I’m in charge of my book club this week and my lovely compatriots have agreed to read what some call my flagship book: Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy. I’ve read the book many times because I frequently teach it in my sophomore writing composition courses. This week I’ve been reading that and cleaning my house listening to LDS Conference talks. Cause, you know, I’m super holy and stuff.
I believe there is a great void in the LDS church’s vocalized position on pornography: church leaders say porn is bad bad bad, but they don’t explain WHY pornography is so awful sufficiently to actually deter or to bitter the very image of it for men (and women). I agree that pornography is addictive and that has repercussions for sexuality yada yada, but those “reasons” do not create revulsion enough to find pornography the opposite of titillating. As a mother of young boys it’s my job to figure out how to raise men who are repelled by pornography. Thankfully I married the most wonderful feminist man and I don’t have to deal with this in my marriage and he will be an excellent asset in steering them away from porn.
Around 2003 pornography and Raunch Culture was in full swing and I was living in it’s hedonistic capital. “The Girls Next Door” were literally next door to my college. Britney’s pants were low. Paris and Kim Kardashian built empires on Raunch Culture. T&A was everywhere and it was cool to be fine with it. The LDS church had just become very public about their anti-pornography crusade. Remember those days? I will not go so far as to say I was interested in pornography, but the culture was in my face. Find me a woman of my generation who does not know at least one of the names of Hefner’s three girlfriends. We didn’t participate in it, but I think many of us were exposed nonetheless. Sex and celebrity are a match made in . . . well certainly not heaven. That pairing will probably never go away (Hi Miley!) and neither will pornography ever vanish from culture. So we need a new thought framework.
I resensitized myself to Raunch Culture (that is to say I pointedly developed disgust rather than just ambivalence) by thinking deeply about these things.
1. Robin Morgan coined the slogan, “Pornography is the theory, rape is the practice.” Extreme, no? Porn is going to turn you into a rapist? No. Let me explain. Susan Brownmiller, pioneer of the Women’s Liberation Movement wrote a book in 1975 called “Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape”. The main argument in the book is that rape is not an isolated crime like robbery or murder, but a systematic process of demoralization: of making real live women into less than human. Hence, rape is a tool used in war in order to subjugate societies. How do you convince people that humans aren’t humans and can therefore be physically abused? Propaganda. What is rape propaganda? Pornography. That slogan blares in my mind every time I see images that even hint of porn. Pornography is the theory – it is the propaganda that helps stupid people to forget for a moment that sex is about people, not just bodies. Also, how can you think about propaganda images without thinking about the systematic dehumanizing of the jews? Brownmiller argued that pornography is to women what those horrible “this is what a Jew looks like” posters were to Jews. How’s that for a turn off?
2. Passion isn’t the point. Pornography is not real sex and if it is your model, you’re probably having terrible sex. There is a disconnect between sexiness and sex itself and the people in pornography are feigning enjoyment. “Sexuality is inherent. Different things are attractive to different people yet somehow we have accepted one brand of sexuality” and it’s getting boring. Next time you see some scintillating picture think of porn queen Jenna Jameson who said of her shoots, “ I had to arch so hard that my lower back cramped. When I see those photos now, it seems obvious that the sexy pout I thought I was giving the camera was just a poorly disguised grimace of pain.”
3. The sex industry is in large part fueled by Human Trafficking. Those hot girls you’re watching? A significant amount of them are forced participants. The ones who aren’t are often victims of sexual abuse. Who wants to watch abused women? If consuming pornography in any way encourages human slavery thanks, but that is simply repulsive.
I disdain pornography because pornography is socially irresponsible. Hopefully I can teach my boys social responsibility and by default cause them to be sicked out by pornography.
Also of note -- A young LDS woman tells of her battle with a pornography addiction:
Also, citing my source: lots of this is paraphrasing Ariel Levy, if not directly quoting. Good job writing that book, Ariel.