Melissa Todd is – I’m pleased to say – a friend of mind. She and I became friends on Facebook quite some time ago, but we only met face-to-face comparatively recently. We have shared a frequent debating corner in the Isle of Thanet News, where we’ve had a number of arguments and shared the title of “victor” in different debates, depending on who votes. She and I love a good argument, but we love a good discussion even more – and I now get to host Melissa on my website with some interesting thoughts on … well, let me pass you over to Melissa to continue.
Everything is about sex, right? Sex isn’t. It’s about power. Sex historically has been a commodity, and a female commodity to boot: a valuable source of female power. Indeed, very frequently it’s the only power we possess, men having most of the top jobs and money. Feminists who argue against porn are misguided and idiotic. They are trying to steal from women – usually women with fewer advantages than them, less money, education, class – their one source of viable power.
A friend writes:
“I love pornography – I act in it, write in it, consume it, and direct it, although usually on different afternoons. I’ve been in the sex industry for 22 years now, and done a lot, learnt a lot, made loads of good friends and mountains of money. And I daresay I’ll manage another 22 years – the older you get, the more in demand you become. Tastes in human flesh are wonderfully varied; whatever you look like, you’re bound to be someone’s favourite porn genre. Why do feminists insist “all porn is the same; all porn actresses look the same, do the same things, make the same noises?” It’s simply beyond me. They need to spice up their search terms. Pneumatic Barbies haven’t been of interest since the mid-90s; now it’s all natural, hairy, middle-aged, women next door types who are coining it, which is beyond brilliant for me.
“Ah, the money! I promise, I try to feel exploited, but damn it, it’s tricky when you buy houses the way other women buy shoes! I have my own on-line porn studio, selling clips directly to the public; I aålso collaborate with several other film-makers, as my camera work is lousy; I’m much better centre stage than sitting quietly behind a lens. Each to her own, eh? Surely? Unless you’re a feminist, in which case all this is EVIL, and I should channel my exhibitionism into something more obviously worthy, like leading role-play activities at a workshop on police brutality, or what have you. To which I say, firstly, where’s the money in that; secondly (for I realise that argument, valid though it be, money being so endlessly empowering to women, will butter no parsnips with my feminist opponent), porn is a good thing. A very good thing. For men, for women, for society as a whole. It allows people to quietly explore their sexual fantasies without harming anyone else. There has never been found to be any correlation between porn consumption and rape, despite frantic efforts to find one. Indeed, countries with the most draconian laws around pornography tend also to have the highest rates of sexual violence.
“Any mindset that seeks to portray women as tragic, inevitable victims sticks in my craw. The Church, the state have always sought to control women’s sexuality, but now the job is being done for them by other women. And to them I say: how dare you presume I don’t know what I want? How dare you seek to control my sexual expression and fantasy? Where do you get off, policing my dreams?”
Feminists who seek to ban or control pornography are guilty of perpetuating demeaning stereotypes about women, more typically associated with patriarchy – that sex is bad for women, that women can’t make rational choices, have no idea what’s best for them. And women talking over, instead of with, sex workers, invariably replicates patriarchy too. Try listening to the voiceless. Bodies can be wonderfully eloquent.