left biblioblography: An Extremist By Any Other Name Is Still Bad News, Regardless Of The Cause…

Saturday, October 09, 2010

An Extremist By Any Other Name Is Still Bad News, Regardless Of The Cause…

Cross posted at Atheist Oasis

Like many 21st century men, I like to consider myself a feminist of sorts, one lacking those essential anatomical differences, but a feminist nonetheless. And by feminist, I mean that I strongly feel that inequality between the sexes (read: inequitable treatment based on gender, women possessing full reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, etc.) is a moral imperative.

As a healthy adult male, I’ve watched my share of pornography, ever since adolescence. Men are usually about the visuals, women are about the connections. There are quite a few women who would automatically denounce a porn viewer as not being a ‘True Feminist™’, as most extremists demand that others bow to their unique absolutes. I can speak only for myself, but regardless of whatever compromised position I’ve found myself in, I have always understood that NO means NO – no matter what. I would treat a porn star the same way I’d treat a prostitute or a ‘normal’ woman…and that is as a human being worthy of respect.

I recently rented ‘The Secret Lives Of Adult Stars’, and it was an interesting watch. As it so happens, the actual people objectified are the men, who are pretty much relegated to the role of living dildos, while the women have huge fan clubs, friendly fans, and actually make somewhere in the neighborhood of three times what the male actors pull in. So much for ‘objectification’ and degradation.

Here in America, we have this strange point of view: everything is for sale except sex. If sex is purchased, we immediately treat that as some form of degradation. Of course this is the venue of the hopeless romantic and the feminist extremist: an exchange of goods and/or cash somehow pollutes everything. It brings to mind the old joke: what’s the difference between sex for money and sex for free? Sex for free costs more.

Somehow, people seem unable to understand, that every social contract is a matter of the exchange of some form of service, not necessarily one of currency, but an exchange between consenting partners. An old martial arts instructor of mine once stated, that every interaction is a relationship of sorts. If you’re mugged on the street, that is a relationship (albeit a horribly one-sided unpleasant one) – self-defense is a relationship, one that needs to be ended as quickly and painlessly (for yourself, hopefully) as possible. A friendship is an agreement between two (or more people) to exchange pleasantries, company, jokes, etc. A romantic involvement is a basic need for intimate exchange, the press of flesh on flesh, bodily fluids (yeah, how romantic is that phrasing, eh?).

But somehow, a woman who is willing to exchange her looks for cash is somehow demeaned and degraded, regardless of her (informed) consent in the matter.

I am well aware of the fact that there are abuses in the adult film industry. There are human rights abuses in every industry. Reform is certainly needed. But claiming a woman is somehow less than human because she sells herself in some manner is actually a form of repression. We all sell ourselves. The extremist will shriek “THIS IS DIFFERENT!”, and to some degree it is. But not much. I sell my services when I work at a job. I sell myself when I go into an interview for that job. I sell myself when I approach a member of the opposite sex, and make the effort to woo her. As a member of a species that is a herd/pack animal, I am on display constantly in some form or  another. When I am in competition with others, presentation is everything.

At this juncture, the feminist extremist would be infuriated: I’ve heard/read all sorts of dreck, where there is a ‘rape culture’ in the USA (actually, it’s everywhere, and the US of A is actually quite progressive compared to your third world countries, where women are routinely kidnapped and forced into slavery or marriage), and that watching any form of porn is actually viewing a rape – be it a moral, metaphorical, or literal one.

The average feminist extremist will also be foursquare against prostitution, for many of the same reasons. The feminist extremist will cite many multiple crimes against the prostitute (not realizing that the laws against prostitution prevent the victims from reporting rapes, beatings, or gun-point robberies), while the feminist moderate will tend to be more moderate, advocating the repealing of anti-prostitution laws (which, let’s be brutally honest, are a Christian legacy in this country) and better working conditions for sex workers.

It’s a sad statement when our culture has this incredible disparity, where violence is cheered on as a solution, but somehow consensual sex can dehumanize human beings if money’s involved. Because everything does have a price, whether it’s moral, metaphorical, or literal.

And that, dear readers, is my nickel’s worth.

Till the next post, then.

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