Men don’t deserve a clap on the back for not watching porn

A guest post by Cassowary

So there’s this gifset doing the rounds on Tumblr, taken from this TED talk:

That spells to me everything that’s wrong with “”“”feminism“”“” as it stands. In a word and in a culture. Some fairly conventionally attractive white guy says he’s stopped watching porn and he gets a fucking TED talk and Tumblr gives him 35K notes. I’m not bothered with watching the whole TED talk, from those gifs though it seems like the dude is stopping watching porn because he didn’t like that his fantasies were too violent?? And it creates demand?

Well the whole creating demand thing, I feel, is a side step tactic from talking about real problems. Even if HALF of all men everywhere stopped watching porn tomorrow (Merry Christmas) pornography would still thrive as an industry, I’ll tell you that right now. The whole creating demand argument also makes it seem like not watching porn IS worthy of back pats and praise because hey, there’s a man and he’s not creating demand! Well done him!

Well actually no. It’s not really about hard facts of demand and supply that people like to simplify things in politics down to. I’m against boycotting as a political tool – it doesn’t work. Supply and demand politics would work if you lived in a village of like ~300 people buying goods from a tiny company. Because that business would be significant and important and worth considering in that context. However, in a world of however many billion people and however many MILLION porn websites, trying to orchestrate some kind of mass rejection of pornography is absolutely not going to work and serves and a self congratulatory move. It’s self congratulatory because this man got a fucking TED talk about it!! “I don’t watch porn. I’m great,” it boils down to.

Well there’s lots of people, mostly women, not watching porn because the porn they experience is icky and not like sex they’ve been having prior to the sharp incline of hardcore internet porn that is now shaping everyone’s sex lives so much. I’ve seen women’s reactions to porn – disgust, horror, bitter, angry. And these women aren’t ~Feminists~, they’re our mums, our aunts, our grandmothers, our sisters, our nieces and daughters and granddaughters. When yer in school and a bigger boy shows you some porn on his phone, you’re never like “Oooh yeah bb I like that,” you’re always silent. Silent in verbal communication, but there’s a thought process:

  • Why are you showing me this?
  • Do you want me to do this?
  • Is this what you masturbate to?
  • Is this what all guys masturbate to?

But no one ever answers these questions for you. Instead the experience is a fleeting insight into some world that boys and men take part in where men do things TO women (never WITH, always TO) and women are always kind of embarrassed? Women with cum on their faces, women being slapped with a dick, women being rendered unable to walk, women with some dude’s fingers in her mouth being all stretched out, hair being pulled, make up being smeared, orifices being poked and prodded in a kind of domination exploring way from the guy’s POV. Hell even POV porn – the guy gets the good grace of being anonymous while the male gaze is simulated in such an extreme way. The woman is constantly under the lens.

For men, they know what it’s all about. It’s a men’s club. It’s “Girls won’t fuck you? THESE GIRLS ARE DISGRACEFUL LITTLE SLUTS WHO WILL GOBBLE YOU NO MATTER HOW FUGLY YOU ARE. YEAAAAH DICK THAT CHICK!”

it’s about getting what you want (if you are a man). It’s a choice. You know, reading the notes of that TED post, one comment stuck out at me among the naive back-patting posts.

“That dude will have so many girls throwing themselves at him he won’t need porn!”

And that person obvs meant it in a super HILLLLLLLLLLLL-A-RIOUS sense, but they actually stumbled on a good point. Would that dude have gotten 35K notes if he was like some ugly wee freak of a guy? If he was some kind of brony? If he was wearing a t-shirt with a fucking lolcat on it or something. We‘d all be like “Sure dude. Now go back to your cave.”

The Greater Spotted Brony

But no. The reason this guy gets so many notes is because he’s just basically appealing to women’s need for a boyfriend who doesn’t watch porn. He’s just a fantasy. And to really stick my neck out there, I’d say that guy knows it!!

Why else would you broadcast that? Women don’t broadcast when they don’t watch porn because they get nothing from it. In fact they’re branded old fashioned and prudish. That’s the dichotomy of being involved in feminism, isn’t it? We berate the men for watching porn but we berate the women for not watching porn/having loads of casual sex/being vanilla/whatever.

Men who are *ahem* ~gender activists~ (srsly get the fuck outty ma face) have ulterior motives.

Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. I’d say that a man who chooses not to partake in the perpetuation of abuse culture within relationships and sex won’t broadcast it. They may be open and honest about it if you ask them, but a man who stands up on a stage and decides to tell people about that, make it a part of his identity, is doing that because it benefits him.

He’s already doing the benefiting women part of it by NOT taking part and NOT expecting horrible shit during sex and treating women he encounters in his life as equals and not accessories. The benefit is happening. But men who are egotistical don’t feel like this is enough. They feel they have to take the Olympic torch of feminism and run with it, educating their fellow dudebros and giving women everywhere hope for the men of the world.

It’s a nice image but it’s not “feminism” whatever that may be.

To help women, here’s how you do it:

  • You don’t undermine the communication and position of women in society by taking their place in their own fucking struggle. By deciding that men will be more likely to listen to other men and take your pornography schpiel to a TED talk, you are effectively saying that women’s voices are not powerful enough. You know what else is a construct that says that? Sexism, misogyny. Yeah OF COURSE other dudes are gonny listen to some hot guy talking about how he doesn’t watch porn any more. They’re gonny go “Wow, look how many chicks that guy gets now. All I have to do is wax lyrical about not watching porn and how harmful it is and I’ll have women eating out of my hand!”
  • You elevate the voices of women wherever possible. Elevating the voices of women includes NOT talking over them or adding your two cents. Trust me, whatever you think you’ve got to say, some other woman has already said it in a much more eloquent way. Instead of adding your two cents, find another person saying the same thing. Find a woman saying it. Post that. Fuck, y’all know how to use google to find your perfect piece of porn, so I really think you can use that time and skill to do something positive. Yeah you won’t cum out of it, but life isn’t always about tugging on your dick.
  • Don’t ask for a round of a-fucking-pplause for every non-violent, non-oppressive thing you do!!!! Seriously!!! Y’all never applaud any women for anything!
  • Listen to and RESPECT women. Engage with them, enjoy them as people and not just accessories. I say this because I feel like listening and respecting gets lost in politics. It translates into being tolerated. I’m not here to be tolerated!! If someone is “tolerating” my presence, I don’t wanna be around them anyway. And listening often translates into some dude silently staring at the floor and nodding along to what you say. And can I just say that this is a method of control that men use? Mmmmnmhmmm! It’s true! Y’all don’t realise that you’re doing it but it really is. By staying silent and appearing to agree to what the woman is saying but being non-committal in spirit isn’t something women overlook. So we get angry and we try to drive the point home more, we demand more participation from you, we say “If you agree with me so much, why aren’t you changing your behaviour? Why don’t you actively condemn the actions of others? Why don’t you give me a heartfelt apology and truly want happiness for the women around you?” and if one or more women is trying to communicate this to the silent, nodding man, we look like utter harpie bitches who just won’t cut a guy some slack. Well I’ve got big news for you, sexism is built on the foundations of cutting guys slack. Expecting them not to be able to do things, expecting women to take on the brunt of the emotional work. Expecting women to fix things and having expectations that the man will be a bit useless but that’s fine cause he’s a bloke. Stop fucking perpetuating this idea that women just nag for no reason or because they enjoy it or because that’s what women are biologically programmed to do.  And all of you arsehole “”“”feminist“”“” men do this. Worse still is when you all pull out the Level Headed Debating Attitude. Like wow, stop getting emotional, look at me, I’m not getting emotional therefore I’m more credible that you and you are just crazy. These words may never be mentioned but by being such a fucking brickwall, you make this dynamic happen.

I have a real problem with the debate surrounding pornography. One of my main problems is that none of the fucking people involved in actual fucking pornography ever have any kind of voice. The debate is crowded out by middle class white people aged 18-25 with university educations. How the actual fuck do you convince yourself you have anything constructive to say about how the porn industry works if you have zero experience of it?

Jenna Jameson discusses her experiences of the industry in her autobiography

This is not to say we cannot engage in critical conversation about porn and its effects. But I’d really leave how the industry works to be spoken about by people who have had a bad experience. There will always be a million and one people who will say “PORN IS GREAT!” but it’s like how Vanish detergent says their product is great, they’re hardly gonny tell you it’s shite, are they? People have really got to look at why they’re being given messages. If someone is saying “In the porn industry, I was raped / assaulted / coerced / beaten / threatened,” then why would you doubt that? On the other hand, someone spouting shite about their ethical free-range feminist porn clearly has an agenda to push – “Watch this porn! It’s GREAT.”

Always be wary of people who are uncritical of whatever they are pushing.

Our own personal choices about the porn we watch or don’t watch is exactly that – our own personal choices. It changes nothing beyond a personal level, our personal attitudes and relationships. Literally nothing. That’s why I’m so insulted when a dude gets up on stage and goes “I DON’T WATCH PORN! :D!” like CONGRATS! NO ONE FUCKING CARES.

Same for libfems who’re like “I WATCH PORN! :D!” CONGRATS! NO ONE FUCKING CARES.

See instead of declaring what turns you on or what kind of martyr decisions you make in life? Why not challenge the voicelessness of women? Why not make a big change by actually giving women space to talk and engaging with them? That is a SELFLESS choice btw, you’re not just prancing around going “YAH YAH YAH LOOK AT ME HERE LISTENING TO ALL THESE WOMEN, I’M CLEARLY A GREAT MALE FEMINIST.” like actually engaging and listening and talking (but not just going “Right I’ve heard yr point now I’m going to talk for like an hour and a half really slowly and semantically about what I think.”)

Why not… treat… women… like… humans? And not just accessories that you choose to use or not use in a certain way? Why not anticipate and accept hostility for your shittiness? Why not rejoice in women having space and voices and power? Why not stop berating, moulding and changing women to suit you? Why not accept that women aren’t subject to men? Why not stop being so fucking eager to get back pats for the simplest damn fucking shit? Why not stop wanting back pats all together?? Why not just do things so that women don’t have to be oppressed?

Stop running into feminism with an agenda of boosting your personal profile.

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Further Reading:

Sauna Raids and Silenced Sex Workers

It’s time to drop the macho crap and listen to the voices of women on the left

Beware the Ides of March… and “Left-Wing” Sexist Bawbags

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Follow us on Twitter @unsavourycabal

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2 responses to “Men don’t deserve a clap on the back for not watching porn

  1. thank you. but sadly, no one is going to listen until a man says it. and until more and more men keep saying it.

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