Melinda Tankard Reist on the Harms of Pornography

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature here at Feminists for Choice. Today we are talking to Melinda Tankard Reist, co-editor of Big Porn Inc: Exposing the harms of the global pornography industry. Melinda is also the co-founder of Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation.

How did you become interested in researching pornography?

There were a few things that came together around the same time. Women started telling me their stories of being hurt and harmed by a partner’s compulsive porn use. In my talks in schools, teen girls shared with me the pressure they felt to provide a porn-style performance, to act, essentially, as a sexual service station for men and boys. They were expected to provide naked images of themselves, to provide sexual services. As well, the sex industry was dominating and colonising every public space and was rarely brought to account. I began to talk to my publishers about what I was hearing. Spinifex had published an earlier book in 2004 titled Not for Sale: feminists resisting prostitution and pornography edited by Christine Stark and Rebecca Whisnant. It was a powerful book. But so much had happened since then, especially with the internet being used to globalize and spread pornography. We felt that a new book on pornography was needed. It also seemed to be a natural progression from my previous book Getting Real: challenging the sexualization of girls, published by Spinifex in 2009. [Read more...]

Not Just Any Kind of Sexuality: The Pornography of Everyday Life

I have a thing for advertisements, especially when they portray sexism, gender stereotypes, or the pornification of sexuality. Elin and I frequently write about advertisements that we find disturbing, annoying, or just plain sexist. And there are many kinds to choose from, as different forms of advertising are everywhere. Some of my favorite analyses and discussions of popular culture and advertising are Jean Kilbourne’s series Killing Us Softly and Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity. I also wrote about the documentary Orgasm Inc, concerning female sexual dysfunction.

[Read more...]

Feminist Conversations – Meagan Tyler

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature at Feminists for Choice, in which we spotlight activists. After reading Meagan Tyler’s book Selling Sex Short: The Pornographic and Sexological Construction of Women’s Sexuality in the West, and not being able to put it down, I had to ask her a few questions. 

You have written extensively about pornography, the sex industry, and the construction of women’s sexuality. How did this interest come about?
Looking back now, it seems rather an odd thing to have chosen to research! What really got me interested was teaching in high-schools in my home town of Melbourne. Most schools in Australia have uniforms and on the few “free dress” days a year, students often want to wear their most coveted pieces of clothing. All the way back in 2004, I noticed a growing number of 12 and 13 year old girls wearing Playboy branded t-shirts, which seemed like a new phenomenon. I wanted to know about the marketing operations that were going on with companies like Playboy and if they were consciously “mainstreaming” their brands. So I went back to uni to do a PhD.

What was your motivation for writing Selling Sex Short?  [Read more...]

Is Sex Work a Viable Job Path?

A friend of mine and I recently got into a debate about the messages we send to children about their career aspirations. My friend said that her main goal in life is to teach her kids to stay off the street corner and stay off the pole. I told her that I didn’t have a problem with sex work, and that if my hypothetical daughter wanted to make money giving hand jobs when she grew up, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. My friend was a little appalled at my point of view – and I’m guessing I won’t be getting any babysitting requests from her.

Let me start out by saying that there is a big difference between people who are sex slaves and people who consensually enter the sex trade. My argument is not that I would force anyone into prostitution. My argument is that sex work is a legitimate profession for the folks who choose it.

I am also not saying that kids should be sex workers. I’m talking about adults in the sex industry. I am decidedly against child pornography and little girls giving non-consensual blow jobs to grown ass adults who should learn how to keep their peepers to themselves. [Read more...]

Are Women Coming Out on Top of the Porn Industry?

live nude girlsA recent prime time special about the economics of the porn industry got me thinking about feminist views on porn and what increased revenues mean for the position of women within the porn industry (pun totally intended).

Porn is Big Business
Pornography is a $13 billion dollar a year industry. According to the CNBC special “Porn: The Business of Pleasure,” the porn industry is so large that every second of every day

  • $3,075 is spent on it
  • More than 28,000 Internet users are viewing it
  • 372 Internet users are using search engines to find it
  • And every 39 minutes, a new porn video is being produced in the U.S.

However, the economic recession has caused DVD sales to decline by 50%.  And unfettered access to the internet means that movies are no longer the driving force behind the porn industry – internet videos are.  Anyone can make a video of themselves having sex, upload it to the internet, and then grant people access for free or for much less than the cost of a DVD. [Read more...]