The Sporadic Beaver

The Stop Porn Culture Phrase Book

February 8, 2013

Tags: Stop Porn Culture, Gail Dines

What I've come to realize this past week, in my dealings with Gail Dines and the Stop Porn Culture tribe, is that they don't speak the same language I do: English. What they say and write may sound like English to the untrained ear, but the words they use often have no connection to their standard English definitions. So, as an unmonetized (see below) public service, and in the interest of helping people communicate with the tribe, which has recently banned me from communicating with them, I've begun assembling a Stop Porn Culture Phrase Book. This is, of course, a work in progress, and I would invite both renegade tribe members and outsiders who have attempted to communicate with the tribe to add to it.

Andrea Dworkin: (pers) A founding mother of the tribe. Believed all sex was rape.

body-punishing sex: Common phrase repeated ad infinitum when a tribe member is forced to debate.

boring as balls: Common phrase used to describe the juvenile writing style.

bourgeois revisionist and apologist for the system that oppresses millions of people around the world: Common phrase used to describe any person who does not believe all pornography should be banned.

bullshit: (n) Truth, especially when presented in a humorous, satiric, or well-reasoned manner.

debate: (n) A public exchange of opposing ideas. Something to be avoided under most circumstances.

Gail Dines: (pers) A current leader of the tribe. A marginally more palatable version of Andrea Dworkin.

douche: (n) A person who writes in the juvenile style.

juvenile: (adj) Refers to a sophisticated writing style that lampoons, satirizes, or parodies the pornography industry or its detractors.

monetize: (vt) A prejudicial term used to describe the selling of goods or services the tribe disapproves of.

Moron: (n) Standard English (e.g., Do you speak Moron?)

pornography: (n) Any word or image that depicts sex in any manner. Describes an entire spectrum of material, from XXX S&M videos displaying acts of double penetration to Vanity Fair.

rape: (n) Any sexual act.

self-aggrandizing: (adj) Refers to promotion of any work that deviates from the tribe’s party line.

sex: (n) rape

S&M: (n) A type of war crime.

Stop Porn Culture: An isolated and puritanical tribe of self-described feminist warriors who believe that all pornography should be banned and that they are waging a winning war against the proliferation of pornography.

typical capitalist: Common phrase used to describe a freelance writer or editor who is not a member of the tribe.

Vanity Fair: A pornographic magazine.

wannabe: (n) A critically acclaimed author whose books have appeared on best-seller lists in multiple countries and in multiple languages.

war crime: (n) Any sadomasochistic act, especially one that is recorded on video.

war criminal: (n) An actor who participates in an S&M video or photo shoot.

warrior: (n) censor

white noise: (n) A well-reasoned argument.

The Sayings of Chairman Bob

February 7, 2013

Tags: Gail Dines, Stop Porn Culture, Beaver Street

"People become porn stars because they're good at it; because they have no other options; because they have nothing to lose; and because they're desperate, either economically or emotionally or both." --from Beaver Street by Robert Rosen

The happy warriors of Facebook's Stop Porn Culture page have accused me of self-aggrandizement and other far more serious crimes. The self-aggrandizement charge, unlike such charges as being in favor of violence against women and being a "bourgeois revisionist and apologist for the system that oppresses millions of people around the world," might even contain a grain of truth. So, call me "Chairman Bob," and let's get on with it.

The online debate, Chairwoman Dines and her Happy Warriors vs. Chairman Bob, is heating up. Fortunately, the Warriors have disobeyed Chairwoman Dines’s edict: “Please do not engage with Rosen. He is white noise and our job is to close down the industry, not have fights with the wannabees.” And the Warriors, in their insubordination, have made a number of interesting points. I’d like to respond to all of them, but to do so in one blog post is impossible. So, this could go on for some time. (Note to Chairwoman Dines: What is it, exactly, you think I wannabe?)

First, a bit of background: Gail Dines came to my attention about two years ago, when Beaver Street was published in the UK. Her book, Pornland, was listed under Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” feature. I did a little research and found Dines to be a more palatable version of the late Andrea “AllSexIsRape” Dworkin. I agreed with much of what Dines said. A lot of porn is degrading—to women and men. I can’t stand watching it, either. It has nothing to do with sex or eroticism. But I don’t think that that’s the case with all pornography—a major point on which Dines disagrees.

The more I learned about Dines, the more I came to dislike her point of view. For example, in one of her lectures that I watched on YouTube, she called Vanity Fair “pornography.” Though she didn’t explain why, I assume it’s because they’ve run photos of topless women and women posing in lingerie. But to categorize Vanity Fair as porn is as absurd as calling for porn stars who participate in S&M videos to be prosecuted for war crimes. And to equate Vanity Fair with degrading X-rated videos is counterproductive. You’re going to lose people, like me, who might be inclined to agree with you.

It’s Dines’s stridency and unwillingness to consider any opinion other than her own that ultimately turned me against her. She says, for example, that if you’re not in favor of eliminating all pornography, then you’re in favor of violence against women—another absurd and counterproductive charge.

Has Dines ever spoken to any of the porn stars she wants to free from bondage? If she did, then she’d know that porn stars don’t want to be freed; that they went into porn due to lack of economic opportunity; that they think that porn is the best job they’ve ever had; that before porn, the best they could do was a minimum-wage job at Burger King.

Is Dines offering porn stars economic opportunity? A college education? Or is she a “bourgeois” professor sitting in an ivory tower at an overpriced private college, who only rails about the evils of pornography but has no real understanding of why people go into it or what it would take to get them out? Is Dines aware that porn stars see her as an ignorant woman who wants to take away their livelihoods and offer them nothing in return?

To be continued…

The Sayings of Chairwoman Dines

February 6, 2013

Tags: Gail Dines, S&M, Beaver Street, Stop Porn Culture

"Robert Rosen, author of Beaver Street, and occasional contributor to this FB page just wrote a rather juvenile piece on me on his blog. The pornographers and their cronies are so interesting because they have no concept of activism for social change. They assume that we are all like them in our desire to 'monetize' everything we do. This is a typical capitalist thinking that can't conceive of a world where people act on the desire to make lives better for others." --Gail Dines, author of Pornland

The above quote, along with a link to my blog post, Gail Dines's Symbiotic XXX Embrace, appeared the other day in the Facebook group Stop Porn Culture. It resulted in a little online dustup.

To recap: I’d written, in part, about Dines’s suggestion, in a column on Counterpunch.org, that Kink.com, a production company specializing in S&M videos, was in violation of international laws prohibiting torture. Apparently unable to distinguish between professional actors being paid to make S&M videos, and CIA agents torturing prisoners at black sites, she said that both the actors and agents had committed war crimes and should be brought to justice.

The inherent absurdity of this argument led me to suggest that Dines is more interested in selling books than she is in achieving her stated goal of eradicating pornography. Because if she ever succeeds in achieving the impossible—eliminating porn—then she’ll be putting herself out of business. And the anti-porn biz is a good and lucrative business, indeed. Just ask Traci Lords.

In any case, I think Dines’s statement at the top of this post deserves a response, and I’ll begin with her grammatically disjointed charge that I’m a “typical capitalist” who assumes that everybody wants to “monetize everything.”

If by “typical capitalist” Dines means that I have attempted to make my living as a writer, editor, and occasional teacher in a capitalist society—a society where I sell my time and work for money—then she is correct. And God help capitalism if I’m typical.

But I also took this charge to mean that Dines does not monetize her time and work, that she must be a socialist, a communist, or even an anarchist, whose purpose in life is to get out word to as many people as possible about the evils of pornography. I therefore assumed that her book must be available as a free download, and that Wheelock College, in Boston, where Dines is a professor of sociology and women’s studies, must be free tuition.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Pornland is selling for the standard Kindle price of $9.99, and that tuition plus room and board for four years at Wheelock will cost an undergraduate about $175,000—a fee that strikes me as a form of capitalism as pure and exploitative as pornography. It brought to mind an image of one of Dines’s students, in the year 2038, still struggling to pay off her student loan, and thinking fondly of Professor Dines and all that useful information she taught her about “body-punishing sex.” It even occurred to me that this imaginary student might have, at some point in her career, turned to the porn industry to earn a little extra money to pay off that crushing debt.

But enough about capitalism for now. Let’s turn, for a moment, to the charge of “juvenile.” Funny word, juvenile. If I didn’t know the meaning, and had to figure it out based only on how radical feminists have used it to describe my work, I might conclude that juvenile means “people who write in a humorous or satiric manner about the porn industry and its detractors.” Because the only other person who has described my work as “juvenile” is a radical-feminist book reviewer who, in order to trash Beaver Street, made up things about the book that are demonstrably false, and then based her opinions on those misrepresentations. She said, for example, that I “excluded female pornographers entirely” from the book, when, in fact, there are more than dozen women pornographers in Beaver Street, five of whom are major characters.

But this post is about the absurdity of Gail Dines, not the absurdity of radical feminist critics who have reviewed my work in a less than honest manner. And though I’d love to continue in this vein, it’s getting late, and there are more books to be written. So, I’ll have to continue on another day. But I will leave you with one last thought: If my work has pissed off porn kings (such as Lou Perretta) and radical feminists alike, I must be doing something right. Could it be that I’m telling the truth?