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Aug 23 2011

A very sad story

What does this religious puritanism do to people? It screws up their lives with needless guilt. This is a kind of oppression of the mind, where women are inculcated with unrealistic and shameful views of their own bodies.

Mental purity is a state of mind Renaud came to after years of struggle. When she was 10, she discovered a dirty magazine in her older brother’s bathroom. She had never seen male genitalia before; she became increasingly curious and began to search for pornography. When she hit puberty, she says, her curiosity turned into compulsion, and she added masturbation to her porn-seeking behavior. At 15, she attended a Christian summer camp and heard the pastor talking about “a Father in heaven who loves you unconditionally regardless of what you do.” From then on, she became active in the church and vowed to end her masturbation and porn habits.

“I’ve been sober for seven years now,” she says of her masturbation-free life.

Although some married women participate in Dirty Girls Ministries, Renaud’s crusade is largely for single women like herself. The majority of Dirty Girls’ members are in their 20s and 30s, but many teenagers and preteen girls, some as young as 11, have also joined. Technically speaking, most are virgins, but because of their below-the-belt explorations, they report feeling tainted, undesirable, and perverted.

Being orgasm-free is not the same as being sober, and masturbation does not make someone tainted or undesirable. There are, of course, extreme cases of sexual obsession where the behavior can interfere with day-to-day, productive living, but that isn’t the case in this story: this “Dirty Girls Ministries” regards masturbating or even reading a romance novel twice a week as a dangerous case of excessive addiction. Given that attitude, I suspect they’d regard the Pharyngula readership as a nest of decadent, pervy wastrels obsessed with sex. You should be proud.

But the reverse is true: having a fairly casual attitude towards sex — it doesn’t define you, and your worth is not a function of abstinence — is healthy, and this weirdly repressed perspective inflicts unforgivable pain on ordinary human beings.

Indeed, guilt and shame are emotions commonly expressed by the women involved in Dirty Girls Ministries. “Once I’ve actually committed the sin (of porn and masturbation), I find myself feeling such sadness, frustration, disappointment, anger, shame,” writes one anonymous commenter on the Ministries’ forum. “It makes me feel sick and unworthy,” writes another. One girl even reported feeling guilty after simply dreaming about masturbating.

Isn’t that just the most wonderful thing about religion? Once you’ve infected someone with it, it’s incredibly easy to put them to work punishing themselves for you.

You’ve got a choice. Either you accept the artificial guilt of an ancient dogma and stop doing a perfectly normal, harmless, and universal behavior, or you stop accepting the guilt and find human happiness in being who you are. Rational people choose the latter. Deluded people follow the former, and suffer lifelong for it.

(via Skepchick)

400 comments

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  1. 1
    SamBarge

    What was it that Hitchens always says:

    God created us sick and commands us to be well.

    Why did God give us sexual desire if any expression of it outside the narrowest confines of heterosexual, reproductive sex is forbidden. What an ass (God, I mean).

  2. 2
    Dick the Damned

    My first thought was that this was a Poe, but then i realized that religion brings out the crazy.

  3. 3
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Given that attitude, I suspect they’d regard the Pharyngula readership as a nest of decadent, pervy wastrels obsessed with sex. You should be proud.

    Definitely.

    . . . . on the other hand, idiotic, harmful, misogynistic religion aside – I wonder if there isn’t another problem at work here.

    I could easily think of at least two reasons that religion is being used as a convenient cover to Ms. Renaud, et al, to simply avoid talking about the real reasons they’re (apparently) chosing to be sex-adverse.

  4. 4
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    The kind of guilt from sexual sin actually is worse than just “oh, sex is bad.” The result it had on me as a teenage boy was that I was of the mindset that a sweet little peck on the lips was too much like sex. Killed my self-confidence for years.

    I think the reason Christians get so up in arms about sexual things (be it sex before marriage, pornography, or homo/bisexuality) is that they’ve got an attitude of “if I can’t have it neither can you.” They’ve got to set themselves aside as pure and perfect for the kingdom and when people enjoy things like sex, it makes them angry.

    It’s why they want to punish women for having sex (birth control and abortions) and why they want to keep homo/bisexual persons from being able to have sex (anti-sodomy laws.) It’s control of the basest urges we have as sentient beings.

  5. 5
    jheartney

    Religions don’t want you to stop masturbating. If you did, you wouldn’t have to go crawling to God to ask forgiveness, and then there goes their meal ticket.

    There’s a reason religions have so many rules about sex and food. These are universal things all humans do, so by setting up some arbitrary restrictions in them, religions generate an endless stream of sins that need forgiving. Bear in mind that without sins, there’s no reason to have religion.

    (Note: this insight isn’t mine. I saw it on a video of an ex-christian whose name I don’t recall. Anyway it’s true, and brilliant.)

  6. 6
    Audley Z. Darkheart OM (I should just log in at this point)

    I’m sorry, but “Dirty Girl Ministries” sounds like a roller derby team and not a bunch of weirdo puritans.

  7. 7
    demonhype

    I can relate, and I wasn’t even nearly as gone as these girls! Never encountered porn, but I was “exploring” by the time I was five. Nine years in Catholic school didn’t entirely “take”, and yet I still had this feeling that there was something shameful, or even unusual, about what I was doing. Back then, I never would have even admitted as much to anyone, much less on a blog. I certainly never got to the self-flagellating stage and an altar call would have had no effect on me, but all that “sex is dirty” crap was so insidious that I never realized that yes, a heavily religious upbringing did make a mark on me, and not in a good way. You think you escape it, but it’s amazing how many subconscious hangups still cling to you many years later.

    What helped me break free and regard myself as normal was reading Greta Christina’s blog. I was drawn there by the whole “Angry Atheists” post, stayed for the atheism, but ended up reading a lot of posts on sex as well and even commented occasionally. Eventually, I started realizing that I wasn’t feeling ashamed anymore. Thank you, Greta! :)

    I remember my roommate at school seeing that episode of House where he informed a mother that her little girl was “finding Nemo” and being horrified at the suggestions that a small girl could be engaging in such things, even suggesting that it had to be made up. Calmly, I said “No, it happens all the time. For example, I did it”–she had no idea what to say to that! How far I had come by then!

  8. 8
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I’m sorry, but “Dirty Girl Ministries” sounds like a roller derby team and not a bunch of weirdo puritans.

    LOL totally. I was like “I want to join THAT ministry!”

    and then, was immediately let down by the pearl-clutchy prudery.

  9. 9
    Glen Davidson

    “Dirty Girl Ministries” makes me want to…

    I would have thought that this was a Christina Aguilera fanclub, or some such thing.

    Honestly, though, where do they even get this? Not even from the Bible, in fact. I guess you’re not supposed to question anything your pastor says, from pseudoscience to “no fapping.”

    Glen Davidson

  10. 10
    Anri

    Can I have sex if I promise not to enjoy it?

  11. 11
    Martin Burn

    “I find myself feeling such sadness, frustration, disappointment, anger, shame”

    And it’s obvious why – she’s not doing it right! :-P

  12. 12
    Markita Lynda, thread-killer

    That’s why I say that the guilt-inducing theology, whether Christian or Muslim, is the biggest Gypsy Curse scam ever. They invent a magical taint on our humanity and then we pay and obey to have it removed.

  13. 13
    Marta

    I do not understand how sex and religion became co-dependent.

    Just can’t imagine the original spark that first connected a body function to something requiring the regulation of god.

  14. 14
    IslandBrewer

    Awesome, my new band name. Dibs on “Dirty Girl Ministries.”

    Oooh, and a new porn film title!

    I clearly have too much free time.

  15. 15
    Markita Lynda, thread-killer

    This, of course, goes along with ganging op on women and telling them that they must feel guilty for having an abortion. Left to themselves, their primary feeling is relief.

  16. 16
    Teh kiloGraeme

    When I see stories like this, I sometimes think that the best thing to do to religious wackjobs is leave them to it. Then I think that the humanist movement might be one of the best things to happen to humanity….

  17. 17
    IslandBrewer

    Dammit, and now I have a plot outline. Although, I think I have waaay too much plot and character development for a porn film.

  18. 18
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Oooh, I hope Renaud comes here. Dirty Girls Ministries was mentioned on Feministe the other day and she turned up and left a comment (link):

    It would have been awesome if the reporter actually used my quotes in context or even paraphrased close to the truth of what I said to her. I am not nor have I ever been on a crusade against masturbation. I couldn’t care less if a woman masturbates. My concern is whether or not the behavior a woman is involved is compulsive and their lives have become unmanageable because of their actions. Porn, masturbation, etc. are secondary to the care I have for these women and their emotional health. This idea is obviously contrary to the reporter’s agenda and it’s really too bad that my cause was portrayed in such a negative light.

    I’d say “Liar, liar pants on fire” but with all that sexual repression, who knows what kind of perversity she’d read in that sentence.

  19. 19
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    She had never seen male genitalia before; she became increasingly curious and began to search for pornography. When she hit puberty, she says, her curiosity turned into compulsion,
    and she added masturbation to her porn-seeking behavior.

    uh yeah, does this work any other way?

  20. 20
    Moggie

    Markita Lynda:

    That’s why I say that the guilt-inducing theology, whether Christian or Muslim, is the biggest Gypsy Curse scam ever. They invent a magical taint on our humanity and then we pay and obey to have it removed.

    These freaks better keep their hands off my taint.

  21. 21
    Fear Uncertainty Doubt

    Perhaps the Dirty Girls would feel better with a good spanking. Of course it would only be gentlemanly of me to offer to take on the role of High Spanker of the Dirty Girls Ministry. My discipline is firm but loving. So loving.

  22. 22
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    These freaks better keep their hands off my taint.

    Ok.

    Now to clean off the monitor and get a new glass of water.

  23. 23
    Sastra

    “Is sex dirty? Only if it’s done right.” — Woody Allen

    I could very well be wrong here, but I have a sneaking suspicion that more than a few of the members of “Dirty Girls Ministries” find the whole set-up to be kinda hot.

  24. 24
    Etcetera

    I’m sorry, but Dirty Girl Ministries sounds like pedophilia waiting to happen. Roller derby jokes aside, you’re getting a bunch of sex-obsessed teens confessing their masturbatory habits to a bunch of adults – a bunch of adults who are so sex-obsessed themselves that they had to create a “ministry” around listening to teen girls talk about masturbating.

    This is going to end well.

  25. 25
    swh

    Well at least you have something to tell the advisees about that will help them to get through the next 4 years!

  26. 26
    educatheist

    Coming from a religious background myself, I see plenty of truth in this piece. It’s truly sad that so many men and women are oppressed in this manner.

    In reading the comments here, a thought struck me: why do religions seem so focused on sexual behavior? Is it as Katherine says–they’re jealous? Or jheartney–they need people to keep sinning?

    Maybe it has to do with the history of religion, specifically Christianity now. Borne of a misogynistic age, women’s fertility was a vital component of the early church because they needed women to make more members, yet whether they enjoyed this process or not is irrelevant. Nowadays things are vastly different, yet the old rulebooks are still in use, and thus sexuality must be kept on the straight-and-narrow reproduction-only track.

  27. 27
    broboxley OT

    I was always told that too much masturbation would make you blind, so what if I drive like Mr Magoo.

  28. 28
    amavra

    This sort of thing always makes me sad. I struggled with the guilt of masturbation through my teens and it took years to get out of the guilt cycle. In the end I was glad I did masturbate because otherwise I’d have no idea what I’d like in sex.

    And now I’m married and I am still at it. I call myself almost an advocate for female masturbation so i guess I’m like the antithesis of this woman.

  29. 29
    Ray Ingles

    “Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possibility of wrongdoing — and you don’t have to go home in the cold. But it’s lonely.” – Robert Heinlein

    (The guy wasn’t perfect, but he was perceptive in some ways.)

  30. 30
    Freerefill

    “It makes me feel sick and unworthy,”

    No, masturbation makes you feel fucking awesome. That’s… sort of the point.

    Those people you’re talking to?

    Those ones who tell you it’s sick?

    Those ones who tell you that you are unworthy for doing it?

    … they’re the ones making you feel sick and unworthy.

  31. 31
    Cuttlefish

    There was a related story this week on CNN’s Belief Blog, on new christian counseling programs to overcome porn addiction. http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish/2011/08/21/and-on-the-eighth-day-god-created-porn/ An awful lot of “if you touch yourself, you’re going to hell” around.

  32. 32
    coelecanth

    Yup, religion creates a “problem’ and then sells you a “cure” that leaves you feeling like shit but doesn’t actually change anything. The fact that anyone still thinks that religion is a positive force boggles my mind.

    My wife used to belong to an all female mountain biking group called The Dirt Girls. Occasionally I’d end up in one of their pacelines on my commute home. I always resisted the temptation to call out “Who’s a dirty girl?” partly because if they took offence there was no way I could out run them and partly because if my wife was typical the answer would like be “All of us.”

  33. 33
    bbgunn

    I briefly dated a woman, a former Catholic, in the early ’80s. We had a pretty active sex life, except on Sundays. Even though she never attended services, she said she felt guilty about having premarital sex on Sunday. (She never expressed any guilt about premarital sex for the other six days of the week.) We ended the relationship amicably when her job required a move to the West Coast.

  34. 34
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Etc.,

    … you’re getting a bunch of sex-obsessed teens confessing their masturbatory habits to a bunch of adults –a bunch of adults who are so sex-obsessed themselves that they had to create a “ministry” around listening to teen girls talk about masturbating.

    Kind of sounds like “pray away the gay”, doesn’t it?

    And, just so you know, I totally agree with your point. At the very best, “Dirty Girls Ministry” is creepy as shit and at the very worst…

    … Ugh, I don’t even want to think about it.

  35. 35
    Therrin

    I got to:

    “a Father in heaven who loves you unconditionally regardless of what you do.”

    And I thought, Oh, that’s nice, the pastor is going to tell her that it’s a perfectly normal activity and won’t change her status with the Great Pumpkin.

    ..

    So much for unconditional love.

    I was forced by parents to join a Jewish youth group where there were games about scoring points by “hooking up” with various (student) leaders. I made a good wallflower.

  36. 36
    Dianne

    The fact that women (or men) feel dirty for satisfying their normal sexual urges in a safe manner is a serious problem. Yet somehow my first response to this post was to feel the need to spend some quality time with my vibrator tonight…the partner still being out of town there’ll be no spanking and then oral sex for me today.

    I notice that the women and girls in this “ministry” are all under 40. Does that mean that masturbation is no longer forbidden after 40? I’m not sure whether to be relieved or think that takes (some of) the fun out of it…

  37. 37
    Rey Fox

    If I hadn’t already done it this morning, I’d be doing it now. Assholes.

  38. 38
    spinetingler

    “It makes me feel sick and unworthy”

    You are doing it wrong.

  39. 39
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    On the plus side, perhaps we can finally put to rest the idiotic myth that only men ever have an interest in porn? >.>

  40. 40
    Dhorvath, OM

    Not like I need another reason to hate religion, but the whole sex shaming control scheme scares me. I know that it is a huge part of why religions spread and garner the control that they do. They don’t even need everyone to believe that sex is bad, they just need enough people to believe it is bad in order to generate fear of exposure in those who are sex positive.
    If I could pick one idea to kill, shame at pleasure would certainly be high on my list of considerations.

  41. 41
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Dianne:

    Gasp! You naughty person with your vibrator and spankings!! *clutches pearls and all that*

  42. 42
    Dhorvath, OM

    Katherine,
    Pearls? Are they on a string and of varying size?

  43. 43
    Quodlibet

    Sheese. Obviously ‘god’ wants people to masturbate – that’s why everything is right within reach and easy to operate.

    Seriously, masturbation is common, not only across the entire human race, but, as I understand, in many non-human species as well.

    Yes, I also think that religions ‘invent’ sins so as to keep people in a constant state of guilt and fear, and thus more easily controlled.

    The message we’ve given our daughter is that sex is a natural and good part of our lives – necessary AND to be enjoyed, like breathing and eating and sleeping. To be savored, safely and healthfully, and with consideration of and full consent from one’s partner (or by one’s self). No rules except good health and joyful consent.

    I’m listening to Mozart as I work – now THERE’s someone who enjoyed sex in the happiest sort of way. Oh, his letters are a treat!

  44. 44
    NancyNew

    @21 –Fear Uncertainty Doubt says: …Of course it would only be gentlemanly of me to offer to take on the role of High Spanker of the Dirty Girls Ministry. My discipline is firm but loving. So loving.

    And so FIRM, too. I’m sure you’d be a hard, hard High Spanker of the Dirty Girls Ministry.

    Seriously, it’s a good thing it’s lunchtime, because the snort I let out on that could have been heard 4 cubicals away.

  45. 45
    The Pint

    I don’t know whether to feel incensed that these women are attempting to perpetuate a horrible cycle of guilt and shame on others for what are perfectly natural (not to mention enjoyable) urges, or terribly sad for these women.

  46. 46
    Rey Fox

    Oooh, I hope Renaud comes here.

    Ehh, doubtful. She just left one comment there and then bravely ran away. It would be nice if she came here, she has a lot to answer for.

  47. 47
    Quodlibet

    Me at #43: I meant sheesh. Though I am trying to eliminate expressions from my speech that are religious euphemisms (OMG, Sheesh, jeepers, etc.)

    Golly. Gosh.

    oops

  48. 48
    PZ Myers

    Yeah, the creature god obviously hated most was T. rex — those teeny tiny arms would never be able to reach, and the sharp claws on them were no doubt put there to frustrate any successful tyrannosaurid contortionists.

  49. 49
    Everyday Atheist

    You really can’t exaggerate how psychologically damaging this nonsense is to teenagers. One of my high school girlfriends meekly confessed to me that she engaged in “the long M word.” She was really worried I’d think less of her, when I really just had a new mental image to accompany my own activities. But sure enough, I converted a while later, and then started feeling guilty and confessing to god every time I raised the Jolly Roger. It weighs on you, constantly, especially when you’re a hormone-crazed teen. The greatest relief of leaving religion was being able to have a shag with someone I liked without feeling like a worm.

  50. 50
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Dhorvath:

    No… why ever would you think that?? *nervous glance*

  51. 51
    Dhorvath, OM

    Sheesh and Jeepers are religious?

  52. 52
    Dhorvath, OM

    Katherine,
    Because that’s what comes to my mind every time someone mentions clutching their pearls.

  53. 53
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @PZ:

    Um, hello? T-rex was obviously designed to play the ukelele! You biologists, always thinking biologically.

    @Dhorvath:

    Ehehe. (actually I don’t have those. I have… other things)

  54. 54
    Otranreg

    I find myself feeling such sadness, frustration, disappointment, anger, shame,” writes one anonymous commenter on the Ministries’ forum. “It makes me feel sick and unworthy,” writes another.

    It’s unsurprising if you’re doing it with an invisible old perv hovering about. It is even less surprising if it isn’t just this sneaky split-personality serial killer doing it, but a whole damn symphony orchestra of your deceased relatives, with your late grandma leading it, perched on the fluffy clouds, staring, peeping in your room, at your screen and up your fanny.

  55. 55
    The Pint

    @amavara #28
    This sort of thing always makes me sad. I struggled with the guilt of masturbation through my teens and it took years to get out of the guilt cycle. In the end I was glad I did masturbate because otherwise I’d have no idea what I’d like in sex.

    I didn’t really acknowledge that I had anything resembling a libido until I got to college and started dating a fantastic guy. And even then, I just never thought of exploring myself because, well, I just didn’t think girls “did that.” Best piece of “sex ed” advice I ever got was from a woman I thought of as a surrogate older sister: “The only way you’re going to know what you like is to find out for yourself. Your partners aren’t going to be mind-readers and don’t assume that just because he’s a guy he ‘knows’ what he’s doing.”

    She was amazing because there was never a hint of shame or guilt in talking about sex with her – she’d curl the hair right of the toes of women like Renaud and I can only hope I can do the same by being able to pass her wisdom onto my nieces when they get old enough.

  56. 56
    DLC

    Wait.. . are you sure this isn’t some kind of overly elaborate joke ? Are people actually falling for this “if you touch it Jesus will cry” bullshit ? Really ? Look at porn, get horny, have a wank, and you’re going to burn in hell for it ?

    Seriously — sexual repression is one of the biggest pieces of hell-on-earth that the Jesus-Fascists ever brought to us.
    Why should anyone even pay attention to these lunatics other than because they’re too young to get away from it.

  57. 57
    'Tis Himself

    I suspect they’d regard the Pharyngula readership as a nest of decadent, pervy wastrels obsessed with sex. You should be proud.

    Damn, it’s too bad I can get my Pharyngula reading stuffed and mounted above the mantlepiece.

  58. 58
    'Tis Himself

    Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. -H.L. Mencken

  59. 59
    Marcus Ranum

    Because that’s what comes to my mind every time someone mentions clutching their pearls.

    I agree. At first I thought “pearl clutching” was when you keep a grip on that last one so the whole string doesn’t go up, inside. That can get awkward.

  60. 60
    Bruce Gorton

    marta

    Because religion is about power. If you can convince someone that something that provides them with pleasure at zero cost to anybody else is “evil” – you can convince them of anything.

    Consider homosexuality – gays aren’t harming anybody by being gay. It really isn’t anybody else’s business if who they love, or even why they love them. If being gay was as the fundementalist religious douchebergs argue a “lifestyle choice” then frankly it would still be none of their business.

    Those douchebergs make it their business because they want power, and the ultimate expression of power for them is denying pleasure to others.

    This is why you have Somalian Islamists banning music, why American religious fundementalist preachers tell Nigerian parents to torture their own children.

    It is why in some devoutly Hindu villages marrying out of caste can be a death sentence. This power of denying people pleasure is the heart of honour killing.

    The hideous evil of religion is all about power. It is explicit in the idea of “Our lord” or “Jesus is king” – lords and kings nobody ever hears directly from so you better believe the messenger.

    The more power hungry the messenger is, the more that messenger wants the right to micro-manage your life, the less pleasures you are allowed under their cult.

  61. 61
    Dianne

    I’m sure the pearls are used only for medicinal purposes. You know, kegals to strengthen the pelvic floor. And relief of hysteria of course. Very clinical, all of it. No pleasure involved at all.

  62. 62
    teawithbertrand

    They actually call their group “Dirty Girls Ministries”? Seriously? Why am I picturing them all in Catholic school girl uniforms?

  63. 63
    Orakio

    There are a huge pile of messed up things we can use masturbation to hide from ourselves. It’s a soothing behaviour, and sometimes we can lean on it like a crutch. That’s something we all have to remember. Things can actually get unhealthy. There’s a fine line between healthy release, and unhealthy obsession. The guilt cycle is a pretty nasty thing to be in, and it really doesn’t have much to do with the actual sexuality going on.

    But, it sounds like these ladies have no idea where it lies. And that’s going to be very damaging for them in the long run. I hope they can find real support soon – it’s invaluable.

  64. 64
    Quodlibet

    Dhorvath, OM.

    I’ve always assumed that word like sheesh, jeepers, gosh, etc., were euphemisms for “Jesus” and “God,” invented and used by people who did not want to utter those words in a profane manner. I may be wrong – it’s been my intuition, not based on any research.

    Jeepers Creepers -> jesus christ?
    gosh darn it -> god damn it
    darn -> damn
    etc.

    I will have to look into it further to see how reality lines up with my own ideas! :-)

    It’s good to question underlying assumptions…which often happens to me when I visit here. And that’s a good thing! As I hit my mid-50s I am realizing (mostly thanks to reading here, and conversations with my amazing daughter) that my though I lead an “intellectual” life (as self-defined by my training, work, and interests), my thinking in many areas has been narrower and more privileged than I realized. I’ve assumed that all my assumptions are Correct – so I am working through them bit by bit, thinking and considering and refining and broadening.

  65. 65
    Michael

    Driven by guilt – or just saying to the world, “Look at me, I’m holier than thou.”

  66. 66
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Katherine Lorraine:

    I think the reason Christians get so up in arms about sexual things (be it sex before marriage, pornography, or homo/bisexuality) is that they’ve got an attitude of “if I can’t have it neither can you.”

    Well, if you can control people by putting little sentinels of “morality” inside their heads, you can get them to do anything. And by granting them power over “lesser” beings (men over women, straights over GLBTs, etc.), you can convince them to serve your interests at the cost of sabotaging their own lives.

    But, also, such people are freaked out by reminders that we’re embodied, which are also reminders that we’re mortal. They’re terrified of death, and their fairy tale about the afterlife doesn’t assuage it at all.

  67. 67
    Cerus

    Religion, as ever, is all about controlling people. Consider:

    Praying before meals – Everyone eats, sneak a requirement to reinforce the association of this necessary (and usually enjoyable) activity with your deity.

    Seeking “advice” from the deity (or more pointedly, the hominid representatives) for major life decisions – Everyone needs to make major choices during their life, most of those choices will work out. When they do, take credit. When they don’t, be “mysterious” or spin the negative outcome as a good thing, the more deeply they buy into the belief, the more likely they’ll accept this, and it becomes self-reinforcing after a point.

    Masturbation – Choose one of any natural human activities that aren’t strictly necessary for survival, condemn it. Use the collective observance of this restriction to reinforce group bonds. Profit from the side effects of self-abasing behavior in cultivating subservience out of low self-esteem.

    This list could go on for quite a while.

  68. 68
    Mattir-ritated

    When I was seven, I spent a dime at a used book sale and acquired a Catholic catechism published in the 1930s (deceptive title: Religion, which I connected with the nice myth type stories in Edith Hamilton and my children’s bible). It contained two notable passages, which shaped my life greatly. First, “the majority of children in hell are there because of the sin of masturbation.” And second, something about how the mightily righteous patriarchs of the Old Testament were nothing at all like the “carnal Jews of today.”

    And yep, after years of feeling terror and shame about a whole lot of things, believing that the Magic Sky Bully created me in order to hate me, years at a Catholic school, and serious consideration of becoming a nun, I’m now a nice atheist Jew, married to Mr. Carnal Jew of Today (C-JOT to his friends). It feels tremendously good to have abandoned Christianity. I’m even glad I made the trip through Judaism to atheism, since it rid me of emotional attachment to the Christian holiday cycle.

    I’ve given the book to my Crazy Catholic Neighbors™, but I think I’ll get it back and get it scanned for posterity – the sheer hatred of the thing is astonishing.

    (Should we make t-shirts for the Rhinebeck Sheep&Wool Horde gathering that contain the phrase Dirty-Girls-of-Pharyngula along with a wooly squid?)

  69. 69
    Twisty

    It was all this religon-based bullcrap about women’s bodies and sexuality that confirmed for me the fact that I was an atheist. I spent a lot of time mentally dithering around the subject of religion, and a lot of time trying to convince myself that I believed in god. Then, about ten years ago when I was 14, a group came into our school to talk to us about sex. They used a lot of standard crap, like a piece of sticky tape gets less sticky each time you peel it off and stick it back on, and nobody wants to eat a sweet that’s been sucked by someone else. I then remember distinctly a young woman standing up in front of us. She told us that as girls and young women, we were responsible for the way that other people viewed our bodies. We shouldn’t dress in a revealing manner, we definately shouldn’t be having close physical contact with any boys, and sex was out of the question. She told us that our bodies did not belong to us, that they belonged to god and to our future husbands, and that’s who we should be thinking before we ‘flaunted ourselves’. I remember thinking that that was so utterly, utterly wrong.

    It struck such a chord with me that after that I no longer felt anywhere near as bad when I tried to make myself believe and couldn’t. Over time, I was able to look at the whole issue of religion and atheism and belief more logically and everything kind of fell into place for me, but that was the turning point. As I recall, my school got into a fair bit of trouble over this group after some of the parents complained and it emerged that the group had not been properly vetted, nor had the school established exactly what they were going to talk to us about. I hear a lot about what’s regularly epoused in some schools in the US, but in a British school it wasn’t considered ok, even ten years ago.

    This porn/masturbating thing comes from the same place as the no sex before marriage thing. We’re not meant to have sex outside of marriage. If you don’t have a Y chromosome you’re not meant to want to have sex at all. Sex is dirty. Sexual desire is dirty and not something good girls have. We’re just meant to lie there and put up with it because it will give us the babies that every woman is, of course, dying to have, because even us snooty feminist types are secretly desperate to be wives and mothers. It’s about control staying in the hands of the male of the species and it’s bullcrap. This kind of thing makes me really angry.

  70. 70
    Paul

    Isn’t it more likely that religion just encoded societal rules from the day? In tribal societies maybe enforced virginity was the safest way for men to ensure they were raising their own children? Religion just gave them some stories to help it along…

  71. 71
    kantalope

    I’ll bet those dirty girls meet in castle anthrax: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtcSYPjJbgg

    So – let me get this straight: if you feel guilty about masturbation you go talk to some other people who think masturbation is something to feel guilty about and…somehow this is supposed to help? Not to mention, talking about masturbation is not a good way to start not thinking about masturbation…it is like a masturbation merry-go-round…which would be kinda hawt!

    ps anyone know if there is a chrome addon that would make the html tagging easier?

  72. 72
    Quodlibet

    Twisty:

    She told us that our bodies did not belong to us, that they belonged to god and to our future husbands, and that’s who we should be thinking [of]

    My blood pressure went up 10 points when I read that. Seriously – I could feel it!

  73. 73
    'Tis Himself

    teawithbertrand #62

    They actually call their group “Dirty Girls Ministries”? Seriously? Why am I picturing them all in Catholic school girl uniforms?

    Damn you to heck! Now I’ve got Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” as a mindworm.

    Come out Virginia, don’t let me wait
    You Catholic girls start much too late
    aw But sooner or later it comes down to fate
    I might as well be the one

    Well they showed you a statue, told you to pray
    They built you a temple and locked you away
    Aw, but they never told you the price that you pay
    For things that you might have done
    Only the good die young

  74. 74
    lagomort

    Give me 5 minutes with her in an elevator. I’ll get her masturbating again,,,

  75. 75
    Lauren

    Of course they had to name it “Dirty Girls Ministries” because then the women will feel guilty for being titillated by thinking of themselves as dirty girls every time they visit. It ensures they’ll keep coming back for more religious bullshit downtalk and shame.

    Sickening.

  76. 76
    'Tis Himself

    anyone know if there is a chrome addon that would make the html tagging easier?

    There’s a couple in Firefox.

  77. 77
    'Tis Himself

    lagomort #74

    Please, for the love of Darwin, don’t go there.

  78. 78
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @kantalope:

    That’s how religion works with a lot of things.

    Have doubts about the inerrancy of the Bible? Go talk to the pastor – who basically has been trained in a way to make you agree that the Bible is inerrant.

    Marrying a strong-willed woman? You have to go to “marriage counseling” where a pastor tells the woman she’s to submit to you.

    It’s sick and wrong.

  79. 79
    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis

    77 – both figuratively and literally

  80. 80
    lagomort

    lagomort #74 Please, for the love of Darwin, don’t go there.

    Love in an elevator!
    Livin’ it up when I’m goin’ down
    Love in an elevator!
    Lovin’ it up ’til I hit the ground

  81. 81
    Twisty

    Quodlibet – It still makes mine rise! As a shy fourteen year old I didn’t challenge her, which is kind of why I wish I could run into these sorts of people more frequently, although I find it somewhat difficult to remain civil when somebody tells me that I’m someone else’s property because I’m a woman.

  82. 82
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    lagomort – jump off a bridge.

    is that THE Twisty?!?!!!

    or a coincidental Twisty?

  83. 83
    Twisty

    The? Have I stolen some infamous name here?

  84. 84
    Blondin

    I had to stop masturbating because my doctor told me to.

    He said it was making it really hard to take my blood pressure.

  85. 85
    The Panic Man And Your Eternal Reward

    lagomort, door’s that way, grab your porcupine on the way out, and make sure you soak in a nice vinegar bath subsequent to the porcupine’s usage.

  86. 86
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    LOL okay that answers that question.

    Twisty Faster is (was?) the blogging name of a kick ass radfem who runs I Blame The Patriarchy.

  87. 87
    skeptifem

    It isn’t as though there is much healthy alternative out there either, though. The other mainstream alternative is pornography, and it teaches that female bodies are filthy, too. Look at what they call women and how they are treated. Women in porn are routinely referred to as dirty, directly. Then there are things like max hardcore or swirlies (where women have their heads thrust into toliets while men fuck them), and people masturbate to that. Men look up movies with ass to mouth because they enjoy seeing women treated as receptacles for filth. Women in pornography are shown to want any kind of sex from any man all the time, and always on the mans terms, and she will enjoy whatever he does to her (or she does after initially being reluctant), and so no one ever has to communicate anything outside of contemptuous dirty talk. note: it is impossible to commit rape in a scenario with those conditions. A lot of people are getting sex education from it and have difficulty developing a personal sexuality rather than one that imitates porn. I wouldn’t doubt that the woman who compulsively sought out pornography since childhood had some fucked up ideas about sex because of it (the church group just supplanted them with other crazy shit, so it isn’t like they are helping much either).

    It is hard to hear commentary on this from people like PZ who grew up in a time where pornography was less ubiquitous. Shit has changed a lot because of the internet and the way mainstream pornography has become increasingly violent.

    Scarlateen is a good resource for young people about sexuality, if anyone needs one.

  88. 88
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    and she will enjoy whatever he does to her (or she does after initially being reluctant)

    Or, her obvious and complete lack of consent is the selling feature.

    But, would this sort of shit wouldn’t exist if we didn’t first learn that sex is dirty and shameful from religion?

  89. 89
    Ing

    @Skeptifem

    I agree with you complaints but think it’s more of the Sturgeons law (90% of everything is utter shit) and the bullshit of culture.

  90. 90
    Andrew Philips

    #74 I laughed out loud. Nice.

    “Dirty Girl Ministries” sounds like an awesome all girl Mountain Bike Club. Doesn’t exist but it ought to – a Goggle search for “Dirty Girl Mountain Bike” reveals plenty.

    There are all female mud runs – http://www.godirtygirl.com/ – strangely, this one has has “god” as part of the URL.

    and a local farm – http://dirtygirlproduce.com/

    What?! Get your mind out of the gutter…

  91. 91
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Andrew, feel free to fling yourself off a bridge too. Kisses!

  92. 92
    Heather

    I more than fulfilled my weekly quota last night…

  93. 93
    Loqi

    Twisty –
    Wow. That’s dispicable. I’m glad you were able to see it for what it was. It’s sad to think that some people don’t and are permanently damaged by these cretins.

  94. 94
    Sas

    @skeptifem-

    I don’t disagree with you much about how most porn is problematic, but this:

    Men look up movies with ass to mouth because they enjoy seeing women treated as receptacles for filth.

    Does a disservice to everyone that enjoys analingus. I know both men and women who enjoy giving and receiving it, and none because they view their partner as a “recepticle for filth”. If someone wants porn of a woman eating shit, they look that up, not AtM.

  95. 95
    The Un-Logged-In Panic Man

    Andrew, the porcupine bin hasn’t moved. Grab one and join the big Pinkie Pie Porcupine Pain Pathetic Pity Party outside.

  96. 96
    Mattir-ritated

    Skeptifem, you should appreciate this ministry, teaching people to stay away from porn. Me, I’ll support unionization of sex workers, better working conditions, education about human rights and making ethical choices as a consumer, and an end to the bizarre convergence of anti-sex fundamentalists and (seemingly) progressive secularists.

  97. 97
    Nepenthe

    @Mattir

    When did porn become equivalent to sex?

  98. 98
    Ing

    @Nepenthe

    In a way boiling down sexual choices and kinks into dogmatic right/wrong positions is anti-sex. Whether the dogma is a progressive one or religious doesn’t really matter.

  99. 99
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Does a disservice to everyone that enjoys analingus

    Which has nothing to do with AtM porn. AtM porn is anal sex followed by a bj. It is exactly what Skepifem is saying it is.

    Mattir – is being critical of porn and the very clear and obvious problems with a lot of it, automatically equal to sex-adverse prudery? Isn’t there a difference between “this is problematic” and “this is evil and you’re a dirty sinner for looking at it”?

    I’m very much in support of sex worker rights, and actively so, but I agree with the bulk of what Skeptifem is saying. These are not mutually exclusive goals.

  100. 100
    Sas

    @illuminata

    Which has nothing to do with AtM porn. AtM porn is anal sex followed by a bj. It is exactly what Skepifem is saying it is.

    I’ve heard AtM used both for analingus and anal-to-BJ. It doesn’t mean “eating shit” nor is it woman-only.

  101. 101
    Nepenthe

    @Ing

    If I were to point out that the demand for diamonds has led to incredible human rights abuses and that it is a moral imperative to avoid conflict diamonds when purchasing personal adornments, would that make me just as bad as a mullah claiming that women should always stay covered and that jewelry is a sin against God? Should anti-sweatshop activists be relabeled “anti-clothing” and be opposed by clothes-positive libertarians?

    Or is only in the realm of sex that a) the whole of the concept is equated with the most unethical portion of it and b) the individual is absolved of any responsibility for the wider implications of their actions.

  102. 102
    Mr. Fire

    Skeptifem, you should appreciate this ministry, teaching people to stay away from porn.

    This is not what skeptifem was saying, at least as I interpreted it.

    She was referring to porn that emphasizes and encourages the unmistakably one-sided objectification and degradation of women. This type of porn is not something that sexually-liberated minds should be proud of – something I am sure you agree with.

    While I am quite certain that PZ did not intend for such porn to be exemplary of the sexually-liberated mind, I see no reason to criticize skeptifem for highlighting the issue.

  103. 103
    Amphiox

    Well, it all depends on the type of porn, doesn’t it?

    And the type of porn available out there all boils down to what the consumers of it want.

    And what the consumers want boils down at least in part to what they’ve been socialized into wanting.

    And doesn’t that come full circle then to the prevailing modes in which society portrays women and men and sex?

    And that, ultimately, is the whole point, isn’t it?

  104. 104
    Mattir-ritated

    I’ve been around anti-porn feminist arguments since the 1970s, and used to subscribe to them fairly strongly. I’m also lucky enought to have to endure regular meatspace lectures from Christian neighbors about the evils of pornography. They sound really similar to me: a tendency to dwell on extremes that most people would find distasteful, a refusal to believe that anyone can produce or view porn without being either a victim or an abuser, no distinction between consensual naughty fantasy (of the “oh, you dirty dirty girl” variety) and sexual assault…

    It’s tiring. I have no idea how one can construct an enjoyable sexual life when one’s very thoughts have to be monitored for incorrectness (if you’re a secular feminist) or sinfulness (if you’re Christian). Sex is a kind of play. Play requires imagination. I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the Dirty Girls Ministry or skeptifem rulebook.

  105. 105
    Ing

    If I were to point out that the demand for diamonds has led to incredible human rights abuses and that it is a moral imperative to avoid conflict diamonds when purchasing personal adornments, would that make me just as bad as a mullah claiming that women should always stay covered and that jewelry is a sin against God? Should anti-sweatshop activists be relabeled “anti-clothing” and be opposed by clothes-positive libertarians?

    Or is only in the realm of sex that a) the whole of the concept is equated with the most unethical portion of it and b) the individual is absolved of any responsibility for the wider implications of their actions.

    No I was comparing it to someone saying Diamonds are wrong and then pointing to the abuses of human rights and then saying that diamonds not gotten that way are still wrong because it promotes the demand for diamonds. While true and the blood diamonds should be opposed, we should promote or at least accept a less harmful alternative that will satisfy demand. i don’t LIKE most porn that’s professionally made, but I’d rather see healthier and more diverse options made available rather than decreasing options.

  106. 106
    Mattir-ritated

    She was referring to porn that emphasizes and encourages the unmistakably one-sided objectification and degradation of women. This type of porn is not something that sexually-liberated minds should be proud of – something I am sure you agree with.

    Skeptifem made blanket statements about porn. All porn, not some porn. She used extreme examples (I would be happy if there were no such thing as swirlies), but from this and past discussions, I interpreted her as condemning all porn. But if I’m wrong, I’m willing to say so: Skeptifem, is there porn, especially BDSM or AtM, that is not problematic?

  107. 107
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Oh dear Rajah, goddess of lust and extasis this is bad.
    The whole body-sexuality-appropriateness-realm is complicated enough, shame really is the last thing that should be taught.

    As a sex-positive woman, I have already lost some sleep over how to deal with those matters as a parent. As soon as my daughter was out of her diapers she went “exploring”.
    Nothing wrong about it but I had a hell of a time trying not to make her feel guilty and ashamed and dirty while trying to teach her some “rules” like washing hands before and afterwards and please not all day in Kindergarten and at the dinner table.
    I’m mortally afraid to destroy her youthfull and innocent joy at her body accidentially and those people are setting out to do such things on purpose.
    I hate them.

    Dianne:

    I notice that the women and girls in this “ministry” are all under 40. Does that mean that masturbation is no longer forbidden after 40?

    Nay, you’re not supposed to have any sexual feelings at all anymore ;)

  108. 108
    Sailor

    “There are, of course, extreme cases of sexual obsession where the behavior can interfere with day-to-day, productive living”

    You mean like being a normal male?

  109. 109
    Ing

    @Sailor

    That’s not normal, seek help.

  110. 110
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Mattir,

    I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the Dirty Girls Ministry or skeptifem rulebook.

    Not only that, but skeptifem went off the rails, here. This discussion (and “Dirty Girls Ministries”) has nothing to do with how women are treated in the porn industry, it’s about women telling other women that masturbation is sinful and wrong– it’s about the control of natural sexual urges. Porn is incedental to this discussion, but nothing can stop skeptifem from beating her favorite hobby-horse.

    Considering that it seems as though DGM equates romance novels to hardcore pornography just goes to show that they don’t care how you got your jollies off, just that you did (and you made baby Jesus cry in the process).

    (As an aside, I’m fully aware of what AtM is, but all I can ever think about when it comes up is The Human Centipede. *shudder*)

  111. 111
    strange gods before me

    Me, I’ll support unionization of sex workers, better working conditions, education about human rights and making ethical choices as a consumer,

    Do tell, besides presenting a false dichotomy here, what exactly are you doing to support any of that?

    It’s tiring. I have no idea how one can construct an enjoyable sexual life when one’s very thoughts have to be monitored for incorrectness (if you’re a secular feminist) or sinfulness (if you’re Christian). Sex is a kind of play. Play requires imagination. I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the Dirty Girls Ministry or skeptifem rulebook.

    Sex is not porn, and one can enact fantasies with one’s partner that one would not want to impose as working conditions upon a wage laborer.

    Nothing in the opposition to the product of commercial pornography implies anything about the morality of one’s own sexual activity or thoughts.

    I’m unsatisfied with the benefit of the doubt that I’ve extended you so far in this comment, so let’s conclude with:

    You’re a fucking liar, Mattir, completely full of shit.

  112. 112
    BC

    Need a name for your roller derby team? How about Vulverines? Now all we need is a logo and a mascot.

  113. 113
    strange gods before me
    I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the Dirty Girls Ministry or skeptifem rulebook.

    Not only that,

    What you meant to say was

    “Not actually that, but this other thing…”

  114. 114
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Oh strange gods, what would I do without you to correct me!

    I shouldn’t have to explain that I agree with Mattir and I was adding that I am tired of skeptifem’s off-topic rants. In other words, she comes off as being sex negative* AND she swerves off-topic at the barest whiff of pornography.

    But why do I even bother? You’re just going to use this as an excuse to call me a liar.

    *Is that really a thing? You know what I’m saying.

  115. 115
    Ing

    @Audley

    Yes I’ve seen the term

  116. 116
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    The debate about porn among feminists strikes me as similar to those about things like affirmative action or pay equity. There are many people who think that there shouldn’t be racism who nevertheless don’t support actions to correct the problem because that’s “reverse racism”. Or feminists who say that employers shouldn’t be forced to address the wage gap because women aren’t as valuable as workers because they’re so wrapped up with their families. In a world without racism, we wouldn’t need corrective measures, but we don’t live in that world.

    We have an industry that is–currently, not in some ideal alternate universe–almost entirely built on physical exploitation of women. The content itself features the worst of our society’s sexist attitudes toward women, objectifying and commodifying them. It also serves to intensify already existing body image problems of women who aren’t involved in the industry, by presenting a distorted and surgically arrived at model of “beauty”. The fact that there are some women who are adults and choose the life as freely as women can choose any career path does not much to mitigate all the crap.

    I support legalisation & regulation, but the misogynistic badness that saturates the entire thing can’t be adequately addressed by regulation. And saying so doesn’t make me a prude or anti-sex. Nor do I lack imagination. I can (just barely) imagine a world where porn is a fun pastime for both participants and voyeurs and women aren’t treated like shit or thought of as warm, eager-or-not-so-eager, animate sex dolls.

  117. 117
    Ing

    @Ibis3

    So the comparison is between people who don’t want to address a problem and people who do but you still don’t like?

  118. 118
    Mattir-ritated

    I don’t do as much as I could to advocate for sex workers, but I do more than wishful thinking, and I’m not going to play the “oh, let’s try to justify myself to sgbm so that I’ll win his approval” game. Don’t want to be in that winning circle, thanks.

    My point is that once again skeptifem went off on a rant about porn being bad and dredged up the worst examples. Which wasn’t really the point of the OP – the OP was about women masturbating and using porn and/or romance novels. Skeptifem views porn the same way that the Dirty Girls Ministry people do.

  119. 119
    strange gods before me

    Oh strange gods, what would I do without you to correct me!

    Lie and bullshit, I suppose.

    I shouldn’t have to explain that I agree with Mattir and I was adding that I am tired of skeptifem’s off-topic rants.

    Except that the alleged off-topicality is “the other thing”. I really don’t give a shit about topicality, I haven’t objected to that silly conceit, and if you want to argue about it, I won’t take any notice.

    The dishonesty is in your and Mattir’s equivocation between a stance toward porn and stance toward sex, as though one must depend on the other.

    In other words, she comes off as being sex negative*

    Except no, you just make that part up because it’s a convenient attack, and you have no care for accuracy.

    She comes off as being generally anti-porn.

    As do I, and yet I’m sure I out-kink 95% of the commenters here, so the reason I resent your lies and bullshit is that you shitheads have tried to imply in the past that I’m a prude—it’s your only tactic, because you can’t defend commercial porn on its own merits, you try to make opposition into an indictment of being vanilla.

  120. 120
    Muse

    SGBM, Skepticfem – do you feel that there are any instances where porn is or can be created that is not exploitative?

  121. 121
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I’ve heard AtM used both for analingus and anal-to-BJ. It doesn’t mean “eating shit” nor is it woman-only.

    Yes, I know that. Skeptifem talking about a specific kind of AtM, and you’re accusing her of shaming those who like something else. They are not the same thing, she’s not at all wrong about AtM – it frequently is to sexualize a degrading and potentially dangerous act. Have you seen the way the one receiving is described, or what, specifically, one is supposed to find sexually exciting is described?

    They sound really similar to me: a tendency to dwell on extremes that most people would find distasteful, a refusal to believe that anyone can produce or view porn without being either a victim or an abuser, no distinction between consensual naughty fantasy (of the “oh, you dirty dirty girl” variety) and sexual assault…

    Guilt be tenuous association fallacy? Really?

    Though, I definitely do not understand how someone could claim porn has nothing to do with this, since the Op clearly spells out that porn is one of the things that makes a sinner. There’s nothing wrong with porn because its porn. There is something wrong with how quite a bit of it exploits poisonous cultural narratives and sexualizes them. Since it can be directly about shaming and humiliating women who like sex, how is this outside the bounds of THIS post? That’s exactly what this Renault woman is doing.

    I don’t get why this is being brushed off as not worth talking about.

  122. 122
    Muse

    skeptifem – apologies for the nym mangle.

  123. 123
    Mr. Fire

    Skeptifem made blanket statements about porn. All porn, not some porn.

    Well, you go from the normative statement above to a more qualified one only two sentences ahead:

    but from this and past discussions, I interpreted her as condemning all porn.

    skeptifem’s own words were:

    It isn’t as though there is much healthy alternative out there either, though. The other mainstream alternative is pornography, and it teaches that female bodies are filthy, too.

    Admittedly, I can’t be definitive, but I think skeptifem is implying ‘mainstream pornography’. I contend that ‘mainstream pornography’ is indeed on the whole an extremely misogynistic enterprise, but I will need to see if I can find (assuming that my ‘mainstream pornography’ interpretation is correct) information to back up that assertion. Unfortunately, that will have to wait a few hours; I am not in a place where I can do that right now.

  124. 124
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    do you feel that there are any instances where porn is or can be created that is not exploitative?

    not directed to me, but yes, it absolutely can. And is. Even when it’s content is fetish-specific.

  125. 125
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    So the comparison is between people who don’t want to address a problem and people who do but you still don’t like?

    I don’t know what you’re asking. Please rephrase.

    Skeptifem views porn the same way that the Dirty Girls Ministry people do.

    I’m not Skeptifem, obviously. And I realise I’m continuing with the thread’s derail, but as someone who, from what I can gather, feels similarly, I think you’re being disingenuous. The DGM are horrid, pitiable, brainwashed people who feel guilt and shame for feeling and doing things that are natural, healthy, and harmless. They see porn as evil because it *has sex in it*. Don’t think Skeptifem would agree with that.

  126. 126
    Muse

    illuminata – I tend to agree, and in fact one of the places where one is more likely to find non-exploitative porn is in the kink community and kink or fetish porn. Exactly the “extremes” that were being talked about above. However, if SGBM or skeptifem disagree regarding the possibility of non-exploitative porn, that sets the discussion point at a different place.

  127. 127
    strange gods before me

    I don’t do as much as I could to advocate for sex workers, but I do more than wishful thinking, and I’m not going to play the “oh, let’s try to justify myself to sgbm so that I’ll win his approval” game. Don’t want to be in that winning circle, thanks.

    You could never win my approval, Mattir, I already despise you and I always will.

    But you could, you know, tell people what they could do to help, if you know of something.

    Really what I was going for is to point out that you dishonestly offer a false dichotomy, as though one can only work for sex workers is one is pro-porn.

    If you’d like to do anything to help, you could explicate for those here who don’t know all the special knowledge that you know, Mattir.

    My point is that once again skeptifem went off on a rant about porn being bad and dredged up the worst examples.

    Haha! Bullshit!

    Fucking liar!

    That point was contained in quite another paragraph:

    Skeptifem made blanket statements about porn. All porn, not some porn. She used extreme examples (I would be happy if there were no such thing as swirlies), but from this and past discussions, I interpreted her as condemning all porn. But if I’m wrong, I’m willing to say so: Skeptifem, is there porn, especially BDSM or AtM, that is not problematic?

    Seriously, I do not give a shit about topicality. Rant away about someone else ranting. I do not care.

    What I do care about is this dishonesty:

    It’s tiring. I have no idea how one can construct an enjoyable sexual life when one’s very thoughts have to be monitored for incorrectness (if you’re a secular feminist) or sinfulness (if you’re Christian). Sex is a kind of play. Play requires imagination. I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the Dirty Girls Ministry or skeptifem rulebook.

    Sex is not porn, and one can enact fantasies with one’s partner that one would not want to impose as working conditions upon a wage laborer.

    Nothing in the opposition to the product of commercial pornography implies anything about the morality of one’s own sexual activity or thoughts.

    You want to accuse all your opponents of prudery. Fuck that, and fuck you.

  128. 128
    Mattir-ritated

    Here is one thing that I am willing to admit to doing: I talk, a lot, with teenagers (mine and their friends) about the ethics of porn consumption and how one chooses what one will consume or avoid. I talk about work conditions, unionization, how porn shapes one’s attitudes to real-life sex partners, the difference between fantasy/play and action, health care issues, how to make sure one has consent for any particular sex act, etc. I support kids when they challenge bad ideas expressed by their peers. I support kids when they want to participate in SlutWalk, even though it rained and the speeches were a serious PTSD trigger for me and I had to talk about rape and consent for days afterwards despite the PTSD stuff. I recommend resources for accurate education about sexuality and human rights. I call people on slut-shaming and gender-role-police bullshit.

    What I don’t do is pretend that the message that evangelical sex-negative Christianity of the DGM variety is exactly the same as the message given by mainstream porn. It’s not, it’s far worse.

  129. 129
    Sas

    Illuminata,

    Yes, I know that. Skeptifem talking about a specific kind of AtM, and you’re accusing her of shaming those who like something else.

    She was not at all specific about which meaning of the term she intended. If she had, I probably wouldnt have bothered to comment on it to begin with.

  130. 130
    StarStuff, a soulless cunt

    Is it wrong that every time I hear about people like this, I want to run up to them and shout “I have sex and enjoy it and I don’t feel guilty about it!”? Maybe I’m just a bit confrontational.

  131. 131
    strange gods before me

    do you feel that there are any instances where porn is or can be created that is not exploitative?

    For sure!

    Any porn that is created just for fun, just because everyone involved wants to have sex play on camera, and the circulation (or lack) of which is absolutely subject to the consensus of all participants, any one of whom can bring a legal halt to all circulation rights at any time for any reason.

    It’s exploitative when porn is made because someone’s got bills that need paying, and it’s exploitative when anyone in the picture is asked to sign over any future intellectual property rights.

  132. 132
    Muse

    Thanks for the answer SGBM – follow-up if I may. Is it possible to have professional porn, that’s not any more exploitative than any other job?

  133. 133
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    @Mattir

    What I don’t do is pretend that the message that evangelical sex-negative Christianity of the DGM variety is exactly the same as the message given by mainstream porn. It’s not, it’s far worse.

    Okay, fine. Let’s discuss which we all think is worse. Maybe we’ll even agree. But stop equating feminists who criticise the misogyny in mainstream porn with those evangelical sex-negative Christians. We’re not the same and you know it.

  134. 134
    PZ Myers

    The whole porn/feminism conflict is a dilemma for me.

    On the one hand, there are people with very specific fetishes and kinks that are only satisfied by narrow and unusual sexual situations. That there are men and women who can make those people very happy — and profit at the same time — doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me at all. I don’t support a blanket rejection of porn because for some people it seems like a healthy social support.

    On the other hand, though, most porn is so predictable and exploitive and encouraging of a demeaning view of women that it’s simply awful. It’s a case where the schlocky, low-quality, unimaginative mean dominates the market, and it means that porn is dead dull boring except to the immature frat boy mentality.

    There is no porn that could possibly appeal to my wife, for instance. She has zero interest in it, ever.

    In my case, I have a perfectly ordinary male brain where all the pleasure centers light up at the sight of a naked woman. However, what little porn I’ve seen snuffs out all interest: the scenarios are implausible and undeveloped (plumber makes housecall; 10 seconds later, horny housewife is naked on her back); the relentless focus on skin sliding back and forth is boring (I can be titillated for about a minute, but by minute two I’m looking for a book to read); and it always seems to eventually devolve to guy slapping girl around and using her as a receptacle.

    I’ve never seen porn treat two people as interesting human beings having fun together, or approaching a story creatively or realistically. It’s all catering to the wham-bam non-stop gynecology exam style of cheesy sex movie.

    Maybe there are exceptions out there, but the few examples of porn I’ve seen leave me cold and bored.

  135. 135
    strange gods before me

    Here is one thing that I am willing to admit to doing:

    And if only you would also admit to making up false dichotomies, you might start a useful conversation here sometime, instead of being goaded into it.

  136. 136
    Mattir-ritated

    For the record, my post about part of what I do was made before sgbm’s screed. From past observations, I’m pretty sure no one can do enough about any particular -ism or problem to succeed at obtaining moral high ground with sgbm. But here’s what else I do: I support local domestic violence and social justice groups, I support people in my community who need help when I can, I complain about objectification when I see people around me doing it, I do the normal not-enoughness stuff.

    I just think that it’s less of a jump from the objectification of mainstream porn to healthy sexual autonomy than it is from the sex-makes-jesus-cry Christian brainwashing of DGM. At least the official storyline in most mainstream porn has women enjoying sex.

  137. 137
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Lie and bullshit, I suppose.

    And I called it. Strange gods, you’ve become boring and predictable.

    Since I have absolutely no interest in pursuing this off-topic shit fest any further, I am out.

  138. 138
    Anri

    I’ve never seen porn treat two people as interesting human beings having fun together, or approaching a story creatively or realistically. It’s all catering to the wham-bam non-stop gynecology exam style of cheesy sex movie.

    It exists, but it’s as rare as roc’s eggs.

    For most things, Sturgeon’s Law only has to be applied once. For porn, apply several times in a serial fashion.

  139. 139
    Mattir-ritated

    But stop equating feminists who criticise the misogyny in mainstream porn with those evangelical sex-negative Christians. We’re not the same and you know it.

    I know that. But there ARE feminists who talk about the misogyny in mainstream porn in ways that don’t sound exactly like my Crazy Catholic Neighbor™ when he gets off on a rant. Skeptifem is not one of these.

  140. 140
    strange gods before me

    Thanks for the answer SGBM – follow-up if I may. Is it possible to have professional porn, that’s not any more exploitative than any other job?

    That’s an extremely low bar. I don’t think we should be settling for the exploitation that is typical of workplaces in general.

    But hypothetically, it would be possible for porn to reach this very low bar by giving intellectual property control to the performers. At least when a person quits working in fast food, that’s it, it’s over, they quit. When a person quits working in porn, their image remains in circulation as long as the producers like, invariably beyond the worker’s legal control. This problem could easily be remedied in contract, yet it never is remedied.

    So as it stands, even though the low bar of “most jobs” is not what we ought to be aiming for, porn is more exploitative than most jobs.

  141. 141
    Mr. Fire

    At least the official storyline in most mainstream porn has women enjoying sex.

    Oh come on Mattir, you’re better than this.

  142. 142
    strange gods before me

    Liar Audley (good heavens, you invited me to call you a liar, and now you’re complaining about it? Make up your mind),

    It’s predictable that if you lie, I’m going to point out that you were lying.

    You actually lied here, when you copied Mattir’s lie and endorsed it:

    I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the Dirty Girls Ministry or skeptifem rulebook.

    Not only that,

    That was a lie. You endorsed a lie. That makes you a liar.

    Sex is not porn, and one can enact fantasies with one’s partner that one would not want to impose as working conditions upon a wage laborer.

    Nothing in the opposition to the product of commercial pornography implies anything about the morality of one’s own sexual activity or thoughts.

    +++++
    And I’m not the only one here pointing out that you two are distorting the matter, but predictably you are ignoring the substance of what your other critics are saying, so that you can focus on tone trolling me for calling you deliberately dishonest.

    Hey, the others are naive enough to give you the benefit of the doubt! Why don’t you toy with them, Audley?

  143. 143
    Mattir-ritated

    I’m going off to the Tuesday night knitting group to celebrate that sgbm despises me. I’ll be buying a variety of people drinks at some Horde gathering to celebrate my entry into this august circle (including you, dear Darkheart).

  144. 144
    Guaron

    So Skeptifem has a “tone” problem, then, Mattir?

  145. 145
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    sgbm #127:

    Really what I was going for is to point out that you dishonestly offer a false dichotomy, as though one can only work for sex workers is one is pro-porn.

    Never mind that porn is a subset of sex work.

    Never mind that anti-porn and anti-prostitution often go hand in hand due to a similar argumentative basis.

    And really never mind all of the shaming and victim-blaming that generally gets thrown at sex workers of any stripe, because someone who is anti-porn totally won’t fall into that either.

    Holy fuck, sgbm, did you put your head in a reactor core? I never thought it possible for -any- Pharyngulite to be this ignorant.

  146. 146
    llewelly

    It’s interesting see sgbm, caught in one of his (rare, thankfully) misrepresentations of Mattir, go into breakdown, and fail to address what Mattir has said.

  147. 147
    Mattir-ritated

    Mr. Fire, I don’t think the women *are* enjoying themselves, and the damn stuff certainly doesn’t do anything to teach people how to do enjoyable stuff. But the *story* is that they are enjoying the sex, at least in the “plumber meets the naughty librarian” type non-rape variety. It’s appallingly stupid.

    Nevertheless, I’ll take that over the religious teachings about sex. I’ve never heard my Crazy Catholic Neighbor™ or his ilk go on about how physically enjoyable sex is supposed to be. It’s all about closeness and God and being open to life yadda yadda yadda. Nothing about personal pleasure, real or feigned.

  148. 148
    Nepenthe

    @Muse 132

    May I take a swing at that question?

    I have no doubt at all that there are individuals who, due to their particular situation and psychological makeup, can pursue careers as porn performers in a non-exploitative manner. However, due to the pervading mainstream culture wherein sex is equated with pornography (witness the characterization of anti-porn feminists as prudish and anti-sex), even if the individuals pictured are not being exploited pornography still promotes a transactional model of sexuality.

    Porn as currently imagined is a system in which the sexuality of women (generally) is available for men (generally) to purchase. Shockingly, this is a mirror of the general partriachal milieu, in which women are posited as eternally available for men’s use (as domestic labor, as sexual outlets, as scapegoats, as mommy figures, whatever). All the unionization, condoms, and health services in the world do not fundamentally change that dynamic.

    Maybe in a non-patriarchal environment, people will still have sex on camera for other people, maybe not. All I know is that I won’t be around to see which scenario is true.

  149. 149
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I’ve never seen porn treat two people as interesting human beings having fun together, or approaching a story creatively or realistically. It’s all catering to the wham-bam non-stop gynecology exam style of cheesy sex movie.

    That’s why I prefer sex-scenes in “normal” movies and sigh at the fact that they’re mostly PG13.
    Where the sex somewhat makes sense within the story line*.
    Actually I prefer erotic scenes in books…

    But hypothetically, it would be possible for porn to reach this very low bar by giving intellectual property control to the performers. At least when a person quits working in fast food, that’s it, it’s over, they quit. When a person quits working in porn, their image remains in circulation as long as the producers like, invariably beyond the worker’s legal control

    How about changing the world in a way in which having sex worker/porn actor in one’s CV isn’t a stigma anymore?
    To stay with your example: If I quit working in fast food, the remaining burgers I grilled don’t have to be thrown away, and those already sold don’t have to be coughed up again.

    *OK, that sounds like sex was this super-special thing that needs to make lots of sense. It isn’t, but at the same time it’s not like it’s something that happens “just so” on the corner of the street. Compare it to food: A film where people are just eating al the time is boring. Having a 5 min scene of a dinner in a movie that isn’t somewhat connected to the story line doesn’t make sense. Now exchange food for sex.

  150. 150
    Bookworm

    Just to return to the ‘masturbation is evil’ topic for a moment (coming in at the end of threads due to time zone differences can occasionally be very enlightening: seeing the multiverses that a thread can occupy in its evolution is intriguing). Growing up as a fundie boy in a conservative town, I read a small book that explained that since masturbation was not specifically excluded in the bible, but lustful thoughts were, you could do one if not accompanied by the other. Mind, masturbation while dwelling on the intricate patterns of a shower curtain just doesn’t quite cut it … And my step-daughter finally sealed the argument over a dinner table conversarion years later, when, echoing PZ’s TRex, she exclaimed that if god didn’t want us to masturbate he would have designed shorter arms.

  151. 151
    Guaron

    PZ, while you may think it heartening to mention that violent, misogynistic porn “bores” you, it terrifies and triggers a lot of survivors of sexual assault. Tedium to the point of numbing your dick is a low bar to set for whether something gets a pass or not. Even if it excited the ever-living fuck out of you, most porn is still about torturing women, and hence your personal response to it is sort of moot.

  152. 152
    Mr. Fire

    lordsetar, what the hell?

  153. 153
    strange gods before me

    For the record, my post about part of what I do was made before sgbm’s screed. From past observations, I’m pretty sure no one can do enough about any particular -ism or problem to succeed at obtaining moral high ground with sgbm.

    Goddamn, Mattir, do you ever get tired of being completely full of shit? Nothing at all to support your lie there, of course.

    It is not important to me if you do nothing at all to address this problem.

    What I took issue with (three times I’ve explained this now, you fucking liar) was your false dichotomy

    You were the one who portrayed yourself as being so very active on this issue, and that’s fine, that’s great, but then you can expect to be asked well just what can people do?

    What was dishonest was when you portrayed it as though only someone who’s pro-porn could do anything for sex workers. That’s your dishonesty, that’s what I take issue with.

    Now more dishonesty:

    For the record, my post about part of what I do was made before sgbm’s screed. From past observations, I’m pretty sure no one can do enough about any particular -ism or problem to succeed at obtaining moral high ground with sgbm.

    What a worthless pile of bullshit. Look, I actually said that your comment at #128 was part of a useful conversation, albeit one that you had to be goaded into having.

    If I say that’s useful, then you have no basis on which to make this absurd bullshit claim that nothing is good enough for me.

    That should be obvious, but I don’t suppose that you have the tiniest bit of honesty it would take to admit that I spoke approvingly of something, let alone the hundreds or thousands of things I’ve spoken approvingly of in other cases.

    You are just the most low-down of liars, and you could never say anything positive about your opponents, even when they can say something positive about you.

  154. 154
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Once again, how the fuck is this off-topic? We’re talking about porn that sexualizes exactly the same poisonous tropes that Renault is trying to “save” women from. They feed directly off one another. Renault is saying this makes you a dirty, bad woman, as does this type of porn. Renault is saying women should avoid being like this, this type of porn makes it very clear how a woman who doesn’t avoid it should be treated.

    how the fuck is that off-topic?

    lordsetar – another guilt by tenuous association fallacy. one does not have to be 100% pro-porn and avoid being uncritical of porn in order to also be on the side of sex workers. Not one person said porn should be outlawed and its participants shunned and shamed. We are, in fact, repeatedly stating that the industry doesn’t have to be harmful and exploitative – and in some cases, isn’t, saying that we ourselves enjoy fetishes, including porn, so exactly what is the problem here?

    Apart from the personal grudge matches, that is.

  155. 155
    Nepenthe

    @ lordsetar 145

    So, if I criticize the military, perhaps by saying that it’s fundamentally wrong to have a huge organization that devotes most of its time to figuring out better and more efficient ways of killing people, does that mean that I don’t support the troops? That I’m perpetuating the oppression of soldiers?

    The right feels this way because the military is held sacred. Is porn the sacred institution of the left?

  156. 156
    julian

    Unfortunately, that will have to wait a few hours; I am not in a place where I can do that right now.

    I can think of a few sites (fairly popular ones, too) that play off gender and racial roles. Not entirely sure they’d count as what sgbm and skeptifem are arguing against (the sites seem to be catering to a very specific kink; chinese women, black men on white women and general humiliation) but it’s hard not to see at least some sexism or racism.

    For example, Pornstar Punishment on Brazzers. It features various well known pornstars playing the role of women in your life you might refer to as ‘cunts.’ (Think mean boss, meter maid, ect) One clip is of a cashier girl who gives less than stellar service and the customer who ‘teaches her a lesson.’ Anyway, the last scene is a creampie that drips onto the floor followed by her face getting shoved into it. Not entirely sure but I think the closing line may have been ‘stupid bitch’ or something to that effect.

    So I can definitely see where sgbm and skeptifem might be coming from. The degradation of women and their subservience to The Penis (‘See this?! Do you know what it is? It’s a fucking big cock!’ ‘*gasp* I’d do anything for a cock like that!’) really is front and center in a lot of porn as is their mistreatment. That kind of thing strikes me as different from ‘I’m a dirty girl’ style kink or even reluctance/non-consent style erotica but I can’t exactly work out why yet.

  157. 157
    strange gods before me

    Never mind that porn is a subset of sex work.

    Setar, when have you ever contributed thoughtfully to any conversation?

    Why do you think this will be an exception?

    One does not have to be pro-Walmart to be pro-unionization-of-Walmart-employees.

    Dumbass.

    +++++

    It’s interesting see sgbm, caught in one of his (rare, thankfully) misrepresentations of Mattir, go into breakdown, and fail to address what Mattir has said.

    If you were right about this, llewelly, that would be approximately the least explicative means of going about it.

    I might as well read tea leaves to guess what you think is important for me to address from Mattir.

  158. 158
    PZ Myers

    I don’t even know what people are arguing about here anymore. I’m just sitting back and letting the angry comments sail through, and I’m not going to try to understand what’s at the bottom of it all.

  159. 159
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I don’t even know what people are arguing about here anymore. I’m just sitting back and letting the angry comments sail through, and I’m not going to try to understand what’s at the bottom of it all.

    Glad I’m not the only one who’s completely lost. Apparently, personal grudge matches are waaaay more important than making any damn sense.

  160. 160
    strange gods before me

    How about changing the world in a way in which having sex worker/porn actor in one’s CV isn’t a stigma anymore?

    That’s nice, except it doesn’t change the basic fact that if work a person could potentially have had intellectualy property control over is being distributed without their control, they are being exploited. And even in a world where sex work isn’t stigmatizing (not going to happen in our lifetimes, but possible), some people are still going to want to exert whatever intellectual property control they might potentially have; some people are going to want to stop distribution just because they feel differently about it, stigma aside. That they don’t have this option is one factor of exploitation.

  161. 161
    strange gods before me

    You get a 1.5 hour break from me!

    (wooo!)

    I hope llewelly has something for me when I come back.

  162. 162
    Friendly

    I’ve never seen porn treat two people as interesting human beings having fun together

    One of the only porn sites I ever considered subscribing to is abbywinters.com, precisely for this reason. The scenarios are unscripted and are 99.9% solo-female and female-female, and the participants (“team members”) genuinely seem to be having a good time. The women often give interviews before and after their scenes. In fact, the site includes a forum on which a number of the site’s past and present team members blog. I know the site gets some criticism (the “female” proprietor “Abby Winters” is actually a guy, and some of the former team members aren’t happy with the site’s management for various reasons), but it also gets a lot of awards, and it’s one of the only porn sites I can stand to spend any time looking at. It’s too bad they don’t post their video newsletters any more; those were a very good way to gauge which scenes and people were apt to be interesting.

    Just a quick anecdote: I remember one member of Team Abby I especially liked who used the name “Violet”. She seemed to enjoy herself and be inordinately upbeat all the time…and she’d get the most amazing blush when she was masturbating or having sex, and then have tremendous orgasms. (If that was all an act, she should have received a Lifetime Oscar.) For one scene, she had sex in the back of a van with another of their team members who was popular at the time (but whose stage name I can’t recall), and when they had very loudly and apparently satisfyingly finished, she looked off to the side with wide eyes and happily blurted, “Can we go again?” The other woman rolled her eyes and the camera crew laughed.

  163. 163
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    I’ll tell you what I’m angry about P.Z. Myers: I’m still fucking angry that women’s sexuality (which has always been a beautiful thing in my experience) is being used to make girls feel sinful and tainted by the religious. I’m pissed off that a bunch of puritanical christofascists are creating a whole ‘ministry’ to keep women ignorant about their bodies. I’m fucking pissed that one of the most beautiful and natural things in the world (and one of my favorite things in life, if that’s not TMI) is being used as a weapon to shame innocent young women.

    Yeah I’m angry.

  164. 164
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    I’m done with you, sgbm. I do not see why I — or anyone — should carry out a discussion with someone who thinks it acceptable to marginalize their opponent and undermine or compromise their ability to come up with a rational and thought-out response.

  165. 165
    ibyea

    @illuminata
    I am kind of lost too. While Mattir is not completely right, when I see the posts above, we all seem to agree in major aspects in this issue, so what is the fighting about?

  166. 166
    RichardAustin

    Nepenthe @ 155

    @ lordsetar 145

    So, if I criticize the military, perhaps by saying that it’s fundamentally wrong to have a huge organization that devotes most of its time to figuring out better and more efficient ways of killing people, does that mean that I don’t support the troops? That I’m perpetuating the oppression of soldiers?

    The right feels this way because the military is held sacred. Is porn the sacred institution of the left?

    Bad analogy. The arete of the military is to fight/kill/conquer. That’s why they exist. One cannot support the existence of the military without actively supporting fighting/killing/conquering.

    The arete of porn is to stimulate; exploitation is a consequence of method or approach, not of porn itself. One can hate biographies without thinking books are bad; one can hate exploitative porn without thinking porn itself is bad.

    One might have an legitimate argument if one purposed that the porn industry is exploitative, especially if it was narrowed even further to the heterosexual, normative, mass-production porn studios. However, at this stage I doubt that such studios make up more than 30-40% of the porn that exists, if even that much; just look at all the amateur porn on the internet.

  167. 167
    Ing

    Sigh. It always feels like for this that people are ascribing qualities to something that are not intrinsically innate. Pornography are movies of people fucking and where the sex or sexual nature is the focus. In my mind, that’s it. Anything else is a problem with the current production system or culture, not of the concept of pornography. And like all media 90+% of it is utter goddamn rubbish.

    The bullshit in porn is symptomatic of the culture. I think people should promote voting with your wallet more and finding the possible good porns and generating a market for them to combat the mainstream junk along with promoting proper sex and relationship education so that pornography isn’t the main source teens go for forming their ideas of sexuality. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it; and spread the memes that would convince other people not to like it as well.

    I also think SGBM’s threshold for exploitation is…questionable. It should be the same consideration given to any other actor or actress who appears in a movie

  168. 168
    Ing

    I’ve never seen porn treat two people as interesting human beings having fun together

    Not to be dismissive, but how hard have you looked?

  169. 169
    ibyea

    @Ing
    Overall, I like your last response to this issue the best.

  170. 170
    Ing

    @Richard

    And that’s removing those of us who might approve of a military if its purpose was switched to DEFENSE rather than conquering.

  171. 171
    julian

    @Friendly

    Those tend to be my favorite kind of scenes, too. I hate the bubble gum lipstick and glam tits look. Best shots are always two people just fooling around, laughing and joking.

    One cannot support the existence of the military without actively supporting fighting/killing/conquering.

    Supporting the troops isn’t the same as supporting the existence of the military. There’s a lot soldiers, airmen, seaman and Marines need to make their 4+ years bearable. Health care for families, medical coverage, leave and liberty ectectect. Things you wouldn’t deny anyone else employed by the government and prayed to every deity that didn’t exist private business would give their workers.

    You can be very much pro soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines while opposing what the military stands for. For example, I’m sure you agree birth control should be covered for women who’ve enlisted while being perfectly capable of denouncing the wars over seas.

  172. 172
    AlanMac

    See now, this is why all things sexual should be left to women to discuss. Women will take care of it, polish it, and keep it in it’s proper place. We men will take a good thing and play with it ’til we break it.

  173. 173
    truthspeaker

    Guaron says:
    23 August 2011 at 4:54 pm

    PZ, while you may think it heartening to mention that violent, misogynistic porn “bores” you, it terrifies and triggers a lot of survivors of sexual assault. Tedium to the point of numbing your dick is a low bar to set for whether something gets a pass or not. Even if it excited the ever-living fuck out of you, most porn is still about torturing women,

    PZ said mainstream porn bothered him. Most mainstream porn is not violent nor is it about torturing women. Here in the states the federal government will actually prosecute people for making porn that depicts violence.

    Much of it has misogynistic elements. The hyperbole about torture and violence doesn’t help your case.

  174. 174
    truthspeaker

    strange gods before me says:
    23 August 2011 at 5:09 pm

    How about changing the world in a way in which having sex worker/porn actor in one’s CV isn’t a stigma anymore?

    That’s nice, except it doesn’t change the basic fact that if work a person could potentially have had intellectualy property control over is being distributed without their control, they are being exploited.

    You realize this applies to every TV and film actor (and most professional writers and musicians), right?

  175. 175
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Sigh, porn is one of those topics that bring out vitriol. Time to make another batch of grog, which is more exciting…

  176. 176
    RichardAustin

    Ing:

    Right, sorry, I left off defense; that wasn’t really the focus of Nepenthe’s intent, but it’s a valid critique.

    Still, the analogy as Nepenthe stated isn’t really sound: it’s difficult to justify supporting the military without supporting some kind of fighting/killing, even if it’s in self-defense. The same is not true of pornography and exploitation: the two are not, perforce (*ahem*), linked.

  177. 177
    Dhorvath, OM

    Strange Gods,

    And even in a world where sex work isn’t stigmatizing (not going to happen in our lifetimes, but possible), some people are still going to want to exert whatever intellectual property control they might potentially have; some people are going to want to stop distribution just because they feel differently about it, stigma aside. That they don’t have this option is one factor of exploitation.

    So does a studio musician have distribution say in how an album they played on is treated? Where do we draw the line between creative control and basic performance? Your point is hard for me to fathom as having any meaning aside from a world where sex work is stigmatized.
    I don’t doubt that there are people who are harmed by their performance in sexual imagery at one point in their life when they have personally moved on from that. I can certainly see how having actual control over those images, (also not something I can imagine happening in our live, but we seem to be playing that game so) would allow for a subsequent change of heart.

    I just wonder how that extends into someone in a movie or on a tv show later finding themselves intellectually incompatible with the performance they made. Do you contend that they are being exploited by the fact of their prior participation?

    I am quite sure that many women who are currently working in pornography are being exploited by the basic situation in which they find themselves as they do so. I don’t want that to continue, but I don’t follow the extension you have made as being about porn and I am having trouble extending it to fit the rest of the performance world.

  178. 178
    Tom Clark

    I’d like to masturbate right now out of spite, but somehow this story fails to put me in the mood.

  179. 179
    Ing

    I think the bigger issue is that those who aren’t anti-porn sense some sort of offense from those who are as if they feel that they’re being called exploitative or a less worthy feminist or the like.

  180. 180
    julian

    You realize this applies to every TV and film actor (and most professional writers and musicians), right?

    But we’re not talking about plays, books or musical notes. We’re talking about people’s bodies and graphic depictions of sex and signing away any right to control how that’s distributed. Shouldn’t that rank a little higher on the consideration ladder than a concert performance?

  181. 181
    Ing

    But we’re not talking about plays, books or musical notes. We’re talking about people’s bodies and graphic depictions of sex and signing away any right to control how that’s distributed. Shouldn’t that rank a little higher on the consideration ladder than a concert performance?

    Right because sex is dirty?

  182. 182
    Dhorvath, OM

    There is something here that has me intrigued in another direction. Porn as a profit making enterprise is having a hard go of late. Content is damn difficult to control and floats about making little money for producers while consumers have basically a glut of free resources. Meanwhile, amateur ‘post your own’ porn has taken off with many people making high quality smut that they just idly share on websites. It is clear that even devoid the desire for profit, some people will perform sex acts as performers and others will provide an audience. Can this idea be incorporated into feminist theory?

  183. 183
    Ing

    @Dhorvath

    I think it’s a good thing to take porn away from the dominant culture’s hyperreality and ground it into the real sexuality of actual people.

  184. 184
    Friendly

    I hate the bubble gum lipstick and glam tits look.

    Good grief, yes. And the women wearing high heels and jewelry while they’re having sex in bed — ugh, what’s up with that?! I guess that must be some kind of turn-on for a lot of guys, because it seems like it’s in the majority of videos these days, but it does nothing at all for me. All I can think about is how stupid it looks and how uncomfortable it must be for those poor women…

  185. 185
    David Marjanović, OM

    It’s a soothing behaviour,

    I think you’re doing it wrong.

    and sometimes we can lean on it like a crutch. That’s something we all have to remember. Things can actually get unhealthy. There’s a fine line between healthy release, and unhealthy obsession.

    Well, I suppose anything can turn into an addiction… but it doesn’t do so easily, let alone automatically. Few people, I bet, have such an extremely “addictive personality” for that to turn into an addiction that actually does any damage.

    But, would this sort of shit [...] exist if we didn’t first learn that sex is dirty and shameful from religion?

    I bet it wouldn’t. I also doubt unspectacular sex would be called “dirty”, let alone considered such by anyone.

    @Sailor

    That’s not normal, seek help.

    Seconded. I mean, you were probably joking, but if it really interferes with your daily life, it’s several standard deviations [heh] away from the mean, and I recommend seeking help.

    The dishonesty is in your and Mattir’s equivocation between a stance toward porn and stance toward sex, as though one must depend on the other.

    Is every little oversight morally evil?

    What in the fuck makes you think any deliberate equivocation was going on here!?! Few people have contemplated these issues often enough in enough detail that all the relevant distinctions would come naturally to them.

    Pornstar Punishment [...] One clip is of a cashier girl who gives less than stellar service and the customer who ‘teaches her a lesson.’

    Ah yeah. The ancient sickening concept of rape-as-punishment. *barf*

  186. 186
    bookworm

    I confess also to becoming completely lost by the argument, and after reading squillions of Phayngula posts since I first found this site, kids who normally play nicely together here suddenly start despising each other(?) The conversation seems to be limited though to porn/erotica (howsoever defined) that is professionally produced (ok, that can be stretching it, but you know what I mean), as Dhorvath @183 pointed out. Given the proliferation and sheer volume of self-produced porn that flourishes (I was once an editor for a directory company and reviewed so many sites my eyeballs sagged), I doubt you can discuss exploitation without bringing in all the people who, off their own bat, decide to make and publish stills and movies of their personal, badly-lit bedroom acrobatics. It is after all there for eternity, or for as long as the intertubes linger, and therefore out of their control and distribution.

  187. 187
    Nepethe

    @Richard Austin

    Actually, I believe that in a patriarchy, pornography is inherently exploitative. My position is different than that of sgbm and the other posters arguing the anti-porn stance. See my post at 148 for explanation.

    And amateur porn is hardly a solution, because then it becomes a total blackbox. At least formal studios are required to provide verification of age and consent. Amateur porn ranges from exhibitionists getting off to “revenge porn” made with hidden cameras or posted after a breakup and there is rarely any way to tell the difference. Personally, I get to live with the joy of knowing that my abusive ex has probably posted the images I made with him on a revenge porn website and that I have no legal recourse whatsoever if he did so.

  188. 188
    The Panic Man And Your Eternal Reward

    FUCKING CHRIST.

    I make a post and start work, with things going fine in here. I go on break, check again, and it’s all gone to shit. Sweet mother of Gabe Newell, you’re a bunch of goddamn children!

    Stick to the fucking topic – or, better yet, just stop the pissant slapfight Beavis & Butt-Head bullshit!

  189. 189
    julian

    Right because sex is dirty?

    Actually I’m not even sure. I don’t think sex is dirty but there is an intimate (I don’t mean it has to have some emotional connection for you to enjoy it) aspect of it that I find makes it more personal. So personal I don’t think it should be possible to give up permanent control over who gets to see you, where they get to see you or when. The whole things just seems to similar to teenagers taking pictures of people they know and distributing them amongst each other to masturbate to later. Porn takes away the victims in those scenarios but that gets me back to thinking once you’re no longer ok with that you’re back to being taken advantage of.

    Ack! Haven’t even figured out how I feel about it. Should probably get back to the sidelines.

  190. 190
    David Marjanović, OM

    Good grief, yes. And the women wearing high heels and jewelry while they’re having sex in bed — ugh, what’s up with that?! I guess that must be some kind of turn-on for a lot of guys, because it seems like it’s in the majority of videos these days, but it does nothing at all for me. All I can think about is how stupid it looks and how uncomfortable it must be for those poor women…

    Tertiary sexual characteristics. They’re associated with women, therefore some people find them sexy.

    In these cases (which are by no means limited to porn), there’s a tradition of treating them as sexy, because they used to be the most you got to see of a woman other than her face and her hands. I can’t grasp it, but apparently for some people the Victorian age when men got very excited at the sight of a lady’s ankle still isn’t over.

  191. 191
    Dhorvath, OM

    I guess my biggest fear is not knowing the background and having no recourse either. At least with commercial porn one can do research, contact current and former performers about work conditions, etc. I am curious about how the profit thing will shake out.
    Most of my web sex surfing is tied up in dating sites with locals who I have generally met or may meet soon. It’s much safer to know those whose images you see, but even there internal dynamics are a mystery. There is a point where I am left assuming that things are good.

  192. 192
    Friendly

    Methinks it’s been too long since a good ol’ determined and nutty troll wandered in here. Without having genuine nastiness and stupidity to attack, the community’s immune system is turning on itself.

  193. 193
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Friendly, you think this sorta thing is somehow novel?

    Hey Panic Man, don’t panic.

    (About pr0n is on-topic)

  194. 194
    Ichthyic

    Technically speaking, most are virgins, but because of their below-the-belt explorations, they report feeling tainted, undesirable, and perverted.

    I’m sure this has been mentioned but…

    just like any good snake-oil salesman, religion creates the disease, and then offers the “cure”.

    so much damage religious ideology has caused over the millenia.

    not just death and destruction, but psychological torture.

    *sigh*

  195. 195
    Ichthyic

    here’s a question:

    without the concept that we should feel guilty about ourselves and our sexuality…

    would porn as an industry even exist?

    I think not.

  196. 196
    Ichthyic

    In these cases (which are by no means limited to porn), there’s a tradition of treating them as sexy

    if you think high heels is bad…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_binding

  197. 197
    Dhorvath, OM

    Ichthyic,
    I think there would still be a market for sexual imagery. Not all of sexuality is skin to skin.

  198. 198
    Ing

    @Ichthyic

    I think so. People have a voyeur streak.

  199. 199
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Once again we’re talking porn and no-one has linked to Greta Christina on the subject. Shame on you all!!

    Seriously, read a lot of her blog. She’s coming to FTB soon and writes a great deal about porn and sexuality – as a feminist atheist.

  200. 200
    strange gods before me

    Bad analogy. The arete of the military is to fight/kill/conquer. That’s why they exist. One cannot support the existence of the military without actively supporting fighting/killing/conquering.

    You must be accustomed to certain militaries to say this. There exist militaries which do not fight to conquer at all, which only fight in self-defense. It would be an odd sort of rarely-seen pacifism which criticizes the very existence of that sort of military.

    What does my paragraph above have to do with anything? I don’t know. It’s a tangent.

    To get back from that tangent, what you’re doing in your comment, Richard, is going off on a tangent that is rather unrelated to the reason why Nepenthe replied to Setar’s #145.

    Setar took exception to my comment that it’s a “false dichotomy [that] one can only work for sex workers i[f] one is pro-porn.”

    I expect you would agree it’s a false dichotomy, Richard. You’d be agreeing then with the general substance of what Nepenthe said, even if taking exception to the particular analogy.

  201. 201
    Mr. Fire

    Friendly, it’s like what Jim Morrison said: NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE.

  202. 202
    Nepenthe

    *toddles back from the kitchen with a shot*

    May I pause these proceedings to offer a toast to masturbation?

    It’s fantastic. It’s free. You can do it in bed or in the bath or on the sofa or in the kitchen. It doesn’t require any special equipment. You don’t have to be rich or beautiful or smart or able-bodied. You can do it alone or with a friend (or with many friends).

    Men do it, women do it, genderqueer people do it. Babies do it, children do it, adolescents do it, young adults do it, middle aged people do it, elderly people do it. People of every race, ethnicity, religion (even if some won’t admit it), political alignment, sports team affiliation, sexual orientation, and hair color do it. Some people don’t feel like doing it and that’s great too.

    Masturbation: it unites the human race and is a damn fine time as well.

    To masturbation!

  203. 203
    Ichthyic

    At least when a person quits working in fast food, that’s it, it’s over, they quit. When a person quits working in porn, their image remains in circulation as long as the producers like, invariably beyond the worker’s legal control. This problem could easily be remedied in contract, yet it never is remedied.

    I’d say that’s not a problem with the industry, so much as it is a problem with our own perceptions OF that industry.

    If we remove the artificial “guilt” from sex, and stop making it seem somehow “wrong” (IOW, get rid of the idea that religions have anything worthwhile to contribute on morality), then the idea of someone working in a sex industry would engender no more negative impact on their future career than world working at McD’s.

  204. 204
    broboxley OT

    SGBM

    Me, I’ll support unionization of sex workers, better working conditions, education about human rights and making ethical choices as a consumer,

    Do tell, besides presenting a false dichotomy here, what exactly are you doing to support any of that?

    try to treat sex workers with honesty and respect?

    Most porn is uninteresting to me. I do like the mutual attraction hetro that is soft,and cuddly with everyone appears to have a good time and respect and kissing going on. If anyone knows where to find that drop a link

  205. 205
    Ichthyic

    I think there would still be a market for sexual imagery.

    like anything else that attracts emotional response.

    IOW, it would make imaging our own sexuality no different than any other art.

    the pornography industry is not like the art industry though, in many ways.

    so, differentiate, and ask yourself what the sex industry would look like if there was no guilt.

    People have a voyeur streak.

    The “excitement” fueling voyeurism is often the idea that it is “wrong” (not always, but often).

    so, again, remove the guilt.. and how would that impact the behavior?

  206. 206
    strange gods before me

    And I see Ing addressed some of Richard’s comment already.

    +++++

    I also think SGBM’s threshold for exploitation is…questionable. It should be the same consideration given to any other actor or actress who appears in a movie

    There you go attributing moral interpretations to facts again.

    Whether something is exploitative or not does not depend on whether it’s an amount of exploitation we are willing to tolerate.

    (A common misunderstanding, and a distinction which very smart people have missed. I recall one time a very smart person tried to argue that “racism” could not include microaggressions below a commonly-agreed threshold, because otherwise, everyone would be doing racism. My response is that maybe everyone is doing racism, and who knows, maybe in the end we’ll have to settle for some racism. I finally persuaded this very smart person by pointing out that there is a great deal of racism we are willing to tolerate, and it probably must be so: I would prefer some spoken racism instead of laws against hate speech.)

    A couple things here:

    We’re accustomed to actors in non-porn movies not holding intellectual property control. But that we are accustomed to it does not mean it could not be different, it does not necessarily mean we need to settle for it, and it certainly does not mean it’s not exploitative.

    It is exploitative, because they don’t get the full value of their work. Hypothetically, it might also be the best we could ever hope for. It’s almost certainly not the best we could hope for, but the hypothetical shows that it could be a tolerable amount of exploitation, while still being exploitation.

    +++++
    When we admit that exploitation exists, we can have an honest discussion about how much exploitation we’re willing to settle for.

    When we define exploitation as bad and as only being more badness than we’re willing to settle for, we can’t talk about what’s preferable, because we’ve just defined the discussion away.

  207. 207
    strange gods before me

    The bullshit in porn is symptomatic of the culture. I think people should promote voting with your wallet more

    But that’s exactly what skeptifem and I are promoting. We want to change the ideas that others have about what is worth spending money on.

    You can’t honestly promote “voting with one’s wallet” while at the same time trying to tamp down certain discussions of what should be voted on.

  208. 208
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    May I pause these proceedings to offer a toast to masturbation?

    It’s fantastic. It’s free. You can do it in bed or in the bath or on the sofa or in the kitchen. It doesn’t require any special equipment. You don’t have to be rich or beautiful or smart or able-bodied. You can do it alone or with a friend (or with many friends).

    Men do it, women do it, genderqueer people do it. Babies do it, children do it, adolescents do it, young adults do it, middle aged people do it, elderly people do it. People of every race, ethnicity, religion (even if some won’t admit it), political alignment, sports team affiliation, sexual orientation, and hair color do it. Some people don’t feel like doing it and that’s great too.

    Masturbation: it unites the human race and is a damn fine time as well.

    To masturbation!

    Nepenthes, I’ll light a joint to that.

  209. 209
    strange gods before me

    Here in the states the federal government will actually prosecute people for making porn that depicts violence.

    Is that so? Simulated violence as well? I’d like case names.

  210. 210
    Ing

    @SGBM

    I’m not one of the ones fighting with you.

    And from appearances it’s that you’re arguing for people to not be consumers at all. It seems to be the same problem with putting the feminist shame on prostitution: if you discourage decent people from being consumers what kind of people will be left to be consumers?”.

  211. 211
    John Morales

    [meta + OT]

    skeptifem is worth reading when it comes to these issues, as they are within her area of expertise. IMO.

  212. 212
    Ing

    Simulated violence as well?

    Thought crime.

  213. 213
    Ichthyic

    intellectual property control

    this is a great idea.

    these kinds of contracts, implicit and literal, already exist for things like writers and photographers.

    of course, there are also legitimate businesses, including academia, where you give up your rights to intellectual control of your products in trade for services or material goods.

    for example, in many cases, a graduate student gives up control of any marketable product coming out of their labs to the university sponsoring their education.

    it’s not viewed as exploitation (though I think it often borders on that myself), because a service is rendered in trade for that.

    still, whether it’s the music industry, the writing industry, or anything else you can name, there are always contracts regarding the control of intellectual property rights.

    I have no clue what it is like overall in the sex industry, but I expect, again, because of the “shame” that can be associated with that industry, that a lot of intellectual property rights that can and should be claimed are not.

    online resources encouraging people to understand what intellectual property rights are available to them in their countries/states of residence would always be a good thing.

    not just people in the sex industry, but many writers and photographers likewise are unaware of what their property rights actually are.

    this might help:

    http://www.stopfakes.gov/sf_who.asp

    the sex industry, just like any other, is not exempt from intellectual property laws.

  214. 214
    Ing

    There you go attributing moral interpretations to facts again.

    Whether something is exploitative or not does not depend on whether it’s an amount of exploitation we are willing to tolerate.

    I didn’t respond because I knew you would say this, but I’m sorry. I have to ask. Why? Really, Why? I knew it would be response about exploitation–>SGBM’s “you’re presuming exploitation is unacceptable”. So Why? You know people will interpret it this way, because they ALWAYS do, because they aren’t fucking mind readers. And if it’s a question of tolerance that you’re accepting for other actors and all and blah blah blah, then the point is irrelevant. Why bring it up? Why?

  215. 215
    Ing

    I’m trying to give a benefit of doubt, but I can’t imagine, personally, any reason to repeat a pattern that one would HAVE to know will ultimately not convey your thoughts accurately; save for that you’re doing it intentionally to correct people as some rhetorical point.

  216. 216
    heliobates

    I do like the mutual attraction hetro that is soft,and cuddly with everyone appears to have a good time and respect and kissing going on. If anyone knows where to find that drop a link

    Erica Lust might have some stuff that scratches your itch.

  217. 217
    Ichthyic

    you’re presuming exploitation is unacceptable

    well, what actually IS exploitation?

    is it the idea of taking advantage of circumstances to get someone to do something they normally wouldn’t, or don’t want to?

    So, say it’s a recession (surprise!) and employers are taking advantage of the recession, say, to offer crap jobs with minimum wages and no benefits (where they normally would not), because they know unemployment is large and the competition for jobs is fierce…

    is that exploitative?

    I’d say yeah.

    is it bad?

    I’d say yeah.

    so, is exploitation bad?

    I’d say yeah.

    Is it acceptable?

    I’d ask why it should be, if it’s by definition a bad thing, and there are better ways to go about accomplishing similar ends (employer gets employee, employee gets job).

    the only thing that makes exploitation acceptable in our culture is the idea that it can be done for profit, and each participant gets at least something out of the arrangement.

    sure, there is a sliding scale, with say, slavery on one end and working for minimum wage with no benefits at all on the other, but it’s still exploitation, it’s still bad overall, and there are still better ways to accomplish the social goal of supplying goods for services.

  218. 218
    coelecanth

    I don’t think sex is dirty but there is an intimate (I don’t mean it has to have some emotional connection for you to enjoy it) aspect of it that I find makes it more personal. So personal I don’t think it should be possible to give up permanent control over who gets to see you, where they get to see you or when.

    I’ve done performances as a musician where I’ve had to take a moment after a song to gather myself because the intimate emotion that I just expressed had overwhelmed me. I’ve even had that experience during recording a couple of times. How is this different to the performance of a sexual act? Isn’t the exceptionalism of sex a construct of religion?

  219. 219
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Well, I tried to stay OT, but it’s not gonna happen.

    I do not know what I think about the porn issue. Exploitation is ALWAYS bad IMO. But…. I’m a young hetero male who, admittedly, doesn’t have nearly as much sex as he’d like to. That means porn is kind of part of my life. As to my personal kinks, eh, it’s nothing anyone here would be interested in. Suffice to say I can’t enjoy anything the woman doesn’t appear to be enjoying in that area.

    I’ll continue watching this discussion, because I’m honestly at one of those rare moments in life where I do not know what I think. Already I’ve got much to think about.

  220. 220
    strange gods before me

    You realize this applies to every TV and film actor (and most professional writers and musicians), right?

    I realized it even before I was a commie symp, back when I was one of those weird anti-corporate libertarians.

    You realize it doesn’t have to be that way?

    +++++

    So does a studio musician have distribution say in how an album they played on is treated?

    Depends on the contract. It is de facto exploitation when they do not. More preferable contracts are more common in music than any other intellectual property industry in discussion so far today. That there is a spectrum of control with different averages for different industries should indicate that these things can be changed.

    Where do we draw the line between creative control and basic performance? Your point is hard for me to fathom as having any meaning aside from a world where sex work is stigmatized.

    Something to consider: sex work is stigmatized in proportion to the consumer’s objectification of the worker. It’s not anti-porn feminists who control the stigmatization of sex work. If—magically—tomorrow everyone stopped using other people’s bodies as masturbation aides, if no one’s body was used merely as a cum receptacle, then whatever sex work might hypothetically persist would not result in the treatment of a person as a thing to be used. And however surprised anti-porn feminists might be by this magical development, their surprise would not bring back the stigma. It is the way that sex is treated by consumers that determines the social outcomes—it’s not anti-porn feminists who are congratulating each other for an act of conquest in talking someone into a sex act they weren’t looking forward to.

    +++++
    But what we also have to recognize is that the reality right now and in the immediately foreseeable future is that porn is more likely to be something that a performer later wants to shut down the distribution of, than music or a movie.

    If all performers in various industries had the same lack of control, but performers in one industry want to shut down distribution more often, the relative difference between actual control and desired control is a measure of actual exploitation. You are less exploited when circumstances are going your way, more exploited when they’re not.

    When we recognize that porn distribution is currently something which performers would find greater relative utility in controlling than other industries, it does no one any good to say “but this would be different in a less stigmatized world!” Yes, it would, and we don’t have that world. We have one where porn is exploitative, and pretending that it’s not exploitative is not one of the ways of fixing that. Rather, if recognizing the exploitation could lead to more workers’ control of that industry, then recognizing the exploitation—rather than pretending it isn’t so—may be the means of ultimately making it less exploitative.

  221. 221
    piranhaintheguppytank

    A notable quote:

    [Religion.] There’s nothing else like it on the planet. It stands alone in its ability to convince people of absolutely anything.

    In the 18th century, there was a schism in a group of Russian Christians called the People of God. A splinter group known as the Skoptsy broke away to obey god’s word in the way they saw fit. The Skoptsy believed that when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, the halves of the forbidden fruit picked from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil were grafted onto their bodies to form testicles and breasts. To restore themselves to the state of human perfection that existed prior to the big screw-up in the garden, the Skoptsy men had their genitals removed and the women had their breasts cut off.

    Now, to you and me, what they did was obscene and appallingly senseless. It was crazy. But that’s only because we do not believe what they believed. If we did believe what they believed with the same certainty with which they believed it, we would be missing some body parts right now. You can laugh and deny that all you want, but the cold fact is that if, right now, you were a Skoptsy instead of a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or whatever you may be, you would have no genitals or no breasts, because having them cut off would be something you would have to do in order to avoid eternity in excruciating pain. And as insane as that may sound, it was a religion! Just like your religion, or your family’s, or your friends’, just like Pat Robertson’s and the pope’s and Osama bin Laden’s and Rabbi Schmuley Boteach’s and Deepak Chopra’s and Billy Graham’s and Jim Jones’s and George W. Bush’s and Michele Bachmann’s and Marshall Applewhite’s — THEY’RE ALL RELIGION!

    Warren Jeffs and the FLDS: Don’t Say It’s Not About Religion, Because IT IS!
    Posted on August 8, 2011 by Ray Garton

    Atheist Oasis – A Rational Refuge

  222. 222
    John Morales

    I think skeptifem is saying that the environment has changed.

    It is hard to hear commentary on this from people like PZ who grew up in a time where pornography was less ubiquitous. Shit has changed a lot because of the internet and the way mainstream pornography has become increasingly violent.

    Once there were “dirty magazines” that had to be acquired to be perused, now it’s ubiquitous on the net, which itself is ubiquitous.

    (As easy as taking safe search off in Google)

  223. 223
    Nepenthe

    Regarding whether sex is somehow different than other human activities:

    It certainly is in our current set up. Whether this is innate or not isn’t something that we can test since there isn’t exactly a non-patriarchy control group.

    But people certainly react differently to having others force them to have sex than they do to having others force them to play music or to flip burgers.

  224. 224
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    That’s kinda what I’ve been thinking Nepenthe. Until we take the first steps of removing all the stigma from sex, removing the shitty double standard (men=players women=whores), removing all that religious oppression, we can’t know exactly. All of our perspectives are gonna be just a little screwed up from this toxic society we all live in.

  225. 225
    Ing

    But people certainly react differently to having others force them to have sex than they do to having others force them to play music or to flip burgers.

    well since we all agree it’s ‘forced’ then I guess that settles things.

  226. 226
    John Morales

    Nepenthe, do you (as I do) suspect the nudity taboo is not innate?

    (Is this tangential?)

  227. 227
    Ichthyic

    Whether this is innate or not isn’t something that we can test since there isn’t exactly a non-patriarchy control group.

    are we sure about that?

    I’m not much of an anthropologist, but with all of human history and culture to choose from, seems like there might at least be examples, if not strictly “controls” around?

  228. 228
    strange gods before me

    Ing:

    I’m trying to give a benefit of doubt,

    Not very hard, you aren’t. See, I already explained this last time. You didn’t like the answer, so you ignored it. You’re going to get the same answer this time, and every time in the future, until you learn to deal with it.

    There’s an important reason I won’t let you get away with the kind of definition you’re trying to make. Perhaps the comments plus or minus 30 posts of this one will help you get it.

    So Why? You know people will interpret it this way, because they ALWAYS do, because they aren’t fucking mind readers.

    People interpret exploitation as bad because they interpret exploitation as bad. So do I. That much is not in dispute. Here’s the problem:

    you’ve tried to define exploitation as only consisting of the bad things. That can’t work. That doesn’t allow for a discussion of what is tolerable. It just asks us to acquiesce to “common wisdom” and accept the status quo from here on out.

    When I say X is exploitation, that’s what I mean. I do find it bad. I might also be persuaded to find it the best we can hope for. I believe that exploitation can be minimized but not eliminated. But I do not believe it can be minimized by defining it away.

    but I can’t imagine, personally, any reason to repeat a pattern that one would HAVE to know will ultimately not convey your thoughts accurately

    I don’t think you’ve interpreted my thoughts inaccurately. I say something as exploitation and you do grok that I’m saying I don’t like it.

    But what you also apparently do is try to impose some kind of Just World Hypothesis upon reality, wherein the things we learn to settle for must not be exploitation any more.

    It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to say “this can’t be exploitation because it’s no worse than this other thing”. All that means is that the world has knocked some of the fight out of you.

  229. 229
    Korey

    Better go erase my camera. Because I don’t want evidence of my girlfriend Jilling off to show up in Judge God’s hands on the CW network at 3AM!

  230. 230
    Ichthyic

    OTOH…

    There are no known societies that are unambiguously matriarchal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matriarchy

    you might be right about there not being a control group, even a relative one for comparison!

  231. 231
    Ing

    Oh fuck off. You go “This is wrong because it’s exploitation” Other person “It’s just like this which is acceptable” You go “Yes where did I say exploitation was unacceptable?”

    It’s TIRING and it’s annoying. Intentionally communicating in a way you know people will not get your meaning and then using that as a rhetorical club isn’t cute.

    It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to say “this can’t be exploitation because it’s no worse than this other thing”. All that means is that the world has knocked some of the fight out of you.

    Or maybe some of us don’t agree it’s nearly in the same fucking league as most of what we call exploitation. Did you ever stop to think that some people don’t actually agree with this bullshit of yours?

    I’m done talking to you. It’s a brick wall of arrogance.

  232. 232
    Ichthyic

    I believe that exploitation can be minimized but not eliminated.

    indeed.

    it would be entirely unrealistic to think that humans in general would not try to take advantage of a given situation to maximize their own profit.

    not to say we can’t encourage opposing behavior, which does happen, if not nearly enough, in western culture. The problem appears to me to be that the history of Western culture is rife with the elevation of profitability as THE primary goal of a business relationship.

  233. 233
    strange gods before me

    you’ve tried to define exploitation as only consisting of the bad things.

    Worse than that, even; you’ve tried to define exploitation as only consisting of those things which are so bad as to be intolerable.

    +++++
    The sort of breakthrough that can happen when we let go of this desire to define facts in terms of acquiescence:

    «because “[exploitation]” is in itself simply a descriptive term, there is no necessary/semantic contradiction in saying “policy X is in itself [exploitative], but it is necessary/justified on other grounds.” [...] all liberal-democratic governments tolerate a certain amount of [exploitation]; [...] So we have to separate the empirical question “is X [exploitative]?” from the normative and moral questions “how much [exploitation] should we tolerate?” and “what methods should we use to combat [exploitation]?”»

  234. 234
    Ing

    Yes, we agree that fairness cannot be fully achieved but should be sought. What a marvelous point we all agree one that is absurdly irrelevant.

    Bah, I apologize for snapping. SGBM’s rhetoric style grates on me. Should have known better and just not responded.

  235. 235
    Fin

    I was just reading over the Dirty Girls website – and masturbating like a rhesus monkey while I did so – and I click a link.

    Surely this is a joke? For someone who talks about porn addiction, surely Renaud would know the different meanings for the word “come”.

  236. 236
    John Morales

    [1] At 15, she attended a Christian summer camp and heard the pastor talking about “a Father in heaven who loves you unconditionally regardless of what you do.” [2] From then on, she became active in the church and vowed to end her masturbation and porn habits.

    ¬(1→2)

    (to put it mildly)

  237. 237
    strange gods before me

    Oh fuck off. You go “This is wrong because it’s exploitation”

    Where did I say that.

    I certainly will allow that something exploitative might still be the least wrong possible.

    It’s TIRING and it’s annoying. Intentionally communicating in a way you know people will not get your meaning and then using that as a rhetorical club isn’t cute.

    As I just said, I think you already got my meaning. I do think exploitation is bad. It might also be the least bad possible. So I don’t see what you’re even claiming here.

    Or maybe some of us don’t agree it’s nearly in the same fucking league as most of what we call exploitation.

    What do leagues have to do with anything? It’s either exploitation or it’s not. I did give an example of what completely non-exploitative porn would look like:

    “Any porn that is created just for fun, just because everyone involved wants to have sex play on camera, and the circulation (or lack) of which is absolutely subject to the consensus of all participants, any one of whom can bring a legal halt to all circulation rights at any time for any reason.”

    That’s so far from our reality that most everyone would prefer to pretend that what we’ve got right now isn’t exploitative, rather than working toward what’s preferable.

    I’m done talking to you. It’s a brick wall of arrogance.

    As usual, you’re a brick wall of stupidity. It’s like you literally cannot fathom the concept that empirical questions should not be defined away by moralizing.

    Back to the problem: When we admit that exploitation exists, we can have an honest discussion about how much exploitation we’re willing to settle for.

    When we define exploitation as bad and as only being more badness than we’re willing to settle for, we can’t talk about what’s preferable, because we’ve just defined the discussion away.

    +++++
    For what it’s worth, Ing, I still don’t think you’re nearly as stupid as Setar, and I think it’s unfair that you more often get the dismissals he deserves.

  238. 238
    Nepenthe

    @Ing 226

    well since we all agree it’s ‘forced’ then I guess that settles things.

    I’m not sure what you mean here. Basically, my argument is that if sex were really just like any other activity people would have similar reactions to being raped and to being forced to do other activities. But we don’t. Somehow it’s much worse when sex is involved. (I mean, I’ve been coerced into sex and I’ve been similarly coerced into conversation and answering telephones [same abuser, same threat], but I haven’t had years of recurring nightmares about telephones.)

    @John Morales 227

    Nepenthe, do you (as I do) suspect the nudity taboo is not innate?

    I’m not sure. It seems like most human groups wear clothing, even when it’s not necessary for survival and that the clothing usually covers the genitals at least, so that would seem to put a mark in the “innate” column. But many groups don’t wear clothing and IANAAnthropologist.

    @icthyic

    The existence of matriarchal or egalitarian societies is, as far as I know, still a topic of heavy debate.

    But re-examining my language, I think “innate” is the wrong concept, because there are a lot of human behaviors and attitudes that are obviously culturally modified. The question is really whether sexuality is inevitably considered different than other realms of human experience or if it’s possible–in some idealized future–that sex could be considered as neutral an act as sneezing.* (Don’t involve anyone against their will and for goodness’ sakes wash your hands after.)

    *h/t Jill Psmith aka Twisty Faster for the image

  239. 239
    John Morales

    [meta + OT]

    For what it’s worth, Ing, I still don’t think you’re nearly as stupid as Setar, and I think it’s unfair that you more often get the dismissals he deserves.

    FWIW indeed.

    (sigh)

  240. 240
    strange gods before me

    Bah, I apologize for snapping. SGBM’s rhetoric style grates on me. Should have known better and just not responded.

    Actually, what you should do is agree to the trivial fact that whether or not something is exploitative cannot be defined in terms of whether it is tolerable.

    To make it simple, do you agree with A or B?

    A: exploitation is defined as what common wisdom finds intolerable.

    B: exploitation can include the use of a person, beyond that person’s control, even if this use may commonly be tolerable.

  241. 241
    Nepenthe

    @231

    Oh god, if you only knew the sort of crap we’ve been through over at the Pfft! regarding the Patriarchy and Matriarchy and so on articles you wouldn’t even look at them. Thank god the assweasel who was contaminating them finally left, but not without taking several good ‘pedians with him.

  242. 242
    Ichthyic

    But re-examining my language, I think “innate” is the wrong concept, because there are a lot of human behaviors and attitudes that are obviously culturally modified.

    which is why I was thinking “counterexample” instead of “control group”

  243. 243
    strange gods before me

    Anyway, the (commonly accepted here) argument that sex workers should be unionized belies the claim that sex work is not exploitative.

    How would you even propose to unionize them?

    “You totally aren’t being exploited, but you should pay union dues anyway, just because. Because it’ll make liberals happy, apparently, but not because you actually need union representation.”

    +++++
    Any other industry, with any other union, we’re fine with the union saying “yes your employer is exploiting you, and it’s coercive that you have to choose between the wage and working conditions on offer or homelessness.” But when it comes to sex work, we turn into right-wing libertarians, and the invisible hand will decide what’s fair.

  244. 244
    John Morales

    Nepenthe, why then is mere (even partial) nudity considered salacious (and, indeed, in general pornographic)?

    (Remember PZ’s infamous nipple post from a while back?)

  245. 245
    Ichthyic

    Nepenthe, why then is mere (even partial) nudity considered salacious (and, indeed, in general pornographic)?

    think about that:

    it entirely depends on the culture.

    when I was hanging on the beach in French Polynesia, exposed nipples were hardly considered pornographic.

  246. 246
    John Morales

    think about that:
    it entirely depends on the culture.

    Well, that’s suggestive.

  247. 247
    strange gods before me

    David Marjanović

    Is every little oversight morally evil?

    What in the fuck makes you think any deliberate equivocation was going on here!?! Few people have contemplated these issues often enough in enough detail that all the relevant distinctions would come naturally to them.

    It’s not just a little oversight, and it’s intellectually dishonest no matter how habitual and ingrained the argument has become for Mattir and Audley.

    Recall that they didn’t just make a parsing mistake, they made an accusation against another person.

    (I do not for a moment entertain the naive possibility that they are not deliberately smearing their opponent, but, for the sake of discussion) an accusation can be morally wrong even when mistaken.

    Intellectual honesty demands the utmost rigor when making an accusation, and I know you agree, which is exactly why you’re tasking me with it right now!

    This is a tremendous accusation:

    I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the … skeptifem rulebook.

    It’s an obvious, deliberate lie. But even if you fall for it being a mistake, you ought to insist upon substantiation or retraction.

  248. 248
    strange gods before me

    Few people have contemplated these issues often enough in enough detail that all the relevant distinctions would come naturally to them.

    And this could hardly be imagined of anyone who’s contemplated it enough to have the pre-packaged complaints that

    “nothing can stop skeptifem from beating her favorite hobby-horse.”

    and

    “I’ve been around anti-porn feminist arguments since the 1970s, and used to subscribe to them fairly strongly.”

    Your gullibility is evident, David.

  249. 249
    Ichthyic

    Well, that’s suggestive.

    I would hope so.

  250. 250
    strange gods before me

    bookworm

    I confess also to becoming completely lost by the argument, and after reading squillions of Phayngula posts since I first found this site, kids who normally play nicely together here suddenly start despising each other(?)

    It’s not sudden, in either direction, as relatively witty comments like “Oh strange gods, what would I do without you to correct me!” and outright lies like “From past observations, I’m pretty sure no one can do enough about any particular -ism or problem to succeed at obtaining moral high ground with sgbm” indicate.

    It may seem sudden to observers because we just don’t usually talk about it. Usually there’s no reason to.

  251. 251
    Dhorvath, OM

    Icthyic,

    so, differentiate, and ask yourself what the sex industry would look like if there was no guilt.

    I think that a more interesting question than asking if an industry would exist at all. I want to say instructional, sex is a skill set and an exploratory activity which could be well serviced by self help guides, instructional videos, and exposure to differing perspectives and approaches. I don’t know as that would be the whole of it, voyeurism is not driven solely by the allure of the forbidden, but I think it would tend to dominate.

  252. 252
    RichardAustin

    SGBM,

    Is something exploitative if the person being exploited willingly and fully agrees to allow it to happen? If that person even sees potential benefit, or perhaps sees what is gained as being worth more than what is being “exploited”?

    Because, if not, there’s no basis for trade in the soscial environment at all. Even something freely given could be determined as an exploitation of the individual. In order for economics to function, we have to allow for consent. If consent is freely given, is it still exploitation?

    An example: I work at my day job. I’m being paid in services and money in exchange for the work I do. Am I being exploited? Is my company? If we both enter into the agreement completely willingly and in full knowledge, is it exploitation? If that agreement includes a condition that I agree to, fully and willingly, that allows the products of my work to become the property of the organization and no longer under my control, is that exploitation?

    Please don’t assume I believe that everyone involved in sex work, porn, or any other negotiated contract is fully and knowingly consenting to everything; I realize there are major problems with that in a lot of industries. I’m simply trying to find out if there is a line and, if so, where it is. I think you’re going to tell me there isn’t such a line – that any such contract is exploitation performa – but I’m asking just to clarify.

  253. 253
    Mattir-ritated

    “I’ve been around anti-porn feminist arguments since the 1970s, and used to subscribe to them fairly strongly.”

    Your gullibility is evident, David.

    Ah, the comfort of knowing that sg knows more about my past than I do. Because I couldn’t possibly be telling the truth.

    I used to think porn was inherently problematic, now I think it’s sometimes, but not always, problematic and that the women in Dirty Girls Ministries would be better off looking at mainstream “oh I want more of that hot plumber” porn and reading romance novels than absorbing the more destructive messages promoted by DGM. Neither is mecessarily healthy, but the former is less damaging.

  254. 254
    Mattir-ritated

    “I’ve been around anti-porn feminist arguments since the 1970s, and used to subscribe to them fairly strongly.”

    Your gullibility is evident, David.

    Ah, the comfort of knowing that sg knows more about my past than I do. Because I couldn’t possibly be telling the truth.

    I used to think porn was inherently problematic, now I think it’s sometimes, but not always, problematic and that the women in Dirty Girls Ministries would be better off looking at mainstream “oh I want more of that hot plumber” porn and reading romance novels than absorbing the more destructive messages promoted by DGM. Neither is necessarily healthy, but the former is less damaging.

  255. 255
    Gyeong Hwa

    Without having read the comments here, I will say this: Porn has problems, which is an understatement. That said it porn in itself does not necessarily breed those problems. At the end, I have to see porn in the same way as prostitution: if the individuals involved consented to it and wanted to do it, then should be allowed. And there can be incidences where porn is ethical (I knew of a person who filmed porn for queer people of color to get rid of many of the racial implication in mainstream porn). These anti-porn/anti-masturbation crusaders are not tackling the right problems, which are that women (and men) are often indoctrinated to think their body is filthy and sexual gratification is wrong (more so for women).

  256. 256
    Ing

    As usual, you’re a brick wall of stupidity. It’s like you literally cannot fathom the concept that empirical questions should not be defined away by moralizing.

    Because people who disagree with you are idiots. Seriously, FUCK OFF.

    For what it’s worth, Ing, I still don’t think you’re nearly as stupid as Setar, and I think it’s unfair that you more often get the dismissals he deserves.

    Oh THANKS.

    Goddamn, SGBM you are a little shit face thought police.

  257. 257
    Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM

    Ah, the comfort of knowing that sg knows more about my past than I do. Because I couldn’t possibly be telling the truth.

    I’ve mostly stayed out of this, obviously, because I don’t have much to offer the discussion on the subject of porn, but I think you’re misreading what SG was saying there. I think SG was saying that it would be gullible to believe that you fell into the category of people who haven’t “contemplated these issues often enough in enough detail that all the relevant distinctions would come naturally to them,” considering that your history as you recount it would indicate that you have actually spent a good deal of time thinking about the subject. Not agreeing with either of you – just wanted to clarify what seems to be an honest miscommunication on both ends.

  258. 258
    Ing

    @Classical Cipher

    Yeah I guess all of us are just too dumb to understand.

  259. 259
    strange gods before me

    I’d say that’s not a problem with the industry, so much as it is a problem with our own perceptions OF that industry.

    If we remove the artificial “guilt” from sex, and stop making it seem somehow “wrong” (IOW, get rid of the idea that religions have anything worthwhile to contribute on morality), then the idea of someone working in a sex industry would engender no more negative impact on their future career than world working at McD’s.

    Second half of 221 applies, and

    it’s not just the concept that “sex is wrong” which is involved here.

    The predatory behavior which manifests as talking someone into a sex act they weren’t looking forward to, and treating this as a conquest worth boasting: this does not rely on any concept of sex as wrong.

    Treating as celebratory the behavior of using a difference in emotional investment as an opportunity for obtaining sex from the more-committed: this does not rely on any concept of sex as wrong.

    But what can explain all of these behaviors, including the ones potentially attributed a concept of sex as wrong, is instead the treatment of certain persons—women, as well as men who do not perform gender conventionally—as acceptable targets for coercive domination. And this domination need not see sex as wrong, merely as a method of achieving status.

  260. 260
    strange gods before me

    Ah, the comfort of knowing that sg knows more about my past than I do. Because I couldn’t possibly be telling the truth.

    Truthful, but slow.

    No, I’m sure you’re telling the truth about that, and I gave absolutely no indication otherwise.

    What is gullible is David’s suggestion that you might not have “contemplated these issues often enough in enough detail that all the relevant distinctions would come naturally to them.”

    That couldn’t be true given what you’ve said,

    and I couldn’t be objecting to David’s interpretation without taking for granted the truth of your statement that you’ve “been around anti-porn feminist arguments since the 1970s, and used to subscribe to them fairly strongly.”

    How did you manage to mangle the meaning so thoroughly?

    Just because I’m saying you’ve been dishonest in your engagement with others’ arguments doesn’t mean I think everything you say is a lie. It would be hard to mount any kind of response with an absurdist assumption like that.

  261. 261
    strange gods before me

    Yeah I guess all of us are just too dumb to understand.

    Just a few of you, I guess, Ing. I’m actually surprised on this particular count though!

    There’s really no sensible way to read this:

    Few people have contemplated these issues often enough in enough detail that all the relevant distinctions would come naturally to them.

    And this could hardly be imagined of anyone who’s contemplated it enough to have the pre-packaged complaints that

    “nothing can stop skeptifem from beating her favorite hobby-horse.”

    and

    “I’ve been around anti-porn feminist arguments since the 1970s, and used to subscribe to them fairly strongly.”

    without taking it to mean that those quoted statements must mean they’ve contemplated it enough.

    Feel free to offer any coherent alternate reading, though. I await your eventual show of depth.

  262. 262
    strange gods before me

    Is something exploitative if the person being exploited willingly and fully agrees to allow it to happen? If that person even sees potential benefit, or perhaps sees what is gained as being worth more than what is being “exploited”?

    Again, no argument for unionization can take place otherwise.

    The entirety of liberalism from Locke onward, and every chipping away at every entrenched power, has depended upon pointing out to people that what they are currently settling for is not the way the world has to be.

    If the answer to your question is no, then feudalism was not exploitative.

  263. 263
    strange gods before me

    Is something exploitative if the person being exploited willingly and fully agrees to allow it to happen? If that person even sees potential benefit, or perhaps sees what is gained as being worth more than what is being “exploited”?

    And let’s never hear another word about the burka from anyone who suggests this.

  264. 264
    strange gods before me

    Because people who disagree with you are idiots. Seriously, FUCK OFF.

    Well, what do you think is going to result from your saying that talking to me is “a brick wall of arrogance”?

    Do you expect me to say “oh dear, I’m so very sorry, let me back up and have the argument entirely on your terms”?

    You’re a dominant personality, Ing, so you should be able to intuit how another will respond to your insults.

    You asked, in so many words, why I demand a distinction between empirical and moral questions. I explained why. Again you did not like the answer. But it will keep coming up as long as you keep trying to define exploitation in terms of tolerability.

  265. 265
    Ichthyic

    Is something exploitative if the person being exploited willingly and fully agrees to allow it to happen?

    that does not nullify whether something is exploitative or not.

    think in terms of “unfair advantage”.

    @dhvorath:

    I think that a more interesting question than asking if an industry would exist at all.

    well, to be clearer, I think that indeed the PORN industry, as it stands, would NOT exist without the guilt.

    that a sex industry might exist is kinda beside the point.

    it’s kinda like asking if McDonald’s would exist without the exploitation of labour, without implying there would then be no market for restaurants that sell meat products.

  266. 266
    RichardAustin

    Again, no argument for unionization can take place otherwise.

    The entirety of liberalism from Locke onward, and every chipping away at every entrenched power, has depended upon pointing out to people that what they are currently settling for is not the way the world has to be.

    If the answer to your question is no, then feudalism was not exploitative.

    Not entirely.

    Unionization can simply be seen as a factor of a free market: employees are allowed to collectively bargain to their own advantage, and companies are allowed to ignore them if they can find other workers. Whomever wins the popularity contest gains negotiating power. That’s not dependent on exploitation, just free market practices. Granted, that’s not how unions usually work, but our economy isn’t a free market either.

    However, if you’re removing the ability of anyone to consent in your ideal world, your ideal world is anarchy. And that seems to be what you’re suggesting. If I can’t willingly say, “I give up any control on xxx”, there’s no basis for consent and no basis for trade. But from what I think you’re saying, that’s always exploitation and, therefore, should always be disallowed.

  267. 267
    Gyeong Hwa

    The problem that I’m seeing here is that skeptifem did not clarify her posts and left a single comment that can be misconstrued as being a generalization. From my (admittedly limited) observation, she has a penchant for doing anti-porn screed without ever further explaining what she means.

  268. 268
    strange gods before me

    I mean, really, what’s the difference between your response and if I had said

    Because people who disagree with you are arrogant. Seriously, FUCK OFF.

    besides that you are in your head and I am in mine?

  269. 269
    RichardAustin

    And let’s never hear another word about the burka from anyone who suggests this.

    that does not nullify whether something is exploitative or not.

    think in terms of “unfair advantage”.

    Granted, two parties aren’t always negotiating as equals. I said as much at the end of my post. I’m speaking more about potential – again, I’m asking if there’s a line. If part of that line is “two parties negotiating as equals”, fine. But that still means consent is theoretically possible. From what I see SGBM saying, consent is never possible.

    And that’s what I see as problematic.

  270. 270
    strange gods before me

    However, if you’re removing the ability of anyone to consent in your ideal world,

    What?

    Consent and exploitation are not mutually exclusive. You’re the one that’s imposing a false dichotomy there.

    your ideal world is anarchy. And that seems to be what you’re suggesting. If I can’t willingly say, “I give up any control on xxx”, there’s no basis for consent and no basis for trade.

    Obviously you can. Workers do it all the time in all industries, and yet they are exploited. Both of these things occur at the same time. People consent, under coercive conditions: the choice between the wage and working conditions on offer or homelessness. It’s still consent. It’s just not pretty.

    But from what I think you’re saying, that’s always exploitation and, therefore, should always be disallowed.

    How many times do I have to say that it might be impossible to completely rid the world of exploitation, and some exploitation might even be necessary.

    In any case, I’ve said absolutely nothing about what ought to be “allowed”. You pulled that out of nowhere.

  271. 271
    strange gods before me

    From what I see SGBM saying, consent is never possible.

    Just made up nonsense.

  272. 272
    Gyeong Hwa

    And let’s never hear another word about the burka from anyone who suggests this.

    Oh my Arceus that was disingenuous. You swear that people saying “burkas are bad” aren’t the same people who say it is wrong to ban the hijab. The concept behind a burka is bad, forcing the burka upon women is bad, but if a woman chooses to actually wear one, she should have free reign to do so. Allowing people to wear it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is more often than not exploitative. You should be able to understand this, SG.

  273. 273
    Ichthyic

    “If part of that line is “two parties negotiating as equals”

    wouldn’t that essentially eliminate the term “exploitation”?

    I suppose you could say two parties could MUTUALLY be screwing each other in different ways (pun intended), but even if the end result is “balanced”, there is still exploitation going on.

    OTOH, if both parties are negotiating as equals, with no unfair advantages on either side…

    I can’t see that as being in any way definable as exploitation.

    example:

    if a worker in the sex industry gets a better contract from their employer because they know their employer is doing something illegal, while the employer limits the employee’s salary because they know they can’t get work in the area doing anything else…

    both parties are engaging in exploitative behavior.

    just because it means that the end result, monetarily, might be more “balanced” than if only one party is taking unfair advantage, doesn’t mean the behavior is thus “OK”.

    how’s that?

    clearer?

  274. 274
    strange gods before me

    Unionization can simply be seen as a factor of a free market: employees are allowed to collectively bargain to their own advantage, and companies are allowed to ignore them if they can find other workers. Whomever wins the popularity contest gains negotiating power.

    You’re talking about an ecosystem of power and resources there, with competing parties vying for control.

    There’s no way to imagine that exploitation will not occur, unless you’re defining exploitation as what is tolerable.

    I would surely prefer that unionized labor exploit capital, but there can never be a static balance between them, only flux.

    That’s not dependent on exploitation, just free market practices.

    The transformation (if it is in your case a change) into right-wing libertarian on this issue.

    I hope other readers with any sense can see that exploitation is just free market practices. How could the free market be anything else?

  275. 275
    Ichthyic

    Allowing people to wear it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is more often than not exploitative.

    I can imagine a scenario where the choice to wear a burka is NOT exploitative, regardless of whether the original reasons for the burka ARE exploitative.

    If someone lives in a non muslim culture, and is not muslim themselves, and chooses to wear a burka because they think they look cool, that would not be exploitative.

    I’m kinda wondering of what value that example has in this debate though, and also whether “forest for the trees” is starting to apply as we examine all potential examples.

    *shrug*

  276. 276
    strange gods before me

    You swear that people saying “burkas are bad” aren’t the same people who say it is wrong to ban the hijab.

    Not sure how to parse this.

    The concept behind a burka is bad, forcing the burka upon women is bad, but if a woman chooses to actually wear one, she should have free reign to do so.

    I don’t disagree?

    But it is exploitative. (Why are you bringing up whether she should have free reign? Where did I say otherwise? You’re reading words that aren’t there.)

    And the choice to wear the burka is certainly indicative of a culture of exploitation.

    It’s just that someone who claims that «if the person [...] willingly and fully agrees to allow it to happen [and] If that person even sees potential benefit, or perhaps sees what is gained as being worth more than what is being “exploited”» means it’s not exploitative, then they should have nothing to say about the burka.

    I think you’re smart enough to understand this, GHP, so I think you’re either massively confused about what I’ve said, or you’re being disingenuous.

  277. 277
    RichardAustin

    Consent and exploitation are not mutually exclusive. You’re the one that’s imposing a false dichotomy there.

    I guess I see them as exclusive: if I’m fully and willingly consenting, it’s not outside my control and therefore not exploitation.

    How many times do I have to say that it might be impossible to completely rid the world of exploitation, and some exploitation might even be necessary.

    In any case, I’ve said absolutely nothing about what ought to be “allowed”. You pulled that out of nowhere.

    Sorry, I guess I interpreted from so much talk about hypotheticals earlier, and the focus on exploitation being bad. For that I apologize.

    Just made up nonsense.

    I said “from what I see”; again, based on above – that some kinds of consent and exploitation seem to be exclusive to me – it isn’t. But we seem to disagree on that aspect.

  278. 278
    The Panic Man And Your Eternal Reward

    Holy Fucking Jumped-Up Shigeru Fucking Miyamoto And His Zora Guitar, are you people still on this? The person above who said we need an asshole troll to come in and shit everything up is right – otherwise some of you can’t get out of this sniper duel you’re stuck in.

    Ugh!

  279. 279
    strange gods before me

    English is my only hope, so I’m going to try this again:

    It’s just that someone who makes the following claim—that «if the person [...] willingly and fully agrees to allow it to happen [and] If that person even sees potential benefit, or perhaps sees what is gained as being worth more than what is being “exploited”» then it’s not exploitative—should have nothing to say about the burka.

  280. 280
    Ichthyic

    Whomever wins the popularity contest gains negotiating power.

    I can’t see how popularity weighs into it.

    typically, labor unions formed exactly as one would expect:

    In response to unfair advantages (exploitative behavior) being utilized by employers.

    is collective bargaining, in and of itself, an unfair advantage?

    I tend to think not.

    Moreover, I would point out that at various times and places, collective bargaining has been utilized by employers themselves.

    NFL owners using lockouts comes to mind as a great example.

    there are many others (blackballing has been around a long, long time).

    so, collective bargaining as a tool is not something only useable by one side in a negotiation.

  281. 281
    Ichthyic

    Holy Fucking Jumped-Up Shigeru Fucking Miyamoto And His Zora Guitar, are you people still on this?

    How many threads are there open currently on Pharyngula?

    dozens?

    so, uh why are you particularly concerned with the directions conversations have taken in this one?

    did you actually have a point to share here you feel is being ignored?

    if not, why, oh why, are you commencing to tone troll?

  282. 282
    The Panic Man And Your Eternal Reward

    I will not be talked to that way, are we clear? There is a topic and it has been derailed. You will apologize, NOW.

  283. 283
    Inaji

    SG:

    so I think you’re either massively confused about what I’ve said, or you’re being disingenuous.

    SG, you’ve been seriously over the line, the way you’ve been treating people and what you’ve been saying about them. The fact that people disagree with you does not make them stupid, confused or disingenuous. The way you see the world, everything is exploitation and if everyone doesn’t agree with you, they’re fucked in the head.

    Every time you get on this, you go full court asshole. Perhaps you should knock it off, and try to get your point across without abusing people left and right. Just a thought.

    Oh, and thanks for the killfile help, it is most appreciated. It might be time for you to take a bit of a rest in mine.

  284. 284
    Gyeong Hwa

    It’s just that someone who makes the following claim—that «if the person [...] willingly and fully agrees to allow it to happen [and] If that person even sees potential benefit, or perhaps sees what is gained as being worth more than what is being “exploited”» then it’s not exploitative—should have nothing to say about the burka.

    You can’t see a scenario for that? What if a woman chooses to wear a burka to make a stance against Islamophobia and general racism? There is certainly benefit it and it isn’t exploitative to the best of my knowledge. Just because something is exploitative doesn’t mean it is always inheritably exploitative.
    I am also quite aware that it is a symptom of an exploitative culture but it does not mean the idea itself is always exploitative.

    I think you’re either massively confused about what I’ve said, or you’re being disingenuous.

    Shurg

    Both. Neither. This isn’t the first time someone has tried to insult on Pharyngula me, you know.

  285. 285
    Ron Sullivan

    sgbm @ 251: …outright lies like “From past observations, I’m pretty sure no one can do enough about any particular -ism or problem to succeed at obtaining moral high ground with sgbm” indicate.

    What exactly makes that a lie?

    Be sure your answer is intellectually honest.

  286. 286
    RichardAustin

    It’s just that someone who makes the following claim—that «if the person [...] willingly and fully agrees to allow it to happen [and] If that person even sees potential benefit, or perhaps sees what is gained as being worth more than what is being “exploited”» then it’s not exploitative—should have nothing to say about the burka.

    I don’t think I’ve ever said anyting about a burka, actually. I honestly think that’s the first time I’ve typed the word (c&p notwithstanding). I do, however, know how to separate a thing from its symbolism.

    Whomever wins the popularity contest gains negotiating power.

    I was trying to use shorthand. The primary power (at least from what I can see) that employers have against unions is the willingness of people to cross a picket line. In a sense, that’s a marketing or popularity contest: which positon (union or employer) the population supports more.

  287. 287
    strange gods before me

    And just what is the nature of unregulated power, according to that theorist of the markets?

    All for ourselves and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. As soon, therefore, as they could find a method of consuming the whole value of their rents themselves, they had no disposition to share them with any other persons.

    Of course any power differential results in exploitation; Smith just wants to convince you that free markets ensure the quickest turnover, such that any given person is less likely to be exploited for their entire life (and this hope was revolutionary at the time).

  288. 288
    Patricia, OM

    Could some wank humour lighten up this thread? Kitteh’s and wanking?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOwWUz1uem8&NR=1

    World champion, wank like a primate…

  289. 289
    Mr. Fire

    strange gods,

    I was looking for articles to give backing to my earlier contention that “‘mainstream pornography’ is on the whole an extremely misogynistic enterprise”, and while I was doing that, I found something that seemed at least superficially connected to your discussion on exploitation:

    In an earlier article in this journal, I critiqued a particular theoretical approach to prostitution, what I call the “oppression paradigm” (Weitzer, 2005; see also Weitzer, 2010). The present review extends this critique to some recent books on pornography, both of which are grounded in the oppression paradigm—a perspective that depicts all types of sex work as exploitative, violent, and perpetuating gender inequality. This paradigm does not hold that exploitation and violence are variables—present in varying degrees or absent in some kinds of sexual commerce—but are instead constants central to the very definition of prostitution, pornography, and stripping. I have argued that those who adopt the oppression paradigm substitute ideology for rigorous empirical analysis and that their one-dimensional arguments are contradicted by a wealth of social science data that shows sex work to be much more variegated structurally and experientially (Weitzer, 2009)

    Fucked if I can get past the paywall to read the rest. Don’t know what tricks you have up your sleeve though.

    Concerning my own search, well, I have yet to find explicit answers to the question I myself posed (and I hope it’s because I’m searching in a way that prevents me from seeing the forest for the trees) but I would like to read this book:
    Getting Off: Pornography And The End Of Masculinity.

  290. 290
    llewelly

    strange gods before me | 23 August 2011 at 10:58 pm :

    In any case, I’ve said absolutely nothing about what ought to be “allowed”.

    An admission that your earlier accusations that Mattir and Audley were “liars” was entirely without foundation.

  291. 291
    strange gods before me

    SG, you’ve been seriously over the line, the way you’ve been treating people and what you’ve been saying about them.

    Your attachment to Mattir and Audley is what allows you to suggest that I’m starting something while completely ignoring their initial revolting treatment of another, to wit:

    I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the [...] skeptifem rulebook.

    I don’t for a moment expect you to rise above cliquish behavior, Caine, but I do hope you at least recognize what you’re doing. (And I see no imperative to admit so publicly; I don’t claim that I’m above it either, as I’m surely not; I just sincerely hope you’re privately aware of it right now.)

    The fact that people disagree with you does not make them stupid, confused or disingenuous.

    Mattir’s 255 cannot be a case of disagreeing with the substance of anything I actually said, so it must be a case of stupid, confused or disingenuous. In that case, I’m sincerely going with confused. It’s such a simple mistake that it’s not worth trying to be disingenuous about, and stupidity can only be evidenced by a pattern, which is not present in her case.

    The way you see the world, everything is exploitation

    Bullshit.

    and if everyone doesn’t agree with you, they’re fucked in the head.

    Lie. A lazy one, too.

    Every time you get on this, you go full court asshole. Perhaps you should knock it off, and try to get your point across without abusing people left and right. Just a thought.

    Hey, if you ever get past the clique thing, do share that advice around liberally.

    Oh, and thanks for the killfile help, it is most appreciated. It might be time for you to take a bit of a rest in mine.

    What a relief. I’m always sorry to be out of it.

  292. 292
    Ichthyic

    I will not be talked to that way, are we clear?

    quite…

    *snicker*

  293. 293
    strange gods before me

    An admission that your earlier accusations that Mattir and Audley were “liars” was entirely without foundation.

    I seriously do not follow you here, llewelly.

    What I’ve been saying they’re liars about is this:

    I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the … skeptifem rulebook.

    I don’t see what that has to do with anything “allowed” or otherwise.

    Really, if I could make any sense of you today, I’d love that.

  294. 294
    Ichthyic

    In a sense, that’s a marketing or popularity contest: which positon (union or employer) the population supports more.

    actually, it isn’t.

    instead, what it is is the employer continuing to see if they can further utilize unfair advantage.

    it has nothing to do with popularity, and everything to do with exploitation, which, of course, brings us back to square one.

    moreover, as I have noted, employers have MANY ways of utilizing unfair advantages against unions that have nothing to do with exploiting the potential labor force itself.

  295. 295
    Noadi

    I wonder how many of the anti-porn folks here actually know anyone who’s ever worked in the porn industry? Because I do and they are all from the BDSM/Kink porn world, where torture is explicit not implicit (and a good deal of the point). They all enjoy the work (or enjoyed if they are no longer working in the industry) and work hard against the stigma of being in the porn industry.

    BTW, I noticed someone saying how porn performers don’t get IP rights to their films. Of course they don’t, and anyone I hired to model by jewelry for a photo shoot wouldn’t either. Neither do I have any IP claim on the no-budget zombie film I played a nun in. Porn is no different than the rest of film and photography, the people behind the camera hold the rights (in fact if someone hired me as a photographer I would still hold the rights to the image unless transferring them was part of the contract).

  296. 296
    Mr. Fire

    wtf I just re-read the article that I just put up and realized it was going in total opposite direction that I thought it was going.

    Um, so yeah strange gods, read it anyway if you want, but it’s not really making a case I had intended to make.

  297. 297
    strange gods before me

    You can’t see a scenario for that? What if a woman chooses to wear a burka to make a stance against Islamophobia and general racism?

    It’s interesting. She’d be picking between one oppression or another; Islamophobia on one hand, traditional patriarchy on the other. And she may well be right that she has no third option.

    And she may well be right that she’s gaining more by one choice than the other.

    But the burka is exploitative; it’s just that she doesn’t get a better option. That’s life.

    I am also quite aware that it is a symptom of an exploitative culture but it does not mean the idea itself is always exploitative.

    Ichthyic’s extremely rare example (If someone lives in a non muslim culture, and is not muslim themselves, and chooses to wear a burka because they think they look cool) aside, I honestly don’t see how the burka can be non-exploitative. I think we’re back at a place where we’re seeing the best of a bad situation, and wanting to put a more pleasant gloss on it. It’s exploitative but potentially without a better option.

    Both. Neither. This isn’t the first time someone has tried to insult on Pharyngula me, you know.

    What’s the matter, GHP? You called me disingenuous, and when I throw it back at you you’re going to complain that I’m insulting you? Or did you forget what you’d said already?

  298. 298
    Gyeong Hwa

    SG,

    Your attachment to Mattir and Audley is what allows you to suggest that I’m starting something while completely ignoring their initial revolting treatment of another.

    Their (Audley and Mattir) notes on skeptifem may be hasty but it is not without reason (Re-read post 268).
    It is annoying that you always take the high ground when you are not above doing the same things that you indicted towards others. You are making just as much of a hasty presumption of others as you claim (withou evidence) Audley and Mattir (and now Caine) to have done.

  299. 299
    Otranreg

    #296 is the most sensible comment I’ve seen through much of this thread.

  300. 300
    strange gods before me

    Um, so yeah strange gods, read it anyway if you want, but it’s not really making a case I had intended to make.

    Eh. It’s not a critique of what I’ve said, either, since I certainly admit of a continuum of exploitation (I don’t see how any consequentialist could do otherwise) and at least one variable by which porn can be absolutely non-exploitative.

  301. 301
    Gyeong Hwa

    What’s the matter, GHP? You called me disingenuous, and when I throw it back at you you’re going to complain that I’m insulting you? Or did you forget what you’d said already?

    Goodness, SG, you love to assume utter asinine things about others, don’t you? I am quite aware that I called you disingenuous, and I am aware of what you were trying to accomplish when you pushed it back at me. You do have a penchant for insulting others, like when you claim Lord Setar had an inability to read.

    See what I did there?

  302. 302
    strange gods before me

    Their (Audley and Mattir) notes on skeptifem may be hasty but it is not without reason (Re-read post 268).

    Actually, GHP, if you could be bothered to try finding a quote in any of her comments which would actually substantiate the claim that “imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the … skeptifem rulebook”.

    that would be a big help.

    Because it’s complete bullshit, and if you try to demonstrate it, you will fail hard.

    Go on.

    It is annoying that you always take the high ground when you are not above doing the same things that you indicted towards others.

    Pointing out when other people fucked up or lied is not taking the high ground. It’s just pointing out when other people fucked up or lied.

    You are making just as much of a hasty presumption of others as you claim (withou evidence) Audley and Mattir (and now Caine) to have done.

    You are so profoundly full of shit now, GHP. The evidence is Mattir and Audley’s failure to substantiate their accusation.

    Go get your quotes that substantiate the claim that “imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the … skeptifem rulebook”.

    I’ll wait. Let’s see how badly you fuck this up.

  303. 303
    Gyeong Hwa

    Noadi @ 296.

    Well said.

    I think the problem here is that people assume “there are good aspects to porn” means that “porn is flawless”. I don’t think anyone educated enough would ever claim that porn is without its serious flaws.

  304. 304
    strange gods before me

    Goodness, SG, you love to assume utter asinine things about others, don’t you? I am quite aware that I called you disingenuous

    Alright. Then I just think it’s odd for you to complain about me insulting you when I turn it back at you.

    Nothing wrong with the complaint, I guess. It’s just odd.

    Particularly coming from someone who just whined that

    It is annoying that you always take the high ground when you are not above doing the same things that you indicted towards others.

    I can’t tell; did I do something there? If so, did you see it?

    (If not, then I guess we can agree that pointing out bad behavior is not the same as claiming the high ground.)

  305. 305
    RichardAustin

    Mr. Fire: I’ve got a copy of that article, if you want to read the full text. Just email me at dstarfire at hotmail dot com and put “Pharyngula” in the subject somewhere. It’s specifically critiquing two past reviews of books on pornography and exploitation.

    The conclusion:

    Whatever one’s personal views of porn, for those who wish to know more about its content and the experiences of viewers and performers alike, the books under review offer little useful, evidence-based information. Overall, these books present an extremely biased picture of pornography that stands in stark contrast to sound scholarly research.

  306. 306
    strange gods before me

    I think the problem here is that people assume “there are good aspects to porn” means that “porn is flawless”.

    Really.

    Because I’m actually pretty sure that the problem here is when someone mentions the bad aspects to porn and someone else takes it to mean

    All porn, not some porn. She used extreme examples (I would be happy if there were no such thing as swirlies), but from this and past discussions, I interpreted her as condemning all porn.

    A person could get rich in these irony mines.

  307. 307
    Gyeong Hwa

    I’ll wait. Let’s see how badly you fuck this up.

    I can remember quite a few time where skeptifem has made anti-porn screed and didn’t qualify what she meant by it. It could be easily misconstrued that she claims “imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered)”. Again, I stress that the problem is that she leaves these vague single comments.

    But of course, I’m wrong because I don’t have a laser sharp memory to every god-damn quote of Pharyngula and that SB will no longer let me search old ones, because I’m not a shit stirrer hell-bent on demonizing everyone who even remotely disagree with me, Right?

    The one fill with the most shit here is you SG. Remember when raven insulted you and hit your berserk button? Yeah you’re totally not above saying emotionally charged bullshit.

  308. 308
    Mr. Fire

    BTW, I noticed someone saying how porn performers don’t get IP rights to their films. Of course they don’t, and anyone I hired to model by jewelry for a photo shoot wouldn’t either[...]Porn is no different than the rest of film and photography, the people behind the camera hold the rights

    Yes, but that same someone explicitly acknowledged all this, and then explicitly went on to point out why they thought neither porn actors nor non-porn actors should be happy with this state of affairs.

  309. 309
    Gyeong Hwa

    I think we’re back at a place where we’re seeing the best of a bad situation, and wanting to put a more pleasant gloss on it. It’s exploitative but potentially without a better option.

    I will somewhat concede to that (but I will hold my reservations on it.) Nonetheless I brought in that example to negate the claim that porn is inheritably exploitative. It is not.

  310. 310
    Mr. Fire

    Richard Austin:

    Thanks. I need to set up an anonymous account for these kinds of things anyway, so once I’ve done that I’ll try to get back to you soon about it.

    Like I said, I somewhat regret putting up that article, since I skimmed it with no reading comprehension goggles. But I’ll own my mistake and look at the article.

  311. 311
    strange gods before me

    I can remember quite a few time where skeptifem has made anti-porn screed and didn’t qualify what she meant by it.

    So, no actual quote that substantiates Mattir’s claim.

    It could be easily misconstrued that she claims “imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered)”.

    No, it could not.

    Not without forgetting that there is an entire category of sex which is not porn.

    Let’s see, how soon was this pointed out? 97. And no substantiation in the meantime.

    Again, I stress that the problem is that she leaves these vague single comments.

    There’s plenty of threads where she’s made multiple comments. Go google for another thread on scienceblogs.com with skeptifem+porn and you’ll find them on the first page of google results.

    But of course, I’m wrong because I don’t have a laser sharp memory to every god-damn quote of Pharyngula

    Pathetic. You can’t defend a claim that you can’t substantiate. You ought to have the intellectual honesty to retract what you can’t support.

    and that SB will no longer let me search old ones,

    google with the “site” modifier
    site:scienceblogs.com/pharyngula

    because I’m not a shit stirrer hell-bent on demonizing everyone who even remotely disagree with me, Right?

    That’s exactly what Mattir did with her bullshit rulebook comment.

    You don’t care, because Mattir is closer to you. I understand. That’s to be expected. Just don’t convince yourself that you’re being even-handed.

    (Surely you must know you’re not even-handed, GHP? Cliquishness is you raisin date.)

    Remember when raven insulted you and hit your berserk button?

    Remember the substance of the insult? Shit, GHP. I don’t think you’re going to seriously claim I was unjustified.

    Yeah you’re totally not above saying emotionally charged bullshit.

    Where did I make any complaint about anyone being emotionally charged.

    (I see the tactic here is to claim I’m against something which I’m not against, and then accuse hypocrisy on that account. Emotion is A-OK with me.)

    Nonetheless I brought in that example to negate the claim that porn is inheritably exploitative. It is not

    Since the burka is exploitative, you didn’t really make a useful analogy, but in any case I did say that there could be non-exploitative porn:

    “Any porn that is created just for fun, just because everyone involved wants to have sex play on camera, and the circulation (or lack) of which is absolutely subject to the consensus of all participants, any one of whom can bring a legal halt to all circulation rights at any time for any reason.”

    That’s so far from our reality that most everyone would prefer to pretend that what we’ve got right now isn’t exploitative, rather than working toward what’s preferable.

  312. 312
    strange gods before me

    So we’re actually at the point now where no one can substantiate Mattir’s claim, but the best possible interpretation of Mattir’s claim is that she misunderstood and misinterpreted something else.

    That’s great.

    So:

    It’s not just a little oversight, and it’s intellectually dishonest no matter how habitual and ingrained the argument has become for Mattir and Audley.

    Recall that they didn’t just make a parsing mistake, they made an accusation against another person.

    (I do not for a moment entertain the naive possibility that they are not deliberately smearing their opponent, but, for the sake of discussion) an accusation can be morally wrong even when mistaken.

    Intellectual honesty demands the utmost rigor when making an accusation, and I know you agree.

    This is a tremendous accusation:

    I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the … skeptifem rulebook.

    It’s an obvious, deliberate lie. But even if you fall for it being a mistake, you ought to insist upon substantiation or retraction.

  313. 313
    strange gods before me

    You do have a penchant for insulting others, like when you claim Lord Setar had an inability to read.

    And I was wrong about that. Setar has an inability to comprehend unexpected concepts. I regret mistaking the two.

  314. 314
    Nepenthe

    I wish that someone would take on the transactional model for sex point that I made in 148. I’ve never seen this addressed by pro-porn feminists and I’d be interested to see someone’s take on it.

    (Of course, I also wish that I had a million dollars and a unicorn, so I understand if that doesn’t happen. Hmm… maybe not a unicorn. Apartment’s too small. Where would I masturbate then? …. Amend that to a closet sized unicorn. )

  315. 315
    Gyeong Hwa

    Pathetic. You can’t defend a claim that you can’t substantiate. You ought to have the intellectual honesty to retract what you can’t support.

    Google yield like fucking 1000 + results many of which didn’t relate to the subject at hand. So I will base this off memories.

    The last time I remember skeptifem brining this up is when she said that porn is racist (many porn flicks are very racist, btw, don’t go claiming that I am not aware of that). It largely left me to interpret that people who enjoy porn also enjoy racist imagery. Another commenter soundly pointed out the opposite. This is what I mean that her post can be easily misconstrued. So I can see where the others claim that she is anti-sex in a way.

    Surely you must know you’re not even-handed, GHP?

    No fucking shit, dude! I’m not you, after all.

  316. 316
    strange gods before me

    Google yield like fucking 1000 + results many of which didn’t relate to the subject at hand. So I will base this off memories.

    Great.

    The last time I remember skeptifem brining this up is when she said that porn is racist (many porn flicks are very racist, btw, don’t go claiming that I am not aware of that). It largely left me to interpret that people who enjoy porn also enjoy racist imagery. Another commenter soundly pointed out the opposite. This is what I mean that her post can be easily misconstrued.

    Nope, a comment about porn, whatever it says (racist or whatever else), cannot honestly be taken as a comment about sex in general.

    That’s an obvious category error.

    So I can see where the others claim that she is anti-sex in a way.

    That’s very dishonest of you.

    Again forgetting that there is an entire category of sex which is not porn.

    No fucking shit, dude! I’m not you, after all.

    Let’s see, what did I just say about myself?

    “I don’t claim that I’m above [cliquish behavior] either, as I’m surely not”

    What I’m trying to do here is keep reminding everyone that this is what’s going on here. I’m not even saying “don’t do it”, as I just think it’s so very much to be expected that it’s not worth saying “don’t do it.” But I do hope that if we continually keep this in mind, we might approach a more honest dialogue.

    At the least, a fight where we are cliquish and know it is preferable to a fight where we are cliquish and try to tell ourselves we’re being even-handed.

    I’m not above it, I don’t expect anyone to be above it. I do want the sunlight on it, though.

  317. 317
    Ichthyic

    Nonetheless I brought in that example to negate the claim that porn is inheritably exploitative. It is not.

    lol indeed.

    I think the term you wanted to use there was inherently, not inheritably?

    not to go in circles, but because of the way the porn industry is set up, it historically is indeed necessarily exploitative.

    that said, I think the internet has opened possibilities for it not being so, since nobody can control the publication rights in many cases but the artists themselves.

  318. 318
    Gyeong Hwa

    That’s very dishonest of you.

    Again forgetting that there is an entire category of sex which is not porn.

    That’s not the way I read it. Being one against aspect of sex is still being anti-sex.

    But I’m the dumb one here (as I have admitted many times), not as enlighten and knowledgable as you and I don’t hold every single one of your views, so I must be wrong.

    Go ahead, stroke your ego.

  319. 319
    Gyeong Hwa

    And now I’m investing to much emotion into this.

  320. 320
    strange gods before me

    That’s not the way I read it. Being one against aspect of sex is still being anti-sex.

    Haha! You are a hoot!

    Well then, let’s see who’s anti-sex.

    Mattir: “I would be happy if there were no such thing as swirlies”

    But I’m the dumb one here (as I have admitted many times), not as enlighten and knowledgable as you

    Am I in the habit of calling you stupid? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall that I have.

    and I don’t hold every single one of your views, so I must be wrong.

    You can be presumed wrong because you’re making a claim which you cannot substantiate. This is basic.

    But the claim wasn’t even so broad as the (absurd! lie!) about being “anti-sex”. It was pretty specific: “I’m pretty sure that imaginative playful sex (either solo or partnered) doesn’t fit into the … skeptifem rulebook.”

    This wasn’t a claim about porn, it was a generalization beyond porn; now surely there must be some quote which substantiates this. ?

    Or let it go, Gyeong Hwa. You got into a fight which you couldn’t win, on behalf of your friends, and there’s nothing to be gained here. Underneath the surface, you’re not really even arguing about the topic at hand; this is about me being unkind to someone in your ingroup because they were unkind to someone whose arguments I, in turn, identify with. That’s all it is for you; you don’t actually care about the substance of what was said. You care about how I said it and who I said it to. And that’s understandable. But I do not share your particular concern, and you won’t convince me to.

  321. 321
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    nepenthe:

    It’s fantastic. It’s free. You can do it in bed or in the bath or on the sofa or in the kitchen. It doesn’t require any special equipment. You don’t have to be rich or beautiful or smart or able-bodied.

    *coughipreferabitoflubeandlotsofpeopleusetoyscough*

    sgbm:
    For a commie-sympathizer, your actual grasp on what exploitation is seems pretty bad.
    Your intellectual proterty idea is absolutely naive and completely not working.
    So, within the framework of capitalist production, you give artists of all flavours this right, how is it actually working?
    Do performers have to compensate for the costs and the financial losses? If a model wants to stop a multi-million dollar add campaign because she wears fur and has become a member of PETA since the shooting, does she have to cover for the costs?
    If yes, your right is bogus because of the power -imbalance between employer and employee.
    And if not, why does the model have the right to ruin the life of somebody whose finances depend on this?

  322. 322
    Gyeong Hwa

    Am I in the habit of calling you stupid? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall that I have.

    I never said you said it. People in your in-crowd perhaps.
    Also stupid (and unfounded) is the idea that I have never disagreed with anyone in my “in-crowd” whatever that is. (Hint: You don’t know me or my activities, how can you even begin to assume shit about me?)

  323. 323
    Gyeong Hwa

    And now I just contradicted myself.

    Fuck this shit.

  324. 324
    strange gods before me

    I never said you said it. People in your in-crowd perhaps.

    Right. Just checking. You brought it up like it was my habit, and I wanted to be sure I’m not in a habit I’d like to break.

    Also stupid (and unfounded) is the idea that I have never disagreed with anyone in my “in-crowd” whatever that is.

    That would indeed be a stupid and unfounded assumption, one which I have not made.

  325. 325
    Ichthyic

    Fuck this shit.

    this meta stuff does get hard to follow without a program.

  326. 326
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    I’m really losing the thread here.

    Porn: Always good, always bad, good sometimes, bad sometimes, what?

    Just what the fuck is this argument really about now?

    Yes lots of porn is horribly exploitative, and based on dominance and humiliation. This I avoid like the plague, because it’s a major turnoff for me. But there is plenty out there that appears to depict healthy happy women proudly flaunting their sexuality and sexual bits.

    I’m still not sure what I think about this whole thing. I’ve been given lots to ponder, and ponder it I will, but now it’s just getting confusing.

  327. 327
    strange gods before me

    Your intellectual proterty idea is absolutely naive and completely not working.

    I didn’t propose any model which I claimed would work. I outlined what would not be exploitative. Whether it would work is tangential to my argument, as I have now repeatedly said How many times do I have to say that it might be impossible to completely rid the world of exploitation, and some exploitation might even be necessary.

    So, within the framework of capitalist production,

    Why are we talking about capitalism and non-exploitation in the same sentence?

    you give artists of all flavours this right, how is it actually working?

    We might even live in the worst of all possible worlds, for all I know.

    It’s a tangent to what I’m identifying as exploitation: the use of another person beyond that person’s control.

    If yes, your right is bogus because of the power -imbalance between employer and employee. And if not, why does the model have the right to ruin the life of somebody whose finances depend on this?

    An interesting pair of questions you have there, which we can just as well apply to all contract disputes between parties of differing power, at any place and time in history.

    Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

  328. 328
    Ichthyic

    So, within the framework of capitalist production, you give artists of all flavours this right, how is it actually working?

    ask the interwebs?

    I bet the figures are there.

  329. 329
    strange gods before me

    And now we’re back to the desperate need to impose a Just World Hypothesis by defining exploitation as only what is commonly agreed as intolerable.

  330. 330
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Why are we talking about capitalism and non-exploitation in the same sentence?

    Don’t know what you mean by “we”.
    You have your very own personal definition of exploitation.
    But your proposed change was a change within the current capitalist system to make it “less exploitative”, so that’s the frame-work in which I’m discussing it.

    Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

    Yeah, because of that, we don’t have to come up working solutions that would make people’s lives better within the current system.
    I’m sick and tired of this. People using
    phrases instead of arguments and dogma instead of actually trying to make lives better.

    BTW
    Anybody else noticed that skeptifem made yet again a rather controversial post and then disappeared? Seems a pattern to me.

  331. 331
    strange gods before me

    You have your very own personal definition of exploitation.

    If you’d care to argue that the use of a person, beyond that person’s control, should not be understood as exploitation, then bring it. You will make a convenient foil.

    But your proposed change was a change within the current capitalist system to make it “less exploitative”, so that’s the frame-work in which I’m discussing it.

    No, it was not. Nothing of the sort. Read for comprehension, if you can. This is what unambiguously non-exploitative porn would look like:

    “Any porn that is created just for fun, just because everyone involved wants to have sex play on camera, and the circulation (or lack) of which is absolutely subject to the consensus of all participants, any one of whom can bring a legal halt to all circulation rights at any time for any reason.”

    That demands nothing inherent to capitalism; it’s compatible also with CPUSA-style Bill of Rights socialism as well (and surely others, but that’s what I’m familiar with).

    Yeah, because of that, we don’t have to come up working solutions that would make people’s lives better within the current system. I’m sick and tired of this. People using phrases instead of arguments and dogma instead of actually trying to make lives better.

    What bullshit from you, Giliell. Were you not there a week ago when I argued to Ing the moral necessity of voting for the available least evil (Democrats in our case)? I am the one who takes tremendous shit here for insisting that people are ethically bound to work with the opportunities available. (One of the opportunities right now happens to be having this conversation about how exploitation must not be defined as what’s commonly held intolerable. Don’t give me some bullshit like there’s some greater marginal utility I could currently be pursuing on behalf of sex workers. You know it’s the middle of the night here, yeah?)

    Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

    It’s just a Monty Python quote. I’m having some fun with you.

  332. 332
    elwoodius

    @Friendly 162:

    For one scene, she had sex in the back of a van with another of their team members who was popular at the time (but whose stage name I can’t recall)

    It was Chloe B

    Now, back to the thread….

  333. 333
    Nepenthe

    Giliell

    @322

    Have a Metoobutneitherisrequired. It may soothe that cough. Bubble gum or original flavor?

    @331

    Anybody else noticed that skeptifem made yet again a rather controversial post and then disappeared? Seems a pattern to me.

    Skeptifem has stated on her personal blog that she has meatspace issues that have recently interfered with her blogular obligations. This recent post of hers lays out both a detailed position with respect to pornography and how that is distinct from religious objections to pornography, if you would find that helpful.

  334. 334
    strange gods before me

    Richard Austin

    I guess I see them as exclusive: if I’m fully and willingly consenting, it’s not outside my control and therefore not exploitation.

    You are coerced by the choice between the wage and working conditions on offer or homelessness, and the necessity of taking what work is available is not within your control; the immediacy of this coercion depends on your location and your skills.

    If we don’t admit this coercion, then we’re back at right-wing libertarianism: there is no basis for liberals to insist on the moral necessity of a living wage; the invisible hand ensures that there is no such thing as an unfair wage; it’s actually immoral to agitate for improved conditions in the sweatshop labor of third-world countries.

    A corollary is that liberals have no basis for arguing that welfare or even unemployment benefits are a moral necessity; those who are jobless are not in any way coerced into that situation either; whatever job or joblessness any person finds themself in is freely chosen and not in the least beyond their control. (In the case of joblessness, they’re not being used beyond their control, and so it is not exploitation, but this example is to show that there are degrees of coercion in many people’s situations. Less so for those who have plenty of money saved up, for sure. Your very idealized hypothetical is far away from most sex workers.)

    +++++
    Besides all that, we recognize the value of being able to change one’s mind. If a person enters into a contract even in a hypothetically ideal coercion-free scenario, that person loses some control over future options. And if they change their mind later, then they are in a situation which they are no longer “fully and willingly consenting” to. That we are accustomed to this is another matter, but we are also accustomed to recognizing our friends’ very real distress and feeling of entrapment when they find themselves in a contract they’re no longer comfortable with, however legal this may be. We intuitively recognize that exploitation can occur where there was previously consent.

  335. 335
    Zorander

    sgbm:

    I can’t ask this without sounding weird (despite a desperate desire not to), but any chance I can have an email address or other means to contact you away from the forum?

  336. 336
    Ichthyic

    In the case of joblessness, they’re not being used beyond their control, and so it is not exploitation

    actually, there is a long history of exploiting the unemployed for both business and political ends.

    and yes, they still are being used beyond their control.

    all I’m saying is, don’t weaken your argument for that tree; the forest is still there.

  337. 337
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    If you’d care to argue that the use of a person, beyond that person’s control, should not be understood as exploitation, then bring it.

    I don’t. Yet I don’t even see how this applies since we’Re not talking about forcing a person to keep on producing porn, but about the continued use of images of that person taken when said person agreed to have those images taken and distributed (and yes, I’m leaving out all the bad things about sex work in general, porn in special and all that jazz. I am fully aware of those, though)

    Read for comprehension, if you can.

    You mean like what you wrote yourself here?

    But hypothetically, it would be possible for porn to reach this very low bar by giving intellectual property control to the performers. At least when a person quits working in fast food, that’s it, it’s over, they quit. When a person quits working in porn, their image remains in circulation as long as the producers like, invariably beyond the worker’s legal control

    You’re trying again to redefine your argument afterwards so the actual counter-arguments don’t apply.
    I notice you haven’t answered my questions about the rights of other people to earn a living with their work. Do you think that scientists who suffer from a hit on the head and become creationists have the right to demand that their work must no longer be published, used and cited? That their co-authors have no right to use that work any further?
    How about the idea of taking responsibility for your actions and decissions?
    No, I’m not talking about coercion, financial or otherwise. I’m talking about people as subjects of their own lives. I’m not talking about leaving people out in the rain telling them “that’s what you wanted”. BUt if you are aware of the consequences at the time you made the decission, you don’t get to complain about the consequences finally happening.

    What bullshit from you, Giliell. Were you not there a week ago when I argued to Ing the moral necessity of voting for the available least evil (Democrats in our case)?

    Nope, I wasn’t. Was on holiday for most of last week and spent the remainder of said week between the housework and the hospital. I don’t read everything that’s written on pharyngula. You’re not that important.

    @Nepenthe
    Well, in that case she shouldn’t have jumped into the discussion here (or come back briefly to say “sorry, not time right now to discuss things further, problems in meatspace”).
    It doesn’t show much interest in actual discussion to do such a thing, it betrays an interest in preaching.
    I’m not obliged to go searching the internet for a clarification of her position. And it#s not the first time I notice this behaviour from her: jump into a discussion, make a controversial post, vanish and leave others to fight over what she might or might not have meant.

  338. 338
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    See, this is why I usually just watch Hentai. No exploitation of cartoon characters, and they’ve usually got some kinda giant mecha battle in the middle there *shrug*

  339. 339
    KG

    I didn’t propose any model which I claimed would work. I outlined what would not be exploitative. Whether it would work is tangential to my argument, as I have now repeatedly said How many times do I have to say that it might be impossible to completely rid the world of exploitation, and some exploitation might even be necessary. – SGBM

    In which case, “It’s exploitative” cannot be used as an argument against anything, at least without showing that it is somehow exploitative in a qualitatively different way from “necessary” explotiation. Seems to me you’ve disappeared up your own fundament here, SGBM.

    The argument that porn participants should have the right to absolute control over use of their image would surely apply not just to scientists, as Giliell points out, but to anyone who has ever made any text or image public for any reason; and would require that anyone anywhere in the worold possesing a copy of it be liable for damages if they showed it to anyone else, or perhaps even just for not destroying it. In short, and particularly in the internet age, it’s just fucking obvious [pun intended] that those proposing it have not thought it through.

  340. 340
    Mattir-ritated

    OK, I’m back, having had a life (meatspace social time, food and sleep) in the meantime. Such pastimes do tend to take me away from arguments on Pharyngula.

    Skeptifem’s original post was not about porn per say, but about the fantasies engendered by mainstream porn and how those can be compared to those of Dirty Girls Ministries.

    The other mainstream alternative is pornography, and it teaches that female bodies are filthy, too. Look at what they call women and how they are treated. Women in porn are routinely referred to as dirty, directly. Then there are things like max hardcore or swirlies (where women have their heads thrust into toliets while men fuck them), and people masturbate to that. Men look up movies with ass to mouth because they enjoy seeing women treated as receptacles for filth. Women in pornography are shown to want any kind of sex from any man all the time, and always on the mans terms, and she will enjoy whatever he does to her (or she does after initially being reluctant), and so no one ever has to communicate anything outside of contemptuous dirty talk. note: it is impossible to commit rape in a scenario with those conditions.

    So if one thinks it’s sexy to be called dirty or whore or any other word that skeptifem dislikes, it’s not personal sexuality, but just one that imitates porn? If one enjoys or wants to watch AtM, it’s because one enjoys seeing women as receptacles for filth? Really? Seems like a bit of overstatement to me. The swirlie thing grossed me out, but I’m not willing to say that it’s wrong. Distasteful to me? Yes. Wrong? Depends (was it a never used, drinking water quality toilet? were there safe words? did everyone know what was going to happen before it happened? were there std safeguards, health insurance, appropriate compensation? and so on.)

    Mainstream porn does a really poor job of teaching people how to do things that please real partners, and an even poorer job of depicting actual female pleasure so that one could recognize it in the real world. (Think how fun bird-watching would be if the field guides depicted birds with the same bizarre inaccuracy found in porn depictions of female pleasure.) That means it need to be improved, there needs to be more porn that shows women actually enjoying themselves, and the unrealistic stuff ought to have warning labels, like those “professional driver on closed course” disclaimers on car ads. People viewing porn should know (and the vast majority do know) that it’s PRETEND, just like Star Wars, Superman, Die Hard, Harold and Kumar, Rocky Horror, and Finding Nemo are PRETEND. We educate kids about how to watch Star Wars, Superman, and Finding Nemo. We should educate people about how to watch porn the same way.

    The message the DGM folks are passing out is EVEN WORSE than the message in mainstream porn. Their message is no sexual pleasure at all for anyone who’s not heterosexually partnered and married. This is WAY worse than the message in the standard “housewife meets the hot plumber” movie. At least in the HMTHP version, the woman is supposed to be enjoying herself sexually, even if her pleasure is not depicted in any remotely accurate way. I doubt that most of the women in DGM were using pornography and masturbation in compulsive and unhealthy ways, and DGM is teaching them that their mostly harmless pleasures are sinful. It’s healthier (or at least less unhealthy) to have a fantasy life that imitates the unrealistic silliness of porn. At least that includes some orgasms along the way…

  341. 341
    Toasted Rye

    Ok after reading three hundred plus comments I am going to contribute my thoughts. The best way it seems to make porn non exploitative or tolarbly exploitative if you prefer is to dress feminism in other aspects of the world first. As the norm draws closer to women being viewed as equals culturally people will prefer porn that addresses the new world view. They will be less likely to be turned on by porn that explicitly or implicitly devalues a woman or a man for that matter because it is not how they personally view humans. This wont completely rid the world of the kind of porn that we can all agree is bad. It might serve to marginalize it to extreme and not the norm. This is not to say that there are aspects in the porn industry that we cannot and should not address directly. There are plenty but blanket rejection of porn does nothing to help address them. I generally don’t watch porn. Truthfully I find as steamy episode of Queer as Folk to be far more arousing. I do however think that porn serves society in a number of ways and have no desire to eliminate it. I simply think that we can fight the bad in a number of ways that are far more effective than debating the idea of exploitation. Exploitation happens whenever two beings interact. It is the very nature of interaction. The closer we can get the interaction to mutually or communially beneficial the better. That is my goal.

  342. 342
    Gyeong Hwa

    This

    Or let it go, Gyeong Hwa. You got into a fight which you couldn’t win, on behalf of your friends, and there’s nothing to be gained here. Underneath the surface, you’re not really even arguing about the topic at hand; this is about me being unkind to someone in your ingroup because they were unkind to someone whose arguments I, in turn, identify with. That’s all it is for you; you don’t actually care about the substance of what was said. You care about how I said it and who I said it to.

    Does not support this

    Also stupid (and unfounded) is the idea that I have never disagreed with anyone in my “in-crowd” whatever that is.

    That would indeed be a stupid and unfounded assumption, one which I have not made.

  343. 343
    Dhorvath, OM

    Strange Gods,
    I have let this sit for the night, sometimes that helps me understand your points better.

    Thanks for your replies, I will keep in mind in the future this conversation, but I am not unique in having misunderstood your use. Neither am I unique in misunderstanding your explanation thereof. Take a look at this:
    Almost there
    This was where I came to understand the distinction you were trying to make, although not necessarily the broader implications.

    I have some ideas within your constraints, but they aren’t quite ready for text.

  344. 344
    strange gods before me

    It does not contradict it either, Gyeong Hwa. I said you got into an argument for them, the substance of which you didn’t really care about. It does not follow from that observation that you never disagree.

  345. 345
    strange gods before me

    Zorander:

    my email

  346. 346
    strange gods before me

    In which case, “It’s exploitative” cannot be used as an argument against anything, at least without showing that it is somehow exploitative in a qualitatively different way from “necessary” explotiation.

    Good show, KG, but I’ve not said that X being exploitative means X must be ended. I’ve even said it might be impossible to completely rid the world of exploitation, and some exploitation might even be necessary.

    In this understanding, the purpose of recognizing exploitation is to allow us to talk about which exploitations might be necessary, and which we might tolerate (if there is a difference between what we’ll tolerate and what is necessary). That discussion cannot happen with the defining away of exploitation as only what is intolerable; we could not even begin to differentiate between necessary and unnecessary exploitations.

    And I have already given examples of the qualitative differences we might talk about:

    So does a studio musician have distribution say in how an album they played on is treated?

    Depends on the contract. It is de facto exploitation when they do not. More preferable contracts are more common in music than any other intellectual property industry in discussion so far today. That there is a spectrum of control with different averages for different industries should indicate that these things can be changed.

    … what we also have to recognize is that the reality right now and in the immediately foreseeable future is that porn is more likely to be something that a performer later wants to shut down the distribution of, than music or a movie.

    If all performers in various industries had the same lack of control, but performers in one industry want to shut down distribution more often, the relative difference between actual control and desired control is a measure of actual exploitation. You are less exploited when circumstances are going your way, more exploited when they’re not.

    When we recognize that porn distribution is currently something which performers would find greater relative utility in controlling than other industries, it does no one any good to say “but this would be different in a less stigmatized world!” Yes, it would, and we don’t have that world. We have one where porn is exploitative, and pretending that it’s not exploitative is not one of the ways of fixing that. Rather, if recognizing the exploitation could lead to more workers’ control of that industry, then recognizing the exploitation—rather than pretending it isn’t so—may be the means of ultimately making it less exploitative.

    +++++
    So I’ve already done what you rightly recognized that I ought to attempt.

  347. 347
    Nick Gotts

    exploitation can include the use of a person, beyond that person’s control, even if this use may commonly be tolerable. – SGBM

    If we adopt this definition, it is clear not only that exploitation cannot be eliminated, and is sometimes necessary, but that there is often nothing wrong with it at all. If I quote or cite any author, alive or dead, clearly I am “exploiting” them by this definition. Now there is a sense of “exploit” which carries no automatic negative connotations (“exploiting natural resources” or “exploiting an opportunity” are not necessarily bad things to do), but this is not the way the word is used when we talk about a person being exploited: there, the implication that the exploited person is being done a wrong is, I think, always present – at least, I can’t think of a counter-example, but maybe someone else can.

  348. 348
    Rolan le Gargéac

    Twisty @83

    The? Have I stolen some infamous name here?

    Twisty Faster ; http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/

    the patriarchy-blaming blog that has been advancing the radical feminist views of Jill Psmith and/or Twisty Faster, a gentleman farmer and/or spinster aunt doing the butt-dance in Cottonmouth County, Texas, since 2004.

    Very more-ish.

  349. 349
    Nick Gotts

    So I’ve already done what you rightly recognized that I ought to attempt. – SGBM

    I didn’t see your #347 before writing my #348 – but I still think #348 shows that your definition of “exploitation” won’t do.

    Aside from that, my second point stands. I accept that it is indeed more likely that porn performers would want to end distribution than musicians, but the plain fact is, doing so is impossible. Once a text or image has been distributed, in the internet age there is simply no way to prevent its continued distribution.

  350. 350
    Dhorvath, OM

    ichthyic
    I am missing something in our exchange.

    so, differentiate, and ask yourself what the sex industry would look like if there was no guilt.

    I think that a more interesting question than asking if an industry would exist at all.

    Am I to assume that since this is the only thing you responded to you were not interested in my reply?

    well, to be clearer, I think that indeed the PORN industry, as it stands, would NOT exist without the guilt.

    Thanks, it wasn’t clear to me.

    that a sex industry might exist is kinda beside the point.

    Then I am not sure what your point is. I have not denied that guilt plays a large role in the porn industry. It is fair to say that it acts to reinforce both supply and demand for much of what is produced, but while it is a dominant factor, it is not the only one. Your initial statement, with your new clarification, still leads me to think that you are not considering those other factors.

    it’s kinda like asking if McDonald’s would exist without the exploitation of labour, without implying there would then be no market for restaurants that sell meat products.

    This doesn’t help my confusion.

  351. 351
    Nick Gotts

    There are other types of text or image which people might be just as keen to end distribution of as porn. For example, some foolish adolescents have been known to put on their Facebook pages photographs of them apparently taking illegal drugs. Again, someone might have published, under their own name, screeds of vile hate-speech aimed at black people, or women, or LGBT people, or Jews, and then come to realise how wrong this was. In these cases you can certainly appeal to people’s compassion or sense of fair play to ask them not to spread them further – and the same applies to porn if any of the performers change their minds (or, of course, were originally coerced)- but I can’t see any way to enforce such restrictions legally in the absence of a global totalitarian state.

  352. 352
    Dhorvath, OM

    Strange Gods,
    Is there a level of compensation which precludes exploitation? I am confident that were people able to retain control over images that feature them and decide comprehensively at any moment to retract them from publication this would be somewhat moot. I am also confident that is not possible given our current technology: images spread.

    On a similar note, if exploitation is a given, is there a level that is tolerable? Personally, I expect an employer to make more money off of talent that works for them than they pay to the talent. That’s a level of exploitation with which I am both comfortable and have trouble imagining a functioning society where that was eliminated. Where I get concerned is when the talent is not adequately compensated, (which seems something a bit different from the ratio of their take to their employer’s take,) and that is where I think unions and government regulation come into play as protection for workers.

  353. 353
    strange gods before me

    If we adopt this definition, it is clear not only that exploitation cannot be eliminated, and is sometimes necessary, but that there is often nothing wrong with it at all. If I quote or cite any author, alive or dead, clearly I am “exploiting” them by this definition.

    I see your point, and I do not disagree, but I think this will be a set of cases where we simply agree it should be acceptable.

    There actually have been attempts by intellectual property holders to make this be seen as unacceptable—cf the late 1990s controversy over deeplinking—so it’s not a wholly unambiguous example after all.

    While these examples (thankfully) appear to us as an oddity now in 2011, the problem with all other notions of exploitation on offer here has been the attempt to define exploitation as what’s commonly unacceptable. And those are just a philosophical nonstarter. If you have another description of exploitation which is not flawed in that way, please offer it. I do not suppose that there could not be others; I have merely found one.

    Indeed, with a description of exploitation which is not inherently moralistic, we should expect to find minor examples which do not incite our desire to set things right. That you can point out an example like citation is not a counterargument at all, but rather an indication that I’m on the right track. It’s exactly what an empirical approach would expect; if there were nothing exploitative which seems harmless, that would be an indication that I’ve succumbed to the error of defining facts by morals.

    I accept that it is indeed more likely that porn performers would want to end distribution than musicians, but the plain fact is, doing so is impossible. Once a text or image has been distributed, in the internet age there is simply no way to prevent its continued distribution.

    I did not say that one would have the technical ability to prevent distribution—though if this was desired, it would actually be approachable under a radically different internet architecture, or the legalization of DDoS—I specified that one would have legal recourse, the exact same legal recourse that any intellectual property holder has. With these legal tools, it is possible to reduce availablility of something; piracy sites do get shut down, as with the lamented loss of isohunt, and these shutdowns reduce availability. The relative success of such attempts is inversely proportional to the demand for a file, but this is not necessarily a problem; we already expect that private figures should have more control over their image than public figures.

    If a former porn actor sees their work being distributed at a particular site, and they desire that it not be distributed there, having some legal recourse is preferable to them than having none. It needn’t be 100% effective recourse; the difference between millions or thousands of viewers is still meaningful.

  354. 354
    strange gods before me

    In these cases you can certainly appeal to people’s compassion or sense of fair play to ask them not to spread them further – and the same applies to porn if any of the performers change their minds (or, of course, were originally coerced)- but I can’t see any way to enforce such restrictions legally in the absence of a global totalitarian state.

    And even if you’re right about that, it’s simply not an argument that it’s not exploitation.

    (Perhaps you don’t mean it to be an argument that it’s not exploitation, but if you do, then) you’re making this error; when in fact “all liberal-democratic governments tolerate a certain amount of [exploitation]” and it very well might be that all socialist governments must as well.

    What you’re getting at is that there may be exploitation which is preferable to the available alternatives. In principle I do not disagree.

  355. 355
    Dhorvath, OM

    Nepenthe,
    Okay, that was a delightful toast, I joined in (well, relatively speaking.)
    _

    Per your 148 response to Muse.

    I have no doubt at all that there are individuals who, due to their particular situation and psychological makeup, can pursue careers as porn performers in a non-exploitative manner.

    Or at least in a manner where on balance they are happy with their involvment and the repercussions thereof.

    However, due to the pervading mainstream culture wherein sex is equated with pornography (witness the characterization of anti-porn feminists as prudish and anti-sex), even if the individuals pictured are not being exploited pornography still promotes a transactional model of sexuality.

    I think this tails back to seeing sexuality as fundamentally different from other human engagements, but I am not sure.

    Porn as currently imagined is a system in which the sexuality of women (generally) is available for men (generally) to purchase.

    I am not quite following this line. Are you saying this because some people pay for porn? Would free distribution have any impact on this idea? I am not sure that the pay to view millieu is sustainable, regardless of it’s political and philosophical impacts, freedom is killing porn as a profit making business. This as much as anything has driven the increase in the production of what had in the past been considered too extreme; differentiation from the available free product is increasingly unattainable.

  356. 356
    Dhorvath, OM

    SG,
    So for you the next level to seek would be one where people retain rights to their images and can’t be divested of that by an employer?

  357. 357
    strange gods before me

    Is there a level of compensation which precludes exploitation?

    Not if control is being relinquished, but a very wealthy person who is not coerced by the pressure of need will be unlikely to enter into the more control-reducing situations; they are less likely to be exploited in the first place.

    I am also confident that is not possible given our current technology: images spread.

    Speaking as someone who has frequently tried to obtain obscure music, I assure you, it is possible. Finding what is specifically desired depends heavily on finding the right place at the right time. The general public sees such things as the “Streisand effect” and assumes that it applies generally, but it does not; it’s a function of fame; an obscure private individual seeking to stop distribution of their works stands some chance of success.

    On a similar note, if exploitation is a given, is there a level that is tolerable?

    Possibly. My argument necessitates that such a category exists by definition; whether it is an empty set I cannot say.

    Personally, I expect an employer to make more money off of talent that works for them than they pay to the talent. That’s a level of exploitation with which I am both comfortable and have trouble imagining a functioning society where that was eliminated.

    Look up ParEcon for one alternative.

  358. 358
    Mattir-ritated

    SG, would you please address my concerns about the relative damage caused by the no-sex-at-all DGM ideology versus that caused by mainstream porn? And comment on how one distinguishes an authentic personal sexuality that includes being called “dirty” or “whore” from one that is the result of porn culture?

  359. 359
    Waffler, of the Waffler Institute

    Dhorvath said:

    Personally, I expect an employer to make more money off of talent that works for them than they pay to the talent. That’s a level of exploitation with which I am both comfortable and have trouble imagining a functioning society where that was eliminated.

    I’m not sure that this expectation (your first sentence) is correct. It’s seems entirely likely for many industries for an employer to earn much less per employee than it pays an each employee. And such employers could still be exploiting the employees intolerably (not implying you said otherwise, here).

    E.g. WalMart – 15 Billion in earnings, FY 2011. I’m guessing they paid more than that in wages.

  360. 360
    strange gods before me

    So for you the next level to seek would be one where people retain rights to their images and can’t be divested of that by an employer?

    This is something I suggest we should seek more immediately in the case of porn, precisely because we currently have a society where people depicted in porn have more likelihood to desire and need to retain those rights, and more to lose without them.

    It may be a worthwhile pursuit beyond porn as well, but the moral imperative to provide that protection is not as immediate for others who do not have so much to lose.

  361. 361
    strange gods before me

    SG, would you please address my concerns

    There’s a lot of other stuff I also need to reply to as well. I’ll get to it all in time.

  362. 362
    Dhorvath, OM

    Waffler,
    Walmart sold 419 billion dollars worth of product in 2011, are you contending that they paid out more than that to their employees?

  363. 363
    strange gods before me

    Dhorvath, as worded, what you said (make more money than paid out) can be interpreted as meaning that an employer’s net income should exceed wages, rather than gross income exceeding wages. I think that’s what Waffler’s getting at.

    I was confused at first, but I concluded that my first interpretation was unlikely.

  364. 364
    Dhorvath, OM

    SG and Waffler,
    quite right, my apologies. I can hardly expect to be understood when I am unclear: I expect a company to make more gross profit than it pays in wages to it’s employees/contracted talent/ or other persons.

  365. 365
    Waffler, of the Waffler Institute

    Dhorvath-

    SGBM’s interpretation is correct. I thought you we’re trying to quantify how high an employers margin should be on an employee, and expecting it to be quite high (by my interpretation of what you said, 100% at least), and still be tolerable. And I was attempting to say that intolerable exploitation often occurs when margins are slim (< 5% overall in WalMart's case, though that includes product they buy in addition to people they employ).

  366. 366
    Hazuki

    This specific type of guilt screwed me up badly for i don’t know how many years, and is STILL bothering me at times :( Deconversion is in its final stages though; just a question of keeping a lot of points in memory at once, which I can’t always do, and sometimes have mini panic attacks before I remember.

    Sex is a big problem for the church partly because the original anti-sex documents, mostly Pauline, are written with the sure and certain knowledge that the world is ending “any second now, a’yup.” I was arguing with a smug cafeteria Christian with an MA in church history last night on that very point actually…*sigh*

  367. 367
    consciousness razor

    If all performers in various industries had the same lack of control, but performers in one industry want to shut down distribution more often, the relative difference between actual control and desired control is a measure of actual exploitation. You are less exploited when circumstances are going your way, more exploited when they’re not.

    This I don’t understand, given your other arguments. If someone does not desire more control than they currently have, doesn’t that basically mean they tolerate the amount of control they currently have (at least for themselves, if not others)?

    I may be off here, but I think this is too simple a formulation. To take the feudalism example again, you might imagine every peasant wants to be a feudal lord, but this is not an achievable or ethically justifiable goal. They can desire more control than what they can or ought to have, more than what would “balance” the situation and what would cause others to be exploited. That just passes one’s problems onto others or creates new problems, so that one’s own exploitation has greater importance than anyone else’s, not necessarily because one is selfish or evil, but because one is naive or ignorant of the sort of control one ought to want for oneself and everyone else.

    I think that may be one reason why the notion of consent has to be introduced somewhere in the argument. Personally, I don’t want to deal with every case where my intellectual property might be infringed in some way. Note that I do take intellectual property rights seriously, but I’m saying I personally cannot afford to deal with every case. I allow it to happen, fully cognizant that I have no idea what may occur as a result, because I know I can’t control everything that happens to my content and I don’t want take on such a never-ending task anyway.

    That’s beside the fact that, as a musician (or as basically anyone involved in any medium), I often have to collaborate with others, so the content is not entirely mine. In fact I accept that I’ll never be entirely happy with the end result, so I can at least tell myself that some of the blame goes to them. ;) (Music is even more ambiguous, since it’s not as if I could say general characteristics, like being a vi-ii-V-I progression, are mine or anyone else’s.)

    I imagine Rebecca Black would probably like to shut down distribution of her “Friday” music video, if she has any sense and realizes how unlikely it is that she’ll be taken seriously as a performer in the future. Given her age, there’s another layer of exploitation. However, she wasn’t the sole person involved, and her interests aren’t necessarily aligned with those those of everyone else involved in the project (perhaps those whose names aren’t prominently associated with the song). They may not want to shut down distribution; and as hard as it is to imagine, they may even feel it’s a wonderful artistic success despite critical and popular opinion. So, in that sort of situation, I find it hard to accept that no matter what the contract says, her rights necessarily ought to supercede others’.

  368. 368
    strange gods before me

    This I don’t understand, given your other arguments. If someone does not desire more control than they currently have, doesn’t that basically mean they tolerate the amount of control they currently have (at least for themselves, if not others)?

    Actual lack of control is one facet of exploitation; and one outward measure is that a person living with the pressure of work will experience physiological stress regardless of their awareness of this stress.

    Perception of the lack of control, and dismay at this, is another facet of exploitation, or a multiplying factor of the stress imposed.

    The recognition that a person in dismay experiences more exploitation is not an indication that the person who is content with a lack of control is not also exploited.

  369. 369
    strange gods before me

    To take the feudalism example again, you might imagine every peasant wants to be a feudal lord, but this is not an achievable or ethically justifiable goal. They can desire more control than what they can or ought to have, more than what would “balance” the situation and what would cause others to be exploited.

    The difference between being a serf and a freeman is a difference of being used beyond one’s control.

    The further difference between being a freeman and a feudal lord is a difference of control, but not of being used beyond one’s control.

    Thus the serf is exploited to the extent of not being a freeman, but not to the further extent of not being a feudal lord.

  370. 370
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Dhorvath:

    Porn as currently imagined is a system in which the sexuality of women (generally) is available for men (generally) to purchase.

    I am not quite following this line. Are you saying this because some people pay for porn? Would free distribution have any impact on this idea?

    I thinks this isn’t about porn as business, but about the toxic idea that sex as such is something that women “sell” and men “buy”. And the buyer doesn’t have to buy, but the seller has to sell, so women have to either “improve their goods” (make up, clothes, whatever), or “lower their price” (settle for his terms)
    Where’s that wonderful blogpost about this I read a while ago…

    there it is.

  371. 371
    strange gods before me

    I think that may be one reason why the notion of consent has to be introduced somewhere in the argument.

    Consent matters for its own sake, simply because consent is important (if we’ll grant this; I can argue its value but I think we’re all on that page already).

    So yes, it needs to have some place in the overall discussion—at the very least, we can expect it to arise in the arguments about what is tolerable and intolerable exploitation—but it doesn’t enter into the question of whether someone lacks control, as there are at least three coherent combinations here (consent with control, consent with lack of control, and lack of consent with lack of control), and perhaps a fourth (lack of consent but with control [such as a successful resistance effort]).

    Personally, I don’t want to deal with every case where my intellectual property might be infringed in some way.

    Nowhere did I suggest that anyone might.

    That’s beside the fact that, as a musician (or as basically anyone involved in any medium), I often have to collaborate with others, so the content is not entirely mine. [...] However, she wasn’t the sole person involved, and her interests aren’t necessarily aligned with those those of everyone else involved in the project (perhaps those whose names aren’t prominently associated with the song).

    This is a function of intellectual property as currently imagined. It’s not necessary. It’s possible instead to rely on continual consensus instead of one-time signed-away consent.

    So, in that sort of situation, I find it hard to accept that no matter what the contract says, her rights necessarily ought to supercede others’.

    Who said “no matter what the contract says”. I’m suggesting those kind of contracts can be avoided in the first place.

    And again:

    This is something I suggest we should seek more immediately in the case of porn, precisely because we currently have a society where people depicted in porn have more likelihood to desire and need to retain those rights, and more to lose without them.

    It may be a worthwhile pursuit beyond porn as well, but the moral imperative to provide that protection is not as immediate for others who do not have so much to lose.

    It’s other people who want to claim that what standards they’re unfamiliar with in music ought to be equally frightening in porn. But there is no reason why this should be presumed so. Consequentialism rather insists that that a greater harm may be dealt with differently.

  372. 372
    consciousness razor

    sgbm, #369:

    I was trying to note that your quote seemed to contradict what your argument against defining exploitation as whatever one finds intolerable. Since you used “a measure of exploitation” rather than “the measure…” you may have a way out there, but I still don’t think by itself that is an adequate measure. It’s hard to say what I would consider an adequate one, but I do find it problematic (or at least confusing).

    #370:

    The difference between being a serf and a freeman is a difference of being used beyond one’s control.

    I think in addition to “being used beyond one’s control” I would add “and beyond one’s consent.” Perhaps this is what you mean by “being used,” but I guess it isn’t entirely obvious. If I’m collaborating with others on some goal, then we are using each other to achieve that goal. Not everything that happens would be under my control, nor would I want it to be in many cases, even if it may someday be that the end result is not what I would have wanted.

    So, I can consent to being used for something which is beyond my control, but I don’t call that exploitation. Not having that option to consent, being coerced into such a situation, is closer to what I consider exploitation. Of course everyone in every economic system must have some way to acquire resources to survive, but that itself is not coercion unless we start anthropomorphizing nature.

  373. 373
    consciousness razor

    This is a function of intellectual property as currently imagined. It’s not necessary. It’s possible instead to rely on continual consensus instead of one-time signed-away consent.

    It’s possible, but it is practical?

    Who said “no matter what the contract says”. I’m suggesting those kind of contracts can be avoided in the first place.

    That’s consistent with what I said. If there is no contract of that kind, then it that sense it does not matter what the contract says.

    Consequentialism rather insists that that a greater harm may be dealt with differently.

    Yes, and for the most part I agree with what you’ve said (though not how you’ve said it), but I still think it’s difficult to figure out exactly how we ought to deal with these sorts of situation.

  374. 374
    strange gods before me

    I was trying to note that your quote seemed to contradict what your argument against defining exploitation as whatever one finds intolerable.

    Not at all; a person may even find the relative difference between actual control and desired control to be tolerable.

    Of descriptions of exploitation, “I do not suppose that there could not be others [which do not conflate empirical description with moralizing]; I have merely found one.” Perhaps two:

    While we may coherently argue to indifferent Walmart employees that their bosses are exploiting them, I think we also have to recognize that those who seek to report that “we’re being exploited!” are experiencing something qualitatively different, beyond what the also-exploited but indifferent Walmart employee is experiencing. That is, while there is exploitation in both cases, the person demanding recognition of their experience is bringing a second kind of moral imperative into consideration. We cannot honestly doubt that their self-report means something in addition to the conditions of exploitation which would be observable without their report.

    I think in addition to “being used beyond one’s control” I would add “and beyond one’s consent.”

    Of course you would, because the desire to define us into a Just World is always an insistent one.

    But then suddenly we’re back at right-wing libertarianism; the Walmart employee cannot be exploited, indeed no employee is exploited anywhere, and only slavery constitutes exploitation. This is not merely a conclusion we want to avoid, it is incoherent. We recognize that lacking the ability to improve one’s working conditions constitues a degree of exploitation, regardless of whether one’s poverty consents to continuing employment there.

    Your invocation of consent here makes incoherent even the concerns about low wages and vast profit margins in third world countries.

    Perhaps this is what you mean by “being used,” but I guess it isn’t entirely obvious.

    I mean it so broadly that I must agree that KG’s example of citation constitues usage without control, albeit tolerable.

    Of course everyone in every economic system must have some way to acquire resources to survive, but that itself is not coercion unless we start anthropomorphizing nature.

    Right-wing rubbish. Systems need not be “anthropomorphized” to impose coercive conditions. A choice between the wage and working conditions on offer is coercive, without any one person there threatening violence.

    +++++
    It is impressive, though, how this one issue so consistently turns liberals into right-wingers. We would quickly object to the suggestion that union organizers of other low-prestige occupations, such as low-skill factory line work, ought not make the argument that the workers are being exploited. We would instead recognize an imperative for action to reduce the degree of exploitation.

  375. 375
    strange gods before me

    It’s possible, but it is practical?

    I didn’t propose any model which I claimed would work. I outlined what would not be exploitative. Whether it would work is tangential to my argument, as I have now repeatedly said How many times do I have to say that it might be impossible to completely rid the world of exploitation, and some exploitation might even be necessary.

    We might even live in the worst of all possible worlds, for all I know.

    It’s a tangent to what I’m identifying as exploitation: the use of another person beyond that person’s control.

    In this understanding, the purpose of recognizing exploitation is to allow us to talk about which exploitations might be necessary, and which we might tolerate (if there is a difference between what we’ll tolerate and what is necessary). That discussion cannot happen with the defining away of exploitation as only what is intolerable; we could not even begin to differentiate between necessary and unnecessary exploitations.

    That’s consistent with what I said. If there is no contract of that kind, then it that sense it does not matter what the contract says.

    When there is no contract, or a contract lacking clarity on certain terms, there are invariably conditions of common law which still apply.

    Yes, and for the most part I agree with what you’ve said (though not how you’ve said it), but I still think it’s difficult to figure out exactly how we ought to deal with these sorts of situation.

    Whatever it might be, it won’t start with denying the presence of exploitation.

    I am forever contending against the fear that arises when a problem is identified without an immediately obvious solution. But we need to keep these windows into discomfort open.

  376. 376
    Nick Gotts

    And even if you’re right about that, it’s simply not an argument that it’s not exploitation. – SGBM

    I showed at #348 that by your definition, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with exploitation at all – so why should it matter whether something is exploitation by that definition or not? I agree, it’s exploitation by your definition. So. Fucking. What? Your definition is a load of worthless crap. You’re just trading on the fact that “exploitation” commonly carries a connotation of doing something nasty to someone.

    Indeed, with a description of exploitation which is not inherently moralistic, we should expect to find minor examples which do not incite our desire to set things right. That you can point out an example like citation is not a counterargument at all, but rather an indication that I’m on the right track.

    The examples I gave are not minor at all: they include any and all use of any text or image produced by anyone, living or dead, who is not in a position to control it. The set of such examples can be expanded to cover any machine, music, discovery, or invention similarly produced.

  377. 377
    Nepenthe

    @Dhorvath 356

    Porn as currently imagined is a system in which the sexuality of women (generally) is available for men (generally) to purchase.

    I am not quite following this line. Are you saying this because some people pay for porn? Would free distribution have any impact on this idea?

    Basically what Giliell said. It’s also important, I think, that it reinforces the trope of constant availability; that men are entitled to use women at any time, in any way, without any notion of consent. (And there’s no real way to know that the woman on the film or in the photograph consented; there’s no way to see the person threatening her off-camera.) And with the advent of free porn, there’s no need to purchase it, you’re right.

  378. 378
    Dhorvath, OM

    strange gods,

    Not if control is being relinquished.

    Okay. That’s clear.

    but a very wealthy person who is not coerced by the pressure of need will be unlikely to enter into the more control-reducing situations; they are less likely to be exploited in the first place.

    This idea is a strong concern for me. Enough people exist for whom economic coercion is powerful to largely guarantee exploitation through coercion. Control is hard to maintain when hunger and comfort are in question. Why is so much porn produced in developing nations? Money goes further.

    Speaking as someone who has frequently tried to obtain obscure music, I assure you, it is possible. Finding what is specifically desired depends heavily on finding the right place at the right time.

    Then I have still misunderstood something, or you don’t gather what I meant. It is not possible to retract images from where they are stored on other computing systems. The internet isn’t a window, it’s a copy bank.

    My argument necessitates that such a category exists by definition; whether it is an empty set I cannot say.

    Not feeling very helped by that. I know it’s not your obligation to assist, but damn, what are we saying to each other then?

    Look up ParEcon for one alternative.

    Better resource than the Wiki? ‘Cause it does not paint a picture that has realistic hues.

    This is something I suggest we should seek more immediately in the case of porn, precisely because we currently have a society where people depicted in porn have more likelihood to desire and need to retain those rights, and more to lose without them.

    So a change in image rights? Or a change in contracts?

  379. 379
    Mattir-ritated

    And there’s no real way to know that the woman on the film or in the photograph consented; there’s no way to see the person threatening her off-camera.

    A very similar issue arises in purchases of shade grown coffee, organic cotton socks, and just about every article of clothing that I haven’t sewn myself. These problems are addressed (not fully solved, but addressed) by a certification process like that for bird-safe coffee, organic produce, etc. Short of not allowing porn at all, which would be way too close to a Bachmann-esque paradise for me, I’d suggest that social pressure against using porn that doesn’t comply with a certain base level of human rights would shift things in the right direction. (“You watch WHAT? Don’t you know that woman may be enslaved?!?”) It’d be a really really slow process, yes, but I’m not seeing a whole lot of progress happening any other way at the moment.

    And I’m still curious about why no one is talking about the issues of female sexuality raised by the OP, skeptifem, and me (repeatedly) – how does one compare the harm of the Dirty Girls Ministry types to the harm to one’s sexuality from consumption of mainstream porn and romance novels? And how does one manage the interplay between one’s own sense of what’s exciting and that offered by the porn/romance novel culture?

  380. 380
    consciousness razor

    Right-wing rubbish.

    Seriously? Where did that come from?

    It is impressive, though, how this one issue so consistently turns liberals into right-wingers.

    It’s the issue that does this?

    I’m not denying there is rampant exploitation in society, and if it were possible I would want it all to end. I would say a little more clarity on the issue would help, so perhaps “exploitation” isn’t the best word to use in all cases to which you would apply it. That’s basically it: your use of the word, not the existence of the various phenomena to which you refer, is what I’m questioning. If that makes me a right-winger, then I suppose I’ll have to update my definition of “right-winger” as well.

  381. 381
    Dhorvath, OM

    Giliell,

    I thinks this isn’t about porn as business, but about the toxic idea that sex as such is something that women “sell” and men “buy”. And the buyer doesn’t have to buy, but the seller has to sell, so women have to either “improve their goods” (make up, clothes, whatever), or “lower their price” (settle for his terms)

    And mainstream porn is a catalogue or travel brochure?

    Where’s that wonderful blogpost about this I read a while ago……there it is.

    I read that, but had it mentally filed under person to person and couldn’t cross reference to this discussion. Thanks.
    ___

    Nepenthe,

    It’s also important, I think, that it reinforces the trope of constant availability; that men are entitled to use women at any time, in any way, without any notion of consent.

    This is one that I have a lot of trouble with, not accepting it, but understanding it. I know that there are plenty of men who think that way, the PUA’s and the traditional marriage proponents and so on. I cannot grok the attraction. Sex isn’t conquest, having sex with someone isn’t an accomplishment in itself, only if it’s mutually desired and enjoyable does it get into the preferred experiences category. This idea that just having sex is worthwhile is beyond me.

    (And there’s no real way to know that the woman on the film or in the photograph consented; there’s no way to see the person threatening her off-camera.)

    Which is why I prefer to interact with people and end up with images sometimes.

  382. 382
    Bethistopheles

    I was going to put something, but I don’t have the words to express my disgust and sadness at the plight of these girls. Dirty girls?? Really??!!

    Fuck.
    You.

  383. 383
    Dhorvath, OM

    Mattir,

    And there’s no real way to know that the woman on the film or in the photograph consented; there’s no way to see the person threatening her off-camera.

    A very similar issue arises in purchases of shade grown coffee, organic cotton socks, and just about every article of clothing that I haven’t sewn myself. These problems are addressed (not fully solved, but addressed) by a certification process like that for bird-safe coffee, organic produce, etc.

    Yet the problem I see is that people put a sense of agency behind a performance. If someone is convincing in their performance as looking like they want to be doing so, people find it easy to assume that follows to the performer, forgetting in the process what performer can and often does mean. Which is to say, we don’t look deeper because we assume that the performance is the person. Even in far less mundane situations this crops up, people go to sf conventions and ask actors about the worlds their characters inhabit etc. It’s not that the risk of threat is smaller, it’s that the chance of caring is smaller: it’s not even a faceless entity who picked coffee or wove fabric, but a perceived individual who did enjoy their actions. This is dangerous.

    Short of not allowing porn at all, which would be way too close to a Bachmann-esque paradise for me, I’d suggest that social pressure against using porn that doesn’t comply with a certain base level of human rights would shift things in the right direction.

    Seeing things as more than just what happens on camera is a big deal and one that can be easily missed.

    And I’m still curious about why no one is talking about the issues of female sexuality raised by the OP, skeptifem, and me (repeatedly) – how does one compare the harm of the Dirty Girls Ministry types to the harm to one’s sexuality from consumption of mainstream porn and romance novels?

    I think all three share some common risks, the idea that sexuality is a puzzle with a correct answer being the one that seems most prevalent. Whether it’s porn saying that every interaction between a woman and a man is a sex scene that could happen, romance novels saying that true love is embodied and forever, or a religious group that says that sex is dirty and just something to be dealt with as quickly and with as little attention as possible after marriage. They all deprive people of a chance to learn what fulfilments can be found either by themselves or through interaction with others. Of the three, one seems to standout as not wanting people to find any pleasure, one as defining it in too narrow a personal fashion, and the other as too broad in a personal fashion.
    From that, I think that porn hurts women because of the way they become treated by men, romance hurts women because of the way they see themselves, and religion because of the way they are treated by others and treated by themselves. Maybe I am missing something, but it seems like religious guilt pushes more buttons and thereby causes more harm.

    And how does one manage the interplay between one’s own sense of what’s exciting and that offered by the porn/romance novel culture?

    At a purely personal level, I don’t think many just stumble upon the sense that this is necessary. It takes some outside influence to realize that there is a difference between what I like due to internal biases and what I am habituated to enjoy. If it’s even possible to say that those two things are different.
    This is where education becomes valuable, rather than hiding sexuality behind a curtain, only to be exposed through back lights and indistinct shadows, bring it out, play with it, show people that sexuality is diverse, that there is no ‘right way’ to be.

  384. 384
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Nepenthe:

    (And there’s no real way to know that the woman on the film or in the photograph consented; there’s no way to see the person threatening her off-camera.)

    There’s also no real way to know if that steak really doesn’t have harmful bacteria in it either. Does that mean we should ban steak?

  385. 385
    Dhorvath, OM

    Lordsetar,
    But the risk is ours to take with a possibly tainted steak.

  386. 386
    Nepenthe

    @lordsetar 385

    You really just typed that, didn’t you? You really compared a rape victim to a contaminated steak. Huh… There’s nothing I could possibly say to that that doesn’t involved the phrase “go fuck yourself”.

    @Mattir 380

    How does one compare the harm of the Dirty Girls Ministry types to the harm to one’s sexuality from consumption of mainstream porn and romance novels? And how does one manage the interplay between one’s own sense of what’s exciting and that offered by the porn/romance novel culture?

    I don’t know how to compare harms, nor do I think it’s a particularly worthwhile exercise.

    I’m not sure what you mean by managing the interplay. The dichotomy between one’s own sexuality and the sexuality on offer by patriarchal culture isn’t a complete one. The culture is in our minds and in our beds, for some more than others. I don’t think there’s a meaningful way to tell what our “authentic” sexuality is: we can’t run the tape over and see what we would enjoy in a non-patriarchy. Thus, there’s no reason feel guilty for enjoying being called a dirty slut in bed and there’s equally no reason to feel prudish for not enjoying it.

    But we should realize on a broader level that the phrase “dirty slut” has no meaning in a world where sex isn’t dirty and women who like it aren’t sluts. And making media wherein men call women dirty sluts probably gets in the way of moving toward a world where “dirty slut” is a nonsense phrase.

  387. 387
    Mattir-ritated

    Lord Setar did not compare rape victims to tainted steaks except in the sense of not knowing with certainty that a product is in accordance with one’s wishes (i.e. not a filmed rape, and not a contaminated foodstuff. It is a poorly chosen and ill conceived analogy. A better one is the bird-safe coffee or free-range egg production. Raising the level of certainty that one is not “consuming” the suffering of another sentient being is a good thing.

    Nepenthe, you are far more optimistic about human nature than I am. I think people are find disturbing things sexually arousing (and want to consume pornography of those disturbing behaviors) regardless of how egalitarian a society we manage to create.

  388. 388
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Nepenthe #387:

    You really just typed that, didn’t you? You really compared a rape victim to a contaminated steak. Huh… There’s nothing I could possibly say to that that doesn’t involved the phrase “go fuck yourself”.

    I don’t know whether you’re trying to tone-troll or whether you really are demonstrating uncharacteristically poor reading comprehension skills. As it stands, you’d have to ignore this sentence:

    Does that mean we should ban steak?

    in order for your convoluted interpretation of my post to stand.

    And, seriously. What the fuck do you think you’re going to accomplish with me by engaging in style-over-substance theatrics that require disingenuous reading?

    Dhorvath:

    But the risk is ours to take with a possibly tainted steak.

    Exactly my point — of course, that also doesn’t mean we should take all precautions possible to ensure that the probability of the steak being tainted is as close to zero as possible. Fuck Reagan liberturdians and their Nirvana fallacy.

  389. 389
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Nepenthe: Re-reading your post, I’m given the impression that you assume I’m some sort of MRA.

    Jesus fuck. We’re talking about porn where one partner may not be consenting, you raise the objection that it’s impossible for the end consumer to know if both parties -are- actually consenting, and I raise a corollary regarding steak — or any food for that matter.

    Honestly, I don’t see where else you could have honestly pulled that ‘comparing a rape victim to contaminated steak’ from. The victim doesn’t play into it other than the porn involves such a victim; the discussion was relating to the porn itself. Can you please, y’know, not assume that everyone who opposes you on feminism-related issues is automatically an MRA opposing MRA lines of thought? This isn’t Oceania and there is no fucking thoughtcrime; some of us really are decent rational people making an argument and thinking along rational rather than privileged lines.

    Like, y’know, the fact that there is an empathy problem present if someone does not feel sickened by a porn where one member is not, or may not necessarily be, consenting. That, to the end consumer, would be considered contaminated porn. Not a contaminated victim.

    You can fuck off, Nepenthe, if all you’re going to do is paint anyone who opposes you on any feminism-related issue with the MRA brush.

  390. 390
    Nepenthe

    lordsetar:

    Speaking of theatrics, maybe you ought to have a glass of water and a sit down.

  391. 391
    John Morales

    lordsetar, all you’ve done is confirm that “You really compared a rape victim to a contaminated steak.”

    [1] Honestly, I don’t see where else you could have honestly pulled that ‘comparing a rape victim to contaminated steak’ from. [2] The victim doesn’t play into it other than the porn involves such a victim; the discussion was relating to the porn itself.

    1. From what you wrote, O disingenous one:
    [N] And there’s no real way to know that the woman on the film or in the photograph consented
    [L] There’s also no real way to know if that steak really doesn’t have harmful bacteria in it either.

    You clearly equate lack of consent with contamination.

    2. “other than” vitiates this excuse, you know.

  392. 392
    Dhorvath, OM

    Lord Setar,
    I remain unconvinced that our points are identical or even really very similar. Nepenthe’s original point was that a person may have had their person violated in the production of sexual images and that fact, that the end product doesn’t reflect any crimes committed in it’s production, means that consumers are in the dark about the ethics of consuming the product.
    I am still having trouble extending that point to include your analogy regarding steak because your analogy is about the risk that the consumer is taking, not the risks of the performers.

  393. 393
    skeptifem

    A very similar issue arises in purchases of shade grown coffee, organic cotton socks, and just about every article of clothing that I haven’t sewn myself. These problems are addressed (not fully solved, but addressed) by a certification process like that for bird-safe coffee, organic produce, etc. Short of not allowing porn at all, which would be way too close to a Bachmann-esque paradise for me, I’d suggest that social pressure against using porn that doesn’t comply with a certain base level of human rights would shift things in the right direction.

    Pornography is a luxury item. Food and clothes are not. No one needs pornography. The way people act as though it would be totally unfair for them to not have access to the bodies of women 24/7 is a real mindfuck for me. No one is entitled to pictures of someone else being fucked, and it seems doubtful to me that there would be such a wealth of pornography if women were afforded equal economic opportunity. We know this because women with economic opportunity are sex workers much less often than women who are poor or uneducated.

    I don’t think a world without porn is close to a bachmann-esque paradise at all. I wrote a whole post about feminist opposition to pornography vs religious opposition to pornography on my blog for exactly this purpose, for anyone who is interested. It is a big difference that is not often discussed. I’ll try to make this short though;

    A bachmann-esque paradise would be people not having any porn because it is banned and only having procreative heterosexual sex within marriages. The porn would need to be banned because it is so sinfully alluring and men cannot resist it. Women would still use sex as a bartering chip when partnering with a man- sex work would still exist and make women into commodities. We would only have to whore ourselves out to one man instead of many. It is the deal that conservative women make, and if you assume that men cannot change, cannot sotp their shitty behavior towards women because their lust is difficult to control, then it makes sense as a plan. Slutty women fuck up the whole deal by servicing many men and so they are villians in the religious right view of pornography. Feminist analysis of pornography does not deride women for sex work, it derides johns for treating sex workers like shit.

    A feminist pornography-free world could be a place where people have all kinds of sex because they feel like it because there isn’t anything dirty about it at all. It would occur to people to have different kinds of sex more often because there wouldn’t be institutions deciding what kind of sex is normative. Without normative sex being enforced (through pornography OR religion) it makes little sense to have sex that isn’t enjoyable, like so many women do right now because they think they have to. It would not be such a big fucking deal anymore, and pictures of people having sex would probably be about as interesting as pictures of people eating food. Sex would be for fun (like playing in a band full of friends) instead of a commercialized commodity (like disney pop music). Sex would no longer be a thing that women have that men should try to get out of them for status, it would become just another activity, and the treat of rape would be pretty damn remote in such a world. After all, women are rarely forced to bake or play D&D in this world of ours, but a whole bunch of us have been forced to suck dicks.

    for porn defenders who don’t give a shit about my arguments above: I cannot understand why there isn’t a widespread boycott against porn because the workers have to submit to unsafe sex in order to continue getting work. If there was the tiniest bit of concern about the people in porn, as human beings, there would be outrage over the lack of condoms. you know who is doing that work? Ex-porn actresses who have diseases now, and feminists, and when they go to talk with OSHA about it porn industry shills show up and shout the meetings down like so many tea partiers at healthcare town halls. That is what you support when you watch porn. There is NO EXCUSE for the way that sex workers have only been giving testing (which is damage control) for completely preventable diseases. If people in healthcare weren’t offered protection from infectious disease folks would be in an uproar, but most people think that whores are toilets and don’t deserve protection the way that nurses do. Actors in pornography regularly get infected with STI’s, and it is for your amusement. It is a lot like that movie “bumfights” where homeless people are paid in sandwiches to do shit like tattoo “loser” on their face or box other homeless people. Money isn’t as good as health, it is a shitty deal for the women getting herpes infections in their eyes and fecal bacteria in their throats from ATM. You folks who jerk off to porn don’t give a fuck. You don’t care if you are wanking it to someone getting AIDS or hepatitis. You don’t want condoms in your porn because you are thinking about your own dick. You all have a lot of ‘splainin to do if you think you can stroke it to that kind of shit and still believe you are a considerate human being.

  394. 394
    Mattir-ritated

    So, in your perfect world, skeptifem, people are not going to be turned on by looking at pictures of other people fucking? How precisely is that going to work?

    You are absolutely correct about working conditions and the severe lack of ethics involved in watching condom free penetrative porn.

  395. 395
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Pornography is a luxury item. Food and clothes are not. No one needs pornography.

    Total utter bullshit. Coffee, as much as I like to pretend that I can’t live without it, is a luxury item.
    The very computer you wrote your post on is a luxury item. The phone you have is a luxury item. Ask kids in Africa, they can tell you that it’s totally possible to live without them. They can also tell you how hard it is working in mines to get the rare metals used in your computer and phone.
    Tell me, do you get off every time somebody tells you how they like their computer or that they’d like to buy a new phone? Over a cup of delicious Cappuchino in a random street café?
    No? So get off your high horse and join us down here.

    The way people act as though it would be totally unfair for them to not have access to the bodies of women 24/7 is a real mindfuck for me.

    A) pictures =/= body of women the same way listening to a Bruce Springsteen CD is different from having him in my living room.
    B) You’re still acting as if porn must be something that’s only there for the pleasure of men and that only one kind of porn exists

    No one is entitled to pictures of someone else being fucked,

    Agreed

    and it seems doubtful to me that there would be such a wealth of pornography if women were afforded equal economic opportunity. We know this because women with economic opportunity are sex workers much less often than women who are poor or uneducated.

    Agreed, too.
    So, what’s your point?
    That nobody is entitled to such pictures doesn’t mean they can’t have them. Nobody is entitled to lollipops but my kids still can have them.
    Nobody is arguing that women would flock to the porn producers and brothels to work there if only social stigmata were removed. People here are fully aware of the dangers and negative implications that are currently part of sex-work, and of the negative and toxic effect they have on society and our views on men and women.
    Thanx, we don’t need your lecture on this.
    But I find your view that porn would disappear if only patriarchy was ended utterly ridiculous.
    Here’s my guess: If we removed all stigmata from sex, if there were no social consequences and nobody would freak out at the thought of people fucking other people, youtube would be as flooded with home-made porn as it currently is with bad karaoke.
    I suppose if no woman (or man, for the sake of not sounding like a total asshole here who frankly ignores that rentboys usually have the very same problems) ever had to sell her body out of pressure, prostitutes would probably be rare and very well paid.
    Hell, now I find myself here defending porn, something I do in fact have problems with for the many reasons stated above.

  396. 396
    Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^=

    Dhorvath, OM:

    It takes some outside influence to realize that there is a difference between what I like due to internal biases and what I am habituated to enjoy.

    Thank you for that sentence.

    As others have said, religion has the potential to do the most harm to the greatest number of people with its toxic attitudes to sex, which it gets people to internalise and self-police.

    I am quite sure I would have had a very different attitude to sex were it not for my Catholic upbringing.

    This is where education becomes valuable, rather than hiding sexuality behind a curtain, only to be exposed through back lights and indistinct shadows, bring it out, play with it, show people that sexuality is diverse, that there is no ‘right way’ to be.

    Thank you for that one, too.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I read your post, skeptifem, and I agree I am not qualified to argue with all of it as the only porn I have ever seen/read was in the form of magazines, a long, long time ago. It was horrible and misogynistic and put me off porn for life.

    But I will say one thing; what other people have posted here and elsewhere has led me to believe that there is a lot more porn out there than that aimed at a particular niche market of certain heterosexual men. Surely it cannot all be exploiting women? Surely some of it doesn’t even have any women at all? Your post reads as if the exploitation of women in the making of some porn, which I agree is appalling and should be addressed, is universal; and that there is, and can be, no ethically produced porn at all. Even as a non-consumer I find that hard to believe.

  397. 397
    opposablethumbs

    Just wondering what folks think of the porn (much – though of course far from all – of which is textual) produced mainly by women, mainly for women’s consumption – often free of charge. Is this an example of non-exploitative porn? I realise it’s probably a vanishingly miniscule, infinitesimally tiny drop in the ocean compared with mainstream commercial stuff, quantitatively speaking, but I’m curious to know what you think of it in terms of how it differs qualitatively. Certainly seems non-exploitative to me – as opposed to “typical” mainstream porn, which is obviously a massively exploitative industry predicated on a completely toxic vision of gender and sexuality.

  398. 398
    Ava, Oporornis maledetta

    Giliell, #322:

    *coughipreferabitoflubeandlotsofpeopleusetoyscough*

    Ha ha ha

  399. 399
    irving chiropractors

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  400. 400
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    chiropractor spam

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