Banter in the Garden
|Presenting the 51st… on Guest Post: Women’s Refu…|
|Fuck off, Bob Jones,… on Risky Business|
|Daniel Copeland on Risky Business|
|Emma on Risky Business|
|Deborah on A plea for your voice.|
Tea and Strumpets
Hopefully, in the coming weeks, we’re going to talk about pornography. No, seriously. Well, not entirely seriously, but still… I want to talk about the history of sexual imagery, moralism, sexism, and what I think of as The New Pornography, but which is more commonly referred to as “porn for women”.
But as I was putting together my first post, I realised I need to do something first. I need to say what I’m NOT saying, and clarify some terminology. I don’t want to have to be saying the same things over and over. My intention for this post is that I’ll link all the other posts to it, so if there’s anything I haven’t mentioned that you think I should, or that needs clarifying, please raise it in comments, and I’ll see if I can accommodate it.
1/ I’m using the term “pornography” to refer to “sexually explicit material”. Any sexually explicit material, regardless of medium. Yes, that includes stories. I’ll try to avoid using the word “erotica”, and here’s why.
If I sent you, one by one, into a room with a hundred animals and told you to sort them into cats and dogs, you’d all do the same. All the dogs together, all the cats together, left with the guinea pig and a slightly annoyed expression. But if I did the same thing with a hundred images and said, “Sort them into pornography and erotica,” I’d quite likely get a hundred different results. There’d be images at either end you’d all agree on, and a big mess in the middle. I don’t think there’s any meaningful distinction between the two terms.
2/ I am not saying that “all porn is good”. What I am saying is that there really isn’t anything that ALL porn is, except sexual. Nor am I arguing for an unregulated free-for-all for pornography. I’m trying to highlight less typical porn, but I’m not saying that alternative, or goth, or indie or LGBT pornography is all the porn there is.
3/ I know there are individuals who have real problems with pornography, just as some have issues with gambling or alcohol. I know dealing with those people can be hugely distressing, and that they can do enormous damage to the lives of the people around them. I sympathise. But as with gambling and alcohol, the vast majority of users don’t have those problems. So any unqualified statements about “porn users” must be applicable to, say, me.
4/ The content of these posts is bound to get TLG blocked by some web filters. I’ve done the same thing to Public Address. (Russell: “We’ll never get PA unblocked at the Titirangi Public Library now!”) I’m sorry about that.
5/ I will never post anything I consider too explicit directly here on the site. I will link to it in other places, with appropriate content warnings. However. I can’t see inside your head. I can’t tell exactly what you will find uncomfortable or distressing. Please know you’re under no pressure to click on any link, and you can stop watching anything at any time. While I want to give some idea of, say, what The New Pornography actually looks like, I don’t want to make anyone feel horrible.
6/ However, just assume that anything I label as any degree of explicit is R18. When it comes to things like paintings and historical artefacts, you’ll have to make your own judgements.
7/ Any unqualified statements you make in comments about “pornography” must be applicable to gay and lesbian porn, or a person at home filming themselves masturbating. If they’re not, you need to be specific about what kind of sexual material you’re talking about. The same goes for me.
8/ If you’re going to mention or quote the work of a prominent anti-porn feminist, it’d be helpful for you if she wasn’t on record as making horrific, shaming, erasive, or borderline-abusive statements about: trans* people, sex workers, porn actors or BDSM practitioners. So, not so much Gail Dines, Sheila Jeffreys or Julie Bindell. At least be aware that I have no respect for them based on things they’ve actually said.
9/ I’m not trying to pressure anyone into viewing porn (I really don’t like the term “using”, I think it’s loaded) or pretending to be okay with it when they’re not. What I’m aiming for is to have a discussion which is informed.
10/ The Dworkin-MacKinnon definition of “pornography” is personally offensive to me, because it’s erasive of BDSM women. It’s fostered a culture of censorship that cannot acknowledge the existence of consensual sexual violence – which, in fact, diminishes the importance of consent. They object to women being depicted as enjoying pain or humiliation – they’re not allowed to LIKE it. I like it. Ergo, I don’t exist, or I have false consciousness. Fuck, not to put to fine a point on it, that shit.
11/ Admitting to viewing or liking pornography is a huge risk, as is admitting to a non-vanilla sexuality. Please bear that in mind when dealing with commenters who are prepared to do that here – including myself. Shaming or abusive comments will be removed.
Okay, I know discussing this is going to be difficult to start with because you can’t tell what’s going to be an issue before I start posting stuff, but I intend this post to be an on-going work. Raise points and issues. Also, if you have sexual material you like that you’d recommend to others, give me links. What I have is naturally biased towards my own tastes, so more lesbian and BDSM.