Reclaiming Words

By Samantha Berg

One of the earliest feminist blogs I used to post to was hosted by a man. From 2004 through 2006, I contributed many comments to his blog, as did other radical and liberal feminists. Then came the day in 2006 when we all discovered that Barry Deutsch of Amptoons.com sold his blog to pornographers for many thousands of dollars, and more than just radical feminists felt betrayed by his greedy foray into third party prostitution profiteering.

I was recently reminded of those blog posts when asked for details about a conversation between me and Amanda Marcotte  where she said about men who pay for sex: “Gender roles for men make it hard for them to be soft and affectionate and some find it easier to buy that than actually put their reputation as a hardass on the line by seeking love with a real woman. Prostitutes who keep a regular clientele will tell you that a lot of men are more lonely than anything.”

Obviously I found Marcotte’s quote, but in searching for it I also found hundreds of sentences I had contributed in good faith to Amptoons not knowing Deutsch would capitalize on my volunteered writings through third party cyber pimping. Almost ten years later, I am taking back ownership of my writings from an unethical louse of a man.

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Last week it came out that a respected public figure raped his 14 year old babysitter many years ago. The cover of the Willamette Week weekly newspaper calls Goldschmidt “having sex with” the 14 year old, “incomprehensible.” In the back of the same issue is an advertisement which promises to provide “Real Teens! Real Sex!”, meaning it should not be ‘incomprehensible’ to the editors that many adult men rape desire to stick their dicks inside girl child’s bodies.

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I’ve not seen in the 4-5 articles linking porn to Abu Ghraib I’ve read where an author states the incident should be seen “primarily” in relation to porn, just that the similarities should be considered more thoughtfully.

It doesn’t surprise me that so many women immediately thought of pornography when the story broke instead of considering the long military history of torture and sexual abuse during wartime. Perhaps if we had the visual records of black lynchings shoved in our faces with the dailiness pornography is shoved in our faces our thoughts would have gone there first.

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To say you believe in women’s equality but don’t see how that has anything to do with female sexuality being considered a Thing to be bought and sold misses the whole point of why it is called SEXism.
Women aren’t discriminated against because we’re shorter than men or less hairy than men. We are discriminated against because most men look at women and see some things (human beings) they would like to sexually pleasure themselves with instead of seeing women and girls as fully human people with personalities and desires of their own unrelated to wetting his penis.

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Why does a 13 year old prostituted child with no experience command a price 100 times that of a 23 year old with ten years of experience and in what other ‘profession’ does your value decrease the more experienced you are?

Why should men be allowed this form of “entertainment” when it is clearly so very detrimental to the people involved as well as to all male perceptions of all women’s worth? Using prostitutes is a male leisure activity, it is a very destructive one, and I don’t understand arguments that place men’s all holy right to shove their penises in and out of women’s bodily holes over the rights of the UN’s estimated 3-4 millions children, women and men held in sexual slavery and raped repeatedly for profit in a year.

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Chris Hedges, foreign correspondent from the NY Times in Bosnia and other wars and author of the book War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning was on KBOO radio last year and he said that within 24 hours of war breaking out in Bosnia pornography sales soared and shelves of pornography were emptied.

You may discount the “if a then b” one-way directional flow of pornography’s effects if you want, and since few things in the world are so clearly unidirectional that would be sensible, but there’s much evidence supporting increased porn usage in militarized cultures (like the modern US) and increased amounts of sexual torture (like genocidal rape) in war, so porn obviously plays some important psychological role in war zones where it’s available and that’s not unconnected to increased sexual violence in war zones.

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No one thinks average, non-raping men in Bosnia bought porn by the truckloads as the war began then became rapists during the war because of it. Why did men’s consumption of misogynist, degrading pornography increase so dramatically as they mentally prepared themselves for the coming destruction and chaos of war? Why did a not-feminist war correspondent feel this point was worth bringing up in a radio interview when speaking of the impact the outbreak of the Bosnian war had on people there?

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Pornography isn’t free speech, it is costly speech manufactured by corporations who market their products aggressively and profit enormously. Missing from the discussion is how the ideas of an oppressed, objectified people whose very bodies are needed to create the ‘speech’ of wealthy men could ever be able to begin to compete with the privileged big boys in this stacked system.

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Almost all porn is about fulfilling women’s pleasure if you stop at “she looks like she’s enjoying it!”, but men have depicted women orgasming from being raped, cut up, spit on, fucked by animals and worse and really it’s about men’s pleasure seeing women acting like animalized dirty whores more than women’s pleasure at doing the sex.

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There’s no need to speak in hypothetical abstracts about the results legalization and decriminalization. Those of us saying legalization does not make ‘sex workers’ more safe aren’t pulling that out of our asses, it’s been demonstrated in the many historical attempts to regulate prostitution and in the more recent legalization trials in the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, certain Nevada counties.

AIDS, STD, pregnancies, gang control, child prostitution, street prostitution, violence from pimps and tricks…none of these problems have gone away in legalized places and the research demonstrates that these intrinsic harms are actually exacerbated by legalization.

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We need to stop talking about the benefits of legalizing prostitution like we need to stop talking about trickle-down economics. These theories have been tried many times over the years and they continually fail to produce positive results. If there are women and children in desperate straits, poor, sexually abused and addicted to drugs like almost all prostituted people are, the solution isn’t to find ways to make exploiting women easier for their pimps and tricks so their money and ‘proper management’ trickle down to the people on the bottom rung, it’s to provide direct assistance to those people who need help and give them the help they ask for.

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Cans of tuna come with “dolphin free” labels because tuna-eaters care about dolphins. Movies come with disclaimers that no animals were hurt in the making of the films. Pornography comes with advertising playing up the violence, lack of women’s consent, and vulnerability of youthful “girls girls girls!” (never “women women women!”) Pornographers BRAG about how they fucked that teen virgin bitch’s ass so hard she couldn’t sit for days. It’s as if cans of tuna came with labels saying, “Now with more slaughtered dolphins than ever!”

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I remember watching the movie Clan of the Cave Bear in high school. When I saw the movie I saw Ayla getting raped by a man who hated her and who relished raping her into silenced obedience, but the boys saw a male role model, a man gettin’ some recalcitrant pussy from an uppity blonde bitch.

For months afterwards a group of boys kept making the hand symbol Ayla’s rapist Broud used to command her to submit to his rapes and laughing over how sweet life would be if we bitch classmates would go as easily ass-up when the hand command was issued to us. There was no ambiguity in the plot; it was quite clearly rape. But to those boys it was just pornography, just sex as most men would have sex with women be, on demand and without any backtalk, like the sex of prostitution.

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Linda Boreman said she was sometimes forced at gunpoint to submit to her rapes, and thanks to a well-funded pr campaign calling her a lying whore fronted by women on the porn biz payroll she isn’t believed, but there are still many women, like these for instance, who are raped to make pornographic products men sell to other men to accumulate gobs of money.

These are not unusual, isolated rape events in the making of pornography but the understandable outcome of capitalism applied to sex as men demand it and are willing to pay for it. Men’s demand for 50 man gangbangs is far greater than the number of women willing to consent to it. The rapes of some number of pornstituted women and girls are necessary to sustain the multi-billion dollar pornography industries as they have exponentially expanded the past few years and subsequently evolved to include more grotesquely vicious woman-hating content.

But there’s a damnable wall of silence surrounding what it takes to make the pornography being consumed so greedily, a silence especially infuriating among liberals who I’d like to think would apply criticisms of racism, sexism and capitalism to pornography if they were people of integrity.

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There’s a vile trend in popular liberal media calling young women who say they were raped liars, a trend that has appeared recently in such as liberal media as The Nation, Counterpunch, and Clamor Magazine. What I see in this is the burning need to defend men’s rights to unlimited sexual access to women’s bodies in pornography and prostitution taking precedence over women’s human rights, and it makes me angry.

We women are just supposed to accept that being a whore is the new, progressive, feminist path to female empowerment and equality, and I am frightened for the girls and women being told this lie.

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The overwhelmingly male consumer choice for pornography is not only not against the pain, suffering and exploitation of women, these are the most desirable features of the most profitable, widespread pornography. The pain and humiliation of women is the main point, not an accidental byproduct as it is with sweatshop labor or Wal-Mart or the production of non-pornography goods.

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Women accepting pornography as it used to be known meant men didn’t want it that way anymore because if women like something, men stop liking it. So they (men) moved to more anal thinking correctly that most women didn’t like it, but then some women adapted to that too and now anal isn’t edgy anymore, edgy in porn really meaning “That which men like and women don’t, hence making it good and worthwhile”. Women got used to facials and now bukkake proliferates and, again, the verbal abuse has increased because there’s only so many things you can do to bodies but the patriarchy can always creatively concoct new ways to speak about hating women. Women are never going to get to the top of the pornography heap because anytime they come close men move the heap to keep it untainted by the touch of femaleness.

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Both pornography actors and non-porn actors act out sexual scenes, but non-porn actors are not placed daily in situations where their physical and mental health are put at severe risk. Porn actors come from populations with backgrounds much more similar to prostitutes than actresses, and a European study a few years back found porn actors had 6 times the suicide rate of non-porn actors. There is no billion-dollar market in enslaved non-pornographic actresses.

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Pornography production is not analogous to having a lot of casual sex. The sheer numbers of partners involved gets astronomical when you consider the other ‘pornstitutes’ have also had a tremendous number of prostituted sex partners in the same highly unnatural conditions of pornography production. Lack of condoms or dental dams, shaving & waxing that leaves tiny but bloody cuts, doing and redoing uncomfortable scenes until rubbed raw, the general brutality against women’s genitals modern pornography male consumers demand of pornography and more contribute to an undeniably toxic environment I would never compare to the most casual of casual sex-havers.

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I have vociferously questioned the “sex positive” liberals who think what’s best for women and children enslaved in SE Asian brothels is an unlimited supply of condoms, antibiotics, abortions and HIV tests so they can know shortly after contracting the disease that they’re now out of a “job” and they’re going to die painfully.

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I’ve been told by “sex positive” liberals that every study ever done on prostitution is wrong because they have friends who like being sex workers. I’ve been told most prostituted women just want the freedom to keep being whores on their own terms. I’ve been told it’s easier to find and speak with rape victims, drug addicts and trafficked teens than unraped, healthy, stable adult sex workers. I’ve been told pornographers don’t have as much money as “academic feminists” to conduct studies determining the general welfare of the prostitutes they use.

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Sometimes I want to shout à la Charlton Heston at pornography users, “Pornography is people! It’s people!”

Helen Reddy, “I Am Woman”

Coming Soon: A Freudian Nightmare Takes a Look at Health Risks.

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Comments

  1. Reblogged this on There Are So Many Things Wrong With This and commented:
    Love the ultimate line.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The dolphin analogy is terrific. Thanks for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Feminism XX says:

    Featured and Linked on Feminism XX: http://feminismxx.blogspot.com

    Thank you. Very difficult to read. Pornography is not free speech and I’ll never forgive the ACLU for supporting the pornographers in court.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Why does a 13 year old prostituted child with no experience command a price 100 times that of a 23 year old with ten years of experience and in what other ‘profession’ does your value decrease the more experienced you are?” And why aren’t more people asking that question?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on eachone.

    Liked by 1 person

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