Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Pornographic is Political

Hang on, I've gone through the looking glass again. 

Most importantly, THESE OPINIONS ARE NOT VALID. THEY ARE IDEAS IN PROGRESS AND SINCE THEY CHALLENGE THE FEMINIST FOUNDATION OF THE PROTESTS AGAINST THE NEW PORNOGRAPHY LAWS, THEY ARE NOT TO BE USED TO FURTHER THE DEBATE. THEY ARE A BIT LIKE THOSE WHACKY IDEAS CULTS HAVE... A SUGGESTION.

There's an article in The Independent that insists that 'The new UK porn legislation will turn erotic film into boring, unrealistic male fantasy'. Forgive me for living in the 1950s, but isn't that exactly the situation already?

My attitude to freedom of speech is pretty hardline. I draw the line at people having sex on Sauchiehall Street, and respect the importance of a ratings system (protect the children and that). I am also against anything that films a criminal act - like child abuse - but believe that this is not a matter of censorship but criminal law. I am happy that Dapper Laughs isn't on TV, but not because he ought to be 'banned' (he's not funny). 

Let me try and follow this. Recently, Dapper was refused a second series - whether this was because of the campaign against him or just TV execs realising that his comedy was out of date and moronic is moot. There was a campaign to get him off the TV which, technically, isn't full censorship, since he would still be able to make DVDs or vines or whatever to get his mirthless antics out into the world. But the campaign was about preventing him using a particular media.

Attacking Dapper was framed as a feminist issue. Fair enough.

Now The Independent is worrying that new legislation about the subjects in pornography are an attack on freedom of speech (with the body as text, I guess). It has an article that insists that this legislation acts against representations of female desire. 

My favourite part is the complaint that the new laws are moralistic. Well, yes: that is the function of the law. 

I am not going to go over the list - anyone wanting their jollies can check The Independent, which has got all hot under the collar about it, and given loads of space for Erika Lust to advertise her movies under the guise of commentary. For the record, I don't actually know that much about face-sitting, but I tend towards being against any censorship. And I agree with the worry that this selection of activities does not discern the difference between consensual hanky-panky and non-consensual (aka sexual abuse).

But I am going to struggle with the idea that defending the rights of film-makers to produce content that features people pissing on each other is, in some way, a feminist battle.

First of all, other strands of feminism have always regarded pornography as intrinsically anti-feminist. I'm thinking Dworkin, radical feminism of the 1970s, the anti-page 3 campaigns (again, they might be about addressing material in a specific medium rather than simple anti-porn activist).

It's part of a wider problem that 'feminism' is seen as a monolithic entity, rather than a diverse series of responses, attitudes and activities. 

Then there is the actual content that is being banned. I know that fisting sounds more violent than it is, and that female ejaculation was a big hit on the internet in 2012, but I am not sure that the activities that are banned are acting specifically as a ban on female pleasure. 

It's a grab-bag of activities, some associated with violent sex, others simply outside of the 'mainstream' idea of sexuality. It doesn't seem consistent enough to betray a particular agenda - beyond the patriarchal agenda that all legislation subconsciously posits - but it includes some things that could be seen as violent 'unrealistic male fantasy.' 

Trying to pick out one or two items and shout that this represents an attack on representations of female desire... I don't think that is a strong response. I think it is an example of how leftist thinking tends to mix and match egotism and ideology.

However, at this point, I am going to be quiet. As a man, I don't get to tell feminism what it is, or what can be said in its name. 


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