20070peculiar1171552.jpgApostate pointed out this article, written in 1983, about the dialogue between feminists in two camps on the issue of porn.

The article gave me new information, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around all the implications of it.

I read it just once, two nights ago, and want to write down some initial thoughts.

The most interesting part of the essay, for me, was pointing out that some women feel sexual attentions and pressures forced onto them, sometimes in predatory ways. This combined with a culture of double standard where men get to fuck around and be macho while women are sluts if they do, makes them feel sexuality is tied together with a shameful imposition – even as they get horny and enjoy sex. A rage against men gets tied together with an anger at displays of women been seen as sexual objects. That is the part of the essay that I need to work a lot harder to wrap my head around.

The article also mentions, with great sympathy and clarity, that people very often have “shadow issues”, and project outwards aspects of their personality that they are not comfortable with. I want to spend some time in future posts to examine this and give some examples.

I can understand how when a person is angry, and feels that no one is listening to their anger and taking it seriously, that this leads to more anger. Rage, even. What many women don’t seem interested to hear, is that many men are angry. We have reasons to be angry, and we don’t feel that our anger is being taken seriously. Especially by feminists, who don’t seem to think men even have the right to be angry – it isn’t our turn, and our grievances are too minor to count.

The conversation about pornography, in a feminist context, makes me angry also. Too angry to keep my discussions about it civil – even though I would prefer to be able to. I get really charged up about it.

I am 41, and have not witnessed the sexually repressive culture that Joanna Russ discussed in her essay. I have not witnessed the sexual double standards, or women being seen as sex objects to be dominated and discarded. My childhood was formed during the sexual revolution, during the time when children were taught that there are no innate gender differences other than sexual organs. Regrettably, the sexual revolution was toning down, and then finally hit up against the aids scare as I entered my late high school years. The aids scare died down. In the nineties I travelled around the U.S., visiting colleges as a travelling salesman, visiting music festivals. I did some sales on beaches during spring break. I did not witness a culture of double standard or sexual prudery. I saw a lot of sexual openness and experimentation. Tittie flashing on the beach isn’t even the beginning. Dirty dancing on the dance floor shows better how open people are with sexuality nowadays. Serial monogamy, marriage no longer being the only respectable lifestyle, and even teen orgies gets closer to how far we are from the fifties. Even open lesbian experimentation is not only allowable, but fashionable. I don’t know what culture Joanna Russ is describing, but I suspect that it is a culture that exists in the past.

As for the dirty Uncle Harries she mentions, as a man I can say that men pride themselves on treating women with respect and making them happy. We don’t brag about sexual conquests and using people. If you doubt this, just check out website discussion boards. Even the PUA crowd – the pick up artists that work diligently to hone skills of fast seduction, do not talk of women as a thing to be used for personal enjoyment. I understand that there are dirty Uncle Harries out there, probably a lot of them, but I don’t see that we live in a culture described by them. Men value maturity as much as women do, and we know what is immature, hostile, anti-social behaviour as well as women do.

A point made in the essay that is worth emphasising, a point I under-emphasised when discussing porn, is the difference between good sex and bad sex. I’m not sure how to write about this. Personally I prefer porn that depicts real, passionate, enjoyable sex. I don’t like scripted stuff, and if the woman isn’t obviously and truly showing intense pleasure, it is not good porn. The man too should be depicted as having real, enjoyable, passionate sex – not just being a tool. I prefer home made type porn, for this reason. Passion and intimacy are essential to good sex, and this is reflected in porn. I haven’t been exposed to a lot of porn that seems to use the woman at her expense and the man’s pleasure, but I would not find that type of porn useful or stimulating, and can understand distaste and worse at porn that depicts women as being other than totally consenting, in the deepest possible sense. The difficult nuance about that is that a woman can deeply and passionately consent to and enjoy sex that includes dominance and submission.

Getting back to shadow issues; here is where I disagree that the pro porn and anti porn camps are merely talking past each other. I see the pro porn crowd as having worked through, or at least not having, the same projections about the negative aspects of sex, especially power issues of dominance and submission, as do the the anti porn crowd. In this sense, they have access to more of themselves, to more of reality, to a bigger picture. They can see and understand and internalize the power dynamics that can happen in sex, without externalizing them onto an other.

And this points to part of my anger, real anger, as real as feminists are capable of, about cultural assumptions that I have lived embedded in. Feminism has been about freedom from sexual bias, but became a tool of sexual domination. Men are pissed off. Men and women are different creatures, and men want to be men. We don’t want to be feminized in order to be social. We want to respect our biologies and natural inclinations – respect them, use them, own them. Men are pissed – and feminists have not been working hard to understand why. Men have been working to grok feminism, and more than that, to grok women.  We do that work.

There are right now, still, too many shadow issues regarding sexuality in order for masculists to talk to feminists. Feminists, I believe, especially need to do a lot of work owning their shadow sides. Sex sometimes can include domination, and that is OK. There isn’t any shame or problem in that. Sexuality can include a lot of stuff that isn’t politically correct. It can – and there really isn’t any problem with that. As Wilber says, we can transcend and include our biological heritage. We are not only descended from primates, we are primates. And that is perfectly natural.

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