The Cambridge Porn Debate Story


Sadly, I cannot make the debate video publicly available. Instead I’ve done my best to recreate the night for you all.

The adrenaline in my veins amplified my heartbeat into a 50,000 watt sound system, overpowering the packed noisy debate hall.

BOOM BOOM.

I tried not to think of the 400 students inside nor the 350 students in the overflow areas. My eyes avoided the camera crews and saw only my stack of notes.

BOOM BOOM.

Did I have everything? BOOM BOOM. Would I have enough time? BOOM BOOM. Was my mouth working? BOOM BOOM. Could I… BOOM BOOM. Had I…BOOM BOOM.

Lauren Davidson, Cambridge Union Society President, quieted the hall and introduced Anna Span, the first speaker from our side. As she began her speech I split myself into two parts, one listening to her story, her work and her criticisms of Lubben, the other shaking in a public speaking panic.

Applause erupted, Anna sat down.

Gail Dines got up. The porn hate began.

I waited to hear what I knew would be many misrepresentations of the porn industry as well as false data. It came rather quickly when she stated that the average age of internet porn exposure was 11.

BOOM BOOM.

“Point of interest!” I called out, ready to take her to task over her false information.

“No,” she said, and continued on her rant. I felt shocked that she would not take my point and incensed at being shut down. BOOM BOOM.

“Gagging…. ejaculate covering their hair… fuckholes… cumdumpsters…. sluts…. whores.” If there was an award that night for the most profanity laced speech, Dines would have won in a landslide. The award for Most Angry would have also been hers for the taking.

At one point in her speech she noted her (male) critics had said what she needed was a good fuck. I disagree. That woman needed someone to jump on a way back machine and give her little girl self a big strong hug.

BOOM BOOM. She finished and sat down. BOOM BOOM. My turn was up.

“Since I was not allowed to give my point, I’ll make it now.” I went over the statistic from Top Ten Reviews, a notoriously false and over cited barrage of unconfirmed data points about pornography. I  went over an article from Forbes refuting the statistic and actual research demonstrating the earliest reported age for seeking porn as 14.

“Gail Dines,” I said, “is either the worst researcher I’ve ever seen or the best data cherry picker I’ve come across. I’ve graded many papers as a graduate student and I would be appalled if one of my students submitted work of this caliber. An opinion piece from Details magazine is not a citable source.”

The hall exploded into applause, then punctuated by a point of interest. Unlike Dines, or anyone else  from the opposition, I took the point from the young woman.

“I work at a clinic and I’ve seen children as young as nine years old come in requesting condoms and saying they’ve already been viewing pornography.” More explosive applause to her point.

I nodded. “I understand how you would be concerned by that, but I would be curious to know how many are coming in and what the whole story behind theirs is. I want to impress upon you all that the plural of anecdote…”

“Is anecdotes,” Dines muttered loudly

“…is not data. When dealing with any subject, especially a subject as emotionally charged as this, it is imperative we do quality and thorough research in order to understand it.”

I continued my speech until another point of interest was raised.

A young man with dark hair stood up and asked what I thought about violent pornography, such as “18 and Abused”, that seemed to be so proliferate.

“Well,” I answered, “anyone can make a porn. You and I could take a video camera right now, go into the back of the Union and make ourselves a porn film. What I think this says is that there are men who are angry at women and this is the porn they want to create.”

I continued on my speech, forging ahead as fast as I could to make up for time taken by audience points of interest. I barely finished, skipping over many of the issues I wanted to raise and sat down unsure of how I’d done, despite the thunderous applause.

Next up was Richard Woolfson, a child psychologist. He seemed a kindly man but his credibility dropped when he firmly stated he would not be citing any sources and assured us his data were all from reputable, peer reviewed  journals and refusing to take any points of interest. He gave the standard warnings that because porn was easily available, children would access it with reckless abandon. Of course, this could ruin them.

When Woolfson sat down the floor opened up for points in opposition, proposition and abstention. The students’ observations were incredibly sharp and I wished the protocol would have allowed us to respond. Alas, we could not.

Next up was Johnny Anglais. He delivered an eloquent and entertaining speech that you can read here in all of its glory.

Then came Lubben. All of the other speakers delivered well-structured speeches with coherence. Lubben sounded drunk even though I hadn’t seen her take a single drink during dinner. As she rambled about representing the majority of porn performers, her cache of evidence which was never presented, and assertions that all vocally pro-porn performers were “trained seals” telling us what they were required to say. An uncomfortable silence washed through the hall and even Dines was pinching the bridge of her nose in obvious mental discomfort.

And then it was over.

I expected a rebuttal round. I stared down at my documents cringing at all that would be left unsaid.  I felt like a hot lover had abruptly departed after flipping my switches. I worried that the lack of information could hurt our side and desperately wanted more time.

Several students waited to speak with me (thank you all for your comments and  questions!) so by the time I made it back to the dinner hall, the results were already announced. I finally managed to get and answer over the clamor:

In Favor: 231

Abstentions: 197

Against: 187

We’d won! I stayed late having celebratory drinks and talking to students about sex. Dines disappeared immediately while Woolfson and Lubben stayed, even coming up to congratulate us. (I know many people are angry about Shelley Lubben, and rightfully so. But to be fair she was very friendly and kind to all of us despite our differences of opinion . I wish I could say the same of Dines. That woman seems utterly mean spirited.)

I want to thank everyone who helped me get to London by contributing to my travel fund! The experience was amazing and I was proud to represent the pro-porn view. Thank you all so much!

(Extra special thank yous to Lauren Davidson, CUS President, and David Leigh, my tour guide. On Wednesday night David took me to The Anchor, The Union Bar, St. Catherine’s bar and even Cindy’s.)

63 thoughts on “The Cambridge Porn Debate Story”

  1. Thank you so much for this superb article.

    Your portrayal of Dines is extraordinary. I find it interesting to note something that Anna Span told me earlier today: that Dines guest-lectured a class at Cambridge prior to the debate. In a sense she was the university-sanctioned debater, and yet you still crushed her.

    “The plural of anecdote is not data” is now my new favorite expression. Brilliant! You, Anna and Johnny are all to be commended.

    The first round is on me for life, Jessi!

    MW

  2. I’m sure that there are children younger than 11 looking at porn, but I’d say that the majority are around 13, or so it was 30-ish years ago. I became interested in girls much younger than my peers/ I also was at the leading edge at seeing porn then, though not nearly as graphic as a lot of things available on the web. I also have to say I disagree with degradation porn.

    Funny story: Back in the 90′s when I was in France, every street magazine vendor had XX porn magazines hanging about, and everyone who wasn’t buying didn’t even blink at it. Not women, children, elderly … nobody. Since there was nobody screaming about it, it was like a painting on the wall, which nobody notices, until somebody points it out. You may walk by it for years and never notice.

    I also find it odd that extreme violence (torture slash horror) only gets an R rating, but a flaccid penis almost always gets an NR17 rating.

  3. Bravo. I commend you on your bravery. You should be proud of yourself for openly defending a point of view, especially against someone as angry as one of your opponents. Then to come together at the end and put your different opinions aside. That kind of behavior needs to happen more often.

  4. Really enjoyed the debate, I thought you did a great job! Hope you come speak at Cambridge again soon.

    The quote you used, something along the lines of “that which gives us pleasure gives us power”, where is that from? I thought it was really insightful and wanted to look it up. Thanks!

    1. I didn’t write my speech out so it may just have been something I was asserting. Here are the three quotes I had in my debate notes:

      “Porn is ruthless. It proves that love or anything remotely like it is not essential to sex.” -Stanley Kaufmann

      “The existence of pornography has served to flout conventional sexual mores, to ridicule sexual hypocrisy and to underscore the importance of sexual needs. Pornography carries many messages . . .it advocates sexual adventure, sex outside of marriage, sex for pleasure, casual sex, illegal sex, anonymous sex, public sex, voyeuristic sex.” -Lisa Duggan

      “Once I figured out how to use porn and come my life was irrevocably changed. For the first time in my life I felt sexually autonomous.” -Lisa Palac

  5. Congratulations. I had read some reviews in the Cambridge newspapers but it’s great to hear your recount of the evening’s event. I love your description of Gail Dines. I keep thinking there’s something odd about her vehemence. Yes, she shouldn’t have been hugged more.

    If I may, [a slight bow], hats off to a successful debate and a successful debater. It’s great to read about the event; I wish I could have been there. Cheers to you! :-)

    1. No, thank *you* for sending links my way. That info about the age of 11 falsified data was critical in taking down Dines and helping us win. Much appreciated!

  6. Wow, I am so incredibly proud to support you and your work. Thank you. If it’s not too forward, please let me buy you a round (of whatever beverage you like, coffee, tea, alcoholic, or a combination :) sometime.

  7. Thank you for writing this up. Some are putting a spin on it and saying Lubben’s talk lost the votes but it was by far the lies Gail was spouting.

    1. Yeah, I didn’t think many people voted against because of Lubben’s speech. It was strange but not damning in any way. I think the combination of Dines’ lies, Woolfson’s refusal to cite his sources and the excellent points made by society members pushed the votes in the pro-side direction.

      (Also: we did some fine speeches, if I may say so.)

      1. As much contempt as I have for Lubben’s style and rhetoric, it is abundantly clear from the various accounts that she only failed to *add* anything to the anti-porn side’s case. Ill-conceived approaches (such as Lubben’s) may not win a debater any supporters, but they also do not necessarily increase votes for the other side. That the pro-porn side triumphed is testament to the actual arguments made by your side – not to Lubben’s mania.

        One Cambridge student who was in attendance wrote me today of one of his strongest impressions of the debate: “the EXTREMELY pissed-off, piqued, grumpy – almost child-like annoyed – face of Gail Dines when Jessi Fischer rebuked and, if you’ll excuse the expression, took a shit on her arguments when it was her turn to speak.”

  8. I attended the Stop Porn Now conference last June in Boston and listened to Gail Dines spout her misinformation to room full of anti-porn people. Your description was exactly how I perceived her that day. I joke that I watched more porn that day and heard more profanity than I had in the last six months.

    It concerns me how Gail twists facts and uses what I consider scare tactics to push her agenda and this June will use the college she is employed to offer what is for all purposes an anti-porn seminar for college credit.

  9. Thank you for being the flag waver for good research and rational responses as well as standing up for porn.

    Re the age of kids when they first look at porn. Obviously this is hard to research with today’s kids but I do think it would be helpful to do a survey of adults and ask about when they first looked at porn and what their self-described responses are. Do you know of any such research?

  10. What has failed to be noted is that anti porn feminists are invariably devotees of Critical theory based radical feminist’ studies’.Critical theory eschews evidence and data and logic and presents anecdotes as the be all and end all of discourse.

  11. A wonderful little description — it made me feel as if I had been there (and it made me wish I had been there, too). Congratulations on the victory!

    It’s interesting how many of the anti-porn points have to do with “the children” and their reactions to sex. To my mind, there isn’t a good theory anywhere in our society about how exactly children should deal with sex, and what adults should or shouldn’t let them do — just a lot of angry rhetorics about how we’re being corrupted. When there are so many emotions flying around, and so little research-based sense in the arguments, I always fear we’re dealing with some social stereotype that just won’t go.

    I don’t have the one true answer for the ‘children and sex — how much should they see/know, what shouldn’t they see/know’ question. I will merely say that I did research among several Amazonian Indian groups at some point, and could see that (in at least one group) nobody minded if children saw adults having sex. Children as young as 5 or 6 were often pretty graphic in their descriptions of ‘how it’s done’. I assume their parents grew up in a similar manner — and yet I couldn’t find any bad consequences from that. It’s not like ‘little 6-year-old perv boys’ didn’t grow up to become good hunters who raised families and became respected community members.

    1. It was definitely a learning experience. Packing tons of info into a 10 minute speech is really, really difficult! Next time I do something like this I hope I can do an even better job. Upward! :)

  12. So Gail Dines only hates porn because she didn’t get enough hugs as a little girl? What a deeply patronising, insulting and dishonest way to deligitimise the very real concerns many women have about porn’s contribution to the woman-hating rape culture we live in.

    One could equally well say that you’re only selling out to capitalist patriarchy because daddy didn’t give you enough approval when you were a little girl.

    Of course you won, few man are going to vote away their male privilege, and few women are going to risk being labelled sex-hating prudes.

    1. “The woman-hating rape culture we live in”? What a deeply patronizing, insulting and dishonest way to deligitimize the very real concerns of hard-working people who create a product that millions of people enjoy the world over via a LEGAL INDUSTRY which has NEVER been causally linked to ANY of the cultural ills that Dines claims.

      It is people like you who contribute to the true “rape culture”: you are a fact rapist.

    2. Oh, Talis, please….enough with the faked psychology analysis.

      Now, where does anyone (other than William Belle, who only speaks for himself) say that Gail Dines hates porn because she didn’t get enough hugs?? Most people I know say that Gail Dines hates porn because she’s just a hateful antisex fundamentalist masquarading as a “radical feminist”.

      “Selling out to capitalist patriarchy”?? You know, like what Professor Dines does when she puts her name to right-wing antiporn luncheons with Congresspeople?? Like, what Dines does when she takes her honoraria from Wheelock College and charges fees for attending her workshops?? Like, what she does when she defends the likes of Shelley Lubben?? Funny, but I never noted Dines say anything about her being a socialist or a social democrat…only opposed to “capitalism” when it suits her antiporn/male baiting routine.

      Oh…and Anna Arrowsworth jumps in with this breaking story: over half of the students at the Cambridge debate were female…and I assume that all of them did NOT by nature of their gender vote the straight Lubben/Dines ticket. But…way to totally insult the many men who did vote for your side.

      Anthony

  13. “you are a fact rapist.”

    ‘sexademic’, that nasty little boys like this are the kind of people you associate with and get approval from, says all that needs to be said about who you are and where your priorities lie (they certainly aren’t with women).

    1. I’m nobody’s little boy. I’ve got chunks of pseudo-intellectuals like you on my stool. How about making an argument instead of reciting tired rhetoric and launching into ad hominems? Afraid, are you?

      Bring it.

        1. Afraid of what, you calling me names? Even if you aren’t a little boy, you certainly are nasty. And you haven’t offered any kind of argument, intellectual, pseudo-intellectual or otherwise, you’ve just said ‘oh no it isn’t’ over and over.

          A rape culture is one where rape is trivialised, lied about, joked about, made invisible and dismissed as irrelevant when it is admitted it occurs at all. Using a term like ‘fact rapist’ (and saying that the ‘true’ rape culture is one where ‘facts are raped’ – i.e. saying that the rape of women is irrelevant compared to someone expressing an opinion you don’t like) is just such a trivialisation, and ‘sexademic’, by allowing a man to use such terminology on your blog without comment, you are tacitly condoning such trivialisation.

          1. Talis, rape is not an idea, or a sense, or a philosophy. Rape is a violent crime. One cannot have a “culture” of rape unless one is speaking of a culture in which the crime of rape is normalized, i.e., not a crime at all. Words mean things, Talis.

            You obviously either lack a firm understanding of, or wish to intentionally distort (I’m guessing the latter) the subtleties of, the English language, so allow me to inform you that a term such as “fact-rapist” does not trivialize the verb “to rape.”

            A more proper example of the kind of a trivialization you are implying I am causing would be the term “date-rape.” There, through the use of modifier, one creates a category which is somehow “less” of a rape. It outlines a category of “rape” different than other types of rape. It, to a degree, redefines rape — and, in the process, may actually un-define that term. At a minimum, it degrades the verb “to rape.”

            The term “fact-rapist”, however, uses an analogy to make a larger point. It compares the crime of rape — a violent crime of the physical word that has other deep consequences and effects — with a philosophical offense; a crime not of the physical but of the intellectual realm having deep cultural consequences.

            My reference to the “true ‘rape culture’” does not signify my view that the philosophical offense is more significant than actual physical rape, it represents my mocking rejection of the notion that such a culture as YOU imagine it actually exists.

            As for not having offered an argument, it is YOU who have offered no argument, only a pronouncement about “male privilege” and a re-hash of your tired assumptions about the world, and the nature of sex, and gender relations. Your diseased worldview does not constitute an argument, alas, merely a bias.

            But I am completely unsurprised to see you get down to your real hang-up in your very last sentence, where you use the word “man” interchangeably with “criminal.” Heavens me! A man! It’s not just that Ms. Fischer is “allowing” someone to offer a dissenting view (which, in and of itself, is verboten), but that this dissenting person is — gulp — A MAN!

            And of course, since Ms. Fischer, in your skewed view, has “tacitly” allowed such trivialization to appear in an open forum, she must somehow be less of a true woman than your sainted self – isn’t that right? Do tell, Talis — in your eyes is Ms. Fischer a co-conspirator, or merely a groomed victim of the insidious worldwide patriarchal conspiracy?

            In any case, we can all thank goodness philanthropic watchdogs like you are out there to point out misguided women, and steer them back to the fold. Blah blah blah.

          2. So, Talis: you call male opponents of Professor Dines “nasty young boys”; you basically accuse us of formenting a “rape culture” merely be defending the right of women to consume and participate in acts of consenting sex amongst adults (which, by most normal standards, is the total opposite of the definition of rape); and you all but condemn Jessi as a traitor to her gender for even allowing us a forum of self-defense against your smears.

            But…we’re the ones who are “trivializing rape”.

            Talis…this isn’t the Genderberg forums. That nonsense doesn’t fly here. Try again when you actually have something suitable.

            Anthony

    2. Is Still Here

      Amazing, you personally know all of the The Sexademic’s male followers, readers and friends. How else could you know that they are all “nasty little boys”?

      I happen to believe that people have the right to happiness in their personal lives and that extends to their sexual lives. For what it is worth, I live in a forty-year long exclusively-monogamous, heterosexual relationship. I do this because it makes me happy. Further, I strongly believe that biology makes all of us part of a continuum where what makes each of us happy varies widely. I am grateful for people like The Sexademic. She does much to educate all of us about all the different things that make people happy. None of it is nasty. The people who follow her are not nasty. Not all of them are not men. They are just people who want to know more about people. And some of them just happen to find The Sexademic fun to talk to.

      Is Still Here

    3. Alright, do you know any sex workers, have you even been a sex worker?

      I am a sex worker (a professional dominatrix) I known several sex workers (strippers, professional dominatrices, cam girls, porn actresses, and even *GASP* a few escorts) and every single one have them have beautiful amazing happy empowered women. And every. single. on. of them has LOVED their job, every single one of them chose their job willingly. Please do not make assumptions about an entire group of people based on well… nothing.

  14. Michael Whiteacre,

    Yes, exactly, words mean things, they are how we communicate ideas and how we shape our world-view, without ideas and the words to express those ideas we wouldn’t be able to recognise things or understand them or communicate about them in any meaningful way, which is exactly my point as to our living in a rape culture, because how the idea of rape is communicated and understood has real-world consequences.

    We do live in a rape culture as I described it above, the most obvious recent example of which in the mainstream media is Assange’s lawyer describing Assange’s use of his body weight to pin a woman down and force her legs apart as being just “the missionary position” – he is saying that force and coercion are just a normal part of sex (and a normal part of dull sex at that). There is also Polanski’s drugging and anally raping a 13-year-old girl being described as “not rape-rape” by Whoopi Goldberg, and a BNP spokesman saying that since women liked sex, rape was no worse that “force feeding them chocolate cake”.

    The point is that culturally, ‘real’ rape, “rape-rape”, the rape that actually gets recognised as such and taken seriously, only occurs when a woman is dragged into the bushes by a stranger and beaten more than half to death (less than half to death is just proof that she was into rough sex with strangers). A rape culture is one where the myths about rape and women’s sexuality – that women say no when they mean yes, that women need and want to be forced, that women will consent to sex then lie about it just to ruin some poor man’s life, hold more weight than a woman saying she was raped. Rape is normalised, in that most instances of it will not be recognised as such by police, by courts, by juries.

    <>

    Really? I find this claim bizarre and very odd, I can’t see how that works, unless you’re going to claim that every time I use the word ‘man’ anywhere at all I could also be using the word ‘criminal’; I think you’re the one trying to disingenuously distort the English language here, not me. Nothing I described in the last paragraph of my last comment is describing a crime (I don’t actually think, nor did I imply, that having an opinion on rape that I disagree with is a crime); this is just a straw-woman argument, you don’t like my opinions, therefore I must be a man-hater who thinks that all men are criminals.

    My comment addressed to the owner of this blog is expressing my disappointment that she would let your use of the term ‘fact rapist’ – which I still maintain is trivialising rape – pass unquestioned; it suggests she is ignorant of or indifferent to the fact that we live in a society where rape is regularly trivialised, and that such trivialisation harms women. I hope she will return to this post and set me straight, especially as you are still vehemently denying that we live in a rape culture at all.

    There’s a lot of anger and hostility in your comment (but then ‘anger’ is only a problem when it comes from women isn’t it?), you ‘mock’ me, I’m ‘diseased’, I think I’m a ‘saint’ – I think you’re the one with the hang-ups.

    1. You are also trivializing rape, By trying to give rapist a fucking scapegoat. As a rape victim, whose rape was socially disregarded, I am honestly appalled at you. I mean really? Rape existed long long long before mass consumption porn and was MORE trivialized, and some of it was LEGAL. To say that porn leads to rape and woman hating is wrong, both morally and factually. As was said before there has been no causal link between porn and rape. And by giving them this scapegoat you are saying that they had a REASON to do it, that its no the rapists fault, its the fault of the porn filled society we live in, you are no better than a rape apologist.

      As a rape victim and a sex worker* I ask, please quit speaking for us, you have no idea what you are saying, you are hurting, not helping.

      *before you make any assumptions I was raped as a minor, long before becoming s ex worker, by my boyfriend, who rarely if ever consumed porn. and no being raped had NOTHING to do with me becoming a sew worker

      1. Aimee,

        I am very sorry to hear about what happened to you, and I have not, and would never claim to, speak on behalf of any ‘sex worker’.

        You are correct to say that there has always been rape, and that for a long time only the rape of a certain type of ‘good’ woman (as long as it wasn’t by her husband) was taken seriously.

        That porn in its current form hasn’t always existed is also true, but male dominated culture has existed for millennia and men have always had ways of communicating to each other about the ‘correct’ way to treat women (including through the laws on rape).

        Saying that porn contributes to rape culture is not the same as saying a man will watch porn then go commit rape, and it is certainly not giving a man who commits rape an excuse, no feminist of any stripe would ever say that a man has any kind of excuse for committing rape.

        1. Quoting Talis:

          That porn in its current form hasn’t always existed is also true, but male dominated culture has existed for millennia and men have always had ways of communicating to each other about the ‘correct’ way to treat women (including through the laws on rape).

          So…you are saying that “male dominated culture” is responsible for dismissing women.

          I could agree with that….but this entire essay isn’t about “male-dominated culture”; it’s about porn and whether it contributes to rape, as you continue to insinuate.

          Saying that porn contributes to rape culture is not the same as saying a man will watch porn then go commit rape, and it is certainly not giving a man who commits rape an excuse, no feminist of any stripe would ever say that a man has any kind of excuse for committing rape.

          So..what is it, Talis?? Porn doesn’t directly cause men to rape..but it still should be banished merely because it “contributes” to “rape culture”?? And, of course, why assume that only men would excuse rape in any form? I’ve seen plenty of right-wing antiporn women whom have justified rape as just punishment for acting/dressing “slutty” or otherwise violating the conservative mores of linking sex with reproduction or marriage or “intimacy”. Are these women also “male-dominated”..or do they become faux feminists when they join your antiporn crusade against certain men??

          You miss Aimee’s main point, which is that it is not your perogative to lecture her or any other woman on how they should determine their personal sexuality. Scapegoating porn as the prime cause of rape, as Aimee stated, does indeed give actual rapists excuses for their behavior.

          Anthony

  15. Whoops, my quote from MW’s comment got lost, for the ” please read:

    But I am completely unsurprised to see you get down to your real hang-up in your very last sentence, where you use the word “man” interchangeably with “criminal.”

    1. Talis, if my analysis, and my assessment of you, are so wrong, then please tell us why is it that EVERY example you cited of rape was male on female rape only?

      Are those the only kinds of rape?

      That rape is seemingly synonymous with the sexual victimization of women by predatory men is rather telling, don’t you think, love?

      Your examples serve to illustrate another point as well — the plural of “anecdote” is not “data.” Just because SOMEBODY or SOME GROUP somewhere excuses the behavior of some person in a particular instance, it does not follow that we have a “culture” of rape, nor that the truly guilty will go unpunished. One could just as easily say that we live in a “riot culture” since there are many many people on this planet who excuse the actions, for instance, of the Los Angeles rioters twenty years ago who caused the deaths of more than fifty human beings and destroyed more than $1 billion in property in the wake of the Rodney King case. Name the social ill, and one can find its proponents and apologists.

      Culture is not simply reflected in the cherry-picked opinions of newsmakers. Quotations are frequently most newsworthy when they contrast with the prevalent culture, not mirror it.

      To me there is no “rape-rape.” I was trained as an attorney. Rape has a statutory definition under applicable penal codes. It was rape or it was not rape, per the law, and rape, like any crime, must be proven by the evidence presented. It may not be assumed. Not all alleged victims are per se truthful. People may lie for a host of reasons.

      I will repeat: rape is not an idea, or a sense (which is how Prof. Dines defines it), it is IN FACT a violent crime which should be punished. It has a legal definition. All kinds of rape which fit the legal definition should be taken seriously — that they are not is, in my assessment, largely due to a factor you fail to mention. The TRUE trivialization of rape is embedded in the disgusting sexist notion of the insidious patriarchy of male privilege in which virtually all heterosexual sex constitutes rape because a woman can — the argument goes — never “truly” be able to give consent because she is in constant fear of being raped if she says “No.”

  16. Michael,

    Of course men get raped (mostly by other men), and it is a complete red herring to claim that because I only talked about the rape of women I somehow think male rape doesn’t happen, or isn’t important.

    The three examples I gave of rape culture where the first three I thought of and could quote without going to find references, they were also from mainstream culture that most people were likely to have heard of. The plural of anecdote is not data, but when the same thing happens over and over and over again it starts to mean something.

    Yes, rape has a legal definition, but rape exists as a concept beyond that; in the UK, up until the 1990′s, it was legal for a man to rape his wife, and there are still parts of the world where if a man commits rape, he can ‘get away’ with it under law by marrying his victim, are you saying that in such cases, because they don’t fit the local legal definition of rape, there was no harm done?

    Ms. Fischer,

    I am still very disappointed that you have not returned to this post to contribute your opinion on Michael’s use of the term ‘fact rapist’ and the whole discussion of rape culture.

    Even if you are not happy using the term rape culture because of it’s association with radical feminism, surely as a sex educator you deal with the issue of negotiating meaningful consent, and are aware of how the stereotypes of male and female sexuality can have a negative affect (I know you are aware because you have already written on this blog about the negative stereotypes of male sexuality). Surely your sex education covers the negative stereotypes of women’s sexuality, that if a woman dresses a certain way, drinks ‘to much’, has had sex with ‘to many’ men, she’s ‘asking for it’ – that’s rape culture.

    1. Talis writes: “up until the 1990′s, it was legal for a man to rape his wife, and there are still parts of the world where if a man commits rape, he can ‘get away’ with it under law by marrying his victim, are you saying that in such cases, because they don’t fit the local legal definition of rape, there was no harm done?”

      No, Talis, I live in the western world, in the year 2011, where that concern has been addressed, and that omission has been eliminated. In what culture and year do you live, pray tell? If you want to argue or protest against the rule of law in other cultures which excuses crimes against women, I will join you.

      Yes, rape is a concept — one that is embodied IN LAW, and is not reflected by Prof. Gail’s disingenuous perversion of the term to mean men having “a sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.”

      And, if it’s such a red herring to claim that you only focus on female victims of male aggression, then why do you once again close your latest comment with: “Surely your sex education covers the negative stereotypes of women’s sexuality, that if a woman dresses a certain way, drinks ‘to much’[sic], has had sex with ‘to many’[sic] men, she’s ‘asking for it’ – that’s rape culture”?

  17. Michael,

    Your answers have become completely disingenuous and are going round in circles.

    I already put ‘to much’ and ‘to many’ in quotes to demonstrate that I don’t actually agree that a woman can drink ‘to much’ or have sex with ‘to many’ men.

    That you acknowledge that the legal definition of rape has, in the past, and in other parts of the world been insufficient, proves my point, the legal definition of rape alone is not enough.

    Again, you are using male rape as a red herring. In mainstream society men are not presumed to be ‘asking for it’ every time they step over an arbitrary line, women are.

    1. I placed a [sic] after those phrases because of your woeful lack of English literacy — the term is “too much” not “to much” — but of course you assume some insidious, sexist motivation on my part instead. The truth is much simpler, as it usually is. ;-)

      You close your latest missive with another wonderful example of my point about you: “In mainstream society men are not presumed to be ‘asking for it’ every time they step over an arbitrary line, women are.”

      SAYS YOU.

      If that’s your basic view of the world in which we live then I pity you, Talis.

    2. If a male acts “gay” meaning feminine, then they are “asking to be sodomized. And by merely existing it is assumed males want [always] heterosexual sex. And of course if they come they come forward about being raped pretty much no one will take them seriously. Want to try again?

  18. Ok, so you are nit-picking and insulting me for one spelling mistake now (but why, then, put the ‘sic’ after the whole phrase, rather than the ‘to’?), if I had done the same in my reply to Aimee, who has more grammatical and spelling errors/typos in her comment than I do, I’d be jumped on as a ‘hater’, and probably be accused of discriminating against her, but this kind of aggressive bullying behaviour is fine when you do it?

    Yes, SAYS ME, you can’t even offer any arguments any more, just bullying and insults, and I will not engage with you again until you come up with an actual point.

    Ms. Fischer, I am still very much interested in hearing your views on all this. Do you agree with Michael, with his claim that we don’t live in a rape culture, that a woman’s behaviour is never judged by the wider, male-dominated society, and used against her to justify her being raped?

    1. Talis, I always find it so very amusing that the people like you who throw stones are also the ones with the biggest persecution complexes: “if I had done the same in my reply to Aimee . . . I’d be jumped on as a ‘hater’, and probably be accused of discriminating against her.” Is there no end to your ugly assumptions about the motivations, tactics and ethics of those whose world views you oppose?

      It’s also quite funny that you cite my pointing out that you have made a bald, unproven assertions (SAYS YOU) in support of your claim that it is I who is not offering an argument. You’re a joke.

      And by the way, pointing out the gaping (yes, gaping!) holes in, and logical failings of, your “argument” does not constitute bullying. Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with Dictionary.com.

      Consider this: perhaps you’d be taken more seriously if you actually addressed the critiques of your argument rather than critiquing the critics. Just sayin’. . . .

  19. Talis:

    Is your reading comprehenion lacking, or do you deliberately refuse to actually read what Michael Whiteacre actually said??

    From my standpoint, he answered every single one of your inquiries. You simply choose to ignore his answers because they don’t fit your biases.

    Three individuals (Julian Assange, Roman Polanksi, and Whoopi Goldberg) do not a “rape culture” make…and most rape accusations are in fact handled through the courts and resolved. Don’t confuse a few high-profile public cases for the norm.

    Also…what in the hell does the Assange and Polanski case have anything to do with porn?? Are you saying that Polanski and Assange was directly motivated by porn to do their dirty deeds? Not even the prosecutors in their respective cases go there.

    There is a prevailing cultural bias that does tend to discount rape accusations…but it doesn’t come from porn. Rather, it comes from traditional cultural sources of conservative religion and traditional patriarchial societies, which have existed long before and will continue to exist even if porn is outlawed.

    Even worse, you confuse the symptom with the cause in attempting to scapegoat porn as the center of misogyny. Porn is only like any other genre of art in that it reflects the visions of its creators and producers and consumers. Those visions can range from dark and violent to beautiful and erotic to just plain mundane and boring….and, depending on a viewer’s point of view, can be all three at the same time. One person’s “obscenity” can be another person’s treasured fantasy…you can’t simply reduce it to good or bad based on individual taste.

    You say that Michael is “bullying you” merely because he responds to your repeated inquisitions and assumptions about “rape culture”..and to correct your syntax?? I guess that only women should be allowed to respond to you, then…and only if they agree with your “analysis”?? Especially since your entire analysis is composed mostly of smearing men who consume porn as innate rapists and virulent misogynists??

    This isn’t the Genderberg forums, Talis. You’re not going to get a standing ovation here for selling nonsense.

    And…Jessi Fischer is not obligated one bit to be browbeaten by you on her own blog. She’s made her case thoroughly…and while you have the right to disagree, we have as much a right to respond if we feel your arguments aren’t up to par.

    Anthony

  20. Talis:

    I don’t know why you consider what Michael Whiteacre says to be “bullying” and “insulting”…unless you simply either aren’t capable of correct reading comprehension or just want another excuse to bash “the men” who disagree with your position.

    It’s especially galling when you accuse others of bullying and personal insults while you yourself decide to call male critics “nasty young boys”, and directly calls out the blog creator for “allowing” us to even give our opinions here.

    Not to mention, there’s the fact of your patronizing response to Aimee’s direct claim that your argument of porn as the priincipal foundation of “rape culture” (even bringing in totally unrelated anecdotal cases such as Roman Polanski, Julian Assange, and the British Nationalist Party to somehow prove your “argument”) actually does more to trivialize rape than the majority of mainstream porn ever comes close to.

    As to the notion of a “rape culture” itself, allow me to give my theory:

    I do believe that there is a cultural viewpoint that does tend to rationalize and justify sexual assault of women….but porn is NOT the predominant transmitter for this belief. Rather, it is traditional gender inequality, passed on from generations past through such institutions as the Church, the family, and the state, and maintained through the most conservative religious viewpoints that women’s role in sexuality be reduced to “baby factories” and “sperm deposits” via traditional marriage. Isolating on porn while far greater and more repressive influences are allowed to skip by is a fundamental flaw of antiporn feminist theory.

    Essentially, porn is only a transmitter for its creator’s and viewer’s personal fantasies about sexuality…and the majority of such is nowhere near as violent or reactionary as you, Talis, make it out to be.

    As to your point about “male-dominated society”? Granted, men represent the majority of the people who have the greatest economic and social power, but how does that translate exactly into “male-dominated”?? Do I, an working-class middle aged Black man, have more power than Hillary Clinton? Or, Michelle Bachmann?? Or…even my supervisor at my job, who happens to be female? There should definitely be more females in position of economic and social power in proportion to their share of the population. So…why shouldn’t women be allowed to enter the field of sexually explicit entertainment and change the rules to make porn production safer and create a more progressive product?? Women like Anna Span need to be promoted and rewarded for their efforts to transform porn…not rejected and smeared as “a traitor to her gender” or an agent of “the Man” for merely respecting genuine male and female human sexual desire.

    The way to attack “rape culture” is to go after the actual rapists who assault women, as well as the fundamentalist mentality that allows rapist to escape with the belief that the woman “asked for it”. No one, not even us “nasty young boys” who regularly consume nonviolent, non-degrading explicit sexual media, would deny that basic fact. Sexism is the real enemy here…not porn. Anything else is more reflective of the fundamentally flawed and deeply reactionary belief epitomized by Catherine MacKinnon: “If pornography is part of your sexuality, then you have no right to your sexuality.”

    So sorry, Talis, that we beg to differ with that analysis. Just sayin’…

    Anthony

  21. Ok then, let’s recap (trying, for the sake of avoiding obfuscation, to leave out as much of the nastiness, bullying, insults and name-calling as possible):

    1) I accused Ms. Fischer of delegitimising “the very real concerns many women have about porn’s contribution to the woman-hating rape culture we live in.”

    2) You parroted a version of my words back at me and made the statement “It is people like you who contribute to the true “rape culture”: you are a fact rapist.”

    3) I referred to you as a “nasty little boy”.

    4) You accused me of “reciting tired rhetoric” and challenged me to make an argument.

    5) I gave my description of a rape culture, and accused you of trivializing rape with your ‘fact rapist’ statement.

    6) You said that “rape is not an idea, or a sense, or a philosophy. Rape is a violent crime”, and that the phrase ‘fact rapist’ could not be a trivialization of rape, and that “words mean things.” You also accused me of using the words ‘man’ and ‘criminal’ interchangeably.

    7) I agreed with you that words do matter, and added that how we understand the concept of rape is important and has real-world consequences. I gave three examples from mainstream culture to illustrate how we live in a rape culture as I described it, and further elaborated on the concept of rape culture, referring to “myths about rape and women’s sexuality.” I also challenged your claim that I had used the words ‘man’ and ‘criminal’ interchangeably (you have yet to respond to this challenge).

    8 ) You accused me of only caring about male on female rape, then claimed that my examples of rape culture were cherry picked, and, since the plural of anecdote is not data, dismissed them, without offering any counter examples. You then claimed that it was possible to say “we live in a “riot culture” since there are many many people on this planet who excuse the actions, for instance, of the Los Angeles rioters twenty years ago”, you didn’t offer any examples to back up this claim. You then said that rape only existed as a legal definition.

    9) I said that of course men get raped, and accused you of using male rape as a red herring. I stated that: “The plural of anecdote is not data, but when the same thing happens over and over and over again it starts to mean something.” I agreed that rape had a legal definition, but said that a legal definition of rape alone was not enough, and gave two examples of how different laws in different times and places ‘allowed’ what would be legally defined as rape in the US and UK now. I also addressed some comments directly to Ms. Fischer.

    10) You acknowledged that the law in the UK had changed for the better, and acknowledged that the law in some parts of the world still “[excused] crimes against women.” You reiterated your point that rape only existed as a concept within the law, and accused me again of only caring about violence against women.

    11) I accused you of being dishonest in the way you had quoted me. I also pointed out that you had basically agreed with me that “the legal definition of rape alone is not enough”, and again accused you of using male rape as a red herring with the statement: “In mainstream society men are not presumed to be ‘asking for it’ every time they step over an arbitrary line, women are.”

    12) You pointed out that the way you were quoting me was only responding to a spelling mistake, then claimed that my statement “in mainstream society men are not presumed to be ‘asking for it’ every time they step over an arbitrary line, women are” was only my opinion, and one you pitied me for having.

    13) I said that nit-picking over a spelling mistake was bullying behavior, and if I had done something similar, I would have been attacked for it. I agreed that I was expressing my opinion, and that your refutation of it was, in turn, only your opinion, and that you hadn’t offered any argument beyond it just being my opinion. I also addressed a further comment to Ms. Fischer.

    13) You accused me of making “ugly assumptions” over your motives for highlighting my spelling mistake. You responded to my claim that you hadn’t offered an argument with “you’re a joke”, and accused me of having gaping holes in my arguments and only “critiquing the critics” rather that “addressed the critiques of [my] argument.”

    Right then, things look a lot clearer now, with all the baggage and rhetoric moved out of the way, allowing us to focus on the main points we have both been making. In reference to ‘gaping holes’ in my arguments, they don’t seem to be evident, and as far as not addressing your critiques of my arguments goes, I definitely do so at 5, 7 and 9. After that things do get bogged-down, repetitive and circular, in part because the insults and name-calling by you increased and I was left only responding to those. If I have been lax, it is only in not offering any references for how women’s behaviour is judged differently to men’s behaviour, and how women are often judged to be ‘asking for it’, I didn’t do so originally because I thought it was such an obvious truism it didn’t need backing up, so, then, here you go:

    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/what-is-slut-shaming/#shaming-effects

    I’m sure your response to this will only be more bullying, insults and name calling, but I feel like it has been a worthwhile exercise in itself.

    1. Talis,

      You claim, above, “Nit-picking over a spelling mistake [constitutes] bullying behavior” Oh, really?

      Setting aside your near-complete misunderstanding or mischaracterization of my points, if you are so easily offended and bullied, then perhaps you should cease raising contentious issues in forums such as these with adults who might disagree with you, and instead return to your little insular rad-fem bubble. Or maybe you should try spell-check. Just a thought.

      And don’t blame me if you’d rather address what you perceive as nasty name calling than form a properly constructed argument. Victimhood is an awfully convenient refuge for the intellectually vapid. If only I hadn’t “mocked” you, you would have been able to effectively rebut my claims…. That’s a load of hooey.

      Your attack upon Ms. Fischer as someone who’s priorities “certainly” do not lie “with women” indicates a nauseating mindset, in which the only “true” feminists, or even “true” (non-traitorous) women are those who think the way you do.

      Radical feminism is to feminism what national socialism is to socialism — a deliberate false-flagging of a totalitarian ideology as liberationist (I’m paraphrasing Ernest Greene, but i think I got the quote right).

      If you cannot handle, or keep up with, the conversation, which sometimes does get heated, perhaps you should go sit at the little kids’ table. And I do not say that because you are (or rather, I assume you to be) a female, but because whoever you are, you have failed miserably at stating a coherent argument backed up by data.

      1. Michael,

        Again, you haven’t offered any arguments or evidence against any of the points I’ve made about rape culture and the trivialisation of rape, and I have clearly and repeatedly stated my argument. I am not going to respond to you again.

        Ms Fischer,

        I am still very much interested in your opinion on this subject.

        1. Considering, Talis, that you have yet to respond in any serious way to Michael’s response other than more circular argument and more thinly veiled insults, a response from him would probably be superflous by now.

          Jessi can speak for herself, of course..but I wonder whether or not this is to ilicit a debate or to entrap Jessi into the usual trap of saying something that Talis would then use to indict Jessi as a “tool of the patriarchy” and a slave to porn who only hates Gail Dines due to jealousy for the latter’s utter brilliance.

          And, of course, Talis is perfectly free to respond to MY rebuttal of her arguments. Or….not.

          Anthony

        2. You haven’t made any points, love, you’ve merely recited stock talking points pulled from your rad-fem kit bag. Your tired rhetoric is barely deserving of mention, let alone serious consideration.

          The sins of garter and gin confession may delay
          You know the measuring pole, the merry boots of clay
          I’ve heard it all before, you’ll say it anyway

          Cordially,

          MW

      2. “Your attack upon Ms. Fischer as someone who’s priorities “certainly” do not lie “with women” indicates a nauseating mindset, in which the only “true” feminists, or even “true” (non-traitorous) women are those who think the way you do.”

        I couldn’t agree more, and must say I know this feeling so well. It irritates me to no end the feminists/women who feel women who don’t feel the way they do are not “real” feminist or even “real” women. Meh. I like sex, I like porn, I like thinking about sex and I AM A WOMAN, and there is nothing wrong with me, AND, just to to add to the anecdotes for Talis, I have never raped anyone.

      3. Here’s a grammar nitpick for you:
        “someone who’s priorities”

        Um, no. Let zie who is without sin cast the first stone and all that. Or maybe this is just Muphry’s Law (no, I did not misspell that) in action.

  22. Well, Ms. Talis (I am assuming you to be female; if I’m wrong, then my sincere apologies), let’s go back to your original coomment that started all this:

    So Gail Dines only hates porn because she didn’t get enough hugs as a little girl? What a deeply patronising, insulting and dishonest way to deligitimise the very real concerns many women have about porn’s contribution to the woman-hating rape culture we live in.

    One could equally well say that you’re only selling out to capitalist patriarchy because daddy didn’t give you enough approval when you were a little girl.

    Of course you won, few man are going to vote away their male privilege, and few women are going to risk being labelled sex-hating prudes.

    Yeah…an excellent analysis of how men use “rape culture” to excuse abuse of women.

    Or…an even better example of classic antiporn radfem smearing of a young woman who dared to expose the gaping holes of illogic in Gail Dines’ arguments.

    And BTW…over half of the Cambridge students voting at the debate were female. Unless you were at the debate and counted the votes, I don’t think you are qualified to assume anything about whom voted what and why.

    Anthony

  23. BTW…if my posts do seem to be a bit redundant, it is because I was under the impression that there was a problem with my browser in my comments not appearing immediately after I had posted them. Jessi has alerted me that the problem was not the browser; it was just that my comments were placed in moderation awaiting her approval, and she had been away for a while. My thanks go to her for clarifying and rectifying the issue..and, of course, for approving the posts.

    Anthony

  24. Regarding “porn and woman-hating rape culture”:

    Read some history. If we live in a woman-hating rape culture, we’ve lived there for thousands of years. Despite the claims of some anti-porn crusaders, pornography was not available widely until at least 1950. Hardcore porn until well after that. In Saudi Arabia, porn is banned absolutely. Anyone who thinks women are LESS safe now than in 1950, or less privileged in the U.S. than in Saudi Arabia, is either living in a deluded arch-conservative fantasyland or has bought the myths of urban decay and become afraid of their own shadow. The idea that society is “getting worse” and we should “turn back the clock” is a time-honored tactic used by conservatives to attack proposed changes that have undermined or will undermine the ruling cabal’s existing privilege.

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