On Pornography (trigger warning – descriptions of porn)

I probably should take longer to think about writing this than I have but I feel like typing.  The funny thing about telling people that I am not now a fan of the pornography industry is that people assume that I am some prude who does not like sex.

Wrong.  I have viewed porn pics many times and have gotten off on it.  I have read and written slash.  At one time I had many porn VHS tapes of both man/woman and man/man variety.  Never was interested in woman/woman in pictures or words.  And I have seen lots of porn online.  I will say that my peak interest in porn was my late teens and early twenties.  The wild hormones, out of parent’s home and free to do whatever years.  Had more than a bit of fun with men.

Here is what happened over time.  I started to look, really look, at the women in the videos and they looked neither happy or healthy.  That got harder to not notice.  The general impression was that these women were not into doing this. Now the “choose my choice” folks are going to pounce and say these women probably chose to do porn but I had to wonder how many and/or what other choices were really available to those women.

As the years went by, other things became apparent.  The pornographers and guys like Hefner and Guccione stayed around for years and got rich.  The women seemed to come from some sad endless supply of people who choices in life seemed very limited.  The sex scenes were man-desire-centered and often featured the woman being treated like crap and called degrading names.  Many of the women did not look over 18.

It all got sad and boring.  Even the male/male porn had the same joyless mechanical by-the-numbers behavior.  Reading about and talking to people who did porn made me realize that this was an ugly and degrading business.  There was no way to continue to fall for the “porn as empowerment for women” crap.  Porn just pushes the destructive “sex is a transaction” ideology.  I have no doubt there are many people in history who had to trade access to their bodies for survival but to say that is OK is not something I can force myself to believe.

The “transaction sex” ideology also supports the idea that all women are prostitutes. The MRAs will tell you that some women do it for a drink and others do it for a house but they are all for sale.  And where does the idea that women in marriage cannot refuse sex or any particular sex acts come from?  The marriage was a transaction and women have to pay the price for the “benefits” of being married, whether those “benefits” are ever provided or not.

So I stopped supporting the porn industries.  Now the folks who will talk about all the wonderful, woman-positive, woman-produced porn out there will be weighing in.  Maybe that type of porn exists but it would be such a tiny part of the porn available that it becomes a non-issue for me.

Maybe a perfect society in which women have gotten complete freedom and access to ALL the choices would be able to produce non-degrading porn.  Maybe that same perfect society would also allow for people to sell sexual behavior to others without harm to themselves or others.  But that is some possible future and we live in the present.  Maybe porn and prostitution are things that cannot be made harmless and empowering when the culture they both exist to serve is such a mess of inequality and injustice.

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