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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

"I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability." - Oscar Wilde


Courtesy of MFM:

Psychology Today: Love's Loopy Logic

"A date makes us both spectator and performer at a two-ring circus: We troll for wit, kindness, curiosity, and "chemistry," hoping that we radiate these same attributes in the right amounts. From strategic winks and blinks to elaborate grooming to gifts of gorgeous baubles, men and women employ an arsenal of tricks in their romantic lives, all in the service of a demanding master at the far reaches of conscious awareness. Eons of evolution have honed our behavior to aid and abet a reproductive payoff. The sum of the stratagems we employ, and the wisdom of nature in crafting them without our explicit awareness, are now the subject of intense study by evolutionary psychologists...

Women, for their part, are biased right back. They skittishly insist that men are more keen on no-strings-attached sex than is the case. This "men are pigs" bias pits suspicious women against oversolicitous men in what Geoffrey Miller, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, labels a "never-ending arms race of romantic skepticism and excess."...

Glenn Geher, an associate professor of psychology at SUNY at New Paltz, who, with Miller, edited a forthcoming volume on mating intelligence, is developing a mathematical model to demonstrate what many a grandmother has long cautioned: Women who are de facto skeptical of a man's intentions are almost always better off than women who spend hours deconstructing the first date. ("He gave me his home number, he asked about my family, he mentioned a concert this spring—he must be into me!") Geher found that if a woman cannot accurately judge a man's romantic designs at least 90 percent of the time, she's better off being biased. "Women using a 'men are always pigs' decision-making rule may be more likely to actually end up with honest, committed, and long-term-seeking males," insists Geher...

Men are excellent judges of what women want in a long-term partner, exhibiting keen mind reading abilities on limited display in other areas of their lives. A guy who is clueless about his friends' opinions of him and oblivious to his wife's sulking can still craft a potent profile on Match.com...

Faby Gagné, a research consultant and visiting scholar at Wellesley College, found that 95 percent of people think their paramour is above average in appearance, intelligence, warmth, and sense of humor. There's deep wisdom in these sunny views: People who believe they've struck romantic gold are more satisfied with their relationship and more committed to their mate.

Romantic illusions are so critical that they may actually balloon during key decision-making phases of a relationship, such as whether to get married, or when to have children. That's because, says Gagné, biases can buffer us against the angst of dicey deliberations...

Self-deception softens the conjugally unpalatable and pushes the envelope on what constitutes an intelligent strategy. When it comes to defending a relationship to ourselves, we're like lawyers who routinely manipulate—but outright lie when the need arises...

Self-deception is an equal opportunity bias. It's a core feature of mating intelligence both for males and females. But women display more self-serving beliefs about their own behavior in relationships. When Maureen O'Sullivan, a professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco, queried college students about their lies to the opposite sex, she found that women assert that they themselves lie less than do other women. Men have no corresponding illusions about their mendacity relative to other guys. O'Sullivan sees the gap between women's self-reported lies versus their beliefs about other women's lies as evidence of internal sophistry. Self-deception makes sense for a woman who needs male resources, even if the guy himself isn't optimally committed. "Women have to put more of their central processing units into maintaining a relationship," says O'Sullivan. "It's easier to do that emotional work if you have a certain amount of self-deception." For some women, the skepticism that comes so naturally during courtship switches off once a commitment's been made, and they may overestimate a man's investment in the relationship or the odds that he's being faithful.

Battered women may be an extreme example of self-deception, points out O'Sullivan. Women who remain convinced of an abusive partner's devotion are arguably lying to themselves with an intensity that can appear delusional. But such women may be acting on a runaway impulse to ignore objectionable male behavior, an impulse that in effect prevents them from leaving when it's clearly to their advantage...

Peer judgments may be supremely influential in today's world. Traditionally, teens mixed more with adults and extended family, so they received feedback on their mate value from their clan as much as from their clique. But today teens are schooled and socialized in lockstep, creating an unprecedented separation from adults that Miller argues may warp accurate self-appraisal. A 17-year-old girl, he contends, compares herself mercilessly to her equally nubile peers; she doesn't mingle with adults enough to realize that she and her friends are all in the top-10 percent of women, reproductively speaking. "Forty years ago," says Miller, "a girl might have entered the workforce at age 18 and gotten a lot of attention in the office relative to the 28-year old 'spinster.' " Today, she'll enter college, still socializing and competing with a gaggle of equally young, pretty girls...

Glenn Geher argues that health class would do well to teach the rudiments of opposite-sex mind reading and mate preferences, not just opposite-sex plumbing. Miller agrees: "It would help enormously if boys were told, 'your sense of humor and ability to be interesting matter.' It would help if girls heard, 'No, you don't have to be ultrathin. If you're best friends with a guy, he might make a good boyfriend.' There's so much misunderstanding between the sexes, and adults seem unwilling to take a stand."...

Highly creative men are more attractive—Nettle's colleague Helen Clegg found that artists who amassed the most gallery exhibitions also racked up the most sexual partners"

I tried to find O'Sullivan's original paper on the emphasised bit, but couldn't, so I will take it as supporting my contention that women lie to themselves (ie they lie without knowing they're lying).

Great, to think that only last week I found evidence that women are more risk-averse (the corollary of which is that they're more paranoid)!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Something from Frigid Girl:

"Scena da Manuale d'amore 2

Credo ke forse sia questa la parte più erotica e passionata in un film? Monica Bellucci e Riccardo Scamarcio sarebbero una bella coppia..."

Amazing! A sex scene without nudity! Gotta love these Europeans.

This is not quite "fetish wheelchair girls stuck in mud", but it's the closest I've seen to it.

Addendum: "After sex, he was cured. Hallelujah... The wheelchair was just a ploy. I'm handicapped. Fuck me."

"Don't watch handicapped sex, it's gross. Can we watch normal people having sex?... If you really need to watch sex, watch normal people"

"I don't need to watch porn. I need to read my readings... 'Porn, readings, it's so hard to decide. I'll go for readings. Join - University Scholars Programme'"

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography (10/10)

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography / David Loftus

"The Public Debate: What Did Everyone Get Wrong About Pornography?

Alan Soble, a professor of philosophy, notes that eye contact between the model and the viewer is often staged in photos and videos, which is a kind of communicaion— the expression and recognition of intentions.” He describes the interchange thus:

'The model who poses and licks her lips knows how the photographs are to be used, and she acts in that way in order to arouse the viewer. The viewer, in turn, knows that the model is acting in order to arouse, recognizes her intention to arouse, and is aroused by recognizing her intention to arouse. Despite the time and space between the two people, the model also appreciates that the viewer’s recognition of her intention to arouse will contribute to his arousal, and she knows this while she is acting so as to arouse.'...

When Dworkin asserts that “Objectification, in fact and in consequence, is never trivial,” she is simply wrong. If objectification is a process that occurs in our heads when we look at someone (or a picture of someone)—seeing and making a snap judgment about that person without complete information about his or her nature—then we objectify other people many times a day. When we accord automatic respect to someone in a white lab coat or someone who steps up to a lectern, we have objectified that person. When we shy away from an unkempt character on the street, this is an act of objectification. On further investigation, the person in the white coat may be an actor or an escapee from a mental institution, and the street person is actually Howard Hughes or the Messiah; the point is that our initial act of objectification does not freeze the person in stone now and forever—we can respond to further input and continuously modify our judgments.

Soble observes that people regularly “dehumanize” one another for casual sex in a one-night stand, but it is a mutual transaction, so some forms of dehumanization must be, in his words, “morally permissible” I do nothing wrong, he suggests, if I fail to smile or say anything to a ticket-taker at the theater—and thereby treat the person like a ticket - taking machine—but there are limits: I cannot therefore step on her foot or cough in his face.

Antiporn analyses also neglect the issue of context. This means that, and only that, their arguments run. Nudity means loss of power (rather than an attempt to impress and evoke awe), the male gaze can only be degrading and acquisitive (rather than admiring and respectful), and women who enjoy performing fellatio and being squirted with ejaculate (let alone simply posing naked for men) must be deluded, brainwashed, and coerced...

“Until the day women’s bodies are no, used to sell cars, cosmetics are not a necessity to the success of a woman’s image, and we are not humiliated and tortured for men’s pleasure, women will have no rights,” MacKinnon declares. The idea that women have no rights is hyperbole, of course, as is the implication that women are routinely coerced into dressing provocatively. Note how casually MacKinnon equates having to wear cosmetics with being tortured. This statement appears in a book whose cover photograph shows the author wearing earrings. Is this a demonstration that even MacKinnon cannot escape the tyranny of social objectification of women? (One also wonders whether the healthy glow of her skin was enhanced by makeup: Did MacKinnon choose this herself, was she merely encouraged to look more attractive, or did Harvard University Press coerce her into donning rouge by threatening to hold up publication of her book if she didn’t?)...

As Ann Snitow remarks, 'Not even in my most utopian dreams can I imagine a state in which one recognizes all others as fully as one recognizes oneself (if one can even claim to recognize oneself, roundly, fully, without fragmentation). . . . the antipornography campaign introduces misleading goals into our struggle when it intimates that in a feminist world we will never objectify anyone, never take the part for the whole. . .'

Exhibit One for the antipornography activists is Linda Lovelace, the star of the top-grossing pornographic film of all time, Deep Throat... In fact, as some commentators have noted, Lovelace states in her book that working on Deep Throat provided some of the first happy and relaxed moments of her marriage. “Something was happening to me, something strange,” Lovelace writes of the first day of filming. “It had to do with the fact that no one was treating me like garbage. And maybe it was just the chemistry of being part of a group. For the first time in many months, I was thrown in with other people, other people who weren’t perverted and threatening.” (Remember, these are porn actors end filmmakers she is referring to here.)

Although no one came to her aid when her husband beat her up, and i hey continued to make use of her performance for the movie, she could tell even at the time that no one approved of his treatment of her. Her book strongly suggests that if she had not appeared in Deep Throat and thereby become a minor celebrity known to many other people, she would have remained an unknown, abused wife and perhaps never gotten away from Traynor alive. Pornography did not put her in that mess; it helped her to get out of it, and may have saved her life...

MacKinnon complains that the film “is protected speech” even though Ordeal “makes clear that thi film documents crimes, acts that violate laws in all fifty states.” Perhaps it does, but the video of the Rodney King beating and the Fox network cop shows depict actual crimes too, and we do not prosecute the people who made or broadcast them. MacKinnon tries to pretend that the ordeal of Linda Lovelace is somehow every woman’s story: “It is what men experience as our sexuality. What connects Linda’s ordeal and the success of Deep Throat with the situation of all women is the force they are based on.” Somehow I doubt MacKinnon means to imply her life has been one of unmitigated humiliation and coercion.

There are several basic problems with the subordination argument. or one thing, women in pornography are often assertive and sexually agressive. Sex appears to be their idea: They tug at men’s clothing, move into position, and initiate various sex acts. Rarely does anyone have to tell them what to do. These women are not acting the way opponents of pornography say they do, nor are they acting like women often do in public life...

The truth of the matter is, when you are in the submissive role, things are “done to” you; you get to lie back and concentrate on the sen sations rather than have to run the show. When you are in the sub missive position, the other person is taking more responsibility lot the success or failure of the sex; whatever “doesn’t work” is not your fault. Even what does work is not your fault, which is a convenient excuse if you have mixed feelings about it. This has been suggested as the reason behind women’s historic rape fantasies. In the fantasy of being taken by someone who is so overpowered by desire for you, because of his lust or your beauty (preferably both), you make him responsible for whatever happens—for good or ill. It’s not your fault if anyone gets hurt, or (god forbid) you actually enjoy yourself...

Sex workers and therapists know the truth of the matter. “In general I’d say it’s nine to one that men want to be dominated,” says Barbara, an escort worker in Britain:

'When you think, “What is the ideal girl that the client wants?” you mighi think: someone who is pretty, sweet, and submissive. And yet in actual fact, if you play that role with clients, nine times out of ten you wont see them again. Clients genuinely don’t like submissive women. They want women who have spunk and who have a sense of humour. They don’t just want you to roll over and put your legs up in the air. They want that spark. to get the repartee going. They really like it when you criticize them.'...

I think most people intuitively understand [that porn eroticises male fears], even if they don’t realize it. Women who have no interest in porn or actively dislike it tend to regard men who use it as pathetic. Why would they do this if porn depicts “the reality of male power and privilege”? If pornography really expressed the power and privilege of its viewers, most women would be clamoring to see porn with naked men in it, because then the women would be in the power position. Yet when women do see nude males, they often feel silly or embarrassed. Far from expressing the power and privilege most men “actually” possess in society, porn more likely expresses what the viewer feels he lacks or is missing out on . . . and that’s why even ignorant and unsympathetic women regard masculine interest in porn as pathetic rather than a threat.

What sort of man most routinely shows disrespect toward women, and speaks of women coarsely, and draws pictures of female privates on bathroom walls? Usually a young, unformed male—one who does not enjoy great knowledge of women or power in the social or business world. Laura Kipnis theorizes that pornography is about transgression:
mapping the borders of culture’s decorum and stepping over them. Naturally, teens who are searching for identity—straining at adulthood—try to locate and sometimes transgress those boundaries, whether it’s through smoking cigarettes, sneaking alcohol, learning to drive as soon as possible, or looking at pornography (as well as experimenting with sex itself). This is not a reflection of their personal power, but their relative powerlessness. Says Camille Paglia:

'The dominance of woman’s image in pornography is not about the sub ordination of women—it’s the opposite. It’s about male anxiety. It’s about the male mind trying to confront and take control of this enormous, mys terious power of female sexuality.'

A man longs to know what a woman looks like when she is willing, when she wants to do everything he desires, because too often he does not have that experience in real life. This is no dillerent from the long. ing that drives women to romance novels, where the heroes are unreal (or at least atypical) mirrors of feminine desires.

Most men in my survey would object to someone treating a woman as sexually dirty or inferior, too... Women in pornography don’t often take orders from men, because they understand them completely, know what they want, do what they want, and themselves want what men want. That this is unrealistic - a fantasy - is precisely the point...

Susan Cole is a surprising exception when she faults Canadian law for its presumption on [facials]: 'But ejavulating onto a woman's body does not have to be degrading. It could also be a method of birth control.'...

Perhaps to read facial cum shots as inherently degrading may be unfair to male experience. It imposes women’s feelings on men. In the typical “facial cum shot,” the woman is rarely coerced or restrained. In fact, she rushes to position eagerly; she invites the event. She almost never looks as if she is suffering or upset by the result; often, she smiles approvingly or continues to make orgasmic sounds as if getting semen on her face is a thrilling experience. She savors the semen, lets it run out of her mouth, down her chin, and over her chest. She may look up gratefully into the man’s face, or smile at the viewer. She may take the slowly deflating penis in her mouth again, and smear the semen all over it with her lips. If degradation and humiliation were the viewer’s goal, ouldn’t his pleasure be heightened by expressions of fear, disgust, and distaste on the woman’s face, resistance on her part, and the necessity of holding her down? If pornography is an expression of raw male power md violence, how come there is so little evidence of it in these “disgusting” tableaux?...

I would suggest that “facials” in pornography are one of the ultimate expressions of a woman’s acceptance—her celebration—of male sexuality and orgasm... when a woman smiles and invites the explosion on her face— the part of her that gets the most public attention, the portion she assiduously washes and paints for presentation to the world—it may he the ultimate “I love you,” or at least “you’re okay, fella,” for the man who has had to hide, clean up, and dispose of his semen most of his life...

Friday... concludes about men who look at nude women:

'Seeing only degradation in the eyes of men who masturbate while looking at women’s bare breasts and genitals, angry feminists miss the point altogether. “The uninitiated think that men look at naked ladies to disparage them, or that the women hate the men and only do it to make a buck,” says [Friday’s psychologist friend] Richard Robertiello, who used to frequent burlesque theaters. “But it’s a love fest. We men worship. These women see the adoration in the guys’ eyes. The men think the women are goddesses for letting them look. Their wives don’t care enough to show them their bodies. These women live out the guy’s suppressed dreams of exhibitionism.”

“No catcalls?” I asked him.

“The few times that happened, the men were so disapproved of by the rest of the audience, they were thrown out of the theater. The stripper/audience relationship is a love affair, maybe even more important than a sex affair.”'

Hatred of Women
None of this sounds like hatred. Anxiety, sometimes. And fear—of women, of failure at sex, of not knowing what to do—perhaps. When they feel these feelings, men may go to pornography not to stoke them, not to build up hatred, but to allay them. To feel good about women To worship their beauty. To imagine what it’s like to have one want you To pretend that sex is not so mysterious and complicated after all."

Towards a New Theory of Men and Pornography

"Appreciation of Women's Beauty
It may be some part of a woman's physical being that attracts a man's eye: the way she has done her hair or the way it falls and bounces; the way she has chosen her clothing to present herself, the way it falls lazily across the contours of her body or grips her curves; the lines of her torso, the length and smoothness of her legs, the delicate purity and wistfulness of the nape ofher neck, the beguiling shape and bounce of her breasts, the equally heart-stopping globes of her derrière and its rolling grind as she walks. Each of these pieces forms a portion of a woman's entire physical presence, but any one of them alone can be beautiful.

A woman's beauty also lies in how she carries herself and the way she walks... Men's appreciation of women's beauty in all its variety carries over, to some extent, to pornography... Some of pornography's biggest stars don't conform to the stereotypes...

Neither Nina Hartley nor Ginger Lynn, two of the most popular performers in pornographic videos, was surpassingly gorgeous in her prime... the fact that the women acted as if they truly enjoyed sex and the company of men played a major role in their popularity...

[Men] say, in effect, Thank you for allowing me this look at your nude body... if she looks like she's enjoying herself, she doesn't necessarily have to resemble the models in Vogue and Cosmopolitan (who are only a little less naked, after all)...

*Very emotive experience*

Until Andrea Dworkin Or Catharine MacKinnon can account for an experience like this and incorporate it into their theories about what “does” to men, they will remain hopelessly ignorant about men and what pornography means to us. When men who look at pornography feel tenderness, vulnerability, affection, and gratitude (as well as I’desire and lust), to be told that what they feel is only a desire for power and the need to humiliate and degrade women is inaccurate and insulting. No wonder we have been loathe to speak up: What men have to say seems utterly and literally incomprehensible when put next to much of what has been said tip to now."
"You've got to take the bitter with the sour." - Samuel Goldwyn


Google cockup: "Your search... did not match any documents... In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 0 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included."

Somehow I was amused by this Bak Kwa ad on a taxi.

Barracks restaurant in Dempsey Road must spend a lot on air-conditioning. No wonder the prices are so high for the portions you get. Well, at least there's the kumquat (complete with leaves).

Monolingual SBS MRT sign. I wonder if anyone's written in to complain about their lack of commitment to racial harmony.

I know this list in Wakafu was very funny, but this picture can't be read. Acidflask has a hi-res copy of the picture but I haven't gotten it from him yet.

The chicken is blessed indeed!

"Property of Changing Appetites. Do not remove from premises. Offenders will be handed over to police!" (or words to that effect)
I can't believe this happens often enough to need this warning (as with the Khong Guan biscuit tins and passing off)?!

"Tuition !!!!!!!!!...
Qualified and experience tutor teaching maths and science for primary and secondary school... Please contact... lousyman*@hotmail.com"
I sure wouldn't hire a tutor with that email address

Burger King (Singapore): "What your ingredients say about you. Turkey Bacon: You are willing to betray whatever residual culinary standards fast food had and put ersatz crap in your menu in order to earn more money."

The only interesting thing at the USC bazaar (at Science - they're ALWAYS at Science): T-shirts in braille

NUS - where we chain the furniture in the corridor so no one steals it

Science - where people need directions to the vending machine

Apparently you're supposed to take a leap of faith out of this door

Guess what's inside these things. Answer: pineapple (highlight for answer)
K Gourmet - the masters of making savory stuff that looks sweet (people think their buns filled with chicken feather sausage or otar are custard buns) and sweet stuff that looks savory (eg tao sar puff)

"NUSSU Tokok campaign: Q: Are girls in NUS overdressed? A: Ho-ho. Helloooo.... under-dressed is the correct word <:)"
Another interesting one was: "Q: There are too many 'Little Miss' in NUS. A: Give them growth hormones"
The person who designed these forms should be fired. The background at the place where you're supposed to write your comments makes it almost impossible to read what's written. I looked at a few, then gave up squinting - after 3 years you've heard almost everything that can be said, anyway.

Attempts at Valentine's Day emotional blackmail:

"You can give without loving, but you can never LOVE without GIVING. (Sociology Society)" (apparently they don't practise what they preach)

"Friendship stalk
Puppy Love (1 stalk)
Blooming Love (3 stalks)
True Love (6 stalks)
Passionate Love (9 stalks)
Eternal Love (12 stalks)"

"'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.' - God
catholic awareness week 2007"

Besides arguably violating the 4th Commandment (YHWH and all that), there is something very wrong with this, as this line refers to the prophet Jeremiah (cue the calls about context, which are curiously absent whenever Christians talk about abortion).

Now, suppose we grant that this applies to everyone, and not just a prophet (or all prophets, even).

Since God knows us before forming us in the womb, he knows us before the moment of conception, when a sperm and an egg meet. Thus, to prevent the union of a sperm and an egg is murder. Contraception, naturally, is then out, being a murderous act. Yet preventing the events that would lead to the union of a sperm and an egg is similarly haram.

Even abstinence, then, could be murder.

Infusion (international) bazaar:

"Stand a chance to win a Free plane ticket to PHUCKET"

"Do you want to pay your respects to the late President Soeharto?"
Err, no, but there's something else I want to do...

Other nations had food samples, but Scotland was conspicuous by its lack of any. Yet, notice what seems to be a food warmer. They probably figured no one wanted to eat haggis anyway (cue Mike Myers on Scottish food).

There was a costume dressup booth with the most horrific essentialisation (when I use the word, you know something's up):

'Chinese Minority' was bad enough...

... but 'Afican' (sic) took the cake, condensing the entire continent of Africa into a single costume. I wanted to show up in a loincloth, and maybe with a blowpipe too - that's African as well.

'Arabian Belly Dancer' - sans veil?!

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography (9/10)

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography / David Loftus

The Public Debate: What Did Everyone Get Wrong About Men Who Use Pornography? (Continued)

"Porn Causes Men to be Violent

A more serious charge than the notion that pornography portrays violence is that it causes violence in the real world. Declares Dworkin, 'men believe . . . that they have the right to rape' and 'men really believe they have the right to hit and to hurt.' Not some men, not men who are addicted to pornography—just men, period. And in case you thought Dworkin was being careless, she writes elsewhere: “Pacifist males are only apparent exceptions; repelled by some forms of violence as nearly all men are, they remain impervious to sexual violence as nearly all men do.”...

The argument rests partly upon laboratory studies that suggest a connection between the consumption of pornography and increased callousness toward women, greater propensity to rape or to discount the seriousness of rape, and a taste for increasing violence. Second, opponents of porn list real-life examples in which pornography played an apparent role in a particular man’s violence against women—a serial killer, usually—as well as a few studies that suggest ordinary men have “gotten ideas” from pornographic material and forced their partners to participate.

The primary lab research to which critics of pornography refer has been conducted by Edward Donnerstein, Neil Malamuth, Dolf Zillon, Daniel Linz, and others. This is not the place to discuss the weaknesses of these studies at length, particularly when they have already been extensively critiqued by others. (See, for example, Bill Thompson’s Soft Core and Alison King’s essay, “Mystery and Imagination: the case of pornography effects studies,” in Assiter and Carol’s Bad Girls and Dirty Books.)

Suffice it to say that most studies have used college students, who were handy for researchers but might not accurately represent the pop ulation at large. Young adults in their late teens and early twenties tend to be sexually and romantically inexperienced. They probably have unclear ideas about what they might or might not do, and what is and is not acceptable behavior. Critics of pornography usually fail to note that female college students in these surveys sometimes show as much heightened aggression, arousal, and callousness as males...

To accept the antiporn case, one must presume that the “propaganda” of pornography was somehow more influential in these [male serial killers' lives than the violence and humiliation they suffered at the hands of real people. “Our research has shown that virtually all serial killers inc from dysfunctional backgrounds of sexual or physical abuse, drugs or alcoholism,” says the FBI’s John Douglas. “I’m not going to tell you that pornography fuels the desires of someone who wasn’t already thinking in that direction.”

Plus, as Alison King points out, “the fairly strong consensus among researchers is that sex offenders invariably had less exposure to pornography than the average male—a point accepted even by the Meese Commission.” This seems counter to common sense, but a study by Kant and Goldstein showed that sex offenders tended to grow up in households where there was almost no discussion of sexuality, and the values were traditional and conservative...

Furthermore, focusing on isolated killers ignores the hundreds of thousands—even millions—of men who look at pornography and never abuse their partners and acquaintances—men similar to most of the males in my survey. It is easy to say killers like Bundy and Bernardo were fans of pornography and leave it at that; few acknowledge that men like theologian Paul Tillich, jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, and symphony conductor Eugene Goossens were, too...

Ann Rule, who knew Bundy personally and wrote a biography of him, is convinced he was merely spinning another tale with his eleventh-hour confession” about pornography:

'I wish that I could believe his motives were altruistic. But all I can see in that Dobson tape is another Ted Bundy manipulation of our minds. The effect of the tape is to place, once again, the onus of his crimes—not on himself—but on us. I don’t think pornography caused Ted Bundy to kill thirty-six or one hundred or three hundred women. . . . The blunt fact is that Ted Bundy was a liar. He lied most of his life, and I think he lied at the end.'...

When MacKinnon writes that “sooner or later, all men want to do what they see in pornography,” if she means they want to try some of the sex acts with a consenting partner, and see ecstasy on a woman’s face, then the men in my survey would agree. But just before that sentence MacKinnon refers to “murdering a young woman. . . raping her, having vaginal and anal intercourse with her corpse, and chewing on several parts of her body”; and I cannot say a single man in my survey mentioned this as a cherished fantasy...

The 1992 University of Chicago Sex in America survey indicated that between 1942 and 1992 the number of men and women who reached the age of twenty and were still virgins had risen steadily, with the proportion of men outpacing that of women. Clearly pornography is not doing the job its opponents claim...

As Jen Durbin has observed:

'It’s too easy to get a skewed impression of porn if you only read about it. Students who read Andrea Dworkin become convinced that pornography equals pictures of dead Asian women hanging from trees, smiling buxom women meeting a gruesome fate in a meat grinder, ecstatic women fellating revolvers, etc. Students who read Nina Hartley become convinced that pornography is a form of self-actualization for uninhibited feminists.'...

To open an essay called “Pornography and Rape: A Causal Model,” for instance,
Russell quotes a man from Shere Rite’s survey on why he wants to rape women and what he fantasizes about when he thinks of doing it. But the man never said that he did rape anyone, he was just describing his thoughts...

Men’s “propensity to rape,” as Russell terms it, may be no more prevalent than women’s propensity to strike their children—that is, often considered, seldom performed.

Russell properly concludes that “having a desire to behave in a certain way is not the same as actually behaving in that way, . . . [but] it is helpful to have this kind of baseline information on the desires and predispositions of males, who are, after all, the chief consumers of pornography.” Unfortunately for her case, nowhere does Russell show that the 46 to 52 percent of the males in Hite’s survey who occasionally “thought of rape” were the males who looked at pornography the most, or that they had a record of mistreating women or a likelihood of actually raping anyone...

Ziliman and Bryant noted that differences in the way males and females responded to the materials were “trivial statistically.” This means that males and females were aroused in much the same way (something Russell and many other antiporn activists rarely bother to report) and that “massive prior exposure [to pornography] reduced aggressiveness sharply” in both sexes. Although the researchers were puzzled that after massive exposure to pornography, the research subjects were more likely to recommend shorter terms of imprisonment in a hypothetical rape trial—”rape is apparently considered a lesser offense” after exposure to porn—they added that in this too, “effects of massive exposure applied to males and females equally. The females’ dispositions toward rape and its punishment were apparently just as much influenced as those of males.”

Senn is one of the few enemies of porn who acknowledges that “studies of sexual arousal using both men and women have shown that sex differences in arousal to sexually explicit materials (no violent content) do not exist.” Several studies, she admits, suggest “women are as aroused as men to pictures and written depictions of sex whether the content is affectional and romantic or not.” In her own research, women’s levels of anger and confusion dropped considerably on successive viewings of a slide show of violent and nonviolent pornography.

Senn calls this “affective desensitization” and worries that “lessened anger might reduce the chance of social responses.” But why presume that the initial response is the more “true” one? A simpler explanation would be that the shock value dissipated, the women got used to the unfamiliar material, and they felt less personally threatened and could evaluate it more objectively. Their initial response could be likened to the fear and anxiety we feel toward the unknown—strangers from the other side of the globe, for instance—and what Senn calls “affective desensitization” could he more accurately termed “increased understanding and comfort” such as we experience once we have met and talked with strangers from China or the Congo. How many of us reacted with puzzlement and unease—even fear—the first time we heard about sex itself?

Rather than read too much into gender roles or pornography’s influence, I would suggest that the ready response of males and females to pornography in these studies is yet another confirmation that college students may be more suggestible—because they are less sexually experienced and mature—than older people.

Despite the holes in their logic, the opponents of pornography often admit that their minds are simply made up. Kathleen Barry writes: “I submit that the causal connections between pornography and sexual violence are perfectly evident. We do not need to follow individual men out of specific pornographic theaters and witness them raping the first woman they see to realize as women what impact pornography has on our lives. We need only appeal to our common sense.” Ray Wyre, who treats child sex abusers, says simply, “I don’t know how many men actually have fantasies and don’t put them into practice. But I don’t care about that [emphasis added]. What I do know is the more they masturbate to pornography, the more likely they will be to put their fantasy into practice.” With that reasoning, one should lobby to have all the fans of murder mysteries and true crime stories locked away before they are inspired to do some harm based on all the fantasy homicides and historic mayhem they read about. The most laughable analogies are fostered by MacKinnon: in at least two of her books, she suggests showing pornography to a man is like “saying ‘kill’ to a trained attack dog.

The theory that “porn causes people to be violent” is pretty suspect, Kathleen Barry’s notion of common sense notwithstanding. If it were true that the more pornography a man sees, the more likely he is to commit violence, then older men would be more violent: Like radiation poisoning, the cumulative effect of repeated exposures to pornography eventually would kick in as their lives continued. But according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, the largest concentration of men arrested for forcible rape is between the ages of 16 and 24. Sixty-one percent of the offenders are under the age of 25."
I was with My Toy, Acidflask and some others, and decided to enjoy a bukkake (my first, in fact). He has higher-res pictures, but I haven't gotten them yet:

Wakafu Bukkake (Udon): fish flakes, seaweed, egg, sweet beancurd, fishcake, tempura crumbs, crabstick (bah, they said crab), spring onion and coriander, with a bowl of dipping sauce at the side. Delicious.

From Democratic ImPossibilities Potluck after Christmas:

My focaccia. Not brown enough, and oddly shaped. And it wasn't herbal enough (too bad I'd made the next batch of flour by that time)

Jap seal meat curry

Fishing for seal meat

2nd batch of focaccia (several days later) - I baked for a bit longer at a higher temperature, and also brushed the tops with olive oil, so they look better (even those without cheese):

Curry Cream Chicken. This was for Hurr Hurr. Someone labelled it: "Gabriel's Ominous Meat" but it was the most popular item, if I do say so myself.

Original recipe; instead of microwaving I stir fried to brown the onions and apples, as well as the chicken, then baked the mixture. I left out the mushrooms though. The cream and cream of mushroom soup (this seems to be a common shortcut) were a bit less than required though.

After the addition of more curry and a bit more baking

'Okonomiyaki' which looks like cai tao kuay bad cai tao kuay (caked together), brought to you by the same people who gave us equally disgusting Chicken Ham Takoyaki. Today, about a week and a half later, they came back as part of NUSSU's food fiesta bazaar (where there was massive racial disparity in vendors, and 3/4 the stalls could be found at normal bazaars anyway). Uhh.

Ichiban Boshi (Esplanade): 'Our premium dishes are carved with sincerity & only the freshest ingredients are used'. Presumably their normal dishes are cooked without sincerity and don't use the freshest ingredients. They also, like a few other places, have 2 tiers of ice cream: Haagen Dazs and an unnamed, cheaper brand.

2girls1cup - California Girl and Lynnette

I'm so touched!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography (8/10)

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography / David Loftus

The Public Debate: What Did Everyone Get Wrong About Men Who Use Pornography? (Continued)

"Pornography Shows What Men Want

'Pornographers... know what to make, and the distributors know what sell,' Susan Cole declares, as if the mere fact that something is on market is proof that the consumers want it and would not choose something else were it available. Are Pintos, Edsels, red dye #2, and thalidomide what consumers wanted? They were on the market and people bought them, so they must have been...

Many of the men in my survey did not often get what they wanted from pornography...

MacKinnon claims that pornography “eroticizes the despised, the demeaned, the accessible, the there-to-be-used, the servile, the child-like, the passive, and the animal.” That does not sound like many of the women I have seen in pornography, or the ones the men in my survey said they liked most. MacKinnon wants to pretend that “women feel compelled to preserve the appearance—which, acted upon, becomes
the reality—of male direction of sexual expression, as if male initiative itself were what we [women] want, as if it were what turns us on. Men enforce this. It is much of what men want in women.”

Everyone would like to be served at times, everyone wants to be desired—which requires assertiveness and initiative on the part of someone else. Women whose sexual relationships with men are fulfilling have their needs served by their male partner. If men wanted only power in sex, they wouldn’t experience performance anxiety, impotence, or premature ejaculation (or feel guilty when they do, because these are symptoms of not being able to satisfy one’s partner— or the fear of it. If domination and power were all that mattered to men, they would care only for their orgasm, and not their partner’s. The fact is, many men do care very much about women’s pleasure, both in life and in pornography, where it is the focus of so much attention...

Pornography Teaches Men About Sex
As Laura Kipnis dryly observes, 'The argument that pornography causes violent behavior in male consumers relies on a theory of the porn consumer as devoid of rationality, contemplation, or intelligence, prone instead to witless brainwashing, to monkey-see/monkey-do reenactments of the pornographic scene.”...

Pornography is Addictive
One can sense the same murky insinuations in Peter Baker’s worried declaration that the combined monthly sales of all Britain’s pornographic magazines—from Penthouse and Mayfair to Knave, Fiesta, and Club International—is 2.25 million. Apparently the reader is meant to assume each sale represents a different man, rather than the possibility that a smaller number of men buy multiple magazines. And what if there were 2.25 million buyers 0f pornography in Britain: Could they all be addicts and nascent sex killers? One does not get that impression from the Englishmen in my survey...

Porn Consumers Inevitably Turn to More Violent and Kinky Material
Porn critics positively savor the gruesome details they say are typical of the genre. Women are 'hung by their breasts from meat hooks,' Catherine Itzin assures us. They are 'fucked, tied up, spread-eagled, having ejaculate sprayed over their faces and bodies,' Diana Russell thunders, and 'No one knows what percentage of them are also being beaten up, tortured, rpaed or even killed.' MacKinnon says, 'Electrodes [are] being applied to the genitals of women being called 'cunt' in photography studios in Los Angeles and the results mass-marketed.' Cole assures us that 'men shove bamboo up women's vaginas,' one finds 'a meathook in a woman's vagina,' and women are 'branded with hot irons or gang-raped...' As always, Andrea Dworkin weighs in: 'A woman, nearly naked, in a cell, chained, flesh ripped up from the whip, breasts mutilated by a knife: she is entertainment, the boy-next-door's favorite fantasy, every man's precious right, every woman's potential fate.'

... When critics of pornography actually try to measure the violent content, the results are weak, to say the least. Catherine Itzin approvingly charts the findings of a study of the images on the covers of porn magazines on the east coast of the United States at the time of the Meese Commission. Although intriguing items such as fisting, leg irons, forcible rape, and corpses leap off her chart, their actual incidence in the pornography studied by researchers P.E. Dietz, Paul Elliott, and Alan Sears was negligible. The above items appeared in one percent or less of the material. In contrast, a subsequent study by Dietz of detective magazine covers found that 76 percent involved domination of some kind and 38 percent depicted bondage.

Opponents of pornography also casually assert that violence in pornography is on the rise. MacKinnon writes, “More and more pornography is more and more violent, and arousing,” but she provides no evidence. Russell and Karen Trocki are more sly: in 1993 they wrote, “Pornographic materials and mainstream depictions of women have become increasingly violent in the past two decades,”... Using such a skewed sample to characterize all pornography as violent is as accurate as saying statistics indicate that all Americans may be homosexual.

Palys’s examination of videos between 1979 and 1983 found that XXX videos with explicit sex were far less violent than R-rated ones with nudity and simulated sex. Examples of male domination and graphic aggression were higher in the R-rated videos, but they did not increase over time, and the number of violent scenes in XXX actually fell.

Thompson goes on to cite several studies that suggest MacKinnon, Russell, and anyone else who claims violence has risen in pornography are simply wrong. J.E. Scott and S.J. Cuvelier’s 1987 study of Playboy and Penthouse, covering the years 1954 to 1983, found a “violent” image on one page in 3,000, and four out of every 1,000 pictures, respectively. The rate dropped after 1977. A study by researchers at Reading Uniersity of European pornographic magazines (supposedly “harder” than American or British) up to 1990, found that “violent imagery” declined 42 percent from 1972 to 1979, and a little further by 1983. “Non-violent but demeaning” imagery climbed 23 percent from 1972 to 1979, then declined 19 percent through 1983.

What makes the debate about violence in pornography so tricky is that 'violence' is open to interpretation. What looks like violence to one person may be play to another. When MacKinnon infers a connection between “sadomasochistic pornography and lynching,” it is clear she knows nothing about consensual bondage and S/M, safe words, and the world of people who play at restraint and pain...

“Many women recoil at S/M because it seems to reflect what history teaches them men want most: to inflict sadistic pain on them,” writes James Ridgeway, a journalist and author of Red Light: Inside the Sex Industry. “But the surprise of the commercial S/M scene is that it most often finds men on their knees, abject slaves of their steely dominatrixes. Often cross-dressed in women’s clothing, they clank around in medieval chains, their cocks and balls ingeniously tied up, their bare asses lashed by whips, as they perform housewifely chores.”

In discussing a porn novel called Whip Chick, Dworkin wrote: “The portrayal of men as sexual victims is distinctly unreal, ludicrous in part because it scarcely has an analogue in the real world.” In other words, Dworkin argues that most porn is real to its viewers, but this porn is not...

The late John Preston, a popular author of gay pornographic stories, interviewed “Mistress Holly,” the owner/manager of an expensive brothel near Sunset and Vine in Hollywood, and reported:

'Holly speculated that only 15 percent of the male clients of the House of O were dominant in their sexual desires... They are men who are usually in charge all the time. They are the type who lord it over their wives, play the father role to the hilt with their children, and are probably giving the orders at work, too. They just can’t hold up to that pressure. So they come here and they hand over all their power and all their decision making to the domme.”'...

As a woman once wrote, when she was a child she “liked the sex-and-dominance games, which could be overtly sadomasochistic, because I liked the risk and the intensity. . . .“ Whether she suffered lasting harm because of such play is anybody’s guess: Her name is Andrea Dworkin.

The most extreme form of pornography, and therefore the handiest weapon in the “porn-is-violence” debate, is the “snuff” film, in which a woman is tortured and actually killed on camera for the sexual pleasure of the viewer...

When Snuff surfaced in 1976, feminist protests shut it down in some cities. The film helped to galvanize the antipornography movement into the 1980s. The only problem was that it was a hoax: an old-fashioned horror/slasher flick with some nudity thrown in. When Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau investigated, he discovered Snuff was really a 1971 Argentine movie called Slaughter, to which some extra scenes had been spliced. A story in the New York Times noted that the 'victim' was interviewed by a policewoman, and the authorities concluded, “The actress is alive and well.”...

Given that isolated psychopaths record their crimes in the privacy of their lair for their own pleasure, one cannot assert that such material is manufactured for the purpose of public sale to Dworkin’s “boy-next-door” —who wouldn’t want it in any case. Based on that slim but crucial misconception, however, one finds references to snuff in nearly every book and essay by opponents of pornography, often with no citation of an authoritative source at all...

If snuff films were really on the market, feminists would have hunted them down and held them up for gruesome display. Law enforcement agencies would be jumping for joy to possess the most perfect homicide evidence one could ever hope to put before a judge or jury. Why hasn’t this happened?

As a professor of law who must live or die by her citations, MacKinnon has worked the hardest to provide backup for such claims... Apart from quoting Senator Arlen Specter’s remarks in the Congressional Record as an authority, in several of her books MacKinnon cites a single Orange County, California municipal court case in which a man was convicted of murdering two young girls in the process of making a film. She invariably buries this information in an end note-perhaps because, as she admits, “the film was never found.” But somehow this enables her to insist of snuff films that “They exist,” and 'The intended consumer has a sexual experience watching [them]' (apparently “intended” consumers are as good as real ones)...

Less scrupulous commentators than MacKinnon assert that there are snuff films “priced to make [them] available to Everyman,” and increasingly popular as videos in the American home”[!]...

In 1997, journalist and former Israeli soldier and police detective Yaron Svoray published Gods of Death, the remarkable account of his search for a genuine snuff Film. The trail took him to Thailand, Germany, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and the war zones of Bosnia... A career FBI agent told him, “As far as anyone in the bureau knows, there has never been a legitimate snuff movie ever found.” An officer in the New York Police Department’s child crimes unit said, “I’ve never seen one and I hope I never do.” A 29-year veteran of the Dutch police assured Svoray there was no such thing.

Yet Svoray managed to view a snuff film in a wealthy man’s Connecticut home, and in Bosnia he found brutal video footage of sex slayings by soldiers. I believe he saw what he says he saw. But he clearly shows that such movies are closely guarded by their (probably criminal) owners, not sold to the public, and that the Bosnian footage of rape- killings of women—like the movie made by MacKinnon’s Orange County killers—was incidental to the actual carnage... Yet I suspect that MacKinnon will cite Svoray in her sub sequent books as proof that snuff exists and men want it."

(Continued in next post)

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography (7/10)

"The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization." - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography / David Loftus

The 75% Problem: Child Sex Abuse and the Porn Industry

'Feminist critics of porography assert that as many as 75 percent of the women who are filmed or pictured in pornography have been victims of child sexual abuse or incest, and conclude that the purchase of porn supports and encourages an industry that thrives on the sexual abuse of women and children'...

A 25-year-old software engineer wrote:

'My first response is that when I was a women’s studies minor at college, I did a lot of checking up on feminist statistics when studying for class or working on reports. I found that an alarming percentage of them were totally wrong, and most of the rest were deceptive. So when I see “as many as 75%” were “victims of child sexual abuse or incest,” I read that “as few as 5% saw a copy of Playboy before they were 18” and ignore it. Feminist statistics have lost all credibility with me.'...

A 35-year-old bisexual, married two years and working on a masters, said it was “An impossible observation to comment on without sort of contexting, some sort of comparative curve. I’d be interested to know what the sample group is and how it might compare to, say, fast-food workers as a control.”...

“Conservative estimates currently state that three out of four women—across societal stratification—have been sexually abused at one or more periods in their life. Given this, the statistical correlate between women being survivors of sexual abuse and pornograhy is ludicrous.”...

“I see no causal relationship,” wrote an assistant professor of computer science:

'I’m not sure it even makes sense on some level. Does the recycling industry thrive on waste? Yes, but does the recycling industry cause the waste? No. The people employed by the porn industry should be informed con senting adults. It is not the business of the pornographers to examine the past life and childhood of their employees.'...

'The industry may attract abused women. Other industries probably do also. I would expect that the women who work in rape help lines, psychology, social work, and the police all have disproportionately high numbers of women who have been abused. Do these industries “thrive” on the abuse of women? I think not. Everyone has a cross they bear. For some it is child sexual abuse. Our crosses lead each of us in various directions in efforts to solve the issue involved. The differences are only in the details.'...

A chemistry teacher offered another analogy: 'By the logic of Dworkin and MacKinnon, people who watch Richard Pryor movies and listen to his tapes are encouraging the racism that gave rise to his anger, and, by extension, his comedy. By their logic, the cure for racism in America would be to no longer watch Richard Pryor.'...

The sex publishing employee also suggested that far from being only an isolated option for downtrodden women, sex work might be a way they find their way back to self-confidence and a feeling of self-worth and attractiveness (to say nothing of economic independence)...

Candida Royalle, a former porn actress who became a director and producer with Femme Productions, a woman-owned company that makes couples-oriented pornographic films, recalls an incident that supports this theory:

'Three Daughters, for example, became a very cathartic experience for the actress, Siobhan Hunter. She was one of the Mayflower Madam girls, who had worked as an escort to put herself through medical school. The scene we were shooting was supposed to be a very tender portrayal of her first time and we were shooting in a green room, and the actor had a moustache. All of a sudden, Siobhan started freaking out. She said, “This is reminding me of my actual first sexual experience. It was a green room, with a man with a moustache, and it was a horrendous experience, and I’m starting to freak.” So I sat her down and I talked to her, and I told her that my first experience was done with someone I loved, but that it was also a dreadful experience. I told her that I use the movies as a form of catharsis—as a way of redoing it, in a way, and making it better. I thought she could try to use this the same way. The man she was working with had so much genuine feeling for her, that is exactly what happened. They did the scene together and at the very end, while the cameras were still rolling, she sat up, they were hugging, and she started crying. If you see the scene, you’ll see tears on her face. It was such a release for her.'...

'Actors and actresses in pornography are adults who are fully able to give or refuse consent. They are responsible for themselves and their actions. It seems curious to me that feminists are claiming that the actresses in pornography are poor helpless weaklings who are unable to speak for themselves. This is exactly the kind of patriarchalism they pretend to detest.'...

As the man who made the marijuana harvesting and analogy put it:

'I think the best solution, for someone who truly wants to eliminate victim’ from any line of work, is to insure that any line of work in which women (and children and men) are employed is made completely legal, with thy responsibilities and rights thereunto, and held in the public’s mind being as honorable as any other.'...

“Many great artists were dysfunctional and they have created great beauty.” Whether
anything in pornography could be called “great beauty” is certainly open to dispute, but this man’s reference to Van Gogh implied that if we accept the feminist reasoning with regard to abused women in porn, we should forgo the purchase, enjoyment, and reproduction of the work of individual such as Van Gogh or Dostoevsky...

*Explanation of how Dworkin distorted a study by the Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco which found that 73% of SF street prostitutes had been raped, with nearly a quarter of rapists making reference to porn, where the conclusion was 'It is very difficult to establish conclusively the causal relationship between pornography and sexual abuse of women'*

Dworkin not only exaggerated the numbers in the study but asserted that they proved something its own authors would not claim. She seems to care less about truth than stirring her listeners to action, even if that means unleashing unproven claims supported by slipshod methodology It is not hard to see what prompted the more
vitriolic and contemptuous remarks that some men in my survey directed toward feminist arguments and their use of statistics."

The Public Debate: What Did Everyone Get Wrong About Men Who Use Pornography?

"Men Cannot Separate Fact from Fantasy
Several commentators have tried to argue that enjoyment of pornography is somehow different from pleasure with any other form of entertainment. Susan Cole writes, “there are real women in the pictures, and . . . an erection, any way you look at it, is not a fantasy.” Well, no, it is not. An erection is a physical response to a fantasy, like sweaty palms and a racing pulse during a horror movie. When we perspire and our heartbeat accelerates, an observer might say that physically we are on the verge of fight or flight, but this is not what we intend or actually do when we watch a movie like Psycho. MacKinnon argues that the physical response of an erection means that pornography an incitement to act, like racist literature or telling a trained attack dog to “kill”; but if she knew how many erections the average man has in his lifetime and never acts on (morning erections, hard-ons at the movies or when a woman smiles and pays one a compliment at work, or those embarrassing and unbidden erections in adolescence due to fluctuating testosterone), she would admit how ridiculous her attack dog analogy is.

Diana Russell is certain that “the argument that consumers of pornography realize that such portrayals [of rape myths] are false is totally unconvincing.” As proof, she cites three books or articles by women (including herself), as well as studies of college and high school students that suggested they were more inclined to believe rape myths after watching erotica. Of course, no one talked to men who customarily use pornography; no one consulted older, mature men for their perspective; and no one seems to have addressed the role of “experimenter bias” in these studies—the extent to which students might have guessed what the researchers expected to hear.

Taking sides appears to be more valuable to some theorists than obtaining hard, fair, and objective evidence. MacKinnon approvingly quotes researcher Edward Donnerstein’s reputed comment that “We just quantify the obvious”—a disturbing admission of bias—while Russell castigates him for “copping out” because he objected to the way work had been used by antiporn feminists.

In Susan Griffin’s formulation, “the pornographer. . . never admits to his hatred and fear of eros. . . . The traces of the chauvinist’s feelings come to us, therefore, oniy by inference and allegory.” In other words, it would do no good to ask men about pornography, because they can’t be honest. So Griffin accords greater weight to her own fantasies about what goes on in men’s minds than to whatever men might have to say for themselves. She smoothly concludes that “the pornographic mind is identical both in form and in ultimate content to the Nazi mind,” whatever that means...

This tension or interplay between realism and fantasy hardly sets pornography and its users apart from other forms of entertainment. Readers of romance novels want lovely plots and perfect bodies, but enough humanity and not too much perfection that the story becomes totally unbelievable. Action movies feature “real” heroes who have personal problems and make mistakes within the “perfection” of split-timed capers and escapes. “Realistic” stories by Dostoevsky or Hemingway still depend on rare events in people’s lives (like war or murder), helpful coincidences, heroes and heroines of uncommon virtue and vice, to hold our interest. Green, red, and yellow kryptonite hments of reality that kept the stories of otherwise invincible Superman interesting... Are we attracted by the realism or the fantasy? The answer, of course, is both...

To Men, Women in Pornography Represent All Women
Since some women are already on record to say they aren’t humiliated by such depictions, the situation obviously is more complicated than MacKinnon, Cole, and Griffin believe. The truth is, men know only too well that not all women are like the ones in pornography. That is one of the things that makes it appealing: that the women in porn do not behave like most of the women the viewer knows. As Nancy Friday explains... 'A fantasy woman does not reproach her man for letting other men peep at her, for wanting to ‘lie her with another guy, for dreaming of her having sex with a dildo or a dog. Fantasy gives men the love of women they want, with none of the inhibiting feminine rules they hate.'

What Friday also found was that male fantasies tended to be built on reality, not vice versa. They were not divorced from real life like the faceless males who ravished women in the fantasies they recounted to Friday. 'Most of the fantasies in this book are built upon memories of real women'... Friday recognizes what this suggests about men’s interest in pornography. Whereas women told her they fantasized about a demon lover who “is never seen with photographic clarity,” men reacted in the opposite way: “hence the great popularity of the nude in girlie magazines. The more a man can see, the closer the dream is to reality, the more specific, the more real the woman—the more exciting.”

In other words, the male viewer is not using pornography to create reality; it’s the other way around. He loves pornography for how closely it emulates reality at its best—although it obviously is not real... That is the great secret Nancy Friday discovered when she quizzed men about their sexual fantasies—the great secret that has thoroughly eluded all the antiporn commentators—and this is why she titled her book about male sexual fantasies Men in Love.

“In pornographic books, magazines, and films, women are represented as passive and slavishly dependent upon men,” declares Helen Longino, thereby demonstrating her ignorance of the common pornographic scenario where women take initiative and control. The threat from “mysterious female sexuality and capability” means that “pornography asserts that women have neither, that women are (often literally) castrated, helpless, incapable,” Susan Lurie assures us. She is clearly unaware that pornography celebrates women’s pleasure, and that the S/M sub-genre often depicts a female punishing a man, binding him, or whipping him for being “bad”—perhaps for not satisfying her, or for having lustful thoughts in the first place. (Lurie also does not explain what “literal” castration of a woman might be, or whether anyone’s seen it in pornography.)

You would think if there were nothing but humiliation, degradation, and violence in pornography, no self-respecting woman would have any thing to do with it. Yet critics of pornography paradoxically complain that self-respecting women routinely force themselves to resemble the models in porn.

“Ordinary women wear makeup,” Griffin observes. “Ordinary women attempt to change our bodies to resemble a pornographic ideal.” But Griffin compares these ordinary women to... mainstream cultural ideals, not specifically pornographic ones. Griffin also does not explain why the use of cosmetics predates the widespread availability of pornography by centuries. She does not explain how pornography could play a greater role in women’s lives than the magazines they buy for themselves—Vogue, Mademoiselle, Cosmopolitan... Cosmo “teaches women, step-by-step, how to become sex objects,” Lisa Steele observes, and 'Vogue and Bazaar... offer in-depth instruction in the narcissistic pastime of turning oneself into a living sculpture. . .'

... “No one has shamed my body like women have,” a woman told Naomi Wolf. Another
recalled her teen classmates saying “I was on the Itty-bitty Titty Committee” and teasing her with “You’re a sailor’s dream: a sunken chest.” She concluded, “Boys would never say that. Just girls.”

... Where women’s attitudes and self-image are concerned, research seems to implicate women’s fashion magazines more than pornography. Alison King reports a study by C.L. Krafka that suggested that female subjects who viewed pornography the researchers thought dehumanizing and degrading did not report greater sex-role stereotyping, lower self-esteem, or inferiority about their looks. A study led by T.F. Cash. however, found “women had lower self-esteem after viewing models in mainstream magazine advertisements.”

This should not be surprising, since the variety of women’s sizes, shapes, and ages in women’s fashion magazines may arguably be far more limited than in pornography. A commentator who has only seen a few copies of Playboy or Penthouse would not know this, but Laura Kipnis, who surveyed some of the less well-known publications, describes them in her book, Bound and Gagged. Dimensions is a magazine for “fat admirers,” and features “quite fat lingeried models... Full nudity is not a factor, but the magazine’s transgressive quality may be read from the fact that, according to Kipnis, it can be found oniy in hard-core porn stores. Over 50 offers “vistas of antediluvian flesh.” With the advent of amateur sex videos, a greater variety of ages and forms have naturally become available in action, as well.

As they so often do, women presume to speak for men in this area; “Readers feel short-changed when a woman does not look and act the part of the Playboy model. It is an insult to their masculine capacity to get what they want,” declares Judith Bat-Ada, although she doesn’t say how she knows this. She contends that this process leads to child molesting: “It makes him hate her. And it makes him turn to the younger female daughters in the family.” Perhaps it might in those rare cases where it happens, but can we impute this process to all users of pornography? What inspired men to molest their daughters before there was Playboy?...

(This chapter continued in a following post)

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography (6/10)

Watching sex : how men really respond to pornography / David Loftus

Pornography and Violence

"Antipornography activists routinely link pornography with violence. Porn depicts violence against women, they assert, and it inevitably leads to violence against real women. How do men who like pornography respond to these assertions?

'What violent acts?' asked a 32-year-old. “The producers of porn magazines and videos are careful not to depict anything that a crime victim might say in a lawsuit might have inspired a violent crime. I have never seen violence against women depicted in an adult video, or in magazines. Even men-on-men violence is very rare.” He noted that to listen to antiporn activists, “you would think that most pornography was about violence, rape, and molesting children. Anyone familiar with porn knows this is completely false.” Stories written mostly by amateurs,
posted to the Internet, and therefore not purchased or sold for commercial gain, were a different matter: 'There are stories about rape and sexual torture to be found, and they arc very much a turnoff for me.'

A 41-year-old computer programmer noted that violence of any kind was rare in hard-core porn, somewhat more common in soft-core, but still light in comparison with the violence in mainstream films and literature:

'There is very little violence in visually oriented hard-core pornography. I have personally seen one bondage-S&M video which had very mild violence. I’d give it a PG for the violent content: It had nudity but no sex. The rest of the hard-core videos that I’ve seen had absolutely no violence, just sex and nudity. There is of course some violent hard-core pornographic literature—see some of the writings of the Marquis De Sade for examples These are not readily available; you usually have to special order them. None of the adult book shops that I’ve been to carry this kind of stuff. (My copy of De Sade’s Juliette was special ordered from Barnes & Noble—not an adult book outlet!) Once in a while I will get aroused while reading a violent passage in Juliette; there was a sadistic passage or two in Anne Rice vampire novels that gave me an erection, as well. Usually I prefer hardcore sex and nudity to this sort of tripe. While violence in hard-core pornography is rare, this is not the case in soft-core pornography. The Anne Rice vampire books that I’ve mentioned several times are an extreme. Even the much milder violence in Bret Ellis’s American Psycho is quite extreme for soft-core. More typical for soft-core pornography is a level of violence comparable to the movie The Maltese Falcon, i.e., a PG-13 level of violence. The emphasis is still on sex and nudity.'...

'There is a “lot” of pornography out there, and I suspect if it really did cause people to become more violent, we’d have considerably more violence than we do now.'...

'It's more likely that feminists themselves provoke men to acts of violence!' another man joked. “Seriously, car chases, gunplay, fisticuffs and so forth are way more prevalent [in regular movies], and there’s no movement to ban them.”...

A 20-year-old Canadian student interested in a career in sex counseling challenged the link on the same grounds: “Just because there is a correlation between two factors, like pornography use and violence, does not mean that one causes the other. Feminists want prove that pornography causes harm towards women and when you want to find a certain result, you’ll interpret the data to give that result.

One man said even if a link could be shown, it wouldn’t matter: “People having cars increases the chance of car accidents. Does this mean that when 99.9% of people can drive their car for a year without killing anyone, we should ban cars because of the .1% of people who are incompetent or unlucky? Of course not. It means we should deal with the .1%.”...

“Repression breeds violence. The more sexually liberated countries of Europe have far less rape.” A 33-year old software support specialist, married eight years to his only sex partner, agreed that “pornography can act as a cathartic experience and reduce one’s propensity for violence.” He then added: “One wonders why Andrea Dworkin doesn’t go around killing and raping, since she spends so much time reading/watching and then writing about that devil porn.”...

A 26-year-old writer and administrative employee said: “I’ve seen football players and other athletes bully people and beat them up. So why don’t feminists attack the multibillion-dollar sports industry? Surely there’s a more direct connection in people who beat people up professionally becoming violent than people having sex on film.”...

More than one man recalled reports that pornography drove men such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy to their crimes...

A divorced, 32-year-old computer consultant discounted Bundy as an example of any link between pornography and violence. “Curiously enough, while many use Ted Bundy as a case in which pornograph ‘forced’ him to do his vile deeds, it should be noted that Ted Bundy once claimed Satan himself compelled him to his atrocities. Moreover, when police searched Mr. Bundy’s car, they didn’t find pornography in it, they found cheerleader magazines.” His conclusion? “In my view, people who ‘blame’ pornography for their actions are only seeking to avoid personal responsibility for their actions.”...

Perhaps the firmest dismissal of the porn-causes-violence thesis came from an Englishman, a software engineer with five children:

'I reject the implication that there is some sort of “argument” about pornography put out by feminists. I do not grant them even that minimal level of intellectual honesty or respectability. The “arguments” I have read are a palpable tissue of lies, distortions, non sequiturs, special pleadings, and outright gender-biased hate speech. I don’t believe even those making them actually believe them. To me, they are simply another example of the “Big Lie” technique of the late unlamented Herr Goebbels—that if you yell it loudly enough, and phrase it extremely enough, somebody will believe it. On the other hand, I have read both the report of the (British) Royal Commission on Pornography, and a condensed version of the U.S. report (by Ed Meese, wasn’t it?). These were two serious, detailed, and meticulous studies, and they both concluded what in both cases the majority of the investigators did not want to conclude: that there is no evidence whatsoever that the consumption of pornography is harmful; that there is no good social grounds for regulating it; and that the harm that is sometimes caused by its production or distribution is a direct consequence of its marglnalisation by society. I will not accept, now or ever, the right of any other person, especially women, and especially feminist women, to define or control my sexuality. There is nothing to debate: my body; my self.'...

'I’ve had several partners, including my feminist wife, who enjoyed light bondage and simulated rape. Depictions of those definitely are a turn-on. My experience is that the strongest women are most stimulated by being dominated.'

A 36-year-old male pointed out that much of what appears violent in pornography is actually a very controlled form of fantasy play:

'I get turned on by pictures of classic role-playing such as “bondage,”“S&M,” including people being whipped, etc., and forced” although it Is really fake and they are playing; it is consensual in nature. It even feels good in real life to play around with this type of stuff a bit. This is not wh,it I’d call “violence.”'

Wrote a 23-year-old bisexual who preferred women:

'Violence can be erotic, but I think it’s important to distinguish between consensual and non-consensual. I know I like some violent things to be done to me that turn me on. So, as far as porn goes, there are violent scenes that turn me on because I have a fascination in the physical sensation of pain—I find the tension between pain and pleasure very erotic. But it all has to be in the context of consent. If I see a rape scene where the victim is saying “no, don’t do this,” I don’t like it and it doesn’t turn me on. But most of the “rape” scenes in porn have the victim excited and asking for more. If the acting job or picture is convincing, then it’s a turn-on because I really believe that the person does want that to happen to them.'...

Closely related to the idea of the consensual use of force was the appeal of being the object of such force focusing on the person who chooses to be the “victim,” rather than upon the person who “imposes” the violence. The key word here is “submission”; some men said the 'submissiveness' of one of the performers fired their libido, rather than the violence per se...

The question of consent has been a thorny one for feminists who oppose pornography. Because the activities that occur in pornographic films—let alone in such jobs as nude dancing and prostitution—seem unimaginable to many commentators, feminist criticism has taken some odd twists in order to “prove” that women cannot actually consent to such acts. For instance, it has been argued that limited professional and financial options drive women to this kind of work to such an extent that they do not have free choice. [Ed: Similarly, criminals are driven to commit crimes. Therefore they are not responsible.]...

'Let’s put this in perspective. You’re in a lot more danger of coming to actual harm playing football or other violent contact sports.'...

Some feminists have gone so far as to suggest that to stare at a woman in public is a violent act (or an aggressive and invasive one, at least)...

“In my experience, an erotic thriller means two mm utes of nudity and 60 minutes of violence. I have never been aroused by scenes of violence in pornography, and I doubt I ever will.”...

If there was stress or violence in their lives, a few men said, it could not be blamed on their use of pornography. A divorced public administrator, 48, declared, “There was no violence in my relationship(s). Arguments, tension, misunderstandings, god yes, but to blame this on pornography (which generally depicts pleasure/enjoyment?) is rather farfetched. ‘Sorry we had the wretched misunderstanding yesterday, darling. It’s the pornography,”“Work,” a 26-year-old administrative employee observed dryly, “is a much more direct cause of emotional and physical violence.”...

'The only semi-violent aspect in pornography which is somewhat arousing is when an attractive, strong guy is with a woman who is reluctant to have sex, kind of forces himself on her (not violently, but clearly coercively) and she is overwhelmed by attraction, arousal (of course she was always fight ing this), gives in, and enjoys it. Again, this is not so much violence as coercion. I do not do this myself, because I do believe it is not only un-PC, but not right. No means no means no. Now, occasionally I may have tried to seduce my partner when she has expressed lack of interest, but again, even tually no means no, and I have never been violent or physically coercive.'

If anything in this man’s description of an arousing situation seems improper or brutish, let alone “un-PC,” we might remind ourselves that it describes the sort of encounters that routinely take place in romance novels written for, purchased by, and read by women in the millions, and apparently regarded as “highly romantic.”"

Sunday, February 03, 2008

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon


Periodic Table Printmaking Project - "Ninety-six printmakers of all experience levels, have joined together to produce 118 prints in any medium; woodcut, linocut, monotype, etching, lithograph, silkscreen, or any combination. The end result is a periodic table of elements intended to promote both science and the arts."

Singapore stops foreigners from singing complaints - "A choir that planned to sing a list of complaints about life in Singapore cancelled its performances after the city-state banned its foreign members from singing, organizers said on Saturday. The 60-member "complaints choir", a concept that originated from two Finnish artists, was scheduled to perform at a weekend festival but authorities granted a performance license on the condition that the foreigners would not participate."
WELL DONE. Youtube, Lyrics

Local Police Seize Human Rights Torch 'For Investigation' - "Shortly after the HRTR activities ended at Singapore's landmark hill and frequent tourist spot, Mount Faber, six police officers, tagged by a cameraman, seized two Human Rights Torches and two HRTR banners from CIPFG members. Categorizing the event as "illegal assembly", the investigation officer said the torches and banners were needed to facilitate their "investigation", and repeatedly demanded HRTR event participants to reveal their names and personal particulars, on the pretext of returning the props to the rightful owner after their investigation."

What I have against City Harvest Church - "I know it’s meant to be like us supporting her endeavours and stuff, but I found it incredibly inappropriate to expoit the church-goers (who will inevitably buy a few copies to show support) to boost album sales. A girl from my cell group at that time actually went to buy 20 and distributed it among us. It wasn’t as if all proceeds were going to some charity… sigh. (My info on this may be wrong, but even if there was a charity involved, no mention of the name of the charity nor it’s purpose was described at all.)"
More religious hate...

Prohibited Degrees of Relationship - Okay, so in Singapore a guy cannot marry his Wife's father's mother, Son's son's wife or Sister's daughter. Right.

Women want sex on the spot - "Sandy, 35, who also slept with a stripper on her hen night has no struggle with her conscience. "Do you think your husband-to-be wouldn't do something like that on his stag night?" she told Her World... According to male strippers Her World interviewed, these women go as far as to supply them oral sex and even full-on sexual intercourse. And in full view of the rest of the party too!"

Land of Milk and Honey - "Letter from Hong Kong... At the McDonald’s outlet that I turn to for a bite on the go, there’s a cheery young girl at the counter. Her distinctive name elevates her beyond the McJob nature of her work. She’s called, somewhat appropriately, Milk Fat, and she displays her name on her chest as if it’s a war-trophy!... my life has been enriched by an office secretary in a consulting firm called Nausea Yip and a travel agent named Honey Chan. Among other honourable mentions: Sincerely Hu, Busy Wong, Destiny Chu. But the winners by a long mile are sisters Chlorophyll Yip and Photosynthesis Yip."

One Chance in a Million: An Equilibrium Analysis of Stem Cell Donation - “A third source for stem cell transplants is umbilical cord blood, collected from newborn infants and stored at extremely low temperatures until it may be needed. This procedure has the advantage of being painless to the donor.”

Asia Sentinel - Singapore's Two-Faced Judiciary - "Corruption oftentimes takes many forms and disguises: paying obscenely high salaries and bonuses to judges is one, for they inevitably assume the gratifying form of monthly retainers by the government for loyal services rendered or to be rendered... In an attempt to win their case at all costs, they not only suppressed important evidence advantageous to Tang but concealed it from the presiding judge, Justice Chao Hick Tin. Nor did they take any steps to correct the judge’s misconception of the facts at the subsequent judgmental hearing, consequently ensuring that the damages awarded against Tang would be humongous: thus perpetrating a travesty of justice by their studied silence. A classic case of the legal maxim, suppressio veri suggestio falsi—suppression of the truth is suggestion of the false... The very fact that the judge felt obliged to descend into the obvious speaks volumes for the sorry state of a judiciary in bondage. It requires no special lexicon to interpret this well-known Shakespearean dictum: methinks the judge doth protest too much. With the best will in the world, is it really conceivable for any judge in Singapore to decide a case against Harry Lee Kuan Yew and his PAP cohorts?"
Given that this is in the NUS library's normal collection, and not the Confidential Books or even Banned Books collection, I assume it is not sufficiently seditious.

Msia scraps plan to export pesky monkeys - "MALAYSIA has dropped a plan to round up nuisance monkeys from its cities and sell them abroad as exotic meat or for medical research, after discovering that most of the animals are too ill to be exported... A recent study found 80 per cent of urban macaques carried diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis and Aids, he said. 'Only 20 per cent were healthy and, of this, only half the number were suitable for export,' he added."
Malaysia Boleh!

Take off and strip off - "Nudism (or "Free Body Culture" as the Germans like to refer to it) has deep roots in Germany. As early as the 1890s, the world-renowned "father of nudism" sociologist Heinrich Pudor was writing about stripping off and getting back to nature. Nudist colonies have existed in Germany for more than a century. Later, behind the Berlin Wall, in East Germany, nudism was an expression of freedom, a very personal protest against the confines of the communist state. Taking all your clothes off became so popular, there were even pop songs written about the subject."

Which of these men did the photographer think was a hero? - "This morning is the fortieth anniversary of one of the iconic images of the Vietnam War. It was taken on 1 February 1968, with the Tet offensive in its early stages. It pictures General Nguyan Ngoc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner... Here's what Eddie Adams had to say about General Loan: 'The guy was a hero... The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?'"
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