In which I get pissed off because sex-pozzies are so dishonest about porn

Recently Gail Dines was in a discussion with Women’s Health magazine on the subject “more women than ever watching porn.” I am interested in this because I like Gail Dines and because I have been looking at the effects of watching porn on women. It was Gail Dines who helped me to realize how I’d been affected by porn and why I behaved the way I did as a teenager and young adult. However, this particular discussion went pretty badly. They had two sex-pozzie women on there with Dines and the whole conversation was rather watered down and useless. This makes me angry, because this is an important conversation and sex-pozzies will not talk about it honestly. Of course, this is also a shitty magazine, and I could never have expected anything good from them in the first place, but that doesn’t stop me from blogging about it!

So without further ado, here is the article: “More Women Than Ever Are Watching Porn: Let’s Discuss.”

“Let’s begin with a few numbers: PornHub.com gets 60 million worldwide visits daily, and 24 percent of U.S. viewers are female. According to a 2015 study, 16 percent of women ages 18 to 39 view porn once a week, and the percentage who are willing to admit their habit to the Pew Research Center increased from 2 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2013. What’s behind this uptick? To get the answers to this and other burning questions on X-rated flicks, we spoke with Gail Dines, Ph.D., anti-porn activist and professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College; Megan Fleming, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and sex and relationship therapist in New York City; and Cindy Gallop, sex-tech entrepreneur and founder of MakeLoveNotPorn.com in New York City.”

Check out parts of the heated discussion below.

Dines: We live in a “porn culture.” Porn is the wallpaper of our society, and both sexes are internalizing the notion that it’s normal and legitimate, so more women are watching it.”

These numbers are good to know, but notice they interviewed people 18 and up. People now start watching porn when they are around 11 years old. I’m sure they’d be horrified to report on that, since it’s horrifying that young children are viewing the sexual exploitation of women and girls on their cell phones all the time. At no point does the discussion get around to the fact that for these women who have a habit of watching porn, they probably developed the habit before the age of 18. At no point will they address the fact that when you are looking at the effects of watching porn you have to look at the effects on teenagers. Young teenagers are being sexualized faster than ever before, they are used to sending each other naked photos and even selling their naked photos when they are less than 18, and they are getting injuries from abusive sex acts at younger ages. But the sex-pozzies will ignore that because it doesn’t fit their “Porn Is Just Happiness and Butterfiles” worldview.

“Fleming: In my practice, a lot of women are struggling with their libidos. They are overworked, exhausted, and having trouble relaxing. So porn is a tool in a toolbox that helps them keep their sexual pilot light on. It also helps them explore their fantasies and discover what they’d like to experience with their partners.”

So much patriarchy-blaming in this paragraph! First of all, the only reason there is such a thing as “struggling with libido” is because women are expected to feel sexual all the time and to provide their husbands with frequent sex. There is no logical reason why anyone has to have a libido in the first place and therefore no logical reason why anyone should struggle to get one if they don’t have one. Does anyone ever accuse men of “struggling with their libido” for having too much of one, and does anyone write articles for men on how to get their libido to meet their partner’s? Nope. This is all about women not been horny enough (porny enough?) to please their husbands, and having to change themselves until they can meet their husband’s pornified expectations.

Secondly, if women are overworked, exhausted, and having trouble relaxing, the solution is not to coerce them into unwanted sex. The solution is to help them with their workload and give them some time off. Sure, some sexual release can help a person relax, but that’s only if she actually wants a sexual release. If she’s being made to try to feel sexual when she’s not feeling it, that’s not relaxation, that’s more work.

And here’s another one of these daft comments about porn helping people to discover what their fantasies are. This is so dishonest. If you want to discover what your fantasies are, just let your mind wander, possibly while masturbating. If you watch porn, you are watching someone else’s fantasy, not your own. And let’s talk about exactly who’s fantasy you’re watching. The plot of porn movies is decided upon by those who are producing it, and they are concerned about what will sell. What sells is usually outrageous, painful and abusive acts committed against women and girls, and as time goes on it needs to get more outrageous and more abusive to keep viewers clicking. I think I can feel confident in asserting that most women’s fantasies aren’t about Exploited Teens and Anally Ripped Whores. If anyone wants to help people discover their fantasies, they should be talking about avoiding porn and instead getting in touch with their own body and their own thoughts.

I also object to the suggestion that porn is a way to discover what you want to do with your partner. Why would you need to watch porn in order to discover what you want to do with your partner? If you like your partner and desire sex with her/him then you’ll have lots of ideas for things to do when you get your clothes off. If you find that you don’t know what you want to do, it could be that you don’t actually want to have sex, in which case, you don’t have to. Maybe do something else instead?

“Gallop: There are way more women watching porn than what those statistics represent. Of course women like watching people have sex because we’re sexual beings and we’re wired to enjoy it! We want to watch it to get turned on and masturbate, just like men do. That’s why I hate the terms “porn for women” and “feminist porn” because they imply that we’re only into white sheets fluttering in the breeze and loving that’s soft. Absolutely not true. I like my porn pretty hard-core.”

This is a way to say something that is true, at a surface level, but avoids the actual problem at hand. Yes, women can certainly get turned on by watching people have sex, and yes, women like to masturbate. But when you’re looking at what is actually out there to look at and what happens when women look at it, you realize that there are far more important points to make besides “But women are horny too!”

The overwhelming majority of porn is based on men’s dominance over women and the use of women as sexual objects. This exact message is sent to us through other media as well, such as advertising, magazines, television, films, and music videos, and is so normalized that we do not even notice it. People start watching porn when they are children and teenagers, and absorb the cultural message about women as objects during their formative years. The sex-pozzies keep saying “but women like porn too” without making any analysis of how it affects women when we learn to sexualize our own subordination.

Several women have submitted interviews to this blog about how watching porn affected them, which you can find at the “How porn affected me” tag. Women have reported being groomed for sexual abuse using porn, learning new ways to abuse a person, getting into weirder and weirder stuff that they would have never wanted to do in real life, believing that anything is okay in sex and losing the ability to tell when something is actually wrong, and thinking about other women in misogynist ways. Somehow I don’t believe that the argument “women like porn too” does anything to address any of these problems.

I hate the term “feminist porn” too, but for very different reasons. I hate it because it ignores what porn actually is. Pornography is the graphic depiction of whores, and if you depict women as whores, that is inherently misogynist. The sex-pozzie “feminists” who talk about “feminist porn” are talking about porn films that were either directed by women or focus on women in some way. However this doesn’t make them feminist. Just because a woman is directing a porn film, that doesn’t mean that getting naked on camera suddenly has the ability to liberate women from oppression. If getting naked on camera could liberate women from oppression, then we’d already be liberated, because millions of us are naked on camera already.

And she makes a comment about women liking hard-core porn, not just “sheets fluttering in the breeze” whatever the fuck that means. This sounds like she is trying to be one of the Cool Girls, you know, those girls who totally get it and are just like one of the guys. I wonder if this woman has watched hard-core porn lately? Because it has gotten pretty bad in the last few years. It now contains forced blow jobs where the woman is made to choke, it contains women being forced to eat their own vomit after they choke, it contains going straight from ass to mouth without washing, it contains constant abuse to women’s bodies that causes them pain and injuries. None of this is sexy at all, unless you are an abuser. This stuff is actually torture, not sex.

“Dines: But let’s go to the empirical evidence and find out what happens when women look at porn. Specifically, [a new study] found that the more porn women watched, the more depressed and anxious they became, the less interested they were in having sex with people, and the more body-loathing they experienced*. Watching porn is not the issue—it’s the effects of watching it.”

Dines explains way better than this when she is given more time to speak, but I think it’s obvious why watching porn could make women feel depressed. Being constantly told that we are supposed to look and behave exactly like a blow-up doll in order to be liked by men is pretty damn depressing.

“Fleming: Well, having a doctorate, I value research, but I don’t know of that particular paper. Yes, there can be some problematic behaviors that can lead to depression and anxiety. But what is making those women turn to porn? They may want to compare themselves, which of course isn’t healthy. But I’ve also had clients who use it to discover their turn-ons. I think that’s the reason lesbian and gay porn is some of the most viewed by women. There’s this authenticity piece: There’s no shame or guilt in expressing their sexuality or using their bodies. I think women are also looking to see a connection [between two people] to feel a sense of intimacy and pleasure.”

Again, if you want to discover your turn-ons, you need to get in touch with yourself, not watch crap on the Internet. Also, how on Earth could you find authenticity while watching actors pretending to be enjoying something in order to make some money? This is another case where sex-pozzies say something completely disingenuous to avoid looking at the real problem. Porn is very fake. It contains no “authenticity,” “connection,” or “intimacy,” as this woman suggests.

One of the excuses listed here is “lesbian and gay porn.” Sex-pozzies like to use the excuse “but some porn is queer” to excuse the fact that porn is overwhelmingly misogynist. Apparently, because a small percentage of it is gay, it is therefore progressive. I don’t think so. Back in the day when I was a porn user, I did come across some videos labelled “lesbian” and they contained straight women who were acting out weird shit that male producers wanted them to do. Also, they always had really long manicured nails. Nope! Lesbian porn does not resemble what actual lesbians do. If anyone thinks porn is progressive because of “lesbian porn,” they are full of shit.

“Dines: But if you’re looking for [that], why don’t you seek it out in your own life? You’re not going to experience intimacy, empathy, and connection by watching other people have sex.”

Thank you, Gail Dines, the only one in this interview with a brain. You don’t get intimacy by staring at your computer screen. Leave your house and actually go out and meet people!

“Gallop: That’s what we’re trying to solve at MakeLove NotPorn. There is a total absence of an open conversation around sex in the real world. Because we as a society are so repressed about sex, we don’t talk about it—or what we’re watching. So porn exists in this shadowy underworld and therefore lacks socially acceptable curation. There is no Yelp for porn. And that’s because it’s not okay to come into the office, stand by the watercooler and ask, “I’m really bored with the porn I’m watching. Any suggestions?”

What a load of bullshit. There is no “absence of conversation about sex.” People talk about sex all the damn time. We’re all made to feel like we aren’t having enough of it and need to be constantly having more. We’re constantly given advice about how to do it better and more often. It’s the perpetual subject of pop culture (pop music, sitcoms, magazines) and Western culture is certainly not repressed about sex. How do you explain the multi-billion dollar sex industry and ubiquitous oversexualized media in a culture that is repressed about sex? It’s true that people don’t expect to talk about sex or porn at the water cooler at work. That’s because most people know how to behave in the workplace and know that during the work hours it is not appropriate to talk about your sex life. However, I have heard my own colleagues talk about their husbands’ skill level in bed on a few occasions, because guess what, sometimes the topic does come up, even at work. I bet there’s a few all-male workplaces out there where guys actually do talk about their favourite porn sites at the water cooler. Anyway. The point here is that people are still suggesting that we need porn because we are “repressed about sex” in a culture where sex is literally everwhere, and I have to say, this argument is really disingenuous.

“Fleming: In my opinion, anything that couples can use to promote a frank and honest convo is a great tool to enhance their bond. For instance, BDSM can be erotic for some women, but for others, it’s a turn-off. Anal? Clear turn-on or turn-off. This is empowering women to have a voice in their own sex lives and to know their “No”—as in, “No, that act doesn’t speak to me,” or “Yes, I’d like to try that.” There’s a whole range of sexuality, and it’s not black-or-white or all-or-nothing. We know in our bodies when something feels good or bad.

*At press time, this study was not yet published. Previous research has found that watching porn is linked to better sex for women in committed relationships.”

Once again, the claim that figuring out what you want to do with your partner involves watching porn. Here’s a tip: to talk about what you’d like to do in bed with your partner, turn off your computer, go and talk face to face with your partner, and say some things you’d like to do. Voilà! It’s not necessary to watch young women being abused on camera in order to have that discussion. I do not believe that people are so lacking in imagination that they cannot come up with any sexual activities until they go on the Internet to find some. Humans have been reproducing for thousands of years before the creation of the Internet. Somehow, we all figure it out.

Another daft comment about porn “empowering” women. People obviously have no idea what the word “empowering” actually means. When there is a multi-billion dollar industry selling videos of women being sexually abused, that is actually NOT empowering, it is oppression.

And how on Earth does watching porn aid women in their ability to say ‘no’? That is a big fat lie. Anyone who has half a brain realizes that men use porn to try to groom, coerce, and teach women to try things they wouldn’t have otherwise tried. Porn reduces women’s ability to say no.

Sex-pozzies live in a bubble of happiness where there is no oppression, no porn is violent, women are all-powerful beings with lots of agency, and sex is happy all the time. They have to lie constantly in order to keep up this illusion. I will not call them sex positive because they are not positive towards sex. They are actually just cheerleaders who are cheering for the capitalist patriarchy. I am positive towards sex, which is why I want women to have the ability to say no when they don’t want to, and I want them to be safe when they do. I think we should end sexual abuse, not commodify it. And at the very least, I want us to have honest conversations about how our pornified culture is affecting us, so we can fight back against it.

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17 thoughts on “In which I get pissed off because sex-pozzies are so dishonest about porn

  1. I WAS a sex-pozzie at one point, BEFORE I lifted the veil from my eyes and realized the extent of the abuse I’d experienced. People who have been abused often become hypersexual, defend their abusers and even “seek out” abusive relationships. They can be more likely to exploit themselves sexually as well as defend abusers.

    I won’t go into the gory details of how sexual abuse surfaces in my life presently, what I will say is that it’s made de-pornifying my life extremely difficult. I am still sifting through the mire resulting from abuse, still trying to figure out what I like and don’t like, what feels safe and healthy.

    People often site porn as the “cure” for puritanism when really, it’s just the other side of the same coin. Puritanical values are based off of the objectification, sexualization and demonization of women. Neither porn nor puritanism view women as equals. Neither is based on facts or feelings or VALUE for people.

    What the sex pozzies don’t seem to understand is that being anti-porn is not about being anti-sex, it’s about being against the devaluation of women that is so omnipresent in our society that people are completely blind to it. Sometimes it takes waking up to the reality of abuse in our culture to see how harmful porn is.

    Liked by 11 people

  2. People are so sexually repressed and that’s the problem we have to solve today?! WTF! Did she just jet in from the 1950s? Good gravy what chutzpah. People ARE full of anxieties about doing sex, and if they’re doing it right or not. Like we had anxieties about our musical taste in high school. Is this the right band to like, or will ‘they’ call me a dork? And of course porn and these bullshit therapists are the new ‘they’. They’re just making the anxieties all much worse.

    Superb analysis purplesage. I knew after reading the bit about libido :: rolls eyes:: that you would shoot right back with how that’s a bullshit concept. Why do we need a libido? Solid commonsensical stuff painfully absent from the mass media. very satisfying.

    Lesbians with long fingernails. 😂😂😂 Unless they’re celibate. 😉

    Liked by 4 people

  3. That’s an interesting post. Did you see The Prime Directive’s post on porn/sex the other day? That was good too. I’m putting together a (short) post on porn and prostitution for people who think both empower women (groan) and collecting good links, so I’d like to link to yours as your commentery is nice and clear 🙂
    Incidentally, I thought Fleming’s comment starting: ‘Well, having a doctorate, I value research’ sounded extremely condescending and patronising. Or was she just being snipey to Dines?

    Liked by 3 people

    • I thought that Fleming comment that you quote was funny. Since obviously she doesn’t “value research” or she would take the opposite position on this issue! 😂 Plus when people start talking about what they ‘value’ you know it’s because they have no evidence. 😆 She may very well have been sniping at Dines, as you say. But it’s still a tell. The knowledge she has nothing but her opinion, showing. 😂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: In which I get pissed off because sex-pozzies are so dishonest about porn | RaFeCaMe

  5. It’s so hard for radical feminists to talk to…well, anyone who isn’t a radical feminist. We see the truth, and they do not want to look at the truth. It’s almost as if the sex-pozzies and Gail Dines were having completely separate conversations. It’s like they weren’t even hearing her. Just a recording on repeat. How many times have I heard what they are saying, had it running through my own head, just accepting it because to not would mean to not be welcomed in the group? And the truth there was, even then, I didn’t fucking believe it. I tried, but it wasn’t something that made any sense. How could it?

    The alternative is to say, I’ve been duped! You have to face that crisis. You have to look at yourself in a really ugly way and say, I was so fucked up. Sometimes, you’re still disgusted with yourself. You can’t believe you were so stupid, so easily misled….so willingly misled. It’s a hard place to live in, and yes, they’d rather have their happy little bubbles of faux-empowerment.

    I had to laugh out loud, and then I felt like an asshole because this is no laughing matter, at the part about “some porn is queer”. That it isn’t misogynistic, that it reflects authentic queer fantasy. You are so right with your description of “lesbian” labelled porn, “acting out some weird shit.” With long fingernails. What the fuck?

    This is a great piece. You don’t back down in your criticism of so-called sex-positivity, rather, porn-positivity, and if we’re being more honest, rape-positivity. Sex-positive and rape-affirmative are the exact same thing.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Excellent comment, captainyourface. WTF does ‘captain your face’ mean? I keep reading ‘captain’ as a verb. Perhaps that’s why am confused. 🤔 😉

      Anyway ‘rape positivity’ is a great term. In for-real-land.

      In silly-land I’ve come up with “Pimp Spawn” 👺

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bahaha that’s a really boring story. I had to make a new email account, so I started off with Captain but couldn’t think of anything I liked that didn’t sound pretentious/emo/self-aggrandizing. About the 10th name I decided against, I was annoyed, and just went with “your face!”, the generic insult hurled when having obnoxious arguments. It’s outrageously juvenile, I know. Just call me Captain YourFace! of the USS Loser Loser Double Loser Get the Picture Whatever.

        It makes no sense, really.

        Liked by 2 people

        • LOL! I know what you mean! And if you sign in to lots of different sites you need a lots of usernames. It’s like if you had 20 pets and you had to make up unique names for each of them. I got sick of this so ‘petuniacat’ was literally the first thing that came into my mind. And I had the good sense to say That’s Fine! Knowing that they don’t really get any better with more effort. 😸

          Like

  6. Gail wrote this on Facebook about this piece:

    “Why do I bother????? Asked by Women’s Health to take part in a discussion about women and porn. Got up at 3:30am, schlepped to NYC and all for this piece of crap “reporting” and edited mess of a discussion. Clueless “sex therapist” talks about the positive side of women watching porn and had no idea of any of the latest empirical research on the impact of porn on women. As for Cindy Gallop, well she came out with the usual PR for her website that is all about monetizing and commodifying the most intimate parts of people’s life in the name of “feminism.” Should have known better than to participate in this circus.”

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I can definitely attest to the fact that porn exposure causes depression in women. I was exposed via my partners use, without getting into its effects on the relationship, intimacy and trust and just on the exposure in and of its self in my mid 30s (having been exposed to very little since childhood, where I saw a fair amount) — I become very depressed, likely would have qualified for a diagnosis of body dysmorphia disorder; I purchased and wore more makeup than I ever had in my life, became obsessed with perceived flaws with my face and body, often sobbing at the sight of my reflection, greatly restricted my eating, consulted with plastic surgeons, and lost a large amount of weight on an already small frame. I saw things wrong with me that I had never given a thought to before. It took so much of my energy and time. I withdrew in every sense of the word, from people to chores to doing things I previously loved. I sometimes thought of suicide. Perhaps the most painful effect was that I no longer saw aging as something to be proud of and look forward to, I saw it for the first time ever, from the perspective of the male gaze or audience (porn I was exposed to always portrayed very young women), that I was soon nearing the end of “desirability” and I would soon no longer count. Everytime I tried to reach out for help, either through peers, the internet or even professional help, many of these ideas were either directly or indirectly reinforced (this is just how men think, this is what they want — get used to it etc) It was not until I was fortunate enough to come across Ms. Dines’ TED talk and soon after that Meghan Murphy’s Feminist Current that I was able to get back in touch with some strong feminist analysis, and begin healing emotionally. I’m not all the way there yet, not sure I will ever be quite the same. I carry shame for betraying myself, for the ways I turned my partners actions on myself. But at least now I clearly understand the problem and it was never about me. I feel I have feminists, real ones, such as Gail, MM, and yourself to thank for being a beacon of light in an abysmal sea of shit and helping to give my life back. Thank you so much for the important work you do, all of you!

    Liked by 3 people

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