Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Penn, Porn and Me

Everyone who has ever worked as an activist in progressive organizations fighting gender, racial and economic inequality, has had the experience of seeing their words and ideas twisted by mainstream corporate media. This is what happened to me on Penn and Teller: Bullshit! that is airing all this week on Showtime. And one thing in particular I have learned for sure, after many years of being an anti-porn activist, is that men get very upset when they think you want to take their porn away.

I have seen a lot of upset men, but few get close to the level of rage Penn exhibited on the show. As he yelled and screamed into the camera, I thought he was going to have a stroke. He was especially upset with me for suggesting that mainstream porn, which is increasingly cruel and degrading, has a real effect on the men who use it.

The interesting part of this story is not Penn’s out-of-control anger, but the way the show framed the story on porn. As was expected, the producers used the topic as an excuse to show lots of porn; a quick and cheap way to pull in the audience. But the porn they showed was the soft core kind that is mainly girl-on-girl sex, the type that is not the main moneymaker for the industry.

The porn that makes most of the money for the industry is actually the gonzo, body-punishing variety that shows women’s bodies being physically stretched to the limit, humiliated and degraded. Even porn industry people commented in a recent article in Adult Video News, that gonzo porn is taking its toll on the women, and the turnover is high because they can’t stand the brutal acts on the body for very long.

While I doubt that Penn is any stranger to this type of porn, I know for sure that the lead producer is aware of it. In preparation for the show, he spent several hours with me as I carefully explained the different genres of porn, and he also came to one of my lectures, where he saw in clear and sharp focus just what happens to women in the industry. He himself expressed shock and anger as we talked, yet when it came down to it, he ended up just like the rest of media producers: cowardly and untruthful. The story they told about soft-core porn is only part of the story, as what really needs to be explained is why men are, according to the industry, seeking out harder and harder porn.

I initially declined to do the show, as I had no faith in Penn and Teller doing anything that remotely looked like serious journalism. In the end I agreed because they promised to give me some serious time to talk about porn. They also promised not to edit me to look like a fool. They kept their first promise and reneged on the second. They introduced the three anti-porn activists as the “Three Stooges”, setting us up as idiots before we had said a word. Of course, every time one of us said anything, they cut back to some soft porn and Penn, who was at times having a hysterical fit. It was both scary and comical, his red face contorted with rage as he yelled at the camera that porn doesn’t cause men to be violent!

The producers saved the best for last, when they talked about the lack of research on effects, and they edited my words down to: “there are no good studies.” This was a perfect ending for the show as it granted them the final word. The only problem is that the whole thing was a set up. The producer had asked me about studies showing a direct link between porn and rape. While there are no studies that show direct causation, I had told him about a wealth of research on the impact of porn on men’s attitudes and behavior.

So of course the media gets the last word, and us activists have to take the crumbs that they throw our way, and let me tell you, they don’t get any more crummy that Penn and Teller.

GAIL DINES is a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College. She is a founding member of Stop Porn Culture and co-producer of the slide show Who Wants to be a Porn Star? For a copy of the show, please email Stoppornculture@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail