The Case Against the Sexual Revolution: Part 14, Of Porn and Hypocrites

We now move into Chapter 5 of Louise Perry's The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, a chapter devoted to, in Perry's words, "the predatory nature of the porn industry and its destructive effects on the people involved in it."

Perry starts the chapter by sharing the stories of two female icons of porn, Linda Lovelace (real name Linda Boreman), who starred in Deep Throat, the film that brought hard core porn into the mainstream, and Jenna Jameson, named "the Queen of Porn" for being one of the most successful porn stars in history. As Perry recounts, the stories of both Boreman and Jameson reveal how the narratives around porn can quickly switch. When working inside the industry, porn stars tell a story of sexual liberation and female empowerment. Both Boreman and Jameson fiercely defended their work from moral critics. And yet, once they left the industry, this narrative quickly changed, as both women became harsh critics of the porn industry. For example, Boreman has made the blunt statement that, "everyone that watches Deep Throat is watching me being raped." And, as Perry sharply notes, people are still watching.

After recounting the stories of women who have worked within the porn industry, Perry then turns her attention to Pornhub. Pornhub, as I expect you know, is the largest online purveyor of porn. Pornhub is run by the secretive tech company MindGeek, and both Pornhub and MindGeek have been under fire in recent years for knowingly hosting videos of sex trafficked children and non-consensual sex (otherwise known as rape) on their website. More, when asked to remove these videos by victims Pornhub regularly and systematically fails to remove them. And beyond Pornhub, many porn companies, like GirlsDoPorn, lure young girls wanting to be models or actors into hotel rooms were they are coerced into having sex on camera. These videos are then sold for a profit.

I don't think it is a surprise to anyone that the porn industry is evil. I don't see how anyone could look at the whole of the industry and claim that porn is good for women or advances female liberation. And yet, there is a pervasive ambivalence in our culture about crusading against porn. Any other industry that did this much damage to women and children would have long ago been canceled. Protestors daily in the streets. I recall the progressive outrage when the owner of Chick-fil-A merely expressed his personal opinion about traditional marriage. That was it, a personal opinion. I have progressive friends who have never eaten at a Chick-fil-A again. But ask these same people if they know anything about MindGeek, well, you'll get a blank stare. Mindwhat? Purveyors of child abuse and rape don't really demand progressive attention.

The hypocrisies here are telling. A man in a workplace setting can become a moral pariah for the slightest of microaggressions toward a woman in the office. (For example, I've seen men upbraided for addressing a classroom with "Ladies and Gentlemen." The word "ladies" being offensive.) And yet, girls can be raped and children trafficked on film with those outrages barely mentioned on progressive Twitter. And that asymmetry of outrage has everything to do with the sexual revolution. To be against porn is to be against sex, and that's the last place a progressive wants to be. To be an anti-porn crusader would be to join forces with despised religious groups, or give implicit support to things like evangelical purity culture. The imperatives of the sexual revolution are clear: You have to be, 100% of the time, pro-sex. No matter what. Even if that means you have to go quiet about the porn industry. Women the the workplace are vociferously protected from the slightest of insults, as they should be, but the oppressions and harms of the porn industry, where rape, abuse, and coercion occur to thousands of women every single day, well, that is passed over in silence.

And the ironies abound. For who, do we think, benefits from the filming, uploading, and monetizing of rape and child abuse? As both the producers and the consumers? Men! It's yet another example of how many feminists are deeply supportive of the patriarchy, using the pro-sex message of the sexual revolution to satisfy the sexual appetites of men. 

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