|Your condescending tone does wonders in a conversation, Haus. You must be very popular at dinner parties.|
"Observation of the "Star Wars" thread has suggested that you are unlikely to change your opinion"
Er, except in that thread I did change some of my opinions.
It does not *matter* whether the Red Shoe Diaries is "porn" or "erotica".
Well it does in fact matter, because the two terms (and the countless others we could use) are loaded with meaning and influence the discussion. Surely as a moderator on a discussion board you are familiar with the power of semantics. Indeed you seem use them as a tool to appear clever without actually tackling much of meaning. This discussion has demonstrated that the participants view sexual art very differently and ascribe different values to it. Without an agreed-upon sketch of X means Y we get something akin to Lurid's example above, where Lurid and Clare Short would be unable to meaningfully discuss the issues. IIRC you suggested it was wrong for het men to watch lesbian porn, just one of several examples from all the posts various people have written to demonstrate how loaded with personal value judgements any part of this conversation is. We need to strive for some collective, objective definitions to not speak at cross-purposes, to not continually mis-interpret each other. You and Lurid appear to have done that through private email, and that's fabulous. But the fact that you needed to shows that the thread itself suffers from value clutter and that, to paraphrase what someone else wrote, we are reading what we want to read rather than what is actually written.
"Certainly, a piece of porn/erotica could be technically good or artistically good, or indeed exceptionally successful in its intended aim, but also degrading to women. Or, indeed, men."
Sure. But without defining degredation we're back into personal value mode. Someone unable to accept equality in displays of heterosexual intercourse, for example, may view the merest participation in pornography degrading, while others may view what appears to be wildly inequal roleplay a liberated form of emancipation. I think that what might help is balance in the presentation of arguments - perhaps instead of merely attacking some types of porn, we might discuss what porn we feel to be "good?"
"femdom porn is often, as I understand it, about *the degradation* of men, but is not intended *to degrade* men"
This doesn't necessarily mean it isn't degrading to men anyway, of course. I don't think it is, but others may. The voluntary aspect of domination, of any gender or sexual orientation, makes it difficult to view it as degrading. And trickier still to say it's degrading to X but not to Y.
"How extensive is the base of your "anecdotal" evidence?"
I have known a lot of women, both heterosexual and lesbian. The rape fantasy has been common to most of the heterosexual women I have known, though fewer of the lesbians (and yes, before you ask, my "crowd" does discuss sex a lot, both male and female). I suspect it originates from the same place that sends men to spanking sessions etc. I would suggest it is closely linked to the Western puritanical attitude that sex is bad, providing us with a fantasy outlet for sex that we don't have to claim responsibility for. But I don't have any studies to support this, so I'll only offer it as a suspicion.
I freely admit to a lack of scientific statistics - and indeed have since I began posting - so it seems silly to harp on it now. I wish some decent exploration of sexuality existed but frankly most of it seems conducted by people with a predetermined worldview to support. I would love to get good stats on sexuality, porn consumption and so forth. It's long overdue.
"a) not a "fantasy", but a piece of text presented as, say, a reader's letter."
I don't think this necessarily changes the picture, as this is yet another value judgement. For others, the readers' letters are seen as fantasy from the outset. Indeed the entire pornographic experience might be considered fantasy play.
"b) not created by a particular person for the personal sexual enjoyment of that particular person, but by a particular person for the mass sexual enjoyment of the readership of a particular publication."
Why should this matter? Is it your viewpoint that the commercialization of sex is bad? If the people buying the book/magazine/film know what they are buying, why is that different than the consumers creating their own version? I'm intrigued by the elitist idea that the value of sexual art is necessarily different depending on who is observing that art, that it's fine for some but not for others. Most notably, others not like you. Hmm.
"Is there, in fact, any qualitative difference between a woman fantasising about sexual coercion and a whole bunch of man fantasising baout a woman being sexually coerced?"
I would suggest no, that this harks back to the "porn as humor" analogy. Fantasy is an unboundaried space that, unless it intersects with the real world, is immune from value judgements. Unless we're going to get into Minority Report territory...