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Archive for the ‘Sex Industry’ Category

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 »

Fact Dump – Pornography and the Sex Industry

Posted by A birch tree on April 14, 2008

[Updated on 25May08 – Prostitution: Working Environment and Prostitution: Effects on Prostitutes]

Ok, so I lied. One more post about pornography and the sex industry.

I figured, since I’d been gathering so many links, lots of facts weren’t finding their way into my posts, and the ones that were, well, they were getting scattered amongst several posts.

So I’m going to take a moment to compile a bunch of research on the topic of the sex industry. Hopefully someone might find this helpful, in some context. Information can be a powerful tool.

Also, I need a bit of help locating a quotation I can no longer find. I read somewhere that at least one group of researchers was so successful in demonstrating the harmful effects of pornography that many univerisy ethics boards will no longer approve studies that expose subjects to pornography. I really need a source for that claim before I start trying to use it, however, so if anyone has heard the quotation I’m talking about, I’d really appreciate a link to it!

Effects of the Sex Industry on Women Employed Therein:

Prostitution: Entry Factors

  • More than 90% of prostitutes suffered childhood sexual abuse.1
  • At least two-thirds of prostitutes began before their 16th birthday; the average age of entry into prostitution in the USA is 14.1 2
  • 96% of child prostitutes surveyed were runaways, and said they had no other way to make money.1
  • Two thirds of prostitutes were sexually abused as children, with the average age of first victimization being 10 years old. More than 65% of those were sexually abused by either natural, step-, or foster fathers. 90% of prostitutes surveyed reported that they lost their virginity through sexual assault. 70% cited those events as influencing their entry into sex work.1 2
  • Approximately 400,000 women are trafficked across international borders for the purposes of forced sexual exploitation yearly. 50,000 of those are brought into the USA. 4 5 6

Prostitution: Working Environment

  • 82% of prostitutes reported being physically assaulted while on the job. 83% were threatened with a weapon.1 2 3
  • 68% reported being raped while working. In 27% of rape cases, there were multiple assailants (4 being the average).1 2 3
  • Two-thirds of prostitutes report being beaten by pimps. Half were kidnapped by pimps.1
  • Hunter, 1994, found that prostitutes in Portland, Oregon were being raped approximately once a week.2
  • 84% reported being homeless.1 3
  • 80% stated that customers used pornography and photographs to demonstrate which activities they wanted the prostitutes to perform.1 2 3
  • At least 90% of prostitution is controlled by pimps. Pimps routinely employ rape, physical abuse, and torture to maintain control of prostitutes, and many hire “catchers”; thugs tasked with patrolling the edges of the pimp’s territory to apprehend prostitutes who attempt to escape.2
  • [Update: 25May08]The workplace homicide rate for prostitutes as of 2004 was 201 per 100,000. Compare to the “Most Dangerous Profession” as of May 2008: Mining, with an occupational death rate of only 30.1 per 100,000.16 17

Prostitution: Effects on Prostitutes

  • 75% of prostitutes have attempted suicide.1
  • 15% of all suicide victims are prostitutes.1
  • Baldwin, 1992, reported that women and girls involved in prostitution had a mortality rate forty (40) times higher than the Canadian national average.2
  • As many as 84% of prostitutes suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 2
  • Of those prostitutes suffering from PTSD, the average severity rating was higher than that of Vietnam War veterans who requested treatment. 3
  • 88% of prostitutes in the USA report wanting to leave prostitution. 3
  • [Update: 25May08] The average age of death for a woman in prostitution is 34 years old.16

Some quotations from the studies:

Any distinction between prostitution of children and prostitution of adults is arbitrary, and obscures this lengthy history of trauma. The 15-year-old in prostitution eventually turns 18, but she has not suddenly made a new vocational choice. She simply continues to be exploited by customers and pimps.1

A number of authors (e.g. Barry, 1995; Hoigard and Finstad, 1992; Leidholdt, 1993; Ross et al., 1990; Vanwesenbeeck, 1994) have described the psychological defenses which are necessitated by the experience of prostitution, and which frequently persist: splitting off certain kinds of awareness and memories, disembodiment, dissociation, amnesia, hiding one’s real self (often until the nonprostituted self begins to blur), depersonalization, denial.1

Traffickers sell the women into the prostitution network for $4000 – 5000 for short-term contracted work. The women are then forced to pay off the fee for their “owners” by free “servicing” of up to 500 men, in 12-plus hour shifts, seven days a week, before earning a low fee for sexual services. 5

Pornography: Entry Factors

  • Entry factors into pornography are essentially identical to prostitution. 7
  • Pornographers often use fraudulent job advertisements for “models” or “actresses” and then are coerced into sexual acts at their “interview”. 7

Pornography: Effects on Actresses and Working Environment

  • The PTSD rates affecting porn actresses are similar to the rates affecting prostitutes. Further, prostitutes who were forced by their customers or pimps to perform in pornography had significantly more PTSD symptoms than prostitutes who did not have pornography made of them. 7
  • The use of condoms in the American porn industry is less than 20%. 7
  • The average pay for a single porn scene, which includes oral, anal, and vaginal penetration, is $500, which must be stretched between periods of no work. Actresses in amature productions are rarely paid at all. 7

Pornography: Effects on Viewers

  • Donnerstein, 1983, discovered that after only 10 minutes of exposure to agressive pornography, males were significantly more likely to report the believe that an average of 25% of the women they know enjoy being raped.8
  • Malamuth and Check, 1981, showed that exposure to sexually violent movies increased male’s acceptance of violence against women. 8
  • “Zillmann and Bryant found that the male subjects who were exposed to the massive amounts of pornography considered rape a less serious crime than they did before they were exposed to it; they thought that prison sentences for rape should be shorter; and they perceived sexual aggression and abuse as causing less suffering for the victims, even in the case of an adult male having sexual intercourse with a 12-year-old girl (1984, p. 132). They concluded that “heavy exposure to common non-violent pornography trivialized rape as a criminal offense” (1984, p. 117).” 8
  • In the same study, males in the massive exposure group were more likely to agree with statements such as “a woman doesn’t mean ‘no’ until she slaps you” and “if they are old enough to bleed, they are old enough to butcher”.8 15
  • Donnerstein and Linz, 1985, conducted a study which found that subjects exposed to sexually violent material judged rape victims to be more worthless, her injury as less severe, and assigned more bame to her for being raped, than the subjects in the control groups. Malamuth reproduced these results in 1984 and 19868 13
  • Donnersein, 1983, showed that while only 25%-30% of male students admitted they might rape a woman if they could get away with it increased to 57% after exposure to sexually violent images depicting women enjoying rape.9
  • Malamuth and Check, 1985, found a positive correlation between the amount of sexually explicit material a group of male students were exposed to and their beliefs that women enjoy forced sex. 9
  • 67% of the males who admitted that they had wanted to rape a woman reported reading pornographic magazines, compared to only 19% of those who said that they had never wanted to rape a woman.9
  • 53% of incarcerated child molestors reported intentionally using pornography to prepare for their crimes. 9
  • Regular users of pornography are less likely to convict for a rape, and less likely to give a harsh sentence to a rapist if in fact convicted. Conversely, individuals who do not use pornography are more likely to convict an accused rapist.10 11
  • Pornographic images create chemically encoded messages on the brain that can remain through adulthood. Human memory is formed in part by the release of the chemical epinephrine which, upon emotional arousal, leaves behind an imprint on the brain. 12

Some quotations from the studies and surveys:

“Girls have a shelf life of nine months to two years, unless you are different. Like me, I am Asian, so it helps. Men stay forever. It is different for a man. If he can perform, he can stay in. There are guys that have been in the business ten or fifteen years.”7

“The relationship between particularly sexually violent images in the media and subsequent aggression…is much stronger statistically than the relationship between smoking and lung cancer.” 9

“Regular users of pornography are more likely to think of women as socially non-discriminating, as hysterically euphoric in response to just about any sexual or pseudosexual stimulation, and as eager to accommodate seemingly any and every sexual request.” -Zillman and Bryant, 1984. 10

“The puzzling refrain I’d begun hearing from porn outsiders: “There are plenty of people with histories of sexual abuse who didn’t grow up to be porn stars.” That’s missing the point: The ones who did become sex workers were abused. All of them, that’s my guess.”14

Some studies, in detail:

Malamuth (1978)
The experiment: male subjects were divided into 3 groups

Group One: read aggressive pornography depicting a rape

Group Two: read non-aggressive pornography depicting consensual sex

Group Three: read neutral National Geographic articles

Afterwards, all subjects were insulted by a female assistant and then allowed to ‘retaliate’ against her with electric shocks.

However, half of the group was told they could be as aggressive as they wished (disinhibited group); the other half were given a message to make them reluctant to use aggression (inhibited group).


Inhibited group members were most reluctant to retaliate.

In the disinhibited group, the most shocks were given by those exposed to the aggressive pornography.15

Silbert and Pines, 1981
The experiment: Researchers interviewed 200 San Francisco prostitutes. The interviews touched on history of sexual abuse, including rape and child sexual abuse.

The results:

178 of 200 prostitutes reported child sexual abuse.

193 of 200 prostitutes reported being raped as adults.

In other words, only 7 of these 200 prostitutes had never been raped or molested.

Without being asked about porn, 24% of the rape survivors spontaneously added that their attacker had specifically cited his porn use during the crime.

This was also true of 22% of the child sexual abuse survivors. 15

Zillmann and Bryant (1982)

The question: what are the consequences of continued exposure to pornography on beliefs about sexuality in general and on attitudes towards women?

The experiment:

Part One:

80 male and 80 female participants are divided into four subgroups

Massive Exposure Group: saw 36 short, non-violent porn films (about 5 hours of film) over six weeks.
Intermediate Exposure Group: saw 18 short, non-violent porn films and 18 regular films over six weeks.
No Exposure Group: saw 36 regular films.
Control Group: saw no films, not brought in till the second phase.

Part Two:

Participants read about a rape case and were asked to recommend a the length of the prison sentence for the rapist.

They were also asked to indicate their support for the women’s rights movement on a 0 to 100 scale.

Finally, they were asked to estimate the popularity of various sexual acts among the general population.


In recommending a prison term for a rapist, folks in the Massive Exposure Group chose, on average, prison terms that were half as long as terms recommended by the people in the No Exposure Group. (A five-year sentence versus a ten-year sentence)

When asked to rate their support for women’s rights, men and women in the Massive Exposure Group indicated about half as much support as participants in the No Exposure Group. (38% versus 76%)

Finally, men and women in the Massive Exposure Group rated anal sex, group sex, and bestiality at least twice as common as did the No Exposure Group. (For example, the Massive Exposure Group estimated that 30% of Americans had group sex, while the No Exposure Group estimated only 11% did. The Massive Exposure Group also estimated that 12% of Americans were having sex with animals.)

Conclusion: Zillmann and Bryant conclude that massive exposure to pornography made rape appear a more trivial offense, which seemed also to parallel a drop in support for women’s rights. Also, intensive porn-viewing led to beliefs that unusual sexual acts are far more common than they really are.15

1: ICASA Study

2: Prostitution in 5 Countries

3: Prostitution Tables and Charts

4: Trafficking Women for Sexual Exploitation

5: Globalized Female Slavery

6: International Trafficking of Women Into the United States (CIA)

7: Things to Know About the Sex Industry and the Women in it (Scroll down for primary sources)

8: The Role of Pornography in Undermining Some Males’ Internal Inhibitions Against Acting Out the Desire to Rape

9: Further Empirical Findings on the Causative Role of Pornography in Rape

10: Zillman, D., & Bryant, J. (1984). Effects of massive exposure to pornography. In N. M. Malamuth, & E. Donnerstein (Eds), Pornography and Sexual Aggression (pp. 115-142). Orlando, FL: Academic Press

11: Garcia, L.T. (1986). Exposures to pornography and attitude about women and rape: A correlative study. AG 22 (1853) 382-383.

12: McGaugh, J.L. (1983, February). Preserving the presence of the past. American Psychologist, 161

13: Sexual Offenders and Pornography: A Causal Connection?

14: Ian Glitter Excerpt

15: Studies on Pornography and Rape

16: Mortality in a Long Term Open Cohort of Prostitute Women

17: NYT: Miners Found to Have Highest Death Rate On the Job

Supplemental Resources
Reclaiming Their Lives and Breaking Free: An Afrocentric Approach to Recovery From Prostitution
Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on Violence and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
A Comparison of Pimps and Batterers
The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Anti-Porn Web Sites
Should Pornography be Banned as a Threat to Women?
Just Harmless Fun? Understanding the Impact of Pornography

Posted in Feminism, Links, Sex Industry, Studies | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Cleaning up the Industry

Posted by A birch tree on April 12, 2008

So some of you might be asking “Damn, man, what the hell is up with your porn and sex industry fixation?” I know I am, as I look over my notepad of post ideas and realize that three-fifths of the things the chirping finches want me to write about involve some aspect of that brand of fuckery. Well, fear not; I have one last porn-related post to do before I move onto other things. I hope to have at least one environmental post this weekend, two if I’m really motivated and really lucky, and I hope to shift my laser-like focus off of the sex industry and begin to burn away at some other pressing topic of feminism.

So bear with me; I just have to get this last thought out.

As you probably know, I’ve been involved in a bit of a debate recently on-line about legalizing prostitution and the alleged empowering effects of pornography and stripping. I wrote a little bit yesterday afternoon about the idea that legalization promotes safety and good health and generally speaking, happy fluffy bunny feelings for everyone.

It occurred to me, as I talked about it on the phone to my wife, Ari (I’m coming home soon, my love!), that the PPFs are not, in fact, fighting to make the sex industry safer by legalizing it. In order to make it safer and remove the abuses, you can’t just say “Alright, pimps, open season! Have fun!”. You actually have to have, you know, rules and shit. Because porn is as legal as it gets in the USA, and we still have tons of nasty shit going on inside that industry.

Nobody’s made any “clean up the industry” proposals, just “don’t call them whores” proposals. In fact, I suspect that any attempt to write laws or in any way legislate a more woman-friendly sex industry would be met with howls of outrage. In fact, I further suspect that due to the seedy nature of the industry, any actions taken to ensure women are safe would actually destroy the industry, because the industry makes most of its money from putting women into painful and dangerous situations.

Now, of course, certain industry pundits with a conflict of interest assert that such problems are rare, exaggerated, and possibly made up out of whole cloth.

Well that’s great news! If those problems don’t exist, then they should have no qualms whatsoever with actually writing up some legislation to regulate the industry! If there are no problems, we’ll waste some government money for a few years, but we’ll be able to say “Well, shit, guess we were wrong, there really are no widespread abuses here.”

So here are some ideas, in phases, that I think it would be a good idea to pass into law to make the pornography and strip club industries safer. If they work there, we could even apply them to some kind of legalized prostition. Then everyone will be happy.

Right? Somehow, I doubt it. Let’s find out.

Basic Proposals

These are the root of everything; it all starts here. These are the basic, less-radical, mostly administration-related laws. Surely nobody would ever have a problem with these.

  • Define the Sex Industry and Sexually Oriented Businesses as being under federal legislative jurisdiction under the Marshall Doctrine of interstate commerce. States can regulate their own businesses in supplement to the federal government, but cannot pass legislation that conflicts with or diminishes federal sex industry regulations.
  • Create an executive-branch law enforcement agency, the Sex Industry Regulation Enforcement Agency. This agency is given federal jurisdiction over all sexually-oriented businesses, from adult bookstores to strip clubs to porn production studios. Their job is to enforce all of the following regulations and investigate claims of violations. It will be necessary to hire not only experienced investigative and law enforcement personnel, but also counselors and victims’ advocates. The sensitive nature of this government agency will require that all internal departments be staffed with an equal number of qualified men and women.
  • Create a congressional oversite committee. A bipartisan committee comprised of equal numbers of Democrats, Republicans, men, and women will oversee the actions, progress, and efficiency of the SIREA. They’ll control the budget, set internal policies, and make sure all departments are in compliance with both active legislation and said policies.
  • Require all sexually oriented businesses to be properly licensed. A license will be issued to a business only after it can demonstrate compliance will all of the following regulations. No business may operate without said license; penalties for doing so will include prohibition from ever obtaining a license, heavy fines, and jail terms as appropriate, depending on how well the business was established before its discovery. Opertating without a license will be considered prima facie evidence of abuse of performers and other protected employees. A branch of the SIREA will be devoted to tracking down unlicensed businesses and shutting them down, particularly internet-based businesses.
  • Government inspectors from the SIREA will make random, undercover inspections during business hours to ensure all regulations are being followed and that no women are being abused in any way. Any establishment found to be actively abusing, tolerating abuse, or neglecting to address abusive conditions will be put on probationary status, at which point SIREA agents will be on-site at all times. Further violations will result in loss of license, prohibition from applying for a new license for a number of years, and jail terms.
  • Mandatory drug testing for all participants. Random drug testing that hits every employee at least biannually. Actresses, strippers, bouncers, directors, producers, janitors, everyone. There will be no one involved in the sex industry who is under the influence of any mind-altering substance. Alcohol on-set, or being drunk while on-set, will be similarly illegal. Anyone testing positive for a mind-altering substance will be barred from the industry for a period of at least three years, and anyone who hires such a person during the time of their prohibition loses their license.
  • As mentioned above, there will be no alcohol on-set at any time.
  • All relevant laws shall be made applicable to these establishments. For example, assault is a crime. No one can consent to having a crime committed upon them. Therefore, any instance of a person being slapped, punched (including “donkey punched”), pinched, hit, or otherwise assaulted, regardless of whether or not a claim of consent is made, will be treated as assault per local, state, and federal penal codes.
  • Mandatory and thorough background checks. All participants in the industry will be subject to thorough background checks by either the SIREA or an independant third-party contractor. No one with any felony convictions, sex-related convictions, or drug-related offenses will be hired or licensed. Furthermore, any underage people attempting to obtain employment in the sex industry will be barred from doing such for a period of at least three years, and any business or establishment who, in spite of the background check, either through intent to committ fraud or through negligence, hires an underage performer will have their license immediately revoked and responsible parties will be subject to arrest on federal felony charges of attempted or completed sexual abuse of a minor. All participants in the sex industry will be legally consenting adults.
  • All performers will own their performances. All performers in pornography who are in any way recorded or photographed during a strip performance, burlesque performance, or any other performance in a sexually oriented context, including bachelor party performances, will be granted sole and total ownership of all copyrights and other rights to such performances. The master copies will be their sole property, and no reproduction, in whole or in part, will be produced without their express notarized written permission, and such permission can be withdrawn at any time. No contract will ever include the stipulation that a performer give up these rights, nor can such rights be sold to any person until the performer has been out of the industry for a period of at least three years.
  • Out-of-state hiring regulations. If a sexually oriented business hires a performer for a performance to be given out of state, travel arrangements will be made through the SIREA. Any attempt to engage in contract negotiation after the performer has arrived on-site are illegal and will result in immediate license review, and any attempt to withhold return travel accomodations as part of an on-site contract renegotiation, legal or otherwise, in state or out, will be prosecuted under federal kidnapping laws.
  • All sex will be safe sex. Condoms will be clearly and prominantly used in every scene and act of sexual interaction. Furthermore, all unhygenic or dangerous sexual practices (ie: Ass 2 Mouth, in which a performer is penetrated anally and then orally in quick succession by a single penis, or bukkake, in which a large number of men deposit great amounts of ejacuulate onto the face and nearby mucus membranes of another participant) are illegal, and presence of such acts in a performance will be grounds for license review or revokation.

Societal Protections

Numerous studies have linked the sex industry to violence and other antisocial behaviors among its veiwers. So, to try to reduce or eliminate that, here’s a few suggestions:

  • Alcohol consumption cannot be shown as in any way related to the sexual act.
  • Simulated rape scenes are prohibited. Scenes involving unconcious people, or people who say “no” at the beginning of a scene but submit and/or pretend enjoyment at another point in the scene are classified as rape scenes.
  • Infantilizing indicators will be prohibited. This includes all infantilizing behavior or attempting to bestow the markers of immaturity or childishness onto any performer. Primary school uniforms, hairstyles associated with underage persons (pigtails, bowl cuts), lack of pubic hair, spanking themes, school and schoolteacher themes, and other underage themes will be prohibited. Any theme that states or suggests the character, if not the actor or actress, in a scene is underage are also illegal.
  • All actors in pornography will have at least 2/3rds of their body in frame during all sex scenes, unless the face is also visible. This prevents objectification via disassociating body parts from the essential humanity of the performer. All performers will be portrayed as fully human.
  • Removal of Dominance Indicators. As one of the contributing facors in the studies of pornography and violent antisocial behavior is the abundant presence of dominance indicators, in which one party is portrayed as subliminally dominant over the other. As pornography is about sex and sexual pleasure, not reinforcing patriarchal dominant pardigms (at least, in the words of its proponents), these indicators are unecessary and harmful, as well as easily eliminated without destroying the flavor of the performance (if the above claims are true). These indicators are hereby prohibited. They include, but are not limited to:
    • One performer kneeling while the other towers over.
    • Facial cumshots
    • Physical violence, such as hair pulling, scratching, or the use of a penis or penis-like appendage or object as a bludgeouning instrument.
    • Verbal violence, such as name calling, vulgar sexual instructions (ie: “take it all, you cunt”), or quasi-rapist phrases (ie: “You know you want it, bitch” or “I know you like it rough!”)
    • Men of less than average appearance as judged by societal consensus (expressed through media, et al) being paired with women of great culturally-defined beauty, unless the reverse is present in equal quantities.
    • Scenes of racial dominance, especially when coupled with racist language or themes.
    • Clothing dominance, such as scenes in which one party is fully clothed while being serviced by another party, who is completely naked.
    • Performing or simulating unhygenic acts such as urination or defecation onto another party (see also “all sex is safe sex” and the ban on dangerous or unhygenic practices).

There. That should be enough to really get started cleaning things up. Or at the very least, getting a lot of people pissed off over things that, if pornography is really just about sex and not dominance, and/or is not making most of its money through exploitative and unethical business practices, should be pretty much universally agreeable.

Feel free to add your own in the comments section! I’d be really interested to hear them!

Posted in Feminism, Sex Industry, Studies | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

The Number 18

Posted by A birch tree on April 11, 2008

In a recent discussion on the dubious merits of legalizing prostitution in America, the same old canard kept coming up, that being the idea that legalization will somehow magically ensure that all the victims participants are willing, of age, well compensated, well treated, sexually empowered and if not deliriously happy, at least no more exploited than a librarian or janitor. The hyptohesis (oft debunked) is that all or most of the abuses and horrors are a direct result of the profession’s underground status imparting an attitude of “this is already illegal, so I may as well go ahead and rape her, punch her in the face, and make her have sex with a donkey, too”, rather than to the fact that the entire career field is based on women (humans, for anyone who might have been confused about their status) becoming market products, and therefore objects to buy and sell, that make money for men.

Even if I give creedence to that load of codswallop, I can’t get over the fact that the argument only ever seems to apply to prostitution. Obviously, ending Prohibition did not end alcoholism, DUI, domestic violence, date rape, or any of the other downsides to allowing a predatory overclass to imbibe inhibition-lowering chemicals to their black little hearts’ content. It doesn’t appear that legalizing pornography has removed the dark side of coercion, rape, violence, and human commodification. Legalizing speeding in Montana didn’t eliminate deaths from reckless driving. Legalizing sexually oriented businesses in South Australia didn’t reduce sexually oriented crimes:

“For example, in two Australian states between 1964 and 1977, when South Australia liberalized its laws on pornography and Queensland maintained its conservative policy . . . over the 13-year period, the number of rapes in Queensland remained at the same low level while South Australia’s showed a six-fold increase.” – Court, John. Criminal Neglect: Why Sex Offenders Go Free. Toronto: Doubleday, p.141

In fact, lots of things that are now illegal were at one time legal and had to be outlawed precisely because of the abuses inherent in them! Nobody in their right mind suggests that legalizing the hunting of elephants for ivory will help ensure the survival of elephants by reducing poaching, and nobody suggests that making it legal (again) to beat your wife will help curb the nation’s domestic violence problem and eliminate marital rape. Did making child labor illegal in the USA create a black market of dangerous pre-pubescent employment scams in back alleys? No, that was happening when it was legal! Hell, nobody sane even claims that legalizing drugs will drop addiction rates or addiction-based crimes!

Trying to apply this pornsick brand of illogic to any other crime or illegal practice would be patently absurd. Make it legal for big industries to dump pollutants into the waterways, because by keeping it illegal we’re simply encouraging the practice to go on unchecked in an underground, unregulated fashion! Legalize dumping to protect the environment! Legalize cockfighting to protect roosters! Legalize and regulate theft to protect property! Legalize child porn to protect children! Because right now, we’ve just pushed these practices underground and we get the worst of the worst, because we can’t regulate or monitor them! If we made them legal and brought them out into the light of day, all of the downsides to these activities would vanish in a puff of magical pink smoke!

Child porn is a great example, by the way. The idea that prostitutes are only abused because prostitution is already illegal should theoretically apply in exactly the same way to child porn; we’re talking the same kinds of abuses in the same industry, but apparently the reasons kids get raped and abused must be entirely different from the reasons adult women get raped and abused, because somehow, the same logic never seems to apply. Keeping child porn illegal does not, in fact, create the abuses in child porn; abuse is inherent in child porn. But for some strange reason, what is abuse of a minor at 2359 becomes empowerment of an adult at 0000 on theit 18th birthday.

PPFs, at this point, always fall back on “Well, kids are kids and can’t consent, so it’s bad.” This can only mean one of two things:

  • The issue is legal consent, and whatever is legal is moral and safe. Therefore, countries in which it is legal for 15 year olds to be prostitutes cannot be condemned, because the girls are considered consenting adults and the legalization of their status ensures they will not be abused, just like it would for 18 year old girls in America. Everything between consenting adults is ok, because they are legally considered to be consenting adults.
  • There is something amazingly spiritually magical about the number 18, such that all a woman’s mental and emotional faculties are delivered to her via some form of maturational Fed Ex Overnight, and from that moment foward is a fully capabale adult. Any country with an age of legal consent below 18 is abusive, and any country with an age of legal consent above 18 is prudish. The number must be 18, because that’s America’s number.

Nobody tries to take this tack with smoking; we know it’s just as likely to fuck up your lungs at 22 as it was at 15. Nobody says that legalized smoking is safe for 18 year olds but dangerous, abusive, and harmful for 17 year olds. That’d just be stupid. It’s dangerous no matter how old you are. We just pulled an arbitrary number our of our asses and said “Fine, when you hit that number, go fuck yourself up, because you’re not our responsibility anymore.”

But the pro-prostitution advocates aren’t saying that. They aren’t saying “Fine, kid, when you hit 18, go get yourself fucked up by entering a dangerous and exploitative profession, because you’re not our responsibility anymore.” They’re actually saying the sex industry becomes magically safe once a woman celebrates her 18th birthday.

At no point does anyone stop to think “Hey… if this is harmful and inherently abusive to minors to the point that we won’t even allow them to see it, maybe it’s just as harmful and inherently abusive to legal adults, too? Especially when an abused minor and consenting adult can be separated by a completely insignificant amount of time?”

No, of course not. Instead, we pulled an arbitrary number out of our asses, and set it on a pedestal as the age at which all decisions are now considered moral, well-thought-out, and proper. The idea that an act or profession is exploitative and abusive to a 17 year old but the same acts are perfectly safe for an 18 year old is never closely examined, and is not allevated by simply changing where the line is. If it’s abusive and exploitative for a 16 year old, can the exact same scenario be empowering for a 17 year old? How about between 15 and 16? 14 and 15? The incremntal change in emotional maturity is so gradual that trying to draw such a line (abusive on one side, safe on the other) is always going to be an arbitary process best left to apologists for an industry that is inherently abusive and inherently exploitative by its very nature regardless of the age of the participants.

The intellectual dishonesty of the “consenting adults” version of special pleading that goes into this argument is made abundantly clear by the complete lack of any attempt to bring the age of consent in line with the developmental phase scientists have repeatedly shown as the age range at which the brain reaches
full maturity in its decision-making and cognitive processes in the prefrontal cortex: 25-30.

Making the age of consent 25 to 30 would just be… be… PRUDISH! Because then men couldn’t go around ogling SexxxyHott Teens anymore, and that’s just wrong. Who gives a shit if their brains aren’t fully developed yet, and they’d be making much different decisions at 25 than at 18?

But no, that’s not exploitative at all. Just because they aren’t capable enough decision makers to even rent a car doesn’t mean they’re not ready to rent out their bodies to scuzzy dudes, right? No resemblance whatsoever to taking advantage of an already oppressed population’s age-related biological impairment to sexually titillate males and put money in pimps’ pockets. Because the sex industry becomes safe when a girl turns 18, especially if we make it completely legal.

Point is, you can see just how specious the pro-prostitution camp’s arguments are when you put them in the context of any other crime, but especially when you put it in the context of child pornography and age of consent. By saying an age of consent is necessary, and legalizing chid porn wil not make it safe for chidren, they are implicitly admitting that there’s something there that people need to be protected from until they can make their own legal choice to fuck themselves up by getting involved with it, after which point they’re fair game for whatever exploitation scam some dude wants to pull. They are also admitting that the abuses in the sex industry are not caused by any kind of “underground” status, but as an essential part of its nature. None of them will say that lowering the age of consent to 15 would make it safe for 15 year olds to be prostitutes and eliminate the abuses in the illegal child sex industry, because that’s stupid; none of them believe that, and I imagine very few could even keep a straight face while making such a statement. So why does it apply at 18? The brain is only incrementally more developed, and won’t fully mature for at least another 7 years, so where’s the major difference other than in the squick factor?

Hint: there is no difference. It’s just a hollow, empty, pre-rehearsed set of statements that speak volumes about the mindsets of the people using them to defend their favorite form of institutionalized misogyny and human commodification. But to our soundbite culture, it sure does sound sparkly, and that’s pretty much all that counts: if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Posted in Feminism, Sex Industry, Studies | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s Hard, Literally, Out Here for a Male Pro-Porn Feminist

Posted by A birch tree on April 7, 2008

I have a question.

I consider myself a radical pro-feminist, or a member of the Feminist Movement’s Boys Auxiliary. But I have to wonder… if the pro-porn branch of Feminism somehow became the heart of the movement, what guy wouldn’t want to affiliate himself with it, outside of the extreme right-wing “women are an individual man’s property” group?

I mean, all the things most men want women to do is right there in pro-porn feminism. Let me give you some examples:

PPF Says: Women should liberate themselves sexually
Men hear: Women should be having sex with lots of dudes, including me? Rock on!

PPF Says: Women should explore the nuances of their sexual identity.
Men hear: Women, both gay and straight, should try having sex with girls and/or guys (like me) at the same time? Kick ass!

PPF Says: Women videotaping, selling, or videotaping AND selling the aforementioned sexual liberation and sexual identity nuance exploration is empowering.
Men hear: This movement is encouraging more women to make more porn for me? And shit, they might even include me? Sweet! Oh, and more whores I can bang on the cheap, who are just doing it for the empowerment and maybe not so much the cash? Double-sweet! Oh! Oh! And if I can nab one, she’ll go with me to strip clubs and is encouraged to explore the nuances of her sexual identity for empowerment by making out with the strippers while I watch? HOOYAH!

PPF Says: The root of Feminism is about sexual liberation and sexual identity.
Men hear: The root of Feminism is about sex. With me. Hand me the fucking petition already, I’m signing up!

So, since men seem to be more or less universally on board with the distinguishing tenets of Pro-Porn Feminism, why hasn’t it conquored the world yet? Is it because there are a zillion men out there who are in favor of a wage gap and against abortions?

No, not really. It’s because, sans wage gap elimination and increasing the availability of abortion, the PPFs are basically talking about the way men already believe the world is. They don’t have to change anything, except maybe refraining from calling hired sex workers “whores” in front of their PPF girlfriends. They still own the world, and womens’ bodies are still communal property, they’re still looking at women as little more than vehicles for their own sexual titilation. And hell, who could really expect them to catch the subtle difference between watching gang-bang bukkake videos while saying “This woman is obviously liberating her sexuality, and by paying to see it I am supporting her empowerment” and watching an amazingly sexist story on Fox News and saying “Those women are obviously liberating their sexuality, and byapproving of it I am supporting their empowerment”?

Especially since, when you get right down to it, there is no difference. Because, fuck, some of those women undoubtedly enjoy being treated like that! It’s their bag, yo! We need to stop being so judgemental!

So, pray tell, what mindsets or privileges does a man have to give up in order for him to identify himself as a Pro-Porn Feminist? He has to put up a little pseudo-rant, “I’d castrate the bastard with a rusty spoon”-style, against rape? Well shit, what man doesn’t do that already? And hey, if he still gets to watch “faux”-rape pornography with his girlfriend, all the better! It’s empowering to women now when men say one thing and then do another. Who knew that women were being empowered for all those centuries?

What else would he have to do? Produce a crocodile-tear or two over reproductive choice abortion rights being threatened with roll-backs? Again, no skin off any red-blooded liberal dude’s nose, seeing as he’s looking for any way he can to get out of paying child support for all of the Feminists that his penis has helped “Empower”, so best to nip it in the bud early anyhow. Sure, he can get behind that.

I have yet to see any philosphical position in the PPF side of the movement that actually undermines male dominance, or is really in any way revolutionary. The idea that Women’s Empowerment can be found at the base of men’s genetalia is as old as the hills. And it never made any sense.

Posted in Feminism, Liberal Men, Sex Industry | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Shocking News: Cultists Say “Our Cult is Great!”

Posted by A birch tree on April 5, 2008

Why is it that the foremost spokespeople for how great and benign and non-abusive the sex industry is always fall into one of two groups:

  • Consumers
  • Current Employees

Doesn’t that strike anyone else as just a wee bit suspicious? Some conflict of interest here, perhaps? I mean, if the only people saying “Wal-Mart is great!” or “The People’s Temple is wonderful!” are the people who have the most to lose if they say something else, and all the former associates are going “This was horrible and I was abused while I was there”, shouldn’t that trigger a Skept-o-Meter somwhere?

The biggest spokespeople (I should really say “spokeswomen”) for how wonderful and empowering and great the sex industry is are women who are currently in the sex industry. And that’s fine, except under critical examination, their credibility becomes suspect. Why? For the same reasons that people currently in a cult can’t be seen as particularly credible when they talk about how great thier cult is, to wit:

1) Fear of retribution. If a Wal-Mart employee says publically “This sucks”, and Wal-Mart gets wind of it, what happens? They stand to lose the job that’s putting food on their table. By the same token, cult members who may be less than happy with how they’re being treated probably aren’t going to write letters to the editor about it because if they’re being treated poorly already, imagine how pleased the cult’s leadership is going to be about them saying anything!

Which brings us to the sex industry. If a woman in the industry came onto a messageboard to talk about the industry, which do you think, simply from a job security standpoint, she’s more likely to say:

  • “I love having twenty men blow their loads on my face at once!” or
  • “Ya know, twenty men cumming on my face isn’t actually as much fun as you’d think it’d be.”

Other considerations go into it as well. For one thing, porn, stripping, and prostitution gets around a lot of criticism by claiming, truthfully or otherwise, that women just lurrrrve performing these acts, and you’re being a facist, prude, or moralist if you engage in any criticism of the industry. So if a porn star comes out and says “Yeah, I don’t mind being in porn, but these abuses happened to me, and on the whole, this industry pretty much bites in terms of how I’ve been treated,” she’s breaking that illusion.

Guys want to believe that their favorite porn stars can’t get enough cock in their various orifices, sometimes all at once, and would order a big yummy plate of cum at a restaurant if they found it on the menu. A woman who says “Yeah, I do that for the cash, but it’s not fun at all,” suddenly changes that image, and dashes the hopes of all those men who want a porn star for a fuckbuddy because of the belief that they’ll do anything at all for you when you get your hands on them.

It also opens them up to vicious attacks. Just like former People’s Temple members and Scientologists who went public with their stories and who were violently denounced, sometimes with death threats attached, sex industry employees face the same kind of dismissal and virulent, nasty agressiveness turned in their direction. Remember how the industry, and its consumers, reacted to Linda Lovelace’s book? And she has been out of porn for years by that point! Someone who was still enmeshed in that industry would be more vulnerable still. Who wants to deal with that kind of bullshit, really? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

2) If they admit that they’ve spent a good portion of their life performing acts they have a great dislike for, for an insuffiently proportionate compensation, while putting up with lots of abuse, for an industry that doesn’t give a shit about them, it fucks with their heads. So they’d better convince themselves that it’s the best job since La-Z-Boy Quality Tester, because the industry isn’t known for its stellar mental health insurance coverage.

It’s a bit like my friend’s mother, who believes that all women should just be happy being homemakers and pander to their husbands, and that womens’ lib is a pile of shit because that’s just not how women are made. However, she has at one point admitted that if she really became convinced that her view was incorrect, she’d be forced to look back on the last 30 years of her life and realize they were entirely wasted doting on a man who didn’t ever give her anything but a roof over her head in return, when she may have had other options, and she just couldn’t handle that. A classic Appeal to Consequences of a Belief, but a good example of the psychological mindfuckery that can occur when people take two separate mental boxes (“Women should have lots of choices” and “I spent the last 30 years washing the shitstains out of some slob’s undies because I didn’t know I could have had choices, not because I really liked doing it”), dump them out into a single container and shake them up. My mental potatoes are touching my psycological peas, and it’s really squicking me out.

For a more professional explanation, I’ll turn it over to Carlsmith’s studies of induced compliance. To quote Wikipedia:

“In Festinger and Carlsmith’s classic 1959 experiment, students were made to perform tedious and meaningless tasks, consisting of turning pegs quarter-turns and, another one, putting spools onto a tray, emptying the tray, refilling it with spools, and so on. Participants rated these tasks very negatively. After a long period of doing this, students were told the experiment was over and they could leave. This is an example of an induced compliance study.

However, the experimenter then asked the subject for a small favor. He was told that a needed research assistant was not able to make it to the experiment, and the participant was asked to fill in and try to persuade another subject (who was actually a confederate) that the dull, boring tasks the subject had just completed were actually interesting and engaging. Some participants were paid $20 for the favor, another group was paid $1, and a control group was not requested to perform the favor.

When asked to rate the peg-turning tasks later, those in the $1 group rated them more positively than those in the $20 group and control group. This was explained by Festinger and Carlsmith as evidence for cognitive dissonance. Experimenters theorized that people experienced dissonance between the conflicting cognitions “I told someone that the task was interesting”, and “I actually found it boring”. When paid only $1, students were forced to internalize the attitude they were induced to express, because they had no other justification. Those in the $20 condition, it is argued, had an obvious external justification for their behavior. Behavior internalization is only one way to explain the subject’s ratings of the task. The research has been extended in later years. It is now believed that there is a conflict between the belief that “I am not a liar”, and the recognition that “I lied”. Therefore, the truth is brought closer to the lie, so to speak, and the rating of the task goes up.

The researchers further speculated that with only $1, subjects faced insufficient justification and therefore “cognitive dissonance”, so when they were asked to lie about the tasks, they sought to relieve this hypothetical stress by changing their attitude. This process allows the subject to genuinely believe that the tasks were enjoyable.

Put simply, the experimenters concluded that many human beings, when persuaded to lie without being given sufficient justification, will carry out the task by convincing themselves of the falsehood, rather than telling a bald lie.”

Now let’s add in the fact that of all the ex-sexworkers (strippers, porn stars, prostitutes, etc) who have made their opinions on the industry public, most (if not all) have had nothing good to say about it. That’s not surprising, given the cult analogy. The cultists say, shockingly enough, that their cult is great, while the escapees are a bit more free to talk about what’s really going on. The current Wal-Mart employees say, amazingly enough, that Wal-Mart isn’t all that bad to work for; would I make a commercial for them if I hated working here, after all? But former Wal-Mart employees (like me!) are a bit freer to talk about how much of a financial and mental clusterfuck that company is.

I suppose the point of this long-winded ramble is this: First-hand experience is great, but without distance, there can’t be any objectivity to back it up, and therefore credibility suffers. Because, honestly, does anyone really expect a sex worker, cult member, or Wal-Mart cartpusher (hooyah, cartpushers!) to publically criticize their related organization while still expecting to remain employed by said organization? Shit no!

So why do we give so much creedence to the stories of current call girls who say how much they love having sex with ten men a night, and dismiss the claims of former call girls who talk about how painful and damaging and dangerous and PTSD-inducing it was to have sex with ten men a night, when the latter have no real reason to speak out at all, but do, and the former would have a great disincentive to say anything but exactly what they’re currently saying?

We don’t trust Kremlin officials who tell us how great Communism is. We don’t trust CEOs when they tell us how crucial their billion-dollar salaries are to American Capitalism. We don’t trust McDonald’s to tell us how healthy Big Macs are. We don’t trust a Ford salesman to tell us what the resale value of a Focus will be at 95,000 miles. We don’t trust Army recruiters when they tell us we won’t end up in Iraq if we sign up. Why the hell would we trust a high-priced callgirl to tell us how hunky-dory and empowering prostitution is? They’re all just saying what they have to say do to their jobs, justify their mindsets, and sell their products.

In short, they’re obligated to tell us what we want to hear because their salary, public image, and in some cases, mental health, depend on it.

Posted in Feminism, Sex Industry | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Regarding the Sex Industry and Empowerment, Pt. 3 – No Acceptable Losses

Posted by A birch tree on April 4, 2008

I try to subscribe, as much as it is possible to subscribe and still live in this society, to a “no acceptable losses” rule. Simply put, I am not willing to tolerate any losses, in terms of womens’ lives, for my choices. I do not use pornography, because I will not support an industry that destroys even a single woman’s life.

Even if I can be mostly sure, by some ineffable mystical process, that the pornography in front of me at any given moment was made only by willing, fully consenting women who had a multitude of true choices in front of them and who are being fairly treated, looked after, and compensated, I cannot be 100% sure, and therefore I am not going to take the risk that I am supporting someone else’s pain. Because my number is zero. I will not take any risk, even 1%, that my persuit of entertainment is enabling a woman to be abused or raped.

If the porn industry only directly led to the abuse of a single woman a month, it’s not worth it for an orgasm. If it was only a single woman in a year, it’s still not worth it for an orgasm. A single woman every ten years is not worth it for an orgasm. My orgasm is just not that important.

My view is simply that my orgasm isn’t worth the risk that I might be masturbating to a picture of a sex slave or a coke addict who would not be in that position if I wasn’t busy helping to create a market for it. Sure, there are women out there who enjoy those acts and being in that business, but how can I ever be sure that the specific woman I’m looking at is one of them? Statistically, that’s a huge gamble to take, and I just don’t have the stomach for it.

I won’t take that risk, and I look down on men who are willing to take that risk, who say their orgasm is worth that risk. Especially since, in this day and age, that risk is not at all insignificant.

Now if I had a girlfriend or wife who enjoyed taking pictures or movies of herself or us for our private veiwing pleasure, well, in that case, I can be sure she’s one of those who enjoys that kind of thing. Because I’d know her personally, and she’d say “Hey, I have a great idea…”

Of course, the things we’d be recording wouldn’t be the things you see in porn, either. Porn is to sex what UFC is to ballroom dancing.

I hold to the same rule for strip clubs, and prostitution is, of course, right out.

Obviously, to head off the oncoming point from someone without the ability to detect nuance, that rule can’t hold for things required for everyday existence in this culture. I realize that my clothes were most likely produced by children in a third-world country making five cents a day in appaling conditions. I realize that my car, if I had one, would be responsible for deaths in an incalculable fashion due to gobal warming and pollution.

But to compare materials required to live in a modern society to an orgasm aid? That would be pretty darn silly. As far as things as completely insignificant as masturbation go, I hold very strictly to “harm none”, and I think we would be better off as a society if everyone did so.

Which, unfortunately, means I would get rid of the sex industry entirely until the mindset of society can evolve enough maturity and respect for women to handle such a thing appropriately, because I can’t endorse an industry that does so much to harm women both individually and as a societal group.

In the majority of cases women come to this industry from an abused, sexually traumatic past, continue to live out that sexual trauma as a component of their job descriptions, and if they ever get out, come away from it with PTSD and scars on the body, mind, and heart. While this is not true for every participant, it’s true of enough participants that I believe some more critical examination is in order, as well as some kind of corrective measures.

I mean, how bad did Nike have to treat its workers in China for liberals of the world to get up and boycott them? Not all those workers lived in such nasty conditions, though… but we didn’t focus on them. We focused on the suffering, we organized action, and we got results. When it comes to the sex industry, though, we see similarly deplorable treatment of workers, but we focus entirely on the ones who have it pretty decent and say things are pretty much fine as they are, no action necessary against the industry or even specific companies.

I see it as a pretty sad statement of the western world that we seem to be saying that we’re willing to tolerate more horror and abuse in producing our orgasm aids than we are in producing our shoes. The symbol of that is while we didn’t focus on the American Nike workers, or the Nike workers with connections who got a decent wage and didn’t get whipped for poor production quotas, that’s definitely the equivalent population we seem to want to focus on when it comes to the sex industry as an excuse to avoid confronting that industry directly with any kind of legislation, or even grassroots market-based actions.

Men don’t have a right to exploit women who just want to make a living. The men who are getting their kicks from watching women pretend to orgasm over incredibly painful, damaging, and/or dangerous acts are exploiting women’s sexuality for their own feeling of control and power. A2M is a perfect example of a new, explosively popular, amazingly dangerous sexual act that women in these industries are being expected to perform. Why? Because men are getting off on it, and men are making money from it.

The sex industry isn’t about women, or women’s sexuality. It’s about women pandering to men’s sexuality in order to, in the vast majority of cases, make money for other men.

It’s a bit like saying that African-Americans should have the right to participate in Minstrel Shows. Sure, maybe they should. But are the white customers and white producers helping African-Americans express their culture when they promote and support such things? Of course not. They’re promoting a pleasing stereotype of an oppressed class in order to give themselves a feeling of superiority and line their pocketbooks in the process. To re-focus the issue on “Well, banning these shows, or boycotting these shows, only hurts poor African-Americans and takes away their right to make choices!” is taking the lens away from the real root of the issue and making the continued exploitation of the oppressed group out to be the only solution to that group’s immediate, short-term problems.

The long-term affect on both the performers, the consumers who are being trained to believe that the performance is actually reality, and the members of the oppressed class who are not participating, either willingly or at all, in these performances are never considered.

Posted in Feminism, Sex Industry | 2 Comments »

Regarding the Sex Industry and “Empowerment”, Pt. 2 – Choices

Posted by A birch tree on April 4, 2008

The question nobody asks is WHY women would choose those paths.

Are we talking about women who have the option between stripping, a scholarship to Harvard, and a fulfilling career in a skilled trade with no glass ceiling? Or are we talking about the option between watching your five year old starve on the street and taking off your clothes for men to gawk at you?

I would propose a study: let’s take some women in porn and offer them a no-strings-attached position as a carpenter’s apprentice, or truck driver trainee, or steelworker’s apprentice, with the same advancement opportunities as men, and see what they choose.

I think what a lot of people miss is that radical feminists are all for sex-worker’s rights. Their right not to be abused, exploited or raped, and their right to get out if the want to are all parts of the “sex-workers rights” thing. That right is not protected by advocating legalization of prostitution (see, again, Prostitution Research). That right is not protected by enabling pornography producers to move more and more extreme body-punishing acts into the mainstream.

Fight for women’s right to choose their path in life? Bloody hell, yes. What the sex-pos crowd misses is that part of that fight is enabling that choice to be an actual choice, instead of simply glamourizing their oppression and the performance of sexual acts and mimicry for men’s pleasure.

How many of the women in this thread would quit their jobs, or drop out of their schooling, to become a prostitute? A stripper? A porn star? It’s not a choice unless it can be freely chosen, and as the links I’ve provided help to show, that fact is rarely in evidence.

IMHO, burlesque, strip clubs, porn, etc are nothing more than the PC version of minstrel shows with blackface. Present and promote a pleasing stereotype of women to the dominant class for money and acceptance, and it can be dressed up as much as you like, it’ll never lead to equality, only the perpetuation of exactly those myths and misconceptions that feminism is supposed to be fighting.

Tell you what. Let’s all fight for women’s rights to be in an occupation men can be in, with no glass ceilings, and no wage gap. Let’s all fight for women’s rights not to be raped, molested, and otherwise sexually assaulted by strangers, friends, and family members. Let’s all fight for women’s rights to be judged by some criteria other than their bodies, their right to not to have to live life 20 pounds underweight lest they face ridicule and derision, their right not to have to pander to male sexual fantasies for acceptance and a passing familiarity with humanization.

Let’s do all that, then see how many women still choose to work in the sex industry. At that point, the “sex-pos” crowd will have my support, because that’s when sexual display can be a tool for self-discovery and liberation, instead of stereotyping, control, and misogyny. That’s when sex work will truly be a choice.

Posted in Feminism, Sex Industry | 1 Comment »

Regarding the Sex Industry and “Empowerment”, Part 1

Posted by A birch tree on April 4, 2008

Ok, so, this was the rant that inspired me to start a blog in the first place. I posted this at a site with many members who are very hostile to radical feminism or any critique of pornography and the sex industry at large. So, I decided to maybe save this idea to a place where it might be more permanantly kept, and easier to refer to if I, or anyone else, needs the ideas contained therein.

This has been edited slightly to make it more blog-relevant than messageboard-relevant.

Feminists seek empowerment for women. That’s pretty much a given. The “sex-pos” crowd claims, among other things, that the sex industry is a road to that empowerment.

What kind of empowerment are we talking about here?

Prostitutes don’t seem very empowered to me. See Prostitution Research for lots of facts and information, to wit:

  • The vast majority of prostitutes world-wide don’t want unions; they want out
  • The vast majority of prostitutes are against the legalization of prostitution
  • Even in the USA, a significant number of prostitutes were trafficked across borders against their will; slavery is still alive and well in the US sex industry
  • 68% of prostitutes in the US suffer from PTSD; a rate higher than soldiers returning from Iraq

How is that empowerment? How is fighting for the right of women to become a prostitute “empowering” them? And is it the same kind of “empowerment” males like me enjoy? I don’t have to worry about any of that to make a comfortable living and be taken seriously by the culture’s dominant group.

Strippers aren’t particularly empowered, either. I’ve been to strip clubs, and I fail to see how a woman can be empowered when she is crawling on her hands and knees with her butt in the air while dirty, ugly dudes stuff dollar bills between her breasts, or while pretending to be orgasmically excited by the act of grinding into the lap of some of the grodiest huggers in the world while they try to finger her without the bouncer noticing. That’s not exactly the kind of “empowerment” I want, and I’m pretty glad I don’t have it.

I’d also like to point out that even if a woman can feel empowered by such a profession, does it really make her more powerful? More well-respected? More able to fight off oppression and degredation in daily life, more resistant to laws and policies which deny her personhood?

If so, I fail to see how; in fact, I live in a Navy barracks, I know exactly what men think of strippers, and the language is some of the crudest and most misogynist I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter, so respect is out the window. The very process of giving a lap dance is pretty much inherently degrading; at least, I know I’d feel pretty degraded if I had to pretend I was enjoying dry-humping a woman who weighed 300lbs and hadn’t showered in weeks just to earn a few dollars stuffed into my thong while she called me the foulest names and blatantly copped feels. Is it the “sex-positive” feminist’s position that women actually enjoy doing that? Maybe they really are so vastly different than men in their desires and thought patterns that I could never begin to understand them, if that’s the case.

I can’t think of any job, at any salary, that men have to do for which sexual harassment is not only common, but enduring it every single day is part of my job description, and if I could think of such an occupation, I sure as hell wouldn’t call it “empowered”.

Personally, I’d feel a lot more empowered as a CEO or a journeyman carpenter than as a Chippendale’s dancer… but maybe I’m just strange.

Finally, we have pornography. What are women “empowered” to do when they’re porn stars? Do they make a lot of money, at least? I don’t know… I hear men say that alot, but even Jenna Jameson doesn’t own the rights to any of her movies; her husband does. In fact, the vast, VAST majority of money going into porn goes straight into mens’ wallets rather than womens’ purses. Seems like porn is about empowering men to make money off of womens’ bodies rather than empowering women to do anything at all.

Especially with as violent as pornography is becoming; is it the position of “sex-positive” feminists that women actually enjoy and are empowered by A2M, double- and triple-penetration, facial shots, donkey punches, rape scenes, and worse? I doubt it.

Jersey Jaxin left pornography, and gives an interview about what went on both behind and in front of the camera. Why don’t we call her up and tell her how “empowered” she really was? I’m sure she’d appreciate the info.

Jersey Jaxin, Pt. 1
Jersey Jaxin, Pt. 2

Also, Gail Dines makes a great speech about pornography in this video; I wish I could find more on the conference, because there was also an excellent study presented about the kinds and prevelance of sexual violence in the industry’s top-selling movies, but I guess that bit didn’t get onto youtube.

I, as a male, enjoy lots of empowerment. I have the power to walk into an employment office with no skills and no education and walk out with a job as a construction electrician’s helper, and the power to work my way up to electrician, job foreman, project manager…. the sky’s the limit. And at no point is rape an occupational hazard. At no point does my job description include smiling coyly at a fat, smelly, sweaty man waving a five dollar bill at me yelling “bring that snatch over here!”. At no point do I have to pretend to enjoy incredibly painful, body-punishing acts of penetration as a condition of my continued employment.

So am I equally empowered as a prostitute, stripper, or porn star? The kind of “empowerment” that the sex-positive feminists talk about is really nothing more than the power to gain male acceptance as sexual objects, because I can’t find any other power they’re getting. It really seems like that model puts the power in male hands more firmly than it is already.

If women in this society really had true empowerment over their bodies and their lives, there would be a lot less pornography, a lot fewer strippers, and a lot less prostitution. Those industries exist solely for the benefit of men, and are all exceptionally harmful to women.

Or maybe I’m just blind, and am missing the “empowerment” part. It seems like that this is the kind of “empowerment” just about every male in the world can readily get behind, because for the most part, it’s exactly what they wish women would be anyway; what red-blooded american male doesn’t want a nympho stripper/porn star in bed exploring her “sexual liberation”?

True sexual liberation is the abilty to say “no, I don’t want to have sex right now” and have it stick. The sex industry only gives women the ability to say “yes”. How is that liberating? How is that empowering? It’s not even novel. The ability to say “no” and have that “no” respected would be incredibly revolutionary. The ability to say “yes” is what men have been fighting for women to have since the beginning of time.

A woman who says “no, I will not be in a relationship with a man who uses porn or goes to strip clubs” is not seen as exercising her sexual liberation, she’s seen as a prude who apparently just needs a good fucking. Apparently “sexual freedom” only means the freedom to have wild, kinky sex, go to strip clubs, and watch porn, not the freedom to say “no, I won’t tolerate those abuses of my body and my sense of self-worth”.

And it’s THAT power which will really shake the world up in terms of equality. So of course, that’s the stuff that’s met the with most violent, nasty resistance.

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