Category Archives: Porn Nation

On Porn II: Definitions

Porn by Definition

One thing I learned to abhor about academic philosophy was the almost compulsive need to redefine commonly used terms in order to buttress otherwise confusing or inconclusive arguments. By the end of a 20-page discussion of something as unobscure as “justice,” most theorists had redefined the term itself and spend the majority of the paper defending that definition.

That is not what I’m going to do here.

A lot of people try to draw a distinction between erotica and porn. I don’t think that this distinction is useful. In the common vernacular, I’ve heard people refer to porn as erotica and erotica as porn. True, some porn is more focused on the relationship and emotions of its actors than others. I don’t think that a focus on the eroticism rather than the physicality takes a piece of porn out of the realms of pornography.

More importantly, I think drawing a distinction between porn and erotica legitimizes really toxic stereotypes about male and female sexuality. You can read exactly how people separate porn from erotica here and here, among other places. What seems to be common in these dichotomies is that they posit that porn entirely focuses on the physical aspects of sex and is often obscene with no higher aspirations; and erotica focuses on feelings and emotions, and often has high-art aspirations.

If you feel that this dichotomy mirrors a similar one, you’re not mistaken. The differences assumed between pornography and erotica are the very differences we falsely assign male and female sexuality. Female sexuality is art, and more acceptable for public consumption (witness the proliferation of images of the female form versus the concealment or non-erotic cultural assumptions made of the male form). The sexuality of women is all about emotions and feelings, not about being attracted to the physicality of sex or the body of her partner. Female sexuality is inward-looking and passive. On the other hand, male sexuality only consists of the obscene and degrading. It wants nothing to do with feelings or emotions, just raw physicality. Men can have sex with people whom they’re only physically attracted to, women cannot. Men don’t have any use for love, unlike women. The nude male body is obscene in order to shock, or something that is unremarkable, common, and ugly. There’s nothing artistic about men.

Do I think that the way the divide between porn and erotica mirrors the divide between the common assumptions made of male and female sexuality is a coincidence? Hell no. I think that the porn/erotica divide is another toxic manifestation of gender values in our culture, and entirely useless. There is a very real association of erotica with femininity, and porn with masculinity. The very words themselves conger images of roses, love, and passion versus bodily fluids, full-frontal nudity, and gratuitous focus on the “obscene”.

Likewise, from an artistic standpoint, it’s entirely false to say that a woman’s body and her desires (or what they are idealised to be) are only “high art” while a man’s body and his desires are obscene and serve no other purpose other than to arouse, shock, and satisfy cheap physical needs. I have no erotic desire for the male form myself (since I’m a lesbian), but straight women obviously do legitimately desire the bodies of their male partners. Likewise, the idea that men want nothing to do with the feelings and emotions of sexuality is degrades the humanity and agency of men. It posits that men have no use for love, which is obviously false, and pretends that male sexuality is inherently obscene, disgusting, uncontrollable, and animalistic. Men do look inwards while expressing their sexuality, just as women look outwards. But our cultural messages claim otherwise, robbing both genders of their agency and pathologizing those who express their sexuality in ways not sanctioned by the zeitgeist.

Thus, for the purpose of this series, when I speak of “porn,” I speak of any form of media that depicts some sort of sexual behavior (in the case of more obscure fetishes, this may be more subtle and altogether exclude physical intercourse) with the intent to cause sexual excitement for the purpose of obtaining sexual satisfaction or selling the pornography itself. I think that caveat about satisfaction and selling the porn is useful, because without it, we might have to consider advertisement that relies on arousal to sell an unrelated product “porn.” In the common sense of the word “porn,” I get the feeling that nobody actually thinks that models in bikinis selling beer is considered porn — unless they are using the term “porn” with a negative connotation in order to critique the ad.

What I also want to establish here is that I feel that this definition of porn (which is adapted from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary), most closely approximates what most people really mean when they call something porn, smut, or erotica. And for the purposes of this series, I will consider all of these terms more or less equivalent, or at least different forms of the larger category of media we think of as “porn.”

Likewise, I don’t want to use the baggage associated with the erotica/porn separation, or the inherent negativity invoked by the word “smut.” I think pornography, by definition, is entirely neutral. Here I speak only of the theory of pornography. Considering only the definition of porn — and internalizing no negative or positive cultural messages about sexuality — ought to isolate the meaning of the word from the baggage associated with it.

Of course, the baggage associated with it is precisely what I discuss in this series. But there is something to be said with being semantically clear without redefining words in order to suit my following arguments. Here, I hope I have captured what the common American actually thinks when they call something “porn” without making any connotations of whether or not it is obscene or artistic, masculine or feminine, and divine or sinful.

To be continued in On Porn Part III: Fiction vs. Non-Fiction…

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On Porn I: Introduction and Disclaimers

Introduction

I’ve vaguely referenced porn before, but I’ve never really done a complex write-up about. I know that I’m opening a flood gate of critique, but I think it’s something worthwhile to discuss and reevaluate. One such write-up that I admire is Nine Deuce’s impressive Porn Series, which takes a highly critical stance to the modern porn industry.

What I don’t want to do is jump right in without making an important distinction. This post — and hopefully the posts that follow — are not about the idea of porn. They are about the reality of porn. First and foremost, I am not speaking about porn from a pulpit of righteousness. I have viewed a considerable amount of it ever since it became easily available on the internet. I have even gotten off to it, or used it as some sort of bizarre entertainment if it was not arousing. When I talk about porn, I’m talking about trends I have — firsthand — observed. I am also critiquing things that I have used or enjoyed, probably more than once, in the past. And since porn is so ubiquitous, they are also things I may view and enjoy in the future.

Does that make me a hypocrite? Yes, in a sense. But I think in a valuable sense. There’s something to be said about critiquing an institution from the inside, instead of the outside. Critically analyzing the implications of your own sexuality is a very worthwhile task. I feel that we take far too much about sex for granted, and just internalize toxic cultural messages as the “way things are.” I don’t feel that sex and sexuality needs to be shut into some sacred box, free from critique. Nor do I think that it should be thought of as inherently immoral, and something that we need to control rather than celebrate. But much like fireworks are beautiful, firing them into a crowd is deadly. And I think that a lot of our baggage around human sexuality, particularly when it comes to the porn industry, is not handled with enough care.

One distinction I learned in my years as a philosophy undergrad was that between ideal and non-ideal theory. Ideal theory is the stuff that constructs an ideal model of human behavior or takes a really idealistic view of the establishment of certain institutions. John Locke’s theories on the consent of the governed are an example of this. Even Rousseau, who saw the advent of human civilization as an abomination, deals in ideal theory. Ideal theory is useful when discussing things in the abstract. But it’s not very realistic. I’d compare it to trying to determine how much fuel a plane requires without accounting for air resistance and assuming you are flying it in a vacuum.

Non-ideal theory deals with the reality of things. Most of philosophy is done with ideals, but certain thinkers have been distinguished by describing how things are rather than how they ought to be. One such thinker is Karl Marx, who described the very real alienation of the proletariat from his or her production. Another thinker, unfortunately less well-known, was Franz Fanon, who’s seminal The Wretched of the Earth, which is probably the titular example of anti-colonial theory.

So when I talk about porn, I’m talking about the reality of it. I’m talking about the beautiful, bizarre, dangerous, exploitive, and abusive practices that have gained notoriety today. I’m also talking about the very real effect porn has had on my life — both on my views of myself and my sexuality, and how it has impacted and will continue to impact my relationships (and not only my intimate relationships).


On Sex-Positivity

I think the biggest mistake made by radical feminists in the late ’70s and early ’80s was to ally themselves with Republicans to shed light on the abuses of the sex industry (more info here). It had the nasty effect of forever aligning Radical Feminism, and its critiques of porn, with the Puritanical woman-hating bullshit that conservatives and their allies are so often fond of. From this unfortunate association sprung the lie that feminists (particularly Radical Feminists) were anti-sex. Liberal feminists, willing to sell their sisters out in order to realign themselves with the Democratic party, dreamed up the misnomer of “pro-sex” feminism.1

Pro-sex feminism is a misnomer precisely because there are no anti-sex feminists. I’ve read dictionaries worth of radical feminist theory (Dworkin’s Intercourse is probably the most famous text), and nothing in them is remotely opposed to the idea of sex. What they are all opposed to is the reality of sex — in particular, the predator/prey model that alienates women and girls from their agency and sexuality while normalizing violent masculinity, coercion, abuse, and rape. This is why I wanted to make a distinction between ideal and non-ideal theory before I jumped right into porn: I am not opposed to the consumption of erotic materials or sex between two (or more) consenting parties.

Aside from completely absurd religious demagogues that have people believe that you’ll go to hell if you masturbate or have sex without the express and immediate intent of conceiving a child, there’s not lot of people I would describe as “anti-sex.” Thus, that’s a conversation I’m not going to have in this series. I will not make excuses for my critiques, nor will I temper them with “there are exceptions” and “what about teh menz!?” rejoinders.

What I care about is less what consensual people do to get their rocks off, and more of what our culture tells us we ought to do, or what is acceptable to do, to get our rocks off. If you want to critique your own sexual practices, be my guest. I’ve done as much for myself, and it’s a very illuminating task. I am not interested in establishing that certain sexual acts are inherently shameful, dirty, or wrong. What I want to discuss is what those acts represent in the zeitgeist, and what their ubiquity means in porn.

Being sex-positive is not something I’m after. I’m not here to enshrine any sexual practice, nor am I here to demonize one. As I said before, putting what we do in the name of orgasm on some shelf and forgetting about it is a mistake — whether we think our sexuality is holy or sinful. Sexuality is just that: sexuality. It’s uniquely human and established in a toxic soup of really horrible cultural messages that often conceal and  distort healthy sexuality. It’s something worth talking about not because it is more important than any other human activity, but because we have established it as more important than any other human activity by the enormous trouble and expense we go to judge, critique, express, conceal, protect, criminalize, and define it.

In closing, I am not trying to be pro-sex, and I refuse to even discuss what entails being ‘anti-sex.’ I am not interested in porn in theory, but in porn in practice and reality. I do not think human sexuality is inherently all that interesting. It’s only really interesting, in a very public way, because we made it so (see: Foucault’s excellent The History of Sexuality for more discussion in this vein). Why, how, and to what ends we did so is what I will discuss.

Continued in On Porn II: Definitions


1Please note that I do not harshly judge them for doing so. They did so in order to reestablish women’s issues as central in the Democratic party, who was leery of anyone aligning themselves with Republicans. I, in fact, think that Radical Feminists made an even graver error in selling Liberal Feminists out first by aligning themselves with Republicans — who are manifestly opposed to the very idea of gender equality in a visceral way. When it comes to gender equality, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend.

Porn, or Being a Cowardly Dishonest Douchebag

So the internet is all in a kerfluffle about Hugo Schwyzer’s recent piece on how almost all men participate in the sex industry, and almost all lie about it too. But that’s not really the content of this post. I’m done with the porn debate, honestly. This post is not about whether or not porn is good or bad. This post is about lying and then arguing in bad faith.

What the subsequent fallout around Schwyzer’s article told me is this: some people think that porn is so important to them, such an intrinsic part of their sexuality, that they are willing to lie about it. What this indicates is that there’s a metric fuckton of people out there that are self-aggrandizing shitbags. Here’s why:

If you enter into a relationship, you agree typically to abide by previously settled guidelines. According to the popular American set up of the traditional relationship, this typically constitutes not expending sexual energy with other people. It also includes not being dishonest. For a lot of women, using porn, buying the services of an escort, or going to strip clubs counts as cheating, since their partner is expressing their sexuality in a way that does not involve them. Whether or not this is “Victorian” or “sex negative” is not the point. The point is that if you do not think that using porn, a prostitute, or strippers to get off (notice that these are all real people, not sex toys, erotic literature, or lurid fantasies) constitutes cheating, you should probably say as much to your partner.

If you haven’t and just take it for granted, that’s fine. I understand how that happens. In fact, many commenters in Schwyzer’s thread seem to think that porn isn’t cheating, and thus, their use of it doesn’t need to be explained. But what that doesn’t explain is why anyone would then lie about it, then, if it was just some silly misunderstanding.

I submit that it’s not. Most American men know full well that unless a woman explicitly says so, she probably thinks that any use of a real person to get off other than her is cheating. I also assert that American men don’t lie about it because they’re afraid women will “jump down their throat” and turn into banshees or cannibalistic she-demons of the netherworld. They lie because they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want a relationship that implies monogamy, but they don’t want to actually adhere to that implication. They want to place their sexual “needs” (however they define them) over their partner’s right to consent to the actual, rather than fictional, parameters of their relationship.

In fact, they’re behaving exactly like extremely petulant and malicious children who really don’t want to justify their behavior with anyone, but want to retain the ability to censure and question the behaviors of other people.

Know what that is? That’s manifest horseshit. If you honestly think that porn, hiring escorts, or going to strip clubs is your right, and that someone is wrong and full of Puritanical bullshit to deny you the ability to do so, then why are you dating them in the first place? Know what I do with people I don’t agree with on the fundamental aspects of what constitutes a relationship or infidelity? I don’t date them. Know what I do with people whose positions on what I do or like to do to get off I object to in a very visceral way? I don’t date them.

This isn’t fucking rocket science.

You know, if I started a relationship with someone, and told them, “don’t ever eat an apple if you’re dating me. In fact, I think eating apples is completely abhorrent and disrespects me and/or our relationship, so if you do it, I will have a problem with it,” I expect them not to eat goddamn apples while they’re dating me. If they know what I think about eating apples, think my opinions about them is completely and utterly asinine and a violation of their “rights” and self-expression, and then eat apples anyway and lie to me, they are being fucking cowards. And liars. And violating the terms of our relationship.

You know, human sexuality is way more complicated than apples. I get it. My opinions on porn, buying sex, and going to strip clubs has nothing to do with what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that if someone holds a position about the very bedrock of your relationship that you highly object to, you don’t tell them as much, and then you go out and do it anyway knowing that they object to it, then you’re a cowardly lying sack of shit. Even if it’s something as utterly benign as eating apples. You want to have a relationship, but you don’t want the other person to have any say in what that relationship entails. In fact, you disrespect your relationship and that person so much that you will allow it to be built on lies and malicious deception. You want all the perks of a relationship without doing any of the work, without being accountable to the person that you have an obligation to be accountable to, since, you know, they’re goddamned equal human beings. Not only that, they are equal human beings you supposedly care about.

In conclusion, men who use sex services, lie about it, and know that their S.O. doesn’t want them to use it are absolute filth of the worst kind. Not because they use sex services. But because they have the audacity to enter into a relationship on false premises, and then pretend as if they don’t understand why anyone would be so angry when their deceptions and lies are uncovered.

Discussing kink and evidence of the rape culture

Lo, the rape culture. Verily, we are soaking in it. It would be very melodramatic and feminist of me to say that the reason I have been on hiatus from lady blogging is because the rape culture paralyzes my will to write, but the truth is that I’ve been studying for the LSATs for the past four months, and feel rather like someone installed a shunt into my cranium.

For all those with the fortune not to know the horrors of pre-law school standardized testing, I envy you. Truly.

But of course, nobody is really interested in such boring pursuits, however necessary. Let’s talk about BDSM again.

BDSM is like the no-man’s land between sexyfun feminism and seriousbusiness feminism. There needs to be some Anti-Landmine Convention for that shit, yo. For while I did not partake in lady blogging whilst I was studying, I did participate in my fair share of lady blog reading. Whenever sex is mentioned on a blog, it seems to open a floodgate of navel-gazing BDSM pontification. What is consent? Is it cool to stick my arms up to my elbows in someone’s anus? Why do both dominant and submissive women wear corsets, while only submissive men do the same?

Only the first question really interests me. See, I’ve had a lot of orgasms in my life. They are hardly the pinnacle of human achievement. Color me unimpressed that other people have figured out that they, too, can orgasm. I really have no wish to detail sexyfun time. Am I doing it right? Are you doing it right? The only thing in the world, I fear, more rigid and conformist than the middle-school pecking order is how much people seem to care how other people get their rocks off.

No, I do not excuse said sexyfun people from this critique. Encapsulated in the concept of BDSM is the thought that people outside the “scene” are really missing out. They’re hopelessly “vanilla” or sexually repressed or something. Perhaps they’re godbags and read the Bible every hour and haven’t been naked without shielding their eyes from their loathsome bodies since they were toddlers.

This is all very self-congratulatory. Very predictable too. Someone says, “dude, getting a boner from hurting women is not okay.” Which, by the way, shouldn’t be a controversial statement. But then everything derails into fail about 0.02 seconds later, when someone has to chime in out how fucking awesome BDSM is and how much it is all about consent and celebration of human sexuality and transgressing Puritanical ideas and blah blah blah.

See, that shit doesn’t fool me. It shouldn’t fool you either. Because in that there is inevitably the implicit premise that so-called “vanilla” people aren’t interested in consent, that they aren’t having sex on their own terms for their own self-aware reasons, or that we’re just not cool enough to drop tons of cash on props to have orgasms. Oh, and that BDSM people are totes better at boinking than you, and you really ought to be jealous.

Dude, no. Just no. This kind of shit isn’t just confined to the internets or feminist blogs either. It plays out whenever I go have some drinks with my chums. It becomes a contest of who is the most “liberated” in their sex life. By “liberated”, they mean has the most props, the most scripts, and the haughtiest, most obnoxious, urge to brag about it all the fucking time.

It’s a game of who can dominate everyone else at being more into domination. Patriarchy2. Then you muddle it up with equating orgasm with the absolute be-all and end-all of human achievement, and you have an entire culture centered on hurting women for some dude’s boner so you can brag about it all the fucking time.

And isn’t that just what it all comes down to? I’m not putting vanilla sex on a pedestal either. I’m just channeling Foucault by saying that there isn’t a hell of a lot of difference between one narrow idea of what sexuality ought to be being replaced by other very narrow idea of what sexuality ought to be, which is supposed to be completely different from what it was, but it actually isn’t. At all.

And what that it is, and what it has always been, is the rape culture, or hurting the exploited for boners. There’s nothing new about that.

Which, is very obvious by how people talk about BDSM in feminist spheres and else where. Before the waters get muddied and the shit hits the fan, a woman will chime in in how much she likes it when she fantasizes about being raped.

Did you catch that? When we talk about kinky funtime, I’d like to focus on the fact that there’s a big portion of the male population that thinks that fantasizing about hurting women for boners is awesome. Not just in BDSM “spheres”. Everywhere. That’s the entire premise of the pornography, prostitution, and that little trillion-dollar international thing called Human Trafficking.

But that seems immaterial to most who talk about sex. It always comes down to what woman is stepping on other woman’s toes. For shit’s sake, does anyone really think that I honestly feel that women fantasizing about what they think rape would be like (but it isn’t) is actually the problem?

Fuck no.

The problem is dudes. Dudes who hurt women. Dudes who don’t see BDSM as sexyfuntime, but as an outlet to be creepy fucks and sexual predators. Dudes that somehow always wind up being the dominant, the Master, and women who don’t seem to understand that when we talk about rape, and exploitation, and hurting women for boners, we’re not pointing the finger at them. We’re pointing it at the patriarchy, and the dudes who use it to hurt women.

Because at the end of the day, I have no desire to figure out if women who like to be hurt in the name of orgasms are better than me, worse than me, or just neutral. Men are not just inert sacks of flesh that simply respond to the desires of women. They’re the ones, as a general rule, who are doing the hurting, the defining of norms, and the ones that benefiting from said norms.

And to be honest, whether or not anyone gets their rocks off to being slapped around a bit is a little less dire than disavowing dudes of the sentiment that it’s totes cool to hurt or exploit someone in the  name of boners. But maybe that’s just because I’m a totally repressed prude.

Wev.

Sometimes being queer makes feminism easier

Before I go off, let’s set the record straight: being queer very often makes almost everything harder in your life (except, of course, for sleeping with women, but that’s obvious). Sometimes, however, you get some benefits out of it.

One of those benefits is how queerness intersects with feminism. Unlike other intersections, lesbianism has had it’s say in the feminist movement back even in the 2nd wave. Most intersections didn’t get any recognition until the 3rd. That doesn’t make up for the dominant preoccupation with heterocentrism in today’s mainstream feminist circles, but at least it means that I can find some feminist theory on being queer without digging too deep.

The best perk of being queer and being a feminist is the knowledge that I might never have to fight tooth-and-nail with male privilege in my romantic life. Sure, it affects it in secondary and very irritating ways, but it’s typically the case that any woman I choose to get involved with has internalized patriarchal values in a way that can be overcome without daily struggles over what they still find central to their gender identity.

Specifically, I am talking about the most important part of being male: a complete aversion to all things associated with femininity. Women never really seem to have as much success with internalizing the thought, “I’m not like those girls, so I don’t care what happens to them or think it’s just the Natural Order of Things™” that men do. Thanks to gender roles, men have to embrace feminism by rejecting what the patriarchy says makes them a man. Women just have to embrace feminism by stop being shits to other women and themselves. Plus, you can always say to a woman, “hey those Bad Girls you dislike? Well, according to statistics, bad thing X that happens to Bad Girls also happens to everyone else, and those Bad Girls are just normal women, just like you.” From there, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get someone to emotionally grasp that sexism is wrong, because it happens to people like them, and could very possibly happen to them.

Men, on the other hand, get the benefit of complete ignorance. Which is why men entering feminist spaces often ask women there to “calm down and be rational.” It’s really easy to be completely unemotionally invested in things that happen to people that are the complete opposite of you, by definition, and that will never happen to you in the way that they happen to them. Yes, men can be raped, men can be sexually harassed, and men can be economically disadvantaged by being a single parent. But they will never suffer the same reaction from the culture that women do, and they have a pitifully lower chance of going through any of that than the women who languish in a cultural epidemic of misogyny. Of course, it also helps that unemotional involvement is supposed to be the mainstay of masculine identity and the paragon of all things rational, so men’s biased flippancy gets a cultural stamp of legitimacy whereas women’s earned outrage is dismissed as shrill, irrational, and unpalatable.

And then there is the whole personal life aspect. Let me tell you, facing a life time of endlessly worshiping the ground my Nigel walks on because he does an equal share or somewhat equal share of the duties of maintaining a family sounds extremely unpleasant. Here, let me praise you for doing the amount of work that if anyone with a vagina did (i.e. less than half) they’d be labeled a bad wife/mother. Also, navigating the choppy waters of trying to object to the overwhelming emphasis on the idea that sex=dick (dick gets hard, dick goes in something, dick cums, sex ends) while having dick in my sex life sounds bothersome.

Most importantly, though, my queerness makes the most common objections to my observations of sexism in our culture fall apart.

Let’s run down the usual scenario: Jenn sees a movie. Jenn sees a metric ton of sexism and misogyny. Jenn objects. Resident chauvinist rejoins something to the extent that men like titties, and ain’t nothing wrong with that/ain’t no changin’ that, or women are actually really like that, or it’s just the biological destiny of humankind (they’ll say mankind though) that women will turn into stupid weak servile children around men because [insert bullshit essentialist evolutionary biology/psychology here].

Here comes the fun part. I get to reply, “hey asshole, I’m queer”. That means a lot of things in different contexts. It means that there’s a ton of women out there who don’t do stupid things for dick, because they don’t like dick. It means that I like titties too, so I’m not just objecting to sexism because I don’t understand what it’s like to be attracted to women’s bodies. It means that there’s people out there that don’t do things for a sugar daddy or some sweet pussy because they like people of their own gender.

And for my trump card, being queer means that men don’t have a single fucking excuse for excusing misogyny and objectification of women. Because I can seemingly still recognize that Meghan Foxx is quite far from unattractive without thinking that the pile of shit that was Transformers 2 was totally not sexist. I can be titillated by some pornography (I admit it!) without thinking that the marketing of a very narrow and restrictive version of female sexuality for consumption is wrong. I can sometimes feel like I need to have sex with someone with a vagina right now or I’ll be very irritated and uncomfortable without excusing raping someone that teased me or was “asking for it” or buying someone at an economic disadvantage to me so I can use and discard their sexuality.

So now what’s their excuse?

Plainly, they don’t have one. A sex drive that focuses on the attractiveness of women and having sex with women is not a good reason to ignore misogyny, like misogyny, think misogyny can’t be helped, or “helplessly” be a misogynist.

Considering all the shit I have to take daily without complaint because of being queer, I very much enjoy ripping a misogynist’s “but I can’t help it” argument to shreds with a simple revelation of my sexuality. At the very least, I might get to confirm that he’s a total homophobe—on top of being sexist—so I can end a conversation with the intellectual equivalent of a dining table and find less futile ways to spend my time.

American Idol: all those good old American conservative values, including rampant sexism

My mother is the queen of bad television. Thus, it was no surprise to find her watching American Idol when I finished my shift tonight. The season kicked off in our hometown, so it was amusing to watch Seacrest suffer in the Phoenix sun.

As usual, the judges made it plain that they’re the same old sexist, homophobic, fat-hating idiots. Fat girls were demonized. A gay teenager with an amazing voice was told that his voice didn’t match his “look” (you know, that gay look. Ewww homo cooties!). And last, but not least, we had this:

american-idol-bikini-girl1Yes, that is a girl fully made up in a bikini and high heels. What is she doing? She’s auditioning for the squeaky clean American Idol contest on the most conservative network ever, FOX!

Oh silly, when I say FOX is conservative, I don’t mean in the sense that women need to be silent and covered. I mean in the sense that women need to be seen, belittled, objectified, and treated like meat:

It’s pretty plain that the girl is a decent singer, but not fantastic. If anyone who wasn’t a perfect fit for the pornoriffic model of “femininity” tried to audition in a bikini, they would be demonized for being fat and ugly, regardless of their voice. What happens here, though, is Simon and Randy—pigs that they are—immediately voice their approval and give her a yes.

Why? Well, she pleases them. She is sexually attractive and willing to bare it all for men in charge; what’s not to like? This sends a horrendous message. American Idol is an extremely popular show, and one of its biggest target audiences is teenage and preteen girls. The last thing they need is another message telling them how sex appeal is more important than personality, talent, and their ambition.

Witness the how newer judge, Kara DioGuardi, has to qualify her critique of her with the disclaimer, “I’m not saying this because you’re a pretty girl…” Because, honestly, we all know that women are just a collection of holes, sexy fat deposits, and beauty products. If one woman is critiquing another women, it must be because she’s hotter than her and she’s jealous!

Not that Kara is the hero of this: far from it. After Bikini Girl rudely throws the judge’s critique back in her face (Simon and Randy laugh, because they don’t care about people disrespecting the female judges after they’ve already made up their minds: you please my dick, you’re in!)—a huge no-no of talent competitions—Kara calls her a “bitch” and asks her to “come back naked next time”. Very nice. At this point, I’m cringing, knowing that now every man in America thinks that the new judge is a bitter old harpy, and deciding whether or not to masturbate in the bathroom during commerical over the thought of them having a cat fight.

Poor Paula, on the other hand, just sits there and says nothing. She interjects a time or two that the girl isn’t up to par, but she’s quickly shut up by Randy and Simon’s great approval of masturbation fodder and Kara’s self destructive display of her own brand of misogyny (yeah, calling another woman a bitch is not cool, even if she is asking for it).

In the end, the girl goes to Hollywood, even though two of the four judges were against it. Why? Well, because teh menz are in charge and teh menz want more boner material! Now, before we cut to commercial, let’s play the parts where you get to see Bikini Girl’s ass twice more, followed by a montage of her jumping up and down.

Right there, in five minutes, is about the sickest, most destructive sexist message I think I’ve seen all week. Talent is meaningless. Just show the men in charge your boobies and that’s all you need to do! Who cares if you insult the female judge of your audition? Who cares if two out of your four judges don’t like you? Hey, you’re hot, and teh menz approve! Jump up and down some more for the camera. That’s a good girl.

Now, before all you women out there think that you can go out and win American Idol if you just take it all off, check yourself. Do you look like a porn star? Are you perfectly groomed and possess a Dude Nation approved body? Just good old self-confidence and vocal talent alone will not do. Make sure that you’re perfectly attractive, vapid, and willing to crush your own will to reflect everyone else’s, or the sexpot act will crash and burn. You see, it’s not about enjoying your body, it’s about how much others enjoy your looking at your body. What, like you expected some respect and recognition of your humanity?

As long as you please Simon and Randy’s dicks, you can even get away with being a subpar singer and insulting your judge. FOX wants you to know, women and girls of America, that’s not about talent, poise, ambition, intelligence, and individuality. You are a woman, and therefore the only things that matter are how hot you are, how far you’re willing to go to please other people with your body, and if the men in charge like it when you twirl around and show off your ass.

Now, remind me again: why is feminism needed?

Makeup is relevant

You’re going to talk about makeup? Isn’t that, well, entirely regressive of you?

Yes and no. It’s true that things like the rape culture or horrible exploitation of women around the world look obviously more dire and disgusting than the American beauty double standard. It’s also true that they ultimately result in more death and abject misery.

But this sort of brush-off of the beauty double standard entirely misses the point: sexism is pervasive and maintained by things as meaningless as grooming regimens. The reason women are required to wear makeup, and men are not, and the reason why women own less than 1% of the world’s wealth while working two-thirds of the world’s working hours—paid and unpaid—are exactly the same. That reason is patriarchy, sexism, bigotry, and chauvinism. Whatever the name, it’s all just hatred of women.

Talking about make-up is a big no-no among the liberal feminist crowd. Even those that are not adherents of “SexyFun Feminism” ask those man-hating radical dykes to lay off their precious powders lest they be painted with the same brush as those disgusting radical feminists or lesbian separatists.

I’ll be honest here: talking about make-up and plucking my eye brows seems completely and totally irrelevant and superficial. I catch myself making that assumption based on a sort of “common sense”. Well this common sense might be common, but it’s certainly not sensible.

The mechanics of how and why the beauty and fashion industries operate the way they do—here and elsewhere—all return back to the fact that the natural state of a woman is something that is vile, disgusting, and dirty in this world. Like Dworkin postulates in Pornography, women are regarded as nothing more than “cunt”. By cunt, she means an object whose entire nature is encompassed by a sexuality that is sinful and wrong and an object which is hurt because it wants it, and must be hurt because the aggressor has no choice… being manipulated by the object the way that he is.

Women are naturally cunts, or so the dominate social doctrine goes. Our bodies are shameful. All of are parts may be dissected and separated from our individuality, because they all—in sum or in parts—have the mysterious power of sexual arousal in the male viewer. We cover our breasts, the center of substance production for infants, because their purpose has been usurped by the unwanted reaction of the male gaze to that which they deem dirty. We carefully groom our body hair into pleasing shapes, or remove it all together, because of its socially-defined connection to filth, to smell, to age, to masculinity—all things a woman cannot possess. We cover our acne, painfully groom our eyebrows, lengthen our lashes, and paint our lips with a cocktail of chemicals considered, by some, too toxic to even test on animals.

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What women don’t get about men: we’re all whiny assholes

I cannot for the life of me imagine why Michael Bywater, a columnist at The Independent, even has a job, let alone gets paid to write such self-pitying sexist garbage. I am by no means a linear thinker myself, but at least I understand how to propose a main idea in a short essay format.

So here’s the main idea of this post: Michael Bywater is a self-absorbed douchebag who expects the world to tell him what he ought to do with his penis, being the center of his personality. Also, the world and all the people in it better please his penis, dammit, or he’s going to start whining.

Don’t believe me? Go read the article. Keep in mind that it’s only coherent if you read it as an argument for assisted suicide.

But suppose I take pity on you. For the purposes of snark and self-indulgent superiority, I will break down his long rant of Freudian asshatery for the scorn and mocking of intelligent society. By “intelligent society” I mean myself, and maybe you, if I decide you are a nice sort of fellow.

Michael begins with some sort of allusion to the time-old conundrum: my penis is separate from me, it says I must do bad things, thus I do bad things, and I won’t do bad things if I didn’t have a penis, so maybe I should chop it off, but I like my penis, but it makes me do bad things… ad nauseam. We already know that this is going to be a long synopsis of one man’s love/hate relationship with his penis.

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I really hate music sometimes

Probably the worst thing about being a very musically-inclined person is that most music sucks. Not only that, the people who are into music, maybe even the same music as you, are probably assholes.

There is some law of the universe that the intellectualism or popularity of an activity increases the assholes attracted to doing that activity. Music is both something that is very popular and something that requires a bit of technical knowledge and practice to perform (or interpret, if you’re a dancer). Thus, the amount of assholes interested in music, performing music, and dancing to music is truly astronomical. I reference radio DJs and the Body Police dancers for all the evidence I need.

Regardless, I just used to skip from station to station when the commercials were over and the DJs started talking to avoid hearing the stupid racist, classist, homophobic, sexist shit they’d inevitably spew.

Now I have to switch stations because of the actual music lyrics, and I don’t even listen to rap or hip-hop. These are the song that I encountered just in my commute this week:

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Fluid sexuality and Olympic eye-candy

Just to be clear, I do hate the focus on tits and ass at the Olympics. I think it’s incredibly demeaning that women are required to wear smaller and more revealing uniforms then the men on almost every event. Also, it doesn’t help that shitbags like Simon Barnes, without a shred of irony, are upset that the women’s swimming uniforms compress their breasts so he can’t ogle them at the same time he feels threatened enough by the male synchro divers to remark, “it all looks like a wonderfully elegant gay suicide pact.”

In short, he finds the lack of female breasts to drool over insulting at the same time that he feels that the perceived sexuality of the male divers (who must be gay, because semi-naked men are obscene and catering to other men by default, not women or, shockingly, no one) is worthy of denigration.

Nevertheless, I have to admit that the endless parade of shirtless male swimmers and scantily-clad sweaty and toned female volleyball players is enormously titillating. The athleticism and sportsmanship is way more attractive than any mock coquettishness in a sleazy pornographic film.

I’m fairly aware that half the reason the women volleyball players are supposed to wear as little as possible is for ratings. But, God help me, it’s working. I usually like watching gymnastics more than volleyball, but I simply cannot turn away from Misty May and Kerri Walsh’s beautiful and awe-inspiring sportsmanship. I’m also incredibly disappointed by the lack of coverage on female soccer, which is also one of my favorite events.

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