Thursday, December 13, 2007


As a precursor to my eventual full book review of Robert Jensen's Getting Off, I wanted to post an excerpt from the chapter entitled "Pornography as a Mirror," in which Jensen colorfully describes scenes from several porn movies in order to drive home the point of how awful and misogynistic all porn is.

With all the porn Jensen has watched (for research purposes, you understand), one can only assume that he summarized these particular movies because they're the most effective at validating his thesis - and the most likely to garner a reaction of shock from readers. So what's the deal with this...?
A scene from Delusional, a 2000 release from Vivid:

Lindsay, the film's main character, is a woman slow to return to dating after she caught her husband cheating on her. She says she is waiting for the right man - a sensitive man - to come along. Her male coworker, Randy, clearly would like to be that man but must wait as Lindsay explores other sexual experiences, first with a woman named Alex, whom she meets online and assumes is a man. Later, after Alex and Lindsay have sex with a man in the kitchen of a restaurant, Lindsay is finally ready to accept Randy's affection. He takes her home and tells her, "I'll always be there for your no matter what. I just want to look out for you." Lindsay lets down her defenses, and they embrace.

After kissing and removing their clothes, Lindsay begins oral sex on Randy while on her knees on the couch, and he then performs oral sex on her while she lies on the couch. They then have intercourse, with Lindsay saying, "Fuck me, fuck me, please" and "I have two fingers in my ass - do you like that?" This leads to the usual progression of positions: She is on top of him while he sits on the couch, and then he enters her vaginally from behind before he asks, "Do you want me to fuck you in the ass?" She answers in the affirmative. "Stick it in my ass," she says. "I love the way you slide into my asshole. ... Deep in my ass. ... I'm coming on your cock in my ass." After two minutes of anal intercourse, the scene ends with him masturbating and ejaculating on her breasts.

So, wait. Where's the degrading part in that scene?

It just sounds like sex. And by some people's standards, pretty vanilla sex. Even for people who would consider it at the kinky end of their personal spectrum, due to the dirty talk and assplay, I really can't imagine anyone finding it degrading who didn't have bigger hang-ups about sex in general. In fact, the only part of that excerpt that I see as degrading to women in any way is this:
Lindsay lets down her defenses

Note, that's not a line from the movie. Those are Jensen's chosen words to describe the onscreen events. I find it very telling that he uses language which casts the woman in the passive role, and the man in an active, even conquering role, with the implication of sex being a conquest and women having "defenses" which must be "broken down" by men.

This is, of course, the sexual script that's reinforced by the dominant culture day in and day out, to the detriment of everyone. This skewed view of gender roles (as Figleaf would say, women as the "no-sex" class) is exactly what Jensen claims to be opposing. Yet with a few words, he's revealed volumes about how entrenched he still is in sex-negative cultural norms.

[Cross-posted at Being Amber Rhea]


  1. Good observation about the gender-biased attitudes underlying much of Jensen's "anti-sexism"

    I just ordered a copy of Getting Off through interlibrary loan, so I'll be reading it soon myself. (Also ordered Dines and Jensen's older book, Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality and the Freeing the First Amendment anthology.) I'll probably post a review, though its like to be brief, because it seems like Chris over at Sex In The Public Square really nailed it.

  2. Funny, Amber, that you quoted his review of Delusional; since earlier in this space we totally dissected Bob's take on that particular film:

    Why Bob Jensen Is A Big Damn Lie


  3. Ha! I had totally forgotten about that!

  4. Yah I kept waiting for the degrading part too.

    Although one could argue that the ejaculating on the tits is a bit degrading. I mean, personally, I don't get this whole porn fascination with cumming ON women. But that's really it.

  5. I agree that Jensen is doubtless projecting his own issues with women in his analysis of porn. In fact I sent him an email in which I told him exactly that. (Unfortunately since I sent it from a library computer's browser he couldn't respond.)

    Eric Hamell