Thursday, May 28, 2009

Win and fail

Some briefs from around the Internets. In the "win" category, comes this post from FurryGirl on sexual objectification. Now this is a subject that's been the topic of not only some very extended writing/argument around the feminist blogosphere, but is the subject of entire books and journal articles. Nevertheless, FurryGirl in a brief post manages and effective smackdown of the "it objectifies women" as a be-all end-all of charges against porn:

Ah, “objectification”, one of those buzzwords - like “empowerment” - that I’ve heard so many times, it just sounds like gibberish. And really, I’m not sure if I ever knew what it was supposed to mean in the first place.

This topic is one of my major headdesk issues with anti-porn crusaders. They say, “porn objectifies women!” as though that’s some kind of end-all analysis. I address this topic from two directions.

Firstly, as a porn model and cam girl, it’s my job description to “be a sex object”, (as the anti-sexers would define it), and it’s a job with which I’m very happy. My friendlier customers treat me like a multi-dimensional person, too- but it’s not required of them, and I don’t resent the ones who don’t try and get to know me. (Hell, I know it annoys me when I, as a customer, get an overly chatty waiter or cab driver who tries to impose socializing on me when I’m not feeling up to it.) On cam, my customers pay $3 a minute for the expressed purpose of not having to wine and dine me and pretend to care what I’m saying in order to get me to take off my clothes. It’s so much more honest than dating.

[...]

Secondly, everyone at their job is “objectified” in their roles. I don’t profoundly care for the cashier at the grocery store, but no one’s ranting online about how he’s being oppressed and “objectified” because, at work, most people see him as “a cashier”. I don’t care to delve into the inner intellectual passions of the woman who made me tea at a cafe, but I’m not aware of any college courses being taught on the “objectification” of baristas. I have never fallen into deep romantic love with a nurse who’s weighed me and taken my blood pressure at the doctor’s office, but if there are protesters outside the clinic that day, their signs don’t read, “Stop the exploitation of women! Planned Parenthood objectifies nurses as mere one-dimensional healthcare workers!”

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In the "fail" category is yet another anti-porn documentary Overexposed. It was made a few years ago, but has gotten some recent buzz over the Film Talk blog, which is unfortunately lapping it up. Trailer and website for the film here. It appears to be a kind of right-of-center version of The Price of Pleasure (featuring Drew Pinsky, Pamela Paul, and evangelical Steven Arturburn) that was produced at USC of all places, and focusing on the claimed addictive and degenerative effects that porn has on men. The centerpiece is Drew Pinsky spouting off some piece of junk science on the evil that porn does to men's brains. (Aparently, such images stimulate pleasure centers in the brains of men – uh oh, can't have that!) Pinsky is up there with Dr. Phil as being among my least favorite sex-negative pop psychologists. The negative messages coming from these guys don't get enough attention and response from "sex positive" community, even though each probably ultimately have more direct influence on public attitudes toward sexuality, sex workers, and sexual minorities than Robert Jensen, Gail Dines, and Melissa Farley put together.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Greta Christina Reviews "The Girlfriend Experience"

Greta Christina has an insightful review of Sasha Grey's new "crossover" movie, "The Girlfriend Experience". (Warning: contains some spoilers.)
I'll admit I was skeptical. Even biased. When I heard about "The Girlfriend Experience," a movie about a high-end prostitute who provides companionship as well as sex -- and what happens when she gets emotionally entangled with a client -- I expected one of two things.

I expected a) a morality play about the consequences of turning love and sex into a commodity, with either a sadder- but- wiser ending in which the guy just can't live with his girlfriend being a prostitute, or -- more likely -- a happy ending in which the prostitute leaves the business to be with the guy...

or else b) a wacky romantic comedy, the kind that might star Ashton Kutcher and Sarah Jessica Parker, full of amusing secrets and misunderstandings and cross-purposes that all come to a head at the end of the second act and all get resolved in the third. With, of course, a happy ending, in which the prostitute leaves the business to be with the guy.

I was wrong. It's neither. Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience" is thoughtful, complex, emotionally nuanced, and thoroughly grown-up. It's definitely a flawed movie (I'll get to that in a moment), but it's an interesting movie and is very much worth seeing. And, although the prostitute is the central character, in an odd way the movie isn't really about prostitution. Instead, the movie uses prostitution as a way of commenting on the economies of human connection, underscoring the link between money and emotion in a variety of non-prostitution relationships... both professional and personal.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Obama War On Porn Begins: CCBill Bans "Extreme Porn" Sites

Apparently, in sexual expression matters as much as in everything else of late, the new boss isn't quite that different from the old boss.

Everyone who thought that the Obama Administration would launch a new, less repressive era in erotic expression and reverse the smash-mouth tactics of his predecessors in the Bush Administration got a huge shock last week...and the repercussions are beginning to filter down with rapid suddenness.

This article appearing in today's AVN Live talks about the move by the adult billing provider CCBill to restrict future sponsoring and signing of sexually explicit sites:

Payment processor CCBill will update its acceptable use policy (AUP), excluding sites that feature watersports and violent content.

A company representative said that sites within said niches that have already been approved will be able to process “for the time being.”

Official word is that “CCBill is no longer accepting new sites which contain or market person-to-person exchanges of bodily fluids. This mainly pertains to urine/urination, blood, or overall violent scenes or depictions.”

Several employees of the company refused to comment on the matter; however, the new AUP is said to be available this week.

Would that also include the kind of "rough sex", slapping, rough talk, and even perhaps "squirting" would also fall afoul of CCBill's regulations, too??

But it's the motivations for CCBill's change of policy that should be front page news, because it reflects directly on the new/old policies of the Department of Justice regarding "obscenity". Apparently Eric Holder's old antiporn instincts have won out, or the Morality in Media folks have still lots of influence, because.....

While CCBill is being tight-lipped about their reasoning behind the move, it comes on the heels of the May 5 announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice of the formation of its Obscenity Prosecution Task Force. Also of questionable consequence is a March 23 subpoena obtained by AVNOnline.com filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Missouri, which reveals that the government is looking for similar content, which includes fisting, urination and torture.

“In the current political environment, they probably see a high risk in this type of content and they probably see that as a risk they’re not willing to bear,” says Chicago-based First Amendment attorney Joe Obenberger of J.D. Obenberger and Associates.

Now...wasn't "torture porn" the main foundation of the attack on Kink.com's reciept of a California state grant for their photographers?? Doesn't Belladonna, Kylie Irleand, and some other porn performers include fisting in their scenes?? And while there are some who might consider watersports pretty gross, it's still only urine....why would that in a private website sold only to paying consensual adults be such a target for the Feds??

Maybe it's the same reason why Mary Beth Buchanan, who was the main prosecutor in the Max Hardcore case, is still employed as a US District Attorney and not an expert on FOX News Network: Antiporn sentiment is as powerful in the Obama/Holder circles as it ever was in the Bush/Gonzales/Ashcroft regime...though with a more radicalfeminist rhetorical "tinge" about "degradation of women" replacing the old "immoral filth" meme so favored by the Christian Right.

Of course, Obama's been tacking heavily rightward in any amount of political issues of late, in everything from health care (forget single-payer or even universal, let's make everyone buy crappy private health care) to extending the war in Afghanistan-Pakistan to make up for leaving Iraq, to the reversal on military tribunals from "Ban them!!" to "Let's keep them, but control them to UCMJ standards", among other issues. Maybe that tinge of liberalism and "change" that he presented in his campaign was just a ruse to cover a continuation of Bush policies, with a nice smiley face and a better syntax.

At this rate, even Stormy Daniels is looking better than the Democrats. At least, when she gets screwed, she gets something out of it...wish I could say the same for sexual/political Progressives/Liberals.