Porn Again: Facing the ‘Phobes’
We who peddle porn have no doubt learned to overlook the continuing sermons of the antiporn moralists who remain active in our culture.
I myself have long since stopped even hearing the voices of the religious right and the minority of feminists who say that porn is an assault on women.
But the other day, I found a YouTube interview with philosopher and commentator Noam Chomsky in which he defines the core of porn as “the humiliation and degradation of women.” He characterizes porn as a “disgraceful” activity, putting himself on the exact same anti-porn pulpit as people who normally oppose him. Saddened and disgusted by this alignment of antagonists, I felt a need to respond.
Today, dear readers, I’d like to deliver a sermon of my own, a speech from the smut peddler’s pulpit.
If Chomsky is right, we pornographers and pornographic advertisers must be horrid creatures. We don’t merely produce such disgraceful tools of humiliation and degradation, we disseminate them to a world of innocents. Every time someone clicks on an X-rated banner, some brighteyed Mary Jane gets dunked in slime, someone’s Grandma Betsy gets dragged through the mud, and an innocent girl somewhere is snatched from a rose garden and carried away to a forest of evil.
What can we say to the Chomskys of the world — we purveyors of the genital flotsam washing up on websites everywhere? What can we say to ourselves at the end of the day, or (however dramatic it sounds) on our deathbeds when we recount our good deeds and sins?
I say for all human history, people who have been extremely smart at other things have been raping the soul of the entire population by repressing sexual fantasy and stifling sexual exploration and expression in the name of one ideal after another.
In our current era, these vacuum-chamber theorists, anti-woman feminists and God-fearing porn-“phobes” have generally never discussed porn with a single person who makes it or seriously studied the overall population that views it. I say that spreading sexual entertainment is a positive endeavor, whereas spreading the anti-porn-think of people like Chomsky harms the very people targeted for protection. I say this with conscience and reason.
To the porn haters that still assail us in 2015, I have some information: what a person (man, woman, or other) enjoys in their sexual life says nothing about what they enjoy in the everyday world. The reality is that people who never watch porn, let alone make or advertise it, can be quite horrible human beings. On the other hand, people who watch or sell the most extreme and “degrading” pornography can devote themselves to helping others in their work or social lives. With obvious exceptions for cases of pathology and out-of-control addiction, a person’s needs and choices in bedroom matters do not correlate with their functionality or treatment of others outside the bedroom.
The truth is that one of Chomsky’s neighbors might be jerking off to some extreme porn, producing that porn, or fucking a sweet girl in the ass night after night, and he might be the same guy who would help Chomsky up if he fell on the street one day, the same guy who invents a piece of software that makes people’s lives easier, or the same guy who served a couple of years in the Peace Corps or helped political prisoners avoid torture at the hands of a tyrant. Meanwhile, another of Chomsky’s neighbors might never watch porn and prefer missionary sex with the lights out, but he might walk right past a person in need, and his life might be devoted to nothing more than self-enrichment.
When that first neighbor’s sexuality is drowned in shame by anti-porn moralism, such shame can fill him with self-loathing and frustration, and his self-loathing and frustration can make it harder for him to interact positively with others.
Second, one of the best ways to degrade a woman is to tell her that her sexual needs or choices are wrong. While some women are surely coerced into degrading situations, in the modern Western world the majority of women being “degraded” in porn choose to engage in the activities we see. Some choose to be “degraded” because they enjoy it.
Others choose “sexually degrading” porn as a job because they enjoy it more than other choices. Other women in porn don’t even find what Chomsky calls “degradation” to be degradation at all. In all cases, when a critic like Chomsky implies that a female pornstar is a victim for making her own sexual choices, or that porn viewers are complicitous with a disgraceful enterprise, the impact of his statements goes beyond the world of sexual fantasy into the everyday world.
Statements like Chomsky’s make people feel bad for enjoying their sexual fantasies, and because sexual fulfillment is a pivotal element of human happiness, these types of bad feelings build up in the mind and eventually start seeping out into other areas of life.
When individuals’ harmless and essential self-fulfillment gets impeded in this manner, they feel lower than they deserve to feel–the very definition of degradation.
Moreover, because unhappy individuals negatively impact the people around them, statements like Chomsky’s make other people feel worse too. By shaming people for enjoying “sexual degradation,” whether or not they even see it as that, such anti-porn critics degrade people in a very real way that porn and sexual fantasy can’t.
I make and advertise pornography that deliberately includes fantasies relating to the degradation of women. I advertise it and spread it around the world.
I have wonderful friends and lovers who enjoy the activities I show. I also have many friends who show similar activities being done to men by women or to men by men.
And my friends are some of the kindest, smartest, and most interesting people out there. I feel pretty damn good about that at the end of the day.
Pornography has helped nudge sexual fantasy and free sexual expression out of the closet after an entire human history of repression.
I say this is a glorious thing.
Lawrence Neil is the founder and CEO of Two-Flame Media LLC, the company behind Assylum.com and DerangedDollars.com. Neil was previously a creative executive on Madison Avenue, where he managed writing teams responsible for the branding and advertising of several billion-dollar brands.