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223 responses to “On feeling sympathy with Stephen Conroy”

  1. WD40

    “It’s the marketisation of the body, its commodification – what we’re talking about is the colonisation of the libidinal by capitalism.”

    False. What we are seeing is businesses giving consumers what they want. Don’t shoot the messenger.

  2. Emma

    “False. What we are seeing is businesses giving consumers what they want. Don’t shoot the messenger.”

    Chicken and egg argument. Culture assigns gender and roles and people accept these as their version of normal. People then want their version of normal to be available. Capitalism profits from the existing stereotype and then perpetuates it through mass media.

    P.S. I’m going to try my hand at a rebuttal post, BBS

  3. WD40

    Kim,

    What you think “we” want is immaterial.

    The proof of the pudding is always in the eating, or in this case what sells and what doesn’t sell.

  4. Craig Ranapia

    How come we didn’t “want” all that 40 years ago?

    Avoiding the use of the first person majestic plural, forty years ago a young whippersnapper named Rupert Murdoch was already earning his reputation as a sleaze merchant. If there’s a decent newspaper library anywhere near you, I’d take a look at back issues of the Sydney Daily Mirror and it’s then direct competitor The Telegraph. Murdoch and Frank Packer weren’t getting rich off scone recipies and cricket reports — instead “we” seemed every bit as fixated on sex, crime and scandal (all liberally iced with pious hypocrisy) as our grandparents were.

  5. Jacques de Molay

    I’m not sure I really understand what you’re saying Kim, is it an anti-porn argument? Porn is what you make of it. Sex has always been “sold” as a commodity, the world’s oldest profession and all that.

  6. WD40

    “It’s more than “sex sells”.”

    Obviously, Kim. It is also about other things, such as the invention of the contraceptive pill and the fact that many of us don’t have the morbid, Christian inspired guilt about our bodies and sexuality that were so prevalent until a few decades ago.

    But these essentialist arguments about “teh capitalism” being responsible for everything we don’t like is awfully boring and left wing thinking will not advance this type of crapola stops.

  7. sg

    Kim, I’m intrigued by this:

    At the same time, the individualisation of social relationships makes them much more disposable, makes sex much more of an object of assessment and judgement rather than an expression of love.

    It’s nice for you that you think sex should be an expression of love, but I don’t think that your opinion is universal and in fact, as far as feminist opinions of sex go I think it’s pretty limiting and, um, regressive, and I really don’t like any analysis of modern culture which juxtaposes “disposable” sexual relationships with sexual relationships based on “an expression of love.”

    That way lies church, the virgin and the whore, slut shaming and all the other negative stereotypes of the last 2000 years that need to die, die, die.

    That way also lies a complete failure to understand what modern men and women want from sex and love, and from that it follows that your analysis of the “assessment and judgment” people are making when they choose to play with strangers is probably also wrong or at best misleading.

    In short, I don’t think you can construct an analysis of pr0n, the “sexualization” of the modern world, or the need (or not) to censor it around such a flawed construct.

  8. sg

    I would add that “we” do want to consume the pap that you mention. Women can be every bit as shallow and sexist as the material you see them consuming, and they consume it because yes they do want to crow over how so-and-so is a fat slut and so-and-so is a scheming bitch, and men do just care about tits-tits-tits.

    If you want to see a movie where a woman of your age is none of the 3 things you mention, there’s probably a wide range of pr0n about older women that will show them as sexually adventurous, empowered and satisfied women, getting pleasure exactly as they want it from young men. And, depending on the nationality and brand of the pr0n, they won’t even be botoxed.

  9. sg

    Kim, I don’t pretend to know what women and men want from sex and love, but I get a pretty clear impression looking around me that their desires are much more diverse than either your post or the caricature magazines you mention suggest.

    But whatever it is they want, it ain’t going to be helped by dichotomizing sex into the instrumental and the loving.

  10. sg

    just out of interest Kim – and I’m going to bed now so I won’t be replying in a hurry – why don’t you turn around a dichotomy by glorifying the devalued term? At least in this case?

    Sex is great, instrumental sex is great, having sex with someone whose name you don’t know is great. What’s wrong with revaluing that to crush the dichotomy?

  11. Kim

    The question is what is great sex and whether sex has to be great to be good.

    There’s also mutuality and power.

    And it’s bed time for me too.

  12. Azrael

    I appreciate what you’re saying about the change in the commodification of sex since previous eras, but the sheer level of ‘market’ participation and pull is integral to the issue. Take net-porn, for example. The commercial product wasn’t readily available for many of the various fetishes, and so people went around the corporate providers (or ‘stole’/copyright-infrined their content and posted it online for free) to establish the online distribution chains themselves. To a large degree the commercial operators have simply been ignored – even if they wanted to, they can’t compete because other folk are putting up sites for free.

    Similarly, consider the rise of celebrity-gossip-blogs. If the commodification was all corporate-pushed, then we shouldn’t be seeing personal blogs rising to mass popularity with the same trashy content. Yet people are flocking to those sites – again, largely to the detriment of the large commercial operators – actively seeking trashy content.

    Of course there’s a commercial-push aspect of the problem (and I do think that commodification of the body is a problem). But to turn your own reasoning back on you: most of today’s big commercial publishers have been in business for decades, and it’s hardly plausible that the capitalists of 40 years ago were any less hungry to exploit than they are today (actually a comparison of tabloid gossip from 100 years ago reveals an overwhelming similarity of commercial content – in the commercial celebrity gossip arena things haven’t changed as much as you might think). Capitalism hasn’t changed. Something else has.

    Large social changes are rarely the product of one identifiable cause, but I suspect the sidestepping of both commercial operators and government censors in the past 15 years is at least one significant alteration. We lifted the social ‘lids’ on consumable sexuality and are taken aback at our own gluttonous response.

    I’m always skeptical of theories that posit humans as innately moral and decent until some outside force (capitalism, socialism, religion, patriarchy, atheism – there’s no shortage of ideological whipping-boys to point the finger at) corrupts us. Firstly, it’s flawed in that it implies that there’s such a thing as a person without a social context: we’re social creatures at a biological species-level. But moreover, our mental, moral and cultural capacities are developed in conjunction with our social context (for a better explanation, see Charles Taylor’s ‘Communitarianism’, or perhaps Alisdair MacIntyre’s ‘After Virtue’, the latter being a socialist to Taylor’s liberal, but they both argue the communitarian position well).

    What I’m getting at is that there’s no reason to think ‘unrestrained human biological response = good’ and ‘social restriction/influence/repression = bad’. Or even that the former is more natural than the latter. Changes to social instutions and structure can have unintended side-effects – I’m not arguing against social reform, just that there’s a degree of caution required. It’s at least worth thinking about why we developed an institution or practice, and what effect its elimination will have upon the capacities we develop (don’t start me on how the underlying individualism of the ‘down with social institutions’ ethos of the 60s undercut the social connectedness required for socialism…). I suspect that mixed up among all the harmful repression, homophobia, unhappy marriages, sexism and isolation of the pre-60s, the social repression of sexual material also played a more positive function of limiting and redirecting our consumerist urges when it came to sex.

    Not saying we should go back to all that. But if turning around the commodification of the body is your aim, you could do a lot worse than to take a look at whether societal institutions can fulfill the more positive anti-consumerist function without the social oppression that came with it.

  13. skepticlawyer

    Kim, your Catholic guilt is showing 😉

    /runs away.

  14. Emma

    @skepticlawyer

    nay, the Catholic guilt is present in the false dichotomy of Mary the Virgin versus Mary the Slut

    I think Kim is rightly pointing out an overall culture of commodification which is not exclusive to feminist concerns but all liberation ideologies and even theologies.

    All hail the new Consumerism guilt! Brought to you by marketing, cured by iPhones…

  15. Liam

    Great post, Kim.

    Kim, your Catholic guilt is showing 😉

    A very Catholic idea that a society and its technology should best be a mechanism for the distribution of hope and the furtherance of human dignity, sure. Count me in for that ambiguous guilt too.

    I think we need to confront that before we start jumping up and down about “freedom” when what we actually mean in practice is the right of capital to impose particular body forms

    Or indeed codes of behaviour.

  16. akn

    Thanks Kim. I recognize the exploratory attitude of someone seeking understanding of the social reality around the production and consumption of pornography.

    It is unsurprising that some of your respondents seek to close off discussion in a knee jerk attempt to defend the sanctity of market freedoms, ie, that it is the right of producers to produce what they want and consumers to consume and never should there be a dialogue between the two; therein, we are told, lies freedom. That view represents a tragic devaluation of the very concept of autonomy, agency and freedom because the only freedom there is to enter the market on terms determined by producers or to stay out.

    The tendency to commodification of everything is quickening and is an inescapable effect of capitalism unchained from any and all constraints of community or morality. The use of the internetz to disperse child pornography is indeed evidence of Marx’s prescience when he declared that the future was one in which “all that is holy is profaned”. Such is the promise of the unconstrained market.

    The porn industry still operates as a frontier and is in dire need of regulation. At the moment most porn producers are as heedless to the effect of their product on their consumers as were the Ford executives who let loose the Ford Pinto. In other words Larry Flynt really doesn’t give a fuck.

    On another thread where I took a pro-Conroy filter stance (no, don’t want to repeat that, have changed my mind anyway) I linked to pornography is a left issue which notes a tendency on the left to sustain a critical appraisal of media production in general which critical attitude is abandoned entirely when it comes to analysis of pornography:

    The feminist critique of pornography is consistent with — and, for many of us, grows out of — a widely accepted analysis on the left of ideology, hegemony, and media, leading to the observation that pornography is to patriarchy what commercial television is to capitalism. Yet when pornography is the topic, many on the left seem to forget Gramsci’s theory of hegemony and accept the pornographer’s self-serving argument that pornography is mere fantasy.

    Apparently the commonplace left insight that mediated images can be tools for legitimizing inequality holds true for an analysis of CBS or CNN, but evaporates when the image is of a woman having a penis thrust into her throat with such force that she gags. In that case, for unexplained reasons, we aren’t supposed to take pornographic representations seriously or view them as carefully constructed products within a wider system of gender, race, and class inequality. The valuable work conducted by media critics on the politics of production apparently holds no weight for pornography.

    They are quite right too. Thanks for opening this issue for critical discussion.

  17. No one in particular

    The filter was about child porn. We’re now talking abut it in the context of a wide ranging discussion about the commodification of sex… Why?

  18. Ken Lovell

    I’m afraid I find the apparent direction of the discussion on Q&A – and in the thread – to be alarming. It suggests that the proposed filter is not what it has been described as – a measure to prevent access to a few hundred sites with illegal content – but the first step in a giant social engineering project to use the internet to change sexual mores. The god-botherers in parliament must be giddy with excitement at the prospect.

    Kim I share your distaste for the relentless commodification of everything but I find the idea of the state trying to manage our values and attitudes even more troubling.

  19. akn

    Ken Lovell: another panic stricken attempt to close off discussion. Nothing wrong with considering the issues. Same with no one in particular: what, you can’t find a point of articulation between discussing child pornography and pornography in general? I’ll make it simple: it is the same as finding a common point in discussing child labour in the context of industrial working conditions in general.

    Watch for more attempts to close off discussion because it will create teh nanny state in teh form of a punitive nun.

  20. Ken Lovell

    Akn I try (not always successfully) to honour the internet tradition that comments should be made within the scope of the post, and not be derailed by commenters like you who want to talk about something else. Needless to say, your impression that this is either ‘panic-stricken’ (panic about what FFS?) or an attempt to ‘close off discussion’ is ridiculous.

    Kim’s post is explicitly about the proposed internet filter and that was the subject of my comment.

  21. Chris

    If the filter was restricted to only applying to child porn there’d be nearly no opposition to it – probably just some comments that it won’t actually work. If it was restricted to filtering only sex related content there’d be some opposition but again not nearly as much as exists now. Porn is just the convenient excuse to generate support within the general community for the filter. It is about governments wanting to restore some control over the distribution of information that they have lost with the widespread use of the Internet. Sites like wikileaks which cause them a lot of concern.

  22. Lanock

    Ho Kim, What a whole world you have missed out on. I was a teenager during the 60’s. Living in Sydney. It was fabulous, the Yanks used Australia as their R & R. from the Vietnam war.
    Your notion of “40 years ago” is soooooo incorrect. We did “WANT’ everything, and most tried everything.
    The old joke is that “if you remember the 60s , you werent there’ is not true, I remember it all, and loved being a teenager in those sexciting times.
    I actually feel sorry for the youth of today, who have missed out on sex education(the hands on type}.
    Also 60 years ago, at the end of ww2, THOUSANDS OF BABIES were the result of the Celebrations.(Pity there was no contraceptive pill then)
    .Know your “Aussie Sex History”. What a concept!

  23. Paul Burns

    Don’t watch pr0n. A) Its boring. B) If you watch it on-line you risk getting a virus. (I have succumbed to curiosity in the past.)
    I don’r mind if all the filter is doing is blocking child Pr0n. Exactly what the Governmewnt has in mind, I have no idea after last night’s Q & A. Maybe I wasn’t paying much attention. I did recognise the Opposition, as one would expect, apparently want to ban everything. (Or was that just Mirabella losing it in public once again? Which she seemed to do several times last night.) Conway actually seemed peculiarly constrained.

  24. FDB

    I’m with Ken.

    Someone needs to kick Conroy square up the arse and remind him that this was only EVER meant to be about killing access to illegal content, which it was only ever going to fail at anyway.

    It would be utterly pissweak for filter opponents to be drawn into a ridiculous sideshow where everything about modern commodified culture suddenly becomes relevant.

    It’s about children being raped on camera and the images distributed online.

    THAT IS ALL.

  25. Paulus

    akn: “another panic stricken attempt to close off discussion. Nothing wrong with considering the issues.”

    Indeed. But the only person I see attempting to close off discussion is Senator Conroy.

    You can’t discuss the representation (and commodification) of sexuality with a censor. It’s not a two-way street. Conroy and ACMA will ban what they want to ban, and they aren’t interested in talking to you about it.

    You won’t be told why some site has been placed on the banned list — and indeed the list itself will be secret. (At least until Wikileaks gets a hold of it. But it is most likely that they too will be on the list, and thus made to ‘disappear’ from the internet.)

    In other words, the filter embodies the very opposite, the antithesis, of having a mature debate about the issues that Kim raised.

  26. Stephen

    I thought it was odd that on QandA last night Fiona Patten didn’t seem to know how to answer direct question in her area of expertise (?).

    Someone from the audience asked a question about the effects of pornography on society. I would have thought it was a predictable question before and had an answer she could recite by rote.

  27. akn

    Kims post:

    Australian Sex Party President Fiona Patten was asked a very interesting question about the way that exposure to sexual content habituates people to a very instrumental view of sex, stripped of its intimate contexts and wrenched out of any sort of human relationship.

    That opens the discussion to consideration of porn, I suggest. But if you wanna bang on about the already dead in the water filter then go ahead. Mission accomplished. Closure.

    Wassa matter, to scaredy cat to talk about porn?

  28. Maelor

    To restrict our (the demos) discussion of measures and mechanisms proposed by our representatives to govern us and our behaviours to merely the scope of the argument put forward by those representatives in their justification for the measures is to abdicate our responsibility for our own governance. A democracy is governance (rule) by the people (the demos), not merely rule by an elected (elite) few.

    We have a responsibility (albeit one often abdicated to those few chosen in our stead) to be actively involved in our governance: to be actively engaged with our representatives. They represent us, not the other way around.

    Proposals such as a ‘filter’ scheme for the vast array of content available via addresses accessible via computer systems interconnected via Internet protocol-enabled communications networks is compatible to using breathalysers to ‘filter’ traffic on road, rail, shipping and air networks.

  29. sg

    Liam @20 you seem to be implying that capitalism is encouraging certain codes of behaviour through its marketing, and I presume you mean casual/instrumental sex.

    I don’t think this is what capitalism is doing at all. I think people want this – they want it very badly – and capitalism is responding to a huge and important social movement.

    Feminists have given up on a proper understanding of that social movement by succumbing to the conservative US view of sex=love, and refusing to allow the possibility that “instrumental” sex (i.e. sex liberated from the shackles of the patriarchal family) is a liberating and profound change for western society.

    Because some pr0n is distasteful, and because of a frankly pathetic idea that tv controls our thoughts, and some very woolly-minded ideas about “commodification” and “objectification”, pr0n has been seen as the evil motive force behind this evil desire for people to be free, rather than a response to it.

    But I have to ask people who think these things of pr0n, what is more liberating and realistic? A pr0n scene where a woman orgasms through clitoral stimulation, rather than penetration, and then enjoys sex in which she tells her partner what to do and he enjoys it too? Or a scene in sex and the city where one of those horribly ugly women sucks off her boyfriend with no reciprocation (again)? Or classic movie sex where everything works out perfectly, there’s no foreplay and the woman comes from penetration?

    I know which one represents what the majority of women want, and it ain’t the last two.

  30. Patricia WA

    Agreed Paul @ 27 Conroy seemed oddly constrained last night which contrasted starkly with Mirabella who was doubly strident channelling her revered leader. But then isn’t everyone left of centre sounding constrained, calm and conciliatory these days when debating with anyone on the the rabid right?

    Unlike FDB I don’t get the the impression that Conroy sees the filter doing more than control illegal content. Mirabella’s case was it couldn’t work because it couldn’t go far enough eg. peer to peer interaction amongst pedophiles.

    Interesting that Conroy’s response to her on that was consistent with his strong stand on the ‘outing’ of Grog by the Australian. He was firm about defending an individual’s privacy over that paper’s spurious and inconsistent argument on the the ‘public’s right to know.,

  31. IanM

    I get the feeling that what is really causing some people to clutch at their pearls is the fact that the constant bombardment of sexualised images and full on porn leads to the normalisation of openness about sexuality. OMG, after a while images of naked people having sex become no more shocking than people sitting down to dinner.

    Generations are now growing up who have seen porn well before puberty and who find the adult shame and hysteria about sexuality rather laughable. They are effectively being inoculated against one of the religion business’s more effective I find it hard to see what is wrong with that and I’m not very moved by the latest wowser tactic of saying it’s bad because someone is making money out of it. If commodification of sex is happening then what we are seeing is businesses like the media taking over religion’s previous monopoly on body shame. Face up to it, plenty of people are making money out of wowserism too, and you don’t have too search too hard to find the entrepreneurial element in the organisations generating moral panics about child porn, etc.

  32. patrickg

    I think it is incontestable that sex is more and more thought of in a very decontextualised way, even within relationships.

    Hmmm, I’m not so sure that’s incontestable. I’m not even sure what it means. How do you decontextualise anything from culture in this sense?

    Echoing other posters, I feel like any thoughts along these line are beyond the remit of governments or frankly individuals. I barely know what sex “means” for myself; I really don’t see it as my business to tell other people what it means to them, or what it should mean. If it’s consensual, and no one is getting hurt (in a real sense, not an ethereal culturally sense), then whatever gets you through the night, I say.

    I’m extremely reluctant to tell people that how they look at porn – or the mere act of looking – is wrong, or making them devalue x, y, or z.

    I’m also uncomfortable with the idea of inherently “good” porn, or porn not being high art therefore not worth protecting from censorship; these questions are all sidenotes to me, and a very modernist/new critical way of looking at things.

  33. armagny

    Well put Kim.

    A nice off-field take in an excessively polar-binary area.

  34. sg

    incidentally, what does “decontextualized sex” even mean? How is any encounter with a human “decontextualized”? If I meet a girl in a bar and we have sex within an hour of meeting, isn’t the bar and the purpose the context? If my a girl sneaks into my room and wakes me for a root at 4am, isn’t her purpose and our secret setting context enough? How can something as complex and intense as sexual congress ever be “decontextualized”?

    And what context should we be looking for? Is sex contextualized suddenly if we stare into each other’s eyes lovingly over dinner, before having a brief poke in semi-darkness a la every rom-com ever made? If so, who set the context for that? Us in our relationship, or the movie-makers who have spent the last 50 years telling us that the only sex that counts is unsatisfying for the woman?

  35. Liam

    I presume you mean casual/instrumental sex

    I should have been clearer sg—what I object to in capitalist society is the tendency to behave as if one’s own body is, and other people’s bodies are, commodities in a marketplace. I’ve got nothing against casual sex or the sexual revolution which is as you say ongoing, universal and institutional.
    What Kim’s arguing, as I am, is that because the debate has been so fixated on Senator Conroy’s rather poorly-thought-out filter, we’re getting bogged down into the idea that simple civil liberty and internet freedom is a worthy social goal in itself. It’s not nearly enough.

  36. Mark

    I’m also uncomfortable with the idea of inherently “good” porn, or porn not being high art therefore not worth protecting from censorship; these questions are all sidenotes to me, and a very modernist/new critical way of looking at things.

    Patrickg, the claim there that pr0n is not worthy of being protected from censorship is one that is not made in the post. Clearly, what the post argues is that the dichotomy in question around censorship is no longer adequate to the realities of our culture.

  37. patrickg

    I personally thought it was pretty clearly implied by alluding to the struggles of the sixties, and how campaigning for/against Salo is not comparable to the “nonsense we’re subjected to”, but I’m prepared to concede.

    More broadly, I question if “the dichotomy of censorpship” was ever adequate. I feel like this argument falls into a kind of nostalgia that ignores the polarising effect of history, and glosses over the quite complex arguments that were floating around thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years ago.

    I feel that it taps into a kind of collective nostalgia and modern cynicism, with the convenient foil of semi-real straw folk. I think the comparison of “helicopter parents” is a good one. It’s a group that everyone is happy to deride whilst touting the freedom and nobility of their childhood, whilst ignoring the minority status of actual helicopter parents – both now and then.

    Some people are happy to argue about porn in that dichotomoy, and some take a more hermeneutic view – as was ever the case. I’m not convinced the the arguments have become less complex, and I’m just not convinced our society is any more or less misogynist than it ever was (actually I think less, or less in different ways).

    If you don’t like porn, don’t watch it. I don’t see the need for a debate about what people do privately, consensually in their own time. If the problem is the porn industry, then regulate the industry. If the problem is the objectification of women, I think we’re getting into grey territory, and I don’t think censorship is the answer to something so ambiguous.

  38. Pi

    Why do all these people care what other people consume?

  39. Fine

    ” but I think it is incontestable that sex is more and more thought of in a very decontextualised way, even within relationships.”

    That’s such a sweeping statement that I think it’s highly contestable. How you could know this, I’m not at all sure.

    Just about the comment on ‘radical Italian cinema’, if that’s a reference to ‘Salo’ its distribution is limited to DVD only. We still can’t see it in the cinema. In part, the censorship debate is still about freedom of expression.

    I see your point about the sexification of everything. I getting increasingly annoyed by the women’s mags filled with pages about boob jobs, diets and who went out for the evening sans undies. Not to mention the blokes’ mags.

    But, how to address this? It’s not even seen as p0rn by most people. Banning? Not for me. Education? What would that mean?

  40. Ken Lovell

    Patrickg @ 39 I agree with the thrust of your argument. I’m not sure there’s a ‘porn industry’ but aren’t the publication of sexually explicit material and the sexual exploitation of minors already subject to pretty extensive regulation? I thought the whole justification for the proposed filter was that regulation was not effective in the case of offshore internet content. But I’m pleased to learn from akn that the filter is dead in the water and that we no longer need to discuss it. Perhaps he can convince the government of that.

  41. Sam

    I couldn’t care less what is in Who Weekly; hence, I don’t read it. Fortunately, there is no authority that can make me, or anyone else, read it.

    I also couldn’t care less whether other people read it.

    I also don’t understand why anybody who doesn’t read it, cares about what is in it.

  42. Geoff Robinson

    Look at the 1958 list of censored books here http://bit.ly/9TjJqp there’s a lot of pure porn

    Most of the stuff on the filter lists on Wikileaks judging by URLs don’t look like sites containing visual images of the sexual abuse of children it seems to be a pretty random collection

    the burqa, drugs, the sex industry, welfare quarantining etc all pose issues for the Millian thesis of letting people do what they want with themselves or consenting others but this debate isn’t addressing this at all

    isn’t all this a rerun of the 80s debate about video porn? this led to inconsistent and largely unenforced legislation
    Liam ‘simple civil liberty’ isn’t the only goal but if we don’t have it as a goal we are entirely the wrong track as the sad history of the socialist critique of liberalism shows

  43. akn

    Ken, my recall is that Conroy agreed that the filter is finished. If that’s wrong then ok I’ll retract and reiterate that, after significant prior debate here on LP, my position shifted from one of support for Conroy’s filter but on different grounds than the ones he proposed.

    Those grounds were that unregulated home access to online pr*n, and especially RC material, was creating a realm in which children’s desire was being “educated” by grotesque images produced by the most cynical and exploitative of men for profit and for the gratification of their desire to humiliate and degrade women and men.

    On the other hand my support for the filter collapsed as it became apparent the potential for “bracket creep” in relation to what was censored was very high. I value wikileaks as well as the texts of the Divine Marquis and see no reason for either to not be online.

    At the time of the prior discussion I argued that failing to engage in a discussion around all aspects of pr0n from aesthetics through to the social relations of production leaves the arena of argument vacant for moral straighteners like Conroy to impose their values which is not an outcome that the broad left ought to allow.

    Therefore, it seems to me at least, that such a discussion is still required.

  44. moz

    Ken, some parts of the sex industry are indeed heavily regulated. Starting with OHSA requirements and running down to WorkChoices, all the usual labour laws apply to the legal part of the industry. Then there are special laws that restrict certain parts of it, much as is done with the drug industry. Regulating this stuff on the internet is another game entirely. Not a winnable game, if you want the internet to keep working, as far as anyone has been able to demonstrate. See the usual suspects – political speech in China and Iran, internet gambling in the USA, spam everywhere. Same with the workplace laws – until we sucessfully outlaw slavery, we’re going to have immigrants dying from the workplace whether they work in sex or construction.
    None of this touches the heart of Kim’s post, however. We could regulate the internet out of existance and there’d still be child porn in your David Jones catalogue and erection drug billboards on your way to work. There’s no technical quick fix for the argument we’ve been having above.

  45. Kim

    @46 – That’s right, moz, and nor am I proposing one. As I said in the post.

    But what I’ve been getting at, or trying to, is not the filter itself, but some issues that underlie the reason why the debate about it becomes so emotive.

    there’d still be child porn in your David Jones catalogue and erection drug billboards on your way to work

    And that’s the thing – this stuff forms a cultural continuum from hard core pr0n through advertising through representations in popular culture. By the way, there is a fair amount of evidence from a number of studies about increasingly instrumental attitudes towards sex and the body among younger people. That coincides with the commercial sexification of everything. Now, of course, correlation isn’t causation, but it’s hardly likely to be a coincidence is it?

  46. Sam

    there is a fair amount of evidence from a number of studies about increasingly instrumental attitudes towards sex

    That’s what every older generation says about every younger generation.

  47. Mark Bahnisch

    No, it’s not, actually, Sam.

  48. patrickg

    So many studies you couldn’t link to a single one?

    I think there’s two problems here:

    a) establishing that there is in fact a growing “intstrumental” attitude towards sex (still not sure what that really means), as opposed to a growing discussion or statement of it.

    b) That said instrumentalism is in fact a bad thing.

    I’m just not into these amorphous debates about what’s good or bad for a society. I mean look at Saudi Arabia, sex is very sacred and deeply embedded into relationships, and yet it’s jaw-droppingly regressive and repressive. Some might say it’s a different side to the same objectification coin. Maybe so, but if the literal opposite is the same as the debasement we have in the west, I think we need to ask what we’re really arguing about, and how anything we propose could escape the chauvinist hegemony.

    I realise you’re arguing for more nuance etc, but these arguments – the growing-apartedness of society, the increasing banality and triviality of sex, the disregard of the young and popular media’s role in leading us astray – you have to acknowledge that these are grizzled warhorses in discussion about sex and society. And they happen to fall very heavily on the conservative side of the debate, historically speaking.

    I feel like your whole post is predicted on a premise that sex is/should be sacred and/or meaningful, and/or something private, lights-out. While I may or may not personally agree with you, I think extrapolating that to broader society, or using it as a premise is just as problematic as what you’re talking about in this post. I don’t want to tell anyone what sex should be for them.

  49. IanM

    “By the way, there is a fair amount of evidence from a number of studies about increasingly instrumental attitudes towards sex and the body among younger people. ”

    So what! Talk about a feeble moral panic. And anyway I suspect the sexual delusions generated by prn are easier to cure than the sexual delusions generated by religious sexual repression. I imagine it only takes a year or two of a real relationship to effect the cure.

    #49 “Those grounds were that unregulated home access to online pr*n, and especially RC material, was creating a realm in which children’s desire was being “educated” by grotesque images produced by the most cynical and exploitative of men for profit and for the gratification of their desire to humiliate and degrade women and men. ”

    Absolutely true but also true of most other aspects of human activity in a consumerist society eg fast food. And at least a small “desire to humiliate and degrade women and men” is what it takes to be the CEO of a big corp these days.

    I can’t really see how the evil of porn is anywhere near as bad as the earlier evil of sexual repression by the mainstream religions but maybe that is because I’m old enough to remember the pure evil that religious repression involved – ongoing catholic child rape is simply the heritage remnant of that era and I have no doubt that the reason it is now being exposed is that younger people no longer feel the same shame about their sexuality because sexual imagery is now so out in the open.

  50. Mark Bahnisch

    @54 –

    I don’t want to tell anyone what sex should be for them.

    Yet, patrickg, we all have expectations about what sex should be, and unless one wants to include masturbation in the definition of sex, by necessity it’s an other directed activity involving more than one person. It’s also a heavily socially and culturally coded activity, and our views of and expectations of sex don’t arise just from some sort of sphere of private desire. To the degree that they do, then it’s the mutuality that ought to be part of it that is in question.

    I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t hold a view, or have a discussion, about any sphere of social relations. We do it all the time. The individualisation and privatisation of sex precisely arises from a hyper-liberal view (with lots of antecedents) that it’s a matter of individual taste and preference.

  51. Sam

    Mark, I reckon it is.

    Every older generation tuts tuts about the younger generation’s sexual mores, while every younger generation thinks they invented sex.

  52. Mark Bahnisch

    @57 – That much is true, Sam, but I’m not sure it’s right to say that it was instrumental attitudes towards sex that were pinged back in the day…

  53. Sam

    The individualisation and privatisation of sex precisely arises from a hyper-liberal view (with lots of antecedents) that it’s a matter of individual taste and preference.

    Well, sex is, or ought to be, exactly a matter of individual taste and preference (or at least the joint preferences of the people having sex with each other).

    Calling it hyper-liberal is just a rhetorical device to associate individual choice in sex with WorkChoices or deregulated financial markets or free trade (boo, hiss).

    There’s a much simpler way of describing the desirability of individual tste and preference in matters sexual. It’s called
    “minding your own business”.

  54. Jack Strocchi

    Robert Merkel said:

    There’s a neat circle, then, between social liberalism and economic liberalism, which show both up for what they are. I think we need to confront that before we start jumping up and down about “freedom” when what we actually mean in practice is the right of capital to impose particular body forms and modes of apprehending sex and relationships through relentless repetition.

    Robert I do believe that you are “getting it” ie you are a liberal in recovery. I have been arguing for more than a decade that politically correct Left-liberals and economically-correct Right-liberals are both to blame for the degradation of civic capital.

    Post-modern liberalism is turning freedom into free-for-all. This ideology, which motivated the New Left hippies in the sixties and New Right yuppies in the eighties, is now exhausted and literally consuming the civic capital on which it was based. The GFC is only the most sensational form of this.

    Most of us grew up with the ideological paradigm of liberalism as the liberation of individual autonomies. But it turns out that individual autonomies need a basis in institutional authority in order to flourish. This fact was theoretically explained by Weber and Durkheim but became unknown over the past generation as liberal social science degenerated into several farces.

    Twas’ not aways thus. Religion and other conservative civic traditions provided the necessary culture of self-restraint which constrained our more self-destructive appetites. But liberalism, with its famous Death Wish, has waged ceaseless war on the traditional family, church and state, the institutions that taught us self-restraint. “ie pop will eat itself”

    Now secular liberals, with their customary vindictive hatred of the their own historical reflection, have rounded on religion and other daggy institutions with full fury. The result is that we all now have to look at human appetites in their grossest form, obesity, obscenity etc. Of course religions evolved institutional taboos and “seven deadly sins” to curb individual excess.

    Its noticeable that the much derided WASPs carefully developed the culture of self-restraint which combined individual autonomy with institutional authority. Its the cultural reason why they wound up ruling the world. I dont think Locke or Mill would be all pleased with liberalism that promoted the legalisation of dope and the publication of porn.

    The entrenched culture of liberal self-indulgence makes it hard now for people to individually lose weight. Or institutionally reduce their carbon emissions. Or cut bankers bonuses. Or ban porn at service-stations. Why should I sacrifice my interests for others? Whats the future done for me?

  55. moz

    Kim, I agree. Doing something about it is a little tricky. I once had a most illuminating discussion with a child pornographer. Until I asked, he’d never considered that taking sexualised photos of five years olds was at all problematic. He did agree that it could be seen negatively but he very quickly came up with the excuse that it was part of a portfolio of work for his major client. If he didn’t do it, he’d probably lose the client. Quandry solved.
    That attitude is pervasive – I’ve struggled with some recruitment agencies because I’m “difficult” – I have ethical objections to certain types of legal employment. Some people understand that, some don’t, and the ones that don’t are often offended by the implications. Like when you point out that there are ethical investment funds and there’s also another sort…
    My approach is the personal one – don’t buy from dodgy suppliers. Mostly, anyway. I still shop at big chain supermarkets because it’s just too hard not too for some things (the drought meant I couldn’t get organic brown rice, because you apparently can’t import brown rice). Non-organic Australian brown rice or imported white organic… not a nice choice.

  56. WD40

    Kim says:

    “By the way, there is a fair amount of evidence from a number of studies about increasingly instrumental attitudes towards sex and the body among younger people. That coincides with the commercial sexification of everything.”

    Yes, and it is because young people are now mostly free from the morbid Christian/Catholic sex and body hangups that tormented previous generations. The market is supplying raunch as opposed to knitting patterns for your grandmother’s socks because young people prefer the former over the latter. Supplying the later product would lead to bankruptcy – capitalists are not all powerful.

    Once again can I suggest we get beyond this childish demonisation of “teh capitalism” nonsense.

  57. patrickg

    There’s a much simpler way of describing the desirability of individual tste and preference in matters sexual. It’s called
    “minding your own business”.There’s a much simpler way of describing the desirability of individual tste and preference in matters sexual. It’s called
    “minding your own business”.

    You know, I really just think of it as secular. And it’s true, it’s something I’m very committed to. I think govts in general do a shitty job of moralising.

  58. Mark Bahnisch

    @patrickg and Sam – every time someone writes a sex scene in a novel, takes a decision about what should be taught in sex education, scripts a film or a tv show, writes a magazine article about sex, etc, etc, a decision is being taken about what sex should be like for other people.

    That’s the whole point of what Kim’s saying, as I read it.

    And changing normative views of what sex should be have to do with a lot of other factors than religion, and are not the sum of private choices, desires or dispositions.

  59. Fine

    Of course masturbation should be included in a definition of sex. For many people, and for a wide variety of reasons, it’s the only sexual pleasure people have. Because sex is something which is very much hyper-individual. What else should it be? This isn’t to say that it isn’t influenced by sexual mores, but ultimately it should be about individual choice. Of course, that often isn’t the case. But there’s nothing new about that. I grew up in the ’70’s in a time when young women were pressured to have sex because it was the right thing to do by their boyfriends and they had no vocabulary with which to say ‘no’. Not to mention spousal rape which wasn’t seen as a problem and child sex abuse which was ignored and mimimised.

    I’m still not sure what the problem is that the OP wants to discuss.

  60. Katz

    Yes, and it is because young people are now mostly free from the morbid Christian/Catholic sex and body hangups that tormented previous generations.

    Autre temps, autres affres.

  61. conrad

    “It’s also a heavily socially and culturally coded activity, and our views of and expectations of sex don’t arise just from some sort of sphere of private desire”

    You can look at the positive side of mass commodification, which is that twenty years ago, the images were much more stereotyped, and it was hard to find anything else. Thus, if you were susceptible to that sort of stuff, you could only develop one expectation.

    These days, everyone is catered for, so you can see almost anything within legal bounds — indeed the pr0n industry seems much better at catering for everybody than the mass media. If you want to see old people, fat people, people of any race, normal sized people etc. you can. Surely, for things like body image, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. In this respect, I think the mass media is worse than some of the stuff some conservatives complain about.

  62. Mark Bahnisch

    @65 –

    Because sex is something which is very much hyper-individual.

    I’m curious as to why you would say that, Fine.

  63. Simon

    All this discussion is fine, but the question near the end was “What is to be done?”

    And that’s where we come down to the internet censorship issue – that internet filters will always be riddled with a massive amount of false positives and staggering amount of false negatives. They simply don’t work, and cause massive damage, and these issues are unlikely to be fixed by technological progress.

    So argue away about pr0n and commodification, but what are you going to do about it? The answer isn’t Internet censorship.

  64. Ken Lovell

    Moz @ 50 I follow that … it’s a case I think of more than one quite separate issues being conflated in a single post in stream-of-consciousness fashion (sorry Kim but it does make staying on-topic somewhat problematic).

  65. Fran Barlow

    Robert said:

    I think we need to confront that before we start jumping up and down about “freedom” when what we actually mean in practice is the right of capital to impose particular body forms and modes of apprehending sex and relationships through relentless repetition.

    On the other hand, if it were your aim to tear down religious fundamentalism in Afghanistan, which is more useful:

    a) an Apache Helicopter with hellfire missiles?
    b) Well meaning christian missionaries?
    c) truckloads of porn

    I’m going to guess c) as you can dump that out of aircaft and broadcast it for virtually nothing.

    The porn is mightier than the IED …

  66. Katz

    the question near the end was “What is to be done?”

    As Lord Melbourne said, “If I hear people saying something must be done, I know that they contemplate doing something damn silly.”

  67. sg

    Jack Strocchi shows us here the company that Kim and Robert are keeping:

    Religion and other conservative civic traditions provided the necessary culture of self-restraint which constrained our more self-destructive appetites.

    and how wrong we are to view this supposed “instrumentalization” of sex as a bad thing. It was those conservative civic traditions that rendered our appetites self-destructive in the first place, and their liberation through liberalism (and the pill!) which has made us finally, personally free.

    I’m still to see an answer as to what this “instrumentalization” and “decontextualization” even is or means.

    I think “context” here is a code-word for “emotions” and in its full use in this thread means “women only enjoy sex with someone they love,” and “instrumentalization” means “men preying on women.” I want to see some evidence that feminism has moved past these tired moral cliches, but I don’t think it has.

    In fact I think feminists have dealt themselves out of the sexual revolution sometime in the 80s, and left it the domain of marketing and men. Whose fault is that?

  68. Mark Bahnisch

    @73 – talk about dichotomies, sg!

    Not to mention dismissing someone’s arguments because they’re supposedly comparable to that of various bogey people (ie Strocchi, Catholicism, etc).

  69. sg

    well that’s what the whole argument is, Mark, dichotomy. It’s about sex-with-love vs. “instrumental” sex, and I’m trying to show that.

    I’m dismissing arguments because they’re exactly the same as the arguments of those bogey people. When I said “company we keep” I meant “you’re reciting catholic lies.”

  70. patrickg

    In fact I think feminists have dealt themselves out of the sexual revolution sometime in the 80s, and left it the domain of marketing and men. Whose fault is that

    I disagree vehemently with that, sg, there is a wealth of feminist thought and output on this topic, and its very very diverse. I think you would find, on research, that there are in fact plenty of feminists taking the same broad position as you (and indeed to be fair many opposing also).

  71. WD40

    sg says:

    “I’m still to see an answer as to what this “instrumentalization” and “decontextualization” even is or means. ”

    That’s the point, sg. They don’t actually mean anything.

  72. Mark Bahnisch

    @75 –

    “you’re reciting catholic lies.”

    Always interesting, sg, that some people are unable to discuss sex without also having a go at Catholicism. Can’t see the relevance to what Kim was talking about, myself.

  73. Mark Bahnisch

    @77 –

    They don’t actually mean anything.

    The level of argument from some on this post really is a bit lacking.

    Clearly part of what is being discussed is:

    (a) an increasing propensity to see sex as a good in its own right; regardless of its context as a social act;
    (b) the disjunction of the desire for sex and the desire for a particular other.

    You know very well what’s meant by those terms, or you wouldn’t be so quick to take issue with them.

  74. WD40

    Mark says:

    “Can’t see the relevance to what Kim was talking about, myself.”

    Then I’d suggest you look harder:

    “I think we need to confront that before we start jumping up and down about “freedom” when what we actually mean in practice is the right of capital to impose particular body forms and modes of apprehending sex and relationships through relentless repetition.”

    Our sexual relationships and tastes are being corrupted by the wicked, temptress “capital”. Now its been a very long time since my mother forced me to go to church but by golly I’m pretty sure I heard the very same sermon from the pulpit, sans capital of course.

  75. myriad74

    In terms of what’s the be done, rather than pursuing a completely stupid internet filter which we all seem to agree is massively flawed, sets dangerous paths upon which govt could tread etc.

    To me the very obvious place that there is a case for contemplating a government response is the now pretty rampant sexualisation of children in advertising, and the sexualisation of items marketed at children.

    The arguments for regulating this a lot more closely would be similar to those for junk food advertising (ie active promotion of a public health harm at children), and also the I think quite reasonable concern that promoting early sexualisation of children is well outside the bounds of normal child development, and actively encourages the kind of imagery and perception of kids that leads active illegal sexual exploitation of children. There is a growing number of experts raising this concern and wanting action on it.

    The ‘direct sexualization’ part of the Kids Free 2B Kids” to me is an pretty obvious place to start at least a serious conversation.

  76. Mark Bahnisch

    @80 – It seems to me, WD40, that what the post is saying is that the dichotomy between ‘wowserism’ and ‘liberation’ is an unsustainable one. All you want to do is reinscribe that, and blame teh evil religion for anything that works against ‘liberation’ – which is another thoroughly decontextualised term, because it seems to have no content other than ‘what the consumer desires’.

    A discussion of the ethics and practices of sex as a social relationship doesn’t need to have recourse to religious categories at all.

  77. WD40

    ” .. and blame teh evil religion ..”

    Now you’re being silly. To some extent the old religious prohibitions made sense prior to the contraceptive pill, treatments for STDs etc.. But today they are archiac, but not evil.

    “A discussion of the ethics and practices of sex as a social relationship doesn’t need to have recourse to religious categories at all.”

    Well obviously, but if Catholicism is at the centre of one’s identity, as I understand it is with yourself and Kim, I don’t believe you can simply stuff it in a pigeon hole and not have it, indirectly and unconsciously, if not intentionally, shape your thinking in other areas. As a sociologist I would’ve thought this would be rather obvious you. We are all cultural beings, are we not?

  78. Mark Bahnisch

    @83 – Yes, WD40, I’m well aware that Catholicism has contributed to the formation of my moral views, but the nature of public reasoning, in social science or in debate generally, is to ensure that awareness is actually put to use in testing one’s arguments to see if they are accountable to the evidence and can be, to some degree, validated independently of the preconceptions which may shape them.

    Having said all that, I haven’t taken a position on this thread on the substantive issues under discussion except to make it clear that I do think that the notion that sex is purely a matter of private choice, or that it somehow exists outside culture or is immune to cultural shaping, is an incoherent one. That has some implications, logically, for the argument, aside from what values people might want to bring to the table.

  79. IanM

    #81 Kids Free 2B Kids are exactly the sort of entrepreneurs of moral panic I mentioned previously, just a different variety of capitalism exploiting a different niche in the social ecology.

    WD40 seems to have skewered the underlying assumptions in the post quite neatly hence the squirming from Kim and Mark. Liberation as raised by Mark is a “dirty hippy” straw man unless it means removing the special aura from sexuality, not treating sexuality as some special category of human activity unlike every other type of human interaction. IMHO the best thing you can do to sexuality is make it unremarkable and Mark seems to have a problem with that. Surely the specialness of sex is nothing but a residual religious hangup as WD40 says.

  80. Katz

    the post is saying is that the dichotomy between ‘wowserism’ and ‘liberation’ is an unsustainable one.

    Some clarification is needed here.

    Semantically, there can be no doubt that “liberation” (in the sense freedom from social constraint) is the opposite (i.e., dichotomous) of “wowserism” (the policy of imposing social constraint).

    The problematic concept in this formulation is “unsustainable”.

    Clearly this cannot mean that there is no difference between “liberation” and “wowserism’.

    In this context “unsustainable” must have something to do with the consequences of attempting to follow a policy of “liberation” is in some sense self-defeating, that there are natural and ineluctable limits to “liberation”, that “liberation” can never be absolute.

    But having arrived at this conclusion, the question is “so what?” Projects aimed at absolute liberation are doomed to collapse. Politically, the question is, whether, where, and how, those who are inclined to prevent folks from questing for “absolute liberation” can erect “sustainable” barriers to folks trying legally to do so.

  81. sg

    hey mark, you mentioned catholicism, not me! I was just repackaging my response in terms of your question.

    And your response confirms to me that “instrumentalized sex” means “sex without love” or “sex for fun.”

    Your second definition is actually quite evil. DO you think that when someone pulls in a bar they don’t have “desire for the particular other”? Do you really believe that they’re just engaging in some form of elaborate masturbation?

  82. IanM

    #87 “Do you really believe that they’re just engaging in some form of elaborate masturbation?”

    You should add –

    and if they are, so what? Mind your own business, surely that’s up to whoever they pulled to deal with.

  83. Paulus

    On the subject of whether the mass media is guilty of “instrumentalising” sex, I have a one-word response: Twilight.

    The biggest films of the last few years for early teenage girls had a very clear message regarding sex, and it wasn’t “go jump in the sack with the first guy you like”. I suspect those films led to thousands of frustrated sparkly vampires across the world, unable to get laid.

  84. WD40

    ” … or that it somehow exists outside culture or is immune to cultural shaping, is an incoherent one.”

    No one is saying that Mark. I’ve been at pains to place newly emerging sexual mores within an historical and cultural context.

    But I take issue with this:

    “… except to make it clear that I do think that the notion that sex is purely a matter of private choice … ”

    We *do* make private choices.

    We don’t make choices as “free atomised individuals” as an extreme free-will libertarian might suggest, but we make them all the same. In the realm of sexual behaviours, I may choose to attend orgies and indulge myself with internet porn, or I may choose to join the Hillsong Church and diligently attempt to follow their teachings on sex. Or I might do both! We all make choices from a hitherto unimaginably diverse menu every day.

  85. Paulus

    And as for myriad74’s suggestion that there is a case for a government response to “the now pretty rampant sexualisation of children in advertising, and the sexualisation of items marketed at children” … I suspect that this is the sort of thing that seems good in theory but would be difficult in practice.

    How short does a child’s skirt have to be before it is verboten? What about T-shirts with a double entendre? Will FCUK have to take their logos off kids clothes? How would you define all this in regulation? I would not want to be the lawyer having to come up with a statutory definition of “sexualised” items!

  86. patrickg

    It seems to me, WD40, that what the post is saying is that the dichotomy between ‘wowserism’ and ‘liberation’ is an unsustainable one.

    But clearly, it is sustainable. These two sides have existed for decades, after all, if not centuries.

    More importantly, I maintain it’s a false dichotomy. The idea that this debate lurches between some kind of permissive consumersploitation and Torquemada banning ignores the all the midpoints at great expense. Maybe that’s how the debate appears to readers of the Tele over thirty years, but it’s a gross mischaracterisation to apply it to the wider world.

    So, yes, the dichotomy is a bad one – but to act like it’s the only term of debate is myopic, imho.

    Moreover, the entire position of this piece is based on a premise that sex as popularly portrayed is bad, and it’s having a negative effect on the general population and especially the yoof.

    That is hardly a new or unique argument. Furthermore, Kim’s implied definition of ‘good’ sex, begs the question. On those terms of course many modern depictions don’t measure up. But those terms are up for debate!

    As Paulus points out, popular depictions of sex are equally contradictory and ambiguous. I’m just suprised to see two dedicated post-modernists like yourselves entrenching such a modernist position that grants all agency and control of a text or discourse to the authors, reducing readers (who, especially in the sphere of online porn, are increasingly becoming producers) to passive blobs, unable to parse or edit, control or identify with the messages from on high.

    What I think and feel seeing a particular piece of pornography may be completely different to how someone else thinks and feels watching it. I’m both reluctant to theorise as to what they may feel, and even more reluctant to tell them those feelings are wrong and dirty.

  87. Fine

    What I mean Mark, is that sex is generally a private act between two individuals and it’s very difficult to know what’s going on with those two individuals. Hence, that’s partly my scepticism about any pronouncements about what’s going on in any sexual relationship and what it might mean in wider societal terms. But you’re a sociologist, so you maybe using the term ‘hyper-sexual’ in a way I’m not.

    “(a) an increasing propensity to see sex as a good in its own right; regardless of its context as a social act;
    (b) the disjunction of the desire for sex and the desire for a particular other.”

    Just looking at these two statements above. Is (a) true? I don’t know that it is and if it’s true, whether it’s a good or a bad thing.

    The same with (b). There seems to be an awful lot of presumption about how sexual relationships are functioning these days.

    “every time someone writes a sex scene in a novel, takes a decision about what should be taught in sex education, scripts a film or a tv show, writes a magazine article about sex, etc, etc, a decision is being taken about what sex should be like for other people.”

    Well, I know a lot of script-writers and what they’re usually doing is making a decision about what sex would be like for those specific characters they’re writing about in the context of what the narrative needs to propel it along from beginning to end in an engrossing way.

    I’m not arguing that how sex in popular culture is represented doesn’t effect that culture. But what I would argue is that how it affects it, to to what degree, which particular cultural artefacts are being effective and what that has to do with the writer/filmmakers’ intentions, if anything, is an incredibly vexed and difficult question to work out.

    Possibly relevantly, or not, I once worked as a production manager on a hard-core p0prn movie. It was very intentionally being made with a feminist agenda, the production was controlled by women and it was marketed to a female audience. There were many discussion about what feminist p0rn might look like on set, but not too many conclusions were reached. But what I would say, was that all the actors involved were treated much more ethically than I’ve seen on many other film sets.

  88. Ken Lovell

    Akn @ 49 I just checked the Q&A transcript out of curiosity; Conroy most certainly still intends to proceed with the filter, or at least says he does.

  89. WD40

    Kim says:

    “So the message is that I’m being either somehow religiously dogmatic or behind the times in regarding sex as a meaningful act for something more than individual pleasure or satisfaction?”

    Most of us can walk and chew gum at the same time, Kim.

    Sex can be an expression of love in a relationship or it can be a spot of fun without emotional involvement, kind of like a game of ping pong.

  90. patrickg

    So the message is that I’m being either somehow religiously dogmatic or behind the times in regarding sex as a meaningful act for something more than individual pleasure or satisfaction?

    And now we get to the real point of the post, which isn’t about dichotomies, but about discomfort with modern depictions of sex and a reluctance to side with the McCarthyites advocating censorship.

    It’s fine for you, Kim to regard sex as that – or anything at all – the problem is saying that everyone else has to think that way, as well – and that there’s been a huge spike in people who don’t, and it’s having a deleterious effect on society. I mean, we’re getting into real thought police territory here.

  91. patrickg

    Spot of fun?! No emotional involvement!? WD, but you’re playing ping pong wrong! 😉

  92. sg

    I don’t think you’re behind the times at all, Kim, and you never will be, because as Paulus observed, the idea that sex is only for your sparkly special one will always be around.

    The problem is that a lot of people don’t see it that way, and it seems like a one-way street. Those of us who think sex can have many functions also think it can be a special thing with someone you love; but the people who see it as only a special thing keep telling us that we’re doing it wrong, and that capitalism has us by the balls (literally). Then, furthermore, some of those people – especially the religious ones, but also quite often the feminist ones and the “generally concerned – try to interfere with how we “instrumentalize” our “dangerous appetites” through “grotesque images.”

    And, provided that all that instrumentalization is voluntary and well-remunerated, I just don’t think it should be anyone else’s problem. I don’t want to be told by anyone – right or left – that I’m disfunctional because I’m happy to do something very private in a way that they’re not.

  93. Fine

    But, Kim when you write this:

    “but I think it is incontestable that sex is more and more thought of in a very decontextualised way, even within relationships.”

    As Iwrote above, I think it’s very much contestable. And you haven’t put forward any evidence for this proposition. And some sex can be very meaningful, some sex can be a selfish one night stand, some sex can be awful. How has that changed?

  94. IanM

    #95 “prove the point made in the OP” that point being? that some of us are just treating sex as fun and we should be stopped? that some of us think that sex, rather like a good meal with friends, can be meaningful without being put in a special category – and we should be stopped? Or at the very least we need to have the error of our ways pointed out to us?

    It is exactly this dog whistle censoriousness that some commenters are reacting against. By complaining about the ubiquitousness of sexual imagery you assumed that others would of course agree that this is a bad thing. Many don’t. Personally I think the more ubiquitous the better until it becomes completely unremarkable and therefore ignored. That would get it into proportion and remove the perverted significance that it has gained from centuries of religious repression. I’m not offended by the “sexification of everything”, just a bit bored. Was your point that I’m bad to be bored, I should be titillated and then offended?

  95. sg

    Kim, I think you can discuss the fundamental goodness or badness of “instrumentalization” and sex and one night stands separately to consent and power. By suggesting that the two might necessarily overlap you’re once again buying into a model of men as predatory and women as passive, and that’s just not how the modern world works. Sure, women being active increases the grey area of risk, but not because the sex is “meaningless” or whatever – it’s because the environment in which they’re having this sex is dangerous.

    After all, there’s also a huge “grey area” in the relations between loving couples who have “meaningful” sex. It’s a much larger and greyer grey area too, and much harder to police legally. Could we step in and say that “meaningful” sex is a dangerous and fraught issue that needs a “discussion”. Maybe everyone should just pay for sex, so the consent is explicit?

    Also you’re talking about this in light of pornography, in which consent and rape should be seen as industrial issues, again unrelated to “instrumentalization” or whatever.

    You can separate these two issues.

  96. patrickg

    Kim, I think maybe your response is to a different quote of mine, or someone else? There doesn’t seem to be much of a link there?

    But either way, there’s a huge gulf between “regarding sex as a meaningful act for something more than individual pleasure or satisfaction” and rape culture, for goodness’ sake, come on. Linking the two like that and then complaining about dichotomies is fairly hypocritical and gets very close to equating casual sex with rape or the promotion/acceptance of rape, which is just outrageous.

    I’m not intending any offense of anything, I’m really enjoying this discussion.

  97. sg

    In that case Kim the response should be “yay! Casual sex! Let’s make it safer for the potential rape-victims who want casual sex on their terms!”

    It shouldn’t be to strip the desire-fulfilment from our view of sex.

    And do you really believe that back in the day sex wasn’t about desire-fulfilment leading to rape? It’s just that back then women didn’t have a choice about the model, it was within marriage and they didn’t have anywhere else to go. Now they do – they can find a consensual partner to fulfill their own desires.

  98. myriad74

    @Paulus #91, I agree it would be a complex exercise, but so is any form of advertising regulation, yet we still do it; and so is establishing societal standards around discrimination & harrassment – and yet we still do it.

    That something is complicated isn’t a particularly compelling reason not to act.

    I’m certainly not saying I flag-wavingly endorse everything said and referenced on the website I linked to, but it is nonetheless a coherent and legitimate campaign, supported by many legitimate experts in the fields of child psychology, development and safety. If we recognise it as such, it’s not much good having a government if we accept the standard for their consideration to be ‘too hard’ – not least because there are of course other forms of action the government could take, such as a proactive education agenda(something which is being actively advocated for without any real dissent, for eg, in terms of cyber-safety for kids, rather than the stupid filter).

  99. IanM

    #106 Yikes! I’m almost speechless, this is way more extreme than anyone suspected from your original post although I think a lot of us sort of suspected it.

  100. patrickg

    I disagree, Kim. Individualism can take just as much credit for getting women to say “no”, for not lying back and thinking of england, for demanding and expecting sexual equality and satisfaction, for pursuing their own desires instead of subliminating to their partners, for insisting on a condom for contraception. You can’t only restrict individual needs to male sexuality, that’s only half the story.

    there is a continuum whereby demands for sex are articulated from a place of entitlement and non-consensual sex.

    Continuum is a slippery slope argument, and I don’t find those very persuasive. And as alluded to above, entitlement isn’t a bad thing necessarily and linking it to non-consensuality is very problematic highly controversial. But you’re taking stuff like that as a given, and it’s just not.

  101. sg

    sorry Kim, poor phrasing, they can find someone who respects their autonomy to enable them to fulfill their own desires.

    My point is that rape isn’t exactly limited to one-night-stand environments, and we shouldn’t assume that women are worse off consent-wise now than they were back when sex was put in a more limited perspective.

  102. Fine

    Ok, I got a bit more of what you mean Kim. And I agree there are grey areas that simply talking about consent, without talking about power, doesn’t address. That’s why I quite purposely wrote that ‘sex can be awful’ and by that I don’t mean that it just wasn’t fun. But, I don’t know if this is how sex has changed over time. I have some fairly awful memories and many awful stories I’ve heard from way back when I was a lass.

    And how popular culture feeds into all this is a really contentious issue.

  103. sg

    But those are just cases of people being rude, nasty, vicious arseholes, Kim. And don’t they as much stem from historical attitudes towards sex as from a current environment of liberalism?

    After all, 50 years ago you’d be asked “how much” while you walked down the street, or assumed to be asking for it because you were out alone. Aren’t these just the same attitudes transferred to a new milieu? If so it’s not the milieu that’s the problem.

  104. WD40

    Kim: “But, no, I don’t think there is a huge gulf between regarding sex as something that is primarily about individual desire and rape culture. ”

    Oh well, time for some revelation. Before I got middle aged, pudgy and happily married, I attended orgies. Many of them. The rules were simple, no names, no after orgy hookups. Obviously this was selfish, anon sex for fun at the extreme end of the continuum. Now in order to take Kim’s sermonizing seriously, I would need to believe the orgy community was right at the apex of so-called “rape culture”. Sorry, Kim, but my lived experience does not validate your thinly vieled Catholic prejudices.

    I’ll say it again, most of us are quite capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time.

  105. Nick

    Moz @ 50: “Ken, some parts of the sex industry are indeed heavily regulated.”

    I never know if commenters realise/remember this or not, but it’s totally illegal to manufacture porn in most states of Australia.

    All of those ‘high standard’ internationally popular Australian sites (where the producers ‘really do look after their girls’ – Abby something or other etc) are guerilla operations.

    Ie. they’re not regulated in the slightest. They’re cash in hand jobs, and you should take at very face value their claims of self-regulation.

    Fine @ 93, I’m not sure how that sits with your experience…

  106. Sam Bauers

    In a society where sexual dysfunction exists, it’s not a good idea to throw about sexual imagery the way that we do.

    Porn is a trigger for certain sexual dysfunctions and should be removed from casual view (e.g. service stations). That’s on top of the fact that porn and other sexual imagery is a memory trigger for many victims of sex abuse, especially child victims of sex abuse. Demanding or defending easy access to porn in the name of “freedom” is a guise for avoiding introspection by having your particular tools of sexual expression/function/dysfunction “normalised”.

    Stepping on others toes so that you can reach the cookie jar on the top shelf is not an expression of your liberated view it’s just being greedy and inconsiderate.

    Market mechanisms are not appropriate in this space. Not at all. We are dealing with something that acts on the human brian the same way as drugs and it is being pushed by a small but capable group of unprincipled profiteers (think affiliate marketing, pop-ups and spam).

    So “what to do?”

    Actually having the government acknowledge that sex addiction exists would be a really good first step. Comprehensive mental health support for victims of sex abuse would also be a good start.

    The internet filter on the other hand is pure tokenism.

  107. sg

    Well Kim, I’m sure you were asking for it!

    I think that in the West there has been a general degrading of public standards of behaviour but this isn’t just limited to sexual stuff – mobile phone use, arguing in public, doing make-up in public, pissing in public, they’re all more accepted now and I don’t think that this is because of liberalism or Jack Strocchi’s bugbears. Try the English public space if you really want to see belligerent rudeness in action. It’s not just about sex.

    wd40, way to go! No wonder your screen name is a lubricant!

    Sam Bauers, I think all your claims about pr0n and brain behaviour etc. are pretty unsupportable and we shouldn’t be making changes to our liberal laws on the basis of dodgy psychiatry.

  108. IanM

    #111 Off line rather than speechless. It’s extreme enough to trivialise rape by equating it with unwelcome advances and getting your arse squeezed in a club. But it’s just plain silly to equate rape with having sex while lacking the correct deeply meaningful thoughts. I have to agree with WD40 again, this is remarkably similar to the drivel that was spouted by my child molesting teachers back in my catholic school days.

  109. Fine

    Oh, it was illegal Nick…

  110. akn

    WD40n @90: in support of Mark’s line of argument – sex, like language (see Wittgenstein) is fundamentally and irrevocably a social act. Even the solitary act is immersed in sociality drawing as it does on memory, aspiration and a culturally constructed erotic imaginary. If it has been enhanced by the prior consumption of pr)n then the act itself engages with the social relations of the production and consumption of that pr)n.

  111. akn

    Ken Lovell: thanks for that. Then it is still an issue. However, let’s hope that discussions like this will allow a more nuanced approach in which we are not obliged to line up with Larry Flynt approaches to freedom of “speech” in order to defend political freedoms.

  112. Joe

    My personal experience suggests that porn is consumed ubiquitously by young men. It’s consumption has also reached a stage where young men, at least amongst themselves, are able to talk about it openly– masturbating for example is not so taboo as it once was.

    One thing which I think, most people can’t deny is that hard-core porn is incredibly violent and the only reason that the female actresses consent to it, is for money. Multiple penetrations, throat-fu*king etc. are for the ‘enjoyment’ of the viewer and not the participants.

    Porn, in my opinion, satisfies a very base instinct in us. It is in some sense a natural desire, but I believe that it is no coincidence, that many cultures developed rules to inhibit sexuality. Of course, theses morale rules were developed for many reasons and can be seen from many sides: female circumcision is certainly an active control-taking of female sexuality by males. Male circumcision is stranger.

    Freud talks about the sublimation of the libido. Almost everyone has written about sex. Georges Bataille is interesting. What makes sex so interesting is that it is not rational and it makes us acknowledge that we are animals with appetites which we can’t really control– for both of these reasons sex is opposed to society, with its abstractions, laws, institutions, disciplines, etc. Discovering sex, when growing up is crucial to the development of our personalities and the mores of the society in which we live.

    People should be very concerned about the role of capitalism in a world, which no longer needs to ‘develop’ its resources but now needs to ‘manage them’.

    A cultural artifact from a society, which is out of control? http://twitter.com/50cent

  113. Kim

    That certainly is a silly inference IanM but it’s based on a misreading.

    I’m sorry though that you can’t understand how the manifestations of a culture of assuming an entitlement to sex relate to rape.

  114. sg

    Kim I don’t think you should confuse a casual sex culture with a culture which assumes an entitlement to sex. They don’t have to be related and in the eyes of the vast majority of men shagging their way around the world, they aren’t.

    Joe, ask yourself how different that pr0n would be if feminists had bought into the industry in the 80s, rather than making themselves irrelevant to it.

  115. Joe

    sg, my point was something a bit different, but– regarding the lack of feminism in porn, why is it that men rape women? Why is most violent crime committed by men? Why do men want to watch performances of rape?

  116. WD40

    “I’m sorry though that you can’t understand how the manifestations of a culture of assuming an entitlement to sex relate to rape.”

    I’m with SG.

    The link between a healthy culture of free sexual expression and veneration of youth and beauty (instrumentalism and commodification in your language) and an “entitlement to sex” is, I would wager, naught but a figment of a feverish, Mary Whitehouse meets Verity Treacle imagination.

    Next you’ll be telling us about phantom stigmata and Virgin Mary apparitions.

    Lest we forget Verity – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1Uu3C9NBYo

  117. sg

    Kim, I don’t like claims that just ’cause I’m a man I don’t get it. I can understand that they might have some value in some arguments but they’re indistinguishable from bad faith arguments. I have a partner, and a lot of experience with different women, I think I have a reasonable idea of what they experience and what kinds of men do and don’t do the things that shit women. For every man who asked you “how much” as a stupid nasty way of attacking you there were probably 10 men thinking they’d love to complement your beauty but don’t want to seem rude. Because in general, men like women (and, increasingly, respect them!), even if those same men might be lazy and stupid and selfish in the sack.

    I think that feminists might have been surprised by the degree of acceptance they would have received in mainstream pr0n. I don’t think woman-centred erotica is mainstream or ever aimed to be. And why do you call it erotica, suddenly? It’s still pr0n. There are mainstream pr0n movies by women (my partner was quite into one director) and they ain’t all “erotica.” Or women-on-women. But the thing is that feminists never tried.

    The mutuality and appreciation of the other you talk about is not specific to the sexual realm. I think there’s a class of bad public behaviour to do with “instrumentalized sex” (I do love these terms!) that is actually part of this broader problem, and just looks like something older and more sexist. The world has changed, and our analysis has to change with it…

  118. WD40

    I’d still very much like some evidence the link between a healthy culture of free sexual expression and veneration of youth and beauty and culture of sexual entitlement that then leads to rape culture. If you’re going to make grandiose claims like this, and you want to be taken seriously, evidence is rather helpful.

  119. Joe

    Picking up on Kim’s musings about hyper-individualism and society would anyone like to hazard a comment on the relationship between individualism/ entitlement and massacres?

    It’s really hard to just google information on anything related to pron sg, but I don’t think women are as interested in porn as men. And WD40, I don’t know if the rate of incidence of rape is historically high– I do however, have the impression, that massacres in general are bound to particular societies, their laws and cultures.

  120. IanM

    Kim, when you talk about “a culture of assuming an entitlement to sex” (which I would suggest doesn’t exist anyway except in your imagination and possibly an extremely small minority of both men and women) you are assuming that you know what is going on in other people heads. The truth is you don’t know, but it seems you are demonstrating a culture of assuming bad sexual intent.

    It all smacks too much of “original sin” and those “sins in thought” that my teachers lingered on so salaciously. Once you decide to criticise this imaginary cohort for committing these virtual sins that you imagine they are committing you are getting into very dubious territory indeed.

    At the very least you objectify and disrespect others when you fail to recognise that the vast majority of people display a profound natural morality that precludes rape or any other form of violence.

  121. WD40

    “And WD40, I don’t know if the rate of incidence of rape is historically high ..”

    It isn’t. That fact alone destroys Kim’s theory.

  122. sg

    Joe – women aren’t interested in pr0n because it’s made by men for men. I’ve met plenty of women who are interested in pr0n but can’t find good stuff (men too, actually).

    Also the free shit you find on the internet isn’t representative of the full diversity of stuff out there. And Japanese free internet pr0n, incidentally, involves a whole lot less bad language and bad behaviour than the western stuff. I wonder why?

  123. Joe

    This is a total generalisation, but what the hell:
    I reckon the reason sexual relations are so bad back in Oz is that it’s such a blokey society. Doesn’t mean that blokes are respondible for that or that women don’t benefit from this ridiculousness.

  124. IanM

    #136 Yes. It’s an anecdote of one person’s experience. One anecdote does not constitute a culture.

  125. Joe

    WD40, you mean compared to the vikings in the 12th Century!

  126. Joe

    carrying on from 139. this whole nexus of “What can I do for you? –Wait there, I’ll go and hunt something for ya in my ute. BRB.” If that isn’t market based, then I don’t know what is. And that isn’t enjoyable. So blokes go watch porn, take trips to Thailand. If that isn’t entitlement, than what is?

  127. Joe

    IanM, it was and is bad, how the catholic church “deals” with sex, but what we have in the States and in Oz at the moment isn’t much of an improvement. WD40 will sort you out with some historical data if you’re interested…

  128. sg

    oh come on Kim, have you read puberty blues? This is nothing new. It may even be getting better. DO you even know if the linked phenomenon is related to different developmental stages, to “popular culture” or to parental lessons? I spent years watching my father trying to pressure my mother into sex – do you think that was a phenomenon related to a casual sex entitlement culture?

  129. sg

    No Kim, that study you’ve just linked references a 1997 study showing women’s rates of rape and sexual coercion.

    And yes, whether or not the causative factor is popular cultures is indeed “more difficult to say.” And whether it has anything to with a culture of “instrumentalized sex” is another place entirely.

  130. Kim

    sg yes but there’s a range of more recent evidence in it – it’s a lit review.

  131. Kim

    What else is sexual coercion but an instrumental thing?

    I’ll repeat the studies show a causal link with attitudes.

    But I’ll leave it there. We’re going round in circles.

  132. Joe

    sg, no Kim?

    Well god-dammit WD40, we’ll just have to keep the women-folk locked up at home, again. They can spend their time cooking and washing…

  133. Myriad74

    I love how according to some posters here a) p0rn is healthy and a wonderful harmless expression of liberated sexuality but b) it’s all feminists’ fault that they didn’t engage in the p0rn industry tomake it better (but wait I thought there’s nothing wrong with it) and c) despite a wealth if qualitative and quantitative information showing serious ongoing issues with female sexual objectification linked to rates of sexual harrassment d) assertions based on friends, personal experience and orgies ismuch more relevant and credible- and of course e) these (surprise!) male commenters know *far* better ‘what women want’ despite study after study showing the vast majority of women want emotionally intimate and respectful sex.

    Thank goodness there aren’t any credibility – free assertions being made that adhere to stereotypical tropes from some period 50 years ago. I’d be worried otherwise

  134. sg

    I don’t think we’re going in circles Kim. The problem is to show that the instrumentalism of sexual coercion is connected to this supposed “instrumental sex.”

    That we live in a society that has certain views about women’s bodies, women’s role, women’s passivity, and that these are reflected in sexual coercion, is a given. The question is whether the “instrumental sex” of the modern sexually liberal era has exacerbated or reduced this, whether it’s even “instrumental” at all, whether the old gender relations were not also “instrumental” and so on.

    You’re driving this from an agenda based on a particular view of how sex should be done, rather than an attempt to understand how people with different views of sex to you might view coercion, etc.

  135. Kim

    Sg see what myriad just said about the survey evidence on what women want.

  136. Harrington

    Good post Kim. Some of your comments re the individualisation of social relationships call to mind Ulrich Beck’s work.

  137. sg

    the unsourced survey evidence. And who is to say that casual sex isn’t emotional and respectful? And I didn’t say it was “all feminists fault” and I didn’t say there was anything wrong with pr0n – just that it’s not interesting to women (and gave reasons). Then of course recycling the “surprise! men think this way” (because no woman would want casual sex…)

    As for stereotypical tropes from years ago… the virgin/whore dichotomy wasn’t started by the boys on this thread, now was it?

  138. Moz

    So, shall we start at the very beginning? No means no and all that sort of stuff?
    I’ve had some entertaining experiences with politcal-anarchist children who have been brought up to regard consent as important, and that’s incredibly revealing. The extent to which children are de-autonomised is not obvious until you meet one that is less affected.
    Which leads to the question: if we wish to live in a culture where consent is important, should we try to pretend that consent only matters for sex, and only for women? Or should we try to reframe society in general to value (and expect) informed consent?

  139. IanM

    It seems to me that all these links just confirm the obvious – coercive sex happens and always has. But again, so what?

    That isn’t what you started out arguing. Your complaint was that the sexualisation of everything was an example of the commodification of the libidinal.

    I would contend that the libidinal was always commodified by the religion business which used it both as part of its marketing strategy – brainwash children to be ashamed of their sexuality and use that to manipulate and control them as adults – and as a type of licenced product through marriage.

    All that has happened recently is that other forms of business such as the mainstream media and an expanded porn industry have worked out different ways of commodifying and exploiting sexuality. You are decrying the new forms and trying to blame them for evils that have always existed. Quantifying those evils proves nothing especially as you have failed to account for the all the other sexual evils that occurred when the religion business had a greater share of the sexuality market.

  140. IanM

    “commodification has a particular meaning, and religions don’t commodify things” A variation on the no true scotsman argument.

  141. WD40

    I’m not buying your arguments or purported evidence, Kim. But being the open minded chappy that I am, I’ll re-examine the issue if we see a sudden and sustained increase in rape convictions.

    Having said that, let us also be clear on this, the hysteria generated by the New Wowserism is seeing innocent young men persecuted and jailed, for example 22 year old Farah Jama, who was recently set free after spending 15 months in jail for a rape that never happened:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/blind-faith-in-rape-evidence-slammed/story-e6frg6nf-1225863378417

  142. IanM

    Just to clarify, don’t patronise me Kim, I know perfectly well what commodification means. The commodification of hope, of succour and charity and particularly of sexuality and the licencing of socially acceptable access to sexuality has always been the stock in trade of mainstream western religions. Religions are nothing but a particularly type of business, it is absurd to say “religions don’t commodify things” when that is the only thing they do.

  143. WD40

    “religions don’t commodify things”

    Kim apparently thinks The Reformation never happened:

    “Abuses in selling and granting indulgences were a major point of contention when Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation (1517).” from the wiki article on indulgences, but also a well known fact.

  144. Nick

    So apparently, the website I referred to placed ads for their girls in a high-selling Melbourne tabloid.

    I imagine when/if asked by the court, “what on earth were you doing placing ads for the makers of porn films?”, they would have replied, “oh, we thought the agency just wanted them for modelling work, or portfolio building, or some such”.

    To which, the next question is surely, “how did the 18-25 year olds who responded to those ads, and turned up to do the modelling – or whatever it was they thought they were turning up to do – end up appearing in porn films?“.

    The company director was initially charged with 54 counts of “making objectionable films for gain, and possessing a commercial quantity of objectionable films”.

    Those charges were later dropped, and replaced with just two charges against the company instead, which resulted in a $6000 fine, and the company moving to Amsterdam.

    The site is now on the wikileaked blacklist.

    Sexual coercion and trade, free speech, free markets, exploitation, loss of privacy and autonomy, censorship of the truth…

    (Makes me want to go get the new Houllebecq tomorrow)

  145. akn

    I commend Kim’s valiant arguments and attempts to provide objective evidence of causal links between sexual violence against women and pornography. Unfortunately she is up against it because her protagonists stock in trade is nothing more than the usual cynicism and bad faith masquerading as disbelieving innocence. I am reminded of Ziegler singing ‘Like a Virgin’ in Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. A very funny sight.

    The vast majority of online pr(n contains images of women that are violent to a greater or lesser degree (but there is always violence),degrading, humiliating, verbally abusive and denying sexual agency to women. Denial of this simple reality, testable by the mere act of trawling web pages, basically means that you are full of shit as a man so far as I am concerned.

    The anti pornography site has numerous articles on pr)n, the industry, harm to women and men and so on. Read em because the evidence is in and has been ever since this.

  146. myriad74

    Yes, props for your patience Kim.

  147. IanM

    #168 & 169 As soon as a few difficult questions were asked about the weasel words in Kim’s OP suddenly out came the same old hysteria about men and their beastly appetites. I don’t think there has been any bad faith here but if there has then it is pretty evenly distributed as has the patience.

  148. sg

    I do like the assumption that men defending casual sex are doing so purely for their own predatory gain. It’s very much in good faith.

    Right up there with the assumption that women don’t want casual sex; or that the “vast majority” of women want emotionally committed sex. Presumably the other ones are just freaks who don’t get to enjoy their preferences because the majority said so?

    I know plenty of women who enjoy casual sex, and plenty of women who enjoy (or would like to enjoy if they could find it) pr0n with good-looking men having sex with good-looking women. I know women who have paid for sex workers, and worked as sex workers, and enjoyed it. As a result I’m singularly uninterested in the virgin/whore dichotomy presented here, and all the untested claims that casual sex culture has led to a world of rape. That Larry Flint put a woman through a mincer in 1978 does not prove that the girl I met last week who wants to have sex with a guy on the stairs of a nightclub is somehow living under false consciousness, or at increased risk of rape.

  149. Casey
  150. akn

    Its not about your experiences sg. Its about the values of the people who run the pr0n industry:

    These chicks are our natural enemy…It is time we do battle with them…What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart…They are unalterably opposed to the romantic boy-girl image that Playboy promotes.
    — Hugh Hefner, Memo to staff members, cited by Karen Jacobs, “Patterns of Violence”, The Harvard Women’s Law Journal (1984), quoted in Diana Russell, Making Violence sexy; 1993.

    T.T. reflects exactly what that sort of porno is about,” senior video editor Bud Swope said, “where you screw the hell out of the woman and come all over her face. He throws girls around. He pile-drives till they protest…He’s just aggression.” In an interview in the April 1995 issue of Hustler Erotic Video Guide, T.T. Boy had this to say: “I was a shy little kid when I started, and now I’m just a guy who wants to fuck the shit out of all these girls. Just fuck ’em to death.
    — Bud Swope and T. T. Boy, quoted in Susan Faludi’s ‘Stiffed’.

    “I’d like to really show what I believe the men want to see: violence against women. I firmly believe that we serve a purpose by showing that. The most violent we can get is the cum shot in the face. Men get off behind that, because they get even with the women they can’t have. We try to inundate the world with orgasms in the face.”
    — Bill Margold, porn industry veteran, quoted in Robert J. Stoller and I. S. Levine, Coming Attractions: The Making of an X-rated video; 1993.

    All from The Cruelty of the Pornographers’ Speech.

    So pr0n is not about what women want – its about what men want and what particular classes of men who produce pr0n think men want. The fact that some women may want sex on a staircase doesn’t detract from the nastiness of pr0n. Just means you found a woman with agency and a taste for stairways 🙂

  151. sg

    akn, the industry has been left to a nasty subsegment of the most basement-dwelling part of the male species, so of course it’s full of hate speech and cruelty. But this doesn’t have to be the case, it isn’t the case in all of the industry, and it could have been different.

    Showing that the industry is run by nasty men doesn’t say anything about casual sex, “instrumental” sex or modern attitudes toward coercion, violence, or agency.

    Especially if you don’t accept as a given that these images control peoples’ minds.

  152. akn

    sg:

    Showing that the industry is run by nasty men doesn’t say anything about casual sex, “instrumental” sex or modern attitudes toward coercion, violence, or agency.

    Especially if you don’t accept as a given that these images control peoples’ minds.

    What, presumably in the same way that racist cartoons (now barred from publication in Australia but commonplace not so long ago) of indigenous peoples didn’t say anything about racism? Presumably as well you don’t see that hate filled depictions of Japanese soldiers during WWII didn’t demonise and dehumanize the national enemy?

    So why are the hate speech acts of the pr0n industry, directed towards women, quarantined from having real social effects?

    My point @158 proven beyond doubt.

  153. sg

    are you saying I’m “shit as a man” because I don’t believe images control peoples’ thoughts?

  154. Katz

    What, presumably in the same way that racist cartoons (now barred from publication in Australia but commonplace not so long ago) of indigenous peoples didn’t say anything about racism?

    Such cartoons aren’t “barred” in the sense that they are illegal. Mainstream publications have observed an act of self-denial for two possible reasons:

    1. Publishers fear a backlash from readers and/or advertisers.

    and/or

    2. Publishers think that it is bad manners to publish such items.

    Note here that publishers act as gatekeepers. They perceive how bad manners in a small segment of their activities impacts on the rest of their business plan.

    Of course, with p0rn0graphers, bad manners, in the sense of transgression, is their business plan. These folks have nothing to lose, you see, except for the fact that if their manners aren’t sufficiently bad, they may be frozen out of the market.

    Unless, of course, the purchasers of p0rn impose limits on how much transgression they are prepared to purchase. So far, it seems, these limits have not been reached. And I imagine that with proliferation comes market segmentation. If the market is big enough, no transgression will be uneconomic.

  155. akn

    sg, no, I’m saying that the idea that images have no effect on desire is nonsense. How do you think that advertising works except by entering and informing desire especially by way of visual representation? See The Gren Transfer.

  156. akn

    Thanks Katz. I presumed that the sorts of cartoons of Pix and Post days (not to say the Bullie as well) would have fallen under ‘hate speech’ legislation.

  157. Sam Bauers

    Sam Bauers, I think all your claims about pr0n and brain behaviour etc. are pretty unsupportable and we shouldn’t be making changes to our liberal laws on the basis of dodgy psychiatry.

    Research on internet porn and sexual addiction/compulsivity started seriously about 15 years ago. Research on porn in general began even earlier. It doesn’t take much searching to find references and stats. It is also well documented that pornography is used by pedophiles in many cases to coerce victims into sexual acts.

    I am happy for you that your perspective is one of happy-go-lucky clean and clear sexual expression, but it’s just not true for everyone, I would even say it’s not true for the majority of people.

    You can deny this stuff exists if you want, but the effects are real for others.

  158. sg

    Sam, there is no serious research on sexual addiction within the addicition research community. It’s a fringe notion.

    Pedophiles don’t use pr0n to coerce their victims; they use it while they are coercing their victims.

    Images are not mind controlling, and there’s no need to be afraid of them.

  159. akn

    My man sg if you haven’t had a sexualised relationship that had at least strong elements of addictive behaviours to it then you haven’t been in the arena 🙂 At worst it can make that lovin’ spoonful look like a beginner’s problem.

    The fact that sexual and pr0n addictions aren’t recognised in DSM (I’m assuming that is why you claim that these diagnoses aren’t credible) reflects on orthodox psychiatry and the politics of DSM more than anything else.

    As to CSA and pr)n: it is commonly used while grooming the vic in the process of normalising sexualised contact.

  160. Spana

    I have long believe that sections of the left have lost the plot when it comes to extreme porn. As a result of the freedom of speech argument we now have as normal teenage boys (and girls) seeing violent sexual behaviour on screen as entertainment. Anyone who does not think this is happening needs to ask around a bit. Feminists are increasingly concerned about how this brutal culture is impacting on boys’ development and the treatment of women. Perhaps for some people the overt sexualisation of people beginning in the teenage years is an acceptable price to pay for freedom of speech.

    For me it is not. We need a strong culture that is prepared to stand up and say that violent porn and the brutalisation of women and sex is not okay. I say ban it and tell the likes of the sex party that their rights have been taken away. I really don’t care about the rights of people to view this stuff. The negative impact of a brutal sex culture of young men and women is enough for me to say that the porn industry should be shut down. No apologies.

  161. WD40

    Sam wants to ban cars because some are addicted to speed.
    Same wants to ban chocolate because some eat until they are obese.
    Sam wants to ban alcohol because some drink until they are are alcoholics.
    Sam, if he is consistent and not simply an exponent of the New Wowserism, has a list of things of he wants to ban or regulate that reaches to the heavens.

    For the love of the sweet baby Jesus, let us throw off our chains and inhibitions, embrace our liberties, and politely ignore the man and woman in the corner with the tambourines and self-rigtheous, maniacal renderings of Bringing in the Sheaves…

  162. Sam

    WD40, whaddya talking about? I don’t want to ban anything.

  163. akn

    Yeah, that’s what happens in discussions of the reality of pr9n production and consumption: those who question the dominant orthodoxy are accused of being anti-sex and affiliates of teh new wowserism (whatevah da phck dat is). Easier than engaging with substantive content.

    As it is WD40: cars have seat belts and there are road rules, some people eat ‘fair trade’ chocolate, there are restrictions on alcohol consumption … and all for good reasons.

    Open discussion leads the way to sensible social policy. Accusations that misrepresent your opponenets POV discredit the person making them.

  164. sg

    akn, addiction is a particular phenomenon with a specific definition and properties. You can’t just throw the word around about any process you happen to think has compelling good qualities.

    paedophiles are perfectly capable of grooming a child without the pr0n, and the key components of grooming are pretty well understood and revolve around the relationship between the adult and the child, not the props.

    It’s not the case that the pictures themselves affect the child in some compulsive way. This kind of idea is ludicrous.

  165. WD40

    AKN says:

    “So pr0n is not about what women want ”

    Who cares? The women who appear in pr0n flicks as per your #173 have made a choice to do so. Many of them may not particularly like what they do, but once again I say who cares? Presumably their brothers who earn less than half as much in a mind-numbing assembly line job don’t like that much either.

    We all do things we don’t like doing with the expectation that the reward we get will make it worthwhile.

  166. akn

    WD40 outs himself:

    “So pr0n is not about what women want ”

    Who cares? …

    Get back to you later on that when I can access sites not appropriate for work.

    sg: I’m familiar with the debate over the peculiarities of DSM which, in a few words, is that it is ontological without a supporting epistemology. You may think that sex addiction isn’t real. Others who work in the field think it is. Some think that DSM’s failure to intergate symptoms into whole fields is crude positivism that fails to identify significant patterns of human behaviour.

  167. sg

    No akn, you don’t get to just change the meaning of words, though I notice that this thread has been characterised by a lot of poor definitions and slippery jargon. “Addiction” has a meaning, a specific meaning, with implications for behaviour, public order, and medical treatment. You can’t just say something is addictive because you like it a lot, or you find you are willing to go to quite extreme lengths to get it.

    “Addicted to sex” carries implications of being willing to break the law to get it, unable to control oneself in the face of triggering images (i.e. pr0n) and personally damaged by the problems one faces. It’s an attempt at redefinition to suit an anti-pr0n agenda that we’ve seen a little bit of the naked face of here. It also pathologizes a perfectly natural behaviour – sex – in a way that is consistent with 2000 years of a particular religious cult’s repressive politics.

    Defining addiction this way is also very unhelpful for dealing with the real addictions – heroin, alcohol and tobacco – whose sufferers have gained a lot from recent medical approaches to addiction and don’t reallly need to have that work watered down by specious, politically-motivated jargon.

  168. Joe

    sg, what does it mean to say, “[I just] like porn a lot.”? I mean, are you saying it’s like surfing? Or is it like your granddad, who used to always take you fishing or Lady Gaga, because she’s so crazy? Because porn makes you feel good?

    I think you’re labouring the point wrt addiction– the question is why do you like porn? And the question’s important because firstly, porn is a luxury and not a necessity, it belongs firmly in the category of recreational activities and secondly it refers to a fundamental part of human nature, the act of reproducing. There is something very serious about having sex– and the effects on the body are similar to the kinds of warm and fuzzy feeling associated with drug use. These effects are the “reward” for having sex– except they’re linked to having an orgasm and not actually reproducing. Having sex changes, I would argue, your state of mind. And, excuse me for taking so long to get to the point, but it’s important, because we’re discussing porn and sex to try and describe the differences and the relationship between both activities.

    So, the first issue is, that it’s possible to get the same feeling of reward from having sex as it is to masturbating. So why watch porn? Porn seems to stimulate us, somehow. (It’s not like eating a banana or playing football, or something.) It’s actually quite a bit like smoking a cigarette or drinking coffee. The second issue is that sex critically involves another person– you can extend that to partner(s), whatever, but the idea of sex involves another person. Indeed, typically, heterosexual male porn watchers don’t get aroused from images of other men masturbating. (Women may do.) This most simple of requirements makes having sex complicated and difficult.

    Sorry, if I’m boring you all, but you see the symmetry between a physiological euphoric response associated with reproduction and the difficulty associated with actually finding a partner etc.

    It’s fundamental to human nature and it’s why all cultures have rules about sexual relationships. And these rules are fundamentally linked to identity.

    There’s no entitlement to sex– there’s porn and there’s prostitution.

  169. Joe

    So, to round up a bit, porn and prostitution serve a purpose, but they come at a cost, and this cost must mitigated by regulation.

    In my opinion porn and prostitution should be restricted and kept to an absolute minimum. I believe they do more harm than good to all involved.

    Perhaps inhibition is not the most effective way of restricting these activities, but policy aims need to be about restricting these activities, keeping them as personal activities and out of the realm of business.

  170. sg

    Joe, your argument at 190 is just another rephrasing of “sex is morally special.”

    Allow me to compare: I enjoy watching people beat each other up. I enjoy beating people up and being beaten up (kickboxing, mainly). Being beaten up in teh ring is every bit as intense as sex, i can assure you.

    Beating people up or watching people being beaten up depends on another person – it’s not a solo activity.

    So why is it that in arguments about controlling and regulating this activity never involve complex debates about consent or addiction? Why is it that we never talk about “instrumentalizing” bodies, or objectification, or any other of the jargon words given here?

    Because these words all stem from a moral position about the specialness of sex, not from any objectivity. And those moral positions restrict the rights and – yes – the choices of those who don’t wish to be bound by them.

    Additionally, those moral restrictions were largely formed to control and restrict the rights and – yes – the choices of women. So, why do people on the left employ them so vacuously?

  171. Joe

    sg, combat sports are controversial. And would be much more controversial if you paid someone so you could beat them up. But watching them, and I believe, partaking in them is completely different than porn/ sex.

    Traditional sex restrictions are not only about restricting the rights and choices of women. They also restrict the activities of men and generally help to structure the whole society, don’t you think? It sounds to me, that this is your real gripe– even though we think of ourselves as free thinkers, sexual relationships often revolve around certain protocols and conventions.

    But this is not an issue which can be generally typecast as leftist, is it? Conservatives don’t hug much either, you know!

  172. FDB

    I admire your patience, sg.

    It was crystal clear from the get-go that the mandatory internet filter would never stay within its remit of protecting children from abuse by pornographers/rapists and keeping the products of child pornographers from distribution.

    It was always going to be taken further, into areas where opponents (male ones at least) can be tricked into looking like perverts who’ve missed the last thousand-odd years’ social history and just want a wank, (no doubt as training for their principal hobby of rape).

    And here we are, dancing to the tune.

    There’s a hell of a lot to be said, studied, analysed about pornography’s place in society. A lot of the purported ills associated with pr0n are quite plausible on the face of it – some verging on incontrovertible. But to connect the discussion to a looming issue of State censorship is to render it unhaveable, for me at least.

  173. WD40

    Joe says:

    “In my opinion porn and prostitution should be restricted and kept to an absolute minimum. I believe they do more harm than good to all involved.”

    Restricting prostitution to a minimum means working girls must ply their trade in dark alleys and other dangerous places away from the prying eyes of the thin blue line.

    In other words, it is yet another way the New Wowsers get to kill women. Thanks, Joe.

  174. Joe

    WD40,
    you’d be happy to see your daughter working in a brothel, but unhappy to see her working in a dark alley. If you say so, Greasy.

  175. WD40

    I met my wife in a brothel.

    What’s wrong with brothels?

  176. akn

    sg: I’m not throwing the word ‘addiction’ around with abandon at all. If you look at the neurophysiological responses to sex and the hormones it lets loose (oxytocin, serotinin and others) and imagine someone who has become habituated to high levels of those brain body chemicals then it seems readily apparent that sexual addiction is a plausible condition. There is a serious debate in clinical circles about this to the extent that:

    The American Psychiatric Assn. has proposed that out-of-control sexual appetites be included as a diagnosis in the next edition of the psychiatrists’ bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to be published in 2013.

    Anyway, this is sort of a derail, IMO, because I’m not arguing that sex addiction and p0rn addiction are the real issues although I guess others may. My concern on this thread has been to raise the way that pr)n educates desire in the viewer in misogynist ways (see my link @22).

  177. Joe

    Well, looks like it’s just us blokes talking about our members again…

  178. akn

    The real pay dirt of course is WD40’s intemperate comment:

    “So pr0n is not about what women want ”

    Who cares? The women who appear in pr0n flicks as per your #173 have made a choice to do so. Many of them may not particularly like what they do, but once again I say who cares? Presumably their brothers who earn less than half as much in a mind-numbing assembly line job don’t like that much either.

    We all do things we don’t like doing with the expectation that the reward we get will make it worthwhile.

    So, do you get off on watching women perform sex acts for money all the time imagining that they really don’t want to do this?

    Kim’s point about rapist consciousness and male pr)n viewers absolutely confirmed.

    Real pay dirt baby.

    Is it the fact that you can see that the women are “doing things they don’t like” with the cash reward as the payoff that turns you on? Must be, because in your own words you don’t care about the women’s experience. Hey, they’re employees after all.

    It’s the violation that gives pr0n its kick, yeah? Same as rape. The power. The humiliation.

    Check the reality for the women:

    “The girls could be graded like A, B and C. The A is the chick on the boxcover. She has the power. So she’ll show up late or not at all. Ninety-nine point nine per cent of them do that.” He gestured at the screen and said, “Here you have a borderline A/B doing a double anal. Directors will remember that. She’ll get phone calls. For a double anal you’d usually expect a B or a C. They have to do the dirty stuff or they won’t get a phone call. You’ve had a kid, you’ve got some stretchmarks – you’re up there doing double anal… Some girls are used in nine months or a year. An 18-year-old, sweet young thing, signs with an agency, makes five films in her first week. Five directors, five actors, five times five: she gets phone calls. A hundred movies in four months. She’s not a fresh face any more. Her price slips and she stops getting phone calls. Then it’s, ‘Okay, will you do anal? Will you do gangbangs?’ Then they’re used up. They can’t even get a phone call. The market forces of this industry use them up.”
    — Jonathan Morgan, ex-performer turned porn director, quoted in Martin Amis’ “A Rough Trade”, The Guardian, March 17, 2001.

    Then of course there’s the sheer number of women in pr0n who are survivors of CSA and other forms of abuse:

    Describing the complex connections between childhood sexual abuse, revictimization, prostitution, and health problems, One woman […] [said]: “… there was no sense of having a life; the only life I knew was prostituting… I thought I couldn’t be hurt no more and I felt that I could do what I want and I could have sex with whoever I wanted because SOMEBODY [HAD] ALREADY GONE AND MESSED MY SYSTEM UP. — Ex-Prostitute, quoted in Farley et al., Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries (2003).

    Plenty more direct, cited evidence just one click away like porn.

    Do you get off on the violation and re-traumatisation of these child victims? Is that it? Or are you gonna say you had no idea?

  179. akn

    If anyone cares to fix the block quote mess I’d appreciate it.

  180. WD40

    akn says:

    “My concern on this thread has been to raise the way that pr)n educates desire in the viewer in misogynist ways (see my link @22).”

    During sexual intercourse and masturbation, a fantasy, or an imaginary if I may be permitted to use the language of the cultural studies undergraduate, is almost invariably engineered and I’d wager that in males it is often instrumental and objectifying. Such is the nature of man. All the porn market does is make real, to turn into solid flesh and a commodity for purchase, those fantasies. If you spend any time at all perusing internet porn you’ll see that it is fragmented into literally thousands of subcategories. It is as close as we’ll ever get to the fabled village market, where the merchant is humbled and the consumer is truly sovereign.

  181. akn

    So when you cum you’re imagining a village market? You poor bastard. Hayek has a lot to answer for.

  182. Sir Henry Casingbroke

    Well, never mind feeling sympathy for Conroy, one almost felt sorry for Malcolm Turnbull in the Lateline interview conducted by Tony Jones tonight.

    First of all, in the discussion on the NBN, “moderated” By Jones, Conroy wiped the floor with the ex-opposition leader, coming to the studio briefed and informed technically, whereas Turnbull relied on bluster and rhetoric based on Liberal party catechism talking points scribbled for him on the back of an envelope. It didn’t hold him in good stead here, inviting dersion from Conroy and some curly lip contempt from the Jones boy.

    Jones didn’t help Turnbull, in fact he exposed the latter’s threadbare arguments by harassing him from the moderator’s chair, telling him that it was he (Jones) who was running the discussion, when Malcolm tried a bit of lawyerly standover. He was put in his place after which he turned petulant, but that only harmed his master’s cause.

    This was fun! I love it when that happens. I am pleased to see blood flow on the studio floor, it has been a while (Abbott, Downer).

    Anyway, Abbott wouldn’t have been pleased with Turnbull on this performance (lazy, self-indulgent and outplayed by a better briefed opponent) ; Turnbull as a consequence seemed frustrated – in the closing seconds, he ripped the earpiece from his lughole in bad temper, grunting as he went in response to the host’s closing thank you.

    More please, ABC!

  183. sg

    akn, people don’t become habituated to those brain chemicals, and the proposal for sex addiction in the DSM is ridiculous.

    Now, why don’t you get on to telling me why it is that watching pr0n and kickboxing are different?

  184. Sam Bauers

    “Addiction” has a meaning, a specific meaning, with implications for behaviour, public order, and medical treatment.

    Addiction has different definitions for purposes of diagnosis and research and the behaviors you listed like “being willing to break the law” are plausible in some cases, although the criteria are not as explicit or extreme as that. Seemingly benign actions like prefering to stay at home and use porn instead of going out can go part way towards indicating addiction. Another indicator is a desire to reduce consumption, but being unable to.

    You seem too ready to associate addiction with degenerate behavior, which is kind of pushing your own morals or accepting the morals of those you claim to oppose, like certain religions. Addiction is common and even encouraged in some forms, and it would be helpful for all people with addictions if as a society we better empathized with those who require help. What I am advocating is more like a harm-minimization approach, not prohibition. Hardly “wowserism” and certainly not restricting your access to whatever porn you want to see, except at the eye height of a five year old at the local Kwik-E-Mart.

    Controlling porn on the Internet is another kettle of fish. Government control of this ought to be restricted to categorisarion of content, enabling choice for users via ISP level or self-managed filtering. Again, hardly limiting freedom, in fact it would increase freedom fir those who simply don’t want porn in their tubes.

  185. Irate Queen

    In my opinion porn and prostitution should be restricted and kept to an absolute minimum.

    Ah, feck – there goes the hermaphroditic midget porn.

    What qualifies as “absolute minimum” porn, anyhoo? Are we talking SBS Friday night “documentary”?

    More seriously, is this teh most unsexy po-faced thread on the subject of porn ever seen at the ‘rodeo?

    P.S. just for Yellowvinyl [sorry, couldn’t resist]:

    People might also like to have a read of some of the advice in mags like FHM or whatever directed at young men instructing them how to “pick up”.

    How not to do it.

  186. Sam Bauers

    people don’t become habituated to those brain chemicals, and the proposal for sex addiction in the DSM is ridiculous.

    Just because you say so?

    Now, why don’t you get on to telling me why it is that watching pr0n and kickboxing are different?

    I’m guessing most people don’t orgasm whilst watching kick boxing.

  187. THR

    The libertarians were dissing the basic thrust of the argument here. Here is a partial defence:

    There’s no validity in anybody sympathising with Conroy. I think one can legitimately observe that the (neo)liberalisation of the economy has been paralleled in the area of sex and relationships, with similar sorts of ideals at play. These are the reduction of personal relationships to contractual obligations, the emphasis on ‘flexibility’ and casualisation, the soft-pedalling of sexual exploitation under the alibi of ‘personal choice’, etc. Basically, the ugly aspects of neoliberalism in the economic sphere have their counterparts in personal relationships. That’s not to mention the more obvious effects of our economic system, with people putting more time into work, and less with family, the necessity of families being double-income, and the lack of stability for workers caused by the insistence on casualisation and ‘flexibility’.

  188. akn

    akn leaves it to SB.

  189. sg

    Sam, not being able to go to work because of pr0n (which, have you ever heard of such a thing?) is just one of several categories of behaviour required to define an addiction. How do you think you can define withdrawal from sex? Development of tolerance?

    I see you have put a great deal of thought into the difference between the regulation of boxing (two consenting adults beating people up) and sex (two consenting adults having sex). I pointed out above that fighting in the ring is just as intense as a sexual experience. Why do you think sex is special?

  190. Sam Bauers

    not being able to go to work because of pr0n… is just one of several categories of behaviour required to define an addiction

    Not according to the W.H.O. or any other criteria I have seen. If you could source that it would be great.

    Kickboxing or other high-adrenalin activity could also lead to compulsive behavior. But that isn’t the point, sex is a ubiquitous activity and a low level human need driven by base instinct. The “high” of sex can also occur without a partner. It’s not really an analogous activity in many senses.

  191. sg

    The standard WHO definition uses a checklist, one of which is having your daily activities interfered with by the behaviour. Others are development of tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, etc. The AUDIT checklist for alcohol, for example, needs you to score a certain number of points on a wide range of domains.

    I put a comment above about the violent sport/ sex issue. I don’t see why the “ubiquitous” nature of sex, or its low level human need, makes it special. That it might be addictive is both controversial and of no relevance. So why is it special?

  192. akn

    Oh dear oh dear:

    I pointed out above that fighting in the ring is just as intense as a sexual experience.

    Not in my (Police Boys) experience. See, people have different experiences.

    Why do you think sex is special?

    Why do you think it isn’t? Maybe you enjoy fightin’ more than fuckin’?

  193. WD40

    Akn never leaves home without his neck-to-knee chastity belt, a glock and a can of mace.

    A lad with a gorgeous bottom can never be too careful in these troubled times.

  194. akn

    Come round to my place and then we can see how big your mouth is dude.

  195. Paul Burns

    When I was a kid my old man put me in the ring to teach me balance and co-ordination. Let me tell you, it ain’t nothing like sex. More like falling chest down on concrete. If you ain’t getting any I do not recommend it as a substitute. (Not even for Catholics.)

  196. sg

    Yeah akn, people have different experiences. And just because I think something is an intense experience and you don’t, doesn’t mean I need to ban you from doing it. Or vice versa.

    I don’t think fighting is special; I don’t think sex is special. And I’m yet to see an explanation of why I should think one is special but not the other.

    And is 217 a joke or a threat?

  197. akn

    sg:

    I don’t think fighting is special; I don’t think sex is special.And I’m yet to see an explanation of why I should think one is special but not the other.

    Surely that’s up to you.

    As to whether 217 is a joke or a threat I’d say it is an entirely appropriate response to what is a snide, homophobic slur.

    I’m done here.

  198. sg

    well akn, apparently it’s not.

    And the irony of your comment at 217 given the context is not lost on you, I’m sure.

  199. Joe

    I don’t think sex is special –sg

    I put it to you, that’s another reason why too much porn’s bad. Sex is special.

    Anyway, we’re a bunch of men standing around with our schlongs in our hands at the moment, which isn’t a good look and even though larvatus isn’t prime time or PG, I’m going to agree to disagree with the liberate porn brigade. Peace.

  200. WD40

    I never make homophobic slurs, akn.

    BTW, if you lightened up and enjoyed more porn maybe you wouldn’t be such an angry man.

    [In the opinion of the administrators, that comment is homophobic and you’re in multiple breach of the comments policy]