Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Price of Pleasure" Update: The Dines-Jensen Freak Show Hits Boston University

Just a reminder that the enemies of free adult sexual expression aren't taking any time off.

This from the Boston University school indie paper The Daily Free Press, via Porn Newz:

Boston University students piled into the Photonics Center on Monday to view a documentary about sexual activity and aggression seen in pornography.

Students watched the documentary “The Price of Pleasure,” directed by Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun, and discussed women’s rights in today’s society.

The Women’s Resource Center organized the screening in an effort to help educate students about how women’s rights are violated by some mainstream adult film industries. 

The documentary delves deeper into the media’s supposed justification of pornography.

According to the film, the media feels it is appropriate to film and distribute porn because the girls are paid to be objectified. In reality, the film argues the girls are not the ones profiting from being filmed – the producers and major corporations receive the majority of the profit.  The film says the adult film industry makes from $10 to 14 billion per year in gross sales.

The documentary argues that as the industry expands, so does its social acceptance.

Whether it is right or wrong for individuals to create porn, both men and women are starting to feel the pressure of the porn industry in their everyday lives, the film says.

The film also highlights negative aspects of the porn industry, such as allegedly blatant racism and abuse of ethnic groups seen in certain films.

Out of a list of randomly selected popularly rented porn titles, 82.2 percent of them were found to contain physical aggression, according to the documentary.  

Following the film screening, former adult film star and current dominatrix Princess Kali came to the stage to answer questions about her career in the porn industry.

Kali shared her views on how women in the porn industry are no different from many other careers in today’s society.

“People say women treat their body as a commodity,” she said. “How is that any much different than a football player?”

Event attendee and College of General Studies sophomore Ariana Katz said she thought the documentary was informative but not surprising.

“I’m not really shocked,” she said. “The themes from porn come from people’s interactions with each other.”

College of Arts and Sciences senior and discussion panelist Emily Partridge said the adult film dilemma is key to women’s rights.

“There does need to be a line drawn so that men don’t think it’s normal,” she said.
I guess that we should be grateful that the sponsors of this "debate" actually allowed an former adult star to give the contrarian view that adult performers actually might be fully formed human beings capable of their own free will...but that doesn't excuse the fact that the sponsors get free reign to continuously malign and distort actual performers.

Memo to the Women's Resource Center at BU: how about inviting some actual porn performers there to defend their own experiences??  Or, actual male consumers who don't fall into the predetermined trap of Bob the Guilttripper's memes of compulsive masturbators who only want to rape women??

And this "need to be a line drawn so that men don't think it's normal" meme....I suppose that Ms. Partridge would allow antigay fundamentalist activists to say the same thing about lesbianism amongst girls??  Or....homosexuality?? Or, even, reproductive rights??

I wonder....does BU have a civil libertarians office there??


  1. What's annoying is that the coverage of this circus is always so credulous. Why weren't the sponsors and the directors interviewed for this piece and asked some tough questions, most especially about their so-called "random study" and its methodology.

    Don't they teach journalism at BU anymore? From reading this piece of fatuous pap, it would appear not. Wonder what the author would have said if the ghost of D.W. Griffith had shown up for a screening of Birth of a Nation.

    The line that students need to learn to draw as a part of acquiring critical thinking skills such as should be the lasting benefit of a college education is between facts and propaganda.

    On the basis of facts, intelligent decisions can be made one way or the other. On the basis of propaganda, not so much.

    And why was the "other side" represented by someone no longer affiliated with the industry? Who made that choice and why?

    Clearly, after their experiences here, the hucksters at Open Lens Media have elected to cherry-pick their audiences and their "industry representatives" the same way they cherry-pick their data.

  2. I've read numerous articles about the Jensen/TPoP roadshow at various campuses, though I haven't written about it because there's little new to say about it.

    More often than not, the presentations are a hell of a lot more one-sided than this, typically with only Jensen or a local sympathizer speaking on the topic.

    The press coverage is similarly one-sided.

    It would be nice if some more people from our side got out there and presented the other side of things, or at least a more nuanced presentation. So far, the closest thing I've heard of is industry-sponsored showings of "Pirates", but that, without any kind of larger contextualization, just looks like the industry trying to hawk its product. It would be nice if there was more organization on our side to do educational presentations, but unfortunately, the organizational backing that the "Stop Porn Culture" folks get just isn't there.

    My ideal would be to see a multi-day touring program that would include showings of "9to5: Days is Porn" (saw this recently and its quite good, got to review it soon), "Hot and Bothered: Feminist Pornography", and even "Graphic Sexual Horror", with presentations by activist performers. My list of docs is actually a "warts and all" presentation, but "warts and all" properly contextualized makes a hell of a lot stronger case in the end than the one-sided propaganda the antis are peddling.

  3. This has to get some kind of award for self-contradiction:

    "Students analyze women objectified in pornography"

    I think whoever wrote this needs to crack open a book and learn something about "objectification". Not the superficial "objectification = teh sexy" definition that usually gets bandied about, but the larger concept, which has more to do with stereotyping somebody based on their social role. A group of random college students "analyzing women in pornography" is swimming in it!

  4. Here's a link back to the original article:

    It seems that Megan Andelloux also spoke during this event, though the article gives no hint as to what she actually had to say. Andelloux, of course, is the sex educator who was targeted by Donna Hughes after testifying against the Rhode Island indoor prostitution ban. Hopefully she "represented" well – I've been following a lot of the recent politics around sex-positive feminist sex educators, and there seems to a lot of pressure on them to distance themselves from "mainstream porn".

  5. And it's working to. I read more and more criticism of "the industry" from people who identify as pro-porn but don't like the way they perceive the business to operate. It's become fashionable for sex-poz types to demonstrate their independence (and beat back rad-fem accusations of patriarchy collaboration) by trashing this or that aspect of "commercial" pornography. What they favor instead is never made clear, but they want it known that they don't work for those evil porn barons out in The Valley.

    I'm tired of reading smack online from supposed allies who would support us fervently if only we would go all-condom or use more "realistic-looking" players or get rid of pop-shots or whatever other thing it is that they've chosen to pick on us about.

    In fact, these criticisms are not about "the industry" at all, of which the yakkers usually have no direct experience. They're about establishing the feminist bona fides of those doing the yakking.

    With friends like these, I'll take Dines and Jensen. At least their agendas are obvious.

  6. And we have the take-home lesson of the screening:

  7. What's horrifying is that students at respectable universities are so little acquainted with the basic concept of critical thinking that they swallow this bilge as if it were lemonade.

    Not one challenge is posed by the author to any of the preposterous charges made by TPoP. They're all taken as gospel and the dope who wrote the piece goes on to declaim his own sermon based on the non-facts from this obvious piece of propaganda.

    I shudder to imagine how ill-equipped such a person would be to evaluate the more sophisticated but equally meretricious arguments advanced by more inventive and slicker ideologues.

    This thought does not brighten my outlook on the future of intellectual discourse in this nation.

    If no one gets there first and I have the time, I'm going to go to the comment section following this lad's post and administer a quick reality check. We'll see how he and his privileged B.U. pals deal with it.

  8. "If no one gets there first and I have the time, I'm going to go to the comment section following this lad's post and administer a quick reality check. We'll see how he and his privileged B.U. pals deal with it."

    Please do Ernest – I'm actually pretty swamped over the next few days and don't have a lot of time for blog commenting.

  9. Well, I went over there and let them know what I thought of their encomium to the brilliance of Chyng Sun's opus.

    As expected, the reaction was less than friendly. The publisher, who seems untroubled by the ad hominem attacks in the film, cautioned me against ad hominem attacks on their commentators and snarkily regretted the fact that journalism of the type I understand to qualify for the use of the term is dying, presumably to be replaced by the uninformed "personal responses" of undergraduates.

    It will be fun to look in later and see what other comments pop up. I expect they'll be equally informative.

  10. BTW, I did ask Megan Andelloux directly about the presentation. She reassured me she definitely does not agree with the message of TPoP and participated in the discussion as moderator so that she could have Princess Kali and, I think, other more porn-positive folks on the panel.

    Unfortunately, looking at the two articles, it seems too many people came away with a simplistic "feminist porn good/mainstream porn bad" message.

  11. Ernest,
    I want to thank you for the comments you provided to this post. I “moderated” the BU evening event in an attempt to defuse the inflammatory and outrageous statements made by TPoP. ( I just posted this on the BU article but just in case they don't print it, I wanted you to know what I wrote.)

    I was lucky enough to have the BU Women’s Center agree to allow Princess Kali (who does still work in the industry), Good Releasing Films and Pink and White Productions to present the idea that pornography does not equal the devil, that women do choose to get into this line of work because they enjoy it, that domination can be fun and all the other points that this film forgets to mention. I’m sorry, but if the filmmaker states that this is going to be “a holistic understanding of pornography as it debunks common myths about the genre”, perhaps they shouldn’t bring up pedophilia in the first 10 minutes of the film or end the movie with a 21 second close up of a woman’s face after people ejaculated on her. Showing gut-punching images (for some people) like that does not reflect a “holistic understanding”, it shows that it has a clear scare tactic agenda. There are more than a dozen other reasons of why this film is not educational.

    As an educator, I almost dropped the 250.00 it would cost to buy it because of the description of it being “unbiased.” Thank goodness I didn’t. There is no way I could show this film as a way to accurately portray porn and it angers me to think other individuals might be using it that way.

    In hindsight, presenting the positive side of pornography was at a disadvantage because we went AFTER the TPoP, at which 40 % of the audience left immediately after the film ended. We were able to gather some discussion though for over an hour though. The articles that were posted did NOT reflect that part of the evening and the one of the WC staff apologized for the biased coverage. There were some very thought provoking statements addressed by students to the audience, my particular favorite was after a discussion of “woman friendly porn” which was stated a few times. A woman raised her hand and pointed that she had had enjoyed watching the previous images (the “rough” images) and when people make statements like “woman friendly” it implies that woman can’t enjoy intense scenes OR if they do, their must be something wrong with them. She let us how wrong she felt that to be. Brilliant.

    If educators are looking to teach individuals, I would suggest that they purchase theses resources; (created by Planned Parenthood of Western Washington)
    Pornography: Discussing Sexually Explicit Images,
    Read “America’s War on Sex” by Marty Klein,
    Or check out sex positive resources like Charlie Glickman, who just published a lovely piece on “using” porn.,

    Thank you for posting your thoughts. I'm happy to know you paid attention to this event and while it wasn't the smoothest, the other side was attempted to be represented. Good Vibrations gave us clips to use of Dylan Ryan, Kink Academy donated subscriptions, Pink and White donated films, Princess Kali and I donated our time to represent.
    Megan Andelloux

    Also, I don't know if you are following (but I just did a workshop on Fantasies and embracing the Taboo at Brown University, showing scenes from Madison Young films and Nina. Some of the alumni are in a tiff about discussing "such topics". It's a start, I know I could learn more so I am open to your suggestions. Click here to read...

  12. Ahh! Gail Dines and TPoP are coming to Wheelock (near Boston) for a Stop Porn Culture! conference. Being held on June 12 and 13th. Who wants to attend this with me and present another viewpoint or challenge misleading statements made?
    Presentations and workshops include:

    The pornification of our culture
    Racism in pop culture and pornography
    Local, national, and international organizing
    Porn and capitalism
    Legal strategies against porn
    The sexualization of children
    Compulsive pornography use
    Hooking up: the porn culture on campus