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Author Topic: Sex and the city: attitudes toward prostitution are hypocritical
Michelle
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posted 24 March 2005 07:03 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Prostitution will never go away. Legalizing and regulating it like any other profession would drastically reduce the potential for abuse, violence and disease, with the added bonus of taking control of the industry away from exploitative pimps and organized crime. The success of the Dutch experiment can serve as inspiration, but cities like Montreal should also look at their own pasts.

Maisonneuve Magazine


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
artfuldodger
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posted 24 March 2005 07:20 PM      Profile for artfuldodger     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I have some freinds from Germany, who say that it works great, they think that we Canadians are a pretty prudish bunch.
From: Almost as far away from Winnipeg as I can get. | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
blacklisted
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posted 24 March 2005 10:09 PM      Profile for blacklisted     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
in all these discusions on legitimizing prostitution , i really find it a bit ironic that somehow legalization is going to eliminate, or even curtail abuse, exploitation and injury.
why should it work for prostitutes, when obviously it hasn't for so many other workers in so many other industries?

From: nelson,bc | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
The Other Todd
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posted 24 March 2005 10:59 PM      Profile for The Other Todd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by blacklisted:
in all these discusions on legitimizing prostitution , i really find it a bit ironic that somehow legalization is going to eliminate, or even curtail abuse, exploitation and injury.
why should it work for prostitutes, when obviously it hasn't for so many other workers in so many other industries?

Do you realize what life was like for workers _before_ even the most primitive of such kinds of legislation?


From: Ottawa | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
blacklisted
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posted 24 March 2005 11:33 PM      Profile for blacklisted     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
well, lets see, i was an exploited worker when you were born, read sinclair's the jungle at 12, come from 4 generation of labor activists, back into the mine workers union.
yeah i know what it was like and as an organizer, trainer and activist for a trade union , i'm pretty conversant with where its going and , i think before you decide to condescend any further, you might consider that the history of workers in whatever field is not one of dignity, equality or opportunity under any government in the history of North America.
Did you consider the possibility that the government might just import replacement workers to reduce wages and eliminate any benefit that legitimization might bring? oh ,did they already do that?
http://sisyphe.org/article.php3?id_article=1380

From: nelson,bc | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Doug
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posted 25 March 2005 12:09 AM      Profile for Doug   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
That is a thought - that the government might decide there is a shortage of prostitutes in the way it decided there was a shortage of strippers and therefore import some willing to work for cheaper and worse conditions. This has more to do with the "how" of legalization, though, not whether to legalize or not.
From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
The Other Todd
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posted 25 March 2005 12:46 AM      Profile for The Other Todd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by blacklisted:
well, lets see, i was an exploited worker when you were born, read sinclair's the jungle at 12, come from 4 generation of labor activists, back into the mine workers union.
yeah i know what it was like and as an organizer, trainer and activist for a trade union , i'm pretty conversant with where its going and , i think before you decide to condescend any further, you might consider that the history of workers in whatever field is not one of dignity, equality or opportunity under any government in the history of North America.
Did you consider the possibility that the government might just import replacement workers to reduce wages and eliminate any benefit that legitimization might bring? oh ,did they already do that?
http://sisyphe.org/article.php3?id_article=1380

Then, given all that, why you should make such an idiotic remark as you did first is beyond me.

So, workers haven't gotten anything from governments at all? It's all the same now as it's been since the 19th century?

Of course exploitation has continued; all we've had is reform, not revolution. But those reforms have helped alleviate serious problems and foul conditions in the workplace.

Are those gains under assault? Yes. All the more reason to fight for them.

Same goes for prostitution. There's hardly going to be anything major done overnight. But that's all the more reason to fight instead of showing this curious fatalism that's affected you.

The demand for legalization is a step forward, regardless of how small a step you see it.


From: Ottawa | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
blacklisted
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posted 25 March 2005 01:01 AM      Profile for blacklisted     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
the point , which so many apologists for government-sanctioned capitalist exploiters conveniently side-step, is that none of the progress which you tout as though it is inevitable, occured because of governmental appreciation for social justice ,or opposition to abuse of workers.
what changes workers have accomplished is more often won in spite of governmental interference , than because of benevolent interest in worker's welfare.
the irony is even more striking in light of your defence.

From: nelson,bc | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
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posted 25 March 2005 01:05 PM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
that none of the progress which you tout as though it is inevitable, occured because of governmental appreciation for social justice ,or opposition to abuse of workers.
what changes workers have accomplished is more often won in spite of governmental interference , than because of benevolent interest in worker's welfare.

How does this rebut what The Other Todd wrote? I don't recall that he said "labour law reform happens because the government is inherently kind-hearted and cares about the rights of workers".

Of course, the reforms happened mostly because workers organized to fight for them. That doesn't make those reforms any less of a good thing. As far as I know, most of the groups which claim to speak on behalf of sex trade workers also favour legalization and regulation.


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
thwap
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posted 25 March 2005 03:46 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post
i think the point is that just like being an "illegal alien" can make standing up for your rights as a worker, ... so too can employment in an illegal industry curtail your ability to defend yourself.

Of course, workers have to defend themselves, but they'll have an easier time of it if they're able to openly state their demands and complain about violations of existing labour laws.


From: Hamilton | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
blacklisted
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posted 25 March 2005 08:18 PM      Profile for blacklisted     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
i guess i have a problem visualizing how legalization,without the foundation of social responsibility which were the empowering principles behind worker emancipation, historically, can achieve the ends anticipated in the piece quoted.
"Legalizing and regulating it like any other profession would drastically reduce the potential for abuse, violence and disease, with the added bonus of taking control of the industry away from exploitative pimps and organized crime."

From: nelson,bc | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
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posted 26 March 2005 12:27 AM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
i guess i have a problem visualizing how legalization,without the foundation of social responsibility which were the empowering principles behind worker emancipation, historically, can achieve the ends anticipated in the piece quoted.
"Legalizing and regulating it like any other profession would drastically reduce the potential for abuse, violence and disease, with the added bonus of taking control of the industry away from exploitative pimps and organized crime."

Blacklisted:

I'm not sure what you mean here, especially when you use the term "social responsibility". Are you suggesting some sort of altruistic concern for a group can emerge PRIOR to the group's emancipation? If so, that would seem to broadly contradict your earlier suggestion that the emancipation of workers wasn't motivated by any benevolent intentions on the part of the government.

If some johns think it's okay to beat up prostitutes(for example), should we sit around waiting for them to develop a sense of social responisbility before we legalize and regulate prostitution? Or will that sense of social responsibility emerge precisely because emancipated prostitutes will let it be known that beating up on them is no longer acceptable, and can be answered by recourse to the police and the courts?

[ 26 March 2005: Message edited by: voice of the damned ]

[ 26 March 2005: Message edited by: voice of the damned ]


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
The Other Todd
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posted 29 March 2005 04:43 PM      Profile for The Other Todd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by blacklisted:
i guess i have a problem visualizing how legalization,without the foundation of social responsibility which were the empowering principles behind worker emancipation, historically, can achieve the ends anticipated in

What do you mean by that, "foundation of social responsibility which were the empowering principles behind worker emancipation"?


From: Ottawa | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
blacklisted
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posted 30 March 2005 03:16 AM      Profile for blacklisted     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
first,assault is assault and putting aside for a moment the disempowerment which prostitutes , women and the marginalized suffer from as a matter of course within our society , the law is already there to deal with crimes of violence.the law is a badly faulted instrument when called on to develop social policy or alter societal mores and attitudes, which give rise to the problems listed.
the wide range of support given to a more traditional workforce developed and supported the "altruistic " basis for social change which allowed and enforced the labour code devopment and improvement in working conditions. the government responded to pressure, and rarely without resorting to reactionary violence and institionalized oppression as a first response.
i feel it is unlikely that , other than perhaps a regulated fee structure and monetarily defined benefits, this , or any other government will prove a reliable venue through whch the abuses under discussion can be satisfactorily resolved.

From: nelson,bc | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
DavisMavis
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posted 30 March 2005 09:07 AM      Profile for DavisMavis     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Everyone seems to look to the Dutch example but what about this:

Sweden's Prostitution Solution

The Netherlands may have tried a progressive approach, but it really hasn't been successful in what I think the overall goal should be here: eliminating prostitution completely. In my view, it's an expression of patriarchy and male dominance and simply saying "oh well, it's never going to go away so we might as well regulate it" is only a half-solution and sort of a cop-out. The Netherlands still has a problem with underground illegal prostitution and the trafficking of women. Prostitution is a form of abuse against women and children, and we need to work towards eliminating it completely if we are going to work towards a society based on equality.


From: the occupied territory of nova scotia | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Rattus
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posted 30 March 2005 03:19 PM      Profile for Rattus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Are you saying that no woman can choose prostitution? That ALL prostitution is abuse? I clearly remember articles and radio shows where women chose prostitution for their own reasons. The difference was these women had the power to choose their Johns, had the power to stop when they wanted, and weren't under the thumb of drugs or a pimp.

I guess the real question is that if you bring prostitution into the light (it is legal already) by repealing the communication laws, the bawdy house laws, and allow red light ditricts, how will this help the average drug addicted, diseased, abused woman forced on the street by a pimp? How will this stop child prostitution?


From: Vancouver | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
spatrioter
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posted 30 March 2005 04:05 PM      Profile for spatrioter     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
One thing I found odd about this article is that they specifically argue in favour of legalization, when many sex workers' rights organizations say they do not want legalization. They prefer decriminalization, because they say they do not want interference and regulation in their lives from the government or businesses aiming to make a profit on their backs.
From: Trinity-Spadina | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Bacchus
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posted 30 March 2005 04:35 PM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
That makes them sound like corporate apologists then. No taxes, free capitalism.

Doesnt wash. They should pay taxes and be regulated just like everyone else. Besides without that, they would still be abused


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DavisMavis
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posted 30 March 2005 05:18 PM      Profile for DavisMavis     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Rattus:
Are you saying that no woman can choose prostitution? That ALL prostitution is abuse? I clearly remember articles and radio shows where women chose prostitution for their own reasons. The difference was these women had the power to choose their Johns, had the power to stop when they wanted, and weren't under the thumb of drugs or a pimp.

I view prostitution as abuse just like I view pornography as abuse (specifically the hetero mainstream stuff). That might be a little extreme, but as a feminist/pro-feminist man (choose your term) I think that prostitution is a form of patriarchy and male dominance, and therefore a form of abuse. Women can choose to be prostitutes just like they can choose to work in pornography. That doesn't change my opinion that they are both primarily used/consumed by men and on the whole are abusive and demeaning towards women. I'm much more concerned with eliminating illegal prostitution and indeed there are situational solutions that would provide more safety for prostitutes, such as regulated bordellos and such, but if I was to get down to the bottom line, prostitution and pornography is still premised on the concept that women and children are sex objects to be used by men, no matter if the women involved choose to be involved or not. If we still have "industries" like these that exist in our society, then gender equality will remain a fantasy. If you read the article on Sweden's solution, within the legislation there are provisions for better counselling and rehab programs for recovering sex workers. Sweden's solution focusses on punishing the men who are trying to buy sex, not the women who are selling it, and thus no longer punishes the victims as were are currently doing in Canada.


From: the occupied territory of nova scotia | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Rattus
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posted 30 March 2005 05:35 PM      Profile for Rattus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I guess I'm not a feminist, although I am an equalist. I find it funny you differentiate between (or appear to differentiate between) Hetero and Homo Porn. Do you equally differentiate between Hetero and Homo prostitution? Is one patriarchal and the other something between consenting adults?

Me, I see prostitution as something I'd rather not partake of, but if two consenting adults chose to do so, and one makes money on the transaction, I don't see it as my business. Regulating it may help in that Johns could then find willing, consenting, women without cruising the streets. Those that do cruise streets after regulation are likely kiddie cruisers or violent Johns. Wouldn't it be much easier to help those that are physically being abused (as opposed to those that are "politically" abused)under such a system?


From: Vancouver | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 30 March 2005 05:46 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
That doesn't change my opinion that they are both primarily used/consumed by men and on the whole are abusive and demeaning towards women.

Notwithstanding the truly abusive stuff (eg: the stuff that actually depicts abuse), I think this attitude is almost invariably linked to a belief that sex is unique and "special" in the human repertoire of activities, and as often as not, a similar belief that sex "must" or "should" only ever be an expression of love.

What if you don't agree?

I have a friend who, at one time, wanted to get into gay porn. To him, sex feels good, like a backrub, and isn't "special", or at least any more special than a backrub. To get paid reasonable money to appear in a video getting his back rubbed would be ideal for this friend, and so getting money to appear in a movie getting a blowjob would too. To him, sex would just be another thing he could do that someone would pay him for, and it would be a hell of a lot more pleasant than, say, pouring coffee (and with better pay, to boot).


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
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posted 30 March 2005 10:39 PM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Notwithstanding the truly abusive stuff (eg: the stuff that actually depicts abuse), I think this attitude is almost invariably linked to a belief that sex is unique and "special" in the human repertoire of activities

Well, when you think about it, sex IS kinda treated as unique in the human repertoire. If I'm sitting at a downtown bus stop and suddenly start scratching my ear, no one is gonna notice, much less care. However, if I'm sitting at a downtown bus stop and suddenly start masturbating, I'll likely have the police or an angry mob chasing me down the street in short order. And even the most liberal, "sex positive" thinker would probably find nothing amiss in that reaction.

[ 30 March 2005: Message edited by: voice of the damned ]


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
SubHuman
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posted 31 March 2005 08:37 AM      Profile for SubHuman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Swedish "solution"? You're joking, right?

http://www.greens.co.nz/searchdocs/speech6050.html

quote:
Nor should we turn to the Swedish model which prosecutes the men who pay for sex...

While on the Select Committee we heard evidence from a sex worker in Sweden who talked about the much greater physical dangers she and others now face as a result of the law change there. She reported that some of the worst consequences of the Swedish law have been that there is a lot more underage teenage prostitution, that the mafia bosses have more control, and that workers are too scared to get police help even when friends are murdered because if it gets out that they've called the cops, they lose all their customers.


http://www.bayswan.org/swed/rosswed.html

quote:
To be a sex worker in Sweden is dangerous...

http://www.petraostergren.com/english/studier.magister.asp

quote:
Most of the female Swedish sexworkers I have interviewed voice a strong critique of their legal and social situation. They feel discriminated against, endangered by the very laws that seek to protect them...

They also strongly discourage other countries from adopting similar legislation...

They wish that prostitution in Sweden would be legalized (or at least decriminalized), that there would be unions and organizations for sexworkers, that the stigma around them would be lifted and that they would be granted the same rights and obligations as other women and citizens.



From: nexus of the crisis | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
DavisMavis
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posted 31 March 2005 11:08 AM      Profile for DavisMavis     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thanks for those links, SubHuman, I hadn't seen those before. I have seen stats that say that Sweden has been successful in actually decreasing the number of prostitutes on the streets, but I guess every system has its flaws (and apparently pretty big ones). I just thought that the Swedish solution was interesting given that it had its roots in actually eliminating prostitution, not legalizing and regulating it. Is there any way to take the good things from the Swedish legislation and combine it with unionizing sex workers and legalizing prostitution, maybe creating a situation that is better than both the Dutch and the Swedish model? Can a government create an environment that is safe for sex workers while at the same time "cracking down" on prostitution itself?

I differentiate between homo and hetero porn because hetero porn is more often based on female subjugation and patriarchy. Homo porn can be abusive on the same basis, but a lot of the time that dynamic of dominance is a lot different. With that being said, homosexual prostitution runs the same risks of abuse and has the same dominance dynamic (the great majority of the johns are still male) that hetero prostitution does. Prostitution needs to be eliminated, regardless of whether it is homo- or hetero-prostitution.

And yes, Magoo, my position does stem from a belief that sex is intrinsically linked to emotion and intimacy, and to disconnect emotion from intimacy takes us back to a dynamic where people being used as sex objects, and sex becomes the acquisition of pleasure through the taking of another. I'm fully aware that this day in age I'm in the minority with this position, and I don't have any problems with people who don't feel the same way. If you can have lots of sex with lots of people and keep your humanity, then more power to you. Even if you're in "love" with someone, say you're married, sex can still be an expression of patriarchy and dominance if you disconnect it from emotion to the point that one or both of you become simply objects. If we use sex as a way to express intimacy and look at it as an emotional act, then it satisfies not only a physical need, but an emotional and spiritual need as well. We can reconnect with our compassionate nature as human beings. If we refuse to look at sex as an emotional act (or as Magoo says, "special"), then we lose part of our humanity. That's just my opinion, based on personal experience.


From: the occupied territory of nova scotia | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 31 March 2005 11:52 AM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think what needs to be done at once is getting sex trade workers out of the cars of their clients. It's probably the most dangerous place for them.

The only way to do that is to get rid of the "keeping a common bawdy house" law, so women can work out of the more secure places.

This doesn't solve everything. It doesn't make prostitution safe. It would, however, make it a bit safer.

Maybe we should for a moment put aside what sex means to us on a philisophical level, and for the sake of sex trade workers just look at it as a job. People relate to health and safety issues, where as sex skews how we view things.

We all have ideas for wholesale change that would allow men and women who freely choose to work in the sex trade to work in a safe environment. But given that the populace as a whole can't think straight because sex is involved, all we can hope for is small steps. Which isn't a terrible approach as long as they are constant steps.

I think it's been over twenty years since parliament has looked at the issue of prostitution.

Perhaps that's the biggest problem.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
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posted 01 April 2005 01:25 AM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
differentiate between homo and hetero porn because hetero porn is more often based on female subjugation and patriarchy. Homo porn can be abusive on the same basis, but a lot of the time that dynamic of dominance is a lot different.

I'm curious as to how much hetero porn you've actually seen. In my, ahem, considerable experience with the genre, the female characters are usually portrayed as enjoying the sex as much as the men are, and are more often than not portrayed as the initiators of sexual activity. So as far as the storylines of the pictures and the fiction go, I'd say there is actually very little subjugation.

If you're referring to the real-life economic subjugation that takes place in the production of pornography, that's a different story. Quite likely there's a lot of that, in the sense that the porn industry is probably not the first career choice that people would make if they had other options. But I suspect that's probably a big facet of the gay porn industry as well.


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Crippled_Newsie
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posted 01 April 2005 04:19 AM      Profile for Crippled_Newsie     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by voice of the damned:
If you're referring to the real-life economic subjugation that takes place in the production of pornography, that's a different story. Quite likely there's a lot of that, in the sense that the porn industry is probably not the first career choice that people would make if they had other options. But I suspect that's probably a big facet of the gay porn industry as well.

I recall reading an essay on the topic of pornography in the gay magazine Christopher Street that described how the subject put many lesbians and gay men in conflict. The premise was that feminist lesbians saw porn just as many people here describe it: unvarnished subjugaiton of women. Gay men, however, tended to believe that whatever porn could do to enhance a 'sex-positive' sociological view was inherently useful to their cause, and was therefore good and proper.

I'm sure that the gay porn milieu is not all fun and games, but I do know there are plenty of guys who head out to Palm Springs from Podunk with the deliberate intention to get paid to have sex on camera.


From: It's all about the thumpa thumpa. | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
DavisMavis
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posted 01 April 2005 10:51 AM      Profile for DavisMavis     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think I've seen more than enough hetero porn to come to my conclusions. I'm an adolescent male, after all. I don't think I need to go into detail about my porn-viewing history. And yes, the female characters are often depicted as initiating and enjoying the sexual acts in the videos. But that's all part and parcel of the problem. No matter what the content, the women are portrayed as accepting it and enjoying it. One sex act that is becoming more and more common in mainstream hetero porn is the "double penetration". For decency's sake I won't go into detail, but the woman is usually shown enjoying this act, which in reality is probably very painful and uncomfortable. And so depicting women as enjoying whatever is done to their bodies in these porn videos just acts as justification for the abuse that occurs. Also, I'm not really talking about strict specifics regarding plot and content in each and every porn video, I'm more concerned with the overall effect it has on gendered sexual relations and our patriarchal society at large. I don't think I have to examine the social dynamics at play when a man or group of men ejaculate onto a woman's face, it seems pretty obvious that it's only about one thing: dominance.
From: the occupied territory of nova scotia | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
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posted 01 April 2005 11:16 AM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
No matter what the content, the women are portrayed as accepting it and enjoying it.

Would you prefer it if they were portrayed as NOT accpeting and enjoying it?

quote:
And so depicting women as enjoying whatever is done to their bodies in these porn videos just acts as justification for the abuse that occurs.

But how is this different from the sexual fantasies that people concoct in their own minds? I don't think I'm unusual in saying that my fantasies almost always involve women enjoying whatever I do to their bodies, which may or may not be what most women would enjoy in real life. Would you also object to a guy who has double penetration fantasies in his own mind without looking at pornography?

quote:
I don't think I have to examine the social dynamics at play when a man or group of men ejaculate onto a woman's face, it seems pretty obvious that it's only about one thing: dominance.

What about pornogrpahy that portrays cunnilingus? Or female masturbation? What social dynamics are at play there?


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
DavisMavis
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posted 01 April 2005 01:00 PM      Profile for DavisMavis     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I don't really know what game you're playing here, VoD, but I guess I'll join in for a bit. Of course I wouldn't rather have women depicted as not enjoying it. But women who are made to act as if they are enjoying brutal sexual acts is pretty much like sexual propaganda. Sexual fantasies are private and I don't care what people consensually do in their own bedrooms. People's private thoughts aren't packaged for public consumption. Sexual acts like cunnilingus and female masturbation have no relation to male dominance and actually are pretty positive if the focus is on the woman's pleasure. But ejaculating on a woman's face and portraying this as wanted and normal is degrading. Period. If a woman would like a man to ejaculate on her face in the privacy of their bedroom, that's fine. But the "take it bitch... yeah, that's right, you like it" attitude of mainstream heterosexual pornography is extremely sexist and harmful. Basically I see mainstream pornography as an extension of men's concept of masculinity, and it's a dynamic in which men are dominant and women's sexuality should conform to his needs, thus the facade of the woman enjoying what is happening in the video. It is still reinforcing the message that a man's sexual pleasure involves the taking of a woman. Men in my cohort still refer to seducing a woman as "getting a piece of ass". I think it's important to ask us why we find this kind of thing sexually arousing and what that says about men in general. I think we should ask ourselves if the women in the videos actually want what is happening to them to happen. If you're asking me if I prefer that these videos depict women not liking it, I'd have to say no, I'd prefer it if the women were depicted as people, not sex objects.
From: the occupied territory of nova scotia | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 01 April 2005 01:16 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What's your take on amateur porn, D/M? Not the billion-dollar-a-year industry stuff, but reg'lar folks on the Internet type stuff?

If a woman who isn't a professional porn actor, who's not really in it to earn a living, appears to be enjoying herself, even if she's with two guys, or covered in spoo, is that legit?


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
The Other Todd
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posted 01 April 2005 01:28 PM      Profile for The Other Todd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by DavisMavis:
I don't think I have to examine the social dynamics at play when a man or group of men ejaculate onto a woman's face, it seems pretty obvious that it's only about one thing: dominance.

Mmmm. Didn't there used to be some small amount of controversy over having sex "doggie style" as opposed to the missionary position? The argument being along the lines of the act being degrading because the lovers weren't looking at each other's faces (and possibly fantasizing about having sex with someone else)?

Like you say in your description of bukake above, I agree it'd be wrong to maintain that there isn't _any_ dominance "in there" ie located somewhere in the act itself, but I have to wonder at where the line gets drawn. Lots of this stuff is, well, fantasy. As much as any Hollywood blockbuster movie. And, arguments about "copy catting" aside, is there anything wrong with fantasy?

You mentioned suspecting the women are just acting pleased while the cameras are on, and there is something to that. After all it is a job under capitalist conditions. But there are those who do like their work, no matter how often others tell them they're being degraded, objectified, used, etc (or helping to perpetuate one of those conditions). And I'm actually thinking of Wal-Mart workers here, more than porn actors and actresses.

I think the "way out" for prostitutes as well as porn workers is much what Marx suggested for other workers: "take" political power and create a world of "free producers" ie where coercion is at least minimized, at most absent. So that would mean setting up social conditions where women could feel free to start or stop "public sex" ie prostitution/porn participation if they wanted to, with no harm (broadly speaking) done to them.


From: Ottawa | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
DavisMavis
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posted 01 April 2005 02:51 PM      Profile for DavisMavis     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You all raise good points, and I don't want anyone to get the impression that I'm not receptive, I can just be a little stuck in my ways, haha.

I think that microanalyzing each and every form of pornography and wondering about how much each actress is enjoying such and such sexual act takes away from my broader conclusion that pornography, as a concept, oftentimes reinforces patriarchy and contributes to the dynamic of male dominance. I'm more interested on how pornography affects our culture, how it affects women in general, what images does it negatively reinforce and stereotype, etc., etc. That being said, I'll do my best to try and answer your questions. Hhhmmm, amateur porn. There's a good point, magoo. There's nothing wrong with videotaping yourself having sex or whatever and posting it on the net from a feminist or progressive moral standpoint if it's all consensual and doesn't involve actual abuse. If the woman isn't in it for the money, chances are she's doing it because she enjoys it. And if that's the case, I don't see anything wrong.

And as for the doggie-style thing, Todd, yes, I see where you're coming from. I think a lot of it has to do with the attitude the actors in the video come across as having. If the man in the video is depicted as having sex with a woman doggy-style and it is put forward as an act that is meant to dominate her and dehumanize her, then of course it's troubling. But if you're in the bedroom with your girlfriend or wife and you both want to have doggy-style sex and you both love and respect each other, then there's nothing inherently dominating or patriarchal about that at all. I don't want to get caught up in my own words here because I don't simply view pornography as an expression of male fantasy... it involves real people and has an impact on sexual relations between genders. Sure, Hollywood can be about fantasy, but real people aren't getting blown to bits and Keanu Reaves isn't actually The One, but porn involves real people having real sex. That's why when we get down to microanalyzing aspects of porn we sort of lose the general meaning of a feminist critique. There is absolutely nothing wrong with fantasy. Nothing. Everyone has sexual fantasies that range from tame to pretty extreme. But if you fantasize about double-penetrations, it's a bit different when women are asked to act them out for consumption by a male audience.

I have no doubt that there are some porn actors who enjoy what they do. I have no doubt that most male porn actors enjoy what they do, considering that they are viewed as the studliest of the studly by a lot of adolescent males. And no doubt there are porn actresses who enjoy what they do. But that doesn't change my opinion of porn in general. Now that being said, I do support efforts by female porn actresses to increase the social services provided to porn actresses and also any plans to make their work safer. I think you're bang on Todd when you use a Marxist analysis. But that doesn't mean that the feminist critique of mainstream porn isn't of any value. I guess my main point is we just have to be aware of, and spread awareness of, the patriarchal attitudes and male dominance dynamic contained in a lot of pornography. I'm realistic, I know that prostitution and porn will be part of life long after I'm dead and gone. But I'll continue to sharply criticize both.


From: the occupied territory of nova scotia | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 01 April 2005 03:49 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
On the porn issue, it distrubs me that so many men use it to rationalize baser motives. Of course, there are conservatives on the right, and idealogues on the left that do the same. Talk about dominance and control.

Anywho, the thing is understanding the difference between fantasy and reality.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
DavisMavis
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posted 01 April 2005 07:30 PM      Profile for DavisMavis     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I definitely think people for the most part can distinguish fantasy from reality for themselves, but I'm more concerned with the bigger questions... like why men find the things depicted in porn to be sexually arousing and how, even if we acknowledge that porn does not reflect reality, it effects the gender dynamic of society at large. And as I've said before, it's all well and good to know that porn isn't reflective of reality, but the acts depicted are actually happening to real people.
From: the occupied territory of nova scotia | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
andrean
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posted 01 April 2005 10:01 PM      Profile for andrean     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
DavisMavis, you've offered some really good analysis of the "big picture" of mainstream porn but I'm a little concerned that some of your comments deny women a legitimate sexual agency. I think you've fallen into the trap of presenting women's sexuality as "pure" and men's as "dirty". This is in itself a patriarchal construction, though it's oddly one that's been embraced by some feminists.

For example,

quote:
I think we should ask ourselves if the women in the videos actually want what is happening to them to happen.

suggests that the answer is "no". But why is the answer no? Lots of workers don't enjoy aspects of their jobs and would not willingly choose to participate in them. Is it because their working conditions are poor and their labour is being exploited? Or is it because there is something inherently unacceptable about what is happening to them, such that they should not want it to be happening? (I think specifically of your double penetration example.) If it's the former, there's a remedy available but if it's the latter, it opens a much larger question about what kinds of sexual activity is acceptable, and to whom, and who gets to decide that?

quote:
Sexual acts like cunnilingus and female masturbation have no relation to male dominance and actually are pretty positive if the focus is on the woman's pleasure.

Any activity in porn is related to male dominance if it's prepared for the male gaze (and almost all of it is). Dividing up sex acts into "positive" and "negative" ignores the context of the acts: I don't believe that degradation is necessarily inherent in the act (there are some extreme exceptions), but rather in the context within which it occurs and the relationship between the people engaging in it.

quote:
I'm more concerned with the bigger questions... like why men find the things depicted in porn to be sexually arousing

I'd be interested in asking why women don't find the things depicted in porn arousing - not to "normalize" the porn such that women should be aroused by it (and are weird because they're not) but to avoid the implication that women's purer sexual tastes are superior to men's base ones. And also to consider whether women may indeed be aroused by the depiction of sex acts but are socialized not to want to admit it. Or maybe they find the idea of the sex act appealing but are put off by how it's portrayed.

You return several times to your very valid point that porn, unlike other films, involves real actions being done to real people. Certainly any work that involves people being made to do things that they don't want to do is troubling but you point out also that it goes beyond that for you, into the very nature of what sex is and how it should be enacted. Your mention that

quote:
my position does stem from a belief that sex is intrinsically linked to emotion and intimacy, and to disconnect emotion from intimacy takes us back to a dynamic where people being used as sex objects, and sex becomes the acquisition of pleasure through the taking of another.

But it's not an either/or situation, in which either one is emotionally connected and intimate with their sex partner or is using them as an object. People are much more complicated than such polarization allows. We can enjoy the physical pleasure of sex without an emotional bond and with the understanding that the other partner is receiving pleasure from it as well. We don't need to participate in the construct of sex being something that women "give" and men "take" nor support the myth that what women really want is love and they supply sex to get it, whereas men really want sex and offer love to get it.

I'm just trying to be careful to avoid analysis that denies women the joy of their base desires.


From: etobicoke-lakeshore | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 02 April 2005 05:44 AM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
...but I'm more concerned with the bigger questions... like why men find the things depicted in porn to be sexually arousing...

I think for that we have to delve into the realm of evolutionary pschology. I think it's naive to believe that all of our sexual behavior is the sole creation of our environment. Perhaps the details are. Many men may have the inborn desire to dominate; attachment to steel cuffs over leather ones are likely determined by environment.

I think men and women are arroused, at least on one level or another, by depictions of sex. Why should that be? Maybe there was some evolutionary advantage for us at one time for people to have sex, and give birth around the same time? Seeing others copulating triggering sexual arousal would make sense? Maybe it's a holdover from the behavior of a common ancestor, when sex was used as social currency? Maybe it took on lesser importance to us, and maybe it became magnified in our cousins the Bonobos?

Just wondering.

What we make of all this can't, however, be separated from our environment. Lesbian S&M, for example, may have some fashionable cachet at the moment, while men dominating women does not. Hypocricy? When you put things in the historical context of our society it becomes less and less hypocritical to make a distinction.

In a perfect world, individuals can step outside the confines of historical context and decide for themselves what's right for them.

But that's a lot easier to say than do.

quote:
it's all well and good to know that porn isn't reflective of reality, but the acts depicted are actually happening to real people.

Like I said above about prostitution, I think we have to stop treating the sex trade different than cabinet making, for example. If we treated it as a job, then we'd stop making the silly assumptions that workers in the industry don't fall under the same protective statutes as any other worker.


(Edited to remove the word "basically". I really, really detest how over used that word is. Shoot me if I use it again.)

[ 02 April 2005: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ]


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
swallow
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posted 02 April 2005 08:13 AM      Profile for swallow     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Wow andrean, that's one insightful post.

Just one thing to say. From DavisMavis:

quote:
pornography, as a concept, oftentimes reinforces patriarchy and contributes to the dynamic of male dominance.

If that's the problem, if the porn is a symptom, then why focus on the porn, rather than the patriarchy? It feels a little Victorian or "war on drugs" to me.

So much of this is perception. A member of the Sex Workers Alliance of Toronto once said to me: "I've never felt more in control than when i'm being fucked by a man." That's nto a universal experience of course, but it's a real experience.


From: fast-tracked for excommunication | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
DavisMavis
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posted 02 April 2005 09:14 AM      Profile for DavisMavis     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Wow, some really good ideas and questions here! First to swallow's question: I do focus a lot of my time and energy on bigger questions of patriarchy, but my musings on porn have a lot to do with trying to figure out why I have the reactions I do to pornography, what that means to me as a man, how is it shaping my attitudes, etc., etc. In a society with epidemic rates of sexual and domestic abuse, I think the message in pornography helps to solidify the male-dominant dynamic and even normalize it, so for me it goes beyond just porn. The pornography question is moreso borne out of a linkage between my interest in feminism and my own personal questions about how I feel about the issue of pornography. And you're right, swallow, a lot of it is perception. But my perspective is that a lot of porn is pretty grotesque misogyny. Much of it, from my perspective, humiliates, objectifies, and abuses women. Some women may feel "power" when being "fucked by a man", but I wonder what rape and sexual assault victims think about porn?

I agree, Tommy, that porn certainly triggers a certain inborn desire to dominate. But does that make it right? There are lots of baser instincts we deny ourselves in order to maintain an orderly and functioning society. And of course men and women are aroused by depictions of sex, but porn includes a lot of depictions that are, again from my perspective, pretty questionable. I disagree with treating porn or prostitution as just another job. While I agree with regulating them, creating safer working environments, etc., I think the issues have to be approached differently. While I don't deny that sex work is a job, no other job involves the same levels of sexual male dominance and sexual abuse. Again, from my perspective.

Andrean, you raise some really good points. I hope I don't fall into the trap you mentioned because I don't consider men's sexuality as dirty or women's as pure, my personal analysis of the subject hasn't extended, at least in my mind, that far. But when men's sexuality it based on dominance, and a woman's sexuality is reduced to wanting sex all the time in whatever shape or form a man wants it, as it depicted in porn, that's when my hackles are raised. When I say that we should think about whether the women in the videos want what is happening to them to be happening, I'm not saying the answer is always no. Nor is it always yes. Sure, lots of workers don't enjoy their jobs, but not a whole lot of jobs involve being put into situations where it is easy for sexual abuse and dehumanization to occur. I don't think it's so much what sexual behavior is acceptable because you can do whatever the heck you want (consensually) in your own bedroom, but it's what kind of sex is portrayed in porn as being normal, or what women want. I'm not saying that some women don't want to be penetrated anally and vaginally at the same time by two men, but this is becoming more and more popular within the mainstream. Porn itself encourages people to disregard empathy in exchange for their own pleasure. It doesn't matter what is being portrayed in the video as long as you can derive pleasure from it. It's that concept that I have the most problems with. I agree with you, andrean, about dividing up sex acts into positive and negative. I still have less of a problem with a video depicting a woman masturbating than I have with a video of a woman being ejaculated on by multiple men. But as I've said before, I prefer to approach porn generally and ask the bigger questions. I'm not implying that women's sexual tastes are above men's, but if a man's sexual taste is premised on the dominance and dehumanization of a woman, then I do consider it to be troubling. To me personally, I do find watching sex arousing, but it's how it's depicted in porn that I find off-putting. I don't know if this is related to how women see it or not, but it is definitely an interesting question. And of course I'm not so naive to think it's an either/or question when it comes to sex and intimacy. I just think that when you combine the act of deriving pleasure from sex with the act of expressing your feelings towards someone, sex becomes an act that easily transcends simply the acquisition of pleasure. I might have been a little severe in my black and white analysis, but I was simply trying to illustrate how I felt. How everyone connects to other people through sex is different and varies wildly. I just feel that making the connection in the first place is important. Again, that's just my perspective.


From: the occupied territory of nova scotia | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 02 April 2005 09:31 AM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
"I agree, Tommy, that porn certainly triggers a certain inborn desire to dominate."

Well, I'm not saying porn triggers anything beyond arousal. I'm saying the desire to dominate is inherant in many people's sexuality, and the way it manifests itself is dependant on environment-- of which porn is but an element.

We're getting to a point where threads on porn break down and get unpleasent, mostly because we throw words around without having the same understanding of them, and people misinterpret things.

I'm wondering how much we see as "dominance" is something we are projecting.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Crippled_Newsie
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posted 02 April 2005 11:25 AM      Profile for Crippled_Newsie     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Reading all of the above reminds me how very complicated intimate relations between men and women either are, or have been made to be.

With that in mind, I just wanted to take a moment to address whatever greater powers there might be in the universe and give them my heartfelt thanks for making me gay.


From: It's all about the thumpa thumpa. | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 02 April 2005 12:21 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
HA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Me too, Tape... me too!


From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 02 April 2005 02:42 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Hephaestion:
HA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Me too, Tape... me too!


Well, it's not my usual thing, but anything for a friend..... You might want to apply a light coat of baby powder while I go get three or four rolls of duct tape, Heph... and turn your air conditioning on.

Tommy "I'll tape anyone" Paine.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Bacchus
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posted 02 April 2005 03:19 PM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Oooh the baby powder is essential, especially if PVC is involved (remembering the last porn I made)
From: n/a | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
SubHuman
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posted 03 April 2005 06:07 AM      Profile for SubHuman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Re getting rid of the "keeping a common bawdy house" law:

That is what should be done, but the vast majority of prostitution in Canada already takes place indoors, and has nothing to do with prostitutes getting into strangers' cars. I'm not sure it would have any practical effect on street prostitution.

The authorities in most cities already tolerate and license "massage parlours" which are obviously in the business of providing a sexual service, and in larger cities prostitutes now openly advertise that they work from a location kept specifically for the purpose. For the most part the enforcement of the law has become very sparing, selective, uneven, and perhaps unfair or possibly corrupt if things here are as they were in Australia.


From: nexus of the crisis | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
digbyscallop
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posted 11 April 2005 05:05 PM      Profile for digbyscallop     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
As I worked alone today in the great outdoors this often trotted out reply surfaced into my consciousness.

"Prostitution is the oldest profession"

In reflecting on that for a good while I came to disagree very strongly with that patriarchal deflection and decided that it is more likely that: "Political and theocratic treachery are the oldest professions".

Great debate from all of you. Bonne nuit!


From: Nova Scotia | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged

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