Noam Chomsky & Robert Jensen: Kinkphobes

This conversation was sent to us by a reader who wished to remain anonymous, and is referred to as such throughout this post.

I feel it’s time to discuss with my fellow kinksters (and a few others who might be sympathetic) the problem of certain alleged “progressives” who freely spout kink-hating bigotry, often in the name of feminism.

One of these is Robert Jensen, a journalism professor who’s made a side career of writing propaganda for the “feminist” anti-porn movement. One of his favorite pastimes seems to be reviewing works of pornography (to whose purported pernicious effects he seems inexplicably immune) and declaiming on which elements therein are “degrading” to women. In one piece last year, for instance, he informed the world that all DPs (double penetration scenes) are “degrading.” When some women responded to him by saying that they didn’t share this feeling, he swerved by insisting that however women felt about it, he knew that men liked watching these scenes because we perceive them that way. But did he offer any evidence to support this view? Not in the least. This looks for all the world like a case of projection to me! You can see some examples of his positions on this page, which references some of his work: https://againstpornography.org/.

Another kinkphobe is Noam Chomsky. This became apparent a couple years ago when he gave an interview to Hustler magazine, only to subsequently repudiate this action after being made aware of its other contents (Chomsky is totally clueless about popular culture by his own admission), including a photo spread accompanying the interview that included spanking. Unlike Jensen, Chomsky had not previously made plain that he was impervious to reason on this subject, so I attempted to engage him in conversation, stating up front how I felt his position denies the reality and legitimacy of my sexuality. (To avoid needlessly complicating the discussion, I identified to him as a bottom, though I’m actually a switch.) He totally refused to comprehend this point, and instead tried to claim that I was “telling him what he could feel” and even that I was arrogantly presuming to speak for 3 billion women — when that’s actually what he was doing!

A while later, thanks to other people on area kinkster lists, I became aware of a case in England illustrating the ugly ways kinkphobia can manifest, in the abusive treatment of a goth couple by a bus driver. I forwarded this to Chomsky, hoping it might induce him finally to see the light. Not only did he not see the light, he refused to even acknowledge the issue of kinkphobia in his response.

It’s now apparent that Chomsky is just as thoroughly blinded by bigotry on this question as Jensen, and I’ve advised both of them that I’ll protest if they come to this area. I urge everyone reading this to do likewise.

Copied below is my most recent correspondence with Chomsky.

Anonymous wrote:
‘I’m a human pet’: The Goth teenager whose fiance walks her around on a dog lead

So, where do you stand, Dr. Chomsky? Are Dani Graves and Tasha Maltby degrading women with their lifestyle choice, by doing in public exactly the same sort of thing which, when done in public through the medium of pornography, you’ve said is degrading to women? Or are they being degraded by this bus driver’s intolerance?

For my part, I just wrote the bus company via their webform (easily accessed via http://www.arrivabus.co.uk) and urged them to take the strongest possible disciplinary measures against the bus driver concerned. (I’ll follow up with a postal letter.) I encourage you to do likewise.

Noam Chomsky replied:
You’re entirely entitled to favor material that degrades women, just as racists are entitled to favor material that degrades blacks. But I don’t have time for either category, as I’ve repeatedly tried to explain

Anonymous replied:
So, you refuse to answer my question (and, yes, I really did take that long to read your response, because I was afraid it would be just what it was). Your bigotry toward erotic bottoms like me, and toward all sex workers, will be met with protest the next time you appear in my area.

19 Responses

  1. gahhhh, Robert Jensen…sad to hear that about Noam though…

  2. Yes, that is sad to see about Chomsky, but Jensen is even worse as he is making a side career out of it. I’ve seen him speak in person and I’ve read his (mostly) stupid book, and it is shocking to me that someone who is 48 years old and a professor is so naive that he doesn’t even think about getting a thorough grounding in knowledge about the subject he is studying and writing about. He merely records his reaction to one sub-genre of porno movies and generalizes that it represents all of “porn”. Never mind interviewing the people who perform in the movies he is watching, or learning about the history of porn (which includes written material and still pictures in magazines as well as movies of people just having “vanilla” sex and feminist porno movies) or learning about the history of censorship – or thinking about the possible results of his crusade if it is successful. He doesn’t justify what I call his “apocalyptic” view of the “degrading” genre of porno movies. That is, he thinks that the existance of images of nude women has inevitably led to this genre of “gross-out” porno movies and that porn can only get worse from there. Between him and Germaine Greer (who wrote against female masturbation and for female genital mutilation in her book “The Whole Woman”), it seems that anybody can become a PhD, write a book, and call themselves a feminist!

  3. […] 20 May 2008 by gallinggalla Dear Noam Chomsky: […]

  4. Being a man on the Left who used to admire Noam Chomsky a great deal because of his libertarian Left philosophy — at least, I did before he revealed this latest bit of anti-sex prejudice — I can say quite accurately that his views are all too common among a vast number of “progressive” activists. Far too often, such people are willing to cast a blind eye to sexual liberation issues, either dismissing pro-sex radicals and sex-positive progressive thinkers as either “paid tools of pornographers/pimps/sexual capitalists” or merely selfish “right-wing libertarians” who put their own pursuit of pleasure over the suffering and the concerns of the collective majority.

    I also find in such “Puritan Leftists” a disturbing trend to defend and rationalize away (if not openly support) some of the more repressive and extreme religious states (especially Islamic, but also some Christian regimes) on the basis of allegedly solidarity in opposing US/Israeli military/economic interventionism and exploitation and “Western cultural imperialism”.

    This isn’t saying that Chomsky and Jensen directly are apologists for fundamentalist Islamic regimes; but their stated rhetoric against sexual autonomy and for a restrictive and reactionary paradigm regarding sexuality does lend itself towards those kind of regimes.

    BTW…I happen to know the person behind “Anonymous”; and have personally communicated with him on several occasions through his blog. Out of respect for his stated plea for anonymity, I won’t out him here….but we do know and respect each other.

    And to Catseye: to be almost fair to Germaine Greer, she did start out as more of a “sex-positive feminist” with her seminal classic The Female Eunuch, which actually attempted to support women’s sexual exploration and sexual autonomy. It was later in the early 80s that she switched colors and joined the antisex/antiporn radical feminist cabal…and it seems that she has now dived head first into the world of sexual reaction.

    Anthony

  5. And as for Bob Jensen:

    Please., oh, dear Goddess, please. Don’t. Get. Me. Started. On. Him.

    Anthony

  6. Anthony – You’re right – I should give Germaine Greer credit for her earlier writing, which was sex-positive, and “The Female Eunuch” did improve a lot of people’s lives by helping to bring radical feminism to the mainstream.

    That’s an interesting link you mentioned between the tendancy on the left to be dismissive of sexual liberation and the tendancy to support fundamentalist regimes. (And, if they were willing to do just a little more research, they could find progressive groups in fundamentalist countries to support, like feminists and labor unions.)

  7. Anthony,

    The “puritan leftists” of the organization I belong to have all signed the petition for decriminalization of prostitution in the City and County of San Francisco.

    The “puritan leftists” don’t get to pick and chose who the resistance to US Imperialism is going to be.

    This thread has pissed me off.

  8. One last thing Anthony.

    Many women work in the sex industry not because they are sexually liberated but because they have made the economic “choice” to pay their rent and feed their children.

  9. BTW, I thought I should mention more specificly for those who want to support people struggling for freedom against BOTH the imperialism of the U.S. AND the fundamentalism of their own country, those groups include Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) and Revolutionary Afghanistan Women’s Association (RAWA). I’m sure there’s more, and I don’t know the names of the labor unions, but there’s a place to start.

  10. Wonder why your correspodent stayed anonymous?

    Because he/she isn’t as representative as they hope?

    FYI, sex is behaviour. Your behaviour affects other people.

    I’ve heard people routinely comparing buying sex to buying a hamburger. But you don’t buy eating – you buy the hamburger. When you buy ‘sex’, your are, iIn fact buying a prostitute – sex-slave to treat whatever way you want for a specified length of time.

    The argument for porn/prostituion is fundamentally fascist – that’s why Chomsky won’t ever support it.

    Sex based on mutual attraction is a very different thing to buying the right to inflict your otherwise repellent carcass on someone – if it wasn’t, they wouldn’t have to be paid!

  11. Oh, and Anthony:

    Your ‘argument’ is fundamentally reactionary – the ‘free market’ dogma applied to women’s bodies.

    Who on earth do you think your’e fooling by calling yourself a ‘leftist?’

    The reactionary regimes you mention (e.g. Islamic) are just the other side of the same coin. They buy and sell their women via marriage as breeders, the ‘libertine’ rents them as three-hole fuck-dolls.

    Flynt was (is?) a deeply authoritarian misogynist. The last thing he and his ild (like Hef) want is resourced women who really can say ‘f**k off. ‘

    Where would their empires be then?

  12. No, you cannot buy my time to treat me however you want. I’d be surprised if anyone here can relate to such statements. Such comments are revolting and woefully unjust. I think you’d be best checking yourself, not Anthony.

    Note to readers: We are they.

  13. ‘Such comments are revolting and woefully unjust.’

    I’ve met alcoholics in the advanced stages of Korsokoff’s who say the same thing re booze.

    At least you haven’t called for my comment to be banned – I’ve noticed a distinctly authortarian tendency amongst libertarian pro-prostitution types.

    Like it or not matey, if you were f**kig on the basis of mutual attraction, you wouldn’t have to be charging.

    And even if YOUR bod cant’ be bought for a ‘song’, there’s plenty out there that can. What’s more, if normalising takes place, your prices will be coming down pretty sharpish.

    We’ll see then how much ‘choice’ you really get to exercise…..

  14. LisaRoellig:

    ‘Many women work in the sex industry not because they are sexually liberated but because they have made the economic “choice” to pay their rent and feed their children.’

    Uh-huh. That’s the nature of prostitution (I never use the pee-cee ‘sex-work.’)

    The money is the elephant in the room – everyone else can see it, except the f**king (for a price) elephant…..:)

    ‘Empowerment?’ Gimme a break. It’s the kind of ’empowerment’ beyond even the brilliantly satirical ‘The Onion’….

  15. You also, wrongly, assume we’re never attracted to our clients. At times, there is “mutual attraction”, but money changes hands regardless.

    A guy finds me on Eros, and another guy finds me on match.com. I fuck them both, I am attracted to them both. One pays me and the other doesn’t. Outside of that simple fact, what’s so different about those encounters. One is “normal” and somewhat respected, the other is criminal and scorned. Why?

  16. ‘That’s an interesting link you mentioned between the tendancy on the left to be dismissive of sexual liberation and the tendancy to support fundamentalist regimes’

    The sexually-liberated aren’t in hock to fundamentlism of ANY kind – theocratic or pornocratic. The libertarian creed is just another fundmentalism – and a con.

    Truly liberated (i.e well-off) women choose at leisure, for their own pleasure.

    They do not hock their asses to survive.

    Seriously, do you really believe your own fairy tales? I guess that’s what comes of having to fake it all the time to keep the punters ‘happy’…..

  17. Hi, Jess.

    Like I said, If you didn’t need the money, ya wouldn’t charge..

    There would be no difference at all between fucks.

  18. P.S. Before I go…..

    I notice a portal on ‘sexual freedom’ on this site.

    For sex………’workers?’

    Man, the ironies a ‘Bound!’

  19. Just spotted this:

    Teengothpet:

    ‘Are Dani Graves and Tasha Maltby degrading women with their lifestyle choice, by doing in public exactly the same sort of thing which, when done in public through the medium of pornography, you’ve said is degrading to women? ‘

    She’s ‘choosing’ because she’s thick/druggy/clueless. We’re assuming some kind of bizarre ‘enjoyment’ (some people ‘like’ cutting themselves too) because it don’t look like she’s being paid.

    In porn, the women are presented and treated like b**tches – for a price. Which rather more than suggests that left to their own devices, they wouldn’t be ‘dogged’ – in the case of porn, literally. It seems the ‘men’ who make the stuff (and who buy it) just enjoy watching them being dehumanized.

    I’ve always found male porn enthusiasts to be quite disturbingly facist.

    But you’d have to be a (bright) female to notice…..

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