PORNOCRATS AND EROTOPHILES (rated R)
Todays Sermon has a Concept Warning and is rated <R>
Pornocrats and Erotophiles
I was watching that Icon of Feminism, dear old Germain Greer, on television the other night delivering a blistering tirade against Pornography on the Web, when a picture popped unbidden into my mind of a younger, more flexible Germain.
Yes, a grainy, Black &White photo of a naked and rather bushy Mz. Greer contorted in a yoga like pose that allowed her grinning face to appear between her legs. A disturbing sight even now.
This picture was taken in 1969 as I recall, during the heady days of the Sexual Revolution, back when she was a regular contributor to SUCK magazine, a grotty “underground” publication that styled itself as “an alternative to the kind of mind which could create obscenity laws.” How times change.
Well, Germain is a National Living Treasure and even when one disagrees with her, one must respect her independence of intellect. And to be fair, her main complaint was against the “commercialisation of sex” rather than the usual two tired, traditional critiques of such material, these being:
a) Christian objections to “obscenity”
b) feminist objections that it oppresses women.
But both these critiques were expressed by Mz Greer’s fellow panelists that evening, and concern of the threat that porn on the net poses to our Young was voiced as well. I have “Young” myself, need I be concerned at the threat of Pornography on the Web? And what about Erotica? Is that something different? I considered the question and did some research.
What is Pornography anyway? Is it any depiction of the naked body or only if pubic hair is showing? What about all those Greek & Roman sculptures? Is that pornography too or is it different because it wears a decent veil of Culture. (I recollect as a little one, no higher than an erection, getting early erotic thrills from those old statues in the history books – some of those Egyptian girls in the wall paintings were pretty hot too.) What about people into latex or leather costumes? Often their entire body is “decently” covered so is that pornography too? What about fetishists into lingerie? Should we ban the Target Catelogue to be safe?
Myself, I used to collect Black & White Magazine in the Nineties; an Arthouse production interested in “Modern Photography”, which included a fair amount of nudity, including the odd penis artistically displayed, lots of sepia-toned, post-modern art-noveau/surrealist/industrial-aesthetic stuff and soft-core fetishist iconography. Yes it was all very tasteful, and could pass as Art so you could leave it on your coffee table rather than under your mattress.
Strangely, almost my first thought as I went researching the modern highways and byways of Erotica on the Net for this Sermon, was the opposite of Germain’s concerns regarding the Commercialisation of Sex. Instead, I found myself wondering what in god’s name is the economic basis sustaining this Industry. How could anyone be making money from it? With such a glut of free porn on the net, why would anyone ever pay for it? Especially as there appears to be a growing volume of “amateur pornography” created by people who do it purely for the exhibitionist joy. And every Exhibitionist deserves a Voyeur, who am I to deny them happiness together?
I wasn’t startled by the incredible diversity of sexual tastes catered for. I used to hang out a lot with Working-Girls back-in-the-day, and from listening to them (an education in itself) I learned how varied is the sexual appetite. My own little quirks (which you’ll be happy to hear, I’m not going to share with you) seemed minor compared to those of some of their customers.
One of the girls’ Regulars, for example, used to enjoy lying under a glass coffee table while the hired girl squatted above in stilletoes and took a shit. Not to my taste to be sure, but the girls were well paid and no-one was hurt. That is until the glass coffee table gave way one night, leading to a trip to Casualty for facial lacerations.
Now coming from an Anarchist background, my basic starting position is that of Sexual Libertarianism. In theory this means that the major “thou shalt not“, and perhaps the only taboo Society has the right to enforce on the individual’s sexuality, is on those sexual acts inflicted on others without their Consent.
Yes, without Consent you can keep it to yourself. And of course these “Consenting Others” need to be in a position to be able to give that informed consent freely. This of course means that sex with children, animals, corpses, the severely mentally handicapped and the unconscious is right out, as none of these are capable of giving such informed consent. Same with placing hidden cameras in the changing room, its just not civilized behaviour.
But looking at erotically stimulating imagery in the privacy of your home? I find this harder to condemn. Assuming the models are not some kind of unwilling “sex slave”
and are being paid professional rates, like the photographer, then this is a consensual act between all parties.
In the eighties the left wing/anarchist/feminist circles I moved amongst tended to be pretty puritanical on the whole issue. I recall one incident at a desert protest camp outside Roxby Downs when a luckless comrade was discovered to have a copy of Playboy in his sleeping bag, and was subsequently treated thereafter as a pariah by the fem-bots.
“Pornography” was considered an example of men’s oppressive sexuality. The Theory being basically that we men are all too stupid to be able to look at a picture of a naked girl without thereafter and forever more objectifying all women as nothing more than sex objects. Yeah, it sounds really ridiculous when you say it out aloud. It also assumes women would never engage in such behaviours. Hah!
Women’s sexuality was somehow supposed to be purer, more refined. (sounds very Victorian.) My own conclusions after years of research and observation is that women’s sexuality isn’t really that different from men’s. Women can be just as lustful, and for that matter just as “perverse”, just as “deviant” in their appetites as men. The old Straight/Gay dichotomy is a relic of the twentieth century; the Future is probably pan-sexual, and there will be no accounting for taste.
Still, puritanical attitudes persist in the Left. I recall another incident only a few years ago when one female Comrade started gossiping about another old Anarchist (whom we’ll call “Bob”) that she and her cousin shared a house with. Seems the cousin was in Bob’s room for some reason one day when he was out, and came across Bob’s hidden stash of porn. Instead of ignoring it the cousin investigated and decided to bring her in so they could both tutt tutt and judge him together. And now she obviously saw it as fit subject for gossip.
Now let me just say at this point that “Bob” is not a friend. Far from it. Over the many years I have known him he has never shown me the slightest sign of friendship or respect. He has always looked down on me. Yet I was offended for his sake nonetheless.
“What I find offensive,” I told her, ” is not Bob’s sexual fantasies, which are no business, thank god, of mine. What I find offensive is your cousin invading Bob’s privacy, and then further violating Bob’s trust by inviting you in and now you further violating his right to privacy by telling me about it as though its your duty to inform the community.”
Poor old Bob. Pity he’s such a jerk.
But what about all that pornography flooding the Internet. Is it undermining our society? Is it a sign of the end of Christian Morality with its concept of sex as sinful? The Pagans loved their erotica. The ancient Athenians had a statue with an erection on every street corner, it was sacrilege to defile one. On holidays the Romans baked loaves of bread in the shape of genitals and when Victorian-era archaeologists were digging up Pompeii they found so much “erotica” they were appalled and hid most of it away in the basements of museums, where the public could be sheltered from their salacious effect.
As a final thought I wonder why it is we spend so much energy and concern “protecting” our Young from Sexual Images, yet so little protecting them from the Pornography of Violence. I imagine many teen boys have seen more executions than breasts on TV, yet still Society wonders why crimes of violence are on the increase.
Well, I’m bored now with looking at pornography, thinking about it and writing about it. So I’m going to have a cup of tea and read a good book for awhile. Call me old-fashioned.
The Reverend Hellfire will be providing Gender Equity at this fabulous event as Master of Ceremonies and Token Male. Readers in the Brisbane area are invited to attend.
The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet and an Ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanists AND the Church of the Universe. Oh, and Committee Secretary of the Kurilpa Poets.
He’s too busy to look at porn anyway.