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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pornography: Liberation or Enslavement? (2005)

The Internet has created a porn explosion by opening huge new markets. In 1996, there were 30 million surfers, and in 2001, 500 million! The pornography business is mainly run from and between the economically developed countries but now reaches developing countries as well. Pornographic sites number about 450,000. By Jocelyne, Militant, Louise-Michel Group of the Fédération anarchiste, 2003.

Translated by SonofTomJoad, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 3/05

Original French @: http://increvablesanarchistes.org/articles/2000_apres/2003porno_liberat.htm

Most dictionaries define pornography as the self-indulgent representation of obscene acts that shock the prudish, a subjective and variable concept according to historical era, country and culture. What qualified as pornographic in the 18th century seems quaint to us today—a glimpse of a naked breast … or ankle. Pornography has both a provocative and a profitable dimension. Eroticism, however, can be just as titillating and saleable, but it depicts emotional and sexual experiences between consenting partners who want to increase their sexual pleasure together by playing erotic games to reach orgasm.

Pornography achieves no such effect. There are two categories of sexual partner in porn—
the dominators (men) and the dominated (women or children) used as objects. Sexuality serves as another means to create or reinforce inequality. Women (or children in the case of child pornography) are represented in degrading, shameful situations, showing that they can only find pleasure in submission and humiliation. Pornography apologizes for violence against women, and even children, in which men triumph as the dominant sex. Aside from the commercial aspect, pornography differs from eroticism in that it makes no aesthetic quest but only seeks a crude reality, limited to the genital organs or the scatological, as opposed to eroticism, which explains, or more often, suggests intimate situations. Pornography only displays the physical aspect of the body, while eroticism plays with the entire personality of the person.

Internet porn

Pornography has evolved over the centuries, with paintings discovered on the walls of the brothels of Antiquity and writings and songs sometimes serving as an outlet for official writers, but that evolution is microscopic compared to the exponential way it has developed over the past thirty years and how extremely violent its content has become. The Internet has created a porn explosion by opening huge new markets. In 1996, there were 30 million surfers, and in 2001, 500 million! The pornography business is mainly run from and between the economically developed countries but now reaches developing countries as well. Pornographic sites number about 450,000. They offer videos, photos, prostitute catalogues, sex shops and stores selling sexy lingerie, so women can excite their male partners. Web-cams allow some sites to offer direct visual relations with very young girls or children. Since communication has become so international and provides new markets for the sex industry, 2.5 % of total Internet traffic carries pornographic images, and users have the freedom to visit porn sites without much fear of being located, thanks to the anonymous complexity of the Web. Men comprise 95% of customers, according to polls, and they can watch scenes of torture, rape and lesser crimes if they like. The police have dismantled some sites because they involve minors. However, proposals for regulation are denounced in the name of freedom of expression and the right to privacy. The Internet is the communication space with the closest thing to a complete legal void at its disposal.

Pornography has become more violent over the last several decades. In 1976 in the US, the film Snuff provoked important demonstrations, especially of feminists, because it presented as real the torture, murder and dismemberment of a woman. This escalation of violence may be explicable as a response to the women's liberation movement born in the Seventies, which put male supremacy at risk! In 1976, pornographic movies released in France numbered about 11 million, and while that number fell to 2 million in 1985, in the same period there was a flourishing of sex shops, peep shows, sex chat lines, as well as the explosion of video sales. Porn film production is now the work of big media outfits like Vivendi Universal Canal +, which had a world monopoly on the market in 2001.


Above all, pornography is a sex industry that uses all the methods necessary for its expansion. It produces a misogynistic vision of sexual relations between men and women based on inequality and the domination and violence of men against women, reflecting patriarchal society. Contrary to erotic-pornographic literature like Lady Chatterley's Lover, The Story of O, Lolita and Emmanuelle, which allow the reader's imagination to bring the description alive, the films do not allow the unconscious to re-appropriate the projected fantasies because they are more primitive and brutal and too fast. Active readers interpret words and situations by adapting them according to their personalities and lived experiences, thus paradoxically re-inventing the story. Images projected on the screen do not allow this distancing, this re-appropriation. They appear and vanish too quickly, not allowing the necessary reaction or unconscious adjustment, and so they are received passively.

Pornographic film content has evolved over the years to become more and more violent and brutal toward women (but also children). In this way, it mirrors capitalist society, which reinforces class inequalities and the inequality women have in relation to men. Women's bodies are shown as sexual objects, pieces of meat, of merchandise, with overused wide shots in order to better show penetrations of all orifices and the final (male) orgasm displayed by the emission of sperm. The penis is only filmed when erect, the patriarchal symbol of male power, never before or after. The ejaculation of sperm is dramatized as the erect saviour's awaited apotheosis flooding the sprawling body of the woman. Storylines are usually absent because these films only seek to satisfy the need of men to dominate women and even create that need (in the film's advertising). These films don't show sexuality between men and woman, which is not limited to penetration but involves the whole person. Fixating on the genital organs casts aside an important part of the human body connected to orgasm—the imagination. Physical orgasm is a component of sexuality between consenting partners that is not defined by penis size or trying to beat multiple penetration records but by a common quest for pleasure. Sexual pleasure is subjective and relative according to individuals; having a hard-on is not enough to achieve Completeness of Being.

A social evolution?

The unimaginative ubiquity of pornography, far from freeing individuals and destroying the religious taboos of our societies, only reinforces the foundations of capitalism and patriarchy. Money is the impetus and the goal of success (social success in the group and not personal success); social success can only be reached in an unequal social context in which force dominates, freedom is repressed, relations between the sexes are based on degradation, the domination of men over women reproduces itself— thereby encroaching on already acquired rights, returning to moral order, reinforcing the power of religion (diktats of integrationists and fundamentalists alike).

Access to more pornography only gives the illusion of a liberated society. Some women artists demand the right to do what they want with their bodies when, in fact, they are only participating in the market, cornered by men, that does what men want with the bodies of others (such as in the film Baise-moi) like they do in war. Changes in sexual behaviour remain linked to a liberal society endowed with the new alienating component of the pornography invasion that perpetuates the domination of an owning minority over all other people, such exploitation the very essence of capitalism. While some pornography feeds off extremely perverse situations—violence, torture, rape, murder—
it does not help to emancipate individuals and social groups. Despite the evolution of pornography that could be perceived as an outlet for mainly male aggression, which is the consequence of patriarchal society, sexual crimes have increased along with spousal abuse, while rape has not decreased, and the sexual exploitation of women, children and men in prostitution is growing.

There is no real sexual liberation because the spirit has not followed the body, and this dichotomy only brings low self-esteem. Emancipation does not come from more and more sex relations. Sexuality is part of well-being, but pornography, far from liberating people, keeps them dependent, and it only benefits and reinforces capitalist society at the expense of a libertarian society of adult and totally fulfilled people.

Are we going to let that happen?

original post and discussion here: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20050315083504610

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