Up Front by Emma Hart

Read Post

Up Front: They Have the Best Rides

141 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 Newer→ Last

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I see a few parallels here with the (mis-)categorisation of drug users as chaotic social dropouts.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4420 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    (I counted them, and that is exactly one plethora.)

    Reading that I'd say you've no need to worry your rhetorical flourish!

    And yes, isn't this what is good about the internet: viewpoints and voices previously simplified and stereotyped (to a degree even Hollywood would find lobotomized) are heard.

    There was a '90s gay tagging campaign all over Auckland and the Herald pointedly published nothing on it. Now it's more likely the campaign would be online...

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 547 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    And yes, isn't this what is good about the internet: viewpoints and voices previously simplified and stereotyped (to a degree even Hollywood would find lobotomized) are heard.

    Indeed, it seems absolutely screamingly obvious, and yet I still see people saying things like "I don't know what these women (always women) are thinking, but I imagine..." followed by something quite, ironically, patronising.

    And I should add that these people, in openly blogging as sex workers, open themselves up to an astonishing amount of abuse. Ren's had 'don't come crying to me when you get raped' from a radfem. I'm very happy that NZ feminist blogging doesn't seem to include that kind of bile.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I've discussed this before; the default ipso-facto image that the world as a whole uses as "Sex Worker"; the victim of childhood abuse, the junkie, the drop out, the person with no other choice, no other talents, no hope, and no where to go.

    I'm just going to mull this over while I go and collect my daughter from her ballet class. I'll be back to this...

    Since Nov 2006 • 2586 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    And I should add that these people, in openly blogging as sex workers, open themselves up to an astonishing amount of abuse. Ren's had 'don't come crying to me when you get raped' from a radfem

    Because blaming the victim of rape is such a __feminist__thing to do.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 705 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    They're all women, they're all victims, they're all subject to some degree of coercion, they're all lacking real choices.

    Except they're not.

    Yes! On ya Emma. Sometimes I am really glad to read wise words like this. Thank you for improvin' the day. Now a glass of wine :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6005 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Yes! On ya Emma. Sometimes I am really glad to read wise words like this. Thank you for improvin' the day. Now a glass of wine :)

    Aw, thanks Sofie, that's great to hear. Have one on me.

    Because blaming the victim of rape is such a feminist thing to do.

    Well, yeah. Or sitting round coming up with terms like 'sparkle pony' and 'bikini feminist' to denigrate other women.

    But y'know... I've got no right to tell somebody else whether they're a feminist or not. In the end I've just had to decide that it doesn't matter whether someone calls themselves a feminist or not. I'll look at what they do and say, not what label they're wearing.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    And pole dancing empowers women? (Came up in discussion of boobs on bikes at work today - us oldies who witnessed the 70s are a bit confused.)

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 508 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Ren on stripping as empowerment.

    I think empowerment, on a basic personal level is exactly that, personal, and some folks will find different things empowering. So, when Amber says that for her, pole dancing is very empowering, I believe her, and I can see how it would be. People have an image of pole dancing in their minds, I suspect: a stripper in heels twirling around and grinding on a pole in a club wearing little to nothing in front of a bunch of men…which is not what Amber, in her class, is doing... aside from some of the moves, it is not the same as in a strip club. It’s a bunch of women, in dance (dance, not strip) clothes, mastering the art, and yeah, I mean art, of pole dancing, which DOES take grace, balance, athleticism, flexibility, and rhythm, and it is a damn good work out. Belly dancing is JUST as suggestive, really…but I’ve never heard anyone complain about a woman belly dancing for fitness, for fun, or even for a living…(yeah, I belly dance too).

    Depends what you mean by 'empowerment', Cecelia, and what you mean by 'women' - ie women as an homogenous mass, or the individual woman doing the pole dancing.

    I know women who pole dance (and it's not just women who pole dance, either), who are good at it, and love it. It's difficult, and being able to do it well makes them feel confident and happy. How would it be empowering to tell them they shouldn't do it?

    Also, I think to say, as some people do, that how a man feels watching a woman pole dance is more important than how a woman feels when she's pole dancing is, well, sorry, sexist

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Ren's had 'don't come crying to me when you get raped' from a radfem.

    I've always taken with a grain of salt any attempt to link rape and erotica/porno together. 'Sexual violence' seems to owe much to violence and little to sex, rather than the other way round.

    From a technical standpoint, rape is GBH with a penetrative tool, whether biological or manufactured.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4155 posts Report Reply

  • Carolyn Skelton,

    Emma,I'm glad to see you drawing attention to what women involved in the sex industry have to say. Also, I think one of the most important points you've made is about the stereotyping into some universal idea of sex workers, which masks diversity.

    But another difficult issue is how to account for both the sex workers' sense of empowerment and/or enjoyment of their work, at the same time as attending to the impact on large numbers of women.

    The same could be said of any women in entertainment industries. So for instance, a very thin successful model could feel empowered by her work, while many women who don't conform to that repeated and widespread ideal feel undermined, disempowered and generally quite shitty as a result.

    So, I don't have a problem with pornography or sex work in general, but with some of the ways it's promoted and any dominant messages that undermine or give a sense of disempowerment to a lot of other women.

    Since Nov 2006 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Also, I think to say, as some people do, that how a man feels watching a woman pole dance is more important than how a woman feels when she's pole dancing is, well, sorry, sexist

    Yes, that's a major point. And yeah, that comparison to belly dancing is quite provocative, although one could point to substantial differences in the histories of the two dances. One was a social and religious dance, and much later became highly sexualised (especially in the eyes of westerners); the other started off as a highly sexualised dance for pay (the circus variety is very different, no?), and now it's perhaps becoming a social dance. And I'm all for it, people of all genders races and creeds doing their own thing is fine by me. Especially in the absence of cohercion or money changing hands.

    But so long as money does change hands, and let's face it it's mostly men giving it to women or other men, then I think the male perspective matters, and by reflection a kind of feminism that celebrates women who feel empowered pleasuring men for pay - again, fine by me, in and of itself - does give me a little pause. Because at the end of the day, once you've taken the stygma out of pornography and the exploitation out of prostitution, you realise hey, it's never been a better time to be a guy, has it? And that's okay too, some of my best friends are guys. But I suspect that the femimnists of yesteryear weren't planning to let us off quite so spectacularly easy.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    So for instance, a very thin successful model could feel empowered by her work, while many women who don't conform to that repeated and widespread ideal feel undermined, disempowered and generally quite shitty as a result.

    Sure, I agree with that. But I think there are a whole plethora of issues around women not feeling good about their own bodies, for instance, and criticising women who DO feel good about their bodies doesn't help at all.

    And y'know, when I was a teenager, I didn't want to look like a supermodel, or a pron star, I wanted to look like the other girls at school. I'd like to start with the way ordinary women talk about each other. We've all got the power to not criticise other women for the way they dress or look, yet how many of us have occasionally said 'OMG WTF is she wearing?'

    at the same time as attending to the impact on large numbers of women

    Sure, but let's concentrate on what the impact actually IS. As porn consumption has gone up, violence against women has become LESS acceptable. One in three women uses porn, one out of every four dollars spent on porn in the US is spent by a woman. As more women become porn consumers, more people like Candida Royale and Erika Lust are able to make their brand of 'woman friendly' pron, with plotlines and relationships and dialogue and everything.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's simple by any means. Because it's not simple, I think people should at least be prepared to listen to and consider other points of view. I'm in my mid-thirties and I'm still working through these concepts myself. I do know that trying to conform to conventional 'acceptable' ideas of female sexuality was damaging and disempowering for me.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    a kind of feminism that celebrates women who feel empowered pleasuring men for pay - again, fine by me, in and of itself - does give me a little pause

    Y'know, I don't wanna be saying what sex-pos/third-wave feminism is 'about'. Not my job. But I think 'celebrates' is a strong word. It's more about saying 'it's okay if that's your choice, and it's okay if it's not'.

    Because at the end of the day, once you've taken the stygma out of pornography and the exploitation out of prostitution, you realise hey, it's never been a better time to be a guy, has it?

    I get your point. But, y'know, there's that generalisation again. Women use porn. Men appear in porn. And I don't think the stigma is leaving pornography any time soon.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    One in three women uses porn, one out of every four dollars spent on porn in the US is spent by a woman.

    Whoa nelly. Do you have a link or reference for that? Not because I'm doubting you or anything, I would love to know more about the money side of this.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    First up, I'm not sure I really understand what ipso-facto means.
    But I think I'm getting the general idea. Victims of childhood abuse, Addicts and sex workers are one in the same (ipso-facto).
    That this demographic shares a common worthlessness or liability.

    This is a really hard thread. And I appreciate you tackling this stuff Emma.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2586 posts Report Reply

  • Carolyn Skelton,

    Actually, Emma, I think we're coming from different angles. My point didn't really have anything to do with judging porn as good or bad per se. I really see it as one of many media forms. I was just thinking that I find it difficult to make much of a judgement about any media representations of women based on how the actresses experience it. Though I do think it's an important corrective to criticisms that porn is bad for the women who participate in making it.

    Actually I'm not entirely sure how to differentiate porn from erotica. Also porn, or elements traditionally associated with it, have become fairly mainstream in the media in recent years.

    I still have Boobs on Bikes in the back of my mind, which I feel portrays a fairly narrow (and not very positive or assertive) image of women. And as an ex-motorcyclist, to me the best ride is indeed up front. It's much more exhilarating than riding on the back, and gives a sense of control that I could never get as a passenger.

    Hmmm..... but I do think media images also affect how girls judge each other, even though it may not be that direct.

    Since Nov 2006 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Whoa nelly. Do you have a link or reference for that? Not because I'm doubting you or anything, I would love to know more about the money side of this.

    http://www.msnaughty.com/blog/2008/08/06/oprah-does-porn-gamelink-gets-female-friendly/ (link has NSFW pictures in the sidebar)

    On Monday, the theme of the Oprah Winfrey show was “237 Reasons To Have Sex”. One segment on it was a relatively lengthy discussion of the usefulness of porn in spicing up a sex life. They also discussed the fact that women like porn and that - apparently - “in the $12 billion adult entertainment industry, $1 out of every $4 is spent by a woman.”

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I'd like to start with the way ordinary women talk about each other. We've all got the power to not criticise other women for the way they dress or look, yet how many of us have occasionally said 'OMG WTF is she wearing?'

    Even then (and this is probably too much information about my guilty television pleasures) compare and contrast __What Not To Wear__ and How to Look Good Naked. These makeover shows are exercises in psychological terrorism by their nature, but I sure find Gok Wan easier to take than the truly ghastly Trinny and Susannah. As someone once said to me, doesn't it say something sad that it's a gay man -- and professional "stylist" -- who has make a career screaming from the roof tops that every woman he sees is "gorgeous" whatever their size or shape... and it's the women who carry on like stereotypical bitchy (and ever so slightly misogynistic) queens?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11864 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    re what not to wear and the like - I am utterly bemused by the idea that a nice frock and a bit of lippy could change my life.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 705 posts Report Reply

  • anjum rahman,

    some alternative views of pornography, if anyone is interested.

    there is a summary of research on pornography here. alot to wade through, some not seemingly relevant, but there are things like this:

    Regular users of pornography are more likely to think of women in stereotype, (5) as "socially non-discriminating, as hysterically euphoric in response to just about any sexual or pseudosexual stimulation, and as eager to accommodate seemingly any and every sexual request." (6)

    and this:

    In 2002, a professor at a Texas University conducted a study of online pornography consumers (heterosexual men who used pornography via Internet newsgroups). On average, respondents looked at 5 hours and 22 minutes of pornography per week. Respondents were divided into three groups: High consumption (more than 6 hours per week), average (2 to 6 hours per week), and low (2 hours or less). The study found that the more pornography men use, the more likely they are to describe women in sexualized and stereotypically feminine terms. They were also more likely to approve of women in "traditionally female" occupations and to value women who are more submissive and subordinate to men. (7)

    there are some response to "porn myths" here. and some of these experiences are also worth reading, such as saffy and clara.

    i also found this piece on violence without sex compared to violence with sex worth reading.

    there's a series of posts on porn here, i've linked to the one i liked best. the others are just before and just after this post. actually, this one is good too:

    Participating in your own objectification comes with some major rewards; you get attention (although not respect), you get (limited and questionable) affection, you get a bunch of dudes lusting after you. In short, if you don’t think too hard about it, allowing yourself to be objectified can make you feel valuable and powerful in a system in which women don’t have a lot of access to power (and in which they are fairly consistently undervalued as human beings).

    this is a must read, in relation to prostitution. an excerpt:

    When I was raped as a prostituted girl or woman, I could not allow myself to view it as rape, however violent it was.

    No, I know I had “choosen” to take their money, drinks or bed in exchange for sex. That was my purpose, nothing else.

    In that framework, it is easy to believe that man has entitlement to do any sexual fantasy he want. You are the goods after all.

    and of course, there are plenty of women who have not so positive experiences in the porn industry, which you can look for yourself, if you're interested. i know that not all women in the industry have a negative experience. but i'll go back to what i said when we were going over this ground last year: how do you know that the woman in the particular video you're watching is not being treated like this? and if you don't know, then it's possible you are a party to abuse.

    hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 129 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I like that line:
    "I realised that I was in danger of blowing all my powder"

    Anjum, Do you see men that work in the sex industry as being degraded in any way?

    Since Nov 2006 • 2586 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    <quote>some alternative views of pornography, if anyone is interested.<quote>

    Yes that was interesting. And thanks to Emma I have found out why younger women defend porn and pole dancing - it's called third wave feminism and I didn't even know about it! Good old wikipedia gave me a bit of an idea and I've got some research/reading to do in the weekend.

    But whatever the third wave says, I can't see how http://www.stuff.co.nz/4661598a11.html adds much to society. Was it for this the suffragettes lay down their lives?

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 508 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    I am utterly bemused by the idea that a nice frock and a bit of lippy could change my life.

    P'raps not your life, but your day, potentially? I've found it so.

    Thanks Emma and Anjum for both sets of links. I'm tending to Anjum's side of things, if only because I'm old-fashioned and useless at pole-dancing.

    Which is not to say sex-negative. Just questioning the excessive public commodification of desire, which has always struck me as a largely private thing.

    And the commodification of pretty much anything will tend to map onto already established isobars of power, as inflected by gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc etc etc. Or is it a chicken and egg thing, and those fault lines create the commodification in the first place? In any case, claims of empowerment inside that structure might well be approached sceptically.

    Flashbacks to Femst 101...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1410 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    In theory, i reckon All Power to You, whatever persona or lifestyle you choose. But the day will come when you find yourself on the less powerful side of the equation - when the other people you're up against hold all the cards. You'll probably feel that as long as you believe in yourself and live with integrity that this will somehow be enough and will magically make others treat you with respect and tolerate your choices. I mean, this is the basis of therapy, counselling etc - find yrself, be yrself, be proud and be strong, right?

    The classic means of dealing with those who don't fit the frame of the powerful is to be ignored, exiled, excluded. it happens in families, social groups, workplaces. It's not until the shit hits the fan that the woman finds she is truly on her own, because there's no reward or pay-off for others to stand with her. This depends on context of course - much easier if you're rich, part of a strong network of like-minded souls. But if you're not, and the opposition has power over you (or your kids) then you're in deep trouble. You and/or your kids will pay the cost of your choices.

    eg: do you really think a court will give child custody to a porn actor/pole dancer? In your dreams. Through children is how the powers that be do their damnest to haul us all back into line.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.