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The Morality of Porn

Psycasm
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The Morality of Porn
Fri, Jan 07, 2011, 5:59 pm CST

Spurred on by a heated thread at Psycasm, I've opened this to discuss all facets of 'Porn' that are not directly related to the science expressed in the post. Here's the original article: bit.ly/igvi6a

 

Otherwise, go:


becca
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The Morality of Porn
Tue, Jan 04, 2011, 7:53 pm CST

*pornography* is perfectly morally acceptable, it's just all the details that screw it up

Given our society, only lesbian porn directed by lesbians or gay porn directed by gay men (or softcore directed by an artist) should be available. Everything else exploits women too much. /overly opinionated statement to get the ball rolling. so to speak. yeah....


Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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The Morality of Porn
Tue, Jan 04, 2011, 7:55 pm CST

I have to completely agree with Becca here.


becca
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The Morality of Porn
Tue, Jan 04, 2011, 8:18 pm CST

... the hell?

I'm all ready for an argument damnit.


JaySeeDub
Dub C Med School
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The Morality of Porn
Tue, Jan 04, 2011, 8:28 pm CST

...what if the porn was directed by a bisexual?


Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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The Morality of Porn
Tue, Jan 04, 2011, 9:01 pm CST

I don't think anyone could argue that porn isn't exploitative.


Suzy
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The Morality of Porn
Tue, Jan 04, 2011, 10:58 pm CST

Becca,

You make a good point. I follow an online magazine on twitter called "The Frisky" and they had this article about lawyer Jincey Lumpkin who started a new company to make porn for women who like women. She has some interesting interviews online, but I won't post links due to the nature of the websites hosting them...this is the link to the Frisky article http://bit.ly/gPIoIW

As for the morality of porn and exploitation, I haven't spoken with enough porn actors or actresses to know if they feel they are being used or forced into doing anything they don't want to do. How can we judge them without hearing it from them?

Unlike prostitutes, porn actresses don't appear to be under suppression or under the influence. They may be. But they may not be.

 


becca
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The Morality of Porn
Tue, Jan 04, 2011, 11:33 pm CST

Jade,

Like everything else, it's complicated. If what I've heard is accurate, there is everything from extraordinarily financially secure lesbian women making their own lesbian porn for educational and erotic purposes for other lesbians* to trafficked and children being exposed to HIV. The full spectrum of sexual empowerment and disenfranchisment exists in porn. I eventually decided I wouldn't consume it if I couldn't verify how it was made. I treat my food that way to the best of my finances/time/emotional energy, and sex is at least as important as food Wink. I'm really glad you  mentioned Jincey Lumpkin, that's the kind of thing that's a lot less emotionally fraught. For me, at least.

*(not that lesbians are intrinsically pure morally, just that a lot of the misogyny arguments take on a more theoretical tone when we're talking about lesbian porn)


Suzy
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The Morality of Porn
Wed, Jan 05, 2011, 10:12 pm CST

So Rift,

Are you going to lead our discussion? So far, we've only heard from the ladies. Your thoughts?


Psycasm
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The Morality of Porn
Wed, Jan 05, 2011, 11:41 pm CST

I was holding back, considering I began the argument, and was drawing the most heat...

 

...but here goes:

First, someone needs to define exploitive. Does it mean they are being forced to do things they don't want to do; or does it mean they're are not being paid an appropriate amount. I assume it has to do with being treated mysogenistically... someone ought to make this distinction clear. I have not done so here, suggestions ought to be proposed.

No-one here has raised the issue of consent. Does it count for nothing? Is mysogeny willingly entered into still degenerate? Does it change the nature of the product [porn] at all? Who ought to be held accountable - the consumers for demanding? The producer for creating? The participants for not objecting (note: passive and active objection and engagement are entirely different beasts)

Sure, many of these women are outcomes of lower SES backgrounds, poorer education, etc, but other apparently identical women (that is, same social conditions and institutions) avoid porn and end up in equally dead-end jobs, potentially earning less than they ought to, potentially ending up with dead-end arsehole boyfriends who treat them like second class citizens, also (assuming porn is like this, I don't know).

These are just questions at this point, and I haven't expressed my opinion. However, I do not buy the argument that only lesbians should make lesbian porn. We must assume that Lesbians are mostly like the rest of the population, with their own share of exploitive pigs and errless saints. The Lesbians for Lesbians arguments also fails to hold water if the end product is still aimed at the standard, normal target market. (i.e. 'boi's' - as mentioned by a previous commentor).

I guess what would be really nice to see is some kind of consumer choice organization that sets out some guide-lines for porn production. Actors and actresses get certified, and are subject to blood tests, etc on a regular basis. All producers get certified according to certain safety standards and work-place practices, as well as discrimination standards. Consent for all/any acts if recorded and submitted by all involved participants to the certification board. Upon publishing, the vid gets a little 'tick of approval'.

I'm not going to say porn is immoral, or amoral, and this kind of certification won't stop exploitive porn being made - but it will give consumers the power to choice ethically, if that is their concern. I couldn't find any websites linking to anything of this kind, but it certainly doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

 


JaySeeDub
Dub C Med School
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The Morality of Porn
Thu, Jan 06, 2011, 12:31 am CST

I know there have been a few attempts within the Porn Industry itself to police itself.  One of the big problems with the self policing was that it was either A) already established large studio which sought to control compensation rates by setting them so ridiculously high smaller outfits would be forced out of business; or B) a heterosexual (het) studio seeking to lock out gay/lesbian studios (het girl on girl being exempted).  The few times I've ever seen a citizen/consumer group attempt to enforce some sort of quality control, I guess you could call it, on the Industry, the movement ended up being co-opted by local morality/religious organizations and the entire affair would fall apart.

California has tried to at least deal with health issues in Industry by requiring regular testing and certification of performers.  One of the criticisms is that the only thing that's actually required is HIV testing, with a full STI panel being elective.  The Industry itself would love to get rid of the law, and used to have its own clinic to do most of its testing, much to the consternation of hospitals in Northern and Southern California.  The clinic has recently lost its licensing, after a recent performer tested positive, but the Industry wants its own service back, claiming that if their performers had to go to public clinics they'd all be declared positive just to shut down the Porn Industry.

As for consent and exploitation, talk about a giant and convoluted grey area.  If you're contractually obligated to appear in a set # of films within a certain time frame, and the roles they're suggesting or co-stars are disagreeable, do you get to object?  Up to a point, then the legal department starts to bear down on you hard.  In some instances when a performer is on their way out, and they don't want to renew an exclusive contract, the studio puts them in really disagreeable roles.  When a lot of these people don't know their rights or just how much of their statutory rights they've signed away in these contracts, isn't that exploitative?  I've heard of some incredibly messed up contracts that are just shy of legal prostitution, because the performer in question signed off on so many of their statutory rights.  And if the studio has a really good legal team it could be an insanely difficult contract to get out of.

Then there's the money involved.  The numbers I'm throwing out are a little old, but I'm going to assume the magnitudes of difference are still the same.  A new female performer can earn anywhere from $700-2k per scene in a het film.  If she elects to do a girl on girl film it can go up as much as five times.  A new guy gets $100-200 per scene in a het film.  If he elects to work for the same studio's gay films division, the money goes up to around $400-700 per scene.  If he "bottoms" he's looking at around $1k-2k.  If he's lucky.  It's one of the big complaints in the Industry, if you're a guy the only way you're going to make real money is if you do gay porn.  And is offering more money to perform and act that's otherwise disagreeable for a straight man any less coercive than out and out prostitution?  Sure, there's the argument that the majority of consumers are straight men in het porn, and they're less likely to buy a video with a guy on the cover of the box or any of his residuals, but really?  That just doesn't sit well with me.


Psycasm
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The Morality of Porn
Thu, Jan 06, 2011, 7:09 pm CST

It seems my understanding of how the porn industry was very weak - hence my reluctance to enter the fray.

However, it seems incredible that someone hasn't managed to impose such regulations. If they're are voluntary, only the studios that want to sign up, do sign up. Failing that, you can give every production company a rating based on whatever standards we accept as 'ethical' and post all your findings on a central website, which then redirect to distributors,  famous titles, popular titles, famous actors and actresses. Get some current and ex-industry hot-shots to back the movement up. I'm hardly familiar with who the stars of porn are, but I'm sure there are those in the know, and finding out wouldn't be difficult.

As a ratings-hub, you become like an Amazon of porn (or even some kind of ethical porn aggregator), pushing up ethical productions, movies and performers to the top of your list. You can make money via this model, no doubt - so long as you keep it tasteful and accessible, and keep your advertising strong and well targeted. Hell, create concern where previously there was apathy.

In order for some production company to achieve the top rating, they need to submit copies of contracts, and other things that the certifier cannot legally obtain otherwise. Push this to right to the top, give them some kind of achievement sticker they can watermark on their videos and place on the products, and regulate through reward.

There go you, a business model for the ethical regulation of porn. Money making madness.

see also: Made in (country), or the heart foundation tick of approval, look also to the recent push (at least here in Australia) for free-range eggs over battery eggs and all the certifications and advertising now evident on any box of eggs, and the whole green-washing concept. Obviously, there is room for abuse, but a savvy business person could orchestrate the whole thing with a bit of effort.


JaySeeDub
Dub C Med School
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The Morality of Porn
Fri, Jan 07, 2011, 5:59 pm CST

I think it would be awesome if they could get some sort of independent rating and regulatory system in place.  I also think that current studio heads would do everything they possibly could to subvert the system and kill it in its infancy.  For example, one could look at "Large Studio In Canoga Park, California".  It's the only heterosexual studio that requires condoms in all of its shoots.  It also has a sizeable interest in "Large Gay Studio in San Francisco, California" that is known for producing condom-free gay porn, aka "bareback."  Then you get into some of the studios in Eastern Europe which, well, let's just say the male and female performers don't look like they're 18 yet.  But they can produce documentation that says otherwise.  Even if the documentation looks sketchy.  This brought down a few studios in the US and Australia in the late 90s and early aughts.

To get something like this passed, you'd need the help of guys like Steven Hirsch and Bill Asher, and maybe Michael Lucas or Chi Chi LaRue to get behind it and make a huge concentrated push.  And I'm just not sure they'd be willing to do something like that.

The Morality of Porn
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