, you’re the judge of which comments you wish to address, but you seem very quick to form false impressions, aren’t you? You have been very eager to put words into Andrew’s mouth that I haven’t heard. I’m not sure you would recognize a “good faith” contribution to this thread, since the first substantive one you’ve made is the link to the porn research, which I’m reading now.

    So far, the only relevant one seems to be Zillman and Bryant’s 1982 study that shows massive non-violent porn viewing made the viewers more likely to view rape as a trivial offense, since the other research cited specifically deals with pornography where rape is being depicted, or movies that show sexual assault or violence toward women.

    The results of the Donnerstein study are interesting:

    Subjects who had seen the R-rated movies: (1) rated the victim as significantly more worthless, (2) rated her injury as significantly less severe, and (3) assigned greater blame to her for being raped than did the subjects who had not seen the film. In contrast, these effects were not observed for the X-rated non-violent films [7]. However, the results were much the same for the violent X-rated films, despite the fact that the R-rated material was “much more graphically violent” (Donnerstein, 1985, pp. 12-13).

    So, if you are going to go with a narrow definition of pornography as “depicting sexual violence toward women”, then the data seems to support your contention.

    Interesting, also, that all this research is from the 80s. Nothing more current?

  161. #161 Calli Arcale
    June 8, 2010

    Of course, if we really want to solve the porn problem, we could become like China. Or, more accurately, like Chinese netizens. It’s kind of scary, actually, but one of the earliest examples involved a “crush” film. The actress involved showed her face in the film, as she crushed to death a small animal with her stiletto heel. Outraged netizens quickly worked out her identity, the identity of the cameraman (who was also the film’s producer), where they lived, where they worked in their day jobs, and made their lives utter hell. In the US or Europe, you might wind up the target of a flamewar if you piss off enough Internet users. In China, you may lose your job, your apartment lease, your future employability, and possibly even your life as people take matters into their own hands.

    I do not think that is the right way. Though the first case was just, there is no guarantee others will be, and history does not reflect kindly on vigilante justice, no matter how well organized.

    I think it is incorrect to say that porn is always demeaning to women, or that no female porn workers are ever willing. What disturbs me the most about that sort of argument is not only that it ignores homosexual and “solitary” porn (as mentioned earlier in this thread) but also that it assumes men are always willing in pornography and never exploited. This is patently false. Women and men alike are exploited by shady porn producers (which, I suspect, is a very large percentage of porn producers). Some argue that men have to be willing in order to achieve erection, but this is not entirely true. They may just be trying their damndest to visualize someone they’d rather be with, and forget about the gambling debts or drug problem that drove them to this “solution”. And they, too, can wind up with serious problems.

    Anybody catch the news about the male porn star who took a prop sword, killed a co-worker, wounded two more, and then ran off. Police cornered him by a cliff, but he jumped to his death. Could be connected to the fact that he was working in porn, or just another workplace massacre; those things do happen. But there’s at least one male sex worker who was evidently not happy with his job.

    I would suggest that a very large percentage of porn is degrading — not just to women, but to other people in general. This is not a problem unique to porn, though. Slasher flicks are often degrading as well, yet they do not receive the same criticism simply because they seldom depict sexual intercourse, saving them from an NC-17 rating. There is also a great deal of material out there which is not merely misogynistic but misanthropic in general; should we ban that?

    I am also disturbed by the tendency to define porn as erotic films of little artistic merit. “Artistic merit” is an impossible standard to define. One man’s art is another man’s trash, after all. I was forced to read James Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” in high school; I despised it. I thought it had very little artistic value. But most literary types disagree with me, and it is widely considered an important piece of literature, so obviously this is something subjective. Also, there is a long-standing acceptance of films with no artistic value which aren’t sexually explicit but are instead explicit about other things, such as violence.

    I believe that no violence towards women or men is acceptable. Sexual violence is particularly bad, as is forced labor of all kinds. But that does not mean I think porn should be banned, mostly because I have very little confidence that banning it will actually do anything at all to solve the real problems.

    Neil Gaiman has written some interesting things on the subject, though he was talking not about filmed pornography but about manga (Japanese comic books). That raises an interesting question — porn in comic or animated form does not use real actors, so one cannot ban it on the argument that there are performers being exploited. Yet a gentleman coming home from Japan had his luggage seized and found himself charged with child pornography because of the explicit manga in his suitcase. That raises entirely new questions by removing the direct exploitation element.

  162. #162 Andrew G.
    June 8, 2010

    Luna @142: I’m not seeing anything at that “porn statistics and research” link you posted which addresses the production side rather than the consumption side.

  163. #163 Passerby
    June 8, 2010

    Porn is a self-gratification tool. Maybe Jason is naive, but he did try to make what I thought was a valid point on the continuum of motives by porn purchasing public.

    I’ve never bought or sought out porn and was shocked to hear a straight-laced engineering colleague (a woman in her late 30s) admit to regularly renting porn videos to view with her husband. She said it improved their sex life, which I guess it might, from a clinical standpoint, if it maybe increased spontaneity and willingness to try new positions. I didn’t ask for an elaboration of her reasoning.

    (I’m hoping Dave won’t point to this as ‘homeopathic porn’.)

    Like any self-gratification tool, there is plenty of opportunity for abuse.

    On the other end of the porn user spectrum are sex addicts, who combine visual stimulation with other sensory tweeks, like pain and violence, maybe because they develop an unusually high threshold for pleasure activity with a very short-lived feel-good hormone release feedback loop. In some, in must escalate to a point of requiring violence. Maybe there comes a point when accompanying sex isn’t even required to get a sexual rush – just the violence, please.

    This is not an topic I’ve thought about much. There is obviously a large supply of women willing to work in the porn and prostitution pay-for-sex trade. It’s easy work but does have a substantial risk factor, as PalMD noted in his opener. It would make sense that women in porn industry who are willing to work on the edge, pandering to demand for various perversions, would make more money.

    There are a lot of photographers who walk an interesting line, plying a trade that promises to produce high-quality portfolios for young teenage model wannabes. What they do is to encourage…demi- or full-nudity and suggestive posturing in their naive clientele. They sell these images to the soft porn trade. Since they are charging these women for a seemingly legit purpose and selling their images without consent, this is probably the least dangerous of the possible range of abusive aspects of the porn trade, from the production (not user) side.

    Another Blog, Confessions of a Science Librarian, had a recent post that listed interesting books, including one that presented a theory of cognitive surplus (attributed to a postwar suburbanism, an excess of time, energy and intellect – although I suspect money could be readily substituted for intellect).

    Excess metabolic energy (high energy, nutrient poor diet) carries a lot of cellular baggage. Some of that baggage may complicate the chemistry of self-gratification and maybe set the stage for multiple addictions, purportedly from interacting feedback responses.

    In many, it causes either nerve or circulatory complications that may cause sexual dysfunction, and too could promote those affected – usually men – to purchase porn as a surrogate to problematic sexual relations with partners.

    We are also carrying a lot of people on this planet, and niche markets that are now global thanks to the web (like porn) can reach a large user pool are easily developed and plied. The darker elements, borderline to overt criminal activity, do not care a whit who they use to ply their trade of instant-gratification-for-sale, be it drugs, sex, or any combinations thereof.

    Are women and children used against their will, maybe drugged? Yeah, some of them but others aren’t drugged, but are coerced by the money that they may need to feed families. Are they subjected to violence? Well yeah, right again…some against their will and some wiling to do it for incentive pay.

    This porn strikes me a case of too much. Too much self-gratification in lieu of genuine living, too much food, too much expectation and seeking of quick pleasure for money. Too many people to support by legitimate means also equates for lots of opportunity to fulfill whatever needs are drummed up to promote business.

    There is MUCH more of this dark stuff going on than the authorities can possibly control. Here again, there is opportunity for corruption of officials, who will look the other way when the price is right.

    But the bottom line is, none of this can exist without substantial demand from the user pool and substantial supply of willing and able bodies to be used by the producer pool.

  164. #164 Rogue Epidemiologist
    June 8, 2010

    Sorry I’m late to the party since this is a topic I care about…

    @53 History Punk

    Clearly, what we need is some form of fair trade pornography which will ensure that those women who genuinely want to perform in the field can do so, while preventing the exploitation of women.

    It does exist. Check out Femmerotic. It’s 18+, so I’d rather not post the link.

    @hibob
    Glad you mentioned Susie Bright. I would include Annie Sprinkle and Heather Corinna among sex-positive writers and activists. And maybe Violet Blue, too.

    @60 Summerspeaker

    Roxanne, male-only pornography can absolutely be misogynistic. It commonly involves the same sort of gendered hierarchy as male-female porn. One of the dudes assumes the feminine role, which can include explicit verbal and/or physical abuse.

    And the term to use here is heterosexist. When you are dealing with same-sex couplings, there is NOT always a “male type” and a “female type.” Not only does that imply that women are inherently incapable of being anything but submissive, but it also contradicts the ability for a receptive partner to be dominant. Bollocks, plain and simple. Oh, and a lot of same-sex couples really hate when you imply that one of them has to be the one wearing the pants.

    @105 Annick

    As a lesbian who enjoys ethically produced porn, (I know because I know the actresses who work for the company,) this sort of garbage from feminists who think that feminism is telling me what to do with my body is as dumb as d00ds who ask whether my wife or I are the man.

    Case in point. Nice to know I’m not the only person who is as picky about my porn as I am about my organic local produce.

    //

    Again, I am against any pornography that is unethically produced. But I completely disagree with trying to fit consensual sex acts that involve power play and homosexuality into confines of a heterosexual paradigm. Top and bottom, sub and dom do NOT neatly parallel male and female.

    And furthermore, the BDSM community abides by a safe, sane and consensual ethos, often abbreviated SSC. There are plenty of kinksters out there who love what they do, and love who they’re doing it with.

    @156 lwwalker

    Why aren’t there porn actress unions? Why don’t porn consumers hear about boycotts against specific bad-actors in porn? I’d speculate that the stigma and guilt connected to both porn producers and consumers doesn’t help.

    There are some unions out there. But there are also supportive organizations for adult entertainers that aren’t necessarily unions, but are intended to protect members from unfair labor practices. And porn consumers can find out about boycotts and blacklists if they read in the right circles. But these things are definitely not mainstream. You would either have to really look for it online, or live near the San Fernando Valley. The LA Times ran a fascinatingly sickening piece on Joe Francis, the mega-sack-of-douche who started Girls Gone Wild.
    ‘Baby, give me a kiss’ by Claire Hoffman
    This story made me want to punch my computer. These are the guys who deserve our hatred, not the happily married exhibitionist couple who happen to have a webcam that subscribers can tune into.

  165. #165 Rogue Epidemiologist
    June 8, 2010

    @161 Passerby

    On the other end of the porn user spectrum are sex addicts, who combine visual stimulation with other sensory tweeks, like pain and violence, maybe because they develop an unusually high threshold for pleasure activity with a very short-lived feel-good hormone release feedback loop. In some, in must escalate to a point of requiring violence. Maybe there comes a point when accompanying sex isn’t even required to get a sexual rush – just the violence, please.

    whoa whoa WHOA!!! What a leap to conclusions!!!

    Now you’re equating enjoyment of kinky activity to sex addiction??? Are we only allowed missionary position with the lights off now?

    No. Enjoying spanking, whipping, domination, submission, restraints, leather and cuffs is not the same as sexual addiction, nor is impossible to include these things within a binary committed relationship model. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with me if I want to let my husband tie me up once in a while. It’s just how I get my rocks off.

    As for your claims that poor diet might be the etiology of perversion, I’ll have you know a lot of the kinkiest people I know are very fit vegans. Not surprising if you’ve hung around BDSM circles in San Francisco.

  166. #166 DuWayne
    June 8, 2010

    D.C. Sessions -

    Once again, these discussions often feature people claiming the purest of motives and shared objectives, only concern over the relative efficacy of different means while actually serving an agenda which is covertly hostile.

    Bottom line: whatever you say you’re trying to do and whatever you claim to be doing with your posts simply can’t be accepted at face value.

    Fuck you. I love how you just assume that anyone who disagrees with you is fucking lying. Beautiful.

    Of course if you were to actually pay attention to the argument I am making, you might note that it is not an unreasonable one. I am not advocating leaving porn to just wallow in a sordid underworld where all sorts of shit can happen, because there are no mechanisms in place to protect women. Quite the fucking opposite, I am all about bringing it out of that underworld and regulating the living shit out of it.

    Not exactly the argument being made by assholes who think porn is all hunky dory, no changes need be made.

    But if you still aren’t really sure, all one need do is take a gander at my blog. I have advocated this position for a very long time, without any fucking prompting. I am consistent about my position, whether talking about it on my blog or other blogs – including blogs that are advocating for the status quo – not exactly someone being fucking disingenuous.

    Or is it just reasonable to assume that everybody on the internet is lying about their motivations and their positions on anything? Can I then just assume that your motivation, rather than being to improve conditions for women in porn, is to actually make them worse? To simply pass more laws that make porn an even murkier load of bullshit that makes it easier still to exploit and commit acts of violence against women?

    I mean you seem to be advocating a position that is exactly the same as the patriarchal right, who pushed for laws that specifically make it harder on women who get into sex work. So why should I assume that your not just a patriarchal fucking toad?

    Only I don’t assume that, because I am not fucking ridiculous enough to assume, without any fucking evidence, that you are lying to me. I assume that you mean what you say, until you give me some evidence you are lying. Although this little bout of fucking bullshit just cut rather deep into any respect or trust I have had for you in the past. Whether agreeing with you or not, I have always respected you.

    I hope you understand that I have very little respect for you now. It is kind of hard for me to respect anyone who accuses me of lying, when I have no history of lying and when I have a history of admitting and apologizing when I am wrong.

    Fuck you.

  167. #167 DuWayne
    June 8, 2010

    And just to be crystal fucking clear about why I am such a strong advocate for sex workers; I have been a fucking sex worker. I have known a lot of sex workers and have seen the shit that a lot of them have had to put up with and would rather make that shit stop, than foster a climate that just makes it worse.

    Go ahead and accuse me of lying, you just go ahead. Convince me that you have zero credibility.

  168. #168 D. C. Sessions
    June 8, 2010

    DuWayne, I owe you an apology.

    Your comment was just too perfect to illustrate one of the things I hate about some of these discussions, and I took the opportunity to make the point. There’s a reason why I wrote that in passive voice: I wasn’t speaking for myself, but illustrating an all-too-common perspective that I dislike.

    I don’t do sock puppets or I would have used one, but either way it wasn’t fair to you.

    Only I don’t assume that, because I am not fucking ridiculous enough to assume, without any fucking evidence, that you are lying to me. I assume that you mean what you say, until you give me some evidence you are lying. Although this little bout of fucking bullshit just cut rather deep into any respect or trust I have had for you in the past. Whether agreeing with you or not, I have always respected you.

    I hope you understand that I have very little respect for you now. It is kind of hard for me to respect anyone who accuses me of lying, when I have no history of lying and when I have a history of admitting and apologizing when I am wrong.

    About time I started on trying to earn that respect back.

    If you want to take this private, you have my e-mail address (and I know Juniper does.) Or not. But apologies for public offenses should be public.

  169. #169 lwwalker
    June 8, 2010

    @162 Rogue Epidemiologist: Thanks for the reminder. Joe Francis is a perfect example. I had read a little about his exploits in the past, and I wouldn’t touch anything he produced with a 10-foot pole. Good call.

  170. #170 D. C. Sessions
    June 8, 2010

    And just to be crystal fucking clear about why I am such a strong advocate for sex workers; I have been a fucking sex worker. I have known a lot of sex workers and have seen the shit that a lot of them have had to put up with and would rather make that shit stop, than foster a climate that just makes it worse.

    Look ‘way upthread @17. I’m with you there, and the fact that your eminently rational comments elsewhere were so completely ignored in the rush to launch artillery barrages across No Man’s Land is what got me so pissed off.

    NB: I don’t do sock puppets — so in the interests of full disclosure and for those who didn’t notice, “lumbercartel” is one of my standard handles, and the prior comment was thanks to posting fumbles involving PZ’s blog. I own the domain “lumbercartel.com” and have used it on Usenet for years and years — which should tell anyone who wants to bother enough to find my e-mail address.

  171. #171 ildi
    June 8, 2010

    The LA Times ran a fascinatingly sickening piece on Joe Francis, the mega-sack-of-douche who started Girls Gone Wild.

    Wow, he comes across as a serious sociopath.

    The question of why young women participate in Girls Gone Wild or sexting is maybe a better place to start the discussion of porn and how women perceive their role in the control of their own sexuality and what power they gain or lose through being sexual. I guess if we’re going to throw blanket generalizations around, mine would be sex = power.

  172. #172 DuWayne
    June 8, 2010

    I see and understand, thanks for clarifying. I have been dealing with the megastupid in psych class, so my tolerance is down. And there were problems in another class with a creepy stalker dude of 29, keen on an eighteen year old girl. Add to that more writing this semester, than even I am sure I am all that keen on and I am about pulling my hair out.

  173. #173 awoman
    June 8, 2010

    This is not porn, this is erotica, as are many amateur videos and pictures: http://sexisnottheenemy.tumblr.com/
    This is porn, and a man who does not see a problem with it has a problem: http://hotdreamteen.com/
    For those of you who have said you cannot tell the difference between coercion and enjoyment…really?

  174. #174 smaller
    June 8, 2010

    It is really fucking disappointing to see so much misogyny in this thread.

    Thanks for your post, PalMD. It helps to know that some people get it.

  175. The discussion is both fascinating and infuriating. Thanks for being a reliable source of reasonableness.

    Re: insidious harm to women, here’s one more thing I just blogged about where porn makes women self-mutilate. In Australia, female frontal nudity is censored, and producers photoshop out protruding structures like labia minora. Australian women are now seeking labiaplasty to look like the censored images of women they see in porn.

  176. #176 D. C. Sessions
    June 8, 2010

    I see and understand, thanks for clarifying. I have been dealing with the megastupid in psych class, so my tolerance is down. And there were problems in another class with a creepy stalker dude of 29, keen on an eighteen year old girl. Add to that more writing this semester, than even I am sure I am all that keen on and I am about pulling my hair out.

    Blecch. I was out of line anyway, but it looks like the legendary Sessions timing came through again to make sure that the foot inserted in mouth had dogshit on the shoe.

    Let me know if there’s anything I can do. Never hurts to ask.

  177. #177 Roxanne
    June 9, 2010

    You know what I do not get?

    After reading all these comments I still have no one giving me a good reason why porn should be illegal. No reason.
    I ask about its legality (not its morality) only because, unlike other social criticism, porn tends to be the one thing that when critics who are anti-porn attack it they all too often tend to conclude and argue for its out-right banning along with the criticism itself; and I do not think that makes sense.

    Now, there has been a bunch of criticism of porn and its very real negative impacts of which I do not disagree with at all. However there are a lot of negative, sexist things in TV, movies, books, music, etc… yet we don’t freak out to the point where we ban all rap music for the really over the top hateful of women lyrics it often, often conveys. (Personally I find the game Grand Theft Auto to be far more disturbing in its attitude towards violence and women than I find porn to be)

    And as for the porn actors themselves being possibly hurt? Well they are willing adults and I have no right to force another person to do what I think they should with their own bodies.

    And what about the possibility of some women being forced?
    Well allow me to quote from this article: http://www.erosblog.com/2005/10/22/evil-porn-werewolf-enslavers-debunked/

    One of the common mostly-false slams against porn in this era of globalisation is that the performers are mostly coerced sex slaves, or at least impoverished scared young girls with few options. (I’m not making this up as a straw man argument; see, e.g., the Biting Beaver (her term): “You CANNOT know if the girl you are masturbating to is, in reality, a sexual slave from Austria who has a gun pointed at her head just off camera.“)

    Yeah. And you cannot know that the bottle of salad dressing you pour on your salad isn’t full of stale unpasteurized jizz from bored wanking food factory workers, either. But that doesn’t make it likely, or stop you from eating creamy salads. Why not? Because of branding. If you worry about funky jizz in your dressing, you buy a reputable brand from a company you trust, one that’s got white-coated vat inspectors and security cams all over the factory floor. And, if you really worry, you do research. You get a tour of the factory, or (more likely) read the article in Consumer Reports by the reporter who worked there for three days undercover. The point is, you check into it a little bit.

    This is perfectly possible with porn. By way of local example, these issues came up in a peripheral way in this post about real sex in BDSM porn, where a couple of readers suggested in the comments that making such porn was degrading and unsafe for the models, only to be confronted by other readers who were able to vouch for the porn company in question based on personal acquaintance with the models and producers.

    Please read the rest of the article if you are going to comment on the first half of it that I posted here.

  178. #178 IreneD
    June 9, 2010

    @ PalMD: I’m a woman, and Zuska’s tone and rhetorics often infuriate me, even when I can see, intellectually, that she has a point. It’s just that said point is so often buried in straw-men, ad hominem and FUD tactics. Too bad that her allies don’t want to see that.

    Of course, when you, yourself, begin with a big huge straw-man in the very title of your post (characterizing those who disagree with Zuska as some kind of psychopathic thugs: “Porn isn’t violence, and if you try to take it from me I’ll slap you”), you seem to implicitly admit that you have no problems with inherently dishonest tactics if you feel that the end justifies the means.

    Oh, and the science in all this? Still searching.

  179. #179 modus operandi
    June 9, 2010

    You don’t have to have aced Feminism 401…

    As a reminder, a quick summary of the said course:
    “When evidence-free feminist rhetoric fails, the solution is more evidence-free feminist rhetoric”.

  180. #180 MarkusR
    June 9, 2010

    awoman,
    For the most definitions of porn, erotica IS porn.

  181. #181 Ramel
    June 9, 2010

    @MarkusR:
    A lot of people seem to define erotica as “Sexual writings or images I approve of”, and porn as “Sexual writings or images I don’t approve of”. A lack of clearly agreed terms is just one of the recurring flaws in this discussion, you can not have a reasonable and intellegent debate untill you all speak the same language.

  182. #182 DuWayne
    June 9, 2010

    AnthUnderground -

    Re: insidious harm to women, here’s one more thing I just blogged about where porn makes women self-mutilate. In Australia, female frontal nudity is censored, and producers photoshop out protruding structures like labia minora. Australian women are now seeking labiaplasty to look like the censored images of women they see in porn.

    I am rather curious if this law (assuming the law includes the bit about breast sizse – they would be here in the states) has had any significant impact on breast surgery. I definitely see serious problems with laws that require porn to comply with a particular standard, as that just perpetuates social pressures to “normalize” one’s body. Which of course usually = abnormal.

    But I think this is the result of another bad law regarding porn, rather than a problem of porn. These sorts of laws are generally intended portray porn as something dirty, that everyone involved should be ashamed of. In this case it just extends that to imply that the human body is naturally something one should be ashamed of – something that Western culture is pretty damned good at, without laws to back it up.

    The thing is, that same pressure to conform also has a positive balance. People who happen to be aroused by what they perceive to be abnormal interests, can have their desires validated by porn – something that happens a lot. They can even discover that something was missing from their sexuality and their distaste for sex can easily change.

    Markus & Ramel –

    “Erotica” is actually an example of language evolution in action. These days it seems to be used to denote “porn I approve of” by some, while to others referring to more “tasteful” porn – including porn that is all about fetish. Though ultimately I think the distinction between these two concepts is rather fuzzy.

    However, “erotica” has traditionally been used to refer to a literary genre. I don’t actually think that using it to refer to visual porn is a bad thing though. For the most part, it isn’t used to refer seedier and more questionable porn and provides a differentiation between less hostile porn and particularly raunchy porn. It is not particularly useful as a firm differentiation, but that is not the same as useless.

  183. #183 PalMD
    June 9, 2010

    “Erotica” is actually an example of language evolution in action. These days it seems to be used to denote “porn I approve of” by some, while to others referring to more “tasteful” porn – including porn that is all about fetish. Though ultimately I think the distinction between these two concepts is rather fuzzy.

    This I agree with.

  184. DuWayne: I was attempting to point out how pornography can limit our perceptions of normal human variation. I agree that the stupid law is the problem in the example I give, but it does speak to insidious harm.

    Re the positive consequences you argue, I think it’s worth discussing who/how we define boundaries of what attitudes and behaviors we (society) want to promote. Discovering that, say, children are what’s missing and developing a taste for torture is not a net positive.

  185. #185 DuWayne
    June 9, 2010

    Anth Underground –

    I was attempting to point out how pornography can limit our perceptions of normal human variation. I agree that the stupid law is the problem in the example I give, but it does speak to insidious harm.

    A lot of aspects of society do this though. I mean mainstream media creates horrible body image problems. We’re talking about a very strong causal relationship with the most fatal mental health problem, anorexia. Our cultures in general, contribute to untold, unbelievable grievous harm. From neo-Nazi movements, to cults, to anti-vax lunacy – our cultures are rife with untold destructive tendencies.

    Of course our cultures also manage to get things right sometimes. For all the harm caused, our culture of enlightenment has slowly, but inexorably crawled towards improving human rights across the board. Yes, we take steps back, but ultimately are continually moving forward. And our culture even manages to promote great things and great ideas. That is what culture is about.

    So why single out pornography, in this mix of good and bad? Why not also decide that we should also ban mainstream media outlets altogether? After all, they rain far more destruction down on women than porn does. It is from mainstream media that we see the sexualizing of little girls in beauty pageants and the sexualizing or young teens in pop-music.

    And of course we would also need to purge a lot of books as well. It might just be easier to ban those too.

    As far as your boundaries;

    I think that the boundaries that we currently verbalize, but don’t enforce nearly well enough are quite reasonable. Though I am honestly not sure what you mean by “promote.” I don’t think that society has a responsibility to promote anything. I just care about whether we accept consensual sexuality. Not making something illegal doesn’t mean promoting it.

    I am not, for example, asking you to advocate for any fetishes. I will however, jump all over your shit if you start to stigmatize the sexuality of others. Not criticizing people for having consensual sex is not promoting it. My adamant support of people who engage in BDSM for example, doesn’t mean I think more people should try it. I am not into it myself, a factor that ultimately led to the end of a rather long term relationship I was in.

    And of course non-consensual sex isn’t a net positive. But there is a huge difference between advocating for an end to harmful stigmas surrounding consensual sex acts and promoting non-consensual sex. I think that consent should be the main boundary. When it comes to even consensual acts, there should of course be boundaries as to the level of harm people can cause each other – but that isn’t really all that complicated either. Permanent damage is off limits, broken bones and of course murder.

  186. #186 Ramel
    June 9, 2010

    “Erotica” is actually an example of language evolution in action. These days it seems to be used to denote “porn I approve of” by some, while to others referring to more “tasteful” porn – including porn that is all about fetish. Though ultimately I think the distinction between these two concepts is rather fuzzy.

    However, “erotica” has traditionally been used to refer to a literary genre. I don’t actually think that using it to refer to visual porn is a bad thing though. For the most part, it isn’t used to refer seedier and more questionable porn and provides a differentiation between less hostile porn and particularly raunchy porn. It is not particularly useful as a firm differentiation, but that is not the same as useless.

    I generaly agree with what you say, although the distiction between “porn I agree with” and “tasteful” is just as fuzzy as the terms porn and erotica themselves.

    Until people can agree an answer to the question of what is porn debating the effects of porn is problematic.

  187. #187 Ramel
    June 9, 2010

    Oops, blockquote fail… Only the last 2 sentences are mine, the rest was from DuWayne

  188. #188 Kapitano
    June 9, 2010

    scientific literature on pornography…writings of Dworkin, MacKinnon

    I can’t believe you just called Dworkin and MacKinnon ‘scientific’. There’s plenty of good feminists around but these two verge on the deranged.

    Dworkin’s famous book on pornography – which yes, I have read – claimed repeatedly that rape and pornography are literally the same thing. She cherry-picked a small selection of images showing women in bondage, trying to claim they were typical of all male desire everywhere.

    Oh, and she wrote that gay male porn subjugates women by excluding them.

    I trust you know all about the fantasies of being drugged and gangraped that she descended into in later life. This person was neither a good feminist nor a scientist of any description.

  189. #189 Luna_the_cat
    June 9, 2010

    @ildi — if you can’t find the substance, it’s quite frankly because your level of comprehension sucks. Given this, and given that your history is that of tossing out substanceless and unsupported statements pulled from your arse but projecting that onto others, I’m sorry, but I am not interested in spending more time on you. Anyone else wants to talk about papers, THEY can ask.

    @Andrew G.
    First, I did not say that Miss Andrea’s studies dealt with any aspect of production, only consumption. That was for general discussion about the role pornography has in normalising certain views of women.

    On the production side — would you care to tell us what you’ve done to research this? I’ve found several dozen organisations set up by/for victims of trafficking (including S.A.G.E. that I linked to yesterday and the POPPY Project in London, among others) and several other organisations such as CWASU in London and the UNHCR. All of them point out how difficult it is to get solid statistics on the number and “use” of trafficked women, given the efforts made to conceal them from authorities or rescue; all of them have numbers of women they have dealt with, generally numbering a few dozen to a few hundred, with anecdotes of many dozen that they didn’t have access to. There seems to be an overlap between the prostitution that many of these women are used for, and pornography which is either made for “unofficial” distribution or simply to blackmail them with (as in, this will be sent to their families if they try to escape). No, I have not neatly collated these numbers and statistics for you — I have a day job and actual study to attend to, and the searches by themselves took up more time than I could legitimately afford. I ask again, what research have you done?

    Of course, what is far more easily found and quantifiable is the amount of child porn out there. That tends to be definitively and separately recorded where found.

    Now, follow along with me, here.

    There is no doubt that child porn is entirely illegal (and rightly so — and note, I am not in any way suggesting that you condone it) and that the child actors are not and cannot properly be consenting. This makes it very easy to identify as criminal, yes? With adults, you it is possible for people to claim that many identified as “coerced” are in fact consenting, not so with kids. NEVERTHELESS, despite the obviously illegal and nonconsenting nature of the child porn, there is a distressing amount of it out there. And there is also a well-documented link between trafficked children and their use in the sex industry for both prostitution and pornography.

    You appear to be claiming that there is some profound difference between the sexual use of trafficked children, and the sexual use of trafficked women. That despite the numbers of children where there is an overlap between prostitition and coerced pornography, that this situation would somehow not be as prevalent for adults. Would you please explain why? Given that in the case of adults, the people distributing it are in fact LESS likely to face severe penalty, and MORE able to try to claim that the actors are not *really* coerced, why would you consider the situation less conducive to similar usage?

    Further, http://www.crime-research.org had identified a number of websites (some years ago, obviously they are no longer findable under the original identifiers) which advertised “real life slaves” and “real violent rapes” on offer as porn. Images of women who are really being abused — obviously drugged, obviously actually injured, obviously not there for the fun of it — are evident. Now, you seem fixated on having a number, even if it is inaccurate, and you entirely ignore “THIS IS NOT HARD TO FIND, THEREFORE NOT VANISHINGLY RARE” — please explain why you need a number before you seem willing to engage with this as being a genuine and significant problem? Please explain why you do not appear to believe that women already in a situation of sexual coercion are not part of this, given that distribution on the internet offers large and easy profits to the people controlling these women?

    You have claimed that the major video production companies in the US are strongly managed by the statutes requiring records for actors. Believe me, I genuinely am all in favour of that. Tell me, how much of the porn which is produced, bought, and accessed does that account for? How did you determine this?

    Then, of course, there is the fact that the “violent rape” and slavery porn IS easy to find, and it does exactly the kind of normalisation of misogyny and violence to women that has people distraught. Given that there is a general acceptance that portrayals of women in the general media normalise attitudes towards women, what would your argument be that easy availability of such porn doesn’t?? Would it be that “people don’t access that kind of porn unless they already want it”? However, doesn’t it then act as a reinforcer, and do you think that this kind of pornography does not have currency in communities, like amongst certain groups of college-age males, who introduce each other to it?

    I have nothing at all against consenting amateur porn and people showing off their kinks in mutually enjoyable ways, but there effectively IS nothing which distinguishes the product of this and the product of the above, which is precisely one of the things which makes this problematic, as well as the perpetuation of deeply misogynistic attitudes and violent images.

    which leads me to @Roxanne — yes, I read your erosblog.com link. Shame on you if you didn’t spot the glaring logical fallacy in the middle of it. The argument which is being made there is that, because it is possible to search the company producing porn to ensure that it is being made with consenting adults, that means that the majority of available porn is made with consenting adults and NOT coerced actors.

    No.

    That you can check to make sure that you are only getting “good” produced porn, says absolutely nothing about the sources and proportions of consenting or coerced porn actually available.

    And it is meaningless to people like Tale, above, who doesn’t want to have to check. He doesn’t care. Do you think he’s the only one? I don’t. And we know that even obviously coerced and violent porn has a market. So how exactly does the argument presented support the assertion that any prevalence of coerced porn is a myth?

    The problem with saying things like “we can’t define ‘porn’ or quantify this exactly, so how do we know the effects?” is that this makes it easy to rationalise away and downplay the problem. It makes it easy to brush under the rug and not look at too closely, since obviously there is “legitimate” porn out there done with consenting free agents. And that seems to be used as a tactic of saying “well, you’re blowing it all out of proportion. It can’t be that bad.”

    Given the amount of literature on it, it cannot be said that the effect of pornography on attitudes is nonexistent or negligible (contentious, yes; nonexistent, no), and given what numbers we do have and a knowledge of the world and economic forces which rest on sexual coercion of non-free agents, it isn’t logical to say there is negligible coercion of women…I disagree with the “ban everything!” crown vehemently, but the “it’s all/mostly fine” crowd are just as wrong.

  190. #190 Andrew G.
    June 9, 2010

    You appear to be claiming that there is some profound difference between the sexual use of trafficked children, and the sexual use of trafficked women. That despite the numbers of children where there is an overlap between prostitition and coerced pornography, that this situation would somehow not be as prevalent for adults. Would you please explain why? Given that in the case of adults, the people distributing it are in fact LESS likely to face severe penalty, and MORE able to try to claim that the actors are not *really* coerced, why would you consider the situation less conducive to similar usage?

    You’re overlooking the glaringly obvious difference: for legal adult porn there is a large (yes, really) pool of willing talent, and therefore there is no incentive for a producer to commit major felonies just to get performers for what would otherwise be an entirely legal business.

    Child porn on the other hand is already a crime with huge penalties (and rightly so), and any would-be producer can’t exactly advertise for victims and virtually all methods of acquiring victims come with their own serious risks of discovery. In this situation trafficking is an obvious option. Similar arguments go for child prostitution.

    So yes, the difference really is profound and important.

  191. #191 SKM
    June 9, 2010

    Andrew G., I must have misunderstood–are you saying that there is no incentive to use coerced/trafficked women in porn?

  192. #192 Andrew G.
    June 9, 2010

    Further, http://www.crime-research.org had identified a number of websites (some years ago, obviously they are no longer findable under the original identifiers) which advertised “real life slaves” and “real violent rapes” on offer as porn. Images of women who are really being abused — obviously drugged, obviously actually injured, obviously not there for the fun of it — are evident.

    The site referred to in the crime-research.org article here as claiming the “world’s largest collection of real life amateur slaves” still exists under the same domain name (slavefarm dot com, obviously VERY NSFW). Incidentally, that same claim appears in a number of other articles on “violence against women”, so I suspect a bit of copying has been going on somewhere.

    Now, the stuff immediately visible there may well be extreme, and not to my tastes (pain isn’t my thing at all), but I’m well aware that other people have different opinions on that. The fact that someone is bound and subjected to pain does not imply lack of consent, nor is whether they are enjoying it a factor (see, again, the “evil porn werewolves” article).

    If there’s anyone still following the thread who does play in the BDSM world and would like to comment on whether anything depicted on that site would be considered outside the pale, then please do speak up.

    Those reports date from 2005 and the site has apparently been at that domain continuously since 1998. It took me less than half a minute to find out who the operators of the site are; even the average incompetent police department or prosecutor wouldn’t have any trouble doing the same.

  193. #193 Andrew G.
    June 9, 2010

    Andrew G., I must have misunderstood–are you saying that there is no incentive to use coerced/trafficked women in porn?

    The point I was responding to is specifically about trafficked women, and my response is specifically about legal porn produced in the US or Europe.

    Do you think there is such an incentive to use trafficked women? If so, what?

  194. #194 DuWayne
    June 9, 2010

    Ramel -

    I generaly agree with what you say, although the distiction between “porn I agree with” and “tasteful” is just as fuzzy as the terms porn and erotica themselves.

    I actually rather meant all of the terms.

    Until people can agree an answer to the question of what is porn debating the effects of porn is problematic.

    For discussions about the effects of porn, the definition would include anything that also falls under the heading of erotica. All of it is pornographic.

    I am noticing a good deal of really interesting bullshit that I have missed. This in particular was rather clever;

    Roxanne, male-only pornography can absolutely be misogynistic. It commonly involves the same sort of gendered hierarchy as male-female porn. One of the dudes assumes the feminine role, which can include explicit verbal and/or physical abuse.

    Wow – talk about privilege much? If you happen to be around, summerspeaker, why don’t you go explain your gendered understanding of sexuality to some gays or lesbians. I am sure they would love to hear your heteronormative explanation of their sexuality.

    Andrew G. -

    I really think the discussion got thrown out of whack when folks who object to porn took the rhetoric to an extreme. The problem is that there is a lot of exploitation that doesn’t include outright kidnapping. Some of it is even right there on the screen for all to see, completely undeniable.

    For example, take a big trend for internal ejaculation. This is absolutely horrific and extremely dangerous. Especially as there are guys who “top” for a lot of different videos, with a lot of different partners – many of them with women and men. While there are a couple of producers who make these sorts of videos with people who are partners, most of these videos by far, are stranger on stranger. And they are either exploiting young women who honestly don’t know any better (thanks to abstinence only bullshit), women who have a self destructive bent or women who are desperate for the money it pays.

    There is a whole series devoted to 50 guys doing this to a given woman. I don’t care if the women really are entirely consenting, without any sort of bullshit – that is seriously fucked up.

    Then there are women who are drugged out of their skulls. This isn’t particularly rare outside the context of a set of producers who work to make non-exploitative porn. It’s also hard to quantify, because there are a lot of people who just don’t look all that intoxicated. When I was in my heyday of substance abuse, I could be virtually incoherent and unless I actually said something, you wouldn’t know it. Of course not all the women who get really high before doing a scene are not consenting beforehand – many of them probably are. But there are some who agreed to one thing, only to find themselves involved in something else entirely and too fucked up to do anything about it. And even if they did consent before getting fucked up…

    That just implies they might need to get fucked up to actually go through with it. (to be fair, some of them are probably a lot like I used to be and just felt like getting fucked up first, because everything is worth getting fucked up for)

    Of course there are also women who do it out of desperation. I know women who have gotten into sex work for that reason – some, many really, just saw it as another shitty job – but one that paid better than most shit jobs. There were also several who had absolutely no business getting into that shit.

    There are all sorts of nasty acts of sexual violence and exploitation that can happen in porn, that fall short of kidnapping.

  195. #195 Luna_the_cat
    June 9, 2010

    Andrew G.:

    slavefarm is probably legit. What about those which aren’t so obviously so? The rape sites, for example?

    Motivation for using trafficked women: they already exist in prostitution, in large numbers in some countries. They are far cheaper than paying willing actors; profits made from them represent almost pure profit, in fact. Why would the people controlling these women forego an obvious and easy source of profit, especially since the crime itself is far less likely to face prosecution than child porn?

    Why would you get to define porn as “only the legal porn made in the US”? The point of this discussion is “how much of porn which is available and used is the illegal/coerced stuff which harms the people used in it?”

    Why will you not answer more of the questions put to you?

  196. #196 Andrew G.
    June 9, 2010

    Why will you not answer more of the questions put to you?

    Because I’m trying to keep to one major point per comment? I’m still working on some of the other questions.

  197. #197 Andrew G.
    June 9, 2010

    Motivation for using trafficked women: they already exist in prostitution, in large numbers in some countries.

    Prostitution is not where the talent pool for legal porn production generally comes from. Really.

    They are far cheaper than paying willing actors

    Porn performers aren’t paid a huge amount to begin with unless they are big-name stars (and female; males are paid much less). The argument that trafficking victims would be cheaper doesn’t hold up when you’re considering that you’re expecting an otherwise legal business to commit multiple felonies (with penalties that could reach 5 to 15 years per offense, not to mention huge fines) to save something less than $1000 per performance (probably significantly less in some countries). A producer willing to go that far would be better off taking up burglary – the potential jail time would be much less in proportion.

    Why would you get to define porn as “only the legal porn made in the US”?

    Why would you get to smear both the consumers and producers of legal porn with the crimes committed by people who they have no connection to?

    That’s not to say that I’m not still interested in any figures you can come up with (of which I notice there are still none) for the number of coerced or trafficked performers in any area of adult porn.

  198. #198 Andrew G.
    June 9, 2010

    slavefarm is probably legit.

    And you don’t think this calls into question the accuracy of a report supposedly about criminal activities, when a legit site is referenced (without identifying it) as part of a claim of criminal activity?

    What about those which aren’t so obviously so? The rape sites, for example?

    As with the slavefarm reference, the reference in that crime-research.org article to a rape site appears to be drawn unattributed from other sources (in this case a 2002 article in Hastings Women’s Law Journal, “The Use of New Communications and Information Technologies for Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children”). Plus this is talking about a site run from Moscow, which is not exactly the most law-abiding part of the world. The site referenced is gone now and probably was gone before 2005, judging by the domain history, so there’s not much left to investigate.

    (There’s an ongoing problem of Russian organized crime providing a payments channel for various types of illegal activity ranging from prescription drug sites through to illegal porn of all kinds. Look up “Russian Business Network” for an example; note that there’s a lot more to the story than you’ll find in the public sources.)

  199. #199 ildi
    June 9, 2010

    @ildi — if you can’t find the substance, it’s quite frankly because your level of comprehension sucks. Given this, and given that your history is that of tossing out substanceless and unsupported statements pulled from your arse but projecting that onto others, I’m sorry, but I am not interested in spending more time on you. Anyone else wants to talk about papers, THEY can ask.

    Yeah, yeah, the feeling is mutual, honey. I’m not going to waste my time continuing to dissect a link that you obviously pulled out of your ass without bothering to read. Luckily, PubMed had a plethora of much more current review articles on the topic:
    ———-
    Int J Law Psychiatry. 1991;14(1-2):47-64. Pornography and rape: theory and practice? Evidence from crime data in four countries where pornography is easily available. Kutchinsky B. Institute of Criminal Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

    We have looked at the empirical evidence of the well-known feminist dictum: “pornography is the theory–rape is the practice” (Morgan, 1980). While earlier research, notably that generated by the U.S. Commission on Obscenity and Pornography (1970) had found no evidence of a causal link between pornography and rape, a new generation of behavioral scientists have, for more than a decade, made considerable effort to prove such a connection, especially as far as “aggressive pornography” is concerned. The first part of the article examines and discusses the findings of this new research. A number of laboratory experiments have been conducted, much akin to the types of experiments developed by researchers of the effects of nonsexual media violence. As in the latter, a certain degree of increased “aggressiveness” has been found under certain circumstances, but to extrapolate from such laboratory effects to the commission of rape in real life is dubious. Studies of rapists’ and nonrapists’ immediate sexual reactions to presentations of pornography showed generally greater arousal to non-violent scenes, and no difference can be found in this regard between convicted rapists, nonsexual criminals and noncriminal males.

    In the second part of the paper an attempt was made to study the necessary precondition for a substantial causal relationship between the availability of pornography, including aggressive pornography, and rape–namely, that obviously increased availability of such material was followed by an increase in cases of reported rape. The development of rape and attempted rape during the period 1964-1984 was studied in four countries: the U.S.A., Denmark, Sweden and West Germany. In all four countries there is clear and undisputed evidence that during this period the availability of various forms of pictorial pornography including violent/dominant varieties (in the form of picture magazines, and films/videos used at home or shown in arcades or cinemas) has developed from extreme scarcity to relative abundance. If (violent) pornography causes rape, this exceptional development in the availability of (violent) pornography should definitely somehow influence the rape statistics. Since, however, the rape figures could not simply be expected to remain steady during the period in question (when it is well known that most other crimes increased considerably), the development of rape rates was compared with that of non-sexual violent offences and nonviolent sexual offences (in so far as available statistics permitted). The results showed that in none of the countries did rape increase more than nonsexual violent crimes. This finding in itself would seem sufficient to discard the hypothesis that pornography causes rape.
    ———-
    Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1994 Dec;28(4):600-6. To see or not to see: the debate over pornography and its relationship to sexual aggression. Fukui A, Westmore B.

    The role played by pornography in the generation of thoughts, feelings, impulses and behaviours in its viewers has long been a topic of debate and controversy. The uncertainty about its potential effects on human behaviour, especially its relationship to sexual aggression, has stimulated the recent debate with the possibility of tighter censorship laws being implemented throughout this country. A review of the topic from a number of different perspectives fails to establish that pornography in its purely erotic form has any significant detrimental effect on human behaviour. More difficult to determine are its effects on psychological development. If behavioural disturbances do occur following exposure to such material, they occur in the context of an individual who shows more global disturbances of personality. The current debate regarding pornography provides an opportunity to address in a broader social context issues perhaps more significant for our society: the relationships between men and women, and the roles and recognition provided to each of the sexes.
    ———-
    J Sex Res. 2009 Mar-Jun;46(2-3):216-32. The importance of individual differences in pornography use: theoretical perspectives and implications for treating sexual offenders. Kingston DA, Malamuth NM, Fedoroff P, Marshall WL. School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

    This article reviews the extant literature regarding pornography’s influence on antisocial attitudes, sexual arousal, and sexually aggressive behavior in both noncriminal and criminal samples. The article concludes that when examined in the context of multiple, interacting factors, the findings are highly consistent across experimental and nonexperimental studies and across differing populations in showing that pornography use can be a risk factor for sexually aggressive outcomes, principally for men who are high on other risk factors and who use pornography frequently. Finally, this article presents theoretical implications based on these findings, as well as some clinical implications relevant to the assessment and treatment of sexual offenders.
    ———-
    Int J Law Psychiatry. 2009 Sep-Oct;32(5):304-14. Epub 2009 Aug 8. Pornography, public acceptance and sex related crime: a review. Diamond M. University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine, Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry & Physiology, Pacific Center for Sex & Society

    A vocal segment of the population has serious concerns about the effect of pornography in society and challenges its public use and acceptance. This manuscript reviews the major issues associated with the availability of sexually explicit material. It has been found everywhere it was scientifically investigated that as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased. It is further been found that sexual erotica has not only wide spread personal acceptance and use but general tolerance for its availability to adults. This attitude is seen by both men and women and not only in urban communities but also in reputed conservative ones as well. Further this finding holds nationally in the United States and in widely different countries around the world. Indeed, no country where this matter has been scientifically studied has yet been found to think pornography ought be restricted from adults. The only consistent finding is that adults prefer to have the material restricted from children’s production or use.
    ———-
    Aggress Behav. 2010 Jan-Feb;36(1):14-20. Pornography and attitudes supporting violence against women: revisiting the relationship in nonexperimental studies. Hald GM, Malamuth NM, Yuen C. University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA.

    A meta-analysis was conducted to determine whether nonexperimental studies revealed an association between men’s pornography consumption and their attitudes supporting violence against women. The meta-analysis corrected problems with a previously published meta-analysis and added more recent findings. In contrast to the earlier meta-analysis, the current results showed an overall significant positive association between pornography use and attitudes supporting violence against women in nonexperimental studies. In addition, such attitudes were found to correlate significantly higher with the use of sexually violent pornography than with the use of nonviolent pornography, although the latter relationship was also found to be significant. The study resolves what appeared to be a troubling discordance in the literature on pornography and aggressive attitudes by showing that the conclusions from nonexperimental studies in the area are in fact fully consistent with those of their counterpart experimental studies. This finding has important implications for the overall literature on pornography and aggression.
    ———-
    I know, tl;dr

  200. I’m female, and I rather enjoy porn, every now and again.

  201. #201 ildi
    June 9, 2010

    For anyone who is interested in reading full-text articles on the topic, I found these two:

    Emmers-Sommer, T. M., & Burns, R. J. (2005). The relationship between exposure to Internet pornography and sexual attitudes toward women. Journal of Online Behavior, 1 (4).

    and

    Kimberly A. Davies Voluntary exposure to pornography and men’s attitudes toward feminism and rape. Journal of Sex Research, Spring, 1997.

  202. #202 Valerie
    June 10, 2010

    Reporters go into war zones, sometimes for years of their lives and many die. But none go into the porn industry and volunteer to exchange liquids with 25 strange men to be able to write the story with some authority.

    And it’s not like people wouldn’t be interested in that story. It’s just that no reporter will do it.

    That tells me all I need to know about porn.

  203. #203 Cara
    June 10, 2010

    When I view pornographic images and video or read pornographic literature, I look for stuff that is produced humanely (using safer sexual, business and social practices). I prefer porn where the actors use condoms. Heck, I also prefer the actors not be acting (there are real couples who enjoy producing pornography).

    You may not know about this genre of erotica because it is a niche market, but there are pornographers whose works focus on pleasure, consent, safety and artistic merit.

    I submit, again, that this is impossible in the current culture. We just don’t live in that world. It can’t be produced in a vacuum.

    But (despite the multiple ranting accusations to the contrary) I’m not interested in taking it from you or shaming you for liking it. Just saying, we don’t know what that freedom and true consent (for women) look like yet because we’ve never really had them.

    I’m not even saying I’m right, just that I don’t agree. That’s all. And thank you, Pal, for this post.

  204. #204 Cara
    June 10, 2010

    Clearly, what we need is some form of fair trade pornography which will ensure that those women who genuinely want to perform in the field can do so, while preventing the exploitation of women.

    Out of curiosity, History Punk, who is “we”, and why is it “clear” that any commercial porn is “needed”?

  205. #205 Cara
    June 10, 2010

    Why can you not acknowledge the simple fact that asking a factual question (“how many happen?”) does not imply a position on the ethical question (“how many is OK?”)?

    Why can you not acknowledge that you’re playing “technical foul” instead of trying to really discuss the issue?

    You see, this stuff isn’t an intellectual exercise for us. It’s quite literally life and death. Your minimizing and justifying and deciding that hard numbers matter but real people don’t–these are the behaviors that imply that a small enough number would be okay with you.

    Seacrest out. Again, Pal, you’re a jewel.

  206. #206 ildi
    June 10, 2010

    Here’s a good example of why reading the full text of a study is so critical:

    Oddone-Paolucci, E., Genius, M., & Violato, C. (2000). A meta-analysis of published research on the effects of pornography. In C. Violato, E. Oddone-Paolucci, & M. Genius (Eds.), The changing family and child development (pp. 48-59). Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

    Here is the abstract:

    A meta-analysis of 46 published studies was undertaken to determine the effects of pornography on sexual deviancy, sexual perpetration, attitudes regarding intimate relationships, and attitudes regarding the rape myth. Most of the studies were done in the United States (39; 85%) and ranged in date from 1962 to 1995, with 35% (n=16) published between 1990 and 1995, and 33% (n=15) between 1978 and 1983. A total sample size of 12,323 people comprised the present meta-analysis. Effect sizes (d) were computed on each of the dependent variables for studies which were published in an academic journal, had a total sample size of 12 or greater, and included a contrast or comparison group. Average unweighted and weighted d’s for sexual deviancy (.68 and .65 ), sexual perpetration (.67 and .46), intimate relationships (.83 and .40), and the rape myth (.74 and .64) provide clear evidence confirming the link between increased risk for negative development when exposed to pornography. These results suggest that the research in this area can move beyond the question of whether pornography has an influence on violence and family functioning. (emphasis mine)

    Various potentially moderating variables such as gender, socioeconomic status (SES), number of incidents of exposure, relationship of person who introduced pornography to the participant, degree of explicitness, subject of pornography, pornographic medium, and definition of pornography were assessed for each of the studies. The results are discussed in terms of the quality of the pornography research available and the subsequent limitations inherent in the present meta-analysis.

    Here is a summary of their analysis from their full-text article, which does not quite support the summary of their findings in the abstract:

    A number of mediating variables were analyzed individually using univariate analyses, in order to examine the possibility of mediating influences of specific variables on pornography outcome or effect size. Of the total 108 analyses conducted, two moderators were found to be statistically significant: unweighted d of sexual deviancy and gender (F (1,3) = 68.26, p = .004) and average weighted d of rape myth endorsement and definition of pornography (F (1,3) = 18.45, p = .023). Although there may be a gender difference on sexual deviancy outcome as a result of exposure to pornography, and people may be more likely to ascribe to the rape myth when exposed to one type of pornography over another (i.e., mild, erotica, violent), these results may well be a statistical artifact. As the total number of ANOVA’s executed were large, the risk of Type I errors is increased substantially (i.e., the Bonferroni Inequality, .05 H 108 = 5.4; Violato & Russell, 1994). In 108 statistical tests when alpha is set at .05, then, it is probable that six of the tests will emerge significant by chance alone. It is, therefore, prudent to regard these two “significant” results as spurious. The most salient feature of the results summarized in Table 2, is that there are no generally significant effects of the variables on d across all four domains. Still, although none of these identified variables appear to mediate the effect of exposure to pornography on sexual deviancy, sexual perpetration, intimate relationships, and rape myth outcome (emphasis mine), it is recommended that these findings be interpreted with caution. The nonsignificant results may be due more to the lack of information documented in the original studies than to the fact that the variables do not really moderate the relationship between pornography and the specific outcomes examined.

    However, when this article Research on Poronography cites their analysis:

    A meta-analysis of 46 published research studies on the effects of pornography on sexual perpetration, attitudes regarding intimate relationships, and attitudes regarding the rape myth found that exposure to pornographic material puts one at increased risk for committing sexual offenses, experiencing difficulties in one’s intimate relationships, and accepting rape myths (i.e. beliefs that trivialize rape or blame the victim for the crime). Specifically, there is a 22% increase in sexual perpetration; a 20% increase in negative intimate relationships; and a 31% increase in believing rape myths. A total sample size of 12,323 people comprised the present meta-analysis. The studies confirmed the link between increased risk for negative development when exposed to pornography.

    In this article Using Rapist Risk Factors to Set an Agenda for Rape Prevention:

    In a meta-analysis of 46 studies Oddone-Paolucci, Genius, and Violato (2000) determined that exposure to explicit sexual materials (pornography) was moderately correlated with a variety of negative outcomes, including increased sexual perpetration and endorsement of rape myths.

    Hmmm… are they reading the same article I did?

  207. #207 Mu
    June 10, 2010

    are they reading the same article I did

    Who’s reading the actual article? You need to have at least 30 quotations in your publication, and Google Scholar provides that (and the abstracts)in 30 min.

  208. #208 Luna_the_cat
    June 10, 2010

    My response is hung in moderation, probably because of 3 URLs in it. Shorter version: ildi, you still suck at reading comprehension.

    The only thing that the Google link was provided for was to illustrate that there is a lot of literature on the subject. Period. That’s all. PubMed is fine, though, you’re pretty much supporting exactly what I said. Longer discussion when my last comment makes it out of moderation.

    And, in the article you discuss above, there, you completely misunderstand; reading from the bits you have quoted, what they are discussing as appearing to be statistically significant but quite possibly not being, is not any link between pornography exposure and negative development — it is mediating influences on that demonstrated correlation. In other words, gender and type of pornography do not seem to mediate the overall negative affect.

    Um. Are you suffering under the delusion that you understand what you are looking at?

    Points for trying, anyway.

  209. #209 Vicki
    June 10, 2010

    Andrew: I don’t know what percentage of the actors in porn are genuinely consenting, but the argument that producers wouldn’t use trafficked women for economic reasons doesn’t hold up. If it did, it would apply to other basically legal industries: but people are trafficked and put to work in restaurants and clothing factories, even though food and clothing can be sold legally and openly. The predator’s calculation isn’t just a one-time thing, it’s on-going: why pay someone $8/hour to make shirts when they can get someone to pay to be trafficked to a foreign country and put to work in the factory for a fifth of that?

  210. #210 Calli Arcale
    June 10, 2010

    Valerie @ 202:

    Reporters go into war zones, sometimes for years of their lives and many die. But none go into the porn industry and volunteer to exchange liquids with 25 strange men to be able to write the story with some authority.

    Reporters in war zones do not carry weapons and shoot the enemy, drive tanks, fly jets, drop bombs, shell enemy positions, etc. They aren’t expected to act as soldiers, and when things get dicey, they are expected to stay out the way of the actual soldiers. I’m sure you are aware of that.

    So why do you expect reporters to actually perform in pornographic productions in order to accurately report on the sex industry? That’s an absurd double standard.

    It’s also untrue that reporters never cover the sex industry. It’s just *rarely* covered, and this has less to do with the porn industry than it does with the fact that sex is a taboo subject, and porn particularly so. Nobody wants to talk about it, and so reporters don’t often think to investigate it.

    Broadcast standards are also part of it. You can show pictures of people being blown up on the evening news, but not people getting blown, if you catch my drift. But broadcast standards are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

  211. #211 MTiffany
    June 10, 2010

    Just checking back in to the thread… You know what would be nice? It would be nice if everyone that is taking the position that “porn is sexual violence” would just have the decency to admit that they don’t like pornography.
    These absurd arguments for why pornography is bad are just such transparent bullshit.

  212. #212 Luna_the_cat
    June 10, 2010

    No, MTiffany, what is transparent bullshit is the “I like porn, therefore it’s all ok.” What would be nice is if the porn-apologists were capable of dealing with the argument honestly.

  213. #213 Cara
    June 10, 2010

    These absurd arguments for why pornography is bad are just such transparent bullshit.

    Dude. Are those not good enough reasons not to like porn?

    Why would I want to watch someone being hurt? Hell, I don’t even like watching horror movies and I KNOW they’re fake.

  214. #214 ildi
    June 10, 2010

    Sciencedirect has a full text version of Diamond’s article Pornography, public acceptance and sex related crime: A review available:

    6. Attitudes toward women
    It is often proclaimed that exposure to pornography is particularly detrimental regarding attitudes toward women. Indeed, this criticism is often the most often heard from those that oppose pornography and think it should be criminalized. Supposedly pornography particularly desensitizes men to women’s needs and devalues them in general. Part of this is aligned with the idea that “nice” women don’t engage in easy sex and reserve their sexual passions only for those they love; depicting women who deviate from such behavior and attitudes is considered prejudicial and devaluing. Several investigators have studied this matter. Psychologists Padget et al. (1989) compared the attitudes toward women in a sample of patrons of an adult movie theater with a college sample of men and women. Their findings essentially and significantly showed the patrons of an adult movie theater had more favorable attitudes toward women than either male or female college students. In a separate and more extensive set of studies sociologist Reiss (1986) conducted a similar investigation of the matter. Most tellingly he reported on six different National Opinion Research Center annual General Social Surveys that found that those men and women who had seen an X-rated movie in the past year were more gender equal than those who had not seen any. And Reiss in separate research of his own compared men who went to X-rated movies with those who didn’t. He asked these men different questions that gauged their attitudes toward women under different circumstance (attitudes as to women working outside the home; women active on a government political scene, women being emotionally capable in business and industry, etc.) Reiss basically found that those men who went to X-rated movies were significantly more tolerant and accepting of women than those men that didn’t.

    Studies by other investigators, female as well as male, (Barak, Fisher, Belfry, & Lashambe, 1999; L. [Baron, 1990] and [Davies, 1997]) essentially found similarly that there was no detectable relationship of the amount of exposure to pornography and any measure of misogynist attitudes. No researcher or critic has found the opposite, that exposure to pornography – by any definition – has had a cause and effect relationship between exposure to SEM and ill feelings or actions against women. No correlation has even been found between exposure to porn and calloused attitudes toward women. Kimberly Davies who studied this suggests calloused attitudes toward women may not be generated by sexually explicit videos but from features deeply ingrained in our society (Davies, 1997).

    Other research findings argue against exposure to pornographic material fostering negative attitudes toward women. Fisher and Grenier (1994) tried to experimentally provoke men to negative, aggressive and violent attitudes in their fantasies, attitudes and behaviors toward women. Using female accomplices they prepared situations to negatively bias men who would then be shown aggressive and even violent videos, in which women were degraded, objectified or raped. Their efforts produced essentially no measurable misogynistic effects. And Bogaert (1993) has shown that, in a free choice setting where men were offered choice of 14 different video types to view, their least common choices, in this free-choice setting, were to see sexually violent videos (4%) or child pornography (3%). The majority given a free choice chose non-violent videos with common sexual acts with sexually interested women. It seems most true, as Fisher and Barak (2001) have concluded “Most individuals have a lifetime learning history and set of expectancies about acceptable and unacceptable sexual behavior that is sufficient to deter them from accessing or acting on antisocial sexual content (Page 312).”

  215. #215 Luna_the_cat
    June 10, 2010

    No researcher or critic has found the opposite, that exposure to pornography – by any definition – has had a cause and effect relationship between exposure to SEM and ill feelings or actions against women.

    Are you aware that this is directly contradicted by two of the papers you cited from PubMed, “Pornography and attitudes supporting violence against women: revisiting the relationship in nonexperimental studies.” and “The importance of individual differences in pornography use: theoretical perspectives and implications for treating sexual offenders.”?

  216. #216 ildi
    June 10, 2010

    The pleasure is momentary… the expense damnable? The influence of pornography on rape and sexual assault CJ Ferguson, RD Hartley – Aggression and Violent Behavior, 2009

    Abstract

    The effects of pornography, whether violent or non- violent, on sexual aggression have been debated for decades. The current review examines evidence about the influence of pornography on sexual aggression in correlational and experimental studies and in real world violent crime data. Evidence for a causal relationship between exposure to pornography and sexual aggression is slim and may, at certain times, have been exaggerated by politicians, pressure groups and some social scientists. Some of the debate has focused on violent pornography, but evidence of any negative effects is inconsistent, and violent pornography is comparatively rare in the real world. Victimization rates for rape in the United States demonstrate an inverse relationship between pornography consumption and rape rates. Data from other nations have suggested similar relationships. Although these data cannot be used to determine that pornography has a cathartic effect on rape behavior, combined with the weak evidence in support of negative causal hypotheses from the scientific literature, it is concluded that it is time to discard the hypothesis that pornography contributes to increased sexual assault behavior.

    3. Experimental research on the effects of exposure to pornography

    Evidence of the influence of exposure to pornography on sexual assault is inconsistent at best (Dwyer, 2008; Segal, 1994). Some contend that availability of, and exposure to, pornography increases negative attitudes about females and sexuality. Those with this view suggest that exposure to pornography desensitizes viewers thereby increasing the risk of committing sexual assault or rape. Others believe pornography may be something of a catharsis for those with pent up sexual aggression and that viewing pornography may actually reduce the desire to engage in sex crimes such as rape. This latter hypothesis has arguably received at least equal empirical support as the other alternatives (D’Amato, 2006). Empirical research has also shown that some persons have greater inclinations toward aggression and violence regardless of the type of media they view(e.g., Ferguson, 281 Cruz, et al., 2008; Ferguson, Rueda, et al., 2008). What the above opposing views agree upon is that those who are not predisposed to sexually aggressive or violent behavior will be less affected by exposure to pornography. Likewise, those who have this predisposition are the most likely to be affected, either as a catharsis or a negative influence.

    Results of existing experimental research on the effects of pornography and sexualized violence have been reviewed in several meta- analyses (Allen, D’Allessio, & Emmers-Sommer, 2000; Odone-Paolucci, Genuis, & Violato, 2000; Gunter, 2002). These analyses conclude that results are generally mixed and the type of research methodology used in the study often greatly affects the outcome. For instance, Malamuth and Ceniti (1986) studied male college students and self- reported likelihood of rape. The experiment included subjects who were exposed to violent pornography, non- violent pornography, or non -pornographic material. Participants were studied over a 4- week period and were exposed to the media separate times. They were then administered a questionnaire testing anger towards females, a desire to hurt females, and rape proclivity. The authors state in their study abstract that the violent and non-violent pornography affected aggression but there was no difference in proclivity to rape between those exposed to the violent versus non- violent pornography, or the non-pornographic media. There were also no significant effects found over the desire to hurt females. In conclusion, neither violent nor non- violent pornography viewed over time, affected aggressiveness toward females or the likelihood to rape. This study also provides an example of a remarkable mismatch between the claims stated in the abstract and the actual data presented in the results section of the paper. (emphasis mine)

    4. Correlational studies of pornography effects

    Results of correlational studies are even more varied. Usually correlational studies compare different types of participants on their consumption of pornography. Such consumption data are self-reported and usually entails asking questions about age of first consumption, as well as amount and frequency of consumption. Much of the correlational research concludes that pornography exposure may actually serve to protect the consumer against engaging in sexual violence. Garos, Beggan, Kluck, and Easton (2004), for instance, found that pornography protects against negative attitudes toward women. However, pornography consumers may be more prone to benevolent sexism, which involves beliefs that women should be protected from harm. McKee (2007), however, found no relationship between pornography consumption and negative attitudes toward women.

  217. #217 spit
    June 10, 2010

    wow, the porn wars will never end. Never. I still have scars from earlier battles in it. Y’all are way behind.

    I guess my take at this point, as a pretty damn feministy feminist, is that both sides are kind of wrong. I think it’s really pretty clear to me that porn can involve exploitation, that it doesn’t have to by nature (but frequently does), that it may encourage some people toward nastiness but not others, and that it likely has social effects on attitudes about women and is also a product of those and other longstanding attitudes about women (positive feedback loop).

    People are often capable of having all sorts of fantasies that they don’t find ethical and would never actually act on. The origin of those fantasies may well be social attitudes, so in that regard, the problem isn’t just the gross porn nearly so much as it is that there’s a market for it in the first place. Of course, how much of that is a feedback loop is anybody’s guess. Those attitudes are built and reinforced in any number of troubling ways, porn simply being one of the easiest to argue about. But I tend to view what exploitation is in it as a symptom much more than a cause, I guess, and know better than to think that people would suddenly respect women sexually if they stopped watching porn while they’re still living in a culture that objectifies girls as infants. I guess in that regard, I just feel like I have other fish to fry, except in the cases of coerced stuff or utter lack of consent. My opinion, of course, and others’ mileage may vary.

    And these discussions do tend, honestly, to head toward the heterosexist. Gay porn has its own set of potential problems, as does lesbian porn (the kind meant for actual lesbians, not some straight guy fantasy crap), but they’re not along the same lines and the issues are much muddier. I can’t watch straight porn, honestly, because I do frequently find the power dynamics in it gross — seriously disgusting, not sexy — and would rather see gay male porn, even as a lesbian. That’s me, though, and I have no problem with people enjoying a fantasy, so long as they understand it as a fantasy.

    The bigger problem IMO is, I guess, that while I don’t think porn is either all just fine or all absolutely terrible, that whenever the subject is broached by anybody, it turns into a flamefest of anti-feminist crap. And that’s disturbing, frankly. Opinions on porn vary even between feminists, very much so, but the degree to which people rise up from all over the internets to scream at the feminazis who want to take away their good, clean porno is much more telling to me about attitudes toward women than is analyzing the porno itself. Which is, I suppose, part of the point you’re making here anyway.

  218. #218 Andrew G.
    June 11, 2010

    Andrew: I don’t know what percentage of the actors in porn are genuinely consenting, but the argument that producers wouldn’t use trafficked women for economic reasons doesn’t hold up. If it did, it would apply to other basically legal industries: but people are trafficked and put to work in restaurants and clothing factories, even though food and clothing can be sold legally and openly. The predator’s calculation isn’t just a one-time thing, it’s on-going: why pay someone $8/hour to make shirts when they can get someone to pay to be trafficked to a foreign country and put to work in the factory for a fifth of that?

    Turn the question the other way round: assuming you are a criminal type with access to trafficked people, you want to make as much money off them as possible. If you’re buying girls for the sex trade, then pornography is never going to be much more than a sideline, because the real money (if you go by Siddharth Kara’s analysis of the profit margins) is in prostitution, and to a lesser extent stripping, both of which are much more lucrative than porn.

    (The common view of the porn industry as being awash with money is only partly true; as one Forbes analyst put it, porn is “an industry which exaggerates the size of everything”. Most estimates of the size or profitability of the industry are inflated to a greater or lesser extent, especially those coming from within the industry itself. It’s common for even “big name” porn stars to be doing porn primarily to get name recognition in order to increase their earnings on the stripper circuit, where they make more than 10x more.)

    For trafficking for forced labour, the margins are smaller; going by the figures from one of the links Luna_the_cat posted at Zuska’s, you need something like 5-6 times as many labourers as you would need sex workers to make the same net profits. The HeraldScotland article describes a 700-man operation (presumably including some proportion of overseers and management) making 5m GBP, which was probably about $9m at the time (though it doesn’t specify whether that’s gross income or net), whereas by Siddharta Kara’s figures you’d get that much, net, from running about 120 trafficked prostitutes. But notice that if the conditions in the destination country are such that it is possible to run a 700-strong illegal labour operation without a high risk of getting caught, it’s something that can likely be done much more easily and safely than running a dozen or two brothels. (And you’re not going to make $9m income in the porn business as a producer anything like that easily.)

    So whichever way you look at it, porn just isn’t that much of a factor in the economics of trafficking; and certainly the literature seems to bear this out. Stories of trafficked women being used occasionally for porn as well as prostitution don’t contradict this, since once they have the girls there’s no incentive not to try a potential sideline, but with the much smaller profits available, and the increased risks, there’s no reason for traffickers to concentrate on it.

  219. #219 JMS
    June 11, 2010

    But Andrew G., I can imagine someone saying “Since I don’t know whether or not this particular porn product is produced by folks who have used both consensual and non-consensual performers, I’m not going to buy it.”

    Kind of like how I don’t buy fur, even fur I know to be farmed, unless I know that everyone who’s getting my money from the purchase isn’t also selling wild furs. Or how I don’t buy free-range eggs from producers who also sell battery eggs. Or how I don’t buy diamonds from people who sell conflict diamonds.

    I mean, yeah, the chances are that any given porn DVD one buys in a store features only legally consenting performers (not that that was always the case ::koff:: Traci Lords), but I can also imagine a consumer wanting to be sure they’re not supporting an individual or company who is also making money off non-consensual performances.

    It’s not either “ALL PORN MUST GO AWAY FOREVER” or “ALL PORN MUST BE AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE” in most people’s minds, I don’t think.

  220. #220 Andrew G.
    June 11, 2010

    JMS: did you read the thread at Zuska’s?

  221. #221 Andrew G.
    June 11, 2010

    On the production side — would you care to tell us what you’ve done to research this?

    A comment addressing this question is in moderation.

  222. #222 skeptifem
    June 12, 2010

    historypunk

    Now, if PalMD really wanted to advance women’s rights, he’d roll down to the nearest recruitment station, pick a service, sign up, and then proceed to accept, cash, and then spend one of the rather significant enlistment bonuses the US military is handing out to medical professionals these days, and provide PCP care to the men and women righting to repell the mygonists forces trying to reverse tide that might bring Afghani women out of the dark ages with regard to their rights.

    WTF, do you really think our boys aren’t raping the women? It happens in every war, and is documented in this one more than once. People high up the chain got caught doing it, actually. I would go as far as to say the rape that soldiers/cia commit is even more callous in these wars, considering the extreme toll it has on women (with honor killings and everything).

    Hey, why don’t you go and look into the history of how afghanistan got to be ruled by misogynist religious nutjobs while you are at it. (PROTIP: we gave a bunch of money and training to them in order to screw with russia). This is the conventional, accepted history of the area. It is framed as being an acceptable strategy for the cold war- sacrificing the people of afghanistan to make a costly war for the soviets, outright admissions that it would be much like our venture into vietnam were openly made. They knew the kind of damage that would be inflicted upon them, and our country (along with other countries like france and the UK) assisted in this slaughter by sending loads of money over to finance violent islamic fanatics.
    And while you are at it, why don’t you look up the kind of famine that was going on when we invaded afghanistan? Aid groups condemned the US for their invasion because they projected an enormous toll via starvation. Thankfully that did not happen and much more aid was provided than originally projected, but based on the information at the time starving all those people you think we went to ‘liberate’ took a back seat to bombing cities and creating a shit load of potential recruits for terrorist organizations.

    And if you still aren’t convinced, perhaps you should check out the human rights record of other countries in the middle east, and see if YOU can find a pattern in who we befriend and who we don’t based on how the women are treated. It simply isn’t there. Saudi Arabia has very friendly with America for a long time, and has one of the most horrible records of government mandated misogyny available. What you can find is an economic pattern in who our country befriends.

    I really, really, REALLY hope you change your friggin moniker some day dude. You only read history that makes you feel *good* about America, so you are only getting a tiny piece of the picture. I mean jesus, you didn’t know about operation condor and our dealings in latin america. You have no idea what evil we are responsible for collectively, for NOT learning these things and doing something about it. Our military being posed as woman liberating heros is the biggest bunch of shit I have ever heard. The only way you could sink lower is to be willfully ignorant, and continue swallowing comfortable lies after the truth has been brought to your attenton.

  223. #223 skeptifem
    June 12, 2010

    If people do not accept that there are trafficked women in commercial porn, they should at least own up to it existing in amateur porn, which can then be uploaded to the internet (and is). Amateur porn has thus far been treated as some virtuous genre of pornography, free of coercion because there isn’t a commercial motive. I got news for you guys- there are non commercial reasons to rape women or coerce them and then put it on the internet, and there are plenty of guys who feel like The Man when they show the internet what a hot piece of ass they bagged on some sex tour. It isn’t like there is any real protection for the majority of those people, filming it is just a matter of how much more you have to pay to the people who prostitute slaves. People make amateur porn with prostitutes in this country as well, women who are prostituted here generally need money very badly (for drugs or whatever else) and it isn’t a stretch for someone who is economically disadvantaged (and likely mentally ill/abused) to agree to pornography for more cash. Hell, someone on my blog posted about how their rape was filmed and posted online as amateur porn- imagine what that does to her mind, to know people beat off to it. I cannot think of a more blatant way for society to say “I don’t care about sexual violence” than that, for hoardes of dudes to orgasm to things that may or may not be rape, not even considering what the humans in the movie are going through. There is a genre of porn that focuses on drunken/unconcious sex, and it bleeds out into amateur porn as well. Who knows how much of that is real and how much is faked? The market is there though, and amateur porn often follows the same roles and lines as the mainstream stuff. It isn’t evil free, thats for damn sure. There is also commercial porn marketed/filmed to look like amateur porn.

    And if anyone is doubting the commercial potential of extremely impoverished women they should check out the story of swap.avi, where a sadistic Something Awful member found a brazillian company that custom produces pornography by recruiting (by force? is poverty by itself enough force?) economically disadvantaged women and making them do whatever the buyers want. The something awful poster set out to make the most disgusting piece of pornography ever, and made the women in the movie do things I would not wish on anyone (ingesting vomit, feces, etc). They didn’t even do it for sexual excitement, the person who paid for the video did it because they thought it was *funny*, and a bunch of other knobs cheered him on. This is the kind of thing that happens in real life to actual people. This is what happens when the humanity of pornography victims takes a back seat to the bullshit questions people keep asking.

  224. #224 skeptifem
    June 12, 2010

    God, so many posts to address about how banning porn “won’t work”.

    To me, pornography is a lot like the “facial flex”. Facial flex is this weird plastic mouth work out machine that claims to lessen or prevent wrinkles. There is a factory in china or indonesia or guatemala where people who are basically slaves inject mold and assemble the parts to this useless piece of crap. If you know better, you shouldn’t buy it. Eliminating the need for the useless and exploitative product is a much more important goal than say, banning pieces of stupid plastic crap one by one. Banning wouldn’t fix the problem of consumerism in my facial flex example, and banning porn wouldn’t fix misogyny either. That is why it isn’t suggested by the majority of people who are against porn- the demand despite the cost is the thing that needs correction. You can all throw up your hands and say “It’s pointless!” all you want, but I have to try. I don’t know why I would have lived at all if I don’t attempt to leave this place better than I found it, and try to reduce the suffering that exists.

    Speaking of comparisons- I don’t even know if porn will ‘never go away’. People mainly argue this by saying that humans are sexual- humans are artistic and musical and creative too, but forcing people to engage in related hobbies on tape and pretend to enjoy it would creep most people out, it certainly would not be as popular as pornography. It defeats the purpose when the object is actual enjoyment. If the object is to dominate then it makes some (twisted) sense.

  225. #225 skeptifem
    June 12, 2010

    Hey Andrew:

    So whichever way you look at it, porn just isn’t that much of a factor in the economics of trafficking; and certainly the literature seems to bear this out.

    I bet you saw that movie “taken”, eh? Convenient for you to focus on the most difficult thing to track and zero in on it as an accurate representation of raped women in pornography as a whole. You aren’t showing a genuine interest in the truth so much as a genuine interest in easing your mind about what you are responsible for. It is a cowards way out.

  226. #226 History Punk
    June 12, 2010

    “WTF, do you really think our boys aren’t raping the women? It happens in every war, and is documented in this one more than once. People high up the chain got caught doing it, actually. I would go as far as to say the rape that soldiers/cia commit is even more callous in these wars, considering the extreme toll it has on women (with honor killings and everything). ”

    Tragic as that may be, it does not change the fact that the US military personnel in Afghanistan have brought about one the most rapid improvements in women’s rights in any spot in the wonder, at any point in the world’s history.

    Hey, why don’t you go and look into the history of how afghanistan got to be ruled by misogynist religious nutjobs while you are at it. (PROTIP: we gave a bunch of money and training to them in order to screw with russia

    The Taliban was created in 1994. The CIA ceased aid to Afghanistan’s rebels in 1992 at the latest. This too is accepted history.

    “And if you still aren’t convinced, perhaps you should check out the human rights

    I am aware of the human rights situation of Saudi Arabia with regard to women. However, I also am aware that I said Afghanistan, not Saudi Arabia so the relevance of your gibberish is zero.

    I really, really, REALLY hope you change your friggin moniker some day dude. You only read history that makes you feel *good* about America, so you are only getting a tiny piece of the picture.

    Actually, I am a Yugoslav specialist so I read surprising little about the United States. However, as part of my thesis research, I have read all of the works of Chomsky, Parenti, Kate Hudson, Tariq Ali and so forth.

    I mean jesus, you didn’t know about operation condor and our dealings in latin america.

    Actually, I am aware of Operation Condor to the point I have multiple FOIA requests pending before the State Department, CIA, and FBI regarding it. In fact, my thesis discussing the possibility that Argentina and Paraguay might have recruited and used Croatian émigrés to do some of their Operation Condor dirty work. Now, if you had actually read the comment on Zuska’s thread that I left, I asked for evidence of your claim (if I recall correctly, if not I apologize) that the CIA was involved with Condor. Now, we both no you have no evidence of CIA involvement in Condor.

    Our military being posed as woman liberating heros is the biggest bunch of shit I have ever heard.

    Yet, it was the American military (technically NATO) that smashed the Bosnian Serbs and compelled them to end their genocide against the Bosnians and close up their rape camps.

    I think your problem here is that pornography consuming, jokes about women cracking US military men are advancing the cause of women’s rights far more effectively than you and your cohort can image. However, you’re free at anytime to step up to the plate, accept that enlistment bonus, and sally forth and fight the good fight. I’ve heard that an hour in Afghanistan is worth a year in a feminist studies seminar when it comes to the forward progress of women.

  227. #227 Cara
    June 12, 2010

    The origin of those fantasies may well be social attitudes, so in that regard, the problem isn’t just the gross porn nearly so much as it is that there’s a market for it in the first place. Of course, how much of that is a feedback loop is anybody’s guess.

    Oh, nooo, that can’t be right. At least, it wasn’t right when I said it; I’m just a prude who wants to ruin the dudes’ good time and look down on women in sex work. *rolleyes*

  228. #228 ildi
    June 12, 2010

    Freakonomics blog at NY Times had a post last month on predicted changes in how porn will be produced based on copyright issues and changes in technology:

    We don’t yet have an answer for the porn industry. But here’s a prediction: the porn-tube sites are here to stay, and yet many, many people and companies will continue to produce pornography – even in the face of virtually uncontrolled copying. Like it or not (and we’ll leave the morality of this subject to others), there is huge demand for porn. And although we are not economists, we feel safe in saying that where there is demand, there will be supply.

    This is especially true now, because the cost of producing porn has fallen so precipitously. Anyone with a video camera, a bed, and some willing amateurs is now in the business. If you want to get fancy, you can even edit and add music with software programs like FinalCut.

    We can imagine at least two distinctive strategies emerging that will allow porn producers to survive in a market ruled by the porn-tube sites. The first would be to go upscale — to build a porn-industry brand by associating it with highly-paid stars and high production values.

    The other strategy is likely to be a much more significant part of the porn industry’s future. Many producers will take advantage of falling production and distribution costs to produce a huge amount of pornographic content catering to every imaginable sexual taste. Revenues may come from banner ads, or from click-throughs to sites offering services, like live chats and video on demand, that cannot easily be copied. The commercial producers will compete with amateurs, and also with entrepreneurs who use porn clips as advertisements for other, more highly paid services – for example, already many porn actresses use clips to attract clients to their more lucrative work in strip clubs. In any case, the pornography business is likely to become progressively lower-margin and competitive. Consumers will pay less, and get more.

    I wonder if these technological changes in how porn is produced and consumed will make it more or less likely to be exploitative?

    There are some potential resources for “fair trade” or ethical porn out there. For example, Good For Her (a feminist-owned and -operated sex shop in Toronto) has been giving out the Feminist Porn Awards since 2006. There are directors/actors/writers such as Tristan Taormino, Nica Noelle and Nina Hartley who are known for producing sex-positive non-exploitative porn.

  229. #229 nsib
    June 14, 2010

    skeptifem@223,

    You seem to be advocating for a good cause, but I don’t think lying is a good way to go about that. It tends to turn off people who care about truth and such.

    If people do not accept that there are trafficked women in commercial porn, they should at least own up to it existing in amateur porn, which can then be uploaded to the internet (and is).

    No one here is denying that there are trafficked/coerced women in porn, commercial or otherwise. Some people asked about the prevalence, yeah, but if you want to solve a problem, it helps to know how large it is.

    Amateur porn has thus far been treated as some virtuous genre of pornography, free of coercion because there isn’t a commercial motive.

    Again, this wasn’t said here. Some people noted the existence of ethical amateur porn, as a counterpoint to the view that all porn is evil.

    I got news for you guys- there are non commercial reasons to rape women or coerce them and then put it on the internet, and there are plenty of guys who feel like The Man when they show the internet what a hot piece of ass they bagged on some sex tour.

    Yeah, and those guys are horrible, horrible people who do horrible, horrible things. I’m pretty sure we all agree on that.

    The rest of your post details a worst-case scenario, but again, no one’s denying that bad things happen. You, along with previous posters, have given great evidence that the creation of porn is sometimes evil, but then you end with a non sequitur that porn is intrinsically evil. Where’s the evidence for that? Why should we try to ban porn rather than regulate it?

  230. #230 Cara
    June 14, 2010

    but then you end with a non sequitur that porn is intrinsically evil. Where’s the evidence for that? Why should we try to ban porn rather than regulate it?

    I guess women saying the sky’s blue means there’s no empirical evidence for it.

    While I’m not skeptifem, I feel free to reiterate that most of us aren’t interested in banning porn. We’re interested in eliminating rape culture (which is where the ‘intrinsic’ evil in porn lies–see the kajillion previous posts detailing why because we’re all a little fed up with repeating ourselves).

    We’re also interested in maybe–just maybe–getting some people to think about why they feel ENTITLED to using images of real human beings for sexual gratification. Not saying ban them. Not saying YOU’RE EVIL. Just wondering why you all need to hang on so tightly to it given that fact that it’s not something MOST men would want to do themselves.

    Can you explain that?

  231. #231 ildi
    June 14, 2010

    We’re also interested in maybe–just maybe–getting some people to think about why they feel ENTITLED to using images of real human beings for sexual gratification.

    I would think the answer was obvious; it’s a potent form of aphrodisiac. You’re implying, however, that there is something wrong with using images of real human beings, which you have not demonstrated to be the case (other than your personal aversion to it.)

    …given that fact that it’s not something MOST men would want to do themselves.

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make, but according to Jason’s summary of the Danish research:

    Nearly all men report viewing pornography (98%), but the vast majority of women (80%) do as well.

    The percentage is lower for men and much lower for women in Australia according to a study being conducted by Dr Gomathi Sitharthan at the University of Sydney’s Graduate Program in Sexual Health. She found that 70 percent of men and 30 percent of women view pornography online. There could be a difference though, because the Danish study asked about porn consumption in general, not just online porn.

  232. #232 Andrew G.
    June 14, 2010

    I bet you saw that movie “taken”, eh?

    That would be a bet you would lose.

    Convenient for you to focus on the most difficult thing to track and zero in on it as an accurate representation of raped women in pornography as a whole.

    Uh, it was you who brought it up.

    I suppose in hindsight it was foolish to expect someone (even a self-described skeptic) to have something to back up an assertion like that, or to be interested in avoiding the gross exaggerations so often seen in discussions of trafficking.

    You aren’t showing a genuine interest in the truth so much as a genuine interest in easing your mind about what you are responsible for. It is a cowards way out.

    As opposed to a liar’s or a demagogue’s way out?

  233. #233 Andrew G.
    June 14, 2010

    I posted the below about three days ago, but it seems to be stalled in moderation. Accordingly, here it is with the links moved elsewhere; you can find them here.

    I reiterate that this is just scratching the surface of my researches; there is a lot more, some of which I may comment on later.

    On the production side — would you care to tell us what you’ve done to research this? I’ve found several dozen organisations set up by/for victims of trafficking (including S.A.G.E. that I linked to yesterday and the POPPY Project in London, among others) and several other organisations such as CWASU in London and the UNHCR. All of them point out how difficult it is to get solid statistics on the number and “use” of trafficked women, given the efforts made to conceal them from authorities or rescue; all of them have numbers of women they have dealt with, generally numbering a few dozen to a few hundred, with anecdotes of many dozen that they didn’t have access to.

    From what I’ve seen, the victim-centered organizations like the Poppy Project and similar outfits don’t seem to be a good source for data; they have no research focus of their own and a strong incentive to use the highest available estimates.

    For actual research into human trafficking, there are a number of scholarly articles (most of which, alas, I don’t have easy access to, not being in the academic world myself). Some of this focuses on quantifying the trafficking problem by doing surveys in source countries[1]

    For the economics of the sex trafficking industry, there’s Siddharth Kara’s book “Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery”. Kara is on the board of Free the Slaves (freetheslaves.net), which has other informative reports on its site.

    Other analyses of trafficking are available; a report from the IOM, “Data and Research on Human Trafficking: A global survey”[2] goes into the field in some depth.

    Pretty much all these sources mention pornography either not at all, or primarily in the context of child porn, or in a (very) few cases lumped in as “prostitution and pornography” with no attempt to quantify. Kara’s book mentions pornography only four times, none of them more than passing references or in contexts not related to trafficked women.

    On the flip side, there are articles (excluding the anti-porn stuff and looking for material where trafficking is the focus) which do try and claim some connection with pornography, for example “The Demand for Victims of Sex Trafficking”[3]. The section on “Production of Pornography [etc.]” in that article is a classic example of the conflation of both adult and child pornography, and also between trafficked and native prostitutes. The only actual figure it quotes is from an organization working with street prostitutes in a US city, who are not likely to be trafficking victims; another example, referring to the Hungarian porn industry, is pure speculation (“It is likely that …”), when in fact trafficking victims tend to come not from Hungary but from further afield (Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania etc.) and the Hungarian industry has no shortage of local talent. The rest of the section addresses child porn almost exclusively.

    Other attempts to search for useful articles on the subject are often hampered by the fact that the Dworkin/MacKinnon proposed legislation (one criticism of which can be found here[4]) used the term “trafficking” in a different context. Despite that, I’ve tried hard to find additional articles with useful material and come up with not much.

    My conclusion? Adult pornography (rather than child porn) in countries like the US and Europe is not showing up as a significant factor to people who are researching trafficking rather than arguing an anti-porn case. (I’m less confident of this conclusion when it comes to SE-Asia, for various reasons.)

    (This by no means represents everything I’ve looked at in researching this issue, but it should give you some idea.)

  234. #234 Cara
    June 14, 2010

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make

    What is so difficult about this?

    A hell of a lot of porn that uses images of real people is violent. Most men watch that violence being done to women. Even if it’s supposedly consensual, the acts are almost always described in hateful, disrespectful ways.

    And men WOULDN’T want that done to THEM. So how do they justify that it’s okay to see it done to women?

    I’m not interested in why women would watch these images and enjoy them, so there’s no point in trying to deflect. I’m asking, why is this okay with men?

  235. #235 ildi
    June 15, 2010

    A hell of a lot of porn that uses images of real people is violent. Most men watch that violence being done to women.

    According to Emmers-Sommer, T. M., & Burns, R. J. (2005). The relationship between exposure to Internet pornography and sexual attitudes toward women. Journal of Online Behavior, 1 (4):

    Research question 2 asked, “What types of Internet pornography do individuals consume most frequently?” Participants were asked to indicate from a provided list of Internet pornography types which they consumed most often. As noted below in Table 1, participants primarily consumed heterosexual pornography with penetration and softcore material with content similar to Playboy.
     
    Table 1: Types of Internet Pornography Consumed Most Often (N = 419) [409 male, 10 female]

    Type of Internet Pornography Consumed Most Often n %
    Heterosexual porn with penetration 96 23
    Softcore (e.g., content similar to Playboy) 75 18
    Graphic photos (e.g., exposed genitalia) 55 13
    Women coerced into sex 50 12
    Homosexual porn (women) 41 10
    Lingerie/swimsuits 22 5
    Fetish (e.g., “watersports”) 29 7
    S&M (mutual consent) 30 7
    Homosexual porn (men) 21 5

    That is, 12 percent watched porn involving women coerced into sex. (I don’t know how to format a table in comments.)

    And men WOULDN’T want that done to THEM.

    I’m sure that people who enjoy scary movies don’t want to have that done to them. It’s called titillation and fantasy.

    I’m not interested in why women would watch these images and enjoy them, so there’s no point in trying to deflect.

    You may not be interested, but it’s not deflecting to ask why many women do enjoy watching porn.

  236. #236 Cara
    June 15, 2010

    Actually, it IS the very definition of deflecting to point to the token woman and whine, “Why aren’t you asking HER why SHE does it?”

    Also, it appears this very scientific and important study is based on self-reported data, which only backs up the idea that men don’t SEE coercion or violence done to women because it’s been normalized for them.

  237. #237 ildi
    June 15, 2010

    Actually, it IS the very definition of deflecting to point to the token woman and whine, “Why aren’t you asking HER why SHE does it?”

    Where do you get the idea that it’s “token women?” Granted, this particular study only has 10 female participants, but that could be because the subjects were recruited from an adult-oriented usenet site; the percentages were higher in the two studies I cited above. Scientists actually ARE interested in knowing (I don’t know why you would call it whining) why women consume porn.

    Also, it appears this very scientific and important study is based on self-reported data, which only backs up the idea that men don’t SEE coercion or violence done to women because it’s been normalized for them.

    … and you’re basing this analysis on what? Did I miss some posts where you cite the research that provides evidence for any of your opinions?

  238. #238 DuWayne
    June 16, 2010

    We’re also interested in maybe–just maybe–getting some people to think about why they feel ENTITLED to using images of real human beings for sexual gratification. Not saying ban them. Not saying YOU’RE EVIL. Just wondering why you all need to hang on so tightly to it given that fact that it’s not something MOST men would want to do themselves.

    Can you explain that?

    I have been in porn, thought granted not particularly widespread porn. There was absolutely no exploitation going on, or violence towards women. I also have watched a lot of porn, mostly because of my curiosity about human sexuality. None of the porn I have watched for personal gratification involves violence towards women – or men.

    I am entitled to watch real people involved in sexual activities on the screen, because I payed for the right to do so. I am also entitled, because I am responsible about my porn consumption. I make sure that the porn I consume is made by responsible producers. Most of the porn I consume, is made by a producer I have communicated with.

    Because of my interest in human sexuality, I have also watched a lot of fetish porn that is of absolutely no interest to me. A lot of it depicts acts that are violent to some degree or another – mostly rather mild violence. Fetish porn is not something that is consumed by most guys, no matter your belief to the contrary. Fetish porn is mostly consumed by people who have a specific sexual preference that is depicted in that porn.

    Yes, there are some folks who watch it, because non-consensual sexual violence turns them on. But there is no evidence to indicate they are a significant group. There are more men out there who believe that women have little value beyond their value as a sex object. But I have yet to see any credible evidence that porn is responsible for that. Every study that I have seen, that makes that claim, was equating a correlation of porn consumption with men who feel that way and calling it causation. They ignore the impact of the archetypal social gender construct that has pushed the idea that a woman’s value is in her position as a sex object/baby factory and housekeeper.

    Show me a single study that actually indicates a causal relationship. I don’t mean one that claims there is, I mean one with methodology that actually shows that causal relationship. Show me that one study and I will happily admit that I am wrong and that porn actually causes men to think and do horrible things. Porn addiction studies do not count, because they are looking at something very different. Lying to one’s partner is always going to damage relationships and cause serious problems – the fact that it happens to be porn being lied about has nothing to do with porn. The problem there is the lying.

  239. #239 Cara
    June 19, 2010

    I also have watched a lot of porn, mostly because of my curiosity about human sexuality.

    In the first place, porn is extremely bad sex education material. The titles alone are deliberately devoid of respect, joy, or tenderness.

    I’m not saying sex requires love or tenderness, it’s not my business if someone doesn’t want those things. However, describing something that’s supposed to be fun for both (or more) parties in harsh, hateful terms indicates that porn isn’t supposed to be about women’s consent.

    In fact if a woman consents (in the story), the dominant narrative is that she needs to be demeaned in some other way (maybe *because* she consented) to make the story *useful* for (many) men. If this weren’t the case, why is most porn like that? If this weren’t the case it wouldn’t sell.

    And frankly, I don’t need a study to prove that porn does this shit to men’s heads, not to you or anyone else; I really don’t think you’d believe the study if I posted links. The women hurt constantly, daily, endlessly by this attitude are enough. The kids trafficked are enough. The women raped every *X* seconds are enough.

    I’m not saying that every man who watches a rape scene in a movie is going to go out and rape women, but the pervasive attitude sure as hell makes it easier to numb off to the fact that, yes, women are hurt and demeaned in this culture all the damned time.

    I have NO desire to shame you for sex work, consensual sexual practices, or whatever, but I’m not going to say that the rape culture is okay or that porn as it reflects and reinforces that culture now is okay. It follows, as night does the day, that seeing women treated disrespectfully in such a systematic, pervasive way normalizes the idea that women aren’t people.

    And I’m repeating myself. It just leaves me flabbergasted that this isn’t obvious. It astonishes me that some men can be so deliberately oblivious just because they’re not harmed by it, themselves.

    Which is why I maintain that women aren’t people to most men. If we were, most men would have empathy and believe what women say about things that affect women directly, instead of running with the default narrative that it’s just prudish bitching and we’re out to ruin men’s fun.

  240. #240 Cara
    June 19, 2010

    I’m sure that people who enjoy scary movies don’t want to have that done to them. It’s called titillation and fantasy.

    Ildi, the violent stuff done to women in porn IS usually being done to them.

    If it were staged, then it’s still perfectly valid to ask why the *fantasies* men watch are cruel and hurtful, and why they feel entitled to them. Saying “I’m entitled because it’s already there” is a bit of a cop out.

    In fact, I submit that the cruel, mean, violent stuff is there BECAUSE of some men’s thwarted sense of entitlement. If they can’t be cruel to women in reality they want to jerk off to cruelty. It’s perfectly valid to ask why, and to ask why they accept these fantasies as being perfectly okay.

  241. #241 ildi
    June 21, 2010

    And I’m repeating myself. It just leaves me flabbergasted that this isn’t obvious.

    It’s only obvious when you don’t let things like facts get in your way. (“I don’t need no stinkin’ study to prove my opinions are right…”)

  242. #242 Cara
    June 21, 2010

    I don’t need a study to prove my experiences are right.

    You’re deflecting again. You’ve yet to give a direct answer about why commodified fantasies of violence against women (which look a lot like the real violence women are subjected to) are okay.

  243. #243 nsib
    June 21, 2010

    Cara,

    If you define porn as “commodified fantasies of violence against women”, then of course porn is a horrible thing. However, that definition leaves a lot of stuff that most people would call “porn” and yet doesn’t meet your definition. That’s one of the points that DuWayne made.

    I mean, you wouldn’t say that all restaurants are fast food joints, right?

  244. #244 ildi
    June 21, 2010

    I don’t need a study to prove my experiences are right.

    Anecdotes do not equal data. In case you have forgotten, this is a science blog; your experiences are valid for you, but they don’t define the world of porn: what porn is, why people (men and women) participate in it and enjoy watching it, and what effect it has on both the consumers and producers.

    You’re deflecting again. You’ve yet to give a direct answer about why commodified fantasies of violence against women (which look a lot like the real violence women are subjected to) are okay.

    Deflecting: you use that word a lot. I don’t think it means what you think it does. I have answered your question, but not with your built-in assumptions. (“So, when did you stop beating your wife?”)

    I’m not interested in repeating a 240-count comment thread discussing whether your personal definition of and assumptions about porn are valid or not. Do you have any content other than your own personal opinion to add?

  245. #245 Andrew G.
    June 21, 2010

    And frankly, I don’t need a study to prove that porn does this shit to men’s heads

    But that’s exactly what you do need. You’re not talking about personal experiences there, you’re talking about the effect on the general population.

    (And as a commenter over at Isis’ thread, who is actually doing research in this area, pointed out: it turns out to be not that simple.)

    Ildi, the violent stuff done to women in porn IS usually being done to them.

    This is relevant to the issue of consent, and to the issue of what the effects on the performers are, but not to the issue of the effects of watching the result.

    You’ve yet to give a direct answer about why commodified fantasies of violence against women (which look a lot like the real violence women are subjected to) are okay.

    My answer to this is that in the absence of specific evidence of harm, they are neither more nor less okay than commodified fantasies of other antisocial behaviour of comparable severity, many of which are the stock-in-trade of large segments of the mainstream cinema and publishing industries.

    If it were staged, then it’s still perfectly valid to ask why the *fantasies* men watch are cruel and hurtful, and why they feel entitled to them.

    I would say, on the contrary, that nobody, male or female, is ever answerable to anyone else for their fantasies. Crossing that line takes you to all sorts of bad places.

  246. #246 Cara
    June 22, 2010

    Look, Andrew, I don’t even mean they’re “answerable” to anyone else. I just wonder why so few men ask THEMSELVES these questions instead of hitting the default “NOOOOOOO!!!” button in their heads.

    “Fantasy” isn’t a valid reason to defend this stuff. When you say “But! Free speech! Who’s to judge?”, you all aren’t defending the lovely naked form as the reason cave(people) painted on walls. You’re defending hatred, glorified and in Technicolor, and you’re calling it free speech. There’s a clear winner and a loser in most porn (as some very bright people have said) and the woman is the loser.

    Let’s suppose “your” porn really is “okay”. Why do so many men who DO love the hateful stuff believe that all of you are just like them but won’t admit it?

    When a guy talks about what a bitch his wife is, or how women have half the money and all the pussy so they run the world, or complains about how he can’t get laid because women are shallow and stupid and only want millionaires, what do you say? Do you laugh along? Do you stay silent and let him think you agree because it’s not your problem?

    It’s all of a piece, guys. The stuff you’re defending on these grounds is hate speech. We harpies aren’t just making up the damage it does to ruin your fun. Asking for studies is like asking for studies to determine whether feeding a child is really good for it. If you care, at all, ask yourselves why you don’t want to believe us. If you don’t…well, as you were.

  247. #247 History Punk
    June 22, 2010

    If you care, at all, ask yourselves why you don’t want to believe us. If you don’t…well, as you were

    Nobody is going to believe you because of your pronounced and proudly embraced anti-evidence attitude. Your attitude towards studies and evidence is only different from troofers, birthers, and so forth in the topic of special pleading. Christ, if a homeopath came in here and said the same thing you just did about “. Asking for studies is like asking for studies to determine whether feeding a child is really good for it,” they be jumped for their idiocy. And so should you.

    Just admit that you have no studies, but feel really really strongly about it, like the homeopaths, anti-vax nuts, birthers, troofers, and other ” I don’t need studies have my instincts and bits of poorly digested logic and fact on my side special pleaders, and people will be a bit nicer to you.

  248. #248 Andrew G.
    June 23, 2010

    If you care, at all, ask yourselves why you don’t want to believe us.

    Who is “us”?

    You’re arguing as though you believe that your arguments are self-evident and that there is no possible valid reason for rejecting them.

    If that’s the case, why don’t all women – or even all feminist women – agree with you? Why is there a significant pro-porn feminist position? Why are some feminist (as far as I can tell) women going so far as to set up their own porn production companies as side businesses, making and selling films based on their own fantasies? (without, I might add, limiting themselves to fantasies that might be considered politically correct)

    So, if you want me to privilege your viewpoint rather than that of the woman I buy a notable chunk of my porn from, you’ll have to do a lot better than your performance so far.

    Another problem with your responses so far is that you don’t seem to acknowledge that sexual tastes vary widely. Leaving aside the point made several times already that this discussion is completely neglecting genres other than heterosexual male-dominant, you’ve repeatedly made arguments that amount to “that performer is doing (or portraying) something I wouldn’t want to do, therefore it is bad”. While, for example, pain isn’t my thing, I at least acknowledge the fact that for some people it is their thing.

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