American Porn

“When you lose contact with the people who matter, your customers, and treat them as numbers instead of members of this community of experiences you have created for them, you’re going to lose them, whether the neighborhood is print or digital.” -FOLIO
“Stop being in the game of numbers and change to a game of members instead.”-FOLIO All Good Print Magazines Go to Digital Heaven…Or Do They?


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This weeks’ readings and documentaries had a lot of really great but also extremely disturbing content. I won’t lie, it is a bit hard to string together my thoughts regarding these subjects so bear with me as I attempt to present my thoughts in a logical manner. I would like to start off by addressing the fact that I chose to watch the Frontline PBS Documentary on American Porn. I choose this documentary because it seemed the most interesting and relevant to todays’ society. I feel that it is an important piece to point out that this documentary was released back in 2002. However, I feel that as a general statement, not much has changed except maybe that things have gone more towards hard core porn rather than soft core and DVD’s are sold in place of VHS. Also, I would estimate that there are far more “underground” pornography producers than there were back in 2002 who are not following regulations.

Picture taken on February 10, 2011 shows
My main concern with pornography is very similar to my main concern with magazines marketing of women; what do these things teach little girls about their value and worth as human beings? Most hardcore pornography, such as the one that Lizzie Borden describes production of in the documentary are EXTREMELY degrading to women. What does this teach women to believe about themselves and more importantly, what does this teach men to believe about women? Lizzie Borden is quoted saying, “When I was a child, my step-father was an alcoholic. So I think I had, like, deep issues, and this is kind of therapeutic for me, is to take my aggression out on other people. So in a way, I’m exploiting people. I’m taking all my inner demons and aggression out on them. But it’s good for me. So I guess that’s all that matters.” The irreversible damage that seems so obvious to me in this statement absolutely rocks me to my very core.
Here are some other quotes from American Porn that stuck out to me:
“As technology swept pornography into our living rooms, questions began to be raised about the old rules. In a wired world, who can say what offends the community standard of decency? Who can even define a community? Now a new political moment, and those questions are being raised. On the answers delivered by juries over the next few years ride billions of dollars and the fate of American porn.”
“If you look at how much money is coming in from adult- remember, there’s virtually no cost to AT&T for carrying it. And if he’s generating $10 million, $20 million dollars a month, that’s virtually all found money going into the bottom line. So it can be a significant amount, $20 million times 12 months. That’s a lot of bread.”
“Prosecutors insist that even in the digital age, there is such a thing as obscenity and that a community will know it when it sees it.”
These and many other quotes within the documentary speak to me on a very deep level. Even in the beginning of the video we are introduced to a producer who seems almost disgusted with the fact of what these young girls are willing to do and yet he films them anyways. The attitude is that if the young women are willing to do it for the money then why not make money off of them and exploit them and their bodies to the fullest extent. This flawed logic is extremely damaging to young people everywhere who are (or can be) exposed to these types of things at a very young age.

September-2007-Cover-cosmopolitan-169338_1401_1920
I know that personally I read Cosmopolitan magazine religiously from the age of 12-16. I look back on that now and absolutely cringe at the things that I chose to expose myself to at such a young age just because it was “forbidden” information that I knew I shouldn’t have. The articles, the images, the advertisements, the stories that come out of Cosmopolitan are absolutely not appropriate for a young girl to be consuming; especially at the rate that I was consuming it. Truly, it became almost somewhat of an addiction for me; though I never acted out sexually because of it. However, as I got older, I do think that being exposed to that information so young did end up subconsciously shaping the way I thought about sex and what a man wants from a woman sexually. It took me quite a while to truly get past the idea that sex was strictly for a man’s pleasure and I truly think that that ideal came straight from seeing dominant men treat submissive women as objects in advertisements television shows, and the vast array of other popular culture I was exposed to at a very young age.
I feel that these are extremely vital and important conversations to have, especially with young adolescents who are very susceptible to the pressures of what society tells them.

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2 thoughts on “American Porn

  1. I appreciate your observation that “American Porn” was filmed in 2002. Imagine that! Before the Iraq War started in 2003. Before Obama became president. Etc. I think you’re absolutely right that the scene has become much scarier and, at the same time, perhaps less talked about. In another comment I referenced the recent book by scholar Shira Tirant, a gender studies professor, titled “The Pornography Industry.” The Atlantic interviewed her in this piece last year: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/pornography-industry-economics-tarrant/476580/
    In the interview, she talks about how other academics tended to react when she discussed her research: “I’ve had this experience so many times, where people, colleagues or what have you, aren’t even listening to what I’m saying about the industry or the politics or the financial aspects of what’s going on. They’re just thinking about whether or not I’m watching porn.”
    The topic is a stigmatized one. And yet so damn important, as you’ve noted in your post. This struck me as an intensely important question: “Most hardcore pornography, such as the one that Lizzie Borden describes production of in the documentary are EXTREMELY degrading to women. What does this teach women to believe about themselves and more importantly, what does this teach men to believe about women?”
    We know that media messages matter in a culture. We know that porn happens and it’s getting worse. I think it’s something that needs to be talked about openly — and thoroughly. And that’s speaking as a journalist who believes whole-heartedly in the First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and press.
    I completely get your opening disclaimer: ” I won’t lie, it is a bit hard to string together my thoughts regarding these subjects…”
    No kidding! Whew.
    Thank you for taking on such a difficult topic in your post.

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  2. Hey Jordan:
    It is really a thought-provoking post, I started to think about how women’s rights were diminished by pornography after reading your Post. And this damage is not external but internal, It cultivates the seeds of unconfidence of women, and wrong value that sex was meant to delight men. Under that condition that we do not openly discuss pornography, the traditional porns which mostly were produced to delight male audience will make our society bleed especially the vulnerable female.To prevent or stop.

    Like

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