Why I’m Not Scared Of Porn

Last week, Evan and I discussed the recent move by the Cameron administration in the UK to block pornography from British internet servers by default (it can be accessed through request). As Evan is currently on tour in the Mexican state of Sinaloa as his luchador alter-ego, “El Astronauta Más Sexy Y Famoso,” he’s asked me to write today’s post, and I’ve decided to pick up on last week’s talk.

We had blasted a few arguments back and forth (with me arguing that the ban did far more harm than good) but one line of reasoning that I didn’t get a chance to use was this:

There’s a lot worse stuff out there than porn.

Let me break it down for you.

I. Porn Isn’t As Widespread As ______

Now don’t get me wrong- porn is a major industry. Its yearly profits rival that of Hollywood and it easily outstrips the combined economies of many small nations (heck, probably medium ones as well). Even so, porn isn’t something that’s widely accepted or publicly distributed (barring the UK, where they call it The Sun). Porn is something that, even without a ban, has to be sought out by the individual- it’s not something typically plastered on billboards or inundating commercial airtime.

Not that it keeps ’em from trying…

Point is, I’m not exposed to pornography on a daily basis. I am however exposed to a near constant stream of voices, sounds, and images trying to convince me that life is empty and meaningless without a brand new Honda, a 12-inch sub, or a lawyer who is going to get me the compensation I deserve.

Or beer ads- the only ads that still try to be remotely entertaining…

Let me say it again- I’m not here to defend porn. Porn is objectifying and there’s really no way to argue against that. But what would I, if I were a parent, be more concerned with? My kid seeing a minute of pornography or my kid watching a minute of an ad telling her she’s not beautiful, fulfilled, or a whole person without ______ brand of lipstick? I really can’t offer an immediate answer to that.

Seriously, take an hour of television, and you’ll be told not only porn’s message that women are objects, but further that Africa is damned to endless despair, happiness is just a pill away, and all your life is meaningless without Doritos. Take away porn and I don’t think you’ll see that much of a change in society. Take away commercials, and I think you’ll see a freaking Renaissance.

Science is complicated.

And lest anyone call me a hypocrite, no, I make it a point of pride to not watch commercials. If I do, it’s only to talk back to the people on screen and point out the flaws in the product/life decisions while offering them the finger.

Because the manufacturers can see me through my computer screen…

II. Porn Can Only Do So Much Harm

Yet again, I don’t want this to be misconstrued as some sort of defense- even a backhanded one- of the pornographic industry. Still, I don’t think you can deny that there’s only so much harm- or rather, so many types of harm pornography can do. It presents a false image of women (and pool boys) and does reduce pretty much everyone involved into a base, disposable object performing a disposable parody for your fleeting amusement, but shy of some director trying to be actively malicious (splicing in pro-Fascist messages, for example) that’s really the extent of what it can do. I can’t say the same for most mainstream television.

There’s sexual objectification on TV as well- plenty of it. And on top of that, there’s racism, sexism, false representation, open deceit, and, well- you name it. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that porn didn’t contribute to the Iraq war- the fear mongering of Fox and CNN did. Again, if you were to put me on the spot and ask me to choose between eliminating pornography and preventing (heck, just possibly preventing) the deaths of roughly 175,000 civilians, I’d choose the later without a moment’s hesitation.

What causes more human suffering- porn or the content of your average TV channel? Again, I’m willing to bet it’s the latter.

Here, let me offer another example.

Right now, I’m seeing the birth of the latest moronic self-hate campaign. On the radio here in Vegas, they’re advertising that men over the age of 40 may be feeling sluggish or tired because of a “low T-count” (low testosterone). If you know anything about the human body, you know that you naturally lose testosterone as you grow older- it’s the equivalent of asking an 80-year old if he’s not moving as quickly as he used to.

Yeah, no ****.

Yet, these dirtbags are advocating testosterone injections. Let me say that again. They are taking a natural bodily function and making you feel guilty and inadequate as a man about it so they can make money (which is what women have to go through pretty much every day, for the record).

That’s not insanity, that’s not negligence- that’s malice. That is the action plan of evil men and women who can go…

Well, Evan doubtlessly won’t allow me to say just what, but it involves a recommendation from me that they enjoy a  romantic liaison with a cactus.

III. Porn Is A Symptom, Not A Disease

I guess that’ really the point, isn’t it? Exploitation is exploitation, whether it’s feeding into your sexual appetites or gluttony, vanity, fear, or anything else. Trying to single out porn as being somehow the pinnacle of all depravity is really just plain shortsighted. Personally, I’d cite Christian subculture for this particular view (in the US, at least). The religious community at large in the West doesn’t seem to know how to even approach the subject of sexuality (in spite of their protestations that they aren’t prudes) and as a result, the presentation of women as silicon-injected sex-crazed maniacs gets to be the national bogeyman while presenting women as worthless without Dove soap, GAP sweaters, and probiotic yogurt gets a free pass.

Self-hatred, perpetuated by a system that would sell you babies for target practice if it thought it could make the shareholders a profit, is the perpetrator here- not just one ugly arm of this octopus.

Seriously, the arm on the left is wrapped around “prostitution.” We’ve been telling you guys this for over a century now…

And before we leave, to any 3rd Wave “feminists,” porn is about as empowering to women as blackface is to African-Americans. Taking an actively role in the false presentation of your demographic doesn’t make it magically noble or heroic. It’s ****ing stupid.

But Wait! There’s More!

I don’t usually (ok, ever) do revisions to these posts, but the recent slew of misunderstandings of what I’m saying here has compelled me to do so.

Now normally, getting two complaints stemming from a shared source would lead me to conclude the error’s on my part. I screwed something up in my writing and utterly miscommunicated my message. But the fact that Kat seems to get what I’m saying changes that. No, I’m not going to talk about why I’m wrong, I’m going to talk about why you are.

Now at no point did I say “porn is not bad.” On the contrary, I called porn exploitative multiple times. This post is (as I said in the first few sentences) an addition to a conversation Evan and I had last week (where I also called porn exploitative). My key issue was not- as commenter Chris seems to have understood- that porn should be ignored. That’s my whole message getting inverted. The point is that the British government has essentially given approval to the equally harmful stuff on TV by not attempting to offer any “blocked-by-default” to the rampant greed, idiocy, and fear-mongering that dominates the media.

That’s the issue. We treat porn as being “special” or “magical.” It’s not. I said it above, and I’ll say it again- “exploitation is exploitation.” We might not have porn blocked by default in this country, but the unique outrage that it generates (as opposed to the equally bad stuff we’ve got more widely spread) functions the same. To howl at objectification one place but not another is not only hypocritical, it’s us giving the things we don’t get as mad about tacit approval. The knee-jerk emotional response this post got really just makes my case for me. I’m not the one treating evils unequally here…

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9 responses to “Why I’m Not Scared Of Porn

  1. This is probably the most vehemently I have ever disagreed with you.

    1. There’s worse things out there than Coca-Cola. Does that mean you and I should have never fought? Many would say child soldier’s is a greater injustice. The number of victims is greater and the psychological wounds are deeper than Coca-Cola allowing a few of it’s subsidiaries to kill off a few union leaders every so often. But since when have you, Gordon “F—in’” Brown, ever considered the lesser of two evils to not be evil? I am saddened. Fighting an evil is fighting an evil, and I would applaud it.

    2. This is 100% a backhanded defense of pornography, thus my frustration at reading this. Your ignorance of the dangers of pornography is, quite frankly, disturbing. Allow me to link just 1 article about pornography addiction, I’m sure you can find many more on your own: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/06/was-i-actually-addicted-to-internet-pornography/276619/ Pornography addiction and the effects of porn on relationships is a world of damage that you simply cannot brush aside.

    And again I say why is the lesser of two evils now not evil? So what if the media is bad? Porn is ALSO BAD!

    3. And on your final point, which I wish you had expanded on because I do view it as your most valid, pornography is BOTH a disease AND a symptom. It’s existence is a symptom of an unjust system. But it’s existence leads to addiction and the changing of men’s perspectives of women, both of which I would consider diseases.

    Pornography is a very serious topic and a very serious evil to fight against. I am offended by your almost sweep-it-under-the-rug attitude about it. This is not something that I, and so many others are against simply because of Christian hyper-conservatism. We are against it because it is a terrible injustice to the men and women involved in production as well as the men and women involved in consumption.

  2. Simply because it is not the “most negative” thing in society does not justify its acceptance nor such an apathetic attitude towards it. Furthermore, It is far more destructive than your “Porn can only do so much harm” section describes.

    Pornography is a disease. It is not something you can cure with unionism. Is your attitude towards pornography not espousing the same apathy that you critique society as a whole for having towards the rest of the “greater evils”? What I am hearing is that you think we should not stand for those darned Honda commercials, but a little woman-demeaning, self-worth-sucking, trafficking supporting, ultra-addicting porn isn’t the worst thing in the world….

    You critique the decision of the British government set an anti-porn setting as default. However, one of your main points here is that “…I’m not exposed to pornography on a daily basis. I am however exposed to a near constant stream of voices, sounds, and images trying to convince me…” of x,y, and z. The only reason that porn must “be sought out by the individual” is because of government regulations. The porn industry wants, and has tried, to advertise like other industries. Look up Miller v. California or your state obscenity laws. So you base your argument here on the fact that porn, though readily available, is not pushed in front of you but you previously critiqued a government for passing a law to keep it from being pushed in front of you.

    This post seems like a sweep-it-under-the-rug defense of porn.

  3. I thought I would totally disagree with this article, but you won me over the the end. Porn is a symptom of a bigger problem. Still worth challenging in my opinion, especially when it comes to exposing kids to it at an early age, but still just a symptom. And we should DEFINITELY not be giving a free pass to advertisement. Gotta love places like Sweden where advertising to kids is banned. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0529-05.htm

  4. Thank you for the revision. I appreciate the continued dialogue, even if it only further displays your misunderstanding of my concerns and frustrations with this post.

    I felt that Garrett made a very valid point by coming to the same conclusion I came to: “This post seems like a sweep-it-under-the-rug defense of porn.” You may not be saying porn is good, or even not a problem, but you are saying that porn is not “special” and therefore not worthy of our attention at all. I’m willing to concede that point. For every study pointing out the psychological harm of pornography I am certain there’s one on the dangers of advertising and the media.

    But we have to start somewhere, man. I understand your pet issue is the media, but why does that make it a more valid starting place than pornography? If we can agree that both are bad why is it not good to limit access to even one? Yes, ideally both pornography and advertising would be by choice only. But at this point we’ve only got pornography being discussed, and I for one am happy to see it become something you can opt into rather than stumble onto.

    If you are truly not treating evils unequally then you would be celebrating either pornography or advertising being limited, yet you clearly view one as the greater evil and that is why you will discuss it to the point of ignoring the other. You are treating evils unequally. Had you written a post doing a pseudo-defense of corporate advertising I would have responded the same, you know that.

    And I need to state both as a friend and as a reader that I was offended by the nature of your response. You know me, dude. Do you think my response was “knee-jerk emotional response” or do you think I really thought it out?

    Also, in your response you do nothing to defend point two of your original post, which is where I find you to be most in error. “What harm does porn do” you ask? You were a psych major, you can figure this out. Do I need to start posting news articles, academic studies, and my own college papers all over your comment section? For the love of God don’t make me do it. Do your own research.

  5. Reading this, I never thought you were giving pornography a pass, but I’m not sure I agree with you either. My disagreement is probably along political grounds, but where you know what you believe and would like to see in that arena, I only know my feelings of confusion and uncertainty.

    That being said, I’m not one to nay-say a government action I think will have a positive benefit (auto-blocking porn). Ideally I’d prefer it if ISP’s simply did this to begin with, without needed to be cuffed over the head by a government, because I do agree that there’s better things that government can be spending its resources on.

    The other thing is my cynicism coming in. I don’t see governments making moves to do the sorts of things you’d rather they do (other than die in a hole), or even something like this, very often. So I’m pleasantly surprised when something happens. In general though, I defer on account of my hermit-like disdain for participation in public life.

  6. Just a thought but… How did you think people wouldn’t misconstrue your point as a dismissal of the evils of porn when your title is “Why I’m Not Scared of Porn?”

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