Pearls of wisdom from I Blame The Patriarchy.
Art vs Porn: For Some Reason, The Debate Rages On
February 3, 2006
In yesterday’s discussion on, among other things, pornography, reader Christopher poses a few questions the answers to which are right up my patriarchy-blaming alley. Rather than hide their brilliance in the murky subumbra of the comments section (and because everybody loves a post about porn), I unveil my remarks here. I would like to take credit for them, but, as another smartypants commenter pointed out, “the ideas on this blog are nothing new.”
“Are all scenes of sex degrading?” inquires Christopher. “What about stories or drawings that don’t involve real humans? What makes something “porn” as opposed to “art”?”
The official Twisty position on porn is that in a patriarchy all commodified sexual imagery (photographic, verbal, cartoony, et al) is exploitative, which condition relies entirely on patriarchy’s having previously commodified women generally. In other words, if this were a society in which women’s humanity were not a matter of debate, where we were not viewed in terms of our position on the fuckbag continuum (i.e. “too young to fuck,” “too fat to fuck,” “too pregnant to fuck,” “just right to fuck”), pornography could not exist.
That’s right. This is my radical hypothesis: where women are not the sex class, women’s sexploitation cannot take place.
Though they delude themselves that their titillation does not depend on the humiliation of subordinate beings, men vehemently and almost universally disagree with the aforementioned hypothesis. That’s because they are empirically aware that prurience and dominance are central to the male experience, and cannot imagine a world without it. They insist that patriarchy can never be abolished to the extent I advocate. Their identities are so closely linked to the sexploitation of an underclass that they believe the overthrow of patriarchy is tantamount to their own castration. They say, “you’re crazy, Twisty, if you think we can part with the Male Gaze. It is hardwired straight to the male tentpitchular lobe.” They cannot conceive of having a class-neutral reaction–a reaction that doesn’t revolve around some sense of porkational entitlement–to a picture of a naked woman. What would happen to “desire” if men were no longer consumed with judging the women around them in terms of our degree of conformity to the fuckbag ideal? The human race would die out!
Of course, all that would really happen is that women would be human beings. The titillating, supposedly-transgressive-yet-doggedly-mainstream drama of the male domination fetish would vanish. “Raunch,” like other fads, such as trepanning, virgin sacrifice, and strirrup pants, would exist only in the quaint oblivion of yore. Actual human sex would be conducted in a manner consistent with preserving the dignity of all parties involved. Pictures of human sex would have an impact similar to images of an amoeba dividing in half.
Sexy-men and the bitches they dominate say, “Twisty, you humorless old prude, where’s the fun in that?”
Poor sexy-men with their pussy-shredding Viagra! Poor bitches in their Japanese fetish shoes! Enlightenment is fun. Try to live your lives on a level that does not emulate “Jackass,” why dontcha?
Christopher wants to know why all forms of narrative representation–drama, fiction, art–aren’t “exploitative of the human condition,” since most such narratives “attempt to arouse our emotions by allowing us to vicariously view the experiences of others. Why, in the abstract, sex should be more objectionable than violence, or death, or anything else is something I have yet to grasp.”
For one thing, there is not a designated “violence” class or a “death” class, but there is a sex class, and images that seek to normalize its oppression are themselves oppressive. Furthermore, in our wonderful world pornography, which is violence, and sex, which is women, are now synonymous. Thus the experience of pornography is neither narrative nor vicarious; it is desirable specifically because it provokes a primal physical reponse independent of cognition or intellectual analysis. This universal availability of this response is dependent on the aforementioned violent oppression of the sex class.
When in doubt as to whether the work in front of you is porn or art, I suggest this simple test: does the “emotion” you experience when you consume these representations elevate your humanity? Or does it reduce you to a miserable, drooling voyeur?
Or consider this scenario: a contingent of tasteful, evolved aliens arrives from the planet Obstreperon. Because life (and patriarchy-blaming scenarios) imitates science fiction, their mission is to weed out the riffraff from this corner of the galaxy. They’ve heard complaints that Earth is a big, fat, greedy sex shop, dragging property values down in Sector 3, embarrassing the neighbors and scaring their kids. See that big alien with the giant head who looks suspiciously like me? Her brain-ray is poised to annihilate our species unless we can convince her that we have something of philosophical value to contribute to the cosmos. You are elected to save the planet, and you have just one chance to prove that we are not a civilization of priapic redneck morons. Do you show this charming, good-looking alien your copy of A Room Of One’s Own, or do you whip out How To Become An Alpha Male: The Lazy Man’s Way To Easy Sex and Romance With 20 or More Women A Month?