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Far From Flatbush

The Sayings of Chairman Bob

"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…
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