Responses To Porn
Looking at porn past the trite "I like it" or the dogmatic "It's oppressive" brings down holy hellfire for sex bloggers. And I could just leave it at that, but I won't.
OK, where to begin... There's been a rather large ruckus on the sex blogging Internet this week regarding this image. The discussion has blown-up to be a cluster-fuck of several issues, and I'm here to try to de-tangle the yarn.
The bare bones of facts are that Viviane posted the image in her Sugasm post, replacing the photo that was "officially" used. That's OK because anyone participating in Sugasm has the right to do that if, when & how they choose.
But Tom Paine, whom I have a great admiration for, saw the photo and discussed how it bothered him. In Viviane Should Know Better, he wrote, "I personally find this kind of pseudo-kiddie porn disgusting".
Tom elaborates his stance with the following: "Do we know these girls are underage? No, we don't, but I think that's beside the point. If they're not underage, the publisher is trying to make us think they are, the better to appeal to our prurient fascination with adolescent sexuality and the corruption of innocence."
Tom has drawn a lot of contentious comments for his stance. (You can read the comments at his post if you're into that sort of thing.) But some, like the lovely & intelligent Lina have written, more or less, in defense of Tom's post & point of view. In fact, in Inconsistencies and Preconceptions, Lina does more than discuss her agreement with Tom on the "skirts too closely to child pornography" theme, but, as stated in her post's title, her personal preconceptions and intellectual inconsistencies regarding the issues.
Here's a choice cut from her post:
"I've been doing it to work out the contradictions in my argument... But I thought maybe it might be useful, perhaps some others (not the staunch rads who obviously don't dirty themselves by coming on to my foul little blog) whose opinions on pornography are based on their own life experiences."
I find this the bravest, most liberating, and, yes, sex positive type of writing.
Lina didn't just debate an issue, pulling at intellectual ideas and philosophical ideals; she didn't just leave it to "the facts" of academia. She went to the core of herself, to her experiences and values, and made them go toe-to-toe with her intellectual knowledge and educated philosophies. She went in and pulled and pushed at the parts of herself which had reactions, in this case to specific elements of porn, and looked at why she reacted so. She challenged her feelings and beliefs ~ the very same thing most of us, every time we write or speak, are asking another to do.
It isn't pretty, it isn't flattering ~ and boy has she heard from folks about it. Complaints and attacks, that is. But I want to go on the record and say that she's done something incredibly brave here. And it makes me weep to see how ruthlessly such beauty has been stepped upon.
We all say that writing is a process, and that it is a conversation, of sorts; why not acknowledge, then, that such process is also self-examination and the conversation is with yourself? Super-double-bonus-points to Lina for daring to share that self-exploration.
Minus the same points for those who do not see & respect her public articulation of a self-examined life. And shame on them too.
But back to more of the ruckus.
As the blogosphere exploded with dissent over the posts, Lina took the time to deal with each argument, point by point. She had hoped, I imagine, that this would clarify her stance (and Tom's too).
But, people being less like people and more like gossipy goats, the negative talk continued ~ with many people clearly not reading any of the posts in question. This, dear reader, is perhaps the largest sin here. I can accept the fact that some would not understand Lina's public self exploration because they, in fact, lead un-examined lives. (A pity, but true.) However, when a person attacks an argument without reading the original argument, all I can say is, "What the fuck?!"
(No, that's not true either. I can, and would, say more; but I'm just going to give you readers the benefit of my doubt today and assume you have the brains & class to understand such bullshit as poor debate rules.)
It's upsetting, really, this whole mess. It's not just about two people I admire (and like), or even the reminders of how stupid people can upset more than an apple cart with their foolishness; but this whole thing has become a feeding frenzy for talk about how catty women are. Again, for time here today, I'll simply refer you to the eloquent Elisa Camahort's Internalizing the "Catfight" moniker.
The final irony, for me, is that the debate over this photo's questionable ties to teen porn is easily decided.
No, not just by my own personal (though highly accurate!) subjective (and educated!) judgment ~ why not go to the source?
The adult paysite to which the photos apparently belong, uses the words "girl" and "girls" to market itself & this specific photo-set. If the term "girl" rather than "woman" doesn't make their intentions clear to you, here's some of their marketing lines:
"We offer only the finest images of the finest young teens."
"Beautiful Teen Model"
Age of the models themselves aside, it's pretty clear just who Errotica Archives' target market is. They are going after men (and women) who want teen girls ~ and want to see them nude.
Now, if only those who sought such materials had just half the the guts of Lina and forced themselves to lead self-examined lives. In truth, such use is not an automatic problem, but we all should look at what twists and turns in our guts and libidos, and ask ourselves the tough questions ~ if only in private.
I don't like the teen porn play; not aesthetically, with its pointy hip bones and rows of visible ribs, not emotionally, with it's predator-prey relationship values. But as long as the models are able to consent ~ by our legal definition(s) ~ then I just opt not to partake of it.
As a woman who knows the vulnerability of her younger sisters, I worry about the choices young women make ~ and the pain which may ensue... But as a wise crone, I know those choices are their's to make and I will not patronize them & deny their right to make their own decisions ~ even under the name of protection, for these are their own lessons. (If they should seek counsel from this crone, they'll hear my honest thoughts & concerns.)
I would ask, however, that models & photographers, publishers & consumers, feminists & anti-feminists ~ everyone make the time to explore such issues. Even if ~ especially if ~ it makes them uncomfortable.
And for gawd's sake, if you're going to debate, criticize, or otherwise discuss an issue, read the full post, listen to the full conversation before you open your mouth or type.