First-Person Account of Women and Porn Confronts The Distortions of Gail Dines

5th feminist porn awardsI know it’s a very provocative headline, but it’s quite accurate. Essentially, self-identified anti-porn feminist and anti-porn conference organizer Gail Dines describes via media such as Guardian UK what she depicts as the reality of today’s porn: specifically women’s direct roles in porn and in porn culture. Media outlets have run Dines’ definitions and descriptions as direct reporting. The problem is, and what we’re now seeing first-hand, is that Dines is truly, and very obviously not reporting the facts.

February 2nd Las Vegas Weekly ran Feminists Gone Wild: A Response to Gail Dines by Lynn Comella: a direct confrontation of what Dines is stating as fact in news outlets. And with this first-person report, it’s hard not to feel outraged that outlets such as Guardian UK, Mother Jones, and others who have not fact checked Dines will run inaccuracies so readily. It is actually downright scary when you think about the wider context of what else these media outlets might be doing under the guise of “[blank] is bad.” Excerpt:

Unlike Dines, I attended this year’s Expo (and the last three Expos, as well). But more to the point, I moderated and helped organize the women’s seminar for the second year in a row. Even a cursory glance at the Expo program—which was available online, and which I assume Dines looked at because she referenced the seminar by name—would have revealed that joining me on stage were two feminist sex toy retailers, a feminist sexologist and author, a female porn producer and a male sex toy designer—the first man ever invited to be part of the women’s seminar.

(…) As scholar Shira Tarrant notes in a recent review of Pornland, Dines fails to address counterevidence that might complicate her story of porn. According to Tarrant, “Dines is silent about feminist porn. She presumes that women who watch are coerced by the men in their lives or duped by a culture that rewards women for exploiting themselves.” Dines omits any discussion of queer and gay porn, and makes broad claims about porn’s hold on men’s psyches that are difficult, if not impossible, to prove.

Had Dines actually been in Vegas and attended the women’s seminar this year, she might have learned a thing or two about the women’s market for sex toys and pornography, including the fact that female entrepreneurs have helped bring a concern with quality products, sex education, ethical porn production and alternative sexual imagery to the adult industry. Overlooking these things or, worse, pretending they don’t exist is like narrating a history of college athletics without any mention of Title IX.

More than just a niche, the women’s market has been at the forefront of adult industry trends for the past decade. Feminist porn producer Tristan Taormino, who directs her own line of films for Vivid Entertainment, the biggest porn company in the world, is a case in point. Taormino is a multiple AVN Award winner. She prioritizes safe, respectful and positive work environments, which includes collaborating with performers about whom they want to work with and what their scenes will consist of. Her films feature hot and sweaty sex, female orgasms and, yes, genuine intimacy.

There are dangers in trading in gross generalizations about any social phenomena. There are also dangers when academic researchers are blinded by foregone conclusions—e.g., porn is bad—to the extent that competing evidence is ignored, events are misrepresented and claims that cannot be readily substantiated are trotted out as fact. (…read more, lasvegasweekly.com)

What is being shown in articles such as Feminists Gone Wild is that Dines is not even present for the events she describes, nor is she reporting anything accurate. I find it deeply disturbing – as a mainstream media writer, who requires their medium to make the best effort to be accurate and honest – that mainstream media accuses bloggers of neglecting fact checking as compared to what is becoming such an egregious example: the distortions of Gail Dines.

[Image: stage shot of Fifth Annual Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto via Examiner.com]

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In Response To The Atlantic’s “Hard Core”

Linda Williams Hard CoreLast month, respected media outlet The Atlantic ran an article that surprised many. “Hard Core: What Porn’s Ubiquity Says About Men and Women” by Natasha Vargas-Cooper surprised The Atlantic’s even-headed readers by depicting a pretty graphic, one-sided anti-porn argument. It just didn’t seem like an Atlantic article. Many people wondered what I thought about it: and while I considered my response, I enjoyed reading what the guys on Hacker News thought.

It really bugged me that no one mentioned that the article’s title is taken from a famous, well -referenced pro-porn book that is in many college courses: Linda Williams’ “Hard Core. It is an academic look at the effects of porn, and a true, comprehensive analysis of porn. Some criticize it because it does not conclude (or offer opinion) on the accusation that porn degrades women. It is highly recommended for an objective viewpoint.

Don’t confuse it with Vargas-Cooper’s article that uses the same name.

AlterNet responded eloquently, and with much balance in Tana Ganeva’s, The Anti-Male, Anti-Sex Falsehoods That Rule Discussions about Porn and Sexuality: The latest missive in the war against porn, courtesy of the Atlantic, presents male sexual desire as brutish and violent. Really?

(…) many of the pieces that decry porn’s impact on the populations allegedly most vulnerable to its harms come off as needlessly prudish and alarmist about sex. Even worse, many end up trafficking in some pretty nasty assumptions about gender and sexuality themselves.

This month’s contribution to the genre, published in the Atlantic, continues in that vein. Like many articles of this type, “Hardcore,” written by Natasha Vargas-Cooper, is characterized by an obsession with anal sex. (…read more, alternet.org)

As Tana Ganeva points out, the article tripped enough early warnings that Vargas-Cooper’s article was torn apart for its contradictions out of the starting gate by commenters on link forums. Cooper’s porn tropes were like an old laundry list of masturbation scare-myths from 1910. There is an unsettling repetition of mentioning double anal penetration – surely, to be shocking. Porn references throughout seemed 20-30 years old. Suggesting that women dislike anal sex, and that as a sex act it is inherently degrading.

With this, a conspicuous lack of anal sex in a male-receptive context, which is actually prevalent in modern porn. Threats that kids look at porn, that porn desensitizes, that it’s freaky and full of midgets, for men sex is a weapon, porn makes men sexually aggressive… pretty much every single anti-porn stereotype was presented as if it were fact. As if everyone is heterosexual, as if women are inherently victims, as if there are not (millions) of female viewers.

Vargas-Cooper did indeed attempt to present an “expert” point of view, despite having no experience or pedigree in writing or punditing about pornography. Lest we question her presentation, the entire article was wrapped in a cloak of a troubling sexual encounter she had, described too intimately to be objective, too difficult and tied to porn to make readers feel safe to go, hey – wait a minute.

A lot of cheap tricks to get pageviews and emotional reaction – and avoid reproach. If only The Atlantic would provide a counterpoint, or an objective view, from someone not so out of touch. I think it would be a lot more interesting if they did, and it would foster the click-baiting they apparently desire.

Funny thing is, I feel sorry for The Atlantic. Their reputation took a hit with this one. Most of the message board reactions thought it was way off base and it was massively ridiculed.

The Atlantic also suffered in that it continued Vargas-Cooper’s pattern of writing sensationalist and wildly inaccurate articles about sex; if they had done due diligence they would have discovered that her past articles contain outrageous inaccuracies. In one article about slash fiction, she described TV show “The Office” as a show about vampires (it was fixed after commenters pointed the inaccuracy out). Fact checking was not in the house at The Awl.

When the actual subjects of the Awl article left comments that they were very upset that they had been grossly misrepresented (even down to stating their ages incorrectly), the author responded in the comments by ridiculing the subjects themselves. She made fun of them. Commenters saw this and said that no wonder people in the article refused to talk to her – while in the article Vargas-Cooper suggested they would not talk to her because they were ashamed of their sex writing. Unprofessional on all counts. I would not hire her to wash my dishes, let alone organize my porn collection.

The article is a failure for The Atlantic. We expect the usual level of thoughtfulness from them. It’s factually incorrect, slanted, and explicitly portrays the writer’s perverse obsession with anal sex. WTF, Atlantic? The article is stitched-together, garbage opinions that are totally unfounded in data, but supported by conservative values.

What’s more, it dismisses the reality of the very subject it claims to describe.

It is as if someone is telling us the facts of modern American football after only watching the 1958 NFL Championships, and focusing far too much on the player’s butts. Also, the author seems grossly unaware of her own contradictions, which run rampant throughout the piece. It’s like, does The Atlantic not edit authors, either?

Frankly I don’t know what’s worse: the “all males are aggressively, dangerously sexual” undertone or that it maintains that all women are sexual victims.

Both value sets are harmful to perpetuate, in addition to being false.

There are no facts to support any of her conclusions; nor is there any data to back up her assertions about porn fueling male sexual aggression or male sexual apathy. Perhaps it is because the available data supports the opposite viewpoints on aggression and apathy, respectively.

It’s a shame to see a new article about porn be so dated and inaccurate. The contemporary, accurate portrait of today’s porn is so much more interesting, and more titillating. How awful, too, that the feminist pro-porn revolution, the LGBT porn movement, and the millions of female porn viewers have been left out of this opportunity to have a rich, engaging (and traffic-generating) article about pornography and how it affects sexual interaction. Instead The Atlantic got a quick sensationalist piece, a short-sighted spike and drop.

Pretty much everyone concluded instantly that the writer took a tiny slice of porn and tried to (unconvincingly) pass it off as the entire porn experience and define it to suit her agenda. No one bought it. The Atlantic did their readers a huge disservice.

It’s interesting to see this porn hysteria come back as a trend; porn is so easy to research nowadays that it looks like people are really having to make this stuff up to keep the hysteria viable.

I found January 15th, Salon article to be a much more realistic snapshot of how porn is affecting people’s (women’s) sex lives: The modesty of the porn generation: When it comes to smut, we’re much more shy — and basically human — than the media narrative would have you think. By the comments and sharing on Tracy Clark-Flory’s piece, it seems that I’m not alone in that opinion.

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Oregon State’s “Modern Sex” Tainted by Feminist Porn Hypocrisy

tristan taorminoBy now you may have read about the scandal plaguing Oregon State University’s upcoming “Modern Sex” conference. OSU had a hell of a lineup, including respected and accredited sexuality speakers and teachers from around the US and some of the foremost thinkers in emergent discussions on sex ed, feminist and female pornography, gender and identity in life and media, and much more. They had invited Tristan Taormino: sex educator, columnist, and adult filmmaker (best known for her groundbreaking pornographic sex ed series “Vivid Ed” that fuses real sex ed with couples learning and demonstrating real lessons).

UPDATE February 11: Tristan Taormino will now be speaking at OSU after all for an event organized by students – though sadly it is not scheduled as part of OSU’s Modern Sex event. How unfortunate.
[END UPDATE}

At the last minute, OSU canceled Taormino’s keynote, after the marketing materials had been made. They are citing two reasons, which are wrapped in OSU’s either incomplete communication or hypocrisy. One is stating that the fees to Taormino were from funds that could not go to a “controversial speaker” (despite the fact that OSU hosted Ann Coulter with her post-9/11 travesty of a speech). The other reason they cite is the content of Tristan’s work (allegedly unknown to them), despite the fact that it is impossible they could not have known, nor despite the fact that speakers still on the lineup do the same things Tristan was allegedly disqualified for. One is the winner of the 2010 Feminist Porn Awards.

OSU has severely damaged their reputation. It is not a scandal of taxpayer funds or an internal blame game. It is a scandal about female and queer sexuality, and our right to debate, examine and have access to the real-life issues about women and pornography.

Further reading – there are lots of links online, but I think these are the best summaries and updates:

* Tristan Taormino’s post with verbatim communication with OSU on the matter. (puckerup.com)
* Examiner.com spells it out. (Examiner.com)
* The Sexademic explains why this is about denial to sex ed access. (sexademic.wordpress.com)
* Dr. Charlie Glickman, the “Modern Sex” replacement keynote, describes his position and why he thinks OSU’s reasoning is flawed. (charlieglickman.com)
* My original tinynibbles.com post (NSFW) about OSU’s hypocrisy and when Ann Coulter spoke there. (tinynibbles.com)

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Women’s Website “The Woman’s POV” Creating Pro-Porn Feminist Network

The Woman's POV Feminist PornI’ve been watching The Woman’s POV (link NSFW, has explicit porn imagery) with much interest – a new site by feminist performer, feminist pornographer and feminist art gallery owner Madison Young. It combines hardcore porn by women, for women lesbian and queer flavored with sex and culture content. It’s half paysite and half essays and toy, book and video reviews, all exploring the female point of view (POV) on watching, making and getting off on porn. I love it. The site is just getting started, so the content is just building up and updating weekly, but what they have is really fantastic.

The site’s nav is a little clunky, but the video teasers are hot, and they’re building a Feminist Porn Network community. What I find very interesting about this is seeing links to female porn performers (where they are performing) and showing viewers which women have self-identified as feminist. These female performers, if you look at their online presence, can be found to be fully versed in various stances on women and pornography and feminism – and where they fit in the pro-porn feminist ideology. They are not bubbleheads saying the word “feminist” because it is the thing to do, and they are open to engaging anti-porn pundits in debate on any level (Maggie Mayhem, Madison Young, Courtney Trouble, many others). This aspect dispels a significant assumption about women who make and perform in porn (even “extreme” porn, as some of these women do) – that these women are unaware victims, or somehow duped or coerced. The Women’s POV seems to be actively seeking self-aware, educated women in porn to create a community that dispels myths and empowers women that participate in porn, and women who watch porn.

I like the balance they’ve got going on, and their manifesto is energizing – talk about the new new wave of feminist porn… This is like feminist porn from the future, far outside of the rigid dogmas about women, sex, and pornography in wider feminist culture(s) – or mainstream porn culture. Send this link to the nervous anti-porn feminist nellies who run conventional thought about women and porn in the UK, and they’d need their smelling salts. And that’s not just a good thing; I think it’s necessary. This website and its community is an act of visibility.

Here’s The Woman’s POV Value Statement:

The Woman’s POV is dedicated to the authentic documentation of female pleasure and orgasms. We realize the power of orgasm and plan on changing the world one climax at a time.

We are devoted to showing diversity in female identity, the expression of feminine sexual desire, diversity of body types, as well as a wide spectrum of sexual and gender identities.

We are devoted to empowering women and creating safe space for exploration of sexual desires and fantasies by handing women in our community the camera. Its time to turn on the camera and get turned on.

We are dedicated to obliterating body shame and sexual negativity through realizing and documenting of our sexual desires and our sexual culture.

We are ready to reclaim the term pornography and recruiting YOU and YOUR LOVER/S and FRIENDS to pick up the camera and show us YOUR POINT OF VIEW.

They’re currently taking international and domestic submissions.

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Feminist Porn Studies: Seeking Pornography Essays From Women

feminist porn studiesThe deadline to submit for the upcoming book Feminist Porn Studies is next April 2011, but this seems like a good time to get thinking about what you might want to submit. Constance Penley, Celine Parreñas Shimizu and Tristan Taormino are putting together a book about women and porn, and they want your voice — they’re seeking submissions for the book. It’s going to be a really exciting book whose time is definitely now, as they plan on addressing the real state of women and porn. Women in porn, women who watch it, women who make it, and much more.

Feminist Porn Studies: Writing by Academics and Sex Industry Workers

A new generation of women in the porn industry openly identify as feminist and own their own companies, direct and produce their own material, and/or take on politicized identities as sex worker performers. In addition to “porn for women,” a new wave of porn genres emerges today including alt porn, feminist porn, queer porn, amateur porn, and genderqueer and transgender porn.

Given the transformations of feminism, sexual politics, pornography and popular culture over the last decade or more, our book, Feminist Porn Studies, moves past the pro/anti porn debate to address multiple productive questions:  Does feminist porn exist? What does it look like? What does it mean to be a feminist/woman who performs in, makes, distributes, and/or consumes porn? Are women and feminists working within or against the status quo? How have representations of the female body, gender, and sexuality shifted as a result of feminists and women making porn? How are marginalized women—including women of color, queer and trans women, disabled women, lower and working class women, fat women, and older women—imagined, represented, or treated in feminist or non feminist pornography? How do sex workers address misogyny, racism, and inequality in a predominantly white, male-dominated industry? How do women create new languages and practices that account for the complex politics of pleasure and power in pornography?

(…) we’d like to explore the intersections between feminism, pornography, and sex work. We’d also like to respond to the recent resurgence of anti-pornography feminist scholarship in texts by Sheila Jeffries, Gail Dines, Karen Boyle, Pamela Paul, and Robert Jensen, anti-porn conferences, and films like Chyng Sun’s The Price of Pleasure and Jane Caputi’s The Pornography of Everyday Life. There has not been an adequate response to this tremendous production by anti-porn feminists. It’s time we hear from anti-censorship, sex positive, liberal, and sex worker feminist voices.

We seek essays by academics from different disciplines including feminist studies, gender and sexuality studies, ethnic studies, film and media studies, sociology, history, cultural critics, activists, as well as people who work/ed in the adult entertainment industry performers, producers, directors, company owners, especially those who identify as feminists. Here are some of the themes we hope submissions will address (…)

Get the details at Feminist Porn Studies.

Image by Hannah J.

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5 Things To Learn About Lovemaking from Porn | Psychology Today

Paul Joannides, author of the world’s most popular (contemporary) sex guide and Psychology Today sexuality blogger, has a post that pairs nicely with today’s anti-porn feature in the Sunday CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Radio program. Someday we will see balanced and objective presentation of adult entertainment. I just seem to have a growing list of astroturfed media outlets we won’t be seeing unbiased reporting from… Here’s a snip from Joannides’ great article. His video is above. I’m working on a page expanding on the healthy uses for pornography and this will be part of it — so this is also an open call for your suggestions.

With parents having their heads in the sand and abstinence-only sex education ruling the day, the primary source of sex education for today’s young has become porn on the Internet.

Until now, the people who have been addressing this less-than-opitmal situation are anti-porn purity crusaders and sex addiction aficionados, with their usual fear-based and shame-creating thunder. (Let’s see… porn is more addictive than crack cocaine, it’s the cause of half of all divorces, it’s resulting in the end of masculinity, and it’s created a generation of porn zombies who only emerge from their computer stroke-fests long enough to stock up on energy drinks and lotion.)

My sense is that technological leaps have allowed 11-year-olds to watch porn while their parents remain terrified to engage them in anything that even begins to approach an open and honest conversation about sex and lovemaking. Porn is not going anywhere, so the need is greater than ever to talk to our young about the differences between sex in real life versus sex in porn.

I also think the only effective way to do this is on the Internet, where the flavors of the day are YouTube and Facebook. The problem is that these are mediums of young people who still appreciate seeing each other light their farts.

The disparity in my age does not make me the most likely of YouTube candidates. On the other hand, when I watch the various twenty-somethings try to do sex education, it becomes oh so apparent that thirty years of experience is not such a bad thing! And so I just taped my first YouTube video on porn titled: 5 Things to Learn about Lovemaking from Porn.

via 5 Things To Learn about Lovemaking from Porn | Psychology Today.

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Trend: Telling Women the Price for Watching Porn, is Rape

I, A WomanFile this one under “if you wore a short skirt, you asked for it.” Except this time, it’s coming from women who call themselves feminists. Case in point: Mary Anne Layden, professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston stating, “The more pornography women use, the more likely they are to be victims of non-consensual sex.”

It’s true that women are watching pornography for sexual pleasure and partnered enjoyment more than ever. While many of us see this as an exciting new chapter of women challenging the world to deliver sexual pleasure (and entertainment) on our terms for a change, a small subset of women are seeing the explosion of female porn viewers as an opportunity to scare us away from taking back our right to watch. It’s been surprising to many women that the most sexist theories about female porn viewers are coming from feminist women. The sum of Layden’s message to women is that if you watch porn, you now know what will happen. Never mind that her assertion of ‘fact’ makes no sense — unless you peel back the veneer of this logic. Women: explore the man world of sex, and you will pay the price. It’s a man’s world, after all. Then again, so was voting. Layden is a teacher. She knows she is telling women, and journalists, what to think. Her claims are completely unsubstantiated, and this in and of itself should have her up for review. Any media who sourced this wingnut as an authority when she had no data or facts ready for checking, should be fired.

I’m just tired of seeing these scared women afraid to have an honest conversation about porn’s female viewers without pulling out all the predictable stereotypes — and acting like sexist old men about what we’re figuring out together. (Without them.) It’s increasingly difficult to believe that women in positions of influence (Layden) that invoke punishment and shame and fear of the unknown, actually have the greater good of female sexual empowerment and gender equality as their goal. Because what they’re preaching with hellfire and damnation sure sounds to me like someone whose interests are best served by keeping us in our places.

The woman who brought this to my attention is Miss Maggie Mayhem; a writer, performer, sex educator, feminist and activist (just returned from volunteer rebuilding in Haiti). She also faces off with the (lucrative) trend of female porn addiction. Her blog is not work-safe and has images of nudity, so don’t click if you’re at work or might be unprepared (or not of age) for adult material. Ms. Mayhem writes in Porn & Rape?

(…) Even in an article about the “record setting” number of women utilizing porn, the article still relies on the age old dichotomy of women as emotional creatures for whom sex is a means to love and romance and men are just horny visually stimulated animals. Not just men, of course, young men and women. That’s because being sexual is something that you grow out of when you mature, of course.

When gender is singled out in this manner it reiterates the notion that women who are interested in sex for fuck’s sake are unnatural aberrations. It’s also known as slut shaming. As a whole, more women stated preference is for sexual literature but that is because it makes their genitals gush rather than their hearts. No one read them in the bathtub because they were thinking about how they were going to tile the floor when prince charming rescued them. Cheap paperback editions mean that no one cries when it gets dropped into the suds when the shower nozzle is pulled out.

But hey, the title of the article itself is, “More women lured to pornography addiction.” This is because women are sweet and innocent emotional Red Riding Hoods websurfing their way to Grandma’s House of recipes and quilting when the Big Bad Pornographic Wolf found them and led them astray. I don’t think women are that naive. I think women use that search bar, read those reviews, and comment on the forums because they want to watch porn. (…read more, link NSFW)

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Anti-Porn Sympathy: One Woman Explains Her Journey From Anti-Porn to Pro-Porn

Female pornographerThis is an interesting item, especially on the tail end of discovering that the poster girl for today’s feminist anti-porn charge — Gail Dines — has had her own (now former) research assistant publicly oppose Dines’ anti-porn arguments. After working with her former boss and mentor for an unspecified amount of time, female research intern Beth Brigham completely disagrees and now openly disputes with Gail Dines anti-porn claims. Brigham and has since worked in porn and so now can speak firsthand about what’s true in Dines’ porn statements about porn and its performers, and what is not.

While clearly the most vocal the anti-porn views (such as Dines’) may not be fact-filled, the way women relate to porn (or not) is sincerely charged with very valid emotions and our own experiences. Clarisse Thorn writes a very balanced and provocative article for Carnal Nation explaining why she’s pro-porn, yet doesn’t entirely write off the anti-porn feminists. Thorn’s perspective makes sense, helping us to understand what seems to many of us like a bizarre extremist mindset. It is, but the main reasons why, Thorn tells us, has much to do with a lack of sex education. They may see pro-porn women as wrong, and refuse to talk to or engage with us, but in Sympathy For the Anti-Porn Feminists she explains,

(…) So how can I have sympathy for anti-porn feminists? Only because I remember how I felt just a few years ago. I remember that I felt so confused about my own sexuality; I remember how resentful I felt, that sex seemed so easy for men—that the world seemed to facilitate their sex drives so thoroughly, particularly by providing all this porn!

I remember how hurt I felt by porn, because I believed that it represented “what men want”, and that therefore I was “supposed” to act like porn women—even though the way women acted in porn didn’t appeal to me at all. (…more, carnalnation.com)

This great article reminds me of female sex academic The Sexademic’s awesome blog post, Porn is More Boring than Offensive (sexademic.wordpress.com).

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Young People’s Blog: On Porn and Sex (and Relationships)

Teens peep porn; they need to understand what they’ve seen. What you say to a kid after they’ve seen pornography depends on the context, your moral compass, community values, and the kind of sexual citizen you want to raise. But what do you say to a kid after you find out they’ve seen pornography and know you need to say something? Well, here’s a post about porn content and context from a UK youth sex and relationships blog — maybe a good place to start is to look at what youth are saying to each other about porn. And what they’re saying on Bish might surprise you.

Bish is a sex and relationships blog for young people, and they wrote a very detailed post called Porn School: The Problem With Learning About Sex From Porn. At the start, they warn that if you’re young and have not seen porn, to go away immediately, and I appreciate that (whether or not it works, it lets kids know they are entering an arena they are not supposed to be in, or are ready for). However, taking into account that under-18s do encounter pornography — in a wide range of contexts — the post takes a “harm reduction” approach and instead of saying explicit imagery is bad without further discussion, attempts to put into context what kids have seen and how it relates to the real world of sex and relationships.

Most after-the-fact discussion about porn viewing with kids seems to be nonexistent, or a scare-tactic house of horrors, and I think this is really problematic. Kids aren’t dumb, and they have a lot of questions; if they have questions, they deserve answers.

Anyway, I’m interested to know what you think of this. It would be nice to see this developed into a primer for teens about porn that tells them how fake it is, that it’s basically like “Jackass” for sex, but also does not make girls feel like victims or tell boys they will be rapists — as punishment for natural sexual curiosity, or living in shame as adults should they decide to incorporate it into their own self-defined, hopefully healthy sex lives. Better yet, a primer for sex-positive parents and moms to help navigate talking to their kids about porn. Great job, Bish! Snip:

So lots of young people learn about sex and relationships from porn. The problem with this is that they can learn good and bad things. The legal age for watching porn is over 18, I think this is a good thing. I think that you need to be old enough to understand some of the things going on.

Anyway I’ve written a blog below which should correct some misunderstandings you might have about porn if you’ve watched some and are confused.

Even though they are actually having sex in porn scenes, they are acting. It’s kind of like wrestling on the telly, it’s all made up even though it’s real. They are usually pretending to enjoy it, it’s edited together to look more fun, it lasts for ages, everything happens in the same order and they are putting on a show.

Porn sex is completely different from real sex.

Some things are so common in porn that viewers can start to think that it’s ‘normal’. For example cumming (ejaculating) on someone is very popular in porn, but not everyone likes it really. Also anal sex is much more popular in porn than in real life. (…read more, bishtraining.wordpress.com)

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What Happened With Our Porn, Ourselves and Facebook

On July 27, 2010, Facebook removed the Our Porn, Ourselves Facebook campaign page. After the page was removed, anti-porn organization Porn Harms claimed victory and thanked Facebook for the deletion, on the organization’s Facebook page and their Twitter feed. Our deleted group had roughly 3,500 members, most of whom were women (I combed through the member logs frequently). Our page had over three times the members of Porn Harms’ anti-porn page.

According to Facebook the deletion was in response to reported violations of Facebook’s Terms of Service, among which include obscenity. As I am an active and high-profile figure in the online social media space, I am not a newcomer to social media, or implementing Terms of Service. I also knew that someone was persistently trying to get every piece of art removed from our gallery — regardless of the content, nearly every user-uploaded photo was mysteriously being flagged and removed.

I was very careful to keep the page, all links, all images, and member behavior within the Terms. It was important to do this because the main purpose of the group was to create conversation about women watching pornography and discussion around all aspects of explicit imagery, and women (and all genders and orientations). This was in an effort to sort out both the positives and negatives of adult content and examine its effects in an unbiased manner. For the first time, we wanted a clean, safe discussion about a topic typically discussed in a grotesque and offensive manner or context. We were civil at all times; we shared work-safe links, news, studies and information.

What we wanted, and what we created, was a “clean, well-lit” place to talk about pornography. Especially in relation to women and our varying relationships with porn, and a space for men to not only support us but be able to give us their side of the discussion. Everyone welcome. It is still my belief that if you don’t talk about “it” whatever “it” is, then “it” can hurt you.

The reaction to the deletion was loud and strong. There was outrage from women and people who are pro-female sexuality — and by this I do not mean “anti-porn feminists” who maintain a narrow and judgmental view on female sexuality. I am asked about the deletion (specifically if Facebook has responded) constantly in person at events, and online. Women are very, very angry. Facebook has not responded to my letter. Psychology Today wrote Cutting Off Your Vagina Despite Your Facebook. A former member of the page reacted in anger with a piece on Carnal Nation, Facebook Censors Female Sexual Desire. Jezebel wrote, When It Comes To Women’s Issues, Facebook Still Hasn’t Figured Out How To Play Fair. It was seen as an act of censorship in When your face doesn’t fit: Facebook censorship. There were more, but you get the idea. It didn’t happen in a vacuum.

Meanwhile, other social networks contacted me and said they would welcome the Our Porn, Ourselves group with open arms, most notably Squarespace, a media platform that recently got $38.5 million in funding.

What I didn’t realize until the Facebook deletion was how much the page meant to other people — around the world. It was a way people could vote their support. They could join us, if they wanted to. As evidenced in recent emails, it was also a destination for global scholars and academics to peer into a world much bigger than anyone suspected. The world of women taking back the right to look — and more.

I am still considering pursuing a contact at Facebook, but clearly — right now — Facebook isn’t a safe place for women to talk about explicit sexual imagery in any manner other than with fear, aversion or hatred. That any group can be removed by people who do not agree with the point of view of said group (such as the anti-homophobia group that was deleted around the same time), highlights a greater problem between our culture, democracy, free speech and social media: its fragility. Social media is simply too weak, and too frightened of what it means to be human, to be sustainable.

It seems that the very idea of Our Porn, Ourselves is acutely threatening to people who want to define female sexuality in a specific, restrictive way. Clearly we need a house made of brick, not straw. They don’t want us talking about porn, or what it means to look at (or enjoy) porn, or deciding for ourselves what is healthy (or not). Imagine a world where people actively prevent women from exploring and owning our sexuality on our own terms, and talking to each other about it. They think we’re not noticing they are so desperate that anti-porn feminists have joining forces with conservative Christians to keep us from taking back the right to look (and in some cases, the right to participate). We are adults who want to enjoy the many facets of adult sexuality. Having that page deleted is an exciting challenge.

I’m glad I double-posted the links we discussed on the Facebook page on this blog, and I’ll continue to do so as I explore ways for us to organize and converse and share without having people enact dirty tricks to ruin our work, delete our community-building and erase our experiences.

What does this all mean? It means we were doing something that is necessary.

Follow us on Twitter for updates and stay tuned for the next development. I am talking to developers and exploring a variety of cutting-edge options that will allow us to build community, foster conversation, connect our social media outlets, take advantage of the positives offered by Facebook and other social media sites, without worrying about the ease in which these networks can be exploited for harassment.

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