If Women Like It, It Can’t Be Porn

One of the greatest embarrassments to the feminist movement is the growing number of women who say that they enjoy porn and are turned on by it. (Or at least some porn; probably no one likes all the porn produced, not even the stereotypical men in dirty overcoats, not least because some porn categories are created for mutually exclusive minority tastes. Over-generalising from unusually gross or violent sub-genres is, of course, the name of this particular blame-game.) The idea of women watching the porn of their own choice with their lovers, or enjoying what Brigid Jones would call a “wankette” with a DVD and vibrator, is deeply upsetting to those who have long insisted that all porn is “violence against women” and that men consume it solely because they are inherently bad and wicked and enjoy degrading the superior sex. Pornography must therefore be renamed “erotica” whenever a woman enjoys it, so that the term pornography can be deployed for erotica that a man enjoys.

Men have a “male gaze”, they say, that “objectifies” women; what is never made clear is precisely what the opposite of “objectification” might be, and whether it is in fact possible to have sex at all without seeing your partner, among other things (a crucial proviso), as an object of your own desire. Neither can there be any question of creating neutral criteria for an objectifying gaze or attitude or approach to the Other and then actually measuring male and female behaviour to see whether these neutral criteria are fulfilled by particular individual behaviours. For the proposition that the male gaze is objectifying and the female gaze is not, derives not from experiment but from metaphysics. That is, from self-glorifying assumptions and dehumanising prejudice.

Being mortally offended by the existence of erotica is a mother-daughter transmission. Just as men learn alcoholism and wife-beating from their fathers or other father-figures, women learn moralistic condemnation and the manipulation of shame and guilt from their mothers or other mother-figures; only the occasional individual of either sex misses out on these lessons and becomes a mensch instead.

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  1. Written by urban
    on September 26, 2011 at 13:33

    Same with violence.

    Dogma to the contrary, my experience suggests that women are more violent than men, (certainly the women in my life have been far more than I am), more inclined to fly into a violent rage, throwing things, smashing things. But if you define all that as, not violence, but rather as an understandable and even admirable response to the female condition of oppression by the patriarchy, then all that destructive bad behavior becomes heroic, noble, virtuous.

    On the other hand, men have nothing to legitimately complain about. The patriarchy has arranged for all men to have perfect lives. What more could the greedy bastards possibly want? No, male violence is a sign of existential wickedness, by definition unprovoked by events in the world.

    Pure narcissism. Look at me! I am soooo wonderful that I must be the standard by which all others are measured. Others are good only to the extent that they resemble me. Those who do not look like me, act like me, rationalize like me are evil.

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