The alternative titles for this entry were “stop bitching about pornography,” or “unless you’re a dildo, you’re not a sex object, promise,” but this is so far a classy blog, and I aim to keep it that way. But onto our topic.
In her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood introduces a concept that she calls the “freedom to, and freedom from.” To paraphrase, “freedom to” is the choice to do, dress and act as you please; freedom from is the safety from such horrors as rape, murder and poverty. Each type of freedom excludes the other. If you can only have one, it seems obvious what the superior choice is: freedom to (I wouldn’t try arguing on this one, as God himself agrees with me– the proof of this is in our free will and the existence of evil, disease and rap music).
There’s no way to smoothly transition into my next point, so I’ll just be frank: it’s a ridiculous claim that porn objectifies women. There are a plethora of valid complaints one could make about porn; it’s part of the institutionalization of sex, it destroys intimacy between partners, it creates unattainable standards, the actors stare into your soul and give you nightmares. One could make excellent cases against porn using any of those points, so why would anyone scrape the bottom of the excuse barrel and say it objectifies women (mind you, I’m referring to typical vanilla sex porn, without any kinky special features that cater to rape fetishes, bestiality, or anything weird like that) ? Would you like to know what dehumanizes as a group of people? Taking away their ability to choose. Forcing them to act a certain way, or dress a certain way, or fit a certain stereotype. I’ll agree that porn is dehumanizing the day we start forcing girls to participate in it the moment they turn eighteen; until then, if you want to see who it is objectifying girls, look at the countries that still force them to cover themselves from head to toe, or the “traditionalists” who teach their daughters to submit and obey. There’s your culprit.
Now, before you all get your hackles up, know that I’m not encouraging anyone to go audition for the next big porno, nor am I saying anything against women who choose to cover their bodies, or play a submissive role–but the keyword here is choose. What Atwood didn’t mention in her novel is that any promise of freedom from objectification is a false one, because the moment you lose freedom to, you’ve already been dehumanized, branded, and shoved into the cattle bin. If pornography offends you, don’t watch it or participate in it; if the idea of a submissive woman offends you, don’t be one. That I can even say that to you is a beautiful thing; why would anyone ever want to throw that away?
“But wait!” you say, “even if certain women choose not to participate in porn, the fact that others do objectifies women as a whole!” But that’s not so. Like anything else, pornography is bound to create stereotypes, but none so powerful that they’ll extend to an entire population. Many women like to garden; that doesn’t mean that the world is going to view all women as gardeners.
Few people plead the case that porn objectifies men; I find that curious, since I’m guessing a good percentage of pornography out there features a woman and man having sex. So where are all of the indignant men, demanding not to be seen as sex objects? The truth is, this all boils back down to how our culture demands the repression of female sexuality. Why don’t you see hordes of rioting men? Because most men aren’t offended by the notion that they might participate in fornication– and (gasp!) maybe even enjoy it. What I’m saying here is, I suspect the people who claim to be offended by porn because it objectifies women are more likely offended by the notion of women participating in sex and enjoying it– to those people I say, go read my previous blog (“Sex: God’s Gift to Woman– why yes, this is a rather shameless plug) and get over it.
Admittedly, there will always be men who see women as servants and sex objects, just like there will always be women who view men as pigs or goldmines. But I assure you, ladies and gents, this is not the result of the way anyone dresses or behaves; it’s the result of ignorance and lack of respect, and that’s not anyone’s problem save for the person plagued with it. Excluding the ignorant, society’s opinion of an individual can’t be shaped by how another person behaves. So rather than worrying what other people are doing, everyone should work on portraying themselves as they want to be seen– no one’s going to make you wear a thong and a leather corset. Promise.
All in all ladies and gents, as long as no human rights are being violated, we should all strive to mind our own damn business. A woman who chooses to stay at home is no slap in the face to feminists, a woman who loves sex and is the CEO of a major business isn’t going to shatter anyone’s belief system, and a woman who pursues a career in the adult film industry isn’t going to turn the entire population of women into sex objects. We are not Atwood’s Handmaids, cowering, oppressed and clinging desperately to the false promises of protection; we are the fortunate holders of free will. True, we aren’t free from the evils of the world, or from being branded in ways we find degrading…but really, who needs that when you have the freedom to shape your own self and the path you walk?