Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hello one and all

This is seriously about the third time I have tried to post. It just wasn't freaking working. And now it is again. So. A quick update.
Yes I have changed my profile pic. And my 'handle' back to MG.
This is because:
a. it was time for a change
b. mean people on facebook might find me and be mean.
I know this sounds ridiculous and it is but hey. I've got to move with the times.
So what'cha reading? I'm battling through The Book of Rachael by Leslie Cannold and my feeling is that a brilliant idea has been wasted. It's a good effort though I suppose.
Last night I went to see Gail Dines talk at Melbourne Uni.
Gail Dines is the anti-porn crusader who needs a spandex suit of her own such is her fight against the pornification of society. She has written a book called 'Pornland' and in it she dissects the industry and the damage. And when she talks about porn she's not talking about what is now seen as 'porn lite' (ie simple images of people having sex, what people over 30 think of as porn, you know, pool cleaner-moustache-'70s bush) she is talking about 'body punishing' extreme stuff, like multiple penetrations, double anal, fellatio so rigorous to make the woman gag and even vomit (there are fetish sites catering to this shit) and worse. It's all there with a click of a button and kids are curious and they are looking at it. At work, we heard the story of a boy, 15 or 16, had his first sexual experience and thought he had to do anal, oral and vaginal sex all on the first time. There are kids out there watching this stuff before they have even kissed someone else.
Is this wowserism? She doesn't talk about censorship or banning. She talks about exposing the machine, the capitalist machine, that is behind porn and the pornification of society. She talks about education and exposing this stuff for the skewed respresentation of sex that it is.
So much good stuff last night, so much interesting stuff in the book. Not for the fainthearted but if you have kids, this is something you will need to talk to them about. She told her teenage son 'if you are going to look at porn, you need to know you will be handing over the development of your sexuality to this industry. Scary stuff.
Wow this was going to be a light catch up. To bed now.
Stay warm.


Another Outspoken Female said...

Did you watch Dines on Q&A go head to head with Canold? I hate it when feminists dilutes our strength. In the end I agreed with/got annoyed with both of them equally.

BookMoth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BookMoth said...

Hi MG! Right on. Have you read 'Female Chauvinist Pigs' by Ariel Levy? It's really, really good. (And disturbing.) I don't have teenage children (well, any children), but I imagine that if I do eventually I will simply have to ban them from the internet until they are 25.

Looking forward to more booky thoughts from you! Have you read the new Franzen? I really loved it, although (as with all Franzen novels) I felt kind of depressed and in need of a valium after each chapter. But Richard Katz. Rawrrr. What a character.

BookMoth said...

Hmm. I just realised I may have asked you about Freedom on this blog when it first came out. Apologies for the repetition.

In other news!

Anonymous said...

I spent a good part of the 90s tied up (boom-tish) in porn, and I've got to say that it was a bit unsettling seeing the rise of the "Evil Empire" imprint, which seemed to transform extreme-hardcore gonzo from a niche Euro-fetish to the very definition of main-stream. The movies were all essentially the same and appeared to follow a premise of "punish the slut". Basically, you'd watch a group of blokes savagely fuck some (usually young) girl's throat and arsehole for twenty minutes while slapping and choking her and saying shit like, "You like that, you fucking slut?", over and over again. Repeat five times to fill a two hour movie. I don't know if it appeals to some sort of pack-rape fantasy or the idea of a woman as something to be used, or the same human instinct that drives small children to bully each other; but I can say that, by the time I cut ties, it was about the only thing I saw people buying.

Personally, I don't like it and want it to go away (or at least go back to being a tiny niche). And, while I hear Gail Dines saying a number of good things, I also think, at times, she has her head a little bit up her bum. Among other things, I'm extremely opposed to her thoughts on suing porn companies. I may be totally wrong, but I tend to think, more than anything, what young people need is access to images of normal human sexual behaviour that can compete with porn -- that is, some sort of really really real, non-awkward or embarrassed or glossed-over normalised (and probably ongoing) form of full-on, nothing-hidden sex-education. I've no idea how many parents would agree with me, though.

MG said...

Oooh goody, porn talk. But first - Richard Katz. Rawr exactly BookMoth. Yes I think we did talk about Freedom and I liked it. Haven't read his other one(s) though. I should right?

Yes I saw the qanda episode today at work actually AOF. Michael Cunningham was rocking too much and a big distraction, Dines was kind of annoying towards the end and completely isolated, everyone was hating her, but I kind of get it that she puts herself there. She is not into compromise. Leslie Cannold annoyed the bejesus out of me. Do all feminists have to disagree with each other? If there are two on a panel, do they ever agree? The best of them all was Howard Jacobsen, oh my god what a mind. He was fabulous. 'Be ashamed of being an ashamed Jew' and 'man's mind is a jungle of horror' and other gems. I am reading The Finkler Question asap. I had avoided only because I feel I have read so much about Jewish topics. Brendan Cowell annoyed me too, even though I'm interested in reading his book to see a) how good/bad it is b) how it treats the subject of masculinity.

Alex, interesting what you say. At work we have research that tells us that by the age of about 11 years old, something like 80% of boys have seen something pornographic, whether it's online or whether it's on other kids' phones. Often they are told 'look at this' at school and a phone is shoved in front of their faces. Of course the definition of 'pornography' is important here. If it's just two people having sex and seems gentle and sexy, then I don't think that's such a huge problem as the gonzo violent stuff.

A British group are doing fantastic sex education. It's graphic (you can check it out online, it's graphic in parts but fantastic) and they go into schools and show (live but in another room) the variation in genital appearances, for example. They show parents what their teens are accessing online in terms of pornography - parents think it's 'old style porn' but when they see 2girls1up or similar they are almost vomiting as they watch. This is the stuff that is so extreme, and will only continue to get more extreme, that needs to be addressed. On the quanda show there was a man who said he'd been using porn for 30 years and had never seen the extreme stuff. Well, to start with it wasn't around 30 years ago unless it was only in small networks and privately produced but because there was no Internet, it wasn't easily accessible. I remember hearing about snuff movies when I was a kid; how would you have ever gotten to watch one? Now I'm too scared to venture too far into the www world because I know there is awful stuff out there.

I'm involved in sex education in schools here in Victoria. While we don't go in and show them graphic stuff like the British show does (wish we could! Maybe one day) we do inform them as much as possible about a whole range of stuff, including that pornography is a skewed view of sex and not realistic.

As for parents letting their kids watch something that showed people having sex in "images of normal human sexual behaviour that can compete with porn -- that is, some sort of really really real, non-awkward or embarrassed or glossed-over normalised (and probably ongoing) form of full-on, nothing-hidden sex-education" I would agree. I even offered to find and show my 14 year old daughter some 'nice' porn (gentle and loving, might be hard to find) the other day, if she was curious and rather than have her going and looking and stumbling across ugly stuff.

Her response: I think I'm good. I think I know how it works.

Anonymous said...

**Sorry about all this. I need to work on being concise.**

I finally got to have a good look at that website and it seems like a giant leap in the right direction. Especially when sex-ed at my high-school was a cross-section drawing of a penis and a warning that if we touched one outside of marriage, we'd end up pregnant and diseased. Also, I know this is an odd thing to say, but I think it's really commendable that you're willing to watch porn with your daughter (I can't say for sure, but you might be able to get some "good" stuff on those sites where couples upload home videos. Maybe). I've seen parents who would change the channel every time a sex scene came on the telly, and it made me wonder what they hoped to achieve, apart from raising kids whose only understanding of one of the most important things in life is that it's dirty and you shouldn't talk about it. On the other hand (and this isn't a go at you or your daughter), I generally get wary when teenagers say they don't need something explained. I think I've mentioned the 16yo who "knew" that babies come out through the anus, and it's why I reckon open dialogue is vital. Otherwise you don't know what it is they think they know. However, it sounds like you and her are pretty solid, in that regard.

Anonymous said...

If it's just two people having sex and seems gentle and sexy, then I don't think that's such a huge problem as the gonzo violent stuff.

when they see 2girls1up or similar they are almost vomiting as they watch. This is the stuff that is so extreme, and will only continue to get more extreme, that needs to be addressed.

Now I'm too scared to venture too far into the www world because I know there is awful stuff out there.

First up, this is trivial, but I gotta ask: What is the modern definition of gonzo? In my day, most of the violent stuff came under gonzo, but it was actually a broader category that included anything lacking a solid 4th wall. For instance, there were British titles, shot in a "faux doco" style, where blokes would pick up "average girls" (planted actresses) off the street and convince them to have traditional-type porn-sex for the camera; and these were considered gonzo, too. I get the feeling that this no longer applies?

Secondly, I'd like to mention that, even back then, there was stuff being sold through mainstream channels that I actually found much worse than brutality and coprophilia. While most of the "slut-punishing" stuff went out of its way to convey consent (by having girls spout lines like, "Yeah, choke me you fucker! That's it, let me taste my arse!"), a lot of the stuff I saw being imported from Japan did not. Sure, it wasn't "rough" or "extreme" in that way, but it followed this formula of, "man forces himself on timid, submissive woman, who resists, but gradually bends to his will", that made it seem sickeningly close to normalising non-violent rape. Women would shake their heads, say "no", beg, cry, screw up their faces and make painful squealing noises and the men would ignore it all and just keep methodically fucking away. Now, I haven't heard anyone discussing this stuff, so I hope it's a baseless concern; but I know there's a kind of fascination with Japanese pop-culture out there at the moment, and I shudder to think of this becoming mainstream, too.

And on the really nasty stuff: I hear a lot about this and yeah, full-blown rape/torture/child-abuse material is certainly a worry. But from what I've seen, I don't think there's that much of it sitting on public facing servers in places where people could easily stumble over it (conversely, you can get all the bestiality you want with a simple Google-Image search). I honestly believe that most parents should be more concerned with teaching their children about responsibly managing their privacy and personal data. A subject which I think gets less serious attention than it should; especially now that everyone uses social media and everything has a camera in it.

MG said...

I think there's still misunderstanding about gonzo porn Alex. Some people describe it as sexual material with absolutely no attempt at story line, so just straight into the sex. Sometimes this is also characterised by hand-held camera, as well as a tendency to be 'body-punishing' and violent/abusive language etc.


I'm sure most parents (and some non-parents) think it extremely weird that I even said that to my daughter about porn. I wasn't offering to sit down with her and watch porn together, I think I was suggesting if she was curious and wanted to see how heterosexual sex 'worked' or 'looked' I could find something nice for her to watch. I don't know that we would have sat together. It is kind of weird I guess and she hasn't said anything since, and neither have I. I may have crossed a boundary about suggesting it and god knows what child protection would make of it, but we do have a very open dialogue about many things to do with sex (this is partly because of my job, but also we have talked about lots of things as she's been growing up.) I know she feeds back a lot of info I give her to her friends at school and she gets kudos for 'having a cool mum.' I bet she didn't tell her friends I'd offered to show her porn though!

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