porn, sex, and the absense of intimacy

Please note this post contains some explicit content.

An ex-boyfriend of mine was addicted to porn. I didn’t like it, but like most women who don’t and get labelled a prude, I didn’t ever say much about it. I shared his computer that he used a lot for freelance work at home; all of our stuff on it was separate and he locked all of his files so I couldn’t see them. One afternoon I went to use it and saw he hadn’t logged off properly, which meant I could see all of his stuff. I was horrified to see that his files were mostly all porn. But the thing that upset me the most was that there was a short video of me in amongst all the other stuff, as if it wasn’t any different. It wasn’t an explicit video of me at all, but I had nevertheless asked him to delete it from the camera not long after he took it and he showed me that he had.

I can’t tell you how denigrated I felt to see he’d kept a copy of it without my consent. It was such a relief to be able to delete it from his computer, but that denigrated and violated feeling not only stayed with me, it grew over the next few weeks. I broke up with him without telling him about it. We became friends again some time after and he asked me if there was anything else I hadn’t told him about why I’d broken up with him. When I told him the truth he was very embarrassed and said he was going to get rid of it all and stop watching porn as it ultimately didn’t make him feel good anyway. I have no idea if he did either of those things, but to this day I can remember how I felt when I realised my sex and what it represented to him was more important to him than my trust.

On Friday night as I sat and listened to anti-porn campaigner and radical feminist Gail Dines speak about her new book Pornland at the Trades Hall in Carlton, that day came straight back to me.

Dines is a fantastic speaker. She’s funny, witty and very passionate about what she does. Dines (and her message) is not anti sex or anti sexually explicit images, it’s about what mainstream porn is doing to our sexuality and the sexual integrity of a whole generation of young men. In her work Dines goes to some lengths to enable people, particularly women, to understand just how violent and denigrating to women mainstream porn has become. On Friday night Dines described ‘Gonzo porn’ (now mainstream) to her mostly female audience and the shock in the room was evident. Dines describes gonzo porn as:

… Present-day gonzo pornography [is] by far the biggest moneymaker for the industry, this type of pornography makes no attempt at a story line, but is just scene after scene of violent penetration, in which the woman’s body is literally stretched to its limit. One of the newer marketing ploys in gonzo is called ATM (ass to mouth), where the male performer anally penetrates a woman and then sticks his penis into her mouth, often joking about her having to eat shit. In this pornography the code of debasement is most stark. There is no apparent increase in male sexual pleasure by moving directly from the anus to the mouth, outside of the humiliation that the woman must endure. To argue that the pleasure of heterosexual pornography for men is not somehow wrapped up in the degradation of women is to ignore the multiple verbal and image-based cues that form the codes and conventions of mainstream pornography…Β  Read more here.

It’s hard to ignore Dines’ stance when all you have to do is look around you at the endless images of the sexualisation of women. Dines’ statement that as advertising changes consumer behaviour, so too does porn change sexual behaviour, is one of these things I think is impossible to ignore. The porn industry sexualises inequality and violence and gets away with it. And it stands to reason that men are being aroused against their integrity. This Dines calls “a betrayal of their own sexuality”. This is so sad.

I’ve read a bit about the sexual behaviour of young people today and it seems that it’s becoming commonplace that very young women are experiencing health problems such as anal fissures because their boyfriends want to have the same sort of sex they’re seeing in porn.

What on earth is any of this teaching young people at the very beginning of their sexual lives about intimacy and desire? I had trouble enough twenty years ago. I can’t imagine being a young woman now. As Dines’ says “you can’t go to a capitalist industry for creative sex”. We need to find a way to capture young peoples’ imaginations about how to be counter cultural about sex so that young people have a hope in hell of discovering true intimacy and finding their own authentic sexuality. This is a big task and seems incredibly urgent to me…

As Dines’ stated, as a girl “you’re either fuckable or invisible”. I don’t know of a young woman alive who isn’t acutely aware of this. How incredibly sad this is. It should be mandatory that both genders study radical feminism and learn how we got to this point when they’re not much older than 13 or 14. If it’s not in schools by the time I have children I’ll certainly be teaching my own.

Advertisements

21 Comments

Filed under Australia, Gail Dines, Health, Love, Melbourne, Political Writing, Pornography, Sex, Women/Feminist

21 responses to “porn, sex, and the absense of intimacy

  1. Dawn

    Well said. You are so right. It IS urgent and it needs to be talked about. You and your peers need to talk – now – before you all have children. It’s over to you and your generation now. xx

    Like

    • Thank you. It IS up to our generation. You guys have passed the mantle and we need to step up, as well as live up to the amazing work your generation did in the 70s xx

      Like

  2. Thanks for saying this, Simonne. It’s something that worries me very much and I know I’m going to have to face talking about it with my kids sooner or later. Porn is not real sex. It is fake and constructed by people who want to make money. It’s a product, not a reflection.

    Like

  3. Rachael

    This is so well said. A similar thing has happened to me in terms of feeling denigrated and shameful when faced with a partner who’s addicted to porn. Thank you so much for posting. You’ve inspired me to talk to my children.

    Like

  4. Great post Simonne. Thank you.
    xox

    Like

  5. PG

    As usual, you’ve done a great job at summing up an amazing experience seeing Gail and getting to the crux of the issue. It is really full on. And as someone who didn’t think ALL porn was “that bad” (some is obviously just disgusting, denigrating and unnecessary to humanity), after listening to Gail, it was pretty apparent that the porn machine run by men really IS “that bad”.

    It was encouraging to hear that there’s still room for sexually explicit material – I think that can be really positive for sexuality, creativity and expression of love/lust with someone you’re into; but this systemised degredation of women – especially the bit where they’re reduced to just being a series of holes to fuck for the man’s pleasure, forgetting they’re even really there is just so wrong. You’re right….it’s up to us to educate and discuss this, especially with our children. Very well written, Simonne. πŸ™‚

    Like

  6. Felix

    Excelent work and well said, Simonne.
    It’s always a pleasure and an inspiration to read your posts.

    Like

  7. Simonne, you tackle a difficult topic so very, very well. I fear what my daughter (and son, for that matter) may encounter by the time they reach high school – of not before.

    Like

  8. I mean ‘if not before’…

    Like

  9. CJ

    Somebody, I forget who, said pornography is about power, not sex. And that’s truer now than when it was first said, as you clearly explain. I guess the big problem is that it hides that difference, so it’s easy to get the two mixed up?

    Like

  10. A great post on porn addiction. Good one.

    Like

  11. wow very interesting post!

    Like

  12. Thank you for tackling a difficult, important subject in such a clear and honest way. Another very good book on this issue is “Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculity” by Robert Jensen.

    There’s an interview with Jensen on the Media Mouse site: http://www.mediamouse.org/video/2007/10/interview-with-robert-jensen.php

    Like

  13. love your entry.thank you

    Like

Leave a reply, start a conversation - go on, you know you want to!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s