Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Banning Pornography is Not a Solution to Anything

I know, we already talked about it.  And unfortunately, all the great comments on Kissie's post disappeared as a result of the Wordpress-Blogger switch, but that's all right; life goes on, and now we shall discuss it again, because Michele Bachmann.

Crazy Eyes recently and enthusiastically signed a pledge to officially agree with... well, a lot of things:
– HOMOSEXUALITY IS A CHOICE: The preface to the pledge reads, “Social protections…have been evaporating as we have collectively ‘debased the currency’ of marriage…in complete absence of empirical proof, that non-heterosexual inclination are genetically determined, irresistible and akin to innate traits like race, gender and eye color; as well as anti-scientific bias which holds, against all empirical evidence, that homosexual behavior in particular, and sexual promiscuity in general, optimizes individual or public health.” Footnote 8 reiterates this notion.
– HOMOSEXUALITY IS LIKE POLYGAMY, ADULTERY, POLYANDRY: Vow 4 requires the candidate to pledge “Vigorous opposition to any redefinition of the Institution of Marriage…through statutory, bureaucratic, or court-imposed recognition of intimate unions which are bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous, same-sex.”
– HOMOSEXUALITY IS A PUBLIC HEALTH RISK: Footnote 4 claims that homosexuality causes shorter life expectancy and a higher probability of a long list of sexually transmitted diseases. The Leader has previously compared same-sex marriage to second-hand smoking.
– SEX IS BETTER AFTER MARRIAGE: Vow 5 requires the candidate to support the notion that “married people enjoy better health, better sex.”
– PORNOGRAPHY SHOULD BE BANNED: Vow 9 stipulates that the candidate must “support human protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy” and protect them from “seduction into promiscuity and all forms of pornography…and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.”
– REJECT SHARIA ISLAM: Vow 11 requires the candidate to reject Sharia law.
She also said that black children were better off during slavery than under Obama.  I... I'm not even going to touch that.  I assume we all understand exactly why such a claim is ridiculous.

Back to the porn.

As far as I know, Bachmann hasn't given any indication that she cares about porn until now, and to be fair, she didn't personally say anything specific related to the things mentioned in the pledge, at least publicly.  But, leaving aside the... creative... wording of this part of the pledge, it was in the pledge she was thrilled to sign, and banning pornography... hmm.  Let's flesh this out.

Mainstream pornography is gross.  And by "gross," I mean: misogynist, violent, degrading, dehumanizing, and unrealistic, among other things.  But, ignoring for a moment the ways in which pornography exists in mainstream America, what, exactly, is pornography?  Let us consult the Almighty Wikipedia, because that's easy:

Pornography or porn is the portrayal of explicit sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.
Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from booksmagazinespostcardsphotossculpturedrawingpaintinganimationsound recordingfilm,video, or video game. However, when sexual acts are performed for a live audience, by definition it is not pornography, as the term applies to the depiction of the act, rather than the act itself. Thus, portrayals such as sex shows and striptease are not classified as pornography.
As a concept, pornography is a neutral thing that doesn't have any meaning that isn't given to it on a case-by-case basis by people who make and use it.  Filming, photographing, and distributing sexually explicit material within a 100% consensual context is not inherently misogynistic, violent, or degrading; the reason that mainstream pornography is often characterized in these ways by feminists and other critical folks is entirely due to the societal factors that go into making such products for people to consume.  In a society in which women are seen primarily as passive sex objects and men as over-sexed initiators and aggressors, porn (and the rest of the sex industry) exploits this to its advantage.  It responds to culturally-accepted misogyny, and then feeds it, recreating itself over and over again.  This is obviously unacceptable for anyone interested in an egalitarian society, but banning porn is simply not the proper solution to the problem.  Banning pornography would simply further the sexual hysteria and paranoia present in our culture by deeming yet another thing completely taboo, and fail to solve the actual systemic problems that make mainstream porn so damaging to our society.  Put an end to compulsory gender roles, and positive changes in the porn industry (as well as the rest of the sex industry) will very likely follow suit soon after.