Ernest, far as I know, is working a lot this week, thus, he is busy. However, I’m chillin’ with a messed up toe not doing much of anything, so hey, I’ll give it a shot!
I am in the UK and therefore have had no opportunity to see this documentary. I do, however, have some questions for you Ernest which I hope you will have time to respond to.
I’m not Ernest, but hey, a visitor from the UK here at the BPPA? Let’s roll!
You state that 'not all pleasures are positive, healthy or morally defensible'. Could you give some examples of these?
Some people get off on murder (thrill-killers). Some people get off on having sex with children. Some people enjoy truly torturing animals and people. Some people get off on stalking people. Some folk enjoy some really vicious mind games. Some like orchestrating the social destruction of others. I think all these examples qualify.
I noted that you feel unable, as a white man, to offer any opinion of gangsta rap. I'm wondering why this same criteria does not apply to your critiques on pornography and it's impact on women. Is it your position that women do not face sexist discrimination and inequality?
Racism and sexism are not the same thing. Both exist, but they are different. Also, if (or any other person) is not versed in gangsta rap, it’s hard to talk about it from a place of authority on said topic. Ernest is partnered with and involved with women in the sex industry on a daily basis, he hears and speaks to them. He is not involved with rappers on a daily basis, and thus has no idea where they are coming from. Nor is he black. Me as a white identified woman, I don’t think I’m really an authority on gansta rap either. Yet I can still say this- I may not agree with what is said in a lot of gangsta rap songs, but the right to say it? Why yes, I absolutely believe they have that.
You make reference several times to POP being propaganda. Would you say, as someone who has made a living from the pornography industry for 25 years, that you are immune to engaging in propaganda to promote and defend your work in that industry and the money you make from it?
POP is propaganda, pure out. Now, I’ve not been in the porn industry for 25 years…I’ve been in the overall sex industry for almost 20 years, and yep, I’ve done and made porn, and absolutely believe people have a right to make and perform in porn, however…what I do not do (nor does Ernest so far as I’ve ever witnessed) claim to make something that is fair and non judgmental, as well as an unbiased look at top selling porn made in the year 2005, then fill it with porn that is not at all representative of top selling porn made 2005, spend the majority of the time speaking to known anti porn advocates and scant seconds talking to people actually involved in the industry- leaving much of what they’ve said on the cutting room floor, try to pass off people who are not industry insiders as such, or dramatically edit and film things with a decidedly anti porn stance. I also don’t make “documentaries” filled with 2257 non compliant images and use images of performers without their knowledge or consent. Do I engage in propaganda? Only if talking about my experiences, feelings on it, and taking issue with a lot of anti-porn stuff counts as propaganda.
You also express concern at the impact this propaganda could potentially have, stating 'collateral effects are far from funny'. Given the proliferation of pornography, might that not have some collateral effects also?
Of course it could. The difference is, pornography does not pretend to be anything but what it is. This film claims to be fair and non judgmental, unbiased, so on, in other words, the truth. And it isn’t. It’s not the truth at all. It’s a huge smear on the industry, and the people in it.
Other mediums being as bad as or worse than pornography also appear frequently in your writings here. I am aware of feminist critiques of wider media and culture as well as those on pornography. What is your position on the impact of media on culture and society? I ask because I am confused by your dismissal on the one hand of hypersexualised culture but your concerns about the potential influence of POP and other such critiques of pornography on the other.
Other mediums are discussed. Occasionally. They are given about .10 the attention that porn is given. I read a lot of feminist writings, a lot of them. There are the occasional discussions of music, or Hollywood films, or mass media, however they are not, at all, given the attention porn is. And porn is supposed to be entertainment for adults. Flat out. However, extremely violent television is accessable to anyone. Brutal rapes and murders are depicted on network television every night. I have yet, actually, to read a feminist critique of Law & Order SVU, or CSI, or The Sopranos. Do you truly think more people, even more young people, are watching porn, or mainstream nightly television? Porn has never caused a school shooting. Truthfully, the people who do bad acts are the ones who should be held responsible, but are you ready to go after Marilyn Manson because he’s been implicated in a reason teenagers shoot up schools or kill themselves or do drugs or worship satan? I’m not. How about other “bad influences”? More people have been hurt and killed by alcohol related things than by porn…yet…booze is still out there and abused heavily…most people can enjoy a drink harmlessly, but…? How about all religions? More people have been hurt by or killed in the name of God than anything in history. Yet the idea of policing it is something that chills most people and as seen as a huge violation of their rights.
You mention that you've never been invited to a secret gathering where sexist ideologies are formulated to guide the making of pornography, I wonder if you believe yourself, or individuals in general, then, to be immune to the influences of society at large; that socialisation has no impact on who we are or how we develop; that we are not influenced or impacted by our relationships with family, friends, lovers, partners. Is there no cultural hegemony?
I for one absolutely think all people, to some degree or another, are influenced by culture and society. I also think even amid that, most people can make their own decisions about things and exert some sense of individuality and reasoning. And once again, porn is far less prevelant and influential than a great many other forms of media out there. I suspect more girls end up with eating disorders due to the images presented in high fashion magazines than from porn. People are not immune to anything, but is the answer to get rid of everything…and I mean everything…which might influence them in a negative way? That would leave us with nothing. No form of art, or entertainment, or politics, or…anything.
On a related point with regard fantasies.. Do you think we pop out of the womb fully formed as.. sadists, say, or subs?
I think some people do, actually, if not fully formed- like Athena out of Zues’s head- with definite leanings. People start to develop sexually very early on, people have fantasies and such early on in sexual development. There are people who are into kink or what have you in societies where there is no pornography, and people had them long before pornography was prolific at all. What I do not believe is that porn or media can “make” anyone do anything.
You regard the statistics presented in POP as junk social science. Could you present more accurate figures on which titles and genres are most popular, including the internet? Pirates is mentioned frequently, I'm interested in figures for that but would like more general stats.
Pirates is the highest grossing porn film of all time. Other features like Island Fever and Bloodlines (a vampire themed porn feature) were also very high selling films. Feature films in general outsell gonzo films. The fact that the POP researchers had to go to like number 125 on the film list to find a title they could highlight says something. As for the net, that is harder to tell. I think it was once said on NBC that Playboy.com gets millions of hits a day. I seriously doubt “Women in Pain” rates nearly that high.
You question the categorization of violent acts by the researchers. Could you give your definition and, given your experience and knowledge of pornography, your own perspective on the prevalence of violence in pornagraphy.
Depends on the porn. Will there be more “violence” in BDSM or gonzo themed porn than feature films? Yep. Feature films, you might see a bit of hair pulling, a bit of spanking, and some hard…well…fucking. (things that people actually do in their own bedrooms). You will see more in gonzo and BDSM porn. However, you know what I did not see in POP? At all? Not once? A single female dominant in any of the BDSM clips, and within the subgenera of BDSM porn, women as the dominant figures is pretty popular. Yet, this was totally ignored. I also did not see a single female as a dominant figure in any of the gonzo clips, which also happens. It was also totally ignored. In all the BDSM footage they used, not a single female Top…which is not at all reflective of the BDSM porn out there.
Girls Gone Wild is mentioned as a 'favourite punchbag' for feminists. Isn't this, in part, because a prominant player has been accused of rape? Why is it ok for industry insiders that you mention to be critical of this and not feminists? You state that women are 'certainly more jovially mocked' in GGW than male participants in jackass. It appears that not only are they more jovially mocked but are raped and sexually assaulted too. What are your thoughts on why this might happen?
Joe Francis is an asshole and belongs behind bars (IMHO). He is also not every pornographer in the business.
Chyng Sun asked "Don’t you think, that much of the enjoyment of pornography comes from watching the woman’s pain and humiliation?”
I missed your response to this and am interested in hearing it. What is your take on, for example, why men are aroused by woman being ejaculated on her face by multiple men and then consuming it or having another woman consume it?
Do some men get off because it can be seen as humiliating, sure. Most men, no. And of course, not even a nod towards women who watch pornography in this film, but that’s nothing new. But to break it down…why are men aroused by a woman being ejaculated on (on her face)…the answers to that are legion. Vicarious thrill of having achieved an orgasm? Marking behavior? Thrill in the thought that a woman enjoys “wearing the evidence”? It’s sort of strange and thus there is a novelty factor? Why multiple men? More semen, bonding experience, the idea of sharing? Why consumption by one woman? Not sure really, still haven’t figured that one out enough to have a theory, and have not really asked. It’s neater, for one I guess. Why another woman? Well, hum, as many average hetero dudes enjoy watching girl on girl, two women making out/licking eachother with no semen involved, I doubt the enjoyment of watching that with semen involved lessens.
What is your take on the reasons why degradation, of women usually, comes to be eroticised and fethishized?
I am so the wrong person to answer that question. Yet, I note, very little concern on wondering why women might get off on degradation. Funny that. Once again, I will bring up the large subset of femme-dom porn that apparently does not exist (which hey, could have fooled me considering what I’ve seen out there in the porn shop and on the net!)
You state that 'anti porn cultists' are fixated on sex. Is your basis for this purely the one element of their lives - anti pornography activism - that you are aware of? Given your objections to what you see as poor research and generalisations on their part isn't this a questionable assertion to make?
I’d say their fixation on what is watched and goes on in other peoples bedrooms is a big indication. The mere idea out there that no woman, out or in porn, can actually enjoy giving a blow job, or anal sex, or group sex, or BDSM says a lot about that fixation too. Also, the fact that so much time, engery, money, and ink is devoted to porn, rather than videos of people being beheaded in Iraq or violence in mainstream media also indicates they are a bit fixated on sex.
'..it is not beyond the realms of possibility that performers like to play dirty..' - what percentage of women would you say are in pornography because they love sex/enjoy the sex acts on screen versus those there for a paycheck (and the other reasons they ended up in pornography).
”It’s nice to get paid for what you enjoy doing”. I’d say at least half. And yeah, the money matters, sure. However, when a woman says that, like Jessie Jane did in the film, they are not believed. When Joanna Angel, who started up her own company (a grad from a prestigious university who certainly had other choices) talks about her feelings on it in the film, she’s slaughtered. Truth is, any woman who says she’s in it for anything but the money or because she was abused speaks, she’s not believed and her words are twisted or ingored. I know that one from personal experience.
You opine that skull fucking to gag point is minor in comparison to some violent acts portrayed in mainstream shows. Can i ask if you see any differences in how violence against women is represented, why that might be, the cultural meanings behind it? Certainly my own critiques of pornography do not happen in isolation. Nor are those of any radical feminists that I know or have read. It is placed in the context of society and the world at large; the role of poverty, inequaltity and power.
Okay, skull fucking in porn. I do that, as the fuckee. I’ve consented to do it, I don’t mind doing it, I walk out with a pay check. A point is made often when making porn to talk to me (or whatever performer) before and after the scene to insure why yes, I’ve agreed to do this. Yet, I was watching one of my favorite TV shows the other day…Heroes. I love Heroes. Heroes is very popular with a lot of viewers, including teenagers. Now, on Heroes, I’ve seen several female characters get the tops of their skulls sawed off (male characters too), there have been some steamy sex scenes, and some allusions to rape and molestation/abuse. One of the most off-kilter, screwed up, appears to, at heart, be a villain characters is, of course, the stripper/net porn performer. The main heroine is a teenage cheerleader who gets chased all over the place and subjected to incredible violence, in her cheerleader outfit. Or, I also watch Law & Order, where weekly I can see dead sex worker of the night. And brutal rape scenes. And violence against women, gays, and minorities. Or, I can turn on the Investigation channel, where I can spend five hours watching shows about serial killers (who are almost hero worshipped by some elements of society) who prey on sex workers, gay men, children, and women. And these shows are far more popular and generate more money and ratings than porn. Yet these things rate as practically nothing with a lot of folks as opposed to pornography. Also, people forget, male performers in porn make a fraction of the money female performers do.
Thanks for reading.