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May 19 2010

Porn, Social Criticism, and the Marginalization of Kink

Rocco-animal-trainer-5 Is it valid to criticize rough-sex porn for perpetuating misogynist images of women?

Or, to look at the question from the other side: Is it possible to critique rough-sex porn without marginalizing kink?

If you’ve been around the porn wars, you’ve almost certainly run across a particular form of anti-porn critique. “Erotica may not be inherently bad… but look at how misogynistic so much commercial porn is! Look at how it portrays degradation and violence against women as sexually pleasurable! Women being slapped and treated roughly during sex! Women being called sluts and whores and sex toys! Women being given forceful deep-throat blowjobs that make them choke and gag! Is that a vision of women and sexuality we want to accept?”

I was reading one of these screeds the other day (somebody linked to it in a Facebook conversation)… and I started spewing out a seriously annoyed mini-manifesto/ rant.

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Thus begins my latest piece on the Blowfish Blog, Porn, Social Criticism, and the Marginalization of Kink. To read the mini-manifesto/ rant about how critiques of rough porn marginalize kink — and my more nuanced analysis of whether political criticism of porn should be handled differently from political criticism of any other form of pop culture — read the rest of the piece. (And if you feel inspired to comment here, please consider cross-posting your comment to the Blowfish Blog — they like comments there, too.) Enjoy!

5 comments

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  1. 1
    Maria

    It shows no awareness of the fact that there’s oodles of rough and kinky porn in which women dominate men. (Not to mention rough and kinky gay male porn — Loki knows there’s plenty of that
    That’s the first I was thinking about when I saw you would write about this. I can assure people who doesn’t know that there IS plenty of that (thanks Loki :-D)
    I ran into a similar thing once, where similar thoughts as yours ocurred to me.
    I was reading a dominant woman’s blog a few years ago, and one day she was writing about a night she had had with a friend of hers, a submissive man. The scene had been successful and a great time had been had by both, so the text was kind of glowing with happiness and satisfaction :-) A few days later she wrote again and said that night was now not such a fun memory after all, and she didn’t know what to think.
    What had happened was that she had described this night in another kink-oriented on-line place too, and a person there had been very upset by it – because her submissive male friend happened to be black. To that person a white woman dominating a black guy conjured up a lot of bad imagery in her head. She described what that other person had said, but I won’t paraphrase that here. But basically she had been told she should not do that again in any case.
    And I remember thinking that, but… what about the submissive man, and what he wants? Isn’t that basically saying that that submissive guy should be denied expressing his kinks (that he can’t very well help having, and even if it’s totally SSC and with a good and experienced friend) – because of the color of his skin?

  2. 2
    Valhar2000

    Yes, Maria, that is exactly what it is.
    Nonetheless, I gotta tell you that I love it, I just love it: there is nothing I find funnier than a raving racist who believes he or she is a staunch egalitarian.
    You’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?

  3. 3
    Maria

    You’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?
    … or cry, or just headdesk, I don’t know which.

  4. 4
    Clarisse Thorn

    (cross-posted from the other blog:)
    I find myself agreeing with JJ’s comment more than the post, I’m afraid (he said that I think if you are going to find any difference in the critiques of porn vs other social media or whatever you have to look not at what is being critiqued but at the nature of the critiques themselves).
    I am curious, though, about what Greta and commenters think about romance novels / romantic comedies / etc, which have lately often been critiqued as damaging in ways similar to the expectations set up by mainstream porn.

  5. 5
    Hortensio

    For me, what distinguishes critiques of pornography as sexist from similar critiques of other aspects of pop culture is that comparatively few people use the charge of sexism as a rational for trying to ban Sex and the City – while the critique that kinky porn is sexist is often used to advocate banning it and making criminals out of anyone involved.
    Welcome to Canada: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._v._Butler

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