Monday, April 09, 2007

Looking at the intra-feminist blog wars through the lens of South Park.
Did anyone else see the episode of South Park that was about dotcoms? The one where there were a bunch of tiny little gnomes stealing Cartman’s underwear and the kids followed them down to their lair? What the found was hundreds of gnomes running a complex undies-stealing operation. The kids of course asked the gnomes why they were stealing underpants, and the gnomes pointed to a chalkboard one which the following business plan was outlined.

1. Steal underpants
2. ?
3. Profit!

Coming from someone who was actually part of the internet boom, trust me, that’s actually a pretty good analogy. I worked for companies whose business plans made considerably less sense – at least if the worse came to the worse you could wear the underpants. Why would anyone want to sign up to have their dry cleaning arranged via the Internet?
(That was an actual business plan, BTW)

To me the anti-porn arguments frequently sound like they’re being made by the Underpants Gnomes. There are all these vague assertions that getting rid of porn will destroy the patriarchy and help women and I have to ask…how? The plan seems to be as follows.

1. Get rid of porn
2. ?
3. No more patriarchy! Women are free!

And I still don’t understand what step 2 is supposed to be. I’m not sure they do either. Which is quite important – if a group of people are trying to convince others to join their crusade and actually hope to succeed then they will generally need to convince those other people of what the point of the whole exercise is. In other words, they need a plan. What’s the plan in this scenario? I’ve been reading anti-porn arguments for about 15 years now and I’ve yet to hear one. I’ve yet to hear anyone explain how getting rid of porn will bring down the patriarchy in actual, concrete terms.
The problem I have with this is that I’ve lived in one of the most patriarchal societies on earth, Saudi Arabia, and they essentially have no porn there. And does that make the society any less patriarchal? Does is stop men from abusing women? Does it improve men’s attitudes to women? Does it stop some men from viewing women as nothing more than bodies designed to service them?
Nope. So, if you want me to commit any time and energy to your cause, you’re going to have to convince me that the effort will be well spent. What is step 2 of the plan? How will getting rid of porn actually help women as a whole? And why is this the key issue, the one that’s more important than any other, the feminist litmus test?
I’m still waiting.

21 comments:

Saorla said...

Hi Cassandra,

Allow me to chime in here. I don't think there is necessarily a relationship between porn and gender based violence - a view I think you share. As I mentioned before I live in Cambodia and there is porn here but it is very softcore and under the table. When you want to buy it, you have to say to the salesperson "I need something for my boyfriend".

The gender based violence in Cambodia is profound and deeply entrenched in society. Pedophilia, rape and spousal abuse is very high. The respect for women is very low.

Just yesterday I blogged about a karaoke worker who was beaten up by a government official. Today the paper reports that the official paid her off ($250) but still claimed she hurt herself trying to get away from him.

Living in a society with a high level of gender based violence and no hardcore porn makes it difficult to make such as issue out of porn, in my opinion.

Cassandra Says said...

Exactly. I would buy the idea that individuals who consume really violent porn in large quantities might be a little more inclined towards gender-based violence than is the norm, but the porn isn't making them do it. If anything they're consuming that specific kind of porn because they already are inclined that way.
My main issue with porn is concern about production issues. Making it more illegal isn't going to do anything to make the women who mkae it safer.

Saorla said...

Rather the opposite. Drive anything underground and it becomes unsafe. Alcohol, drugs, porn, sex work, abortion. I really wish that world leaders would look at the situation pragmatically and not as they want it to be!

belledame222 said...

ahahahaha, i think antiprincess used that exact same underpants gnome metaphor for the same damn assery, some months back. great minds, etc...

Cassandra Says said...

Indeed. Since when does driving anything underground improve conditions for the workers?
Of course the anti-porn people seem to be convinced that they can make it vanish completely, which is, well...
That hasn't worked out too well with drugs, has it?

Arwen said...

Here's step two. (DUH.)

#2: Patriarchs who currently use porn to get off wouldn't be using porn if they could get laid.

(I have had it explained to me that masturbation==porn by jerk face assholes - so the patriarchs themselves do not try to hide this.)

Therefore, they will be at a "sexual deficit".

This sexual deficit is deadly over the long term.

(I have had jerk face assholes explain to me that the fabled 'blue ball' is a deadly condition, especially if chronic. Without pussy or porn, blue ball hospitalizations will doubtless go through the roof.)

Therefore, through evolutionary processes, lack of porn will select against patriarchs as blue ball disease kills them slowly.

This is the obvious step two.

My only worry is that our intel may not be correct, vis a vis the biology of the Patriarchal Male.

Saorla said...

Nope and you'd think that after how many decades of prohibition, they'd realise that it makes the problems worse.

No way porn will ever be stamped out so let's keep it regulated and safe.

Cassandra Says said...

But then what if we were to found out that blue balls could be cured by a quick cold shower?

I do love the hydraulic view of male sexuality.

Arwen said...

Come on, Cassandra, dahlin'. Are you suggesting that 14 year old boys and asshole older men would not have stumbled on such a solution themselves? They are PATRIARCHS! They must *know*.




(saorla, I'm just having fun.)

Cassandra Says said...

But Arwen, they're men, which means they're stupid! They can't possibly figure this stuff out for themselves. They need our womanly wisdom.

Saorla said...

Cassandra - it's perfect. We can keep the porn and prescribe cold showers. A miracle cure!

(No worries Arwen - me too)

Zan said...

But but....okay. I've got the answer! After listening to all you brilliant minds :) Here it goes....since we mean evil Women just won't give it up whenever any random man wants it, we must impliment this solution to save the poor, dumb mens. Since blue balls are deadly and the only options for cure are porn or cold showers, I say we build special shower complexes where the water is always frigid and the walls are actually television screens, pumping in porn 24/7. Then, we round up all the men and stuff 'em in the complexes. Since we all know that men think about sex All.The.Time, it's really a kindness. They are free to think about sex all they want and can choose to alleviate their blue balls by either cold showers or porn! And while they're all busy, we women can fix the world. Down with the patriarchy! Up with the Matriarchy!

sallysunshine_26 said...

Slap!

That's the sound of Cassandra smacking some sense into those anti-porn gnomes. heehee I do love the gnome reference.

The "eliminate porn" folk’s stubborn stance on this issue reminds me of the anti-choicers in SD. They spent all this time, energy, & money (millions in fact) trying to outlaw abortion. In the end, they too got the smackdown. They wasted a ton of state/taxpayer resources to fight a lost cause. Rather than spending an obscene amount of money on this, wouldn’t it make more sense to help actual living breathing children walking around on the planet? One would think so.

I've read some of these anti-porn blogs and it seems like they spend a lot of time shaming women in the industry, and asking impossible questions like "how can we get rid of porn completely to take down the patriarchy?" ect... Instead of asking rational, common sense questions like, "What can we do for women in this industry to promote safe working conditions for them?”

Being anti-porn is fine. I have no issue with that. If one does not enjoy it or finds it offensive, then by all means, don’t watch it. *BUT*, when these anti-porn radfems start insisting that their individual preferences should be *the* holy grail in the land feminism, well, that’s where the gnome smackdown begins.

Veronica said...

LMAO. OMG. Thank you for this. Underpants gnomes. Started my day off on the right foot.

Cassandra Says said...

Zan - But we're not supposed to be doing anything which might make the menz happy! Don't you get that yet? Our job is to make sure that they're miserable! That's the point!
(Or, you know, that's the point if you're batshit crazy. For the rest of us the point is more ensuring that women have access to healthcare and job opportunities and political clout etc)
PS I left you a present a couple of posts down - well, you and SP. Pretty boys making out!
Does that count as porn?

Cassandra Says said...

Sally - Don't even get me started on the "we hate abortion because we want to save the poor little babies but we don't give a crap about the kids that are already here" people. Grr.
Both of these are issues that seem to bring out the irrational side of a lot of people. I'm actually not exactly pro-porn myself, I just don't get why this should be THE issue. In terms of relative importance it's pretty low on the list for me. That and the argument that porn causes violence is pretty intellectually sloppy. Hmm, should write about that.
Honestly I think these are both cases of "I hate this therefore it shouldn't exist", which is fine - people are entitled to hate things, but let's not pretend that eliminating them will cause sweeping political changes.

Cassandra Says said...

V- Welcome! I've been enjoying Manly Week.

Tobias said...

Cassandra, funny enough, I just discovered that textezurkunst.de (texts with reference to art) has recently devoted almost an entire issue to "porn" as a cultural, erotic, capitalist, etc., phenomenon. textezurkunst.de

The articles are also available in English, click on issue "64" in the navigation bar to get to the december issue, if you're interested. I've briefly looked at it and I think you mind find it interesting.

In other news, there are poeple for whom porn doesn't do the trick. Did I say people? Pandas, I meant Pandas ;)

Thai zookeepers choose high-tech option after panda porn videos fail to arouse

Maybe that's the answer to the question mark...

FoolishOwl said...

I happen to know that while blueballs may be slightly uncomfortable, sexually repressed teenagers can suffer from it for well over a year with no lasting harm.

I've never been able to make any sense of the idea that the root of all social problems is pornography. It makes it rather hard to explain what happened in all those millenia before magazines were invented.

belledame222 said...

heads up, btw: new site i think will interest:

"Let them eat pro-sm feminist safe spaces"

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