Freeslave Poll Question: Separating the “Ism” From the “Gism”


Demeaning.  Degrading.  Ugly.  Atrocious.  Controlled exclusively by men.

Sex-positive.  Empowering.  When done by women (and some men), it can be educational, sexy, and rarely, liberatory.

Opinions are split.  My opinion is split.

What say you?

18 Responses to “Freeslave Poll Question: Separating the “Ism” From the “Gism””

  1. Mu.

    “Demeaning. Degrading. Ugly. Atrocious.”

    Subjective. What I find fun you may find demeaning. One person sees the emotional state of degradation as something to be avoided at all costs; another sees it as a sensation that can be used like a caress to induce sexual gratification.

    “Controlled exclusively by men.”

    Factually refutable. Susie Bright. Simone Devon. Annie Sprinkle. Carol Queen. Renegade Evolution. Summer Cummings. Barbara Behr. Ashley Renee. Darla Crane. Kristine Imboch. Bridgett Harrington. And on, and on, and on.

    Women work in pornogrphy not only as models and actrors, but as directors, photographers, editors, producers, and owners.

    Which is not to say that alot of porn is controlled by men — and I reject the idea that that’s a bad thing per se. We’re talking about alot of people doing alot of things, and like any other industry some people are more exploitative bosses than others.

    My advice is to put the question to the women themselves. To do otherwise is to objectify, infantalize, and marginalize them. Some have blogs. Some have web sites and Yahoo groups and answer their e-mail.

  2. Thanks, Dan. I do have some female readers so I expect that my post will reach them and that they’ll comment if the spirit moves them.

  3. By “the women themselves,” I was referring to “women in the pornography industry” rather than “women in general.”

  4. This is an interesting question.
    First, let’s think of young girls growing up today, there is intense pressure on them to look a certain way and be a certain thing and that tends to include taking one’s clothes off. Society has programmed women to believe that taking ones clothes off or looking ”sexy” is desirable. There is no question that pornography cuts deep into that because most of the time, the actresses are naked.
    I personally do not think pornography is empowering towards women. I do think it just perpetuates the idea of women as models and further pushes the debate of ideal bodies and faces to women, when factors like personalities and how a woman treats another person should matter more. Those actresses who do adult films become meat on a platter for the male viewers to pick at if we are refering to heterosexual pornography. is that really a way forward to changing the gender imbalance? I am not sure.

    I do think sexuality can be used to be empowering for women and I am not saying women should fully cover up but it all depends on context. When a women is in an adult film acting, she may be expressing her right to do what she wants but she is also indirectly perpetuating the position of the woman as a trophy on a pedestal.

    Dan, the fact that women work within pornography doesn’t change the fact for me that it is still demeaning for women. It just objectifies and when something is objectified, where is the power hidden?

  5. The individuals that willingly sign up to get their worlds rocked on film know what they are getting into & for the most part no one is being forced.

    I love porno & look at it to get off & nothing more & happy endings are always guaranteed.

    Like most things, if you are not into, save your time, money & forget about it because porn is going nowhere.

    Enough talk, I headed to to get off right now!


  6. “Dan, the fact that women work within pornography doesn’t change the fact for me that it is still demeaning for women. It just objectifies and when something is objectified, where is the power hidden?”

    I want to understand the question you’re asking before I try to answer. Are you saying that you feel a woman who controls all the decisions related to her porn modeling career makes you feel demeaned? Or are you saying that you feel she is demeaned?

    Renegade Evolution writes in her blog that part of the power for her is that she gets to set her hours for her convenience, that she gets to do work she enjoys instead of work that bores her to tears for less pay, that she gets to decide not to work with a given counter party if she doesn’t want to, etc. If you don’t see power in any of that, I can’t explain it to you. Other women might provide other reasons they find power.

  7. Dan, I feel like she, the woman who wants to be part of adult films, presents an image of womenkind being demeaned. Pornography is a tool not only for pleasure but for incarceration. Women are thus bound to the idea that they are objects who are ‘entered’ by men. This is just my personal opinion & I don’t business really about the women who want to work in porn. But what they must realise is the image they are contributing to womenkind is derogatory.

    As much as women have tried to be like men in terms of sex, we still live in a world that is judged by image. The ‘madonna/whore’ image is thriving and I think pornography doesn’t empowers any women because it bases everything on looks. I wouldn’t say I am fully conservative about sex but broadcasting it via a screen makes a the people zoo exhibits. That’s the last thing women need when they are already demeaned by the ruthless media.


  8. At the risk of being incredibly perfunctory, most porn creeps me out. Even back in the day when I was ripping and running pretty hard. But that’s just me.

  9. Ah, porn.

    so many battles have been fought over porn. I think both sides of the debate have valid points.

    Here’s where I try to make sense of it. For me, I am a true believer in the maxim, “everyone has a right to do as they please, without interference from anyone else, so long as nobody else gets hurt in the process.”

    Now, seems simple but it ain’t. We live in a culture of domination: white, male, hetero, capitalist, abled. Does that culture of domination remove entirely the possiblity of autonomously doing something the dominant class uses to maintain subordination? I don’t think so. However, the question is one of autonomy. And autonomy is a tricky little bastard to grip onto. Jsut because a person says she is freely doing something of her own will doesn’t mean she is. There is a thing called false consciousness. however, I think one way to increase autonomy, measure it in a way, is to check out whether said person has alternate, equally viable choices available to her. If making porn is the only option for her to feed herself and her family, that’s coercive. If making porn is the only way for her to feed an addiction, that’s coercive. If making porn is the only way she gets to live in a certain desired country, that’s coercive. If making porn is the only way she can feel valued, that’s coercive. Even if she convinces herself she likes her job. If, on the other hand, she has other options available, then that test for autonomy is met. And really, the ultimate way to increase the autonomy of women who make their living making porn is to dismantle the overarching system of male domination.

    As for porn harming others, I have seen porn that has made me cry from the feeling that what I was seeing was hate propaganda, that the women I was watching being abused and degraded could just have easily been me, that [some] men hate women. what a visceral and powerful thing that was for me. It was a deep moment of clarity. And it was painful. It was painful to come to an understanding that there are some men out there who hate me, ME, because I’m a woman, and I’ve had enough experience in my life with lovers and other men trying to control and dominate and objectify me that I knew it was true. Some porn puts that hatred in the water, so to speak. I do believe that a lot of porn contributes greatly to an overall culture of male domination. but it’s certainly not the cause of it. It reinforces it, and is a symptom of it, all at once.

    I despise the way lesbianism has been appropriated via “girl on girl” porn for the purposes of male titillation. I also find a lot of porn to be deeply racist. Also, bear in mind that it is indeed an industry where the majority of profits line the pockets of men. Porn is a multi-billion dollar industry. Are porn actresses, directors, etc. making that kind of money? not a chance. they are merely getting a slice of the pie, sometimes a nice and filling slice, but nowhere near a big slice. Sometimes they get no slice at all (GGW). Porn is a business that cares very little about its effects on the culture at large.

    I also think erotica is a beautiful thing. Subjective, yes, the differentiation is most subjective. Ultimately, I think what turns us on is largely socially constructed. Seeing pornified images (not just in porn, but in advertising, television, fashion, music videos, etc) reinforces and shapes desire. stripping all that away and finding out what REALLY turns you on is a difficult process. but worthwhile.

    so, while I think the “porn question” is an interesting one, I don’t think it is one that can be answered simply.

  10. Aurelia,

    You can’t have it both ways. If it’s just your personal opinion then no one “must realize” anything about it except that it’s your personal opinion. If it carries some weight that someone “must realize” than you’re asserting something as fact without backing it up. If you find it demeaning or incarcerating or derogatory and they do not, why should they privilege your opinion over their own?

    “The ‘madonna/whore’ image is thriving and I think pornography doesn’t empowers any women because it bases everything on looks. ”

    I think we must have encountered different pornography in our lifetimes. Certainly, there’s plenty of pornography that is purely based on looks, but there is plenty of pornography that isn’t — even if we’re specifically discussing photographic and cinemagraphic pornography, excluding the purely textual.

    I also have to question your analogy of pornographic performance to “zoo exhibits?” Is that really the only way it can be considered, or might it also be akin to ballet, or opera, (or any other performing art)? If not, why not? If so, then how is the “zoo exhibit” experience a function of pornography itself and not of your interaction with it?

  11. Dan, I am in no way saying people have to think like me. I couldn’t care less if people did or did not think like me. What I am saying about porn plain and simple is I don’t understand all the hoo-ha as celebrating it too much when clearly it presents a difficult position in how it perceives women.

    Thinking Girl made some great points.

  12. Pornography is not sex. Pornography is always visual. You can’t smell what it’s like, you don’t know what’s going on behind the eyes of the actors you don’t hear the director shouting at the girl “Smile smile”.

    It’s a further corporatization of our personal lives. Selling us a very limited form of sexual display instead of us experiencing genuine FREE one to one intimacy.

    Hollywood movies are overwhelming directed by men, with women making up less then 10% of movie directors. Do we think directing in porn is more egalitarian or less?

    Let’s look at Jenna Jamison, Starlett of the porn industry, (now retired) this is a women who will not let her own daughter work in porn. She was ripping braces off her teeth with pliers when she was 17 so she could get “noticed”. This is healthy and empowering? And she’s the success? I read somewhere that she cried after she got her boob job removed. You think those were tears of sorrow?

    We can watch movies that end with “No animals were harmed in the production of this film” but the porn industry could never come about with such a statement.

    Go to Adult video news, check out the top selling porn titles. Are they empowering towards women? Look at the spam that comes through your email soliciting porn, are the subject lines empowering towards women? It may not be what some people here are looking at, but it’s what the majority is consuming.

    Usually I see “dumb B1tches getting it” and never have I seen “Beautiful couple sharing sex”.

    Robert Jensen has written some stuff on the pornography industry and was told by one male director/producer, that this stuff is only going to get more violent. Check out his essay with Prof Gail DInes “Pornography is a left issue”. @ ZMag. He also has a new book called “getting Off”.

    I would also suggest finding a copy of D.A Clark’s “Prostitution for everyone: Feminism, globalisation and the ‘sex’ industry”” I only know of it’s availability in a compilation of essays titled “Not for Sale”. Brilliant stuff.

    It kills me that Madison Avenue (new york) will spend multi-Billions yearly on advertising commercials because they know these visual images effect our brains, but when it comes to Pornography, somehow these visual displays have no effect on us. Some how we’re above “this” form of visual stimulation.

    For the record, I am a male, I’m not a christian, and I enjoy sex. Oh yeah and my parents were not puritans.

  13. Hardcore, beanphed. Hardcore.

    I was waiting for someone to get to the core of the matter; not that other people didn’t, I just didn’t feel it like I felt this.


  14. Perhaps , if we didn’t have such un healthy view about sex , we would have no porn .
    Porn is there because sex is forbidden in our society .

  15. I believe it’s demeaning. You can point to me the handful of women who do producing, etc. But, they are miniscule compared to the women who are put through a demeaning, degrading meat grinder that exploits them.

    Don’t romanticize it. Don’t make it anymore than what it is. Men own it. Men control it, and the number of women in any position of power could fit into a thimble. It’s done for male amusement and objectification of women.

    I won’t even get into the number of UNDERAGED GIRLS involved in it. Nobody can tell me that underaged girls are ‘ empowered’ by the industry.

  16. rikyrah summed it up brilliantly.

  17. I can’t start by focusing in so narrowly on porn.

    On good, happy, comfy, grounded days where I feel whole, I incorporate pornographer…the written, queer kind, into my self definition.

    From this place, I respectfully submit that I think there are a few unspoken questions contained herein.

    What excites us and why?
    How were Black people constructed as deviant?
    How do we experience and express healthy sexualities away from the scourge of white domination?
    What does healthy sexuality look like?
    What were we taught about the erotic, about sexual orientation about our bodies by our families?
    How were they taught?
    How far back do we have to go asking who was taught what before we get back to slave times?
    How can we incorporate the idea of emancipatory sexuality into our ideas about black liberation?
    What good would this do?
    Would we be making a different kind of revolution, a more whole revolution if we did?
    How would our children grown to adulthood not shackled by sexual dysfunction and fear of the erotic, feel about the work we could do in freedom time?

    And hey! This is my second time popping by and I couldn’t resist jumping in.


  18. I don’t really watch pornography but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s bad or wrong. People participate in it by choice.

    Now, people shouldn’t try to drag down the whole industry because there are a few ills about it, such as young girls being involved and what not- that’s not the whole industry.

    I don’t know, the whole concept of being upset by something no one is forcing you to watch or see still boggles my mind, lol.

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