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How No More Page 3 harms feminism

Yeah, NoMorePage3 hurts feminism and feminist goals, and here’s why:

Firstly, the campaign founder’s statement that sex is something “beautiful”, “blissful” and “loving” between “two people”. Now that’s a huge no-no right there. It excludes poly people, swingers, kinky people, etc. The word “loving” could exclude ALL sex outside of a committed relationship. In fact, there is nothing I can recognise in her description that would apply to my own few experiences and especially to my own desires, which are rarely limited to two people. As for “loving”, education and career often delay middle-class womens’ search for love. And of course I have found no use for love in my adventures.

This is just positing a static right way of doing sex. Which is what the patriarchy, the Catholic Church and certain UK and US politicians have done and are doing. This is not feminism. It is nothing but the repression and sexual restriction of these institutions masquerading under the name of “feminism”. The campaign and this statement is aimed at women, so it is telling women that there is a right way of doing sex which society and page 3 have “debased”. Telling women that there is a right way of excercising sexual expression is a very old patriarchal device used to control women. Along with it come strict gender roles, the virgin/whore dichotomy and the double standard.

And the implicit assumption is that women, like me, whose idea of sex doesn’t fit in the Christian-esque box, are debasing this beautiful thing called sex that was “given” to humankind (another little flashback to the Bible).

 

Secondly, the campaign and its discourse ultimately takes away the models’ agency and stigmatises them as victims or gender traitors. By stigmatising these womens’ jobs and choices, the campaign impinges on womens’ freedoms and creates an anti-modelling, anti-sex industry, anti-sexwork ethos that is just patriarchal sexual repression and Victorian prudery in a new guise. Women should feel free to model and work in pornography (whether as actors, scriptwriters, models or directors) without fear of shaming and judgement. This campaign is the antithesis of the fight against slutshaming, the fight for women to be equal to men and the fight for sexworkers’ rights.

Thirdly, the campaign assumes that only men objectify women and only men consume pornography. This view degrades female sexuality by assuming that women are inherently less sexual than men, or that they shouldn’t consume porn. Again, these are patriarchal ideals of the ‘good’ asexual woman.

If women consumed and created porn, this campaign would be hypocritical, right? So to support it, it is necessary to believe that women don’t create or consume porn, or at least that women shouldn’t do so.

Spreading this idea that women don’t like, consume or create porn is very damaging to attitudes towards womens’ sexual expression. This view only makes society feel that women naturally aren’t sexual – great fodder for slutshaming attitudes. And perhaps even increased objectification, because women will be seen as sexually passive, something to therefore be chased or approached, something to get sex from. Instead of the reality that women aren’t passive objects, they too pursue desired mates and are sexual; they are also out to get sex from men.

Fourthly, the campaign makes a very dubious connection between hardcore porn and softcore porn, and also between page 3 and violence against women. There is absolutely no evidence for this and no study has ever been done on the effects of softcore porn on behaviour or on rape. (For more details read The Sex Myth by Dr Brooke Magnanti).

Just because a man views porn doesn’t mean he will then rape. This is just making excuses for rapists and abusers. It’s their fault, no one else’s – not the director, producer, actors, models or scriptwriters. It’s just porn – a film or a photo. It’s not a gun to your head and a person saying “Rape or I will kill you.”

Let me illustrate this with examples from my real life and this blog. In the Fiction section of this blog, you will find a story that depicts a 15 year old boy being raped by a same-age girl and an adult man. Yet, writing this story doesn’t mean I want to rape underage boys, and I can prove it: under the Feminism section, you’ll find a post about a woman who had sex with a 15 year old boy. In that post, I do nothing but express anger and disgust that her sentence was far too lenient and that the article and comments were insensitive and victim-blaming. I also have a story on here about the government torturing and spanking everybody for protesting and a rapid descent into a dictatorship. Yet surely you don’t all think that I want to live in a dictatorship, or be tortured by David Cameron? I have several notebooks filled with stories, some of them about myself being raped. But being raped is actually my biggest fear – or one of them – and surely it is clear to anyone who reads this blog that I am against rape.

Fifthly, given the fact that women do watch and make porn, this campaign makes no sense. It’s unfair and hypocritical to not want men to look at porn when women are free to do it. Also, if models lose work then how do those models benefit from the campaign (which has goals beyond just page 3)? It is just taking their income and careers.

Sixthly, the campaign is sex-negative, and sex-negativity usually does far more harm than good.

Seventhly, without challenging the attitudes of misogyny, sexism and objectification, even if page 3 was stopped forever, nothing would change because the attitudes would still be there. Just like criminalising drug use or sex work doesn’t stop it happening. The cause, not the effect, should be targeted. The campaign is trying to target what it sees as an effect of sexism – page 3. It fails to target the attitudes which caused page 3 and allow it to flourish. Also, the fact that other, much more hardcore porn would still exist would make the eradication of page 3 quite pointless.

 

In conclusion, the NoMorePage3 campaign takes away womens’ rights to choose their careers, ultimately shames women for their choices, prescribes a narrow Biblical model of sex, is not evidence-based and makes no logical sense. It is against feminist goals of women being allowed to express their sexuality as equals.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in Feminism

 

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