« On names and paternal responsibility | Main | The Silence of the Clam and other Monday morning thoughts »

April 17, 2004

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341bfa9e53ef00e5505454fe8834

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Porn, HIV, Freedom, Responsibility:

» Good article on pornography from On Fresno Dome
I would like to write as effectively on the issue of pornography. [Read More]

» Sunday Night On The Blogosphere from annika's journal
. . . Hugo has an excellent post on the porn-HIV story.The porn industry has become increasingly mainstream, so much so that on the same day that the HIV story broke in LA, the New York Times did an "at... [Read More]

Comments

Bill Ekhardt

Bold, frank, and embracing the issues without the kit-gloves I expect from Christian men.

I appreciate your approach to this, Hugo. I apprciate your candor in discussing meaningfully an issue that is taboo and difficult to touch. I would like to write as effectively on the issue of pornography.

Hugo

Thanks, Bill!

Jonathan Dresner

Two thoughts, offered humbly because this is a fine piece of thinking and writing.

I think this really goes beyond left and right. When First Amendment rights fail to shield the industry from workplace protection, etc, the "freedom to profit" argument comes into play. It is an industry, and the left has been most active, traditionally, in pushing for regulation and limitation of profitable industries when those profits come at the expense of workers, consumers, innocent bystanders. Maybe it's pushing a metaphor, but the regulation of industrial waste is a fine example of putting limits on legal activities for the protection of society because the true cost of those profits is much greater than the expenditures made by the company.

And I think this goes beyond our male obligations to women or to ourselves as individuals. Though we must certainly start with ourselves, there are generations of boys and men around us whom we can influence with our teaching, our examples, and that influence will do more to help women, help all of us, than simply beating ourselves up over past sins.

d-rod

Very good post, Hugo. The best I've ever read on this topic. Thanks.

John Sloas

Hugo, I posted about your article. I find your words compelling and compassionate. Thank you.

Flying Monkeys

Hugo - GREAT POST!

It says something strong about where we are as a culture that this sort of stuff is so prominent in pop-culture. It bothers me that that sort of apathy towards something so obviously corrosive to our culture bleeds into so many other parts of life. I wonder if this trend (not just porn itself, but the mindset behind its near-glorification) also has its fingers in 13-year olds going to school wearing half-a-shirt, half-a-pair-of-shorts, etc.

You’re the social scientist, not I, but when girls start thinking they must engage in the sort of dress and behavior that is glorified by this stuff, just to meet a guy, we as society are in some serious trouble. When the idea that I might want to meet a girl, and actually judge her based on personality, morals, and things of that nature – instead of soley based on her attractiveness, is mocked and teased – it scares me.

I’m not a big fan of slippery slope arguments, as they’re usually more off base than they are insightful. But you have to wonder where this is heading…??? Ten years from now? Twenty? Does this continue down the same path, or do we make a U-Turn at some point, and head for safe ground? What will it take to bring that around? Is it going to take parents to collectively say, “I’m mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore!” or what???

I’m just rambling, but your post brought together months of abstract thoughts I’d been having…anyway, Happy Sunday – too bad school starts tomorrow…and thanks for the thought provocation.

Timbo

Hugo, I respect the second half of your post in which you articulate the many ways in which porn is destructive. Yet I have to wonder how you would reconcile this fact with the advocacy of government-sponsored protections of porn stars. Though I agree that those who have been abused by the industry deserve some degree of protection, doesn't regulation from the government confer on the porn industry a certain level of legitimacy? A Hollywood film production is a legitimate endeavor which in certain instances can become abusive. The regulations serve to demarcate what is good from what is abusive. The porn industry, on the other hand, is inherently abusive. For a government agency to regulate it by saying that certain aspects of it are illegal but other aspects are acceptable is to legitimize those aspects which are retained. By saying that it is wrong "to allow an industry to exploit and endanger its workers", one is saying that the other aspects of the industry are ok. But porn is inherently exploitative. To regulate it would be to say that it is ok to exploit as long as you don't exploit. How would you reconcile this?

Hugo

Thanks for the great comments, folks.

Timbo -- the question of regulation is a troublesome one. I think we have to approach porn on a variety of levels: one is spiritual and psychological, where we offer support and care to those who work in or consume porn. Here we seek to convince those who are as of yet unconvinced of the deadening consequences of the porn business for both performer and consumer. This is cultural and spiritual work.

Legally, we must be realists. Prohibition did not work to stop alcohol; Alcoholics Anonymous proved to be infinitely more successful! To ban porn would be virtually impossible, and what few regulations and positive elements that do exist (like the various Adult Industry Health Projects) would be lost in the attempt. We can work towards a porn-free world while simultaneously insuring that those who do -- despite our hopes and pleas -- work in porn can do so with a maximum amount of safety. I really don't think it's an either/or, I think it's a both/and.

Russell Arben Fox

Thanks Hugo, for the candor, passion, and thoughtfulness. I confess that between my religion, my early exposure to Catharine MacKinnon, and my three daughters--all of whom I fear for when I think at how thoroughly and unreflectively the "ethos" of pornography has been adopted by purveyors of fashion, media, etc., in America today--I'm a bit of an anti-porn absolutist. Or at least enough of one that Timbo's question strikes home for me. I confess I haven't tried to work out a real policy here; I recognize that squelching the market for pornography will be next to impossible, and that many innocents like Lara are being wounded along the way. But the idea of involving the state in a formal way with porn strikes me as crossing a Rubicon we don't want to get near. I don't know.

The Angry Clam

Hugo-

I've been following this story a little more closely, mostly because I am one of those people who does rubberneck, and this has all the hallmarks of a great, tawdry scandal- sex, sleaze, heartbreak, death, everything. I'm not necessarily proud of it, but there it is.

It's easy to see Lara Roxx as a victim of the soulless machine of the porno industry, as that is what she appears to be from most reporting done by the Associated Press.

However, I noticed something on one of the local television news channels that made look a little deeper into it, mostly to see what the trade press was saying on the matter (yes, it does exist, and was what Matt Drudge was linking to before the more mainstream media picked it up- that's how I found out about it).

Apparently, Lara had been doing her adult modeling in Canada, and had, against the advice of the people she was doing so with up there, had come to Los Angeles, and was living in a very seedy motel, with little in the way of money or whatnot.

Decisions like that alone, divorced from the career she had become involved in, indiciate serious problems. I believe that I read somewhere that a gargantuan proportion of these women were abused in some way earlier in life. I'm guessing that it's quite likely that Lara was in that boat.

Where this is all going to, much as I hate this same argument when it happens in other places, is that the sympathy focused on Lara's infection makes it easy for onlookers to simply say "that poor girl! What with the porno and the HIV!" and not realize that something like a third of women and a seventh of men have suffered sexual abuse as children.

Essentially, her situation, which more than likely had its roots in such abuse, has degenerated to the point that it's become too easy for we, the rubberneckers, to watch dispassionately- after all, how many people do we know that are, if not exactly, than nearly so, prostitutes? Not many, I'd wager. However, I can guarantee you that all of us know more than one person who's had sexual abuse as a child.

And that is the real sorrow lurking behind this lurid story.

Hugo

First off, Clam, you are very much missed in the blogosphere. Please come back when your workload allows.

The link between porn and sexual abuse, while controversial, is difficult to deny. In some ways, it seems circular to me. There is at least some evidence that those who molest kids are heavy consumers of porn, and may even be inspired by porn. And their victims may indeed grow up to become sex workers in the porn field, thus pushing the cycle further.

Russell, the state regulates alcohol and gambling (two notoriously destructive vices). Though I am opposed to state lotteries, I know from history that prohibition was a disaster. We have to work on hearts and minds on the one hand, and at the same time, protect the vulnerable. Because the state regulates porn in California to some small degree, porn producers are forced to very carefully check ID to make sure that their performers are 18. 18 is still very, very young -- but if porn is driven underground, the producers of the now-illicit erotic material will have fewer reasons to observe the law on that issue.

I think the "both/and" approach is likely to be the most successful.

I notice only men are commenting on this post so far. That might mean something!

John

Maybe because men are the biggest consumers of porn. I have very little sympathy with the "free speech" and "choice" arguments on this one. Some things are just wrong. Some things are just indecent. That's one of them.

Rhesa

Wonderful post, Mr. Schwyzer. (Yes, I am a gal, and I've frequented your blog for awhile now even though I don't always agree with the opinions you've posted. However, there's this thing about echo chambers that I despise...)

I don't think I can add anything more beyond the fact that you've covered all ground and answered my questions before I could even type 'em out. In the words of our Governator, "Ah'll be bach."

Joe Perez

I agree with so much of what you write, and applaud your willingness to tackle a difficult issue with sensitivity. Yet ultimately I conclude that you speak from a limited awareness and balance of the potentially beneficial ends for erotica. Statements like "Porn kills" sadly are more of the black-and-white thinking that clouds clear perceptions on this issue.

Hugo

Joe, I do acknowledge that there may be beneficial aspects to erotica. When I say "porn kills", I mean the pornography industry, which is a deeply and profoundly UNEROTIC place. Where the erotic involves suggestiveness, mystery, and reciprocity, porn does not. Erotica is best consumed with another; porn is designed (primarily) to be consumed alone. Erotica leads to a desire to connect with another as equal; porn leads to isolation and the desire to dominate and objectify. Yes, I'm being rhetorical and sweeping. But there's a truth or two hiding in there as well.

Thanks for the visit!

CanadianLady

I enjoyed your article very much despite the nature of this difficult topic. It's a sad turn of events in Lara Roxx's young life, regardless of our own judgements about her lifestyle. She may have been some man's fantasy girl, but ultimately, she is someone's daughter, sister & friend.

Sandra

Hi Hugo,

I am not a believer myself but I had to reply to the eloquence and candour of your post regarding Lara Roxx and other men and women like her who are exploited by the Adult Film (Porn) Industry.

Yay for you!

anj

Hugo,

Thanks for putting into words my feelings since reading of the young woman who contracted HIV.
My husband and I are raising three boys, I hope to read your post to them (edited of course)as an example of looking at this issue with honesty, dignity,and compassion. Indeed,
the harm is in my soul too.

DCypher

Hugo, you are obviously a sick imdividual with a world view distorted by Christian propaganda.

Of the many erroneous claims inside your blog entry, Brian Flemming being close to the porn business is the worst of all. He is nothing more than a deplorable opportunist, just as you are, using the tragedy of one woman to further thier own motivations, agendas, and egos.

By the way, in all of your arm chair philosophizing, did it ever strike you that perhaps blogs were not the best place to go looking for truly accurate information?

New evidence suggests that Lara might actually be a 30 year old prostitute instead of the naive 18 year old she has been portraying herself to be.

But that doesn't serve your ultimate purposes to villify and demonize pornography, mostly because your parents instilled a value structure in you growing up that views a human beings natural sexuality as a shameful act, especially for women, who are supposed to be meek and pure, a tabula rasa for your sexual desires and fantasies unsoiled by other men.

I say to you, as I said to this con artist Brian, who has never been within a hundred feet of a porn set, to do your homework before you set sail on a journey of ignorance and drag your readers along with you.

Then again, what does what I say matter? I am just another hard working pornographer.

Hugo

Oh my goodness, I was waiting for one of y'all to show up here! Welcome.

I don't care if Lara Roxx is 50. Her age is not the critical issue here; the issue is her exploitation to feed the insatiable desire of a largely male consumer public to have women's bodies exposed for their delight.

I am not anti-sex, my friend; far from it. But sex in the absence of caring and commitment is, I think a sad distortion of its original intent. I don't need the women in my life to be meek and pure; I also don't want them to submit to double anal penetration for my enjoyment.

To be called "sick" by you, sir, is a pleasure and an honor; I return the compliment and wish you well.

The Angry Clam

Hugo, what I think he's referring to is that, at 30, she was much more aware of what's going on.

One of those "you can't rent this car until you're at least 25" things, I suspect.

Eric

It's easy to say "poor girl, victimized and abused by the porn industry." But that's not exactly accurate. We must remember that nobody forced the girl to join the porn industry. She could have chosen not to join the porn industry. Nobody forced her to go to L.A. to be a porn star. She could have chosen not to go to L.A. Nobody forced her to do a double anal penetration. The director just said it's double anal or nothing. She could have disagreed and left. But choices were made by her without force nor intimidation. She willingly subject herself to the risk. Of course, she couldn't be dumb enough or naive enough not to know that there are risks whenever you fuck someone unprotected with or without a camera. It was her choice to take that risk. That's precisely why there's an age restriction in that industry. Because it is assumed, that at age 18, you already know what you are doing. Of course, you can already know what you are doing much earlier than that age, but 18 is a safe assumption.

It's like a man, deciding to drink and drive, and when an accident happens, hugo will say "poor man, victimized and abused by the auto-industry." It's easy to put the blame on someone or something.

But it is about choice. You choose to take the risk, be prepared to face the consequence. This girl is not that dumb and not that naive to be controlled like a robot. Choices were made. And now she has to face the music. She isn't a "victim."

Hugo

What folks are ignoring here is the essential sinfulness (yes, I am making a JUDGMENT here) of watching a woman accept a "double anal penetration" for money. You can't tell me that that isn't painful and degrading... and though she made a choice, it is male consumers and their tastes that make such choices possible for her.

Lara Roxx, 18, 21, or 30 is MY SISTER. When I view porn, and especially when I pay for porn, I contribute to her exploitation. The idea that one ceases to be a victim when one hits a certain age strikes me as absurd.

Ralph Luker

If I may say so, Eric, your analogy is not a good one because you've left much out of your equation. There is: money, education, and discrimination, to name three. Well and good to say "choice" if choice is not hedged about with many other factors. If we are talking about a young woman with little education in a male dominated and compensated world, we're not talking about a person who has many attractive alternatives. Sure, she can do McDonald's and not subject herself to risk. Have you lived on McDonald's wages? Take a look at Barbara Ehrenreich's book, _Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America_.

Eric

Ralph,

What's wrong with working in Mcdonalds? It's a DECENT job. Of course those workers at Mcdonalds can also choose to do double anal penetration for money, but they CHOOSE not to. That's their difference with this particular girl. Lack of education doesn't make someone dumb. And it specially doesn't make you a victim. And what discrimination? As far as I know, she was living in her own country, canada. And she came here for the purpose of doing porn. It's not like she came L.A. wanting to have a decent job but couldn't because of discrimination. No, that's not case. She went to LA to do porn. So there's no discrimination that I'm discounting.

The root cause here is that she wanted to live way beyond her means. And so she chose to take the risk, which ends up to the point that I was making right from the start, it was her choice and she wasn't a victim.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Regular reads

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 01/2004