Marriage / porn / Relationships

Chicago Getaway Meets Sex-Affirmative Chats on Porn

In the past week I’ve been reading plenty of anti-porn sentiments in Gail Dines’ Adventures in Pornland, and Have the Feds Gone Soft on Porn on Mother Jones, which is why it was so refreshing to read Charlie Glickman’s 7 Ways to Create a Sex-Positive Critique on Porn. As per usual, Mr. Glickman provides enlightened words on how to create a productive dialogue that acknowledges the challenges that come with living in a porn-saturated culture without judging or shaming anyone for their sexual preferences.

This morning I am sitting in a Chicago hotel room with my husband drinking cappuccinos. Yup, heaven. And as I’m writing this we’ve been talking about the old double standard for violence and sex in America, wherein the right to bear arms and watch people murdered on primetime is kosher but when it comes to watching golden showers, all bets are off. As to whether some porn should be censored (though I’m pretty sure the anti-porn feminists on Capitol Hill would say all porn) I’m not entirely sure. I probably don’t want my hypothetical tween watching gagfactor.com or 24 but I sway strongly in Charlie’s direction that change starts with education and sex-affirming discussions about porn. I will defer to his wise words on how to begin that approach and please visit the full article for a more in-depth discussion.

1) We would not judge a website’s or movie’s merits based on the sexual acts depicted. We would understand that we need to draw a distinction between a performer’s consent to and/or desire for a given act and how we feel about it.

2) We would strive to remember that our reactions, whether pleasant or unpleasant, reside within ourselves and that someone else can have a very different response. It’s the difference between saying “I enjoyed that” and “that was great.” Or “I feel disgust when I watch that” and “that’s disgusting.”

3) We would feel free to question whether the performers were well-treated, respected, and compensated for their erotic labor. We would trust them to tell us about their experiences and not doubt their authenticity. And we would remember that people in any industry have stories of horrible experiences and of amazing experiences, so we would look for overall patterns, rather than highlighting a few individuals.

4) We would not hold porn to a different standard than we hold other industries to. We would remember that some of the problems within the porn industry are the result of capitalism, not sex, so we would resist blaming porn for them.

5) We would not shame anyone for their sexual desires or fantasies. Ever. We would base any assessment of their practices on whether the participants’ pleasure, health, consent, and well-being had been attended to. We would invite them to share their stories, trust what they tell us, and try to set aside our judgments and triggers.

6) We would offer people facts and research to bolster our arguments, without resorting to misinformation, lies, emotional manipulation, or moral panics. We would remember that a collection of anecdotes does not qualify as data.

7) We would remember that porn is a vast and complex genre and we would find ways of talking about it that don’t ignore that diversity. We could do this by avoiding making sweeping statements that don’t reflect the experiences of many of the performers, producers, and viewers.

There’s nothing in this list that requires anyone to enjoy porn or ignore the challenges that it can bring. Like any other industry, porn has a lot of problems and I think it’s worth looking at them and seeking ways to address them. But until and unless Gail Dines and her allies change their tactics, I will continue to view their actions as sex-negative.

Okay, enough about porn for the moment. I’m off to explore Chicago, which will start with an architectural boat tour. Yes, we are dorks. Ta ta!

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