The Normalization of Porn Culture– Take 13 Billion

For those of you on facebook*, you may have been part of the discussion regarding a recent advice columnist’s answer to a concerned daughter’s plea.

You can find the column at Dear Prudence under the phrase “Disturbing Discovery”. The column’s author goes by the name “Prudie”.

I’ll paste the content here, beginning with the question.

Q. Disturbing Discovery: I’m a 15 year old girl in high school. Several weeks ago, I was on my dad’s account on our computer, surfing the Internet. I opened a new tab, intending to look for a website, but I happened to look down to the “Most Visited” tabs section. I was extremely disturbed to see one of them was a porn site. I had been naive, I guess, by never imagining before that my dad looked at porn. It disgusted me thoroughly, and I lost all respect for my father. A couple weeks after I told my mother. She and my dad, after 31 one years of marriage, are not emotionally close anymore, and she had no comforting words for me. As disturbed and shaken as I still was, I tried to forget about it and move on. This week I checked my email, and tried to download an attachment that came with one. It popped up under the Photos on my dad’s account, and I was horrified to discover several pornographic photos. How do I deal with these emotions? I feel like I’m filthy, now that I’ve looked at them, even by accident. I can’t ask my friends for advice. I also do not want to talk to my dad about this; he would probably get defensive and accuse me of snooping. Please help me, this has made my relationship with my dad extremely awkward and I can’t tell anyone this secret that is crushing me.

This 15 year old daughter is “extremely disturbed” to discover that her father regularly views woman-hating propaganda. She has “lost all respect for her father”, which is understandable, considering the disrespect he shows to women through his viewing of this material. As a vulnerable young woman, this letter writer is desperate for reassurance, or some way of understanding her father’s behavior.

Unfortunately, Prudie’s response is way, way off the mark.

Here is Prudie’s response in full:

A: Of course your discovery is deeply disturbing, as disturbing as what parents see if they’re allowed access to their 15-year-old’s Facebook photos. I can promise you that from my in-box I know your experience is not unique, and as a rule no good can come from children (even grown) surfing the Web using their parents’ account. It’s too bad that even if your mother can’t stand your father she didn’t make more of an attempt to explain to you what I will: Many men, maybe even most, look at porn. As uncomfortable as that may make you, it turns out that the Internet has made access to porn almost irresistible. Of course you feel icky having such a graphic look into your father’s sexual interests, but it was all an accidental breach of his privacy. Recognize he actually has done nothing wrong. What you need to do now is get some sort of technical fix in place so that your father’s account is not “popping” up when you use the computer. Normally, I might suggest you talk out an upsetting issue with your school counselor. But the mix of “Dad” and “porn” is a volatile one that could end up getting your father reported to authorities for no good reason. So my suggestion is that you accept you saw something you wish you hadn’t, and you realize it shouldn’t change how you feel about your father.

She first couches the “disturbing discovery” in privacy terms. She assumes that the reason the daughter is disturbed is that she has entered too far into her father’s private life, just as he would be disturbed if he saw photos of his daughter in her daily life on facebook.

This is NOT an issue of privacy. This is about a father who cares so little about women that he wanks off to images of them being penetrated in all sorts of degrading and disrespectful ways.

Next, Prudie normalizes porn use. As she says, “Many men, maybe even most, look at porn.” As if the fact that most people do something makes it okay! Argumentum ad populum! In other words, MAJOR LOGIC FAIL here.

Prudie proceeds to make a man-hating comment, “the Internet has made access to porn almost irresistible”. If men can’t resist porn, they’re clearly not human beings of character, or with independent wills capable of making moral decisions. They’re robots who always let their penis be their guide.

Prudie next recognizes that the authorities might have a problem with Dad’s porn use, so she suggests that the daughter hide this issue from her school counselor. “Normally, I might suggest you talk out an upsetting issue with your school counselor. But the mix of “Dad” and “porn” is a volatile one that could end up getting your father reported to authorities for no good reason.” Ah, we wouldn’t want dad to get in trouble. After all, he’s just ruthlessly buying women’s bodies! The consequences should be on women and daughters, and never on men.

Finally, we come to Prudence’s altogether unhelpful advice, “So my suggestion is that you accept you saw something you wish you hadn’t, and you realize it shouldn’t change how you feel about your father.”

In this case, the daughter is the one who is in the wrong for being upset about the fact that her dad sees women as objects for his own pleasure. She should just get over her sad feelings, and then all will be well with the world.

This is the stuff that props up the patriarchy. Women are objects to be wanked off to, or obnoxious family members to be blown off. Male pleasure must be preserved at all costs!

This is just one of many, many examples of our pornified culture. Clearly, I’m disgusted.

*My thoughts on this post have developed through facebook discussions regarding this topic, and from input from various radical feminists. Thanks to all for your contributions!

About smash
Women's liberationist.

22 Responses to The Normalization of Porn Culture– Take 13 Billion

  1. That woman just basically spat that girl in the face (and all recovering porn addict’s faces as well). This is just the most sickening thing ever. My boyfriend is a recovering porn addict and its not easy for him (we are in a long distance relationship, so i can’t physically be there for him and i wished his family supported his fight more). But i am willing to support him and his fight with his addiction. The woman’s bullshit doesn’t stop me from it, it just makes me sad for the state of humans in our society. 😦

  2. Holly says:

    What an invalidating reply.

  3. The Masked Lily says:

    I find it extra disturbing that her dad would leave everything open like that, too. I can’t think of any way that opening an email attachment would lead to his pictures. And why’s he saving porn images on their family computer, too? Sounds like he has an especially bad sense of boundaries. He could be abusive, or might abuse her. I’d be all for the police checking that out. :/

    The normalization of porn makes me want to vomit..

  4. Chonky says:

    This columnist is not user friendly and gave some really lousy advice. She needs to do some more research about the harm of porn. As far as getting dear ol perv dad in trouble?! Maybe he needs to go to jail, chances are good some of his masturbatory material is of younger looking girls (or boys) who may be underage.

  5. nuclearnight says:

    That is so creepy. When I was a teenager I found similar crap on my dad’s computer. I had to fix the problem as he got the computer loaded down with spyware and adware so these pornographic popups were up everywhere, it really does affect your level of respect for them (because they have no respect for you).

    Its not acceptable for a man who is supposed to be a parent to a female child to be a pornography consumer. It really hurts female’s self-worth and esteem.

    Prudence, the name sure doesn’t fit.

  6. No, Prudence! Wrong! Bad and stupid and wrong in all the ways!

    (I’d say something more intelligent, but y’all have already dome it and I STILL have the flu).

  7. Sargasso Sea says:

    I do believe that Prudie’s response has single-handedly filled in an entire Victim Blamer bingo card!

    However, while I think that most of your analysis of this is right on, Smash, I take extreme exception to your characterization of Prudie’s calling porn “almost irresistible” as “man-hating”.

    Radical feminists, lesbians and legions of egalitarian feminists have long been called man-haters as a silencing/marginalizing tactic and is, therefore, considered unsuitable especially for radfem use. To put it bluntly, calling another woman “man-hating” is to engage in male-identified thinking and to fall into their divide-and-conquer mindset; to NOT give men the benefit of the doubt at all times is realistic and the best form of personal *harm reduction* I can think of.

    Indeed, in calling Prudie a *man-hater* you paint women like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon as *man-haters* too. Regardless of their personal feelings about just what level of sexual continence (if any) males are capable of they, Dworkin and MacKinnon, felt that the harm being done to girls and women by pornography far outweighed any percentage of possibility that males could be “human beings of character, or with independent wills capable of making moral decisions“ as you said.

    Pornography is not just propaganda, it is an astronomically profitable, LEGAL business in the fine Capitalist Tradition; to develop a wide swath of *addiction* to it is key to the operational model. That it chews up and spits out women and girls is of no absolutely no concern to the men and male-identified women who promote it and sell it.

    Prudie is obviously male-identified in her victim-blaming stance.

    Dworkin and MacKinnon prioritized the end of female suffering over males’ eons-long proven sexual incontinence because while they may or may not have been “man-hating” they LOVED women and girls MORE.

  8. smash says:

    SargassoSea, thanks for your constructive reply. I certainly don’t believe in giving men the benefit of the doubt! By using the phrase, I meant to point out that Prudie’s response is in fact not consistent. She is clearly male-identified, and yet she gives them a super ethics pass by claiming that dudes just can’t help themselves, which is quite an ugly picture to paint of one’s own idols. She believes they are shite, and yet she chooses them wholeheartedly. Why does she do this?

    Men *can* help themselves- if they couldn’t, this wouldn’t be an ethics issue, At this point in history though, a very, very small number of them are actually going to be troubled to do so. Porn isn’t “irresistible”, but men refuse to resist it. That makes them shite, I did know the history of the term, and I should have been more careful.

  9. Sargasso Sea says:

    …and I should have been more careful.

    Nah! Well, maybe… I see now what you mean, of course! 😐

    Anyway, thanks for taking my *lecture* in the spirit it was intended.

    (Prudie needs an intervention…)

  10. Sargasso Sea says:

    OMG! Seriously, that’s what I get for not checking the link first!

    SLATE?! Arrghhhmnmn…croak…gurgle…

    This *advice column* is a total rip from the *advice columns* in Penthouse circa 1976. No wonder “Prudie” is such a rape apologist.

    Gah.

  11. Sargasso Sea says:

    Actually it was a magazine called Forum now that I think about it and it was sort of a Penthouse lite…

  12. DaveSquirrel says:

    When I read this story of the “advice” (scare quotes mandatory) given to this teenage girl, I could not help but to think of 13yo Milly Dowler (abducted & murdered). Not long before she went missing she found some of her father’s ‘bondage’ porn stash, and he also had other bondage gear in the house too. Needless to say, he did become a prime suspect in her disappearance (because the cops know the connection too, they just don’t make it too public as many of them are porn users too). Dowler also could not account for his whereabouts at the time of Milly’s disappearance (and I suspect he was either doing bdsm stuff, or visiting a prostituted woman doing bdsm stuff).

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8594440/Levi-Bellfield-guilty-Pornography-made-Milly-Dowlers-father-first-suspect.html

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-13416331

    These teenage girls are having a rightful natural reaction to seeing this female-hating material, and “advice” such as this is telling them to override their instincts.

    One can only speculate what went through Milly’s mind about men during her abduction and murder.

    • smash says:

      Hi Squirrely, you say “These teenage girls are having a rightful natural reaction to seeing this female-hating material, and “advice” such as this is telling them to override their instincts.”

      Mary Daly talks about this in Pure Lust. She points out that we, as women, are taught to distrust our own instincts.

      As she says, “Women who have been thingified, deprived of conscious participation in Be-ing, have trouble believing in the sanctity of women’s “insides”– both their own and those of other women. This doubt extends to spirit, personalty, Self. Within sadosociety this doubt applies first to a woman’s own participation in Be-ing. It extends to the be-ing of all women. Thus the disorder which I shall call *masosadism* is injected into women. To the extent that this injection “takes”, a woman is rendered incapable of moral outrage on her own behalf *as a woman* and on behalf of the race of women. Her outrage has been expropriated. She may experience and be informed about atrocities against women, and yet she is unable to feel sustained rage against the perpetrators of the atrocities, and incapable of acting against the men who are the originators, rulers, and controlling legitimators of the sadostate. Masosadism, then, fixes women” p 60-61

      In my analysis, this 15 y.o. young woman has not yet begun to distrust her insides. She sees that what her father is doing is *wrong*. Prudie, as an agent of the sadosociety, is trying to wrest this girl’s perceptions from her. As the LW grows up, she’ll soon trust fewer and fewer of her own perceptions, and will be less and less of a “conscious participant in Be-ing” (so long as she listens to the messages her culture attempts to convey).

      The deprogramming of women who have been so altered is one of the goals of radfeminism (as I see it). Thanks for your comment- it helped me understand more fully what Daly is talking about, and it also helped me see even more how Prudie is acting not only as a cog in the propaganda machine, but actually as an agent of deception in the sadosociety (Daly calls these agents part of the “processions” (p x).

      • Sabrina L. says:

        This. I’m working really hard on finding the part of my be-ing that I have been so callous with for song long. This this this.

        Oh, and that 15 year old described could have been me, though several years younger and with Playboy magazines, not internet.

        My mother assured me that she wasn’t jealous, it’s not like he’s out cheating with other women, he loves her and comes home to her. (Uh huh. And he soooo respects you, mom. I can see it in the way he won’t let you get a word in edgewise when speaking with authority and undermining your actions with passive aggressive condescension.) So I trained myself to look at the vile stuff, mostly out of morbid curiosity. It was probably an essential component in my self-grooming to accept being raped a few years later.

    • FCM says:

      yes to everything you all are saying here. and this:

      These teenage girls are having a rightful natural reaction to seeing this female-hating material, and “advice” such as this is telling them to override their instincts.

      yep. whether girls and women can articulate it or not, or convince men and male-identifying women of the reasonableness of this response or not, many of us have an extreme and undeniable “NO” response to porn. there is a reason for this. i am so sick of hearing men and male-identified women mansplaining porn to us, and mansplaining why that visceral and involuntary NO is wrong. instead, they could try to figure out what about being female and seeing those images might REASONABLY evoke a NO response? when you assume that the response is REASONABLE and start from there, its really easy to get where you need to be. HELLO. but thats not where anyone starts: they all assume the response is UNREASONABLE and explore (invent) where the girl//woman went so terribly wrong.

  13. Pingback: sadosociety « smashesthep

  14. Pingback: on moral relativism « smashesthep

  15. TansyJ says:

    “Many men, maybe even most, hate women.”

    Fixed it.

  16. Pingback: how do I know if my husband watches porn? | smashesthep

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