I agree with her that there need to be more women making porn. Half the porn I watch strikes me as gross and vaguely disturbing because it is made by men for men. I'm not sure if it's the "phallocentricism" that turns me off, or the fact that watching a cumshot just doesn't personally do it for me. Caputi writes:
Pornography supports the sexual politics of the status quo. It capitalizes, literally, on the ignorance and shame induced in us through sexual repression and colonizes what Audre Lorde class the "erotic"-- the force of freedom, ecstasy, exuberance and creativity, the potency that enables us to act and create, to grow and transform, and to resist oppression. Many defenders of pornography argue that porn, which is sexually explicit and often a turn-on, is therefore automatically liberating and "sex positive." Yet pornography is no real alternative; it emerges from the same sex-negative worldview that reinforces many of the most fundamental precepts of mainstream morality, for example, a split between spirit and sex, mind and body.
Caputi continues with a description of how porn capitalizes on morality instead of working to eradicate it. The "ignorance and shame" can be inherent in sex, due to societal stresses. Porn, then, fetishizes the moral implications of sex: if something is considered "wrong" or "bad," it's most likely going to turn us on even more.
Porn does nothing to get rid of shame, and instead perpetuates it by turning it into something to lust after. This strange combination of morality and shame in porn turns religiosity on its head and incorporates it into the sexual images we know and love.
I'm having a tough time deciding whether or not I agree with Caputi. While I do believe that more woman-friendly porn needs to be made, I also can't help but wonder about those feminists who are turned on by phallocentric porn. What if girls enjoy being punished or shamed or even doing something as simple as getting down on their knees and sucking a guy off? If a woman is turned on by this kind of sexual behavior, which could perhaps be construed as "anti-woman," does this make her a "bad feminist?" How much bearing do women's personal sexual preferences have on their political and gender beliefs?
Both pornography and godly morality ordain women (and indeed all of creation) to have been created for men--as objects of service, whether nurturant or sexual. Both endorse sexualities based in dominance and submission, whether found in marriages where women are promised not only greater saintliness but also hotter sex if they will just shut up, graciously submit, and surrender or in sadomasochistic pornography where women are literally bound and gagged before they are fucked.
But what if some feminists enjoy the dominance/submission paradigm?
Pornography depends on very conventional notions of masculinity and femininity. Male and female are defined as inevitably oppositional and inherently unequal, yet ineluctably attracted to each other. The male partner is supposed to be taller, stronger, richer, older and colder--in short, more powerful. The female partner is supposed to be shorter, weaker, better looking, vulnerable, younger and warmer-- in short, socially powerless.
This seems to be factually true. But again, what does it mean if women are turned on by this situation? Take, for instance, one of my personal favorite porn scenarios: girl walks into classroom, girl subtly seduces her professor, professor eventually fucks girl. There is obviously a power dynamic here at play (yeah, yeah, I'm destined to forever lust after my bosses and teachers). But how did this happen? Is it learned or inherent? Do I long to be dominated by a powerful man because it's just my "type," or is it because it's something I've learned - due to muted societal goading - to desire?
And furthermore, does finding this scenario hot make me a bad feminist, because it plays into gender stereotypes? And what about women who enjoy being shamed during sex? Is it fair to assume that those desires point to something deeper, and more troubling, than simple sexual preference? I was talking to a friend about this, and he brought up the fact that when Howard Stern would interview porn stars on his show, they frequently had a history of sexual abuse. Is it fair to assume women who are overly promiscuous or enjoy "anti-woman" sex only do because of something wicked in their past? Is it even possible to enjoy that type of sex without this history? I think Caputi would argue that it's not, and that there's a difference between sex-positive feminism and enjoying something really obscene a la 2 Girls 1 Cup. But who gets to define that line?