Anecdotal evidence about misogynist porn

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rinne

I very much appreciate the thoughtful responses to this topic.

skdadl

Ah. Bad Canadian book reviews -- now there is something I do have first-hand experience of. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

(Can you believe that the UTQ gets one person to do an omnibus review like that? Well, yes, I guess we both can, but man, is that an insult to the writers and readers or what. I might expect to see that in Maclean's, but UTQ? Very sad.)

I'm reluctant to reword your point about reactions to [i]Jane[/i] (from both readers and that reviewer), but I take from them a double dynamic -- a genuinely interiorized grasp of "the dangerously sensual" as you have dramatized it and yet, at the same time, a denial of that very grasp or of any identification with it.

That leads me back to your opening point and examples. On the one hand, yes, not only the sexism but the denial of sexism is pervasive in the culture -- so what makes porn different? what is porn anyway? what is misogynist porn, given the general background?

On the other, I've been reading several private communications -- one part of a private email discussion of long standing -- about profound abuse, about what I guess we would call acclimatization? to abuse, about serious criminal acts, all eventually orchestrated by porn and imagery derived from porn, and I am thinking that this is several degrees of difference from the commercialized infantilization of women.

I do see the connection. I've just been asked whether I don't see the denial as well, and, well, yes. I guess I do.

writer writer's picture

quote:


all eventually orchestrated by porn and imagery derived from porn, and I am thinking that this is several degrees of difference from the commercialized infantilization of women

This is what I struggle with. I did years of research, and had my own experiences: I know how porn can be used. But did these acts start with porn? Did the perversion and drive to erase another's humanity through abusive sex acts start with porn? I'm not so sure.

My research indicated that music can be a huge trigger for horrible acts. What *kind* of music? That is arbitrary. Genisis in one case. Classical music in another. So, what do we do about music and it's role in easing the hesitation of the aggressor?

I read about massacres where women are gang raped, breasts are cut off, torture is highly sexualized and fetishized. I read about the witch hunts of Europe, and I'm convinced women weren't just burned. I am convinced communities were given permission to crush women in perverse, sexualized ways. I watch footage of Iraq, and I see so few women out on the streets since the invasion. I know that all sorts of abusive things are happening, and their gender is being turned against them - they are being made to feel betrayed by their own bodies. I read testimonials from the growing global trade in women and children, and I shudder. I read about the serial rapes and murders in Mexico's north ... about a pig farm in British Columbia ... about continued disappearances of Native women across Canada ...

I could go on. And on.

de Sade wrote in very explicit detail about inihilating others for one's own gratification. From his time, a lot has changed. The underlying power imbalances - with those who want to keep power doing whatever they can to remain on top - has not. That leaves women, children and other marginalized groups in a very dangerous place.

writer writer's picture

quote:


[url=http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/006250049X/ref=sib_fs_top/102-7857760-22... craze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts[/url] by Anne Llewellyn Barstow

A definitive portrait of the witch-hunts that terrorized European women during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Though the persecution, torture, and execution of more than seven million women suspected of being witches during this period has been documented in other historical sources, Barstow is the first scholar to offer a convincing gender analysis of the Reformation-era witch craze. According to Barstow, independent and intelligent women often proved to be convenient targets for misogynists seeking scapegoats for every conceivable social ill. Most interesting is the author's credible assertion that the witch-hunts not only paralleled the emergence of a more patriarchal society, but also heralded the disturbing decline in the status of women that continued over the course of the next several centuries. A fascinating historical treatise that provides an evolutionary context for the contemporary proliferation and escalation of violence toward women.

Margaret Flanagan
Booklist


"Having a female body was the factor most likely to render one vulnerable to being called a witch. The sexual connotations and the explicit sexual violence utilized in many of the trials make this fact clear. Just which women were targeted and under what circumstances reveals much about the status of women in early modern Europe."

- from the book

fern hill

I hadn't thought of this for a long time, but remembered while reading this thread. When I was about 16, I was at the family doctor's getting a checkup, I suppose. This was the same doc I'd being seeing since I was 7, a man, whom I quite liked. I was sitting there with my boobs hanging out, when he said: 'You have Playboy breasts.' Moi: 'Huh?" Him: 'Medium-sized breasts on a small frame. That's what they like.' He said it very matter-of-factly, but I was creeped out and wouldn't go back to him.

What an odd exchange, eh? A teenaged gril and a nice, middle-class professional (he was about my mother's age, so he'd have been late 30s) man sharing the same 'culture' to the point where he could assume (rightly) that I had seen Playboy breasts, and he could make a comment comparing my breasts to them.

The Baboon

quote:


Originally posted by disobedient:
[b]

Bad analogy. You mean you wonder what would happen if you made a thread that specified that only black people were allowed to contribute. You know, so we could all talk about black issues.

You have the power differential backwards. Now fuck off little boy.[/b]


There's no power differential on the internet. You fuck off. You say I can't participate because I'm male. That's sexism. What place does sexism have on a "progressive" site like rabble, I wonder?

[ 12 October 2005: Message edited by: The Baboon ]

skdadl

We can all ignore the troll, can't we. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

I said above that I wanted to avoid putting this discussion in the context of legislation or civil-libertarian resistance, and I still mean that. That would just give me, anyway, too many conflicts.

However, I think that most people, reflecting on these issues, find questions about what is practical, what is to be done, inevitable and irrepressible.

I started this thread out of the conviction I explained on an earlier one: if I am going to be one of the main civil-libertarian resisters against any kind of legislation against thought or expression (and I was), then I feel an accompanying responsibility to be denouncing hateful or damaging expression in ... a different forum. The public place. The site of democracy. Wherever that is.

What is that different forum? Are there practical ways of reacting to the misogyny that wells up, finally, in horrifying objective correlatives like some of the commercial porn that women have described here? If I'm reading you at all well, writer, you are emphasizing that the porn is just that, a last step -- a symptom? Others have described to me, though, an escalating interplay between porn and abuse, porn as mental discipline and education within an already abusive context.

So. Is it possible for this discussion to take a practical turn without turning to the law?

writer writer's picture

Judging by the failure of the criminal justice system of a sexist, racist, misogynist capitalist culture to adequately deal with rape, I don't see why we should put much faith in its ability to deal with porn. I mean, the supreme court tore the guts out of *[url=http://www.nawl.ca/pe-alert.htm]equal pay[/url]*, folks. We are not doing well.

quote:

[b]Women paying violent price of gender disparity: UNFPA[/b]
Date : Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Source : Indo-Asian News Service
DATELINE: New Delhi

Gender-based violence disables or kills as many women worldwide in the 15-44 years age group as cancer does, states a new UN report released Wednesday.

"India accounts for the highest number of domestic violence among women married by 18," the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of World Population 2005 report highlights.

"Today we are paying a price too high for gender-based violence," states the report titled "The Promise of Equality: Gender equity, reproductive health and the millennium development goals".

Domestic violence is by far the most common form of gender-based violence. Survey data shows that 10 to 60 percent of women in some countries are subjected to domestic violence. This carries with it risks of mutilation and the HIV infection.

"Sexual coercion is now considered a significant factor in the continuing rise of HIV among young women," the report states.

The risk is more for young girls married off at an age below 18 when they tend to believe there is justification for violent behaviour of their much older husband, many of whom may be carriers of the HIV virus.

...

Worldwide, an estimated one in five women is expected to be the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime, while one in three will have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused, usually by a family member or an acquaintance, warned Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of UNFPA, while releasing the report in London Wednesday.

[No link available.]


quote:

[url=http://newsfromrussia.com/society/2005/10/13/65179.html]Domestic violence rampant in Ethiopia, says UNFPA[/url]

Domestic violence is so usual, in Ethiopia that nine out of ten women think their husbands are justified in beating them, a UN report released on Wednesday said.


quote:

[b]Domestic violence biggest health risk to Aust women: UN [/b]
Date : Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Source : AAP (Australia)
Author : Ron Corben

... The UN's Population Fund, released today, said female Australian murder victims were also most likely to have been killed by their male partners.

It said gender-based violence globally was the most widely spread and socially tolerated of human rights violations.

Worldwide, an estimated one in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape sometime during their life.

One in three will have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused, usually by a family member or an acquaintance, it said.

The cost to communities came in higher health care expenditures, demands on courts, police and schools, and losses in educational achievement and productivity.

Domestic violence was the single biggest health risk to Australian women of reproductive age, resulting in economic losses of about $US6.3 billion ($A8.28 billion) a year, the report said. ...

[No link available.]


[url=http://www.unfpa.org/swp/swpmain.htm]The Promise of Equality: Gender equity, reproductive health and the millennium development goals[/url]

[ 13 October 2005: Message edited by: writer ]

writer writer's picture

quote:


If I'm reading you at all well, writer, you are emphasizing that the porn is just that, a last step -- a symptom? Others have described to me, though, an escalating interplay between porn and abuse, porn as mental discipline and education within an already abusive context.

No, I wouldn't say a last step. Many things are ritualistically used to enforce the oppression of women and other marginalized peoples and erase their humanity. Music is also one. In one particular case I know of, the bible played a big part in justifying the abduction, subjugation, imprisonment and torture of Colleen Stan ("The Perfect Victim"). In fact, your last sentence could be used word for word, with a simple change: "an escalating interplay between the bible and abuse, the bible as mental discipline and education within an already abusive context."

Interplay is a better word for it, and porn may or may not play a significant role, but it isn't required reading / viewing. Pedophiles have been known to enjoy the children's section of clothing catalogues. If porn is there to be consumed, it will be consumed, of course. But I'd need more convincing that it's necessary.

I think its the drive to dehumanize and/or erase self-determination by whatever means that makes this a war on women. Straight and pedophilic porn is a tool in that drive, for sure. And it's one that gets into your skin and never comes out if you've had it used against you. In no way am I trying to minimize the potency of the tool. It is a living nightmare.

I'm hoping for a cultural shift, myself.

What am I doing about it? Writing stuff that reveals how disturbing I think normal is. Working at creating safe spaces for members of the next generation to become themselves in. Supporting organizations with a clear, progressive, gender analysis that they *act* on. Building an alternate model to the criminal justice system in dealing with assault. Not much, but it's what I can do.

As for others - I see hope in a growing number of men and boys taking ownership of this crisis, this war, and acting on it.

quote:

[url=http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=30601]Reaching Out to Young Men to Fight Gender Violence[/url]

Programme H is one of the innovative projects focusing on men to foment gender equality and reproductive health that was cited by the "State of the World Population 2005: Promise of Equality; Gender Equity, Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals" report released Wednesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The methodology, designed by the Promundo Institute and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Brazil and Mexico, is already being used in a number of countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

It encourages changes by questioning stereotypical definitions of masculinity and urging young men to consider the costs of these traditional norms and the benefits, in terms of life, health and happiness, of modifying certain behaviours.


quote:

[url=http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=30597]"Men Must Work with Other Men"[/url]

As the UNFPA report indicates, the social conditioning that can result in negative attitudes towards women takes place from the earliest years of a man's life: "The social pressures to perform and codes of honour that men and boys grow up with can encourage them to compete, resort to violence or take sexual risks to demonstrate their 'manliness'."

Equally, initiatives that reach out to boys and young men can offer their own "equality dividend".

The message to get across, says Senne, is that "It's okay to be sensitive, but this does not mean that you are less of a man. You are a human being first -- then a man."


[ 13 October 2005: Message edited by: writer ]

wafer

Porn itself has not warped my mind. I have enjoyed it a lot over the years. It's the idea that some (how many?) men would rather look at teenagers or children that has hurt me.

I have extrapolated far too much thinking that *most* men are like this and do not date as a result.

It depresses me but I can't seem to shake this view of the opposite sex.

skdadl

quote:


Originally posted by wafer:
[b]Porn itself has not warped my mind. I have enjoyed it a lot over the years. It's the idea that some (how many?) men would rather look at teenagers or children that has hurt me.

I have extrapolated far too much thinking that *most* men are like this and do not date as a result.

It depresses me but I can't seem to shake this view of the opposite sex.[/b]


wafer, I think I know what you mean, and I have on and off been in a frame of mind something like that.

I wonder sometimes what gets my mind there. In 3D life, I have always known empathetic men, but I sometimes think now that that made me stupid, if you see what I mean. When I finally realized, in my teens, I think, how most of the world thought of women as separate, Other, to be either infantilized or demonized, I was just shocked, disconnected, couldn't process that. (And I grew up in the fifties, sixties, so I'm not making this up.)

I still don't think that I process cultural categories of Woman or Man very well. I know that the world is full of exceptionally good men, and sometimes I try to think positively about how much men genuinely have changed, have been freed to change, since I was young. But then sometimes I swing right back to the frame of mind that you describe, maybe because it is so powerfully reinforced, still, by the culture we live in.

It's interesting that you made that comment overnight. On another thread in this forum, there are some men thinking through the mirror-image. They've been wondering about why some men would repress or overprotect their "own" women -- what does that say about their sense of themselves and/or of other men.

I admit, that remains a mystery to me.

Tehanu

Back to the thread topic ...

As I just said on another thread I'm conflicted about this issue, and it's hard for me to talk about it. But I can definitely say that there's a lot about porn that's misogynistic.

... One of my earliest exposures to hard-core porn was a copy of The Story of O which was owned by a person living in our house at the time. For anyone who hasn't encountered this, it's a S/M story of a woman who's totally controlled by two men, and who accepts physical and sexual torture and mental dominance in every aspect of her life. I should never have read it at that age -- I think I was about 11 or 12. However, a different copy was passed around my class among the girls the following year. Let's not pretend that kids aren't exposed to this kind of stuff.

... That said, just as there is a proliferation of websites with hard-core visual images, there's also an increasing number of "erotic literature" sites (some very good ones, too) -- and if you're looking for anecdotal evidence of misogyny, check out the story titles in the BDSM or "non-consensual" section. I'd say at a rough estimate 90% of them are men dominating women, not the other way around.... It's the tone of the writing; the sense that women are being emotionally, intellectually and spiritually degraded as well as physically dominated is what I find repugnant, intellectually at least.

Let me make it clear that I'm not at all being puritanical about BDSM practices; I just see a big divide between the slightly euphemistic "power exchange" between consenting adults, and the total objectification of women as bodies to be abused.

I'm not feeling very articulate here, and I'm pretty conflicted, so I apologize if this post doesn't make a huge amount of sense in terms of consistency.

 

[Edited to remove personal information]

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