Home > Sexuality > The Economy of People Revisited

The Economy of People Revisited


Lately I’ve been fixated on anti-pornography. Last night I was sharing a presentation I’m putting together on the topic with a great group, Rahab’s Resistance in Denton, TX. We shared ideas for a few hours, and some thoughts have sparked my interest. I’d like to share them, if you’re interested.

The first idea is that Pornography cannot be consensual sex. Think about it, if one or all people involved in the filming of pornography is being paid then they are not consenting to have sex with one another, they are consenting to get paid at the price of their body. At best it’s bribery at worst it’s exploitation, coercion, and prostitution. Consent is an interesting topic, I think, since each individual makes the decision for themselves to be involved in pornography. When studying I came across an article I find particularly interesting about the making of pornography, with some stories told from the on-lookers of a porn shoot. This quote expresses the plight porn actresses find themselves in: “If she doesn’t do what Jim is asking her to do, she may or may not get paid. If she doesn’t do this, it’s entirely possible no one else will hire her after today. So, she concedes.”

Feminism was brought up often during our discussion. The idea is that with the rise of women’s rights was the rise of pornography. Porn is sexually empowering women to be sexually expressive. I fundamentally disagree with this viewpoint. Porn generally has the opposite effect. It degrades women to a submissive object whose sole objective is to gratify a man, bending to his every notion. Often time the idea of ‘man’ is absent from porn, and only a penis is present, which the women in porn are made to fawn over. Pornographic material also redefines what the “perfect” women is supposed to be. Reading an article I came across the quote “For the first time in history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn”. I’m learning more and more how this is true. Maxim’s Hot 100, a list of the hottest women ever, is now featuring a fictional character, Aki Ross. That’s a CGI character making the cover a jack-off magazine. It’s hard enough for women to have to compete with knock out models, now they have to compete with Computers? While researching this I found that H&M is also using computer generated models. I also found another quote in a NY Times article about a CGI model, Webbie Tookay: “‘Webbie can eat nothing and keep her curves,’ boasted Mr. Casablancas, who left Elite and founded Illusion 2K, an agency dedicated to representing virtual models. ”She can be on time, or in two places at one time, and you know she will never get a pimple or ask for a raise. Sometimes I wish all models were virtual.” This is the same sexually empowering road that women have taken that are now replacing them for objects. Women are being replaced by an imitation of an imitation of a real woman.

So, how does this all relate back to economy? Porn is a multibillion dollar enterprise. According to the Internet Filter Review, worldwide porn sales totaled at $97 billion in 2006. The US contributed 13.33 billion. Individuals are profiting at the exploitation of young women, and men. They strip them of the ability to say “no” while filming for fear of financial trouble, and bribe them to do sexually terrifying things. To the women who do feel sexually empowered by filming porn we must ask “at what cost to all other women?” The illusion of empowerment to one leads to the suppression of all others. A Shelly Luben talked with Christ Hedges, and is quoted in his book Empire of Illusion saying, “You have to do what they want on the sets,” she says. There’s too much competition. They can always find other girls.” My buddy Christ commented on the coercion of pornography, something to the effect of, “Most girls aren’t looking at a variety of meaningful alternatives and saying, ‘I choose porn’.” And it’s not really a choice. If I wash dishes for a living, I am making that choice over working in retail or going to school to get an education to do whatever I want. I have that option. Can we really say the same for the emotionally abused girl who stumbled into porn? Possibly at the beginning of her career, but what about 5 years into it? 10 years? There’s a price tag we’re putting on human begins. As consumers, instigators, and innocent bystanders. Porn is plastic, sure, but let’s also remember that pornography coats the industry over in plastic as well. They’re not just selling women, they’re also selling the ideology that it’s okay. Don’t buy it.

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  1. February 3, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    Thanks for sharing this post. Very nice job.

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  2. February 16, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    The first idea is that Pornography cannot be consensual sex. Think about it, if one or all people involved in the filming of pornography is being paid then they are not consenting to have sex with one another…

    Well, porn doesn’t have to involve sex so…
    (shrug)

    So when someone works in an office for a salary or someone cleans your toilet for a set fee…it’s not consensual?
    No, it doesn’t work.

    … they are consenting to get paid at the price of their body.

    “At the price of their body”? What does that even mean?

    Would that apply to actors or photo models or tumblers or dancers too?

    “If she doesn’t do what Jim is asking her to do, she may or may not get paid. If she doesn’t do this, it’s entirely possible no one else will hire her after today. So, she concedes.”

    This would apply to the maid or the policeman or to the school teacher or to the actor in a commercial.

    “Porn generally has the opposite effect. It degrades women to a submissive object…”

    Again, what does that even mean?
    Are you are against porn per se or only “degrading” porn? Or is all porn automatically degrading by your definition? Why only women? There’s gay porn too. There’s porn that involves no photography at all. What about audio porn? Or cartoon porn? Or literary porn?

    Pornographic material also redefines what the “perfect” women is supposed to be.

    Get in line behind the Barbie doll and every single cover of “Woman’s Day” and TV commercial out there. Why only focus on women? Gays? Transexuals? Hello?

    So, how does this all relate back to economy? Porn is a multibillion dollar enterprise.

    So?
    Really, think about it. Industry makes money. The pornography industry makes money too.
    Big deal. It’s got nothing to do with anything.
    How about free amateur porn? Are you ok with that?

    If I wash dishes for a living, I am making that choice over working in retail or going to school to get an education to do whatever I want. I have that option. Can we really say the same for the emotionally abused girl who stumbled into porn?

    Why do you feel the need to inject “emotionally abused girls stumbling around” into it?
    Is your argument so weak you feel the need to inject some helpless imagery to tug at the heartstrings of the reader?
    If the girl was not a girl at all but an adult woman who was not “emotionally abused in any way and did not stumble into anything would you then have no problem with porn?

    Possibly at the beginning of her career, but what about 5 years into it? 10 years?

    Many professions have minimum physical requirements. Age affects us all.

    And yes, there are different markets.
    There’s cougars for instance.
    There’s mature,
    There’s even granny porn out there.
    Fetishes of all shapes and sizes. Sexuality is a complicated business. Different strokes for different folks and all that.
    It doesn’t sound like you’ve done much research into porn at all.

    They’re not just selling women, they’re also selling the ideology that it’s okay. Don’t buy it.

    Name a single woman that has been “sold”. Hyperbole may work with the rubes but not with the rest.

  3. February 17, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    The first part of the post which you refuted, about porn being consensual, I think, all comes to a head on the question of do the women (and men, and transexuals etc) decided to be in porn out of number of meaningful alternatives. I interjected emotionally abused, because from the extensive research I have done most girls who end up in porn would be classified as emotionally abused. Of course there are outliers, and pornography is extremely broad. There’s porn for everything. The majority of porn actresses are, however, between the ages of 20 and 24 most are introduced between the ages of 18 and 21. An estimated 90% of girls in porn are also prostitutes, their producers working as pimps. This is estimated by Shelly Lubben, a former prostitute and porn actress, and is agreed upon by various testimonies of other porn actresses.
    Just so you know, I can name a woman that has been sold, right here in the United States. I know a friend of a friend who sold and on a boat in Houston to be shipped across seas as a sex slave. Some of rising prostitutes and porn actresses are told they will be going out of country to make more money as prostitutes for a few weeks and never come back. So yes, women have been sold, and if prostitution outside of outright sex slavery doesn’t count, then they’ve been leased.
    As a side note, I am against the media push that gives the image of the “perfect” women, including “wholesome” magazines like women’s day and every TV advertisement and actually every television show, and almost all female entertainers of every sort.

    The point of this little post was not to write an exhaustive account of why porn is bad, or why I don’t like it, or why you shouldn’t. It was to explain in economic terms the porn industry. It’s objective, and research based. Naturally in all objective fields, one must define terms that would otherwise be subjective, such as “degrading” and no, I am against all porn wether it is degrading or not. The majority of porn is degrading, and there are objective reasons, such as the economic control consumers have over the porn industry, and objectively defined abuse that has resulted, for why I dislike pornography. Do some research of you own, and don’t take porn at face value. Read the testimonies of the girls involved and perhaps you will find that you disagree with a lot of driving themes of pornography, such as racism, violence, infidelity, physical and emotional abuse, drug addiction, child pornography (which is not necessarily caused by, but it nurtured by porn).

  4. February 17, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    …do the women (and men, and transexuals etc) decided to be in porn out of number of meaningful alternatives.

    I don’t understand what you mean by “meaningful alternatives.”
    Would you use the same term for some other industry or it is only reserved for the porn industry?

    I interjected emotionally abused, because from the extensive research I have done…

    You can’t just give your readers bland assurances that you really, really have done extensive research and leave it at that. I can only work with what you wrote and from what I read, you injected rhetoric to tug at the emotional heartstrings of the reader to manipulate them.

    The majority of porn actresses are, however, between the ages of 20 and 24 most are introduced between the ages of 18 and 21.

    How do you know that this is true and why is this even an issue even if it is true?

    An estimated 90% of girls in porn are also prostitutes, their producers working as pimps.

    Again, how do you know that this is true and why is this even an issue even if it is true?

    This is estimated by Shelly Lubben, a former prostitute and porn actress, and is agreed upon by various testimonies of other porn actresses.

    Lubben? Never heard of her. “Various testimonials”? No, that won’t do.
    The plural of anecdote is not evidence.
    This is not a good sign that you have done “extensive research”.

    Just so you know, I can name a woman that has been sold, right here in the United States.

    So you say but…do you expect me to just passively believe you? With no supporting evidence?

    I know a friend of a friend who sold and on a boat in Houston to be shipped across seas as a sex slave.

    You know “a friend of a friend”? No, that won’t do.

    You have to connect slavery to the porn industry and you have to use academic source material. You have to use evidence. Your assurances are not helpful at all.

    If you wish to build a case against the porn industry then it must be built on evidence, not emotionalism.

    • February 20, 2012 at 2:23 PM

      Meaningful alternatives: an alternative that has a serious prospect of producing the same positive effects as another choice. For example: a waffle, pancake and a crepe. If I chose a waffle, I chose from a list of meaningful alternatives. If I am offered, for breakfast, an old tortilla, HIV infected blood, and an old fork… well… I’d chose the tortilla, but only because there is not a number of meaningful alternatives.

      The reason I brought up the most common age of female porn performers is because you brought up the outliers, the much less common porn like granny porn. I was simply explaining why I limited my topic. To talk about the porn industry as whole would take up way too much space for a blog post.

      The reason I brought up the estimated 90% figure is because you asked what girl had ever been sold. There are reliable eyewitness accounts of nearly every girl in the porn industry being leased. Also I was wrong, it was Patrice Roland who made that estimate, Shelly Lubben did not. Check out Shellylubben.org for testimonies of former porn performers, and even her story, you might recognize her porn name.

      To my knowledge there is limited research conducted with a method and a breadth that would conclusively say much of anything about the sex industry. This does not mean that we can merely say to the evidence and research and testimonies that we do have, “No, that won’t do.” We cannot ignore it, but learn as much from it as we can. What evidence could I possibly give you that my friends fried was on a boat in Houston? A name? An article in a newspaper? A picture? What would be supporting evidence? and moreover, what would I have to gain from making it up?

      http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/dallas/headlines/20110504-milwaukee-couple-accused-of-kidnapping-forcing-woman-to-work-as-prostitute.ece

      The web address above is about a couple who kidnapped a “friend” of theirs and put her in strip clubs to get tricks. She escaped in Dallas from a hotel that myself and some friends have been working with and praying over for this purpose. I joined them shortly after this happened, and we found this article that summer. A lot of the girls in porn reportedly go through the same kind of situation. Their producers bring them to cities all over the U.S. and set them up in strip clubs. Later the highest bidder gets to go be alone with them.

      I cannot find the article I wanted that has a first hand account of this, but I do know that Christ Hedges wrote “The Empire of Illusion” from pages 67-87, I think, he talks about porn from interviews at a porn convention in Las Vegas. There he talks with Patrice Roland, along with many other people, a lot of them still in the business. He talks with Shelly Lubben, whom you’ve never heard of. Check it out. I can even send you a transcript of the pages in a reader file if you like.

  5. February 20, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    To talk about the porn industry as whole would take up way too much space for a blog post.

    Yet that is what you did.

    The first idea is that Pornography cannot be…the rise of pornography…Pornographic material…

    You did not even try to define pornography from the start. Nor limit yourself to a particular segment of the porn industry.

    The reason I brought up the estimated 90% figure is because you asked what girl had ever been sold.

    Still waiting here.

    There are reliable eyewitness accounts…

    Spot the basic problem here.

    …nearly every girl in the porn industry being leased.

    No, what girls have been sold? How does this connect to the porn industry?

    We can talk about prostitution some other day. Stick to your original claim without shifting the goalposts.

    Check out Shellylubben.org for testimonies…

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

    This does not mean that we can merely say to the evidence and research and testimonies…

    Evidence is good. Research is good. “Testimonies” not so much. Bland assurances that you really, really, REALLY have researched this whole thing….um…hell no.

    What evidence could I possibly give you that my friends fried was on a boat in Houston?

    What evidence could I possibly give you that my friends fried was on a private jet with Elvis?
    I have no idea. That’s for you to figure out. You were the one that brought it up and then just expected me to swallow it.
    Burden of proof.
    Yet before you do, you need to connect the dots to your article on…porn.
    Whatever may or may not have happened on a boat somewhere is all very interesting but how does that relate to the porn industry?

    …and moreover, what would I have to gain from making it up?

    People make up stories all the time. Lurid stories. Tales of sorrow and woe. Sometimes, even politicians make up such stories. Why do they do it? Hmm, tough question.

    …a couple who kidnapped a “friend” of theirs and put her in strip clubs to get tricks.

    That’s terrible.
    What does that have to do with your article?

    A lot of the girls in porn reportedly….

    Reportedly? So they say? Rumour has it? A friend of a friend told you?
    If people are being kidnapped, then where are the criminal records and the court cases?
    Kidnapping is a major crime. It can even make the papers.
    Convicted kidnappers go to prison for a long, long time. This is where supporting hard data and research comes in.

    …go through the same kind of situation.

    Wait a minute. How come you didn’t say “the same situation”? Why did you say “the same kind of situation”?

    Their producers bring them to cities all over the U.S. and set them up in strip clubs.

    (…awkward silence…)

    Ah, that’s why.

    They’re not just selling women, they’re also selling the ideology that it’s okay.

    Name a single woman that has been “sold”.

  6. February 21, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    I did a simple search “Kidnapping porn news” and these came up. Most of them have to do with child porn. But the forbes article is particularly interesting. I’ve already said there’s not much DATA collected from research, but you cannot ignore the testimonies of reliable sources. I guess you do ignore them. So, these can probably be ignored, too. Just thought I would try.

    http://articles.ky3.com/2011-10-03/new-charge_30240622

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/deniserestauri/2012/02/16/sex-rape-assault-and-porn-sadly-these-are-the-top-teen-girl-alerts/

    notice the graphic on this ^ one. Interesting.

    http://www.paysonroundup.com/news/2010/aug/06/porn-kidnapping-shooting-cases-court-docket/

    http://www.newsandsentinel.com/page/content.detail/id/513256.html

    http://www.newsandsentinel.com/page/content.detail/id/513256.html

  7. February 21, 2012 at 6:45 AM

    …because from the extensive research I have done…

    It sounds good but is it really true?

    It’s objective, and research based.

    If only, if only.

    I did a simple search “Kidnapping porn news” and these came up.

    That explains a lot. This is not what I would call extensive research or being very objective at all. Try that nonsense at university and they will toss you out of the tute in a heartbeat.

    I’ve already said there’s not much DATA collected from research…

    Don’t let that slow you down as you go for lurid sensationalism. Full speed head!

    …you cannot ignore the testimonies of reliable sources.

    That’s what it boils down to really. A quick google search, some “shocking” testimonials that are really and truly reliable and you promise and all and…well, what do they have to gain from making it up?
    Don’t you feel just a little bit embarrassed that you posted this drek?
    Just a little?

    The Problem with Anecdotes by QualiaSoup

  8. De Brevitate Vitae
    March 27, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Carly Jo,

    From reading the back and forth between you and Cedric, it appears as though you are trying to generalize about the negatives of porn based on the handful of testimonies you read on shellylubben.com. It doesn’t make sense to reference the other articles that have nothing to do with the harms of pornography or the porn industry. Being kidnapped and forced to commit sex acts has nothing to do with this topic. You’re writing about pornography, not ‘crimes involving sex’.

    I’d like to bring up the point that, even if the handful of testimonies are real, you should realize that you cannot just expand their testimonies as if they represent the entire porn industry along with every sub-group in it.

    I’m sure if we searched the internet, we could find dozens of testimonies from children who were molested by their preacher and individuals who were framed or beaten by police officers. Although these testimonies may be important and can teach us about a real problem, it would be dishonest of us to say this is proof that ‘all’ or ‘the majority’ of preachers and police officers act in these ways. The same is true for the handful of ex-porn actor testimonies that you have cited.

    Similarly, unless you can cite credible research, it is dishonest to state that the porn industry is the ONLY variable that caused the rape/coercion of the women in those testimonies. I’m sure that you will agree that women across all industries have felt as though they are forced to perform sexual acts for fear of losing their job or in order to get ahead. In these cases, the problem is not the industry itself, but the handful of sexist and evil people in that industry.

    Lastly, there are many-MANY different kinds of pornography ranging from complete strangers having sex for money, to solo-masturbation on camera for money, to live webcams, to “artistic” nude photography, to married couples and individuals voluntarily posting photos and videos of themselves online for free because they “get-off” on the idea of other people looking at them. Each of these cases present a different risk of abuse of a performer by others and it is important to make that distinction. I would hope you do so in the future.

  9. March 29, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    De, I must apologize for any loose ends I left, or undefined lines of discussion. I was talking about mainstream pornography. That is the porn produced from major production companies that control the majority of porn output and its content.

    You’re very right about a lot of things. There are many sub-groups and a rise in homemade porn, that is economically aimed. I was not directly talking about these categories of pornography. However, I will if you’re interested in discussing them.

    I disagree with your analogy of preachers and police officers abusing people. I do believe that only happens in limited and isolated cases, however common it may be. Actually, I recently met a girl who was abused by a police officer, so I do not want to downplay the seriousness or reality of such abuses. The porn industry is different. (homemade porn is not an industry). In my experience and every source I’ve read it is not a handful or a pocket of abuse, it is an industry centered on abuses. It is extremely violent, and it’s really hard to deny that. The proof is easily found; all one must do is turn on porn, and violence is laid out like a buffet, you can even chose what kind of violence you like. The majority of words said to women in porn is extremely degrading including name calling like “whore” “Bitch” “dirty little slut” and commands like “Suck my dick you slut” and “Fuck that cock with your tight ass”. I guess it’s just really hard for me, as I’ve seen a lot of porn, to realize there any room for debate at all.

    De, I want to talk about the testimonies. I did not only draw these conclusions from the testimonies on Shelly Lubben’s site. They came from my own experience with pornography, the research of Naomi Wolfe, Chris Hedges, my meetings with Rahab’s Rope with individuals who have studied diligently and relentlessly many more sources than I have, various blogs, and a number of articles scattered all over the web. Shelly Lubben’s site contains testimonies that I believe most accurately and interestingly reflect the conclusions I made elsewhere. If, in all that time there was a source that had any contradictory evidence I might have a different conclusion. However, no such source has appeared. The best I’ve heard is individuals who like porn merely disagreeing.

    The point here is that the sex industry, namely pornography, is making billions of dollars from exploiting human beings physically and emotionally. This exploitation is a social injustice which if removed from the context of pornography the consumers of porn would abhor. I used to frequent porn site even though I hated racism and sexism. In fact, I like to this of myself as a bit of a feminist. However, since it was in porn I, and other consumers, allow it. If told the injustice of pornography I think consumers will boycott. That’s all I wanted to say.

    • De Brevitate Vitae
      March 29, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      Thank you for your response. Keep in mind that I was responding only to the handful of testimonies you provided as support for your argument. With only the shellyluben.com website being used in your initial discussion, it is difficult to not assume that they would represent isolated cases given that porn has been around for an incredibly long time. I would appreciate, along with your other readers, links to the other sources you mention.

      Although I have also seen my fair share of porn (over probably 10 years) and would not say that the majority of what I have seen is obviously violent (or racist?), I do agree that any mistreatment and abuse of women (and men) is terrible and should be fought against.

      I’d like to ask some questions to make your argument perfectly clear.

      Are you saying that the only thing wrong with “mainstream” pornography is the, in your words, undeniable abuse and degradation of women in the majority of videos and in the industry? Do you agree or disagree that all pictures and videos that fit into the category of pornography, but do not involve abuse or violence (and racism) are then “just fine”? (Also, would you mind explaining what you mean by racism?)

      In other words, I’d like to know if the individual cases of abuse/violence/etc. are what you’re arguing against, mainstream porn in general because of the perception (true or otherwise) that it ’causes’ or is ‘infected’ with this abuse/violence/etc., or porn in general regardless of type.

      Thanks!

      DBV

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