I am a feminist who is less than impressed with porn on the whole. Here's why: my gripe is that mainstream porn is exploitative. It "exoticizes" women with specific characteristics - full-figured women, ethnic women, trans women, and so on. It is sold in most adult stores categorized by parts and "specialties" - our local store has aisles that read "big tits", "for ass men", "black and asian", "bisexual" (in which the only films that get tagged are the ones where men are bisexual because it seems to be assumed that all women in these films are down with having sex with other women anyway), "fat chicks", etc. (I do not intend my language to be derogatory, the signs do in fact use these terms.) I worry that long-term exposure to porn can cause women to be seen as objects. I realise it is an old and unpopular opinion, but I feel it's a valid one.
That said, I don't think that watching porn makes you explicitly a pervert or anti-feminist. Obviously some people who do are both those things as are some of the rest of the population. But I do think that porn needs to be up for discussion, evaluation and critique just like the rest of the film industry. If you wouldn't stand for blatant sexism, racism or homophobia in a mainstream movie, why would it be any better in porn?
While I disagree that all porn and pornographic material is innately detrimental, I obviously believe that violence juxtaposed with sex can be a very dangerous thing, and that, as the commenter above pointed out, mainstream porn tends to be racist, sexist, and so on. If there was more non-violent, egalitarian and realistic pornography out there (and I'm sure there is), I wouldn't see any real problem with that--it can be enjoyable for both partners, I think.
i always have some difficulty answering this question or others like it i.e. ones about stripping, prostitution, etc. i think it comes down to the idea of consent vs. coercion in things like this, & if the womyn & men involved truly understand what they are doing, consent to it (ever aspect), & understand the possible pros/cons to the "message" or "product" they are putting out there.
i have all sorts of qualms with mainstream pornography, a lot of it dealing with what miranndaluna said about the typification of womyn into categories which basically come down to "what type of womin would you like to fuck?" i dislike the all male angle/emphasis, how sometimes rape/gang rape/outright abuse are emphasized & seen as sexy/desireable, & how queerness seems to only be okay when it's between womyn & it's only "surface queerness" where the womyn still ultimately want the man/to please him.
with that said, i also feel that womyn & men should be free to do whatever they want with their bodies sexually as long as everyone is consenting with one another & no one is being hurt in the process. but that comes down to what you considered "hurt." i also can't deny that pornography has all types of detrimental effects on sexual relationships or relationships in general between men & womyn (or any gender for that matter) to begin with. it gives people an unrealistic idea of what sex is/should be, who should do what, & who should be the focus/center of pleasure.
i guess my position on it it wary tolerance of its existence. i don't think watching porn necessarily makes you a pervert or even anti-feminist. both my partner & i occasionally watch pornography & if anything we either look at it as a complete joke or go "hey, we'd like to try that." i feel if pornography were more realistic, egalitarian, etc. i would be more willing to fully support it. i think for that reason when i do watch pornography, i choose to watch ones that play out realistically as opposed to the plumber going to "go do" the "hot wife" near the pool.
There's a 3D porn site I frequent: much of the art posted is, well, problematic in the attitudes that are clearly behind it, but the fact is it's created with no living people involved except the artist. It's not exploiting models, it's not directly harming anyone. And hidden in between the misogynist crap there's some art I find truly erotic. It can be hard to find, but I enjoy those gems when I find them; I don't think that makes me unfeminist. I have a sexuality and I enjoy it.
I think it's important to make a distinction between the porn industry, and porn as a whole. I think it's true to say you can't be a supporter of the porn industry as it exists today, and be a feminist. That doesn't mean feminists can't enjoy sexually stimulating material which falls into the general definition of pornography.
What about erotic fiction? What about slash fiction, a genre of fiction almost exclusively female-produced and female-consumed? Is is unfeminist to enjoy these, too?
My whole opinion on the whole porn thing is basically - when men start seaking out feminist porn (or porn that isn't degrading to women and represents more than just the narrow definition of beauty) MORE than the mainstream junk, than maybe I wouldn't be anti-porn...The problem is - most of the men I have talked to said that they liked porn precisely because of the degrading things women were willing to do in it. I haven't gotten many views on porn from women other than anti-porn or pro-feminist porn.
I'm not for censorship - I don't think it would solve the problem but I'm all for educating people of the horrors that can go on within the porn industry (sex trafficking, drug use, coersion etc). I'm all for the decriminalization of prostitution.... I would like to see the industry overlooked more closely (to prevent the huge numbers of underage performers that end up in mainstream porn) and to be punished for breaking the laws - which doesn't seem to happen these days...
I'm also all for teaching people how degrading porn can affect how they interact with women and how they perceive women (male or female). I've seen first hand how porn has the potential to really mess with some people's heads (the question is whether or not you'll end up being that person and who really knows?). My dad was a porn addict - not only did he become disrespectful to my mom but also to me. He would behave inappropriately (like slap my ass) and he yelled a lot at me and called me names (you know the usual - stupid bitch etc)... Before porn became a problem for him - he never did those kinds of things (though he did yell sometimes). I've been in relationships with guys who preferred porn over real sex and that is very painful for anyone going through it - like any addiction. They try to hide things, lie and deny, cover their tracks - the spend more time covering their tracks than being present in the relationship (like any addiction/obsession I suppose). And the entire time you are with one of these guys - they try to say that they do think you are beautiful, that they do find you sexy, that they don't disrespect you but all the while - he's only focusing on his own needs and desires to build their entire sexuality around a TV screen.
I'm not against people watching porn if they want but I'd prefer to keep it out of my life. My experiences keep proving over and over again that nothing good really comes of it and shit - if it's not addictive as everyone seems to think - than people should be willing to give it up and move on...
I always have hated that double standard - I hear men saying all the time "Porn isn't addictive" but in the next sentence "men NEED their porn."
Quite honestly - I'm just really tired of people silencing my concerns... I seem to notice that more feminists are pushing porn - especially on anti-porn people... (check out prof. Foxy on Feministing)...
I think it's really important that you addressed that last concern, because it is VERY strategic in certain circumstances. I think feminism in the 3rd wave has become either extremely radicalized & amazing, or has been converted into this fluff piece. Feminists can be sexy, too! Cake parties, feminists in thongs, feminist pillow fights, etc. I see it in the same way I saw the Riot Grrl message being commodified into the Spice Girls or Britney Spears, taken out of the hands of its supporters, & exploited for profit.
I don't honestly know tons of pro-porn feminists who want to push it on anti-porn feminists. What I see, more often that not, is people who identify as pro-sex which tends to fall more along the line of legalized prostitution, etc. They (we) tend to address porn with skepticism & at the very least tolerance. The people I see identifying as "feminists" who push porn so much, to me, tend to be the faux-feminists. The womyn who want to be independent, sassy, and loud, but also want to remain sexualized & "one of the guys" at the expense of, well, a lot. They don't want to address the negatives of porn, because, well, they don't want to be "that girl." I think it's ridiculous that they silence your concerns, like you said, because they are totally valid & need to be addressed.