Porn Consumption and Respect

Grey Mars

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I think it's something to do with the fact porn objectifies the models, obviously, which doesn't really encourage the user to view with much respect -- they are generally passive subjects of the user's gaze, there simply for his entertainment, not active agents who've chosen, for whatever reason, to work in the sex industry.

I think, too, a lot of people feel "There's no way I would do something like that," so they see the models as either helpless victims or as lacking sufficient self-respect (otherwise they'd not be making such material).
This is such an interesting old school reply that I had to actually learn how the new forum's quote feature works. I want to break it down a bit, if just to help my own mental framing of the issue.

"The fact porn objectifies the models, obviously" Why do we say this? Are we also objectifying sports stars, other actors, musicians, and basically any other type of performer? It seems to me an attitude coming from this position of superiority that obviously these particular actors are somehow especially deserving of pity/charity/scorn is itself part of the problem. I have yet to see someone frame the argument that "the fact Jason Momoa is objectified in this film, obviously, doesn't encourage the viewer to respect him."

"passive subjects of the user's gaze" A connected point here. How many interactive art forms are there really? Are the only worthwhile shows the ones where the cast disperses into the audience and drags them into the show? Or for that matter, is the most worthy form of porn a live format in which the audience member is drawn into the act?

"his entertainment" Sooooooooooo old school. Because no woman would ever leave the cocoon of virginal innocence and dirty herself with a sexual thoughts or desires of any kind.

"active agents who've chosen, for whatever reason, to work in the sex industry" Now I'm likely reading to much into this one, but the 'whatever reason' part seems rather judgy. Combined with the rest it seems to suggest that they have chosen an 'obviously' foolish thing, and must be stupid or crazy to be involved at all.

(And thus concludes the notes from the first sentence. Am I feeling triggered? I think I'm feeling triggered.)

"There is no way I would do something like that" is only the first part of the thought. The guarantied rest of the thought is full of self judgement about all their own failings and imperfections that mean they could never be a part of the thing they are drawn to.


To reset a moment, I wish to reiterate the stance that there is nothing wrong with porn, there is nothing wrong with sex workers, there is nothing wrong with the consumers of either industry. What there IS a problem with, is the prudish people who demonize and criminalize these activities and force those involved to settle as second class citizens at best. Centuries of religious repression that drum in the double think of "made in god's image" but "that form and function is wicked and naughty". Right. Sparing folks the rest of the incoming rant.

In short, replies such as the quoted one are themselves part of the problem. I'm sorry Innula, I respect your knowledge and point of view on a great many topics for a great number of years. This time however...
 

Clara D.

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I'm objectifying this thread.

 
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Brenda Archer

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If we had a few things, like:
- equal pay for equal work
- affordable child and elder care for women who work
- a decent safety net, with health care that includes substance abuse treatment
- better funding and enforcement of the laws against human trafficking and child abuse

Such things would remove most of the presumably feminist arguments against sex work, which leaves us with the ingrained prudery. Dividing women into madonnas and whores is pretty central to the way misogyny works in Christian cultures. It's also become a fixture of many people's sexual imaginations. When we can imagine sex workers becoming fully welcome as ordinary citizens, it means most of the structure of misogyny will have been torn down. I think it's worth working for, but it's a big project (and only part of an even bigger project of removing and reforming misogynistic and anti-sex cultural attitudes).
 

Innula Zenovka

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This is such an interesting old school reply that I had to actually learn how the new forum's quote feature works. I want to break it down a bit, if just to help my own mental framing of the issue.

"The fact porn objectifies the models, obviously" Why do we say this? Are we also objectifying sports stars, other actors, musicians, and basically any other type of performer? It seems to me an attitude coming from this position of superiority that obviously these particular actors are somehow especially deserving of pity/charity/scorn is itself part of the problem. I have yet to see someone frame the argument that "the fact Jason Momoa is objectified in this film, obviously, doesn't encourage the viewer to respect him."

"passive subjects of the user's gaze" A connected point here. How many interactive art forms are there really? Are the only worthwhile shows the ones where the cast disperses into the audience and drags them into the show? Or for that matter, is the most worthy form of porn a live format in which the audience member is drawn into the act?

"his entertainment" Sooooooooooo old school. Because no woman would ever leave the cocoon of virginal innocence and dirty herself with a sexual thoughts or desires of any kind.

"active agents who've chosen, for whatever reason, to work in the sex industry" Now I'm likely reading to much into this one, but the 'whatever reason' part seems rather judgy. Combined with the rest it seems to suggest that they have chosen an 'obviously' foolish thing, and must be stupid or crazy to be involved at all.

(And thus concludes the notes from the first sentence. Am I feeling triggered? I think I'm feeling triggered.)

"There is no way I would do something like that" is only the first part of the thought. The guarantied rest of the thought is full of self judgement about all their own failings and imperfections that mean they could never be a part of the thing they are drawn to.


To reset a moment, I wish to reiterate the stance that there is nothing wrong with porn, there is nothing wrong with sex workers, there is nothing wrong with the consumers of either industry. What there IS a problem with, is the prudish people who demonize and criminalize these activities and force those involved to settle as second class citizens at best. Centuries of religious repression that drum in the double think of "made in god's image" but "that form and function is wicked and naughty". Right. Sparing folks the rest of the incoming rant.

In short, replies such as the quoted one are themselves part of the problem. I'm sorry Innula, I respect your knowledge and point of view on a great many topics for a great number of years. This time however...
I'm not taking, though, why people decide to act in porn but in the way most porn frames them. So it's not a question of whether "we" objectify the performers but how the photographer/director presents their performance to the audience, and I would say that most mainstream porn I've seen presents the women as passive subjects of the audience's gaze. They're just laying or standing there being looked at or having things done to them. They're not generally presented as doing things because they're enjoying them. That's one reason why Stormy Daniels' twitter feed is so funny -- people try to shame her by attacking her for what she does in her porn and she enthusiastically agrees that she's a whore who gives great blow jobs, of which she's very proud. It works because her attackers aren't expecting that kind of response.

While I'm not an expert in Jason Momoa's movies, I understand his role generally involves more than simply standing or laying around looking sexy -- he's actually required to act a part, as someone whose actions make a significant difference to the plot. Porn doesn't generally have much of a plot, other than showing people doing stuff and having stuff done to them.

I refer to people who work in porn as people who've chosen, for whatever reason, to work in the sex industry simply because I recognise that people have all sorts of reasons for working in it, some people because they want to -- they enjoy making porn and they're good at it -- and some whose reasons (e.g. to fund an addiction or because they've fallen victim to sex traffickers) are not so good.

I'm not at all sure I'd agree with you that there's nothing wrong with the consumers of porn (or the customers of sex workers, come to that -- a lot of sex workers are assaulted or even killed by their customers, after all, and there's certainly something wrong with those customers). Like people who work in porn, people consume porn for all sorts of reasons. Incels, for example, appear to use porn quite a bit, and it seems to play a large role in their warped view of the world, presumably because it's the basis of much of their experience of women.

So I would be more cautious and say only that there's nothing wrong with most consumers of porn and how they use it. Simply saying, though, that consumption of porn is a wholly benign activity for everyone who consumes it seems a bit rash, as would be saying it's a wholly damaging activity.
 

WinterRabbit

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I'm not taking, though, why people decide to act in porn but in the way most porn frames them. So it's not a question of whether "we" objectify the performers but how the photographer/director presents their performance to the audience, and I would say that most mainstream porn I've seen presents the women as passive subjects of the audience's gaze. They're just laying or standing there being looked at or having things done to them. They're not generally presented as doing things because they're enjoying them. That's one reason why Stormy Daniels' twitter feed is so funny -- people try to shame her by attacking her for what she does in her porn and she enthusiastically agrees that she's a whore who gives great blow jobs, of which she's very proud. It works because her attackers aren't expecting that kind of response.

While I'm not an expert in Jason Momoa's movies, I understand his role generally involves more than simply standing or laying around looking sexy -- he's actually required to act a part, as someone whose actions make a significant difference to the plot. Porn doesn't generally have much of a plot, other than showing people doing stuff and having stuff done to them.

I refer to people who work in porn as people who've chosen, for whatever reason, to work in the sex industry simply because I recognise that people have all sorts of reasons for working in it, some people because they want to -- they enjoy making porn and they're good at it -- and some whose reasons (e.g. to fund an addiction or because they've fallen victim to sex traffickers) are not so good.

I'm not at all sure I'd agree with you that there's nothing wrong with the consumers of porn (or the customers of sex workers, come to that -- a lot of sex workers are assaulted or even killed by their customers, after all, and there's certainly something wrong with those customers). Like people who work in porn, people consume porn for all sorts of reasons. Incels, for example, appear to use porn quite a bit, and it seems to play a large role in their warped view of the world, presumably because it's the basis of much of their experience of women.

So I would be more cautious and say only that there's nothing wrong with most consumers of porn and how they use it. Simply saying, though, that consumption of porn is a wholly benign activity for everyone who consumes it seems a bit rash, as would be saying it's a wholly damaging activity.
Makes a very good point indeed.
 

EmpressOfCommunism

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Someone close to me was a sex worker both on the street level and in (non mainstream, low budget, European) films.
The absolute brutality and depravity of of some Johns and some porn viewers is directly related to sex workers-mostly women but some men too-position of being entirely outside morally acceptable economics. In most countries, they are not even officially proles but exist in a legal no-go zone of Lumpenproletarian struggle. I have occasionally seen random cropped and stolen gifs of said person on Tumblr, these gifs weren't the problem but when they got into certain subcultures, let's just say I am very happy my person never encountered them on the street.

"Oh what I wouldn't give to kidnap this person, rape them with objects, and then murder them so nobody finds out!" One could argue that this is just roleplay or fantasizing, but upon inspection of blogs their weird insistence of "this isn't a kink, we aren't just playing like those poseurs, this is a life style" is still really chilling.

Take away the entire shame around sex, and take the police ENTIRELY out of the equation of dealing with sex workers unless rape/genuine sketchiness has happened, and then you can start to talk about why on earth some people(mostly men, if we're being intellectually honest here) find brutalizing persons of such low social capital so titillating. It's probably the old way of thinking, "They're a whore so nobody will miss them!" Well, people WILL and DO miss them. Removing the catch 22 of economic marginalization and pseudo-religious moralizing will do a lot to get the "Sex workers are human beings and people will miss them if they disappear" point across, and maybe discourage the current and future serial killers.
 

Clara D.

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Press secretary to the current US president? Shock jock or Fox News commentator? Republican senator? YouTube alt-right commentator?
How they should be treated isn't necessarily directly based on their employment, but on their dubious status as human beings :p
 

Grey Mars

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I'm not taking, though, why people decide to act in porn but in the way most porn frames them. So it's not a question of whether "we" objectify the performers but how the photographer/director presents their performance to the audience, and I would say that most mainstream porn I've seen presents the women as passive subjects of the audience's gaze. They're just laying or standing there being looked at or having things done to them. They're not generally presented as doing things because they're enjoying them. That's one reason why Stormy Daniels' twitter feed is so funny -- people try to shame her by attacking her for what she does in her porn and she enthusiastically agrees that she's a whore who gives great blow jobs, of which she's very proud. It works because her attackers aren't expecting that kind of response.

While I'm not an expert in Jason Momoa's movies, I understand his role generally involves more than simply standing or laying around looking sexy -- he's actually required to act a part, as someone whose actions make a significant difference to the plot. Porn doesn't generally have much of a plot, other than showing people doing stuff and having stuff done to them.

I refer to people who work in porn as people who've chosen, for whatever reason, to work in the sex industry simply because I recognise that people have all sorts of reasons for working in it, some people because they want to -- they enjoy making porn and they're good at it -- and some whose reasons (e.g. to fund an addiction or because they've fallen victim to sex traffickers) are not so good.

I'm not at all sure I'd agree with you that there's nothing wrong with the consumers of porn (or the customers of sex workers, come to that -- a lot of sex workers are assaulted or even killed by their customers, after all, and there's certainly something wrong with those customers). Like people who work in porn, people consume porn for all sorts of reasons. Incels, for example, appear to use porn quite a bit, and it seems to play a large role in their warped view of the world, presumably because it's the basis of much of their experience of women.

So I would be more cautious and say only that there's nothing wrong with most consumers of porn and how they use it. Simply saying, though, that consumption of porn is a wholly benign activity for everyone who consumes it seems a bit rash, as would be saying it's a wholly damaging activity.
I freely admit that irritation has me issuing blanket statements. I am not however letting this slid.

"They're just laying or standing there being looked at or having things done to them. They're not generally presented as doing things because they're enjoying them." I highly question the types of porn you yourself are engaging with to have drawn this conclusion. If you want to poke at my blanket statements, I feel it's perfectly fair to poke back at your blanket statements about the industry. What you describe sounds more like an autopsy video than a wildly diverse art form.

As an aside however, we can heartily agree that watching Stormy Daniels run circles around idiots is fun. She is a beautiful and intelligent woman, and watching her twit people who are threatened by those things brings a smile to my face.

Back to more contentious points however... I am going to simply state that most of the problems you find with porn consumers and producers are a failing of the legal system to adequitly protect a stigmatized industry. It is the problem of getting courts to treat sex crimes seriously, magnified. One does not need to travel very far on this forum to see legal system fail in unbelivably horrific fashion when it comes to prudish misogynistic views.

Incels... There are so many things wrong with incels that I hardly know where to start. You seem to want to draw a causal relationship between them and porn however. If you must single out some link, point instead to the link between incels and what's now being called 'toxic masculinity'. They are then drawn to whatever subset of pornography fits with the bizarre mental disfunctions they live with. We might as well be arguing that the BBC sub-genera is creating republicans. The data set correlations look similiar.

"Simply saying, though, that consumption of porn is a wholly benign activity for everyone who consumes it seems a bit rash, as would be saying it's a wholly damaging activity." The exact same thing can be said about sports, art in general, or even education itself. I am utterly sick of this moral high ground double standard.
 

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An interesting thing I've seen come up several times though; women porn actors make more on average, not less, than their male counterparts.
It's the rare male porn actor who breaks through as a name in the business. It's far worse on the "amateur" or website model circuit.
 

EmpressOfCommunism

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It's the rare male porn actor who breaks through as a name in the business. It's far worse on the "amateur" or website model circuit.

Can confirm, as my person I mentioned upthread is male. It's the same in other sex work too. It's even worse if one is male and servicing male clientelle and fits into a kind of effeminite /hyper twinky aesthetic because you get everything done to you that women sex workers get done but without much for pay.
 
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An interesting thing I've seen come up several times though; women porn actors make more on average, not less, than their male counterparts.
That's supply and demand. There are many more men willing and able to do the work than women.
 
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