The Sexist

Today In Smut Wars: Sexy Looks and Suitable Marriage Partners

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Since the strangely explicit anti-pornography briefing "Porn Harms" hit Capitol Hill in June, commentators have been weighing in with alternate perspectives on the state of smut today. Their thoughts—from a defense of "the fuck me look" to nostalgia about a 1978 Penthouse, after the jump:

* GLAA Forum takes on the fervor over porn addiction: "why don't we explore the harm done by some people's addiction to snooping into their neighbors' entertainment choices and bossing them around?"

* A reader of Andrew Sullivan's writes: "The only thing [Gail Dines] convinced me of is that she's got shoddy methodology and her kids must spend an inordinate amount of time rolling their eyes."

* The Good Men Project surveys a couple dozen public figures for their thoughts on porn. Twitter owner Todd Dagres says: “If you have to ask whether porn is good or bad, then you already have the answer. The question is how bad?”

* Bay Windows rejects the feminist take on the "fuck me look":

Dines has more in common with Jerry Falwell than she does with Gloria Steinem. Take, for example, her views on what is termed the "Fuck Me Look" —the sultry come hither look adopted by models since models were first photographed, and which is used to sell almost anything—from cars to mouthwash— no matter how tenuous the product’s actual connection to anything sexual.

Said Dines at a Pornography and Pop Culture conference, "The problem with [the FML] is that males in our culture are socialized in a society in which they are bombarded with the 'Fuck Me’ look, where it offers visual entitlement to ownership of women’s bodies. And what is rape and sexual assault if not taking them up on that offer that she’s offering? The only trouble is that she’s not walking down the street, WE ARE."

Got that? It’s not just genital objectifying hard-core pornography that we need to worry about. It’s now sexy looks that will also bring down civilization as we know it.

* Lifechurch.tv is also leading an online crusade against smut.

* Rod Dreher thinks of the children: "I fear for them all, especially my daughter, trying to find a suitable marriage partner in a world in which so many of their peers will have grown up with widely-available pornography."

* But Time's Joel Stein [via the Good Men Project] says boys will be boys: "What is going on to create such an accelerating and insatiable appetite for porn among men in our country? You clearly have no idea how much of 1985-1989 I spent looking at the same three 1978 Penthouses."

  • kza

    Cuz that's all it'a about Rod, finding a good husband,

  • Theresa

    Ah yes, Joel Stein, that avatar of complex thought. How does he even get published? His piece on Indian immigrants in New Jersey was one failed, lame, transparently racist joke after another.

  • Richard

    I think the really frustrating thing about Gail Dines is that that her specific argument about pornography sometimes obscures what I think is her real deeper position. Like MacKinnon, I think she really does fit takes the position of being anti-sex. I don't mean this in vague way, I really do believe that her position inevitably is that in the patriarchal society we live in, that sex is on balance a mechanism to bring women down. What is porn besides simply a visual representation of sex or a representation of something that brings women down?

    Where I think she falters is that like a lot of things in modern society, there's a difference between institutions or cultural practices that hurt women and ones that inherently hurt women. To say that representations of sexuality or frankly of naked people is such a broad stroke that you have to wonder whether any activity in modern society does not on net reinforce patriarchy.

  • Kit-Kat

    Okay, I don't agree with this Gail Dines lady, who I had never heard of until I read this post, and I don't know what other crazy stuff she says, but there is an argument to be made that the relentless commercialization of sex and the use of women's bodies to sell anything and everything and the idea that women exist for men to look at (smile, baby!) are not such great things. We have a culture that treats women as commodities, that women should just expect to be on display all the time and that their bodies exist for others to look at and comment on, and that tells you, the consumer, that you deserve and are entitled to whatever you want, it's not a big leap to bad attitudes about women and sex. I'm not going to go so far as to say that FML = rape or anything that simplistic, and I suspect that Gail Dines and I are coming from totally different underlying assumptions and understandings, but it's not really anything new to say that the use of women as sex objects in advertising is a problem.

  • Charlie

    I don't recall much discussion on this site of whether sexual addiction even exists. I tend to believe it does. For example, I don't think that gay men who spend their weekends sucking off strangers in tea rooms do so by choice but because they are powerless to stop.

    But even if you accept the concept of sexual addiction and that it can be expressed by pornography addiction that doesn't mean you have to accept that everyone who looks at porn will become an addict any more than everyone who takes a drink will become an alcoholic or everyone who takes a puff of marijuana will become a heroin addict. But some will.

    Unfettered access is typically not available to things that are addictive. Such things as alcohol, drugs, gambling, smoking and sex have some limits on them. And each of these also have people who would like prohibition to be the solution as well as overwrought stories of how people have suffered.

  • http://maybemaimed.com/ maymay

    I don’t recall much discussion on this site of whether sexual addiction even exists. I tend to believe it does. For example, I don’t think that gay men who spend their weekends sucking off strangers in tea rooms do so by choice but because they are powerless to stop.

    Not to be redundant, Charlie, but have you asked any of these people why they do what they do, or do you just assuming things like that on a regular basis?

    I ask because "sex addiction" is a very dangerous myth. Dangerous because it has cultural power that encourages pathologizing sexuality in ways that conflates "habit forming" with "addiction." Many things, including alcohol, some drugs, gambling, and certain smokes can be habit forming without being addictive, a term oft-used but ill-defined by moralists, despite its strict definition in the medical sciences as something "abnormal."

    And, considering how sexual "abnormality" is so hotly debated, I would be skeptical of anyone who points the finger at someone else for "sex addiction" without first learning more about what kinds of axes they are interested in grinding.

    Sex addiction does not exist, at least not in the eyes of sexologists worth their weight in gold.

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