Monday, July 16, 2007

Pornography Part 2

I do not write as an academic on pornography. I only write from my own experience and readings on the topic.

Field research has revealed that most acts of despicable vileness and inhumanity produce in its aftermath a record of the depravities committed. A pornography, if you will. I need only look at the Holocaust. There is a ritualism and rigidity to the meticulous record keeping so that the degradation can be relived again and again by the perpetrators. The victims are reduced to numbers; their very humanity has been eliminated. And in more recent times (and I believe it is only the tip of the iceberg so to speak)we only have to look at the horrors of Abu Ghraib with their violent sexual components.

The same with modern pornographers. For example, the slightest research on Hugh Hefner, pornographer extraordinaire, reveals that from a very early age, he became infatuated with photographs of naked women. He parlayed this into a billion dollar industry, filling his mansion with beautiful young women who were featured in his Playboy magazine and sundry spin–off media. Of course, what is revealed here is that Hugh is incapable of intimacy with a partner. As of this writing he is living with three women, all in their twenties. All assisting him, even in his eighties and with the self-admitted usage of Viagra, to continue his life fantasy of ever-willing and able women constantly at the ready to satisfy his every sexual whim.

I find racism, homophobia and misogyny close counterparts to pornography, maybe even going so far as to saying they are flipsides to the same coin - the Negro, the gay man or woman, the female, are thus defined by their perpetrators. Their humanity, intellectual capacity, their very souls are completely denied and made invisible to justify the position of the discriminator.

From a sign on the doors of factories looking for help in New York in the middle of the nineteenth century “ No Jews or Irish need apply”.

Even poverty is condemned in some parts of the world, as if is self-causated. Then oppression becomes possible as being poor and dirty are so interconnected in people’s mind. Which brings me to the word 'dirty' itself.

In my time, in Canada, those from Pakistan are labeled ‘dirty Pakis' by many. This has been considered a generally acceptable condemnation. I have been invited for meals into Pakistani homes here and am astonished at the level of cleanliness practiced at mealtimes, down to washing the hands in between courses. Thus the perjorative 'dirty' has no place in reality.

I am reminded that this is how Nazi Germany started, the condemnation of the Jews as somehow despoiled, ‘dirty’. The same with the Irish under eight hundred years of oppression. The lands stolen and the inhabitants condemned to poverty through landlord avarice. Then subsequently classified as ‘dirty’ and thus ‘undeserving’ of education or justice.

When I was growing up in Ireland, a girl who had gotten pregnant, no matter if it were rape, incest or the local priest, was labeled ‘dirty’. She was despoiled, unfit, and until very recently, her innocent child was called a ‘dirty bastard’ and by the arcane laws of the land was deemed unfit to inherit.

Thus a girl/woman acting in a pornographic film or featuring in photos is condemned as ‘dirty’. Her intellect and spirit erased under the label. What is she after all but a ‘dirty’ whore, unworthy of respect? She can be subjugated in any way we see fit. Being dirty, she enjoys it, as being dirty she is closer to living an animal’s existence anyway.

The reality of womanhood is sanitized for male porn consumption. In pornography menstruation is eliminated, as are childbirth and contraceptives, stretch marks and caesarian scars. The ideal woman emanating from the ranks of the soft-focus pictures is free of all such earthly markings. The porn-addicted man is protected from the reality of her bodily functions. She lives and breathes to service him. He will never be contaminated by her reality. Unlike his wife/partner, she is capable of multiple orgasms with minimal effort on his part and will fall to her knees at his slightest whim.

“He then sat naked on his couch and called me over and said to me ‘just worship it, baby, just worship it.’”

An actual quote from a young woman I know who ran laughing from the hotel room of a Toronto Blue Jays player (and the only explanation I can come up with for his behaviour is too much porn – whether live or virtual).

And in Part 3 I will write of the experience of women I know who have lived as ‘puppets of porn’.


  1. A lot of food for thought there, particularly the idea that people you don't like or want to suppress are 'dirty'. The pictorial sanitising of women is again removing the 'dirty' elements like menstruation and childbirth. Which leads to reality itself, the reality of women's actual experience, being also seen as 'dirty' - as you say, the man might be 'contaminated' by her reality. A truly bizarre view of the world - how do men develop this warped perspective?

  2. I think, Nick, that it is a more massive dilemma, the roles of men and women, the gender devaluation of women, the role of the father in parenting, particularly of daughters, respect for all humans, etc.

    Men are demeaned by it also and I haven't lost sight of that, either. There are many 'good' men, such as yourself, and I am blessed to know them, who are as appalled as I am by the desensitizing effects of porn.


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