Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Collective action

Someone brought up the problem of collective action elsewhere. The idea that "well, if everyone stopped supporting the capitalistic system/eating meat/buying exploitative porn (or any porn, if you're the type to think it all is) then these problems would disappear." It reminded me of my own struggles with porn back when I was a hmmm shall I call it more porn-critical? I was never exactly anti-porn feminist.

I stopped using porn for a while, which I've mentioned, for reasons very like those. I've mentioned going back to using porn in here before, but I thought this take on it might prove interesting and illuminating, so:

"Well, I like this, and I'm not
using it for sexist reasons BUT if we ALL stopped, there'd be NO more rape on
film. And someone has to get the ball rolling. As much as I'll miss enjoying
looking at it, if I'm the one who does, I'm brave!" *pretends vast majority of
hard drive is empty*

*waits eagerly for The Menz (tm) to be inspired by her example*


"Huh. This ain't workin'. Looks like I don't matter to the machine."

*Devil appears on shoulder* "Don't you miss it?"

*Angel appears on shoulder* "No! Do not open that folder!"

"But... she's right. I'm liberating nobody doing this and I'm feeling resentful
about what I can and can't look at, and surely that's not feminist political

*Angel gasps* "But if NO ONE lives like they would in the better world, it'll
never come to pass! And remember, once the Industry falls, people will be free
to make pictures again and you can look at them! You should be doing your part
to speed The Day's coming!"

"Hmm. Um..."

"She's off her gourd. No sexist guy has, will, or did change his wanking
patterns because you changed yours!"


"'Be the change you want to see in the world!'"

"Hmm, she has a point there. Someone's gotta be the example."

"But you're NOT the example. Hear the crickets? No one cares! They've never even heard of you, or of anti-porn feminists -- or if they have they think MacKinnon needs a dicking, or snicker about the dickings she got from Masson."

*mouse hovering*

"'Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. It's the only thing that ever has.'"

*Dev's tail twitches* "Angel honey, have you ever had an original thought in your LIFE?"

*Trin wavers*

*Devil rolls her eyes* "Trin, Angel has about as much idea what those sayings mean as you or I do. Who are the 'concerned citizens'? What kind of political action did they actually do? How'd they plan it? And where's the proof that everyone who made serious social change started as a small group anyway? And who's your "group" of concerned citizens? All I see is you yourself, agonizing over whether to purge your porn collection. I don't see you in an "expornie" group, struggling together to not look. Whatever sense that saying makes, it's just a bumper sticker now."


"But Trin, you can't support that!"

"Think about this T: do you feel bad that (exboyfriends, male friends, male lovers) use porn?"

"Oh, no! Not at all!"

*angel glowers*

"Well... in a better world maybe they oughtn't, but... no, I'm not sure I think they're doing something wrong."

"Wouldn't you think that if individuals not using porn any more helps, it would surely help more for them to stop? After all, they're men, and the anti-porn feminists you hang with consider women's use of porn an irrelevant anomaly."

"True, but... it doesn't feel right to tell my friends what they ought to do, if they already know there's sexism in porn. Which I know they do, because we've talked about it."

"If they can use it because their individual use isn't worrisome to you, and they're men, what does you using it matter?"

"Uhhh... hmmm."

*further clamorous yammerings*



  1. Why am I reminded of Crowley and Aziraphale from Good Omens?

    Seems to me that porn is a particularly bad area in which to practice this sort of collective action because it really is something that, if no one paid for it, people would keep on making for free. A lot of people (even APRFs, if you recall) make images for their own personal use, and there's no shortage of people filming, or writing or drawing sex, with the intention to share it with the world for free. So I don't see how bringing the sex industry to its financial knees would cause all the porn to dry up. It'd just be different, surely?

  2. Yes, I certainly think you're right about that.

    Then again, I think there's some ambiguity in terms here. You (and I, and I'd venture to say others as well) are using porn to mean something like "visual depictions (perhaps narrowed down to photographs and movies, depending on whether we're counting things like, say, hentai and other drawings, or only counting images of real people) of people having sex/doing sexual things."

    Where I think many anti-porners are using the term to mean "visual depictions of people having sex/doing sexual things, which are then sold for a profit."

    Personally I'm not anti-capitalist so I'm not deeply concerned about that difference. Nor am I someone who thinks sex is in a league of its own, such that commercial transactions around it somehow cheapens it. But there are many who are.

    I do think there are a lot of anti-porn folks who can be frustratingly ambiguous about whether they're interested in doing away with images at all. I suspect that most would be against certain types/styles of image they consider degrading even if free. But there's a lot at play here.