in which i pontificate ambivalently about pornography and come to no real conclusion, and also feel guilty about not being a more belligerent feminist

Porn.

It used to not bother me.  At least, not the straight-up, legs-spread, tits-in-your-face kind.  Not that I was ever a big consumer, but it just seemed to me that it was more honest (and thus more wholesome, b/c the truth saves, right?) to read “Big, Big Boobies” instead of something like “Maxim,” which masks its true intent with journalistic articles, and allows men to openly and publicly consume soft-core porn.  Most things of sexual nature, I feel, should be confined to the bedroom, not dragged down to the parlor and put on display.  Perhaps consumption of porn should not be shameful, but it should certainly be private.

Our society, though, has made porn practically mainstream.  Even I went through a more-chauvinist-than-thou phase, during which I read my guy friends’ issues of “Maxim” and made aesthetic judgements about the scantily-clad ladies posed therein.  It was a defense mechanism I think, a bid to join the winning team.  Obviously these women, held up for everyone to judge and objectify as they saw fit, were the losers.  They had made themselves vulnerable and powerless in their blatant availability.  And so I disassociated myself w/ them, preferring the control of voyeurism.

That didn’t last for v. long, esp. as I find pictures of women in lingerie kind of boring.  My last real encounter w/ porn was when I went to “Pirates.”  You see, every year Tulane hosts the showing of a porn film in our auditorium.  Admission is $3, and I’m pretty sure it’s meant to raise money for, er…something or other.  Anyway, one yr. I went w/ a couple of friends as a lark, just to see what all the fuss was about.  I ended up leaving early, b/c an hr. of watching bare flesh slam together was about all I could take, and there was also a rape scene, in which a woman is basically forced into having sex w/ another woman by a bunch of men.  Oh, but she ends up liking it, so that makes it all okay.  YES, B/C ALL WOMEN SECRETLY WANT TO BE RAPED, SO IGNORE THEM WHEN THEY PROTEST, B/C THEY ARE ACTUALLY LONGING TO HAVE A PENIS INSIDE OF THEM.  REALLY.  And “Pirates” is considered to be a pretty classy film, as far as pornos go.

I’ve been reading a lot of feminist literature lately, and it’s really made me agressively AGAINST porn, b/c it a) objectifies and disempowers women, b1) gives men strange and unrealistic expectations about sex and b2) destroys their empathy for women, c) the porn industry is apparently unbelievably sexist and even abusive to its women workers and d) imposes upon women a bizarre and untenable sexual ideal.

But okay, here’s the thing.  People do have libidos.  So I’ve heard, anyway.  I don’t seem to have one.  Even when I was “sexually active,” I didn’t enjoy sex that much.  It was embarassing, uncomfortable, and always went on for too long.  Plus, I had to spend a lot of time pretending that I was actually enjoying myself.  There was only one guy who just seemed content to bang away, and didn’t keep pestering me about how I was feeling.  It was refreshingly honest.  Why do I say that?  B/c guys who ask you those kind of questions don’t actually care about how you’re feeling, they just want you to pay them lip-service.  For instance, if you inform them that maybe you don’t actually feel like having engaging in a sex act at that moment, they tend not to care.  Instead of backing off, guys have on more than one occasion just gone on anyway, coaxing me into it, and b/c I cared about them (or thought I did), I went along.  I guess it’s my fault for not being blatant enough, or for only saying “no” one time.  Jesus, is it any wonder that I never want to sleep w/ anyone ever again (well, unless I’m drunk)?  I was so curious about sex before I had it; it seemed to be the ultimate sensual experience, an exquisite melding of the senses.  What a hollow promise.  There are so many more-gratifying things I would rather be doing, including but not limited to: receiving a back massage, eating chocolate truffles, going to the ballet, and shopping.

But I digress.  Getting away from that rather mortifyingly personal tangent, my point is that people other than me, especially the males of the species, have a sex drive.  Now, it seems unhealthy to subliminate this, if the prudish Islamic countries are any indication.  Obviously guys need to have some kind of outlet.  BUT, I think we need to even the playing field a little.  Our culture puts a lot of time and energy into trying to condition women to be nympho cheerleaders who want nothing more than to be some man’s receptacle.  How about we lay off on that, and instead STOP implying that it’s okay for men to encourage and indulge unbridled lust.  Heretofore men’s needs have always been paramount, b/c in our patriarchal culture they matter more.  If the ladies are supposed to be willing to take their pants off, how about we ask the men to keep theirs on a little more often?  It’s give and take, people.

So no, I’m not a proponent of making porn illegal (luckily, b/c then I would have to side w/ the fundamentalists), but I think the industry needs some serious reform.  Unfortunately, that’s going to be a long time coming, b/c our culture has no sympathy for “sluts” who let themselves be “used” by men.  In short, women are not allowed to be the owners of their own sexuality.  The patriarchy is bent on either depriving them of it or infusing them w/ it, but there is no middle ground, and certainly no choice.  So what to do in the meantime?  I…don’t know.

Now, here’s another thing.  I’ve been pretty reticent about my feminist beliefs.  For instance, I am not about to go and edify any of the guys I know, b/c they would probably just ignore me.  Or tell me to shut up.  I started these conversations w/ the girls, and their reaction has been to wrinkle their noses and talk about how annoying feminists are.  And yeah, I see what they’re saying, b/c we’ve been sold this idea of a feminist as an unwashed, crazy lesbian who drinks menstrual blood for breakfast and wants to kill all the men.  But to me, feminism is just about recognizing the fact that women are also HUMAN BEINGS, b/c if you think about it, the male is the status quo, and women are just lesser creatures that try to measure up.  Men are the gold standard in law, medicine, economics and art, and it is ALWAYS women who are compared to them, and who more often than not are found wanting.

Still, a female revolution doesn’t seem imminent, and rejecting the patriarchy means rejecting the culture itself, and by extension most of those who participate in it.  That means basically all (straight) men, except for this one, but he is taken, to my unutterable disappointment.  So, like most women, I think I will have to strike a compromise, if I want the doods to like me.  And I do.  I can’t help it.  But no more am I going to deny or evade being a feminist.  I will admit it, and if I see a horrible example of sexism, god help me I will call it out, even if I get shit on afterwards.

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One thought on “in which i pontificate ambivalently about pornography and come to no real conclusion, and also feel guilty about not being a more belligerent feminist

  1. BRAVA!!
    Is it ok if I share this with my lesbian friend at work if I keep it anonymous? It’s very well written.

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