So, I went to MN…

flyerTo view the, ahem, “unbiased” film the Price of Pleasure and then engage in a discussion/ Q&A session about pornography on Friday.

Oh, did I mention the other side of the issue was represented by Prof. Robert Jensen?

Well it was.  Jensen and myself, discussing this film and pornography at Augsburg College in chilly MN.

Rather than repost the entire long thing I wrote about it, I’m just going to use the power of the link…

But I do have to say I found it amusing and annoying the man had a hard time looking me in the eye and was pretty dismissive of, oh, the sex worker speaking for herself in the room.

14 Responses

  1. Jensen probably let you handle most of the questions because he doesn’t really understand the details. It’s appalling that some people buy his bullshit.

  2. I’ve heard Jensen speak before in person and I responded to him during the presentation. His demeanor was mellow and he was not a real firebrand type or intimidating, or anything like that. However, I found it patronizing for him to act like the voice of women in porn. It is patronizing even when women do this, but a man………
    Also, I read your blog, Ren, and your responses to people’s questions were great. Since I wasn’t there, I’ll respond on here about the the comment regarding child abuse. Even if somebody was abused as a child, s/he deserves to be respected as an adult if this person is now an adult, rather than infantalized. Infantalizing is just further marginalizing people who have experienced abuse, and even women in porn who haven’t experienced abuse. Also, rather than “otherizing” porn actresses as abuse victims, it is important to recognize that there are a lot of people outside of the sex industry who have also experienced abuse.
    Thank you for speaking at this college and I wish I were there. I’m confident you did a great job.

  3. re: abuse…if we’d had more time, I would’ve gone into that…in so much as effectively rendering the choices made by people who have experienced abuse…NO MATTER THEIR JOB…as ill-informed choices is a horrible precident and a horrible thing to do in general, but alas, time ran out.

    I’m sure part of his demeanor had to do with what I’ve written about him previously and that I am friends of some people who are no friends of his, but I found a lot of his actions to be very unprofessional in every way.

  4. Jensen seems to give off this real air of shame. At least, that was the impression I got. When I heard him speak, he identified himself as a man who used to view porn and acted like he was so ashamed of doing this. Now, I guess he just views porn to critique it (wink), but either way, he’s still viewing porn. I guess he may think that watching porn to critique it rather than to “get off” (which he may still be doing, but that’s his business) is less shameful, while still allowing him to continue to watch porn without having to feel “dirty” for it.

  5. Perhaps, Ren, he doesn’t look you in the eye because he’s afraid you’ll see your own porn staring back at you from his eye . . . . .

  6. Here’s a great passage from a review of Jensen’s book, Getting Off:

    Getting Off is emblematic of something else that I find disturbing about feminist anti-porn writing: passage after passage describes explicitly and luridly the scenes from gonzo porn films that Jensen finds most disturbing. Not once does he flinch from describing in detail the performers’ sexual organs, orifices, sounds, actions, and facial expressions. And he does it repeatedly, to drive home to us the allegedly oppressive nature of these scenes, to make us realize as he does, that these films represent the desire of men to hurt women for their own pleasure. He is willing to show us that pain in excruciating detail, again and again and again throughout two hundred pages. He does, in fact, seem to take a perverse glee in describing these scenes for us and telling us how very, very bad they are.

    Robert Jensen’s passion is reserved for visualizing women’s sexual pain. Never once does he turn that passion the other direction to look at the possibilities for women’s sexual pleasure. There is not, in the end, so much difference between Jensen and the most misogynist, exploitative porn director; neither can imagine the sexual role of men as being anything other than to fuck, nor can they imagine women’s roles as being anything other than to be fucked. And that’s why, regardless of my doubts about mainstream porn, I can never, never imagine aligning myself with Jensen and his ilk. Because at the heart of his arguments, I see the same misogynist bullshit that I want to excise from pornography.”

  7. I’ve read his book…and as a gonzo performer, spent some time going “Huh? Why don’t you ask the women performers you are watching if it hurts or not?” But that idea seems not to be too popular.

  8. Regarding Jensen’s reproduction of the terrible stuff he hates, I saw something similar once from Donna Hughes. I had infiltrated a very large anti-prostitution conference in Madrid – they were hardly going to invite me – where she gave a high-tech presentation about internet sites displaying women’s suffering. She projected onto a large screen a site called Rape Camp that had dramatic images of women tied to stakes and so on. Dozens of women from amongst the social worker audience got out of their seats to approach the stage and get a better view, and from where I was, in the back, it looked like mass prurience.

  9. He is so full of shame! After I attended his talk in San Francisco earlier this month I totally picked up on that. He must have some sort of horrible wrong-doing in his past that he is over-compensating for now.

    His demeanor while presenting is sooooo smooth. Patricia and I were the last people to comment at the end and between the two of us we were able to address almost each of his points. People who’d been shaking their heads with enthusiastic agreement every time he talked about the ‘big bad men and defenseless women’ stayed after to thank us for being there because otherwise they would have believed everything he said, but that it was far more compelling to hear from an actual worker.

    Thank Maude for new generations! Hopefully we can get our message to as many of the younger people as possible and wait for anti-sex feminism to die off.

  10. While I agree with the general sentiment, I have quite a bit of trouble with making generalizations on Jensen’s past, background and feelings based on several personal encounters and his books.

    How is that different from what he does to us? I understand (I think) where this desire to stereotype his is coming from… but after we’ve seen intolerance, should we at least strive to be more accepting?

  11. Argh, typos…
    *stereotype him*
    *shouldn’t we*

  12. Hi Thais.

    When inaccuracies about sex workers are willingly and knowingly presented by certain people, especially when they get paid to present these inaccuracies, then they themselves become fair game.

    Not that inaccuracies should be spread about _them_ , but rather what kind of people they actually are.

  13. @Thais- Thanks.

    My experience with him is that when I initiated a polite discussion at his talk he blew me off, dismissed my perspective *despite* the fact that I outted myself as a sex worker and is not willing to sit down with me or any other sex worker to process through the hatred that he is promoting toward our industry.

    So stating my *opinion* based on an in-person experience with him is not without warrant. It’s not like I’m misrepresenting myself as a researcher saying I did a *study* and found ‘facts’ that he has to have a bad past because he writes books of this sort….

    It’s really not a stereotype, it’s an observation of him as an individual and it was something that we discussed immediately when we left his talk because the feeling was pervasive and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until we started talking about it out loud. He does seem to carry a shame or guilt of some sort. The actual source of it? Who knows?

    But I can see why any being who was demonizing their own gender to make a point would have to internalize it in some ways.

  14. We’re speaking based on our impressions of him from meeting him in person, hearing him speak, and/ or reading his books. I presented what I said as my impression (which I mentioned in my post), not an undisputable fact. If he’s commenting on us as sex workers, we shouldn’t have to just keep silent about this and we should have the right to respond back and share our perspectives also. Furthermore, as sex workers, we have the right to wonder about what exactly is his motive for “critiquing” porn and taking the angle he does. In terms of my comments about him identifying himself as somebody who used to watch porn for sexual arousal, he identified himself this way when giving a public speech, so that part wasn’t just based on personal impression.

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