My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Dines's book is an excursion into the destructive nature of pornography on our society. It hits some of the problem on the head, especially the violence of the gonzo olympics. However, the book is flawed in that Dines enters the discussion with a set of beliefs about what is normal/anormal, right/wrong, and acceptable/unacceptable. Sex is fuzzy and illogical, and there is no one qualified to set moral standards. Also, part of the problem is how society treats people that pass through the mill, and, honestly, this book doesn't help. I would prefer the judgmental aspects about which acts are barbaric or not to have been left out, because it gets preachy fast, and who am I (and who is Gail Dines?) to tell someone about their sexuality? When the book discusses the violence, the exploitation, and the capitalistic drive of the industry, it does a lot better.
I took a full star away, because after such long-winded ranting, Dines includes only a few pages of suggestions to solve the issue. Where is the enlightened lesson to share? Also, Dines regularly returns to the fact that boys will have porn as their first introduction to sex, equating it with violence and abuse of women, however, if our society were more forward-thinking, boys and girls could have an earlier sexual education that is healthy, one that includes education about the damage violence and degradation does, how women should be revered rather than reviled, etc. I am not arguing for pornography in primary school, but rather the inclusion of subtle positive messages about women (& indeed about gender acceptance, for ALL gender identities) in the curriculum. If positive messages are introduced earlier, maybe adolescents would reject violent imagery when they inevitably see it.
Personally, I'm not a fan of porn, because (sorry) it is SO boring. The $$$ involved show that this isn't a popular view, but I mine more erotism from words, especially when they explore terrain I am not likely to travel (The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey, and The Hunger by Whitney Strieber). Porn by contrast is quotidian. The best sex (for me at least) happens in the head, especially in the shared telepathy that coincides with raised collective consciousness.
Moreover, I don't think porn can be stamped out "War-on-Porn" like a cockroach. Cockroaches have been here millions of years. Porn has been with us a while now too. Maybe if more women were involved in the industry (small business loans and unionization), porn could become a way for creating a positive message for men & women to move past the gonzo olympic stage to some kind of mind meld where people really get closer. It reaches many people who have few other media inputs, so there is every chance it could become a tool in the right hands.
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