Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Porn Dilemma...

Don't panic. I haven't switched sides, suddenly enlightened as to the "truth" regarding some women's agency in sex acts for money; I haven't had that particular epiphany and I never shall. No, it's this: one of my friend's sons has been caught out looking at online porn. His worried mum told me all about it, then went on at length, explaining that it was only "tame" porn... nothing violent or unusual, and therefore her 14 year old son is normal. She told me that she had chatted to him about the possibility of him stumbling across such deviant activities as (horrors!) gay porn (the male kind, not the acceptable and normal fake female, male gaze sanctioned kind), BDSM and fetish stuff and violent porn. She cautioned him that once he has seen these images, he cannot wipe his eyes clean.

No. He can not. He can not wipe from his eyes the kind of humiliating and degrading images that he has already seen and his mother and father have normalised and contextualised for him. Now he thinks that porn is good. When I suggested that it might be good to question any kind of porn, I got the "normal, sexual development" argument.

I expect solidarity against pornstitution from my women friends and as a result I am often disappointed. I am, however, rarely stuck for words and don't often back away from a debate. When the subject arises I shall continue to argue with my friend against this normalisation of porn because I think our friendship is worth it. But now I am in danger of losing that friendship because I can't accept her argument that what all this amounts to is normal adolescent development. Well, yes it IS normal for teenage boys and the men that they become to objectify women. It IS normal for boys to think that women are sexually available meat. It IS (I hear) normal to decorate your son's bedroom with posters of nubile naked women in an attempt to help him formulate "safe" sexual fantasies. It just fucking shouldn't be.

And we can't seem to get beyond our respective positions on that. I don't have a son, and I don't know how I would behave if I was torn between my absolute conviction that porn is wrong and my desire to have a son that "fits in" with his peers. I think I do know what I would do. But I can't voice this and be credible because in any hypothetical situation it is always easy to stay behind moral conviction.

I just don't know how far I go with this. I suppose what I'm asking is: should I just shut up? Is this going to have to be one of those subjects that she and I agree to keep off limits?

7 comments:

Bea said...

It sounds as if your friend is being very naive about her son's porn use. Boys in his age group are the biggest consumers of free online porn. The usual pattern is that they seek out increasingly violent forms of porn as they become desensitised.

Perhaps she should have a look at what's available online and then decide whether she still feels that this is appropriate sex education for her son.

sparkleMatrix said...

I agree with Bea - and I also agree to suggest that she research porn available on the net and then decide if that amounts to ‘normal male sexual development’ remind her that porn is NOT sex.

Pippa said...

yes, naive is the word I would use. I have suggested she research what kind of porn she thinks is "reasonable" or "normal". I think it's going to get difficult at some point, because I don't feel comfortable now expressing my radical feminist opinion. I feel threatened. i have a bit of as thing about men and sexualised behaviour...

spotted elephant said...

I think that you having to be quiet about something so important to you is wrong. She's letting her son go down the usual path and thinks it's a good thing. :(

But I should mention that I don't have many friends. I'm (ahem) unreasonable.

Pippa said...

Spotty: yes. i agree. i won't shut up about it. I'm finding that my friendship circle is diminishing recently, due to my inability to "let it drop"! ha. never mind eh?

therealUK said...

I'd say there's a pretty good chance that the boy's father is a 'normal' porn-user as well, and the boy's mother knows this and doesn't want to go near the can of worms that would open.

It's the classic problem: most women just do not want to face how much men (including men they reckon to love like their husbands and sons) hold women in such contempt.

Much easier to go down the "la la la porn is normal and empowering" route than deal with actual male scumbag shittiness.

Pippa said...

yep. I think his father (who lives away) is a real woman hater...and yes, it is easier to normalise porn that to acknowledge what hatred it is...