I’ve been thinking a lot about pornography recently. Maybe mostly because I’ve been without my partners and had to find my own sexual inspiration, but also because earlier this week I was pointed to the Our Porn, Ourselves site, launched by sex-positive writer & activist Violet Blue as a “resource that aims to create an alternative and constructive conversation on the use of pornography by women, and in turn offer balance to the anti-porn feminist agenda.” Since then I have been watching and reading the discussions and commentary regarding the upcoming Stop Porn Culture conference in Boston, following the #proporn and #antiporn tweet streams on twitter, and thinking a lot about how I feel about pornography in general, my own relationship to it in particular, and what it means to be a feminist, a woman and a mother that also happens to like porn.
That’s right, I’m a woman, and I like porn.
I love sex. I enjoy reading about it, watching it, doing it, listening to it, writing about it, looking at pictures of it, masturbating to it, thinking about it, talking about it. Pornography is part of that enjoyment, and no one has the right to tell me (or anyone else) that we don’t have the right to view it. Or make it. Or get paid for it.
That said, I do understand–and agree with–some of the arguments made against it. In my own net search last night, I ran across images that I found deeply disturbing, just by following a link here or there (and because what I search for is typically of the “harder” variety.) The porn industry, and sex-work in general, is one which is associated with the exploitation of its workers. But that is not necessarily because pornography itself, or taking money for sex, is bad, but rather because there is so much stigma attached to sex work and so few protections for those that engage in it. It is easy to exploit those with no power to resist and no legal means to stop it. People who are already engaged in illegal or stigmatised activity are unlikely to go to the authorities when they have been abused or exploited. The answer, however, is not to ban it (did banning abortion stop unplanned pregnancies–or abortions–from happening? Did prohibition work? Is the War on Drugs succeeding?) but to establish more protections for those who choose to work in the sex industry. Banning it will only drive the problems associated with it deeper underground. Empower those who engage in it and you take away the power of those who would exploit them.
But all that is a much larger discussion than I’m able to explore here. After all, my focus is sex, kink, pleasure & relationships, not politics, and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the knowledge to speak to those issues. Though sometimes (as now) they do intertwine.
The upshot of all this is this: if you are a woman and you like porn, take a look at the Our Porn, Ourselves website, watch and listen to Violet Blue’s video, and decide for yourself how and if you want to get involved. Oh, and for those of you who do wish to show your support by taking a photo or making a video, there’s a pretty cool contest going on there, too.