BBC Newsnight 23rd Oct 2018 – Gail Dines and Jerry Barnett
I posted this on an old blog.
But thought it may be worth re-posting.
BBC Newsnight 23rd Oct 2018
This is my reply/response about the BBC Newsnight (23rd Oct 2018) show with Gail Dines and Jerry Barnett.
This was an interesting show, because Gail did what she does on most of her youtube films I have seen, and that is start of with her dehumanizing methods. At the start (I mean very start) of the interview, Gail tried to create a story about Jerry. First she stated he was involved in porn, which he is not (and I believe Gail knows that). The second was she stated that he was like a climate denier, suggesting he was ignoring the evidence. In fact as Gail I am sure knows full well, the evidence done by academics shows that there is no evidence porn does harm.
I am surprised Gail did not report to her usual ‘pornymen’, to describe Jerry as I have heard her use this term (or something along the lines) in her youtube vids.
In truth, the show was too short to discuss anything. And it felt like very few points were made.
But what may have been missed by many was the little point Gail made at the end. Gail got excited and said something about the new adult age verification laws.
So why is that interesting?
Well put simply Gail who is wanting porn banned/censored is a supporter of this law. In other words, a law that we are made to believe is NOT about censorship, is backed by someone who wants porn censorship.
But let’s not be taken in by this anti porn stance Gail has. This is as much to do with Gail’s anti-capitalist stance more than anything. She has openly admitted that she is anti-capitalist [http://gaildines.com/2009/09/pornography-is-a-left-issue/].
Something that one wonders if her happy clapping followers are fully understanding.
As leftists, we reject the sexism and racism that saturates contemporary mass-marketed pornography. As leftists, we reject the capitalist commodification of one of the most basic aspects of our humanity. As leftists, we reject corporate domination of media and culture. Anti-pornography feminists are not asking the left to accept a new way of looking at the world but instead are arguing for consistency in analysis and application of principles.
Notice rather than say ‘I’, she invokes ‘we’, claiming that if you are on the left you must be anti porn.
From watching a lot of her youtube films, most of her arguments seem to be that porn is bad because it is capitalist and makes money. She often quotes it is a multi billion pound industry (by the way, I have as yet never seen any evidence it is a multi billion pound industry as this seems a made up fact). The fact people make money from porn seems a rather silly argument to be against porn, as most businesses are set up to generate a profit. The difference between porn and most other businesses, it is not a business that makes people ill (unlike the drinks industry for instance).
Why do so many on the left seem to assume that pornographers operate in a different universe than other capitalists? Why would pornography be the only form of representation produced and distributed by corporations that wouldn’t be a vehicle to legitimize inequality? Why would the pornographers be the only media capitalists who are rebels seeking to subvert hegemonic systems?
Capitalists are bad, seems to be her argument against porn. Notice that to try to make her argument legitimate she uses a vocabulary designed to (I would suggest) confuse many who read/listen to her. It means many simply do not question her. It is fun to read her stuff as it sounds like a conspiracy believer on crack. She seems to suggest that people who make porn are in some great plan to shape the world.
Yet when discussing pornography, this analysis flies out the window. Listening to many on the left defend pornography, one would think the material is being made by struggling artists tirelessly working in lonely garrets to help us understand the mysteries of sexuality. Nothing could be further from the truth; the pornography industry is just that — an industry, dominated by the pornography production companies that create the material, with mainstream corporations profiting from its distribution.
Yes, porn like every other business is out to make money. Though, in truth, a lot of people make porn at home and put it onto the web for free as it is part of their sexuality. Oddly, one would presume if Gail was against business, why would she be putting her films on youtube, for youtube to profit from distribution of her films? It seems fine for her to make her films, but not other people?
It’s easy to listen in on pornographers’ conversations — they have a trade magazine, Adult Video News. The discussions there don’t tend to focus on the transgressive potential of pornography or the polysemic nature of sexually explicit texts. It’s about — what a surprise! — profits. The magazine’s stories don’t reflect a critical consciousness about much of anything, especially gender, race, and sex.
I have never heard about this magazine. I wonder if this is the only research Gail has ever done into porn, is look at a single magazine. But you are correct Gail, they are talking about making money, rather than publish articles on gender, race, or sex. Who would have known a trade magazine called Adult Video News would cover the Adult Video News stories? I presume that if Gail buys a trade magazine on furniture (for instance) she would expect it to cover subjects about race, gender and so on.
Most of Gail’s arguments against porn, seem to be that porn is bad because (like every other business), it makes money. She suggests it is all made by men, and seems to completely ignore the inconvenient truth that a lot of women make porn, and run their own porn sites, and shoot porn. She also ignore the inconvenient truth that gay porn exists, as this does not fit in to her narrative that porn is made by men to abuse women.
Up-market producers such as Vivid use mainly white women; the official face of pornography is overwhelmingly white. However, alongside this genre there exists more aggressive material in which women of color appear more frequently. As one black woman in the industry told us, “This is a racist business,” from how she is treated by producers to pay differentials to the day-to-day conversations she overhears on the set.
You cannot win. If the site was full of black women, one would presume that she would accuse the site of being racist because they were targeting black women. And there are many sites who only shoot black women. I myself shoot both black and white women. And there is a reason why more white models are shot. It is because there are more white women than black who do porn. Most model sites I have gone on, the bulk of the models are white. And because of this, the black models I know get a LOT of work as there are less black models. One also wonders if this ‘black’ women even exists that she quotes.
Pornography’s central ideological message is not hard to discern: Women exist for the sexual pleasure of men, in whatever form men want that pleasure, no matter what the consequences for women. It’s not just that women exist for sex, but that they exist for the sex that men want.
What about gay porn then? Or lesbian porn made by lesbians? Or BDSM porn, where men are tied up by women. Or mistress porn, where the women tends never to get nude and humiliates the men? Or shall we just ignore all that type of porn as it is inconvenient and simply does not fulfill the narrative that porn is made to abuse women by evil men.
However, do you remember what you posted at the start of your article?
Pornography is fantasy, of a sort. Just as television cop shows that assert the inherent nobility of police and prosecutors as protectors of the people are fantasy. Just as the Horatio Alger stories about hard work’s rewards in capitalism are fantasy. Just as films that cast Arabs only as terrorists are fantasy.
‘Pornography is fantasy’, and your correct. That is all it is. It is no more real than a horror film, or a cowboy film, or a cartoon. It is no more than entertainment. And just like a Horror film, people watch it, enjoy it, then move on. And yes, many films show the English as bad guys in USA films, but in real life Americans do not see the English as villains or people to be scared of. It is because people know it is a fantasy (as you yourself have stated). So if you believe people are affected by porn, then surely you believe that all forms of fantasy should be banned as presumably the arguments that can and often are applied to porn, can equally be applied to any other form of fantasy.