And then there are the even more contorted forms of sexism and general macho shitheadedness. Via SmackDog Chronicles and Renegade Evolution, Mr. Robert Jensen, luddites and germs.
This question* was posed to me recently by a man who had read an essay of mine in which I had argued that men’s ability to achieve sexual pleasure by masturbating as they watch DP scenes in pornographic movies was an example of a failure of empathy.
Observation #1: The only people who have ever asked me that question are men. I’m not suggesting that no woman has ever considered the question. But it is the case that in my 18 years of working on this issue, it has been a question raised exclusively by men.
From there, let’s move to other important observations and assumptions on which my conclusion will be based.
Assumption #1: There is considerable individual variation in the human species, yet there are also patterns in human behavior. That is, we cannot ever predict what any specific individual will feel, think, or do, but we often can find patterns in human emotions, cognition, and action. That leads to . . .
Assumption #2: There are women who in their personal lives find sexual pleasure and/or emotional fulfillment in DPs, which I call an assumption because . . .
Observation #2: In my 48 years, I have never met a woman outside the pornography industry who has acknowledged participating in a DP or having a desire to do so. It’s possible that I have met an unrepresentative group of women, or that some of those women have participated or harbor such desires but remain silent about it. But neither of those possibilities square with my experience, which includes traveling widely for many years to talk in a variety of settings about these issues.
Assumption #1: You are a credentialed (?) "expert" and you Rilly Care, and so are being completely honest here.
Observation #1: Renegade is a woman. He's "met" Renegade; in fact their back and forth is archived somewhere on her very blog, i think. And as she notes,
WRONG. See, Mr. Jensen, though we were not staring at each other over a couple of lattes, you and I discussed porn and rough sex AND DP at length and I admitted to liking it, having done it, and this was BEFORE I ever received a cent to do it PROFESSIONALLY. Making my own sex films and such for my own pleasure is NOT THE PORN INDUSTRY. And I know women NOT in the sex industry who do and like it. You know, if you had maybe TAKEN my suggestion to, oh, say, seek out ‘non porn women’ who do this sort of thing NOT for pay but for fun (because they do exist) maybe you would…oh, wait…maybe you would have to change your view on what all women really want out of sex, and porn, and all those other things and you might find yourself out of a job and with less fuel for the radical fire and…oh, damn…what would happen then?
Assumption #2: The "question" he's responding to must've invited a response like this, right? Presumably the person he's addressing is the one who brought up DP in the first place, right?
Observation #2: Well, this is the essay he seems to be responding to:
I read Robert Jensen’s Dissident Voice article of October 31, “The Consequences of the Death of Empathy,” with some concern. He says two things that I feel require addressing. First, in reference to a conversation with a young man about the young man’s pornography viewing, Jensen writes:
I asked him to tell me more about what he watched. As he talked, it became clear he was describing exactly the kind of material I had discussed, and I could see the realization emerge in him: My assessment of the rough and degrading nature of that pornography was accurate, and he had simply never recognized it. When he mentioned a type of sex he liked to watch in pornography called a DP -- double penetration, in which a woman is penetrated vaginally and anally at the same time -- it really started to dawn on him: In these scenes, the sex was defined by men’s sense of control over, and domination of, women.
(/Jensen's quote-within-quote, begin Eric again:)
Here, there is a very clear intimation that double penetration is somehow inherently sexist, quite apart from anything involving pornography. I do not know how many women are interested in this sexual act, or have willingly performed it and enjoyed it, but if there is, has been, or will be even one woman anywhere on the face of the planet who has either fantasized about it, and/or has done it and enjoyed it, then I do not believe it is an appropriate position for a lefty to be suggesting, as Jensen does, that it is an inherently sexist act.
I e-mailed Jensen and asked him for clarification on these two points. Specifically, I wanted to know if he felt double penetration was an inherently sexist act, and I wanted to know if he felt that the videotaping of sex acts for public consumption was an inherently sexist act. In an attempt to be as clear as I could be, I also asked the second question in a different way, asking if he felt that, in a good society, say, 100 or 200 years in the future (assuming the human race hasn’t caused its own extinction by then) -- after capitalism has given way to, say, parecon (participatory economics), and after other forms of oppression (e.g., sexism, racism, heterosexism) have either been eliminated or at least had great strides taken toward their elimination -- if he felt that in such a society there would still be pornography.
I did not feel that Jensen ever really gave me straight answers to my questions...
Assumption #3: Say, aren't people like this, people who are so um passionate about other peoples' sexuality, usually kind of...creepy?
Observation #3: Why, yes, actually.
And on that note:
I remember clearly what I wanted to say to him. I wanted to suggest to this privileged young man at one of the United States’ most elite universities that we conduct an experiment. I wanted to ask him to come to the front of the room and take off all his clothes in front of the group, lie down on his back, put his legs up, and make his anus as open and available as possible. Then we would ask if other men could volunteer to do a double anal on him, and he could then report back to us about whether that experience felt degrading. It would have been inappropriate for me as an older man with a professor’s status to be so harsh to a student, and I was more measured in my response. But that’s what I wanted to say to him: Why don’t you come up here and we’ll let two of the biggest guys in the room fuck you in the ass at the same time so that you can tell us from direct experience whether a double anal is inherently degrading.”
Um. Empathy. ...yeah.
As Renegade notes,
ONE: of course to a straight male being double penetrated by other men is going to be degrading. TWO: double penetration and double ANAL penetration are two TOTALLY DIFFERENT things. HELLO? Anus generally not as accommodating as a vagina, Prof. Jensen!
Well, maybe some peoples' are; what with their entire head up in there, i suppose it would require some stretching, yes.
Besides the actual point itself wrt the finer nuances of het pr0n, I would just like it noted that I, ev0l Sex-Pos Defender of the Patriarchy, do not normally talk about such things as teh pros and cons of DP, and other pr0n staples. Not because such talk necessarily makes me squeamish, of itself--context, as we see, matters. Because, for the most part? actually? I. don't. care. Not about that.
For that matter, Renegade, Ev0l Voluntary Sex Worker, pr0n supporter and even maker, and Henchwoman of the Patriarchy, generally speaking, isn't as obsessed with the actual, you know, acts; because she doesn't have to be. And having read them both for months now, I will vow I have never seen Anthony, Ev0l Male and Pr0n Defender, be one tenth as icky-graphic in his talk as Jensen here. The ones who I see bringing up gratuitously graphic, always laid over with a heaping helping of disgust, imagery, are this kind of anti-pr0n activist. Often enough in contexts which frankly didn't invite it at all. At least, I wouldn't have thought so.
But then, I suppose, Jensen and that ilk only resort to this sort of thing because they want to shock people out of their complacency, right? Yes indeedy. Nothing but the purest of motives here; they are doing it for our own good. And they can't help but report on the degeneracy they observe; what kind of responsible citizens would they be if they didn't? And anyway, how can you miss it? Pr0n! Pr0n! Everywhere you turn! Even the hardcore stuff! Especially the hardcore stuff!
"But Doc, you're the one showing me all the dirty pictures!"
Eighteen years of research on this disgusting, disgusting stuff. It is good of him, I feel, to make himself wade through such filth; it is, indeed, a dirty job, but apparently someone has to do it. And apparently their work is never, ever done, nor will be; such is the debauchery of this world.
But by all means, Mr. Jensen: try out your little experiment. I hope it brings you some satisfaction. Would it work as well for you if it turns out some of the men actually enjoy the idea? I mean, according to you, [all] men who watch pr0n only get off on the idea that the fucked ones--the women, of course, that only could mean the women, you wouldn't dream of actually looking at any real gay male pr0n, it probably doesn't even exist in your universe--don't like it. You sure there isn't just a bit of projection going on, there? Maybe in more ways than one, even.
I've said it before: if there's one thing i lurrrrrrrve, it's the male radfems i've encountered. Not that I haven't encountered female anti-pr0n activists who are just as full of self-righteous, proselytizing awfulness and prone to seriously creepy imagery; i just, you know, whatever it says about me, find these guys rather special, somehow. Just as freaking misogynist and hung-up as the MRA's, but with "for your own good" lathered on top of it, plus the lovely experience of having Certain Women put aside their eternal I Blame the Menz (and their Sexbot Enablers) to breathlessly make way for their Opinions. ("oh, but, look, he's really trying. he's EXAMINING himself. hairshirt="examining." coo, flutter).
Seriously, dude: speaking on behalf of all of Class Woman, which I do--like Whitney, I'm Every Woman--do not do me no favors. Work it out on your own time; go drum in the woods or something. Have a nice healthy circle jerk, I mean the concrete kind, as opposed to the kind you and your ilk instigate online (for instance), because the former kind ends. And unlike your own very nonconsensual obsessions, they'd effectively leave the rest of us the hell out of it.
Leave us the hell out of it.