What really galls me, however, is that far too many self-styled progressives and leftists, so unconscious of their own sex ignorance and loathing about sexuality, are so willing to fall for his sophistic analysis and deep guilt-tripping disguised as “feminism”.
Case in point: Jensen’s latest tome on the evil threat of porn as the tool of “masculinity”, titled Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, recently recieved a major endorsement from the executive editor of the progressive news service Alternet.org, Don Hazen; who explained in an introduction to a posting of an excerpt from Jensen’s book how he was converted from a traditional liberal libertarian point of view to Bob’s APRF vision:
Part of my thin king on pornography has been shaped by seeing what is on the
Internet myself, and part, by reading Robert Jensen’s powerful and provocative
book, excerpted below: Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity.
Jensen has convinced me that something as powerful as the porn industry and its
sexual extremism must not be kept under the rug due to liberal
shoulder-shrugging about the First Amendment. The porn industry should not enjoy
our collective denial in terms of its real-world impact on women — and men —
simply because we might be berated by first amendment purists or be
uncomfortable grappling with complex issues of sexual expression.
Never mind the fact that the actual “real world impact” of explicit sexual expression might be a bit more diverse and much less “extreme” than what Hazen sees through Jensen’s rose-colored spectacles…or that there would be no mention of “First Amendment extremism” or fears of “First Amendment purism” when the subject turns to things like opposing federal snooping and wiretapping of innocent citizens, or opposition to the war in Iraq, or organizing unions or even gender discrimination…..nope, in the mind of Hazen and the others who run Alternet, Jensen and the APRF (aka, the “feminist”) point of view is the only logical and true vision.
And what a narrow and tunnelled vision that Hazen and Jensen support, too. To buttress his notion of how far low porn has become, Hazen whips out the old tired and true “gonzo” card, as if this is the only form of sexual expression that exists these days:
One phenomenon in porn is the ascension of Gonzo films. There are two
styles of films — one are features that mimic, however badly, the Hollywood
model of plot and characters. But the other, Gonzo, has no pretensions, and is
simply the filming of sex acts, which, Jensen writes, while also occurring in
features, are “performed in rougher fashion, often with more than one man
involved, and more explicitly degrading language which marks women as sluts,
whores, cunts, nasty bitches and so on.”
The Gonzo films, which have come to dominate the industry, also
emphasize the newer trend of sexual acts, which include: double penetration —
anal and vaginal — and ass to mouth, or ATM, where anal sex is followed by stic
king the penis in the women’s mouth. In addition, many of these films include
men, often in multiple numbers, ejaculating into the faces and mouths of the
women performers. The women usually swallow the semen, but also can share it
mouth-to-mouth with a female partner. For Jensen, the most plausible explanation
of the popularity of these acts is that women in the world, outside of
pornography, don’t engage in these acts unless forced. “Men know that — and they
find it sexually arousing to watch them in part because of that
As Jerome Tanner, porn film maker explains, “One of the things about
today’s porn and the extreme market, the gonzo market, is so many fans want to
see much more extreme stuff that I’m always trying to figure out ways to do
something different. But it seems that everybody wants to see a girl doing a
double penetration or a gang bang. … It’s definitely brought porn somewhere, but
I don’t know where it is headed from there.”
Mitchell Spinelli, interviewed while filming Give me Gape, adds:
“People want more. They want to know how many dicks you can shove up an ass.
It’s like “Fear Factor meets ‘Jackass.’” Make it more hard, make it more nasty,
make it more relentless.”
Now, aside from the total fallacy of quoting porn producers and insiders as the literal Gospel in saying what men who buy these videos (or who simply download them, legally or not, for free) really want from them; there is the total and complete ignorance of what exactly “gonzo” really is. Actually, the term simply describes sex videos that feature sex unemburdened by plot; nothing about the particular acts involved. A film featuring a single couple engaged in conventional sex without plot would be considered “gonzo; as much as a video of an mulit-person orgy featuring traditional fucking and sucking.
Now…there certainly in within the genre of “gonzo” the more extreme and exotic subgenre which does include some of the acts that so inflame (arouse???) Jensen and Hazen; including double anals, double vaginals, bukkake, creampies, facials, and AtM. It is certainly open to debate whether women performers are being ”coerced” into performing them, or whether these particular acts are being promoted as things women should do in private (forgetting, of course, the possibility that some women might even — horrors — LIKE such acts done to them in private). But to conclude from that that fans of such acts are merely expressing their total hatred for the women performers — nay, heaven forbid, ALL women — merely by watching and getting off on viewing such acts is simply bizarre. The “extreme” market is just that; one market in a field of many in sexual media; and hardly representative of the majority of the hardcore sex genre. The overwhelming majority of sex videos are those featuring either (1) single women stripping and masturbating, usually with sex toys; (2) women having sex with one or two other women (i.e., “girl/girl” or “Hot Lesbian Action”, never mind if they are really lesbian or bi, or merely curious); or (3) a single woman having sex with her significant other (boyfriend, husband) or a male friend that she already knows and respects enough.
Of course, since Jensen has already clearly stated that he considers even the more conventional images of women in porn to be innately “misogynistic” because even the softer images degrade and dehumanize women by reducing them to “sex objects” and “fucktoys”, I guess that any discussion of the heavier and kinkier brands of “gonzo” are basically totally moot…or simply agitprop to convert the more gullible liberals and “leftists” to his agenda.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Robert Jensen essay without the obligatory detailed description of a “typical” gonzo scene, as well as him (and by proxy, Hazen) imposing his (their) ideology on the performers, whatever they may actually think. Quoting again from Hazen’s intro:
Jensen clearly decided in writing his book that the often overwhelming
reality of the behavior and values of the porn industry must be experienced by
the reader, at least in written form, to understand what the issues are. Thus,
in the book, he describes porn scenes, quotes dialogue in the porn films, and
includes interviews with porn actors to help capture what they are thin king.
Some of this is a little hard to take. Here is one example:
Jessica Darlin tells the camera she has performed in 200 films and she is
submissive. “I like guys to just take over and fuck me and have a good time with
me. I’m just here for pleasure.” The man who enters the room grabs her hair and
tells her to beg the other man. She crawls over on her hands and knees, and he
spanks her hard. When he grabs her by the throat, she seems surprised. During
oral sex, he says, ‘Choke on that dick.” She gags. He grabs her head and slaps
her face then forces his penis in her mouth quickly. She gags again.The other
man duplicates the action, calling her a “little bitch,” Jessica is drooling and
gagging; she looks as if she might pass out. The men slap her breasts, then grab
her by the hair and pull her up. Later in the scene, “One man enters her anally
from the rear as she is pushed up against the couch, The other man enters her
anally while his partner puts his foot on her head. Finally one grabs her hair
and asks here what she wants. ‘I want your cum in my mouth,’ she says. ‘Give me
all that cum. I want to taste it.’ “
Jensen writes, “In researching the porn industry, one of the most difficult
parts is writing about the women who perform. Men see women in porn films as
objects of desire (to be fucked) or ridicule (to be made fun of.) When porn
performers speak in public they typically repeat a script that emphasizes that
they have freely chosen this career because of their their love of sex and lack
of inhibition.” Nina Hartley is one former porn star who frames her experience
in the porn industry as empowering — a feminist act of a woman ta king control
of her own life. But Jensen notes that while “we should listen to and respect
those voices, we also know from the testimony of women who leave the sex
industry that often they are desperate and unhappy in prostitution and
pornography but feel the need to validate it as their choice to avoid thinking
of themselves as victims.”
The fact that Jessica Darlin is actually an actresses enacting a scene in a movie, which involves a particular theme, and openly states that she has no problem whatsoever doing such scenes (of course, she must either be lying or under the spell of that evil male choking and spitting on her!!); seems to be lost on both Jensen and Hazen; certainly they would not think that when Michael Douglas and Glenn Close did that sex scene in the elevator in Fatal Attraction, they were really representing the real feelings of women and men, would they???
And we all know about how Jensen and other APRF’s really feel about Nina and other women who do happen to defend their right to make porn…right, Sam???
Oh….and Nina’s not a “former porn star”, Bob…she is still quite active in making and producing video; and has even enjoyed a sort of renaissance in the subgenre of older mature sex performers (also known as the “MILF” and “Cougar” subgenres). But I’m sure that she can defend herself better than I ever can….if you would ever allow sex-positive criticism of Jensen in your site, that is.
Moving along, we see Hazen practically spill his own seed in tribute to Jensen’s brilliance:
So that you understand, Robert Jensen is a true radical. His positions on
masculinity, race and pornography are way out of the mainstream. He thinks that
concepts of masculinity make men less than human and should be junked. “Men are
assumed to be naturally competitive and aggressive, and being a “real man” is
therefore marked by the struggle for control, conquest and domination. A man
looks at the world, sees what he wants and takes it.”
In writing his book, he turns to one of the most vilified feminists,
Andrea Dworkin, as his guide. One of Dworkin’s books, Intercourse,
enraged many readers. “In it, Dworkin argues that in a male supremacist society,
sex between men and women constitutes a central part of women’s subordination to
men. (This argument was quickly and falsely simplified to “all sex is rape” in
the public arena, adding fire to Dworkin’s already radical persona.)” But Jensen
embraces Dworkin for best understanding pornography and notes that “her love for
men was so evident.”
Jensen’s book is a serious effort to deconstruct pornography and
connect it to the society in which it grows and, in some ways, dominates. He
addresses in detail the arguments that justify porn and the research that may
connect porn to violence. His narrative, interwoven in the book, is about a
lonely journey to shed the straight jacket of masculinity, and the pain and lack
of acceptance that goes with the territory as he relentlessly pushes his ideas
into the public domain.
In the end, the book grapples with a fundamental question. “If pornography
is increasingly cruel and degrading, why is it increasingly commonplace instead
of more marginalized? In a society that purports to be civilized, wouldn’t we
expect most people to reject sexual material that becomes ever more dismissive
of the humanity of women? How do we explain … increasingly more intense ways to
humiliate women sexually and the rising popularity of the films that present
those activities?” Jensen concludes: “… this paradox can be resolved by
recognizing that one of the assumptions is wrong. Here it is the assumption that
the U.S. society routinely rejects cruelty and degradation. In fact the U.S. is
a nation that has no serious objection to cruelty and degradation.”
Robert Jensen is on a quest. And he has taken a major step forward in
his journey in producing a book that the reader can’t run away from or casually
dismiss. It is filled with facts, data, intelligent observation and analysis, as
well as examples of the raw product of an industry gone gonzo. I know this may
sound like a cliche, but I guarantee that after reading this book, almost no one
will think about pornography in the same way again.
I’ll just let you wander through and behold the magnificance of such bullshit for a while. You wonder then why progressive activism in the US is in such horrible shape???
And then, Hazen turns the floor over to Bob for an excerpt from his book….and it it so typical classic Jensen sex-hate and loathing. And well deserving of another fisking….but that will be anon.
[Crossposted as well to The SmackDog Chronicles]