Pornography debate

Pornography is not fitting, or respectful. It cheapens a beautiful, wonderful thing, the human body. It requires performers to degrade both themselves and human closeness: if they do not feel proper self-respect, and do not realise that the money they might receive is no compensation for the damage to their dignity, then they are immature broken or dishonoured, and perhaps violent, and not fit to make the decision whether to participate. Those who finance it and degrade both the watchers and the watched are wicked.

I am sex-positive. Sex is a wonderful thing. And other things damage dignity: this is not a sin on its own.

I joined Heather and three friends, one a Quaker, in the concrete ravine to the side of the National Theatre by the bridge. I said, “We are Quakers. We do not agree about everything” (meaningful look from feminist friend) “but we listen to each other”.

Then a play. It is not a form of story-telling I am used to on stage, there are contrived impossible situations- two women tie the Queen to a chair, while offering her cakes from a sweet trolley, in order to get her to sign a decree banning pornography. “I’ve never made law like this before,” says the Queen. Then they dance what porn is, one shaking and hitting the rag-doll-like, unresponsive other, and then the Queen (having taken off her crown) solo-dances what sex is- the response of the whole body. I am sorry, I was puzzled by all this. Two scenes involved power situations I found unpleasant being subverted. There was some violence and some description of pornographic depictions of sex which I found distasteful and am glad to note I have forgotten.

Then the debate. The audience was passionate and engaged, and I did not get to make my point. Real relationships with trust where I may state my desires and want to delight my partner, giving her gifts, lead to knowledge and acceptance of self and other, but porn causes shame and fear. That was for Pandora, the “feminist” pornographer who is submissive and makes video of herself being spanked. The main points I have taken in were about the degradation of women in the films and the effect on the wider culture, including on children watching.

Oh, I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to think of the arguments. It merely revolts me.

The pornography industry lobbyist, facing a hostile audience, spoke with a stentorian monotone, not pausing or permitting interruptions, denying any problem with the industry and repeatedly characterising his opponents as “Anti-SEX”. I think him psychopathic. Kirsty thought he was not engaging with his opponents, and was saying silly things, so not worth listening to. I think he has a tactic: without respect for truth he denigrates and castigates his opponents, which might wear me out and demotivate me from arguing.

When I was at University, I read an obscene joke on a toilet wall, which I have never forgotten. It was elegantly written and repellent. I feel lessened by knowing it. So I have my argument, which suits me: fitting honour and respect for human beings- participants, watchers, and the wider society, make pornography disgusting, and to be avoided, though not banned.

Jan Sanders van Hemessen, Der kruisafneming

7 thoughts on “Pornography debate

    • I was musing on your comment, and found this was my “daily spiritual practice” email: The heart of most spiritual practice is simply this: Remember. Remember who you are. Remember what you love. Remember what is sacred. Remember what is true. Remember that you will die and that this day is a gift. Remember how you wish to live.

      • Wayne Muller.

      There were arguments. Is there a difference between “porn” and “erotica”? No, because that merely indicates difference in social class, without necessarily quality. Who can speak for the porn performer, and is putting her out of work in her interests? I would say it was. Many speaking against the sex industry are its former victims, but articulate people can speak for the inarticulate.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. There will always be those who feel no repulsion, no respect, no honour…they will come from production lines and from audience rows…will often not understand their psyche when it comes to sex, and it may appear psychotic…a reality nothing similar to a bed I like

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely writing as always. No need for another debate, but I did want to say, where I live, I am connected to a wonderful subculture of feminist sex educators. This includes those who make and view and share pornography–we even have a feminist porn festival once a year in my city. The mainstream porn industry is horrible and exploitative; but I don’t think there’s anything so special about sex that sets it apart, the one part of life that can’t be portrayed respectfully and well in visual media. The ethos in this queer feminist porn world is that many types of bodies and situations are shown, and the performers are full collaborators in productions and choose what they would like to do in their scenes, reflecting their own sexual enjoyment. I have seen some queer feminist porn featuring trans people–in an actually non-fetishizing, non-exploitative way, I mean trans people doing their own thing, often with their real-life partners–and it was very moving and healing for me, like permission to be sexual and enjoy this unusual body.

    So that’s what the issue looks like from my vantage point.


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