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Mar 10 2012

Sunsara Taylor: Why I’m Marching Against Religious Patriarchs and Woman-Hating Pornographers this Sat.

By Sunsara Taylor

It is no longer deniable by anyone paying attention, that we are living through an all out war on women’s lives, women’s rights, and women’s futures. This is not a minor matter; women are half of humanity. Defeating this war is everybody’s responsibility.

This is why this Saturday at noon I will be out in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City with a rowdy band of others screaming at the top of my lungs. This is the home of Timothy Dolan who spearheaded the recent attacks on birth control, which come on top of decades of attacks on abortion. Nearly 90% of counties now lack an abortion provider.

From there, we will march to the porn stores in Times Square and once again scream at the tops of our lungs. We will protest these stores because pornography has become more violent, more humiliating, and more cruel towards women – even as it has become more mainstream.

In reality, there is no meaningful difference between the Bible’s view of women and pornography’s view of women. Both reduce women to “things” to be controlled by men. The church reduces women to breeders. Porn reduces women to sex objects to be brutalized and degraded. We are neither. Women are human beings. On Saturday, we are shaking off any remnants of our own passivity and launching a new movement that will not stop until the full humanity of all women is recognized throughout society and throughout the world.

By taking to the streets in protest, we are not appealing to those in power, neither to the politicians who are either outright attacking women’s lives nor with those who are “just” seeking “common ground” with and conciliating to those attacks. We are calling out the millions of people who are horrified by this relentlessness but who are sitting paralyzed on the sidelines. We are also calling out to those who have become so acclimated to the unceasing violence and disrespect of women that they aren’t even angry.

Our message: IF WE WANT THINGS TO CHANGE – WE MUST ACT! We must rely on ourselves. We must do more than click an online petition or send money to some politician, we must get out in the streets, we must make our voices heard, we must confront the woman-haters and we must create through this protest a taste of the future we want.

For too long, those who attack women have felt free to do so at the tops of their lungs and with the backing of the state. Rush Limbaugh can call a thirty year old woman who uses birth control a “slut” and monopolize headlines for days. Timothy Dolan can revolt against birth control and get a personal phone call trying to appease him from President Obama. Porn producers can speak openly, as Bill Margold does here, about their desire to portray violence against women, “I’d like to really show what I believe the men want to see: violence against women… The most violent we can get is the cum shot in the face. Men get off behind that because they get even with the women they can’t have.”

Meanwhile, women tell us the stories of their rapes, the obstacles and shame they’ve encountered seeking abortions, the humiliation they’ve experienced from boyfriends who take their cues from pornography in whispers and through tears.

Why should a woman feel she has to whisper to us about birth control and then add, “I hope no one hearing this gets offended”? Why should a woman be embarrassed to tell us how humiliated she has been because, “Every guy I have ever dated has begged me to let him ejaculate in my face”? Why should a woman break down in tears not because she feels guilty about having had an abortion but because she had gone her whole life without anyone ever saying to her that it is okay to feel good about her abortion?

It is time for women to stop choking on their anger and pain, to stop turning it inward. And it’s time for the men who want no part of this to stop going along.

We know that the body count of battered women – three to four women killed every day – never makes the front page. We know it’s easier not to consider the crushed spirits and ravaged bodies of the trafficked women who are locked inside the “massage parlors” we walk past. We know it’s degrading to consider how many of the men we interact with get off on depictions of women being “throat-fucked” til they gag. We know its a lot of energy to respond every time a religious fascist insists women “keep their legs closed” and be forced to bear children against their will. We know it is painful to confront that most people—including most progressive people —have learned to accept and to live with this escalating hatred of women.

But we also know that this is not the only way the world can be. We know there is a reservoir of people, women and men, young and old, who hate this relentless assault on women’s lives, rights and futures. We know that there are millions more who can be won to see that all this is intolerable. We know that not all men hate women. We know that women are not innately weak and passive and destined to lay down for this shit. We know – and we have already seen in our work building up for this protest – that, when people come together to confront the woman-haters and speak up defiantly in an uncompromising voice, tears and whispers can transform into righteous anger and defiant political action.

By standing up together, by confronting the institutions that concentrate the war against women, we can shake off our own passivity. We can plant a pole that challenges and changes what other people feel they just have to accept. We can create a situation where the anger that is simmering, often stuffed very deep down in women everywhere, can be brought to the surface and unleashed to fuel powerful thinking and action. We can give inspiration and backing to people of all genders who everywhere who want to be part of bringing a better future into being. We can forge a vehicle, a new movement, that changes the terms throughout society and gives people a meaningful way to act.

On Saturday, our protest is not symbolic. It is a beginning. It is a declaration. From now, until we win the full liberation of women, this war on women will be resisted with conscience, anger, imagination, massive mobilization, and relentless determination to turn the tide.

Saturday, March 10th 12:00 NOON ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL: Fifth Ave. btw 50-51st. Streets

contact: [email protected]

 

14 comments

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  1. 1
    Erik Jensen

    I completely agree with the protest against Timothy Dolan and the Catholic Church. Their actions and words against women have made them a target for protest. What concerns me is that you are apparently painting Times Square with a very broad brush. You write that “porn reduces women to sex objects to be brutalized and degraded.” So it appears that the protest is against all stores and all pornography, not targeted against those that support violent, cruel, or exploitative versions of it. Are you against all porn? If so, then you have common ground with the church you are protesting.

    1. 1.1
      skeptifem

      I bet your way of judging is “whatever I get off to is the ethical porn”. It seems to be what every dude who supports “ethical” pornography seems to think. You can’t tell what women were forced into doing it, or who were coerced by men or poverty.

      Lets say you were a part of an industry that promoted violence against women, and said nothing. What would that make you? I don’t see any critiques based on social justice coming from pornographers. The only criticism I have seen from them is that it isn’t sexy to some of the old school directors.

      Also, there is virtually no criticism of the racism in pornography from within the industry. It is really blatant racism and it caters to white supremacist ideas about beauty and sexuality.

  2. 2
    Horatius

    Are you nìgger sows also going to bob your coconut shaped heads with bad hair and grunt “AWWW! No!” Fuck all nìggers! Remember the Fourteeen Words!

    1. 2.1
      Ace of Sevens

      Good trolling sounds like it’s a good faith argument, but is meant to derail, bait the target into saying things that make them look ridiculous or create an appearance of hypocrisy. Name-calling just makes you look like an uncreative idiot. I give you a 1/10 on the troll scale. Go study up on Encyclopedia Dramatica for a while, then come back. Better yet, don’t.

      (If our hosts have a policy that trolls should be ignored, I apologize. There is considerable disagreement on how to handle these assholes.)

  3. 3
    Tim Diaz

    I’m curious to hear how gay male porn exploits women, considering that there are no women involved at all. There is a lot of porn that is awful and degrading to women. There is other porn that isn’t. I see this as a free speech issue, actually.

  4. 4
    Ace of Sevens

    I’m not sure what you’re saying here. If you mean that there’s a lot of misogyny in the porn world, I agree with you. Based on what I know of the industry in the 1970s, the claims it’s getting worse sound dubious, but there are plenty of problems. To some degree, it’s the labor exploitation that happens in all capitalism, but thanks to slut-shaming and the like, women in porn are for more exploitable than your average working stiff.

    If you want to argue that porn per se is exploitative, then that’s different.

  5. 5
    Robert B.

    I don’t even…

    Like, okay. There are things in here that I am profoundly unequipped to argue with. If there was a huge industry that made billions (or some kind of *illions) of dollars by portraying people like me as victims and objects in the most intimate possible context, I would be rightfully and righteously pissed. I’m pretty damn mad that it’s happening to anyone at all. I am down with screaming at the top of one’s lungs about this.

    But, um. The pornography I read, and view, and watch, doesn’t even have women in it. (And most of it, by the way, is amateur-produced text or still art, but that might just be because I’m broke.) When I see claims that pornography objectifies women, I don’t even get angry, or laugh. It’s just a sort of blank stare. It’s always so weird, every time: someone who has such an obviously, profoundly justified grievance but nonetheless is saying something so transparently false. (Of course, I doubt it’s nearly so transparent to someone who’s mainly seen porn that features women, but it always takes a second for me to remember that.)

    People can be misogynist. Individual works can be misogynist. Institutions (such as the porn industry) can be profoundly misogynist; to boost bigotry and privilege to their most terrible extremes, it always takes an institution. But pornography itself can’t be misogynist. First of all, there’s porn where producers, characters, and intended audience are all men, or are all women. But even without that – pornography is basically art about sex. I’m hardly an expert on straight sex, but I sincerely doubt that it’s necessarily misogynist. So why should art about straight sex have to be misogynist, either? When works of pornography are misogynist, we should rightly place the blame on the people and institutions that produced them, not on pornography as a whole.

    1. 5.1
      hepburn1

      Hey Robert,

      Since when are:
      “I don’t even… Like, okay. & But, um.” considered coherent
      sentences in written English language?

      You lost me there brother.

      -kindly speaking, Hep

      1. Robert B.

        Nicely played, almost got me going. I give it 8.5/10. The screwed up punctuation was a very nice touch, and the word “kindly” would have inspired a paragraph of rant all on its own if I hadn’t caught myself.

        Thank you for sharing!

  6. 6
    hbart

    I get the reproductive freedoms and equality message – it’s a sensible, necessary message and hopefully doing some screaming will be just what people need to hear. I sincerely wish you the best with that. Misogyny is horrible and irrational, and I can’t see any reason it should be allowed to flourish, or be tolerated in public life.

    I do have a few questions for the author, though:

    1. I am curious about your stance on pornography.It may be that “Porn reduces women to sex objects to be brutalized and degraded.” Am I wrong to think that these women have given informed consent and signed a contract in the full knowledge of what it will entail? And that their self-determination is what counts? My body, my life, my choice?

    As an aside; porn for BDSM enthusiasts, and related fetishists commonly features women, commonly in restrictive and/or painful positions, having pain inflicted on them, generally being reduced to a submissive postion or otherwise objectfied. Is that also unacceptable? Is BDSM, in your view, wrong (as it typically features control, pain infliction, humiliation ritual etc. in practice as well as in porn)? If so, or not, why is that?

    2. I agree with the above comments that not all pornography even features women. Makes sense – presumably, some really don’t; I don’t imagine that women would really be necessary in porn intended for homosexual males.
    In the original post, is this a genuine oversight or were you using hyperbole, or is it generalized for some other reason?

    3. I had thought that the primary use of pornography is as a masturbatory aid for those with a preference for audio/visual stimulation; given that, and that masturbation is one of the various activities that are sexual activities, (which there is no rational reason, that I can see, to think are shameful or degrading) do you regard masturbation (or any other sexual activity) as an invalid or morally wrong activity if performed with the aid of pornography? What about without?

    4. How do you feel about ‘women-friendly’ porn, or porn made by female producers and directors?

    Tl;dr, the objection to pornography seems to be based in a knee-jerk censorship reaction of an extreme art form. Is this the case?

    I hope that this comment will not be viewed as an attempt to browbeat or silence – that is really not the intention at all. I’m sincerely curious about some of the related thoughts surrounding the post.

  7. 7
    hepburn1

    Your comparative analysis of biblical treatment of women juxtaposed with pornography demonstrates your ignorance of at least one of those widespread phenomenons.
    Obviously pornography is a scourge of exploitation that demeans humanity, reducing those who participate to their most base impulses, for massive profits. I deplore such exploitation.

    As for the bible you must view the doctrines within the context of ancient times. This is especially true regarding the Old Testament.
    It is my understanding that what Jesus taught is that all peoples are equally beloved and retain intrinsic value that is beyond our ability to measure.

    I am not at war with women.

    I love women for the unique and precious gifts of nurturing strength, caring, and life giving force that you carry in your very persons.
    Experiencing the love of my wife, we’re also best friends,
    has been the greatest fulfillment in life.
    What I don’t understand is why my sisters so revere and hold sacrosanct the right to arbitrarily destroy the fruit of their wombs, and hold this up as the cornerstone of their inalienable rights.

    Good luck in your war. Who exactly are you fighting?

    -very best to you, Hep

  8. 8
    Tex

    I dont know the porn store your intending to protest, but pretty much every porn store Ive been in has mostly been dedicated to selling other sex aids such as vibrators that are more for enhancing women’s pleasure and then they *also* sell porn. And that includes some really skeezy roadside porn stores pretty much dedicated to a truck driver clientele.

    1. 8.1
      Tex

      Meant to add on a tag to the above that protesting these stores probably isnt the best way to protest the porn industry and seems more likely to make people say “oh its those Fem-nazis again”. Though I dotn have a better idea on how to effectively protest the injustices in the porn industry so I guess Ill leave it at that and kudos to you and everyone else for trying to find the solution.

  9. 9
    jamesskaar

    porn is quite misandrist too, isn’t it? yet, don’t men choose to be treated as faceless tools?

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