Does Porn Provide A Good Public Service?

4 Jul

Yes.

No NSFW visuals, but you might want to wear headphones if you're at the office.

This debate at Cambridge on the merits of pornography goes has lots of facets and brings up many good points.  It’s about an hour and 15 minutes but if you’re interested I highly suggest watching the whole thing.

A few things kept coming up for me as I watched the debate.  First of all I think the debate asks the wrong question.  Cambridge presents the statement “This House believes pornography does a good public service” and asks speakers to defend or oppose the statement.  Jessi Fischer could give her speech and the debate would be over.  She proves that porn provides at least one good public service in a matter of minutes.

However what the house really wants to know (and fails to ask) is “do the pro’s of the porn industry outweigh the con’s?”

One of the arguments that the anti-porn team continues to fall back on is that porn is bad for children.  I was surprised at how often this came up because in my opinion it’s irrelevant because porn isn’t for children.

Considering that the first time I watched porn I was probably 9 (and it was with my little brother which means that he was probably 6) I can’t even pretend that children aren’t watching porn.  The anti-porn (should I call them pro-censorship?  I can’t think of a pro-___ title for them) team produces a psychologist who tells us that porn pushes children to explore their sexuality too early and that it tells children what they should and shouldn’t be attracted to.

Their opposition says that pornography reduces depression and promotes self-esteem for adult viewers including the geographically isolated, the ugly, the handicapped, the widowed, etc.  And that while the anti-porn activists say that porn promotes a view that all women should look one way (ahem, fashion industry anyone?), pro-porn-ers remind us that if there is something about your body that you hate, type it into google along with the word ‘sex’ and you’ll find porn worshiping that exact thing.

If you’re pregnant or a mother you merely change audiences, because someone in that camp will find you sexy.   Same for the thin, fat, big toe’d, tattoo’d, redheaded, dominant, submissive, what have you.

Around minute 52 a guy states that he thinks that porn in general does have positive aspects, however the ‘gonzo’ or really hardcore stuff doesn’t because it’s really ‘degrading’.  So does that mean that porn should only be available for vanilla people?  Only for straight people?  Should we outlaw porn with trans people?  No queer porn?  No porn for the BDSM community?  Nothing for women who like their loving partners to consensually make them feel like sex toys?  No porn for men who like to dress up in pterodactyl suits or take pictures of their thinly veiled junk either?  Right?  Only the classy stuff will do?

Around minute 47 a man stands up and states what I thought throughout the entire first half of the debate.

In the same way that people say ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people,’ we need to remember that porn doesn’t make misogyny, misogynists make misogyny.  People make movies.  And the movies people make reflect the beliefs those people have.  Misogynist film-makers make misogynist films, pornographic or otherwise.  Porn is just a convenient vehicle for a bad message.

The porn industry may be a vehicle for lots of woman-hating, money grubbing pimps but it’s also a vehicle for feminists, political debate, self-love and education.  So can we agree that porn has benefits but that some people in the industry are abusive and manipulate the system in ways that hurt a lot of people?

Yes.

So what do you suggest we do about it?  Lock up all the bad people in the industry?

But can’t we say that with other industries too?  Fast food maybe?  Should we lock up all the people making money off hurting chickens?  Or anyone who pays for sweatshop workers in Afghanistan?  And should we lock up just the CEO’s of those companies or anyone in the corporation who knows and goes along with it?  Or anyone who consumes the products (you know what they say, ‘a penny saved is a penny earned,’ so everyone who shops at Walmart is really making money off child slavery and therefore is a criminal right?).

And are people in the porn industry bad when they film a scene that was consensual and had safe words and codes of conduct but left bruises and drew blood?  Or are they bad when they distribute in an overseas market and deny the actors their fair share because they tricked an 18 year old into signing a contract without explaining the meaning of the word ‘litigation?’

Porn isn’t the enemy (unless you think publicly condoning sex for pleasure is the enemy, Prudie), misogyny and capitalism are the enemy.

So how do we solve that problem?

6 Responses to “Does Porn Provide A Good Public Service?”

  1. Webmonarch July 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Lovely, and thank you for the video. Another fault with the underlying assumptions of the debate is that the most popularly consumed porn is visual–a quick stroll through any fan community will produces hundreds if not hundreds of millions of fan-produced, fan-consumed written pornography.

    All of the human rights issues involved fade away when all of the characters are fictional and not played by real people. What that leaves are the pro-censorship arguments.

    Are teens harmed by reading slash? Kinky sex? Vanilla sex?

    By writing it?

    By reducing all erotica to the most harmful sort, anti-porn activists are minimizing the experiences and values of the millions of people who consume porn. And wasting our time.

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