A Really Angry Cow

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Why Pornography Is Not Liberation (For Women)

From Pornified by Pamela Paul, pg. 33:

"Walking down the street, a woman has the ability to look the other way or to sneer at the man who passes by her. In the office, she can write a more effective business plan than her male coworker or outperform him in a board meeting. In a bar, she can refuse to give a guy her phone number or brush off his attempts at conversation. But in the porn world, she has none of these options."

A world where someone looks at you and your choice to reject them or accept them as according to your standards is nullified forever. You have no control; Jessica Alba, in an interview, stated that she was forced to do a soft-core pornography shoot (i.e. "pinups" and Maxim and such) by her publicist simply because it was the thing to do for ascending starlets.

Women need to rise up against (and hopefully with some) men and shout clearly: Giving Away Our Freedom to Choose is Not Liberation.

And indeed, it would be a perverse "freedom", an Atwoodian "freedom from", gladly given by the already privileged class of men. Once you give away your freedom like this, you can never, ever have it back. And this is the crux of the matter. What seems like "freedom" can soon turn into chains. Imagine -- to live in a world where you fear every man has seen you, where you walk down the street wondering if they recognise you... where you feel exposed. I know I did (even though the pictures and videos never got onto the porn sites).

From the same page: "In the porn world, men retain the power and control."


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Lavender Menace, part 1

I've been frustrated for a while, and I only just now figured it out. Y'see, even though I'm a lesbian*, I'm not and never have been sexually aroused by so-called "lesbian" pornography, and I can't see why anyone would, despite claims of being aroused by two women even more than one. My mind came 'round to social gender differences, and the phenomena of young women being aroused by gay men in situations that will never include them.

I realised that it was due to social structure. Premise: men are taught to be self-centric, while women are taught to be other-centric. (I am an anomaly in women; I'm pretty much an even balance of the two, while being slightly more self-centric.) I'll explain:

"Lesbian" pornography is typified by women who are not actually lesbian; they are just waiting for a "real man" to come along and give them a bit 'o dick. As such, you can see them regularly using methods that are not at all arousing to actual lesbians; dildos (especially large ones) and all manner of phallic penetration. If this doesn't seem counterintuitive, ask yourself: why would a "lesbian" be attracted to something phallic? So begins the allure for the self-centric person; men (the viewer in particular) are found attractive even by those that would not, in real life, be attracted to their "most important" bits. The message here is: penises are irresistable, and by implication, the viewer's penis is irresistable.

The scene usually progresses to a point where a man comes in and the three of them get down to it, and by "it" I mean sex. It's generally your average threesome scene: woman gives another woman oral while that woman gives the man oral, or the women lick each other while the man fucks them, or both women are focused on the man. Typical of pornography, the man is not really interested in the women -- he's interested in fucking them, or (in the ever-increasing violent cases) hurting them, or in his own conquest in them. In other words, the man is being self-centric; he is uninterested in the women's selves in any way.

But this progression of the scene leads to a darker premise: if lesbians are only given the right dick, they will Learn To Love A Man. The implication of many scenes of this and other types of porn is that it doesn't matter if that dick is given or forced (since acting rape victims in pornography almost always begin to like it).

The even broader implication of these kinds of films is that there is no such thing as a valid female sexuality without a man involved; this may, in fact, be why there is no mention of lesbianism in the Bible... because women's sexuality was not valid, and therefore not a threat to a man.

If a woman did turn down a man in favour of another woman, this would be seen as a threat (and therefore unarousing to the viewer, who is wanting the woman to be portrayed as sex-hungry in order to get his orgasm); the woman would be defying the law of Man Fucks Woman; Subject Verb Object. The same goes for male homosexuality; this is, I believe, why there is so much uproar about it -- it violates the "golden rule" of our society.

Now, on to women. Women are raised to be primarily other-centric, whether it's children, parents, or some other family members. Women are expected to be the sharing and nurturing ones (instead of rightfully placing this expectation on every human). Thus, it comes as no surprise to me that women are aroused by a gay relationship with no hope of ever having them be part of it (unlike a man's fantasy).

I don't think it has anything to do with the fantasy being "safe" by not including them; I think it's all internalisation of society's norms. In the typified gay relationship fantasy, there are also "roles" of a "seme" (or dominant) and "uke" (or submissive), the roles that are quite clearly present and expected of women even in this "advanced" age**.

How many of you, reading this, have heard of a man faking an orgasm to please his lover? I have heard of one case. ONE. And many, many more cases of women faking orgasms (a highly counterproductive action, by the way. Gruls (misspelling purposeful), if he's so insecure that he can't bear to think he's not making you come -- or has to learn how to -- lose him!).

To put it simply; women have learned throughout their lives to get pleasure in the pleasure of others. Men generally learn this much later than women. Thus, women can find the pleasure of others arousing, while men (at least the ones that I've met) must be included in that pleasure.

More on this later.

*Technically bisexual, but lesbian politically and in practice, and slowly losing any interest in men anyways because of the stupidity and bigotry I've seen displayed by them. Judging a book by its cover? Perhaps. But how easy do you think it is to find a vegan/vegetarian, anti-porn, pagan man?

**I'm sorry, I can't call a pro-porn, anti-animal and anti-woman era "advanced", no matter its technological level.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Down With the Sickness?

There is a sickness in this society, one that runs deeper than any other illness. It primarily manifests in those most vulnerable to it -- newly disillusioned, disempowered teenagers and young adults. It's one of those things where some claim that it's empowering; in a way, I guess that recognising the sickness is empowerment, but embracing it is not. That's what the sickness is all about. Being embraced. That's how it feeds, breathes, lives.

What is the sickness? Well, it has different names. You could call it defeatism, or powerlessness, or disempowerment, or hopelessness. It is, essentially, the belief that we cannot change the world, so we might as well go along with the flow.

This belief is incredibly damaging. It is a (main?) reason why some humans refuse to go vegan, and why some of those vegans become ex-vegans. It's also a primary reason for neurotic (from "neurosis") depression in girls and women. It is why thousands of campaigns that would have changed the world haven't begun.

It starts when we're born. We are born into, and grow up in, a world of advertising where people, human and nonhuman, can be bought and sold -- even and especially as body parts. That cow is a slab of his or her flesh. That woman is a pair of breasts.

That is the starting point of this disease of "learned helplessness". What we see and hear often, we internalise. An animal lover will internalise that a cow is steak. A good, kind man will internalise that a woman's most essential feature is her body. The barrage of images is too much for us, especially us as children, to resist.

We are taught these days what is food, what is sexuality, what is love and what is "cool" through the wonders of advertising. Family and peers just regurgitate what is said on the television -- they grew up with it too. Or, if they dare to go against what the TV says, they are mostly ignored, because the TV has novel pictures and sounds that imprint in one's head in a much larger way. Eventually we start growing away from our family and towards our peers, and are left with these messages: Food is (hidden) death, sexuality is pain, love is absolute self-sacrifice and being cool means porn, McDonalds, killing, and subjugating others.

The disease shows its head when we first become aware of what is happening to us. We become angry, outraged that we were manipulated by everyone around us in order to please them. We don't realise that they were manipulated in the same way we were. And, after that anger has its time, it burns itself out amidst the furor of new, better ads.

We learn that we can't do anything to change it.

Knowing that you are able to influence others is, I believe, vital to a healthy spirit and self-esteem. If you are able to influence others, you have power; you can change the world, even if it is a little at a time. Love is a benevolent expression of that power when it's reciprocated; in the absence of love we find other ways to have power over someone -- pain is one of the strongest ones. Lust is another. That, I think, is how pornography began.

When we feel that we cannot influence others, we feel powerless, even over our own lives (others are, after all, an integral part of our feelings in one way or another). We start routinising our daily lives. One step at a time, don't make waves, it'll be alright. We feel vaguely depressed or sullen. We escape into a number of things, such as our worst enemy -- the TV and its accompanying advertising.

One of the most powerful things to realise is that, even if you don't make others change, you can change. And you can realise that, whether from you or not, others are changing around you. You're the Vegan Freak one year, and the next you find another vegan at your office (even if they do pronounce it "vay-gun"). Then you find more at a restaurant you go to. Or you go to a protest and meet others there. The possibilities are endless.

The first step is the hardest to make, but it's well worth it.

For those who have no idea why being vegan would be appealing, have a look at http://meetyourmeat.com

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Conveniency of the Absent Referent in Meat and Pornography, Part One

I haven't read The Pornography of Meat by Carol J. Adams yet, so I don't know if this is covered in it; whether or not it is, I'm going to voice my thoughts on this matter.

Pornography and "meat" have a couple things together in common (more than I will list here). There is the insistence of the consumers that it's a personal choice to consume the product; there is the defense that no one is being hurt and exploited in it; and there is the idea that the making of this product is natural.

All of these are misconceptions at best, and a blatant delusion at worst. However, unlike many delusions, this one involves others -- an undeniable fact that, even taken alone, should debunk the "personal choice" excuse. But I don't just wish to debunk these; I also wish to give some insight behind it, and tie the two -- Women's Rights and Animal Rights -- together, just as they are meant to be.

Personal choice cannot be a personal choice if it affects others in a personal way. That is, believing in Jesus is a personal choice (for a deeper reason than you would think, and one I won't go into here); beating someone is not a personal choice.

Is it a choice? Of course it's a choice. All things we do, save involuntary actions like the beating of one's heart or the digestion of one's food, are choices. We can alter them at our will within restrictions that others or nature places on us; that is, if someone is holding you down, you can struggle or you can submit, but you can't do much else. I make that distinction to ward off ideas that if the animals cared enough about their plight, they would do something about it. I also make the distinction that while everything we do is a choice, sometimes we do not have a free choice; that is, mental abuse may teach us to be helpless or to submit to things we would not otherwise submit to.

Violence against others is never a personal choice; nor is exploiting others; nor is paying for them to be exploited. It is vital that we recognise these things.

The thing is, I can't just say "it's not a personal choice" and move on. I have to investigate why someone thinks it's a personal choice in order to combat it better in the future. Saying "you're wrong" is all well and good, but it does essentially nothing to further the rights of nonhuman people or women.

And I think I do know why we think it's a personal choice: we don't recognise that someone's on the other end of the exploitation because we only encounter them in an isolated state. In other words, we don't think that there's really someone there when we eat their flesh because we're alone when we do it. They're dead. And when we consume pornography, we're still alone (save for very rare group or couples situations), the film has already been made, they're not there. You can't recognise either of these people as people because you have had no personal contact with them.

There is another reason, one that goes much deeper than that; they are reduced for us into body parts, and so we learn to follow suit and reduce them into body parts. Enough of this, and we progress into doing it automatically to those we don't know, and compartmentalise those we do know. Carnists can look at a cow out in the field and say "mm, steak," because they don't know that cow. Consumers of pornography can look at a woman and say "mm, that ass."

We do it because we are taught to in a way that we enjoy. Who wouldn't want to spread that enjoyment over the rest of their life? It's very simple positive conditioning started from a very young age.

And the only reason we don't do this to those we know is because we are able to compartmentalise (though this too sometimes fails, in the case of pornography and women we know); we get to know them and we are unable to reconcile their personality with the things that we consume. Simple cognitive dissonance, but if we were to recognise that and bring it to the forefront of our minds, we would be so uncomfortable that we would.. have to change.

Try an experiment for me: next time you eat meat, keep in your mind that this was someone, and let that thought dominate over the flavour. Or, if you don't eat meat but consume pornography, next time you're watching a video let the thought that the woman in that film is a normal person like your mother or your sister sink in. Don't just think of them -- either of them -- as a taste or as an orgasm. It turns out to be a lot less enjoyable once you hold the truth in your mind.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Ideology of the Zoophiliac

I have heard that "zoophilia" refers to the emotional/sexual love of a nonhuman person rather than "base" sexuality towards one, as, my boyfriend at the time said, beastiality implied. It makes sense on the surface: "philia" means love, and "beastiality" does, after all, have the word "beast" in it, an accusation of primitive tendencies and forces.

Having gotten my head together after that abusive relationship, I can firmly say now that he was wrong.

We as a society are divided on the issue of zoophilia; we are either disgusted by it or we are intrigued and aroused by it. There really isn't a middle ground for this, or any deviation from the two sides. And I think I've cracked the code as to why.

First off, zoophilia cannot be about the love of a nonhuman person, just as pedophilia cannot be about the love of a child. Both injure the "recipient" of this "affection"; both are based on something wholly different than love.

Zoophilia is about depersonalising someone and, implied in that, power. I have seen, having explored the darkest corners of internet pornography (when I was 13, no less -- so much for child protection), that zoophiles rely on the tactic of turning a person into a "sex machine" in order to be aroused, much like women in mainstream pornography. Animals are mentally reduced to be nothing but "fucking machines," as I have seen it put; their Self is stripped away so that the consumer of the pornography can see them as nothing but instinct-driven automatons -- and get off on it. Women are reduced to panting, sex-driven "sluts", willing to take anything as long as it's sex (even if it is, in fact, rape) -- and the viewers of this pornography get off on it.

In zoophilic pornography, as with mainstream pornography and women, animals are not seen as having Selves and emotions and wants and needs and individual intelligence; they are nothing but a tool for the other "star" of the pornography -- in actual filmed scenarios they're all women, have you noticed that? -- to get off on. In cases where the "starring" nonhuman person is female, she is seen as a cum receptacle for the males. To add, she is often made out to be the panting, sex-driven creature that a woman would be made out to be in any mainstream film (find me one pornographic film that doesn't do this and I'll give you $5).

Once again, women and animals serve the same role -- to serve at all costs the pleasure of the Almighty Man, whether that man is the other "star" or the viewer. Women, like animals, are reduced to fuckbots in pornography. And a note: just because it is usual for this to be arousing doesn't mean it's normal. Rape fantasies are usual for women too, but are they normal? Tell you what, when we build a culture that doesn't abuse and warp women from the day they're born and women are still having rape fantasies, then I'll say it's normal.

And yet zoophiles claim that they "love" animals, when they reduce these people to pure instinct. Typical of a culture that teaches its humans that you have to reduce someone to a body in order to get aroused by them.

But don't get me wrong! It's not as though the anti-beastiality folks have anything going for them. After all, the reason they object to zoophilia is because they too see nonhuman people as instinct-driven automatons, who are thus "too inferior" for humans of either sex to consort with. Occasionally they make a claim that they don't think animals can consent (which they can't without an inter-species path of communication), but this is all show; they don't really care if animals can consent, as you'll see almost all of these people going around eating dead cows and whonot -- all of who most certainly did not consent.

For the anti-beastiality folks, it's about the purity of "their" women and the disgust of nonhuman people. Don't let anyone fool you by saying it isn't. Women have historically been seen as "defiled" if they had sex with a nonhuman. Why? Because the animal was so much "lower" than the women -- a group of people who have historically been one of the "lowest on the totem pole," so to speak (and if anyone has a better phrase than that, please inform me) -- that those animals "dirtied" the women, much in the way that a black man "defiled" a white woman.

Of course, part of this was that women have, for quite a long while, been expected to be a slave to one penis and one penis only, and involving another penis, even a nonhuman person's, was a crime that deserved a sentence of death (even if it happened by rape). Ironically, the chief pornographer of Deep Throat (which is actually a documented rape of Linda Marichiano), who was the abusive husband of "Linda Lovelace", saw both the animal and the woman who he raped with him as so worthless that it didn't matter if either of them were exploited. Generally this is seen everywhere in films that involve the pornographic exploitation of both women and nonhuman people; both of them are so worthless it just doesn't matter.

It all comes down to the fact that, on both sides, animals are seen as lesser. Frankly, I can't see how either side has any legitimacy unless one sees them in persons in their own right, with the right to be informed about what they're doing and the right to refuse if they so wish.

The Importance of Recognising Your Audience

I have noticed lately what is (unfortunately) a widespread phenomenon in vegans that have supposedly "bucked the system." Even though they claim compassion and a more intelligent morality regarding nonhuman people, they abide by the same anachronisms of carnist culture. This, I believe, is possibly the second-worst failing of the Animal Rights movement (the first being getting the majority culture to focus on welfare only, excluding Animal Rights philosophy in the process); we can't get our own members to "buck the mindset."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard an Animal Rights activist refer to nonhuman people(s) as "living things" or "it"s, or use an indirectly-derogatory phrase to describe a human failing. It's mind-boggling in its counter-productivity. Why, after all, listen to someone that espouses rights-equality between species, but thinks their sex is irrelevant?

The problem with the phrase "respect all living things" is that plants and bacteria are living things as well; by veganism's own admission it is impossible to respect something or someone that you are exploiting and, for the latter, slaughtering in the billions, even if by an action as innocuous as taking a breath. Of course, the natural -- and rational -- solution to this is to recognise that plants and bacteria, while they are living things, are not living persons; they do not have mental, intellectual, and emotional interests as animals (including humans) do. Plants and bacteria only have biological interests; they are devoid of a consciousness (well, an individual consciousness, anyways -- my concession to those who believe in an all-permeating Consciousness). Any chemical reaction in plants to injury is trumped by "quorom sensing" in bacteria, which -- to the ignorant -- would suggest that bacteria have a consciousness (quorom sensing, though, is caused by various chemicals, I believe). Thus I do not feel an obligation to respect plants and bacteria; they do not have a Self to respect. Anyone observing an animal for any amount of time can clearly tell that the person has a Self (unless suffering from confirmation bias).

Have you ever wondered where carnists came up with the "plants have feelings too!" argument? We, by our own inadvertant admission -- grouping animals in with plants and bacteria -- have opened the door for this argument (however pathetic it may be).

Furthermore, animals are not things; they are (as discussed in a previous post) people, as well as beings -- a precursor for being a person. If you were called a "thing," in anything other than such a phrase as "you poor thing," wouldn't you object? I might remind you: the first step to stripping away someone's dignity is to depersonalise them -- to make them into a thing.

I'm going to take a minute and tie this in to Children's Rights. Children are largely seen as ineffective, ignorant, and a group of people to be controlled and taught what to do, when they are, in reality, far more in control of themselves than others (i.e. adults) think them to be. Contrary to the popular adult worldview, children are much more perceptive than we assume them to be; they can see the world in ways we cannot, and in a much purer way -- at young ages, they do not have the social brainwashing to tell them to ignore pain (whether their own or someone else's), which is essentially our society's problem. They are not blank slates, waiting to be written on; they have a constant internal commentary on everything that happens to them. In all these things, they are much like animals.

Children -- especially young children, e.g. infants -- and animals are able to be depersonalised with ease. As with animals, I've seen humans refer to them as "it", as though they are a thing; remember, things are inconsequential, powerless, and objectively worthless. Only persons have worth.

I wish to eradicate this way of referring to those who are vulnerable, or from whom their rightful freedoms have been stripped by greed and human blindness. It is a horrible way of referring to anyone, whether human or nonhuman. Things are objects; objects have no feelings, and thus, no need for anyone to consider them. And we, as Animal Rights activists, should recognise this.

What ties all these things in -- phrases and depersonalisations both -- is one crucial thing: you, as an Animal Rights activist, have the ability to literally change the way someone thinks with how you speak to them. After all, we didn't get to the current routine of degrading animals, women, and children just by suddenly agreeing all at once that we would. No, we didn't; these derogatory ways of referring to our fellow peoples seeped into the culture, beginning with one single person speaking to others, and employing these anachronisms while doing so.

We must remember that our words provoke reactions in others. When I refer to animals as people in public, I turn heads -- and maybe give them something to think about. More powerfully, when we as a group refer to animals by their true sexes; by not acting as though their sex is irrelevant; by not using the word "thing" when referring to animals; and, above all, by not using words that provoke anti-animal sentiment in our audience, we have the power to change the way the world thinks.

But it's up to you, honestly. You, as an Animal Rights activist, must do this; you must do all of the above, and correct yourself when you slip. Not only do your actions have power, your words have power. By refusing to "go with the flow" and strip nonhuman peoples of their dignity, you may be restoring a little more of that dignity in your audiences' minds.


Ants without wings, and your average bee, are female.
Snails (except for a few species) and worms are hermaphroditic: you could try using gender-neutral words such as "ze" for she/he and "hir" for his/her. Or just the ubiquitous "they."
When you're unsure about an animal's gender and you feel awkward about saying "he or she", you could ask what his/her sex is, or just refer to them as "they."
Instead of referring to people (such as fish) that are "caught" or "hunted," use "anyone" instead of "anything" -- and, if you're feeling especially brave, correct others that make this mistake.
When referring to animals in general using an "any" prefix, again, use "anyone" instead of "anything."
Ask what a baby's sex is before referring to him/her as either -- don't make assumptions on their sex.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Psuedofeminism's Latest Accusations

Having recently been told that, because I am anti-sexploitation industry (which includes anti-pornography, anti-stripping, anti-prostitution, and anti-rape—though notably, not anti-woman), I am anti-sex and I think that women’s bodies are filthy and ugly, that I should take men down for walking around naked, and that I am the sexist, I have decided to refute all of these arguments.

Let me begin by saying that I am vehemently pro-sex. But my pro-sex outlook has qualifiers: it must be consensual, it must be informed, it must be adult, and it must not sexualise dominance and power. Anything that is not—or is, in the case of the last—is rape.

The first of my qualifiers deals with blatant rape: you don’t force sex on somebody against their will. This is done in pornography, prostitution, and stripping as well.

The second deals with animals—and the rape of animals. Because we cannot communicate with animals the way we can with humans, and because animals have different societal morality than we do, we must abstain from coercing them into something that has different societal implications than it does with, say, dogs. (And some instances of animal rape, as with inserting a live fish into a woman’s vagina, is needless and abhorrent torture, and almost always ends in the death of the animal/s.)

The third of my qualifications deals with children, and ties in with both the second and fourth qualifications, and often the first as well. Because children are incapable of understanding sex the way two (or more) consensual, informed, non-dominating adults are, sexual acts with them are by definition molestation and/or rape, even when legal (unfortunately, it does happen in some places in the world). Also, sex with children is also, by definition, disobeyance of the fourth qualifier, which leads us to…

Fourth: sexualisation of dominance and power is rape. That is because rape is based on the sexualisation of dominance and power. I hear the protests to this already. “But it’s consensual!” they cry.

Don’t you think I know that, on the surface, it’s consensual? I was there too. I went into BDSM for quite a while when I was younger—and I attribute this to having been raised in a woman-hating society, as well as the fact that I found internet porn when I was in my early teens. I internalised the message that dominance and power of men over women—and even other women over women—is sexy, and I got into a place that I look back and see that I didn’t really want to be in. I almost got myself into a worse place because of it: marriage with a man that would sexualise my disempowerment, objectify me, and endlessly compare me and my sexual actions to his hentai. I got out of that relationship, though it wasn’t in the best way.

My point is: it is not a truly free choice. From the book Consuming Passions: Some Thoughts on History, Sex, and Free Enterprise I quote:

“Who knows what women would choose or do in an atmosphere of real freedom? How many would choose women, how many would choose celibacy, how many would be bisexual, how many monogamous, how many would bear children? Most of us have never had enough freedom to know what it means to choose.”

Acting out your internalised abuse is not a free choice; it is, most often, a choice of coercive internalised pressures that leave no room for thought on what you really want—to be treated gently, to be treated as though you were precious, as though you were beautiful, as though you were wonderful and no harm should come to you. I think that every person, human and nonhuman, should be treated this way. Because we all are. Idealism? Perhaps. At least it’s not a fallacy to say that people are not born evil; they are made that way.

Now, to conclude that part of the rebuttal, I am, once again, pro-sex. I am pro-loving sex. I am pro-hot sex (which is, in reality, the same as the first—anything else is once again the sexualisation of dominance and control). I am pro-sex, pro-fingering, pro-anything that feels good to you as long as it does not hurt someone else. “Hurt, not harm” forgets that these two things are the same thing. People invariably internalise abuse, whether it’s “loving” or not.

The second accusation—that I think women’s bodies are filthy and ugly—is patently untrue. I am a bisexual that leans towards women; I am in a committed relationship with another woman who I love intensely and of who I think every inch is beautiful and worthy of the tenderest care.

I think, too, that my own body is beautiful. It is not your average porn star’s body—which is why, for a long while, I could not feel hot or attractive or sexy. I internalised the messages of this woman-hating society that only women that are thin and small and big- and firm-breasted are attractive and worthy of someone who thinks they’re hot, and I took it out on my own rotund little body with a vengeance: I went through bulimia, I went through periods of willful starvation, I cut and burned myself, in that order, because I thought that I couldn’t be beautiful if I were FAT—and then I thought that, if I couldn’t be something other than FAT there was no point in taking care of my body.

But I am fat. And I am beautiful and I am sexy. I do not hate my body.

I hate pornography, which tells both women and men that they have to look a certain way and act a certain way to be sexy and attractive. I hate prostitution, which tells women that if we don’t put out for our man, he may as well go “get it” from some other woman. I hate stripping, which also tells men that women should be servants to their sexual desire.

I don’t hate my body, and I don’t hate women’s bodies. I think they are beautiful in their own right—irrespective of whether or not pornography/the media tells them they’re beautiful. They are unique, and true beauty is exactly that—unique.

To the third accusation: I agree, but for a different reason. The majority of the time, when men walk around naked, it is to intimidate and/or show off to women. Even if it does mean that the man is proud of his body, it always succeeds in intimidating women—and men are given the freedom to be proud of their body every day.

I support walking around naked. After all, we’re naked underneath our clothes; why be ashamed of it? But nudity for women and men has entirely different social implications—men are laughed at nervously, wondering what he’ll do next; women are told they’re being indecent and provocative and if they get raped, well then that’s their own fault.

Alright, let me clarify: I support making the world safe enough to walk around naked in, for women, men and children. That should definitely happen. But it will not happen as long as men are taught that they have a right to a woman’s body and a right to objectify it: turning someone into an object is how you kill them, as with animals, and how you rape them.

To the fourth accusation: do I look like much of a sexist when I only recognise the oppression of women and children inherent in pornography, prostitution, and stripping? Do I look like much of a sexist when I oppose their exploitation to make a buck—an exploitation that not only often leads to their rape, but to the rape of other women? Do I look like much of a sexist when I add that not only to I oppose pornography centered on the objectification of women, but the objectification of men as well, in gay porn?

Do I look like much of a sexist when I am trying to undo the damage that internalising the abuse of this woman-hating society has done?

I, certainly, think not.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Pseudofeminism and "Empowerment"

Today I want to discuss the psuedofeminist argument that pornography is “empowering” and “liberating”, and what those two words in particular mean. I have encountered presumably good vegan men that are quick to point out that naked men and naked women in PETA ads and demonstrations are not subconsciously viewed the same way because women are objectified in a way men aren’t, but still say they aren’t anti-pornography. Women, too, call themselves feminists and say that they are pro-pornography, despite the massive amounts of evidence that pornography causes the rape of women and children.


Well, I can presume that they haven’t seen the studies that, taken together, prove conclusively that the viewing of pornography heightens aggression against women, predisposes men to be willing to rape, and warps the viewer’s good sense so that they believe—or start to—rape myths. If these persons had seen these studies, well, they would presumably be against pornography as well.

But there’s still one kink—and that is the belief that, even if it hurts other women, some women should be allowed to do what they want because it’s “empowering”.

Let’s analyse this for a moment. “Empowerment” means taking power and control for yourself; not power and control over others, but power and control over yourself. “Liberation” means newfound freedom. Now, let’s discuss how these two terms are misnomers when applied to pornography.

Naturally, BDSM (read: sanctified domestic abuse and reliving abuse situations) is excluded from “empowerment”. You are not taking power over yourself; you are either taking power over someone else, or you are giving it away. Empowerment does not mean that you would be dominating others; if anything, this interpretation of “empowerment” would doubtlessly be Patriarchal and anti-feminist, because the basis of Patriarchy—and the antithesis of feminism—is that you take power from whoever is weaker.

That Patriarchal ideal—that might makes right—is tied up intimately in pornography. Pornography is not empowerment; “empowerment” requires that you take power for yourself, while women in pornography have things done to them that they would rather not do. That isn’t taking power for yourself; that is giving up power. And the ones that take that power—living up to the ultimate Patriarchal ideal—are not the pornographers; they are merely another exploiter in a web of exploiters. The ones that take that power away from the women in pornography are the viewers of pornography, just like the ones taking power away from the prostitutes are not the pimps; the johns—and the viewers—are the ones creating a demand for this power. The pimps and the pornographers—essentially the same thing, with less direct abuse on the part of the pornographers (they let the male porn stars do that for them)—are merely providing a service to answer the demand.

Let’s analyse further, shall we? We’ve covered what is “empowerment”, but what is not empowerment?

I’ll answer for you. Empowerment is not letting yourself get beaten by better-paid men because you need to get money to get through school, or keep your apartment, or support your kids. Empowerment is not having a penis shoved down your throat so hard that you gag and choke and almost puke. Empowerment is not having such painful anal sex that the men who did it to you brag about how you’re going to be incontinent for a week. Empowerment is not giving your body up to whoever asks with it, even if you’d rather not. Empowerment is not this—and it is especially not pretending to enjoy all this.

“But Em,” I hear you say, “what about the women that enjoy it?” Well, here’s a quote for you:

"What I saw were women just like myself who were desperate, addicted to drugs, homeless, and I'm sure probably at least 80 percent of them suffered from sexual abuse as children. I saw them re-living their childhood experiences by getting into that industry. They were looking for attention, pleasing men, and being abused. And that's all they know. They think it's great. They think it's wonderful. I could've looked you in the eye ten years ago and told you that I loved being in pornography, was proud of what I was doing and that I was having a great time. But now I can tell you that it's so far from the truth. I was very convincing. I could convince you. I mean, I could walk up to a porn star today and she could tell me the same story and I can remember being in that place."
-Carol Smith, former porn performer, in Not For Sale.

Furthermore, pornography is not “liberation”, because letting others do whatever they want to you is the very antithesis of freedom. Freedom requires that you have the freedom to do what you want—not what others want to be done to you. It requires that you choose. And pornography has absolutely nothing to do with free choice—at least, for women. You men that are reading this, you can walk away from this. Women can’t. We live in fear so intense every day of our lives that we become desensitised to it. We start taking into account where we can go and when if we don’t want to be attacked, if we don’t want to be raped. And you know who’s doing the raping? Men like you—men that have been watching pornography. Eighty-six percent of rapists watched pornography during or immediately before they raped a woman.

These women can’t stop the rapes. I can’t stop the rapes. I can stop a rapist that is coming after me with a gun or a well-placed kick, but I can’t stop the thought processes behind it, the essential survival of our rape culture. You have to stop it. And you can’t stop it without stopping pornography.

Now, to ask you: do you want to stop the rapes? Or are we, women, expendable to you? What about you, those women that watch pornography? Are the rest of us expendable to you? Are we a necessary sacrifice for the all-holy glory of Free Speech? Do we matter at all?