Porn is Rape

November 30th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

Meghan Murphy at Feminist Current wants you to know that porn is rape culture, one that apparently convinced Warmachine to beat the fuck out of Christie Mack. She writes:

Sure there are men who watch porn but don’t rape, but the fact that we work so hard to convince them that the images they see on their computer screens constitute “sex,” a “human right,” and that they are a perfectly healthy part of being male don’t counter the anti-violence messages liberals and progressive pretend to support. Men aren’t seeing that line you keep trying to draw between rape culture and porn culture because it isn’t there.

In my humble, moderated comment which I posted below her article and which will probably never be approved, I replied:

So all porn is rape culture? And if porn doesn’t depict “sex,” then what is it depicting? Rape? If you think porn is rape, then just come right out and say it.

What seems to be implicit in your article is the highly questionable assumption that culture dictates what people find sexually attractive. Do you really believe that our sexuality is culturally constructed, as if people choose their sexual inclinations? And if so, then doesn’t this put you on the same side of the debate as religious conservatives who believe homosexuals can and should pray away the gay at Jesus camp? Do heterosexual men choose their sexual urges, but homosexual men don’t? Or what?

Just as a thought experiment, consider what it would mean if our sexual inclinations aren’t culturally constructed, meaning they, like many feelings, are ones we do not choose to have. What becomes of men who experience those feelings without any explanation for them? Porn may be rape culture, but it doesn’t seem as if it requires any cultural indoctrination to convince men to be sexually aroused by it, does it? So what becomes of these natural sexual urges that men may have if their only explanation or contextualization for them comes from feminists writing articles like the one you’ve written here? Are they supposed to wonder if they are morally inferior degenerates, criminals, and oppressors of women if they should suddenly get an erection when confronted with pornographic images?

How different is what you’re suggesting here than a monk flogging himself for getting an erection? It’s not even hyperbole to accuse you of having medieval attitudes towards sexuality.

Well, male sexuality that is, because you don’t seem to cast the same critical eye towards women’s pornography.

I find it weird that this is how you make your living but that you still can’t anticipate the obvious response to the assertion that porn is rape culture: The best selling fiction is harlequin romance novels, many of which routinely explore the theme of women’s loss of agency during sex, rough sex, and often enough, rape. They’re written for women because, apparently, many women find that sexually appealing. Was there some other reason?

So… is that rape culture as well?

The interesting thing about pornography that is aimed at men is that rough sex and rape aren’t actually popular themes. Apparently men aren’t nearly as interested in dominating women as feminists would have us believe. By contrast, in women’s erotic fiction that is written by and for women, these aren’t merely popular themes, but the most popular themes of all. And they’ve remained the most popular for generations, so much so that we can refer to women’s fiction as “bodice rippers” and everybody will understand what we’re talking about.

I suspect people might take arguments like the one you’re making here more seriously if you’d just deal with that obvious double standard head on instead of pretending that you hadn’t noticed it. It’s disingenuous.

One might even begin to wonder if the same preoccupation which leads women to read those novels isn’t the same which inspires you and your readers to obsess about the salacious details of Koppenhaver and Mack’s sex life. It’s like reading a particularly humorless and dry tabloid.

Speaking of tabloids and pornography, early pornographic films often purported to be educational – think Swedish documentaries on sexuality from the 1970s – or to serve some other lofty public service, which most people understood to be an excuse. Exploitation films of this type are actually a pretty entertaining form of kitsch which force us to laugh and marvel at the sexual repression of previous generations. It was understood that the point of those films was for people to get aroused, not to be educated or informed. Films about teenagers doing drugs and having sex weren’t really public service announcements which would convince us to abstain from premarital sex simply because the screenwriter had tacked on some hamfisted tragic ending. What people remembered when they left the theater wasn’t the dreary moralizing at the end of the film, but the sex, of course. That was, after all, why they bought their ticket to see it in the first place.

What’s fascinating about those films is the way that many, no doubt, obscured their own motivations for viewing them. The moralizing and pretensions to popular conceptions of decency found in them very often provided, not only the filmmaker an excuse for making prurient art, but also for the consumer who might ordinarily feel guilt about indulging in his or her repressed desires to view it.

I wonder if the day will come when your work will pass into anachronism and be understood the same way. What do you think?

I wanted to tack “Do us all a favor and go see a therapist” on to the end of it, but didn’t. Oh well, it’s not like the comment will be approved anyway, so I doubt it would have made much of a difference.


November 30th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink


Human Rights

November 30th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

The reason internationally recognized human rights standards exist and many would prefer they trump civil rights is because within any polity, any group can be removed from the sphere of civic, moral, and legal obligation. Civil rights do not apply to non-citizens, after all. That potential result is not a Sam Harris style thought experiment, it’s the norm historically.

There are more examples than I can count. What was the Nazi project if not the attempt to remove the possibility of Jewish citizenship in Hitler’s Germany? In the United States, blacks were 3/5ths of a person while Native Americans weren’t citizens at all. In ancient Athens, citizens were free and equal under the law while 2/3rds of the population were metics and slaves. We could go on and on and on.

In the United States today, with 25% of the world’s prison population, it’s an open question as to what degree felons – who are of course overwhelmingly men – enjoy the rights of citizenship.

I get that you can interpret human rights in such a way that privileges women, but you can interpret civil rights in such a way that creates a pretext to coerce and demonize men. Of the two, I think the latter result is the real threat to men’s rights, since we know that existing legal systems, like codes of proper conduct and conceptions of morality generally, are typically the result of the interplay between men and what they imagine women’s perception of them is.

Relative to women, men segregate into tribal in-groups and out-groups based on their provider and protector role. Women damsel themselves and point the finger at the designated out-group of bad guys, and the in-group of self-proclaimed good guys do the coercing, wielding proxy violence on women’s behalf. Whichever men get branded the bad guys can expect to have their civil rights eroded, if not rescinded entirely. As I always point out, men do not oppress women; they oppress one another while attempting to successfully adhere to a female-imposed gender role, so what else protects men who find themselves on the wrong end of this perennially reoccurring equation other than an international conception of human rights?

Human rights privileging women as a specially designated protected class results from a problem with our current gynocentric interpretation of human rights, not with the concept of human rights itself. I think you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater on this one.

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