So I did a SurveyMonkey to see what people wanted to hear more about from me. It appears porn politics is high up there, so I figured what better way to address that than by talking about Gail Dines' Ms. piece about Jian Ghomeshi?
Dines writes about how Ghomeshi had seemed to her to be sympathetic to the anti-porn cause during an debate he facilitated for Q titled "Is Porn Hijacking Our Sexuality?". Dines states how Ghomeshi "took the side of feminists" (because all twue feminists are anti porn) by asking director John Stagliano about if he felt the porn he made encouraged violence against women. Because of course no women enjoys anal sex or BDSM, what Stagliano is known for.
Dines talks about how, when reconciling her experience with Ghomeshi as a kind, sensitive, woman-friendly host with the reality that he likely assaulted 9+ women, Ghomeshi "ended up sounding a lot like Stagliano by claiming that the women had wanted it.". Because in Dines mind, a pornographer is interchangeable with an abuser.
I need to stop things here, for a minute, and talk a little bit of truth.
I was 5 or 6 when I had my first erotic fantasy. I didn't know that's what it was called, but I knew that I was excited when I thought about it. I would close my eyes and imagine that Shredder had captured me, strapped me onto a metal table, and was slowly cutting my clothes off in preparation for torturing me for information. Which I, of course, wouldn't give, no matter how many times the knives cut my flesh or gently tickled me stroking down my exposed sides. I would let my fingers slide down my skin, feeling the shivers and thinking that was what an orgasm was. Sometimes I'd fall asleep with my hands tied behind my back with my blankie.
I hadn't seen porn yet. My parents didn't keep any in the house, and the internet barely existed. As I grew older, I began to seek out sexual information and material wherever I could. Nancy Friday's "Women on Top" was a go-to, with fantasies that ranged from mundane to incredibly taboo. Sometimes I'd flip through romance novels, only reading the sex parts (which always, without fail, depended on a reluctant heroine being overpowered by the leading man, who often had financial power over her, btw). I masturbated with crayola markers, putting one in my cunt and one in my ass, enjoying the pinch of the caps against my inner labia.
I didn't get that from a fucking porn gif, and this was way before tube sites.
When Ned and I did our Fisting Day porn, we talked about how I wanted it to go and I specifically said I wanted to not show face slapping, spitting, or anything that might be construed as "violent". Fisting already has a reputation for being a violent act, and I wanted to show that it could be really sweet and loving and fun.
That said, to show our sex that way was to not be genuine about how we have sex. I love having my hands held down, my face slapped, my tits and neck bitten, fingers in my mouth and on my throat. I especially like it during something like fisting, where the stimulation of other parts of my body help me to relax and lose focus on my cunt, making it easier to open up. In order to dissuade people that fisting is a type of violent sex, I had to fake the sex I actually prefer and enjoy and make it tamer.
This is why when people underline how important it is to be "genuine" about the porn performances you do, I just have to laugh.
If you want to argue that culture generally leads to fantasies of a loss of control, or of glorifying martyrdom, I'm with you. But to say that it's porn and only porn that influences behaviour is to be completely willfully ignorant of the myriad of other ways media programs us to believe women are passive and men are aggressive and that this is somehow natural and right. And to suggest that all porn is the same, and communicates the same gendered values, is to ignore how the industry varies, and how other countries have found that exposing people to that variety has been helpful, not harmful.
I think violent porn and the troubled mainstream porn industry is, if anything, a symptom of violent misogyny, not the root cause. I think it can be an influence (and that's why it's important to have labour rights for porn performers) but that it's not nearly as strong an influence as anti-porn feminists claim. I understand that it's tempting to blame porn, because that can be regulated and controlled. But if we want to stop men from feeling entitled to strike women, we have to do a much larger scale social overhaul.
Don't forget, after all- he cited 50 Shades of Grey, an erotica book that came from fanfiction and was geared towards women... not violent visual porn. Ghomeshi isn't "only a lad" who couldn't help it- he sought out confirmation for his actions. He didn't have far to look, when our media features codependent, controlling men as leading romantic partners, and our news shows there's no consequences for that behaviour. THAT'S where we need to begin.