Saturday, November 17, 2007

Alternet Leads with Porn Tease.

One thing I've learned over the years is that when there's a slug about porn or sex in the title, the odds of there being something I don't need for sale is inversely proportional to the distance between the tease and the payoff.

In this particular case, it takes three pages of this Alternet book excerpt to get to the point:

We think of the call of pornography as crass, like a carnival barker's. Like the neon lights of Times Square in its pornographic heyday. Men go to buy pornography in the "red-light" district, the "combat zone." Pornography seems to shout out at us, crudely.

But in reality, pornography speaks to men in a whisper. We pretend to listen to the barker shouting about women, but that is not the draw. What brings us back, over and over, is the voice in our ears, the soft voice that says, "It's OK, you really are a man, you really can be a man, and if you come into my world, it will all be there, and it will all be easy."

Pornography knows men's weakness. It speaks to that weakness, softly. Pornography ends up being about men's domination of women and about the ugly ways that men will take pleasure. But for most men, it starts with the soft voice that speaks to our deepest fear: That we aren't man enough.

Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity,
This is supposed to get you to cough up 12.95 for the promise of more insights into sex, porn and masculinity. And perhaps the author promises new insights, or at least a new viewpoint on an amazingly ancient and tediously commonplace reality. Perhaps you should chalk my reaction up to sheer annoyance at the thought that this fellow seems to have every reason to expect to be paid for things I've been saying for free.

Actually, I think that may have a great deal of truth to it. I find it both annoying and baffling, because for most of my life, I've been trying to figure out what possible reward there could be for "being a man" that would make it worth the depths of stupidity men seem willing to plumb - and women encourage - in order to convince themselves and others of it.

But certainly sexuality and pornography are deeply involved in this effort - and porn is very much involved in maintaining this paradigm as being both normal and unquestionable.

If you read Graphictruth, then you will have been exposed to this idea rather a lot - that pornography is an instrument and reflection of our culture, no better understood than when you examine what sorts of porn and pornographic entrepreneurs are ruthlessly oppressed - and which sorts are tolerated, or even encouraged by strangely-crafted government regulation.

Anyway, the observation that porn in general and the sex industry in particular has a great deal to do with encouraging heteronormative sexual behavior is - to an aspie blogger living in America's Great State of White Heterosexual Sin - a blinding glimpse of the blatantly obvious.

This is underlined by the fact that I spent a long stint as a reviewer of porn sites on my own pornographic link site. Why did I stop?

Well, when you get up in the morning, looking forward to another day of blatant sex and tentacle porn and realize that you'd really just rather play Sims and watch cooking shows on cable, it's time for a change. Hell, one glimpse of Ron Jeremy's ass is enough to make you question your entire life path. It wasn't JUST Ron Jeremy's ass that made me switch to politics, but it serves as a fundamental symbol of everything that did.

So, speaking as someone who has put on their hip waders and gone shoveling, there's far less that is truly depraved in the world of porn than you may fear, and far less of interest than curiosity, temptation and hype may lead you to expect.

The greater irony is this; I've found that in exploring the ethics of politics, I have not managed to avoid any significant downside of my previous concentration on the ethics of sex and porn, and as a great karmic punchline, Ron Jeremy's ass has been replaced with Dick Cheney's face. It's not an improvement.

But in comparing the two, and finding no significant distinction other than how metaphorical the nonconsentual cornholing of the underdog of the storyline may be, I have, I think, stumbled across a few useful insights along the way.

Pornography exists for the same reason as any other form of communication - to persuade you that some idea or another is worth your time, attention and donation of power and approval.

Porn is no more an end in itself than my writing this blog is. Both exist to convince you of something, and it's up to you to discern whether or not you should be convinced, and if you are, to who's benifit it is that you are convinced, and what exactly the price of that conversion will be.

Most American porn exists to convince you that you do NOT have to think about the moral and ethical consequences of living and acting like a stereotypical asshole, uncaring of the consequences of one's desires upon others. Indeed, it exists to sexualize those consequences, to validate the harm done as both just and due those who are not heterosexual white protestant assholes.

That kink is not just out there, it's out there with corporate sponsors, jumping up and down with it's fake boobs bouncing, along with single-click access to army.com.

Now, despite my obvious contempt for unthinking assholes and my lack of sympathy for the inevitable consequences to those who insist on acting as if they have a right to fuck up and fuck over anything that disputes their self-image as King o' da World, it should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer that asshole upon asshole fratricide is so commonplace that it's no longer news.

I have absolutely no problem with genuine sociopaths removing themselves from the gene pool, and to the extent that they can be encouraged by sex or adreneline to make some contribution along the way, I can only applaud. But, alas, the sociopaths have taken over the asylum and have convinced a lot of people that sociopathy is synonymous with masculinity; even with Christianity.

Well, the only cure for such offensive pornography is, as the saying goes, "more and better pornography." We must not abandon the most reliable handle upon the future behavior of our youth to those who would wank them to destruction.

Me, I much prefer lesbian porn. And I don't mean two hot chicks making it while each keep an eye on my designated representative, the camera, to see if their artful antics please their vicarious master. Not that I'm immune to that, or even feel particularly embarrassed about not being immune to hot theatrical simulated sex between professionals. It's like a corn dog at the fair - you know it's not very good for you, and you know that it has no place in a regular diet, but hell, it's fair food and it doesn't count.

The economy of my entire state rests upon this whole premise, and as I enjoy our attractively low tax rate, I will not sneer - save at those Californians who are far too Liberal to approve of such things, except for one or two weekends a year.

But I have seen real lesbian porn, and not a corn dog - it's an entirely different and far healthier cuisine. It's only "lesbian porn" by virtue of the fact that lesbians were the first (that I'm aware of) to seriously explore the idea of "what would porn that didn't automaticly validade a partiachal, heteronormative, white ethnocentric worldview look like?" Another term that you might run across is "alternaporn" or "alt-porn;" it's all pornography with explicit counter-cultural themes.

Some pioneering women - like Ducky Doolittle, for one - found that it was a lot more interesting and fun to create good porn that demonstrated good sexual ethics and views toward other women than stridently against bad porn that perpetuates destructive ideas and the oppression of women, and along the way, the idea that it was possible to have hot recreational sex with the persons of agreeable sexuality and gender without feeling like you needed a shower and a shriving afterwards.

Or in other words, if sexual shame is an essential part of what you think is "hot" about sex - maybe you should think about that in terms of it's moral and ethical implications.

Andraea Dwarkin and Cynthia Makinnon may well have revealed a great deal that was wrong with heteornormative porn, society and men accultured by it, but they offered little or nothing nothing other than "just keep your legs crossed" as an alternative vision. I wager neither was any fun at parties. The Catholic church has long advocated a militant asexuality as the alternative to approved sexual behavior - I don't really see a feminist restatement of the same dramatically futile and destructive moralism as a great contribution to the ethical evolution of humanity.

Anyway, to get to the point that the book is trying to get you to absorb by luring you in with the potential of possible vicarious tittiliation; "King of the Hill" mentality has not served our culture, our society or our planet well. It has not even well-served the interests of those who would be good kings capable of holding a hill wisely and well.

You see, one of the great surprises and ironies of my life was finding out that I am something of a patriarch.

I suppose none of us can really evade our childhoods, or the necessity to at least try to make things work out better now than they did then. I'm neither the typical patriarch nor am I much interested in expanding my sphere of influence beyond my household, because I lack the required kink almost entirely. The lust for power over the lives of others has no attraction for me, but in some curious way, I'm able to provide security for those who are compatible with my other twitches. Indeed, I think that having those twitches and flaws to a cater to is part of my attraction. It's possible to make a positive difference in my life, validating those who do it. But I know my limitations and am unwilling to be such a living example of the Peter Principle as so many of those who are briefly showcased upon the cover of Forbes. And, given the insight into State Mandaded patriarchalism as recently demonstrated by Saudi Arabian "justice" - I would never stoop to benefit from such a culture.

If I were born Saudi or Wahabi, at this point I'd feel honor bound to publicly renounce both citizenship and sect - for whatever government, religion or culture that exists solely to blow smoke up my ass and tell me what a big strong manlyman I am does me no great service in my role as safekeeper and guardian for those who need it - while forcing upon me the distractions who do not need me in the slightest.

In sexuality and life, it's far better to trade upon who you really are than try to claim to be what you are not, if for no other reason that you will lose out to those who either do not have to fake it at all, or who can fake it more convincingly.

Those who seek power over others - sexually, in politics, in commerce, in life - do it because that is a visceral need for them. It's not because they deserve it, or because they can be assumed to be able or willing to do anything useful with that power when they have it. Using power wisely and well is a skill, as well as an under-acknowledged responsibility. Understanding and acceptance that there IS a price to power is, sadly, almost never something that comes with the kink itself. And yes, folks, the need to hold power over others is a psycho-sexual kink, to the point of being a disastrous character flaw if not admitted. (CF. George W. Bush; Hillary Clinton, Wahabism.)

If those who need power like vampires need blood are not trained and guided to seek power wisely and use it well, they will fail - and it will almost by definition be a cascade failure of catastrophic proportions. (CF. George W. Bush; Hillary Clinton, Saudi Arabian Justice)

But most people do not have that kink, and it's both foolish and self-deceptive for us to accept that it is the definition of a "real man" to seek dominance over others and to be fulfilled by expressing that domination - without any question of "why, and to what end?"

In football, there can be only one quarterback - and a quarterback without a defensive line is what you call "roadkill." To extend the metaphor, a QB who calls stupid plays and embarrasses his team will be without his defensive line for every single play until he either gets a plan, or gets the hell off the field.

The fact is, those who think they "clawed their way to the top" by virtue of their own efforts, who define themselves not by what they have won, but how many others lost out to them are fools. Fools, and very often useful tools. (CF George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Conservative Muslim Clerics and domestic Dominionist Christian Clerics.)

The real secret to gaining and holding the hill is building a consensus that you look good up there, and accepting the quid pro quo that you must serve the ends of those who feel that way in order to remain there. That's true of Patriarchs, Presidents and all those entrusted with power and influence. The MOMENT you start believing that you have the right to the power you havem or at least argue to that effect based on a presumption of Divine Right, you deserve, at the very least, the derisive mockery of those you would exploit with negative responses up to and including a shotgun blast to the testicles in degrees measured according to your unwillingness or inability to deliver on your obligations.

Life is a power exchange - you will be given this power to use by those who judge you able to use it to their benefit for just so long as you do that. They can take it away at any time - and they don't have to climb the hill themselves. All they have to do is politely step out of the way of the next ambitious tool who wants to take everything you have away from you - not realizing that it was never yours and will never actually be theirs.

Dear King Abdullah - do you think it wise to allow a situation in your nation, your culture and faith where it would be to the benefit of half your population to seek the support and protection of men and women of another faith and more just culture? Do you think the Prophet would be sympathetic to your plight, or would he dryly observe that in getting in the car with Wahbiists, your kingdom deserves whatever it gets?

One thing I know about the Prophet - aside from any religious teachings - is that he was a man of profound ethics, one who believed in justice. So, what would he have to say about a religion based upon his good name being used to commit injustice?

Just a little rhetorical question. I'd ask the same of any Christian, sir; indeed, I often do.

I'll tell you a little secret about me and my particular kink. I find no romance in the tale of King Author; I find nothing attractive at all about sitting anywhere on the outside of the Round Table.

My archetype is Merlin - and like Merlin, I will continue whether or not Aurthur succeeds or fails. Because, well, there's an Aurthur born every minute.

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