Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Launching into raunch

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  • Hadyn Green,

    The early New Zealand population survived by growing bananas, coconuts, yams and taro, and also by raising dogs and pigs

    Brilliant. Michael King couldn't have summed it up better.

    It reminds me of what my girlfriend saw written in the British Museum by the Pasifika art.

    The natives were happy to accept christianity and denounce their pagan gods that were numerous and needed human sacrifice

    (not a direct quote)

    Where did they grow the bananas?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Re Suicide Girls: the site is run by a fairly unpleasant man who exercises strict editorial control, and sells on pictures to hardcore porn sites without permission if the "girls" try to deviate from the script of happy, empowered harlotry. In other words, far from being a sex-positive affirmation of female something-or-other, it's Fanny Hill for our time.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2977 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    1. It's been almost 10 years since adult "Porn Star" T-shirts were in vogue. I'm shocked that World, which has such a fine reputation for cool, would end up sewing like it's 1999.

    Cool baby clothes are fine, but can't they at least be original and innovative?

    2. I recently read "Female Chauvinist Pigs" by Ariel Levy. One point she made that really resonated with me is that while porn culture is currently very fasionable, and that porno look is pervasive in pop culture, the gyrating woman with big hair and big boobs may be one way of expressing female sexuality, but it's not the only way. It just happens that at the moment, it's the only way that gets attention and makes money.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1878 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 902 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Welcome to www.conservapedia.com, a world where "The early New Zealand population survived by growing bananas, coconuts, yams and taro, and also by raising dogs and pigs" can, accurately, be described as "Reverting vandalism".

    I assume they have critical mass issues. Not enough people to have decent quality or prevent lunacy.

    That, and the way average screw of someone who would sign up to an entire new ideological wikipedia because they felt marginalised is probably looser than that of the general population.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I have this theory, born out by experience, that women like their porn in words, not pictures. The site where I work as an admin has an 'erotica' section. It's entirely dominated by female writers, many of whom exclusively write male homosexual characters. There's a fair preponderance of BDSM content, and the women seem quite happy to occasionally depict women who DO like rough sex. Given they exist.

    What I'm seeing, and finding empowering, is women taking pwnership of teh pr0n.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4378 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 902 posts Report Reply

  • Kebabette,

    I just blogged about this too (at http://www.deniroswaiting.blogspot.com

    the trouble with raunch culture is it claims to be about women being "empowered" but is really about getting attention from boys. Look at me! Look at me! and seems like now the only way to be "seen" is to flash your boobs and g strings, and kiss girls on the dance floor. It is just so boring and monotonous.

    And as most porno actresses admit, they are faking it.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 193 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Re Suicide Girls: the site is run by a fairly unpleasant man who exercises strict editorial control, and sells on pictures to hardcore porn sites without permission if the "girls" try to deviate from the script of happy, empowered harlotry. In other words, far from being a sex-positive affirmation of female something-or-other, it's Fanny Hill for our time.

    It has multiple owners, including women, but it's certainly true to say that the gloss went off it with a dispute about the onerous non-compete contracts it presents to models. Some of their leading members walked and started other sites. owners tried, unsuccessfully, to sue several former models.

    The Wikipedia entry only mentions one incident of pics being sold without permission, but there may have been others. Ironically, another focus for dispute was the owners removing fetish-themed material from shoots designed by the models that they thought might get them into trouble with the authorities.

    I'm dubious about the empowerment-via-porn thing though - I think it loads a political meaning onto something that doesn't necessarily deserve it. But I still don't think SG fits the sweeping characterisation in the SST story.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Nais,

    The story anchored the Star-Times' feature on the rise of "raunch culture", which tended to magnify a lot of small things for dramatic effect

    One does wonder what our so-called journalists honestly think of their reading publc.

    How I long for the UK Sunday papers that used to take hours to read. The pages and pages and pages of book, art, music, food, wine, restaurant reviews; the seriously in-depth articles that didn't feature tits and bum journalism; the hard questions being asked....

    Why is it that NZ really doesn't have this level of in-depth journalistic research - are we supposed to be so immature as to have short attention spans and therefore can't handle detailed writing that, God forbid, might run over 2 weeks?

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Brett Sanders,

    I searched Conservapedia for "Central Intelligence Agency" and "C.I.A." No entries there. Quite SPOOKy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    As the father of a young girl, I find the (rather obvious) rise of sexualization of young women over the last 10-15 years somewhat disturbing. I also remember that it wasnt that long ago I was a single non-father, and I wasnt too distressed by it then. (but I had already noticed the trend.)

    I think calling it a return to the 60/70s is most appropriate... the '80's conservatism was in response to that freeing up maybe going too far? (Aids being a headline grabber probably helped), and now this freeing up / relaxing of conservatism is in response to the '80/90's.

    I'm just hoping by the time my 3 year-old is hitting puberty/teenage that its swung back again!

    As to whether small children should be a billboard for adult irony? I dont have a problem with that if its non-sexual irony.
    A couple of years late now, but small boys in "Weapon of Mass Destruction" T-shirts made me laugh.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    But I'm not sure the whole thing answers to a classic feminist critique either. Perhaps we shouldn't be looking for political meaning in scantily-clad promo girls because perhaps there isn't much of it to speak of.

    Hmm... if you are seriously implying that there is no political meaning (or point in finding political meaning) in the use of mostly-naked female bodies to sell consumer products (whereas using babies bodies to do the same is bad, m'kay, because you, like, had babies once, but not girl babies...) well, that's pretty bizarre, coming from someone who spent all that time in that emasculating feminist squat in radical 80s London.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'classic feminist critique' either... something along the lines of...

    Classic (liberal?) feminist critique: this will all be fine as long as equal numbers of men in the Burger King workplace are also paid $12.50 an hour to parade in jockstraps, getting grease-burns and sexual harassment from customers. Until then, it does nothing for the gender-pay gap or workplace equality audit.

    Classic (Radical Marxist?) feminist critique: Perpetuating the commodification of women's bodies is dehumanising. Girlfriends need to join the union and charge a helluva lot more to be sexually commodified.

    Classic (actual old-skool Critical Theory style Third Wave rather than weird shallow history-less Third Wave?) feminist critique: There is no kicky sexualised emancipation in earning $12.50 an hour to be a Burger King bikini girl. Girlfriends would be in more control stripping, and would definitely earn more. If girlfriends were really serious about not being pawns of the fascist patriarchy but still committed to getting their emancipatory Third Wave gear off, girlfriends should set up own independent feminist porn studio collective with fantastic health insurance, daycare, and an ethical investment plan; but not kid themselves that the rest of the industry is like that, no matter how much Russell hearts Suicide Girls (um, ew). Also, Britney, get your shit together - you are not in control anymore and you are embarrassing us, and Madonna.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 108 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I'm with FletcherB on this one.

    I'm even a little prudish about the likes of High 5 - their music is no more annoyingly saccharine than any other kiddie/tweeny stuff, but they way they dress, I think, is inappropriate for young kids - girls in particular.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2239 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    "... paid $12.50 an hour to parade in jockstraps, getting grease-burns and sexual harassment from customers"

    Shush. You'll bring the Kiwiblog crowd in here with talk like that.

    On a more serious note - yes, I hit those occasionally if I try hard - the whole issue bothers me, coming from a not-so-distant egalitarian time warp. It seems to coincide with the rise of neo-conservatism, but are they related?

    Since Nov 2006 • 525 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't this talk of porn being empowering just an excuse for looking at porn? Regardless of the management policies at Suicide Girls, they still are in the flesh business; it is flesh that viewers want. Suicide Girls happens to offer hip, cool flesh. It is still porn, but it is acceptable porn: indy porn.

    Before Suicide Girls there was erotica. It still involved naked female flesh but it was artistic and that made it alright. You could tell it was artistic because the photographs were taken in corn fields and barns and the models never smiled: this was serious art, not mere porn.

    I don't have any moral problem with this sort of thing but it is all a load of wank in more than one sense of the word.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    ... no matter how much Russell hearts Suicide Girls (um, ew) ...

    Er, should make clear I'm not like a regular visitor there. But I think Posh, the famous one who goes out with the guy from Digg is quite interesting. She has a life (as a Photoshop jockey), devises her shoots and even turned up in World of Warcraft.

    All I'm saying is that I don't buy either extreme of the argument; either that porn is inevitably dehumanising or that it is somehow empowering. The reality seems more prosaic than that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Hmm... if you are seriously implying that there is no political meaning (or point in finding political meaning) in the use of mostly-naked female bodies to sell consumer products (whereas using babies bodies to do the same is bad, m'kay, because you, like, had babies once, but not girl babies...) well, that's pretty bizarre, coming from someone who spent all that time in that emasculating feminist squat in radical 80s London.

    But that was sort of the upshot of the story. Ruth Laugesen went on campus and seemed shocked that she couldn't find a lot of militant feminist theorising on the issue, least of all from the women's rights officer, oddly. What people, including the guys, did seem to think is that dressing like Paris Hilton was tacky.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Lamenting the moral decline of modern society is as old as society itself. Porn's a good target for moralizing because most people probably won't talk truthfully about what they really think of it, or what they like, or how much they have, or how often they use it.

    For good reason - mostly it's no one else's business. So the arguments are one sided. Who really wants to talk to the world about their porn? Indeed most people would not like to talk authoritatively about the subject at all, unless it was to condemn it, for fear people might think they were more into porn than average - the average that no-one knows anyway. Which is kind of funny because I reckon most men are *experts* on this particular subject.

    So it's really hard to have rational discussions about it. And it's really easy to get on a bandwagon hammering it, because you can easily mistake the deafening silence for agreement.

    Personally, I don't think porn has very much effect at all, other than perhaps leading to a decline of imagination. I don't think it alters anyone's way of looking at the world. If they get hot to a particular idea, then they will enjoy seeing it. And ideas that do nothing for them will be avoided. The preferences were there *already*. Sure some particular ideas may never have occurred to someone until they saw it, but if they got hot to it, then that was a pre-existing state of their mind, not something forced in there by the devious pornographer.

    If someone likes the idea of rape, then when they see it, they might get horny. If they dislike it, then when they see it they will be turned off. If they don't care about it either way then most likely it will just seem like an annoying distraction. So rape-fetish porn only appeals to people who already had a rape-fetish. You could argue that to see it strengthens the fetish and makes you more likely to act on it. I can't think why. If you can't see it, but it's a fetish for you, then you'll just imagine it. How is that less powerful? To conjure images up in your own mind in graphic detail, to invent scenarios of rape in your mind, is every bit as motivating as seeing something. It might differ in *form* from the depictions, but the *content* is the same.

    And there's still the huge jump from idea to action. Liking the idea of rape is very different from being a rapist. I personally like martial arts and war films, but that doesn't make me want to take on a whole gang unarmed, or join the army. Almost nothing that we like to watch on TV or DVD would we actually do ourselves, and porn is no exception to that. How many people do you know who have shot someone? Or done a forensic examination on a cadaver? Or stepped through a stargate to an alternate universe? For the same reason I have never had sex with a woman at the same time as some other guy. I could certainly watch that - watching it doesn't involve me flopping my erect chop out in front of some other guy - but I would never do it (even when I had the opportunity).

    Because I think porn doesn't really *change* our thinking, I don't think the 'pornification of culture' is because of the increasing abundance of porn. Both phenomena are simply driven by societal demand. We can argue about the reasons for *that*, but blaming people liking porn on the existence of more porn is silly. If people didn't like porn there wouldn't be so much of it. If people didn't like girls who look and act like pornstars, then they wouldn't do it. Taking away porn isn't going to stop men liking scantily clad girls acting like they're going to put out. I liked that way before I ever saw any porn, and I probably always will.

    What I'm more interested in is why so many people have a problem with it. The 'pornification of culture' is just our generation's celebration of one particular kind of beauty.

    Sure, it's exclusive and most girls can't live up to it. But beauty always was. In every culture at every time, beauty has always been by definition something 'ideal', a representation of what people would like, rather than what they necessarily had.

    Sure it's 'demeaning' in that it suggests that a girl's body will get her what she wants. But that is actually true. I think this is really what the lamentation is about - the simple and awful truth represented by the art, that beautiful woman can get what they want if they put out to wealthy/powerful men. It's true now, and it was true before humans could even draw porn (which interestingly is amongst the first things ever drawn by humans, showing exactly how old this art form is).

    I don't think it's ever going to change. Like, ever. People will like porn forever. Society will use that like to sell stuff forever. It will always be embarrassing to be caught liking it. It will always be fodder for moralizing by those who don't like it. Girls will always try to look as hot as possible. What is considered hot in a girl will always be what men think is hot (gay is a subculture with it's own tastes but the same dynamic exists). What men think is hot will always centre around sex. Culture will always pornify.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Personally, I don't think porn has very much effect at all, other than perhaps leading to a decline of imagination.

    I think one valid criticism is that it's unhelpful if young men grow up thinking the sex they're going to have in the real world is like porn. For technical and emotional reasons, that seems likely to end in tears.

    What I'm more interested in is why so many people have a problem with it. The 'pornification of culture' is just our generation's celebration of one particular kind of beauty.

    Do you ever watch pop shows on music TV? Quite a few videos are aggressively sexual in a way I don't think is good for girls or boys. I wish that wasn't the case. Porn should keep to its own side of the fence.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Ackroyd,

    I just selected "random page" and got this:


    Axis Powers

    The Axis Powers were the side that opposed the Allied Powers in World War II. The main members of the Axis Powers were Germany, Italy, and Japan. The goal of these nations was to rule the world. The end of the Second World War, however, saw their defeat. As far as other countries within the Axis, membership shifted often; countries would enter and leave frequently (the same was true for the Allied Powers).


    That's funny.

    tags: child, homework, poor

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    It's not a question of morality per se though but rather "pornification" as you term it spreading to pre-schoolers and burger joints.

    Since Nov 2006 • 525 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    To me, to argue pornography is a harmless thing is a non sequitur when when you consider the nature of the business itself. I guess the biggest problem I have with porn is with the way that so many reality based, intelligent, left wing progressive types who wince at the exploitation of a whale construct a mental fiction about the exploitation of often the most vulnerable young women in the porn industry. I dopn't buy the "they love their job" thing. For every porn star who pronounces she loves her job hundreds or thousands of young women are groomed/coerced into things that they don’t really want to do and – thanks to the digital revolution – will forever be available for viewing. Pornography can be very addictive. Sometime when I listen to people defending porn, I wonder how much of it is the guilty addict talking, worried their secret might get taken away. So for me, porn isn't primarily a sex issue issue at all. Its an issue of exploitation of many thousands of women. I cannot see how you can watch porn and not feel at guilt at enjoying the sometimes very clear expolitation of a fellow human being.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1824 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    __I think one valid criticism is that it's unhelpful if young men grow up thinking the sex they're going to have in the real world is like porn. For technical and emotional reasons, that seems likely to end in tears.__

    Literally so.

    Since Nov 2006 • 525 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    that was sort of the upshot of the story

    ...
    Indeed, the Sunday Star-Times was unable to articulate a satisfying feminist theoretical analysis of why it thought this was all kinda freaky. I don't expect much inductive feminist "political meaning" coming out of the SST. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Maybe what you meant was that actual feminist theorists with something to say about contemporary culture seem increasingly underground, because domininant media voices pretty much just mock them when they say perfectly obvious things like: 'Sportscafe is kinda dumb and sexist.'

    As for saying "I don't buy either extreme of the argument" - yes, the reality is "prosaic" and variegated. That does not mean that the reality (of both porn and public sexualisation of women) is not deeply and inextricably embedded in power relations - and all power relations need to be analysed and challenged. Eliminating that analysis through characterising it as either side of an unrepresentative political-theoretic 'extreme' [yes! porn/bikini waxing empowers! no! porn/bikini waxing exploits!], and relegating everyday manifestations of capitalism appropriating our mammary ducts to the 'trivial', doesn't do women any favours at all.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 108 posts Report Reply

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