Avedon Carol is well known for both her unabashed progressive/liberal/Left viewpoints and her opposition to censorship, especially censorship of sexual media. As the head of the London based group Feminists Against Censorship, Avedon has been on the forefront of battles against both religious- and feminist-based attempts to censor sexual media for quite a long time...even during the days of Dworkin-MacKinnon and the Meese Commission. Therefore, like other infidel feminists, she gets the occasional cold brush treatment from the usual crowd of antiporn "feminists".
A recent example is taking place at her blog, The Sideshow, where in passing Avedon did a brief endorsement of a recent anthology titled The History of Pornography (edited by Patricia Davis, Simon Noble, and Rebecca J. White), which she described as an "non-idelogical" and "dry" piece. Nevertheless, she gave the anthology a begrudging approval:
Such a view was not shared by a reader named "Mathilda", who decided to use the comment page to attempt to correct Avedon on her "error" in judgment.
But I couldn't find anything particularly wrong with it from a quick scan. Possibly a good primer for someone not familiar with the basics.
Regarding: "The History of Pornography, I would not consider this to be a good primer for someone not familiar with the basics as the authors paint a rather rosy, inaccurate, and one-sided picture.You get the picture...do you??
In the discussion of the movie: "Deep Throat", no mention is made of the fact that the actress Linda Lovelace performed this act under duress.
She testified before the 1986 Attorney General's Commission on Pornography in New York City, stating “When you see the movie Deep Throat, you are watching me being raped. It is a crime that movie is still showing; there was a gun to my head the entire time.”
Also, there is no reference to "Pornography for Women" and the many excellent female pornographers such as: Petra Joy, Erika lust, etc, who cater exclusively to the authentic sexual fantasies of women (For example, many scenes that include cunnilingus, threesomes - one woman, two men etc.)
The important distinction between Features and Gonzo is not discussed.
Finally, child pornography, or the more apt term, sexual abuse of children, is completely ignored.
According to the Internet Watch Foundation, the recent trend has been for more brutal images and severe torture of children whose ages are getting lower and lower.
A more appropriate title for this paper would have been: "The History of Pornography for Heterosexual Men". [posted by "matilda" on 3/13/10 @ 10:34 PM London time]
Avedon attempted a quick response:
The place of Deep Throat in the history of pornography has nothing to do with how Traynor treated Linda - although her story would fit neatly into a detailed history of marital abuse in the 20th century. Don't confuse the conditions under which a worker is employed with the product itself - it's like pretending that because many people who work in the food industry are treated badly, food itself is evil.Good enough....but upon reading this, I decided that the record should be cleared regarding the charges involving Linda Lovelace, especially considering Sheldon Ranz's excellent work regarding her history. Thusly, I entered the debate head first:
Internet Watch Foundation is an organization formed by ISPs to try to finesse the government's power to shut them down (I was there - in fact, I was the person who made the mistake of explaining to them that they had no legal recourse other than to fight to change the law or cave in). It depends on keeping fears about internet content stoked for its authority (and the income of its paid employees). It does not have a record of being a reliable source for information about pornography, on or off the internet.
Commercial child pornography has played very little role in pornography itself, since it has never been a significant draw in the industry. Also not mentioned in the article is the outrageous (and fully-documented) list of outright lies used to promote the idea of the vast influence of child pornography and to bring in horrific laws that have destroyed many lives over a threat that does not exist - and in fact, the laws themselves have endangered and harmed more children than they could conceivably protect.
As noted by the authors, there simply wasn't room for exploring the kind of detail you think was important, anymore than there was time for exploring the kind of detail I think is important - such as the role attempts to suppress porn play in creating sexual violence. [posted by Avedon on 3/14/10 @ 4:49 AM]
And, consideing the charge implied that Linda Lovelace was forced to perform those acts she performed for Deep Throat: In her latter years just prior to her death, Lovelace essentially repudiated many of the charges she made concerning coercion involving making porn. She has also insisted that any abuse she suffered at the hands of Scott Traynor was entirely his alone, and that no other porn performer ever abused or coerced her. She even went on to accuse her antiporn suitors who were encouraging her to make those claims at that time of double-crossing her. [posted by me on 3/14/10 @ 10:16 AM]Rather than attempt to rebut the facts, Mathilda decided to resort to the last gasp of trolls: denial and divergence of attention:
It was her husband Scott Traynor who held a gun to her head during the filming of Deep Throat. [posted by Matilda on 3/14/10 @ 10:31 AM]Which proves....what??? He held a gun to her head everywhere, and undoubtably abused her..but what does that have anything to disprove Lovelace's own words??
Then, Matilda decided to aim her guns of scorn at Avedon directly, invoking all the usual GenderBorg saws and insults that are lobbed regularly at infidel women who don't march in perfect goosestep with their ideology:
Don't confuse the conditions under which a worker is employed with the product itself - How cruel! Using your logic, we should not concern ourselves with the millions of innocent children, young girls, and women that are forced into the sex trade by means of violence as it's all about delivering a product to men. You're definitely not a humanitarian, are you Avedon.
As for the Internet Watch Foundation, although it does have a history of overstepping its boundaries, checks and balances are in place. The IWF is currently the only watchdog in the UK for suspect online content. While its website cites several areas of interest, almost the whole of the IWF site is concerned with suspected child pornography. This organization has rescued many children from abuse. Surely you're not against that. BTW, can you provide a link for the outrageous and fully-documented list of outright lies used to promote the idea of the vast influence of child pornography. Also, please specify which laws have destroyed many lives and have endangered and harmed more children that they could conceivably protect.
That said, what's your view on child pornography? How extensive is it? Should we just ignore it or must something be done about it?
As for your last paragraph, it appears that pornography for women is such an unimportant detail. It's all about men with you, isn't it? If I may borrow Lambert's quote, you're a feminist like Zola's Nana was an actress. [posted by Matilda on 3/14/10 @ 12:22 PM]
Note the attempt by Matilda to qualify her basic fundamentalist antiporn agenda with fawning support for "pornography for women", basically a house of straw that is used to mask her agenda of pillorying actual women in porn, and anyone who would defend them.
The debate essentially degenerates from there; I will simply repost here the exchange that resulted.
Using your logic, we should not concern ourselves with the millions of innocent children, young girls, and women that are forced into the sex trade by means of violence as it's all about delivering a product to men.
If you read Avedon's response in that manner, then you're simply being deliberately obtuse and have little of value to say. But that's been fairly clear from your past posts, so, no surprise, really.
To suggest that one should not confuse the conditions under which a worker is employed with the product itself is like anathema to me if one wishes to call oneself a progressive. It immediately brings forth images of all kinds of abuse such as sex slavery, child labor, and sweatshops to name but a few. Avedon could have worded it differently to get her point across more effectively and humanely. For example, if she had said: "Although I understand and share your concern about the abuse suffered by Linda Lovelace while making the movie Deep Throat, her story is separate from "The History of Modern Pornography", then at least, she would have given the impression that she cared about women. As it stands now, Avedon Carol comes across to me as someone who is hostile to authentic female sexuality and who does not give a flying fig about achieving sexual equality and freedom for women. That's not my idea of a feminist. Show me you care about women, Avedon.[From Avedon]
No. You come across as someone who wants to make up shit to accuse me of because I don't happen to share your penchant for blaming the wrong things for problems in society. Your little mini-screeds are littered with false assumptions - not just about me, but about the subjects you claim to care about.
When you care enough to do as much research on these subjects as I have, you will stop being such a loose cannon and, one hopes, have something to contribute to the debate. Until then, you are just wasting our time.[From Matilda]
Again, you provide no links for any of your claims.
In case you don't know, your blog is like an open book, no false assumptions on my part. Obviously you are lacking in knowledge about pornography for women. But not to worry. I'm an expert on that topic. Let me link you to some sites that will enlighten you. Porn movies for women - this will give you an idea what authentic female sexuality is about. My favorite female erotic cinematographer is Petra Joy. She calls her movies "Artcore", rather than "Hardcore". And rightly so. The hot sex scenes in her movies are artistically presented. From reading your blog, I can tell that you appreciate art. Petra Joy's movies will therefore definitely appeal to you if you enjoy watching authentic female desires and fantasies.
If you wish to know more about what women don't like about mainstream porn, there is a good discussion in the comments to this article.
If you really wish to understand what I mean by sexual freedom for women, and women's right to enjoy their sexuality without shame, read the following.
The Night of the Senses" is an annual event where "Erotic Oscars" are handed out to creative talent. It celebrates diversity. The venue offers many different play rooms where people can live out their sexual fantasies. When Petra Joy attended one year she decided to be a voyeur. She narrates one of her most memorable experiences.
"Another room, another world. I hear a woman's loud moans. They draw me in. Her moans are not high but she groans with pleasure almost like an animal. When I step into the room I see men, lots of men surrounding a kind of metal bed. All I see of the woman is her raised hips and pussy. She is being fingered slowly and deeply by just one guy and watched by all the others. The guy's eyes meet mine. He appreciates and enjoys being watched. This is so different from the group wank scenario of a "Bukkake" party. The guys are not here to degrade the woman. The guys watch a woman being pleasured. And they know they are lucky to witness this intimate moment - a glimpse into the world of infinite female sexual power. A woman receiving total pleasure without shame. She is not serving but being served. Pleasured by one man and adored by the others. To me it felt like a temple of worship to female lust. Deep wet and roaring. And a shiver goes down my spine". Source
So, if we are to believe Matilda, she isn't really censoring porn, just attacking "mainstream" porn as merely a tool of men possessing and raping women, while offering an alternative "porn for women" that will essentially liberate women and break the cycle of male violence while affirming "authentic" female pleasure. Riiiiiiight...and the ex-gay fundamentalist preachers just love gays, too.
Here's how I responded to Matilda's latest nonsense:
Ahhhh.....first of all, Matilda, I have read about countless women who have performed bukkake. It may not be for everyone, but it's not the universal "shamefest" that you take it to be...try actually asking more than a few women who have done it. It's only sperm, not battery acid.
Secondly...you talk all this smack about "female sexual power", but would you ever support the many females who are in mainstream porn who have openly testified that they have been empowered positively by their participation in it?? Would you grant the same mantle of authority to the likes of Nina Hartley, Candida Royalle, Madison Young, Sasha Grey, Dana DeArmond, Jane Hamilton, Lisa Ann...and I can name so many others?? Or, is only "female sexual power" simply restricted to those who follow your personal ideology? With all due respect to Petra Joy, she isn't the only person who can speak for herself.
And thirdly, comparing "mainstream porn" which is still basically a legal product consumed by consenting adults, with child porn, which is, last time I checked, still illegal, says far more about your biases and cracked opinions, Matilda, than it ever does about Avedon. Besides, Avedon doesn't defend porn uncritically; she just defends the right of free adult consensual sexual expression.
Oh...and just quoting from Lovelace's Meese Commission testimony that "Chuck Traynor had a gun at her face while making Deep Throat" is simply misleading. In both of her biographies, Deep Throat and Out Of Bondage, Lovelace makes it definitely clear that NONE of the actors and performers in that movie coerced or harmed her during the taping of that movie, and she insisted that not only was it her decision to make the movie, but that the sex scenes were welcomed by her as a distraction from the abuse that she was getting from Traynor at the time. And, as I commented in my OC, in her later years, she even repudiated that testimony, saying that she was just saying that to please her fair-weather benefactors in the antiporn movement.
I'll go along with Avedon on this one. Bring facts, not anecdotes. [posted by me on 3/15/10 @ 1:15 AM]
What Matilda did bring in response is simply breathtaking. I'll just let you be the judge.
Forget about the fact that my point wasn't about men and cunninglingus, but women liking bukkake. Let's go straight to the attempted smackdown of Sasha Grey, who can certainly and has often defended herself against similar slurs and insults.
You [moi] said: Would you ever support the many females who are in mainstream porn who have openly testified that they have been empowered positively by their participation in it?? Hahahahaha
Oh, you guys just love to delude yourself, don't you. Show me an article that talks about men claiming that cunnilingus empowers them and we'll carry on with this discussion. I'll tell you what empowers women - sexual equality, socialize women from the day they are born that they should cherish their sexuality and enjoy it because it is good, healthy and natural. Let's do away with the madonna/whore syndrome, shall we and then talk about empowerment.
BTW, here's a good article that mentions Sasha Grey - the author who states that, she is the porno industry's public relations wet dream come true, interviewed her while he was watching one of her porn movies. He's asking her questions while she's moaning in the movie saying:
“I want to be your sex slave, I want you to hurt me, I want you to make me cry. I’ll do anything, anything at all, whatever you want, I’m such a fucking whore, I need to train, I need to be broken, I want you to fucking hurt me.” .." Patriarchy has trained women well to say what men want to hear, acting like the good little captives they are.
Mainstream porn is all about women pleasing men. I've been researching this topic for about a year and a half and I honestly don't know which is worse - the images or the text. By far the worst effect of porn is that it has turned the men who watch it into sellfish uncaring lovers. As a result, many men and women have lost the ability to live with each other in peace. In the next post I've provided some links that discusses this issue in greater detail.
As for Linda Lovelace, it was in her last two biographies that she claimed she was abused during the filming of Deep Throat. However, believe whatever you wish. All I can say is that the acts she performed in that movie were not normal.
Finally, I've been reading Avedon's blog for quite some time now. She must be a nice person and is obviously very knowledgeable about many topics. However, as far as human sexuality is concerned, Avedon Carol only says what men want to hear. I don't fault her for it because many very intelligent women and other feminists do the same. The need to please men is bred into women's bones. It requires herculean strength to break free from this mould and to tell it like it is.
Anyway, peace be with you.
[Yesterday, 6:17:32 PM]
The actual article Matilda referenced (the original link is broken) goes to an interview that Ms. Grey did for Adbusters.com reporter Douglas Haddow that was included in a rambling essay on how porn affected Maddow's generation. The words used by Matilda was actually a partial script of an anal scene Sasha did in a movie titled Sasha Grey Anal 1 That's right, Clones: a script of a scene. No reflection on Grey's normal sexual habits, or even her usual alt.porn roles; just one particular scene acted out. Just like the actors like Petra Joy whom act out similar scenes in their supposedly "woman-positive" porn movies.
Only antiporn ideology would suggest that Sasha Grey's performances reflect anything upon the users or even the performers, any more than people who watch "feminist porn" automatically become progressive feminists, or even antiporn feminists.
And then there is the whiff of arrogance: someone with a year of "research" experience empowers herself to speak for, and deny self-will and autonomy to, women performers who have been in the business for years and years. Not to mention, an anticensorship activist who has been on the front lines for well over 20 - 30 years. All because.....they want to please men.
Finally.....the acts that Linda Lovelace performed were "not normal"?!?!?!? Really?? So, fellatio isn't "normally" acted out by women on men?? I guess that muff-diving, penile/vaginal sex, facials, external pop shots, and sex with anyone other than your significant other is also considered not "normal", then, Matilda?? Never mind that all those acts are performed not just in porn, but in REAL LIVE by REAL LIVE people every single day???
But....we are supposed to believe that all of the acts performed in her favored "porn for women" ARE real and reflect the desires of REAL women?? As if existing female performers in porn right now aren't capable of experiencing "real" sex in their own private lives??
Yeah....Matilda's different from a right-wing fundie imposing their narrow attitudes on others. She may claim the title of "feminism"...the way Sarah Palin does.