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26 August 2010

Feminism, Pornography, and Choice


Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality
by Gail Dines
(Beacon Press, 256 pages, $26.95)

You may think you know what porn is. But there is a good chance you don't. In particular, if you are a woman, or if you grew up in the age prior to the Internet, the word "pornography" might evoke images of a blushing Playboy centerfold, or perhaps some flimsy-plotted film with a delivery man, a desperate housewife, and just a bit more sex and nudity than an R-rating would allow. In reality, mainstream pornography today is far more brutal, more graphic, and more violent than most could imagine if they hadn't seen it for themselves.

In her new book, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, Gail Dines draws on years of research to reveal just how extreme the porn industry has become. She takes readers deep into the world of hardcore porn, describing one nightmarish scene after another, full of men punishing and humiliating women sexually on camera.

The material she covers is truly shocking, and, often, difficult to read. I physically gagged more than once while reading her descriptions. Every sort of bodily waste and fluid, and every conceivable method by which a woman's body can be pushed to the limit, often at the hands of two or three men at a time, is commonplace in today's porn.

Forget about Hugh Hefner and his silk pajamas. These days porn is dominated by Gonzo filmmakers. In the Gonzo genre, the emphasis is on "real" rather than scripted scenes. Such films are cheap to produce. In the Internet age anyone with a camera and a computer can sell porn to the world. In order to stand out, porn producers are coming up with ever more extreme material. If the girl is crying, vomiting, or even bleeding, that's Gonzo gold. According to Dines, it is not uncommon for pornographers to film close-ups of the injuries that have occurred to the girl's body, once a scene is over.

Dines argues persuasively that porn today is not simply about men looking at naked women, or watching sex acts. Rather, the goal of much of it seems to be to depict the maximum amount of humiliation for the girl on screen. One website proudly offers its customers the opportunity to "access total degradation."

Almost as disturbing as the abusive material itself is the fact that so many men view it as a turn-on. Like drug users always looking for a more powerful fix, porn addicts are often shocked by how quickly they became desensitized to porn, seeking out increasingly bizarre material that they once found distasteful.

The average age of first exposure to porn for American males is eleven. Internet porn now serves as a de facto sex education for America's youth. To suppose that porn is mere fantasy, with no effect on the real world, is simply not credible. Dines reports that many young women come to her, complaining that their boyfriends expect them to act out the humiliating scenes they see in hardcore porn.

Dines is a feminist. She makes no effort to hide the fact. Her fierce opposition to porn is motivated chiefly by her objection to the sexual inequality it depicts. However, as a self-described "progressive," she finds herself uncomfortably aligned with social conservatives on the issue of pornography. Consequently, she has the tiresome habit of gratuitously singling out conservatives for attack, as though she were anxious to reassert her liberal bona fides. (Gee whiz, did you know Mitt Romney sits on the board of Marriot Hotels; and Marriot sells porn on pay-per-view?)

Dines also seems to have a problem with capitalism. Pornography is "first and foremost a business," she writes in one weighty passage, as though that fact alone were enough to damn the enterprise. Admittedly, smut peddlers are a greedy lot. But Dines never says exactly how Karl Marx might save our sexual culture. Once again, her main point seems to be that she is not a conservative.

It is easy to see why Dines and other anti-porn feminists have a hard time reconciling their "conservative" views on porn with their liberal views on personal choice. Feminists, after all, have been saying for a long time that a woman should be able to do whatever she wants with her own body. The question is: if a girl allows a man to urinate on her on camera in exchange for a thousand bucks, can a feminist really approve the transaction merely on the basis of the girl's consent?

Porn pits the principles of choice and equality against one another. As a liberal, Dines believes the basis of morality is the unrestrained freedom to choose any sort of lifestyle one desires. As a feminist, she also believes that gender equality is an inviolable moral standard.

In her epilogue entitled, "Fighting Back," Dines articulates feminism's moral confusion thusly: "We need to offer an alternative way of being, a way to envisage a sexuality that is based on equality, dignity, and respect." (This is her expression of equality-based morality.) She goes on to say, "Such a sexuality cannot be scripted by a movement because it belongs to individuals and reflects who they are and what they want sexually." (This is her expression of personal choice-based morality.)

Choice is the holiest word in feminism. To comprehend a moral order that originates outside the domain of personal choice, one must acknowledge a higher law -- one above human will. As a liberal, the very idea of a revealed moral standard conflicts with Dines's commitment to personal choice. Dines understands that porn is wrong; but I don't think she really understands why.

What is wrong with porn is that it debases the modesty and dignity of the human beings who make it, as well as those who consume it. In the sixties, feminists spent so much energy throwing off the strictures of religion and tradition. They never realized that chastity itself was a form of power. They never realized that the moral restraints they discarded were vital to the equality they so desperately wanted.

"Bras are a ludicrous invention," declared Germaine Greer in her 1970 feminist hell-raiser, The Female Eunuch. Two years earlier, the mythical burning of the bras at the 1968 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City had signified feminists' rejection of the strictures of male-dominated society -- especially in the realm of sexual mores.

The disappearing bra soon became a metaphor for feminism itself. The image is all too fitting. No metaphor could better capture the way in which feminism has left women exposed, when all along it was supposed to bring their liberation. By embracing sexual liberation as a fundamental tenet of the women's movement, feminists embraced the irreconcilable aims of getting under men and getting out from under them at the same time.

Feminists preach moral self-determination as an article of faith. The porn-saturated culture we now live in is, in this sense, of half their making. And for the same reason, Dines is unable to offer any real solution to the problem she articulates. Nevertheless, her book deserves attention because the porn industry is currently doing hardcore damage to an entire generation of young people, both conservative and liberal alike. If you have a strong enough stomach to read Pornland, you will gain a new appreciation for just how poisonous pornography is to our sexual culture.

Letter to the Editor

Nathan Harden blogs about higher education at National Review Online.

22 August 2010

Pro-Life Leader: Treating Unborn as Non-Persons Key to Planned Parenthood Agenda

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 20, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – What do serial killers, slave-owners, eugenicists, and abortionists have in common? According to Michael Hitchborn of American Life League, all these groups can only carry out crimes against human beings by first de-personalizing or trivializing the humanity of their victims.

In a new ALL report released on YouTube, Hitchborn makes his case beginning with the famous 1991 film “Silence of the Lambs,” where a crazed transsexual killer pursued by an FBI agent (Jodie Foster) continually refers to his latest female victim as “it.”

In doing so, says Hitchborn, the killer “depersonalizes his victim, reducing her to the status of an object or animal.”

“The thing is, if his victim isn’t a person, then in his own mind, there is nothing wrong with what he is about to do,” continued Hitchborn.

The pro-life leader explained that a similar process of depersonalization and dehumanization is evident in the way that abortion advocates speak of a child developing in its mother’s womb as a “fetus”, “fertilized egg”, or a “clump of cells.”

“The use of terms like these is the first step in reducing humans to the status of non-persons,” he added, saying history was replete with such examples.

Hitchborn referred to a clause within the U.S. Constitution prior to the enacting of the 13th amendment, where slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person. The agreement he said was a compromise with a culture that “viewed human slaves as property.” Proponents of slavery would claim that slaves were not people, and eugenicists of the 19th and 20th century would do the same thing, referring to those with disabilities or of certain ethnicities as “undesirables.”

Taken to its logical conclusion, these ideas led to the forming of the Nazi racial purity movement, which defined certain people as “subhuman” in popular propaganda.

“The excuses, and they are excuses, for denying the humanity or personhood of individual human beings is done for one reason and one reason only: it is the only way to create a class of humans without any rights.”

Hitchborn said that Planned Parenthood, just like slave-owners, has to offer similar arguments dehumanizing or depersonalizing the unborn in order to justify their actions, with a motive for profit at the end of the line. Hitchborn told LifeSiteNews.com that “Planned Parenthood’s sole agenda is to gain money through the murder of children.”

Hitchborn pointed to a Planned Parenthood White Paper written in 1985 and republished in 2002 in response to the pro-life film “Silent Scream.” The paper argues that a “fetus” of 12 weeks gestation “cannot be compared in any way to a fully formed functioning person” – arguing that the unborn child’s dependency on his mother for survival, its undeveloped organs, and lack of conscious thought, means he does not merit the status of person.

“It is instead an in utero fetus with the potential of becoming a child.”

Planned Parenthood said they were responding to Silent Scream, because they feared it could jeopardize the “constitutional right to abortion” as well as “the lives and careers of abortion providers.”

“It really is a simple concept,” Hitchborn told LSN. “The only people making the argument that a human is not a person are those who want to create a class of subhumans that have no rights.”

Hitchborn praised the personhood initiative in Colorado, which is a ballot initiative to amend the State Constitution to recognize the personhood rights of all humans, from their biological beginning to their natural death. The amendment states: "the term 'person' shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.”

“The personhood initiative out in Colorado ties in perfectly with what [pro-life groups] are doing, because they are working on establishing an amendment that would recognize there is no do distinction between that which is a person and that which is a human,” said Hitchborn.

“They are establishing that we are all human, and that we are persons: that we all have a beginning and that beginning takes place in the womb, and not outside the womb, or some random spot on the spectrum by people who have an agenda to fulfill.

“There is no distinction between a person and a human, and the only people that make that distinction are those that have an agenda.”

View ALL’s full report with Michael Hitchborn here.

See previous coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:

Personhood Initiative Certified For Colorado Ballot

21 August 2010

Vast Majority of Peruvians Opposed to Homosexual Unions

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

LIMA, August 19, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The vast majority of Peruvians are opposed to homosexual "marriage," according to a new poll conducted by the Peruvian Company for Market and Public Opinion Studies (CPI).

Seventy-one percent of respondents said that they were against the creation of homosexual "marriage," while only 21 percent approved, and seven percent refused to answer.

Polls in Argentina and Mexico, where measures establishing homosexual "marriage" have been passed at the national and local levels, also show strong majorities against the concept.

The poll undertaken by CPI comes in the wake of "civil union" legislation proposed for homosexual couples by members of two different political parties. The EFE Agency reports that the bills have stirred a national debate over the issue.


Obama Administration Stonewalls Full Release of Major Abstinence Study

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 19, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is withholding the full results of a government study that makes a strong case for promoting abstinence before marriage over sexual education promoting “safe sex.” While the executive summary and final results are available, behavioral scientists are not being allowed a look at all the data behind the study’s major findings.

The HHS’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF) funded a national survey of 1,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 and their “most knowledgeable parent.” The objective of the study was to examine the relationship between parent attitudes and levels of communication with adolescents and their behavior, as well as the effect of peer attitudes.

The executive summary revealed that 70 percent of parents agreed with the statement: "It is against your values for your adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage.” Another 70 percent of parents agreed with the statement: "Having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do."

The response of adolescents showed slightly more permissive attitudes, although the majority still agreed with the elder generation. Just over 60 percent agreed that “Having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do," while just under 60 percent agreed that “It is against your values for your adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage.”

The key findings also showed that “attitudes” of parents and peers toward sexual intercourse were key in an adolescent’s choice to abstain from or engage in sexual intercourse. It found that “conservative parent attitudes were strongly associated with conservative adolescent attitudes.”

Notably, the study also found that increased levels of communication about sex actually had no impact or a negative impact on youth’s sexual attitudes. Specifically, it found that higher levels of parent to adolescent communication about sex “were not associated with any differences in adolescent attitudes.” Also, when communication about sex is greater among adolescent peers, the study found that these were associated with “less conservative adolescent attitudes.”

The study concluded that, while adolescents in abstinence classes increased parent-adolescent communication, these had “no influence on adolescent attitudes” – again indicating that parental attitudes were far more influential.

"Adjusting for all other factors in the model, parent and peer factors are more consistently associated with differences in adolescent attitudes about sex and abstinence than are measures of adolescent exposure to sex and abstinence topics in a class or program,” stated the American Public Health Association in its findings. “Additionally, parent attitudes are more important in influencing adolescent views than the level of parent communication with their adolescent."

But the problem for behavioral researchers is that the Administration is not releasing the full study, which could offer insight into how to encourage teen abstinence in order to reduce teen pregnancy, out of wedlock births, and the epidemic of venereal disease.

Researcher Lisa Rue, Ph.D., a specialist in adolescent behavior, wrote an editorial in the Times Call revealing that the HHS had blocked her repeated requests for the full detailed study, including a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. According to Rue, the HHS said they would not release the full study because they were “pre-decisional and deliberative" – a claim Rue said she found hard to believe, since the study has been publically mentioned at least twice.

"We have to know cultural norms and values before we ever do any kind of research, or develop initiatives," Rue said. "If you ignore that, you're ignoring a premise, a key premise in evaluation science and research."

Rue suspected the full details were being withheld because they would undermine the Obama administration’s priorities on sex education, which do not include sexual abstinence or address the issue of fatherlessness in children’s lives.

Rue concluded, “At this point in time, we must ask ourselves: Is this valuable process being suppressed by those who wish to repress American values in an effort to exert control over sex education offered in the United States?"

The National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) reports that individuals interested in requesting the study can file their own FOIA request for the full report. Those who wish to fill out such a request can visit the HHS website, or consult the NAEA website on how to file the form correctly.

Click here to read the available results of the HHS study.

16 August 2010

Stewardship Warfare

"A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." (Galatians 5:9)

Most of us have seen ripples created from a pebble dropped in a pond. They also make good illustrations of what atheistic and naturalistic science does to truth.

The Bible uses a number of illustrations about the importance of getting rid of the source of the problems. The psalmist cried out for strength when he saw the enemies destroying foundations (Psalm 11:3). Jesus warned about the "leaven" of false doctrine (Matthew 16:12). And the prophet noted that if the stump is left, the tree will grow again (Daniel 4:23-26; contrast with Luke 3:9). These principle illustrations warn us to focus on the cause of the error, not the symptoms.

It is tempting to go after only the symptoms. The pain of abortion, pornography, flagrant promiscuity, widespread STDs, easy divorce, victimless crimes, political corruption, and so on are very real and terribly destructive. But the core rationale in the educated Western world for all the anti-God, anti-righteous, anti-authority beliefs is atheistic and naturalistic science.

Ephesians 6:12 explains that the real battle is "not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." A great part of biblical stewardshp must involve direct opposition toward these "rulers of the darkness."

Our "intellectual" world needs the evidence that will expose the atheism in naturalistic science. Christian leaders must not only be trained biblically, but also in a defense of the faith "once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3). That work is extensive, time-consuming, and expensive, and those called to so labor must have the prayer support of other Christians. Please consider co-laboring with us. HMM III

14 August 2010

The sucess of multiculturalism

13 August 2010

Costa Rica's Top Court Prohibits Referendum on Homosexual Unions

Says permitting vote would aggravate discrimination against homosexuals

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

SAN JOSÉ, August 11, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Costa Rica's Constitutional Court, the nation's highest tribunal, has ruled that citizens cannot vote on the issue of homosexual "civil unions" because "people who have relations with the same sex are a disadvantaged group that is the object of discrimination."

Rejecting the arguments of pro-family groups and the nation's Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the court voted 5-2 to prohibit such a vote, claiming that it would "deepen and aggravate discrimination" against homosexuals.

The Court's decision cancels a referendum on the matter previously scheduled for December, for which over 150,000 signatures were gathered in recent months. The referendum was called in response to proposed legislation to create "civil unions" for homosexual couples, which would give them the same rights normally reserved for married couples.

The bill, which is known as Legal Project 16390 and not yet been subject to a final vote, has been condemned by the Costa Rican Catholic bishops' conference, whose flock includes the vast majority of Costa Ricans.

Denouncing the legislation in September of last year, the Costa Rican bishops wrote that "we are facing a bill that intends in practice to equalize" homosexual unions, which, "is manifestly against articles 51 and 52 of the Constitution, in which matrimony is the essential base of the family, and has the right to the special protection of the government. The equalization of unions of people of the same sex with matrimony is therefore unconstitutional."

07 August 2010

The "confrontational tone" of Chris Christie

Reporters vs. Conservative Black Leaders at Press Conference

05 August 2010

Another Whopper: Obama Claims Father Fought in WWII

New Carnival Game “Alien Attack” Encourages Players to Shoot Darts at Obama

Posted by Jim Hoft on Wednesday, August 4, 2010, 5:56 PM

A new carnival game “Alien Attack” encourages players to shoot darts at an image resembling President Barack Obama.

A boy plays the “Alien Attack” shooting game that depicts President Barack Obama during last weekend’s Roseto Big Time. (Lehigh Valley Live)

The carnival was forced to yank the game after complaints.
The AP reported:

The head of an eastern Pennsylvania amusement company has yanked a carnival game in which players shot foam darts at an image resembling President Barack Obama.

Irvin Good Jr. pulled the target-shooting game after receiving a complaint from a Massachusetts woman attending a fair in Roseto, about 65 miles north of Philadelphia. Good said Wednesday his company, Hellertown-based Goodtime Amusements, won’t offer the game again.

“It was just a big, big mistake in judgment, and I feel sorry about it,” he told The Associated Press. “I can’t take it back, but I can try to make it better.”

The game, dubbed “Alien Attack,” featured a large painted image of a black man wearing a belt buckle with the presidential seal and holding a scroll labeled “Health Bill.” Players could win prizes such as stuffed animals by hitting targets on the image’s head and heart.

The game was featured in late July at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Big Time Celebration, an annual fair that raises money for the Roman Catholic parish in Roseto.

Kathryn Chapman, 55, of Medford, Mass., who spent part of her childhood in Roseto and was in town for a family reunion, spotted the game and complained to Good.


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