Tonight I attended the world premiere of "The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships" right here in Austin. I was invited by Bob Jensen, UT's resident feminist anti-porn scholar.
The film's title and narration promised an analysis of porn, sexuality, and relationships and it delivered on the first of the three. Obviously anti-porn, the film revealed the normally hidden class conflict of the porn wars by depicting articulate college students as the intelligently anti-porn interviewees and juxtaposed meaty, douchey guys standing in its favor. At least they interviewed Joanna Angel, one of my favorite porn stars who appears in Tristan Taormino's "House of Ass."
Relationships, or, more specifically, what effect (if any) porn has on them wasn't covered, either: I wish it had been. Sexuality wasn't dealt with much, except in that homosexuality and gay porn was noticeably absent.
When I encounter activists who would eliminate porn I [almost] ask aloud the question I'm always asking: "What about the fucking?" The hypothesis is that porn, because of its depiction of violence against women on film, heightens violence against women in real life. Ignoring, for a moment, the fact that no research has ever supported that claim, if violence does increase, doesn't sex go up with it?
If the goal is to eliminate violence against women by eliminating porn, what about the fucking? The judgment of the aggression and violence is clear, but not so on the sex that is portrayed. Should [educated, in the know academic types] eschew both violence and sex? Or at least, certain kinds of sex that the anti-porn crusaders find distasteful? The question of whether or not the sex that porn is portraying is okay when it doesn't appear on film isn't addressed by this debate.
Part of the instrument used by "porn content researchers" depicted in the film revealed the behaviors they deemed "violent and aggressive": spanking and gagging. First of all, spanking is Kink 101--a slap on the ass doth not a violent sex scene make. And gagging--have any of these researchers ever given anyone a blow job? Or eaten a popsicle? Sometimes you gag.
I know people--indeed, some of their questions have been answered right here on Go-To Girl, who enjoy, say, being slapped in the face during sex. Were their desires influenced by porn? Perhaps. But do they not have a right to engage in sex they find exciting, pleasurable, and consensual? Yes, they do.
I have encountered enough educated, sensitive, liberal types who secretly, guiltily long for sex that is aggressive, at times violent, and basically the antithesis of the feminist, peacelove ideology they were raised with.
Sex guilt is bad, no matter whether the source is conservative religion or liberal parenting.
PS--Not to mention that there is a profit motive behind porn control--the Promise Keepers offer filtered internet and an "internet accountability" service for $7.99 a month that lets you have the report of what you've been doing online sent to your wife, kids, or pastor. What better way to get men to sign up for your service than by convincing them that porn is bad and that they're helpless against its powers? I wonder what the Christian Spanking people think of it...