Greta Christina and porn

I’ve been a fan of Greta Christina for a long time. This morning someone shared a link to an older post of her – Which Side Are You On? I think this post, and the message within it, is critically important to my honours thesis.

I, like Greta Christina, am pro-porn. She wrote a post – Why Porn Matters – that references the role porn has played in her own sexuality. For me, too, porn was a critical part of my… sexual awakening (for lack of a less gag-worthy phrase). Without porn, I would never have believed I was capable of a “normal” sex life. Porn allowed me to explore fantasies in the safety of my office, with no pressure to perform them. Porn opened my eyes to the wide variety of sexual practices that are out there, and helped me find and articulate my own sexual preferences. I have a deep personal attachment to porn, I believe that it matters.

But, as she points out in the first linked post,

We need to recognize that the overwhelming majority of porn — or rather, the overwhelming majority of video porn, which is the overwhelming majority of porn — issexist, is patriarchal, does perpetuate body fascism, does create unrealistic sexual expectations for both women and men, does depict sex in ways that are not only overwhelmingly focused on male pleasure, but are rigid and formulaic and mind-numbingly tedious to boot.

That is the challenge she presents to pro-porn advocates. Recognize that much porn is just as bad as the anti-porn camp says it is. (That’s one reason I am including comparisons to mainstream porn in my analysis, rather than my original plan to just focus on feminist porn – I think the comparison is important because otherwise my thesis runs the risk of painting a too-rosy picture of the contemporary state of porn.)

She also points out that,

They [anti-porn writers] fail to recognize that, yes, 90% of porn is crap… but 90% of everything is crap. And in a sexist society, 90% of everything is sexist crap. I’ve seen some very good arguments on how most porn is sexist and patriarchal with rigid and misleading images of women… but I’ve never seen a good argument for why, in a world of sexist TV and movies and pop music and video games, porn should be singled out for special condemnation — to the point of trying to eliminate the genre altogether.

I think that’s important, too. There needs to be balance on both sides of this issue, so that it can stop being an argument and can start being a collaborative approach to finding a solution. In my mind, that solution needs to leave space for sexual expression and agency, space for sex workers and for porn and for masturbation and for fantasies of non-consent and for all those messy truths about what sex can be like. But it also does need to recognize where the current representation of gender and sexuality and agency and consent and diversity in porn is just totally lacking much of the time. The solution has to make space for porn, but it has to be good porn that fills that space.

We (as academics, activists, informed consumers) need to be able to see and honestly represent and understand both sides of the argument. Porn isn’t going away, and I think it will be better work if we can find ways to make feminist (or otherwise ethical, I don’t want to exclude the Furry Girls of the world!) porn more accessible, more appealing, and help it find more space in the marketplace. /soapbox

It was a good post to read this morning – it highlighted for me the importance of doing my best to find a balance, and to recognize the value in anti-porn feminist rhetoric and critiques, without losing sight of the fact that porn does matter and it can be positive and valuable.

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