PVV – a swarm of bees…

Myriad interesting, frustrating, and often downright irritating adult-related (obliquely and otherwise) things have been happening lately.

These sorts of things put me in a bit of a pickle… Do I mention, discuss, critique, debunk, and/or smack down uninformed and wholly biased, agenda-laden news bites? Is this sort of crap even worth engaging?

Yes.

Ok, fine… but if I choose to engage happenings that really just amount to varying degrees of silliness (which, granted, can range from ridiculous to downright dangerous), what message does that send? Does engaging some instance of whacked-out wackiness reify it, fuel it, and give it more power? In other words, does talking about something send the message that that something is somehow relevant? That it has some measure of credence because it’s worth bringing up?

I think about this sort of thing on a daily basis, and it’s somewhat exhausting… (le sigh)

So a bunch of things have been happening lately – silly things that range from ridiculous to downright dangerous. With each, I wrestle: talk about this, or not?

Oftentimes, after several deep breaths, I tend to take a step back. It’s the sociologist in me.

However, so many things seem to be peppering in lately that I feel like I must engage them… but collectively. Because one bee by herself is no big deal, but a swarm can be downright scary.

So here are a bunch of things that’ve been happening lately that, as a group, give me pause. Not chronologically…

1. June 30, 2011 – Naomi Wolf asks “Is pornography driving men crazy?”  “Is pornography driving men crazy?” …like porn is this evil specter seeking out men and making… them… go… crraaaazy!!

So, a “political activist and social critic” offers readers an assessment of “pornography addiction” on CNN (entire article here). Huh?

Aside from all the presumptuous (“ordinary sexual images”?) and problematic claims espoused by Naomi… and aside from the fact that none of these claims are substantiated*… and aside from the horrifically classist (“balanced mental state”?), heterosexist, and sexist (yes, sexist) stance included in the piece, why the heck was it posted up on CNN World?? Some people read that CNN stuff as “fact” as it presumably offers positions from folks who have at least some understanding of and/or expertise in whatever relevant area they’re addressing (in this case, adult content production and consumption, physiology, psychology, and addiction among other things… not English Literature**). But not this time…

Incidentally, here is some discussion of “eroto-toxins” –> “PVV – Women, Girls, Virtual Coke, & Eroto-Toxins, oh my!!” I think this is what Naomi is trying to invoke.

*Sorry to be such a stickler, but simply stating “There is an increasing body of scientific evidence to support this idea” without references from reputable, peer-reviewed scholarly research does not a substantiated point make, Nay. And FYI: dropping one name, also without citation, doesn’t count either.

**Naomi has a BA in English Literature. She was also a Rhodes Scholar.

2. June 22, 2011 – speaking of unsubstantiated claims, the footage from the Cambridge Union Society’s “porn debate” was finally –finally!!- made available!! Eeeyah!! Here it is –> debate!!

Held on February 17, 2011, the debate pitted porn producer Anna Span (also known as Anna Arrowsmith), current adult performer and former teacher Johnny Anglais, and sex and sexuality educator Jessi Fischer against anti-porn academic Dr. Gail Dines, child psychologist Dr. Richard Woolfson, and current anti-porn activist and former, fleeting 90s-era porn performer Shelley Lubben – porn won.

Now, I’ve already written some about this debate (here), so I was super excited to get more of an idea of what actually happened via the recorded footage.

I was spellbound (Johnny Anglais, min 55-1:05), impressed (Anna Span, min 1- 12; and Jessie Fischer, min 22-35), confused (why exactly were you there, Dr. Woolfson? min 35-47), moderately disgusted and strangely overcome with pity and concern (I’m more than a little worried about you, Shell-belle!! min 1:06-end), and downright pissed…

Unlike Naomi Wolf, who does not claim to be an expert (she’s just treated like one), Gail Dines touts herself as knowledgeable and informed. Whatsmore, she’s a “real doctor” – not a “real doctor” as in an MD real doctor, but a “real doctor” as in a real and true PhD. That’s supposed to mean something. We PhD folk are supposed to uphold a level of professionalism, rigor, and methodological soundness (which is probably not a word), and we’re not supposed to get so emotionally invested in our work that it clouds our judgment and shapes our findings.

Gail Dines (min 12-22)? Not so much.

Aside from offering no substantiation for her claims about and against adult anywhere (not just in this debate), Gail has been critiqued widely for her “research” by all sorts of folks…

…including, fairly recently, by well-respected sociologist Ron Weitzer. Among doing many other things, Ron researches prostitution and sex trafficking (which are not the same thing, fyi). In a his recently published review essay entitled “Pornography’s Effects: The Need for Solid Evidence – A Review Essay of Everyday Pornography, edited by Karen Boyle (New York: Routledge, 2010) and Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, by Gail Dines (Boston: Beacon, 2010)” in Violence Against Women 17: 666* (2011; fyi: peer-reviewed, Sage), Ron explains the many problems embedded in Pornland.

Truth be told, he rips it to sheds.

These issues with Gail’s work, along with endless other critiques, make me wonder: Like Naomi Wolf (but for different reasons), why the heck are people taking what this character has to say so seriously? Why is she given credence via so many high-profile platforms? I just don’t get it…

* Read Ron’s review in full here.

3. July 6, 2011 – And speaking of “meh” on a very public platform, really Steve Hirsch? Really?? Come on…

In sum: “…Vivid co-founder Steve Hirsch called Casey [“acquitted of child murdering”] Anthony’s victorious attorney, Jose Baez, hours after the Tuesday [July 5, 2011] jury verdict that cleared his client of the most serious criminal charges facing her, ‘to discuss the possibility of a business relationship.’” (story here)

So basically, Steve offered Casey the opportunity to shoot for Vivid. I mean, I assume it was for Vivid…

Now Steve likes to do this kind of thing. Vivid Entertainment has it’s own celebrity line of sex tapes, which generally consists of “before they were ‘famous'” sex footage from somewhere and “after their 15 minutes are up”-type solicitations.  Steve has been known to push pretty hard in some of these “solicitation” cases, and his downright uncomfortable pursuit/harassment of Nadya “Octomom” Suleman is well-documented. Point being, his offer to the mostly-aquitted Casey is not all that surprising… nor is it out of character.

But really Steve? Reeeeaally??

Public outrage, both outside of and within the industry, was swift; and it prompted Vivid to retract their offer on the very same day (story here). My favorite snark-king and America’s Beloved Porn Journalist Gram Ponante got the rationale behind this stunt/epic fail from Vivid on July 8, 2011:

“We were originally influenced by the many emails from fans throughout the trial asking if we were going to make an offer to Casey Anthony to make a movie with us if she was found not guilty. We contacted her attorney Jose Baez to explore an offer to her. In less than 24 hours it became clear that there was an overwhelmingly negative response to her verdict and people did not want to see her in a movie. We contacted Mr. Baez again and told him that we were no longer interested in discussing a movie with Ms. Anthony.” (whole story here)

Sigh.

That’s a neat and lovely excuse you have there, but really Steve… you are one of the most significant and prominent voices in the adult industry. You’ve run a successful business in a highly stigmatized space for decades. You and Vivid have weathered many upheavals and changes. What you have to say is important, and it impacts the entire industry. It also shapes the way those outside the business perceive it – if you look like a sleazy ass… well, so does everyone else.

And it’s not like you’re new to the whole celebrity sex tape thing either!! You should know by now what sorts of folks people may be interested in seeing in a Vivid production… and you should at least have a concept of those they most certainly are not.

A little common sense, please?

4. July 8, 2011 – And speaking of no common sense, Congresswoman and 2012 Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann has signed some sort of anti-porn pledge put forth by Iowa’s The FAMiLY LEADER. (story here and here; quirky way of writing “The Family Leader” comes from their website)

Now to say that this pledge is simply anti-porn would be too dramatic. It also says all kinds of other stuff:

(page three of the whole document; click and it gets bigger)

(page four of the whole document; click and it gets bigger)

Eeesh.

Now I don’t know how much attention people really pay to this Michele lady, but it’s obviously at least “some” …and The Family Leader has already dropped some of the pledge’s more controversial bits (story here, which is also where I got the PDFs of the pledge text), but none of that’s really my point.

Although Michele and The Family Ethnocentric Intolerant may be nothing more than an SNL skit (as Ms. NWC put it ;) to some folks, there are plenty of other people who take this lady seriously. And there are also plenty of people who take The Family Leader seriously. And some people -just a few- even take CNN and Naomi Wolf seriously.

And now we’ve come full circle.

Each of points 1-4 falls somewhere between ridiculous and dangerous on the silliness scale; but taken collectively, there is a heightened hum that makes me somewhat apprehensive. Maybe I’m just afraid of bees?

(I’m definitely afraid of spiders)

 

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