Tree of Finches

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Archive for July, 2008

2257 (from the “Let’s Think About This for More than 30 Seconds” file)

Posted by A birch tree on July 20, 2008

It has come to my attention that certain parties are attempting to silence Stop Porn Culture‘s new slideshow (which I will not link to, as I have been informed it contains explicit images) by using US Code Title 18, Section 2257 to declare it and other such anti-porn information and demonstrations by activists such as Gail Dines (who has a great non-pornographic presentation viewable here) illegal.

2257 says:

(a) Whoever produces any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, or other matter which—
(1) contains one or more visual depictions made after November 1, 1990 of actual sexually explicit conduct; and
(2) is produced in whole or in part with materials which have been mailed or shipped in interstate or foreign commerce, or is shipped or transported or is intended for shipment or transportation in interstate or foreign commerce;
shall create and maintain individually identifiable records pertaining to every performer portrayed in such a visual depiction.

It goes on to talk about specifics and penalties. In a nutshell, this means that anyone who produces pornographic shit needs to have records verifying who the victims are and how old they are (because remember, porn magically becomes a safe industry after a woman turns 18).

The parties opposed to antipornography activism, in a full-out defensive breath-holding temper tantrum, are claiming, with much mock indignance on the part of pornography victims performers, that people who put together such slideshows that include pornography for demonstrative purposes are in violation of 2257 in that they don’t have the aforementioned identification documents on site.

I smell Male Logic(tm)* at work. Taking a clear, valid law and messing around with the meanings of words and the original spirit in which the law was intended in order to punish the people that they are opposed to, but whose goals the law was intended to help along, while at the same time not insisting on the same application for industries and activities they favor, is pretty classic. They use a process I like to call “I couldn’t find a flaw in the first thirty seconds on thinking about this idea, so it must hold water”. It’s the same kind of thinking that gives us “Men are hardwired by evolution to love big breasts” and “Women are underrepresented in science and engineering and other high-prestige, high-paying fields because they just don’t like math.” It scratches the surface of an issue, creates a soundbite, and sends the soundbite around the world to make it gospel.

To wit: I imagine said parties would not insist that x-rated movie theatres, so-called “adult” bookstores, or pornographic video stores are noncompliant with 2257 because they don’t have the requisite identification documents on-hand. Furthermore, if 2257 were as strictly applied as some with a porn addiction and/or a financial stake in the sex industry claim they would like it to be, it would subject a dude who gets his buddies together to watch his latest porno to criminal charges and fines, since he doesn’t have the documentation in his bedside table, and would therefore be liable for presenting it to his pornsick friends.

I might accept that trade-off. Anti-porn radical feminists and radical pro-feminists are no longer allowed to show an audience an informative slideshow or video as long as individual dudes are not allowed to show an audience a titillative slideshow or video, and “adult” bookstores are no longer allowed to include peep booths, and X-rated movie theatres and video stories must get copies of all the relevant documentation for every movie they show or carry.

Of course, the pro-porn crowd (including the odd male pro-porn feminist) doesn’t promote that particular set of stringent applications because (A) those consequences only show up in the brain at around 32+ seconds of thinking and (B) they only want to use the law to protect their interests, not thwart them.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that I have not seen Stop Porn Culture’s slideshow, nor any of the pornographic ones Gail Dines is reputed to be responsible for, nor do I necessarily agree with that particular method of education. The efficacy telling people to stop using pornography via showing them lots of pornography is, to my mind, rather arguable; at least in that most people (men especially) who profess ignorance of the content of modern pornography are probably liars, seeing as our society is pretty much being pickled in a barrel of porn-brine. Having said that, a number of activists, including some I personally respect, consider it to be a viable and effective method of education and communication, and it appears the pro-porn lobby agrees with them, elsewise they wouldn’t be going to the trouble of trying to selectively misapply parts of US law to lever said tactic out of Stop Porn Culture’s hands.

I suppose what really ruffles the finches’ feathers is that the pro-porn lobby seems to show so much concern for the “rights” of porn participators when it comes to using their images without proper documentation, but not when it comes to, say, their terrifyingly high rates of PTSD or the fact that 80% of them don’t even get the courtesy of a condom, much less how they tend to discount the stories of any woman who has been horribly abused by the porn industry. No no, their (arbitrarily applied) concern is over documentation. That’s obviously the important issue.

-a birch tree

*[Male Logic(tm) is merely a reference to the skewed and often idiotic twisting of actual logic that is often used by men trying to justify the un-justifyable, but its use is no longer constrained by gender. I mention this so that nobody gets the idea that the subjects of this post are exclusively male.]

Posted in Feminism, Links, Sex Industry | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

On trusting men

Posted by A birch tree on July 16, 2008

When I logged on today, the finches said to me “Tree, don’t get sidetracked. We’ve got a huge post on transgenderism/transphobia to research, and we’ll probably have enough grist left afterwards for another Fact Dump. You’ve got three hours, use them wisely!”

Then, just as I got started, I ran into the furor surrounding Kyle Payne. A self-proclaimed radical pro-feminist blogger and sexual assault advocate is arrested for raping and photographing an unconcious student at Buena Vista University, where he is a Resident Advisor.

I read that post and my stomach churned. I read some of the other links back, and did a quick google on the situation, and my stomach positively flipped over.

You know how they say child molestors will try to find jobs or homes where they have easy access to children? That’s exactly the kind of thing this man did; he had a rape fetish and put himself into a position to be close to the kinds of victims he fantasized about. He listened to, and probably got off on, stories of women’s nightmares from the mouths of the victims themselves, who had no idea that they were being re-victimized right there in his presence. He was finally caught acting on his deviant fantasies by the university and the police when they found his homemade rape porn on his computer (some comments in this blog claim that his computers were originally siezed in a search for child pornography, and that it is stated in the search warrant records. I haven’t looked up that information myself, but, you know what? It wouldn’t surprise me at all).

How many women poured their stories of trauma and terror to this man, only to have him masturbate about them? How many women will be afraid to take advantage of services for rape victims due to the harm this man has caused so many women? And, most importantly, how many women did he rape that he didn’t videotape?

This is exactly why men should not be working with rape victims in an advocate or crisis-counselor capacity: men cannot be trusted. Maybe, if I’m feeling generous, I might allow for the idea that “not all men” do this, and there are some loving, caring, wonderfully fuzzy happy men who work in this field for the sense of personal fulfillment blah blah blah. I can’t for the life of me figure out how someone could justify forcing the vulnerable, traumatized women who call these centers to take such a significant risk of re-victimization just because there might be a dude somewhere who has bucked his sociosexual training enough not to take advantage of every perceived position of power over women to fulfill his own sense of entitlement to, among other things, feelings of control and sexual titillation. Is a man’s desire, innocently and helpfully motivated as it may be, to work in this specific field really worth more than women’s desires not to have to worry about being re-victimized? Is this issue really so important for men that it’s worth making rape victims add an extra set of anxieties on top of the ones resulting from the rape itself, for example: “will/is/did my rape crisis counsellor get/getting off on the story of my brutal rape? Was/is that exciting for him? Does he want to rape me too?”

The only people that the whole “Women shouldn’t automatically distrust men, because we’re not ALL rapists!” meme benefits are rapists. Any man who gives a shit about women and their daily struggles wouldn’t be offended by distrust or suspicion. Any man who is trying to toss his load of priviledge and entitlement would welcome the opportunity to prove his general good-ness via a slow progression of time over which he demonstrates in all his behaviors, large and small, in all social and private contexts, that he is not a dickwad, rather than simply having the assumption made that because he has a penis he is the embodiment of all that is upstanding and trustworthy in spite of the intense rate at which crimes against women are perpetrated by penis-wielders in this society.

As far as this specific case is concerned, the ripples from this man’s actions continue to spread. Some blogs go so far as to take his actions as an indictment of the anti-pornography movement (paraphrase: “See? People who don’t use porn are the REALLY dangerous, repressed ones with scary dark sides! This guy proves it!”). Some people say the radical feminist movement should have to answer for this dude, since he claimed to be among their number and linked to a bunch of their blogs. Lots of people are really quick to blame women for either this man’s actions, or for trusting him to begin with. Fingers point. Fur flies. This man’s crimes are used to futher unrelated personal vendettas at the expense of his victims. Women who had no idea this man even existed are called to task for not denouncing him.

We live in Patriarchy, after all; everything bad a man ever does can, eventually, be used to shame, blame or discredit a woman or two. The status quo marches on.

-a birch tree

*How do I make this, and some of the above, assumptions? Pretty simple, actually: he’s a rapist, he committed rape, and he presumably got off on rape. Ergo, this man gets off on rape, ergo, he probably got off on accounts of rape his victims gave him, turning it into an even sicker form of pornography.

Posted in Feminism, Liberal Men, Rape, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

From the “Hightening My Cynicism” file..

Posted by A birch tree on July 9, 2008

I’ve been hit with a double-wammy to my faith in the general basic goodness of humanity in just the last twelve hours or so.

Late last night, Aria and I were watching “The Secret Lives of Women: Eating Disorders” on the WE network. It was a pretty good show, following a quartet of women who have various eating disorders, talking to them and their families about their feelings and struggles and treatments. Then we get to the commercials. In the words of Dave Barry, I swear I am not making this up: Weight Watchers. WE sold ad time during a show about eating disorders to a predatory diet company. And then, just when I had finished saying “WTF, mate?”, it gets worse: they run an ad for bariatric surgery. Seriously, what the hell? Are they hoping some poor woman with anorexia might be watching the show and saying “Wow, look at that, maybe I should look into getting some help…” and then see the surgery ad and go “Yes! That’s the help I need! Right there! Sign me up!”? See fig. 3-7.

Then, this morning, Aria points me to an article in the UK’s Daily Mail (found via Life After the Oil Crash). If last nights commercial shock pegged my cynicism needle, this story shattered it.

Just two days ago, Gordon Brown was urging us all to stop wasting food and combat rising prices and a global shortage of provisions.

But yesterday the Prime Minister and other world leaders sat down to an 18-course gastronomic extravaganza at a G8 summit in Japan, which is focusing on the food crisis.

Words, which have never been exactly willing and pliable beasts to my harness, stop in their tracks to nibble grass while I try vainly to prod them into motion.

I’m trying to imagine the conversation at the dinner table.

Bladass Politician A: “So, nom nom nom what do we nom nom think about the nom food crisis? nom nom” [crumbs fall from his stuffed mouth]
Bladass Politician B: “nom nom It’s obviously not nom nom nom all that bad, nom nom, eh?”
[General Bladass Politician Laugher, disgusting chewing and burping sounds.]

Yeah, these people give a shit. Yeah, they’re in touch. Riiiiight.

Posted in Feminism, Food Crisis, Global Environment, Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »