Let me take you on a brief walk through my experiences with pornography....
Fourteen years ago I cocktail waitressed at a "gentlemen's strip club". I was trying to put myself through college, raise a toddler and stay off welfare. I took classes 3 days a week, spent the rest of my daytime hours with my baby girl, and waitressed at night after she went to bed (with a hired sitter, of course). Long story short, the dancers were making much more money than I was. So, I "auditioned" one night, borrowing an outfit from another dancer (that only stayed on for 2 songs anyway- what was the point?) and walked away from a 3 song set with over $100 in tips. I decided then and there to strip (topless only) instead. It lasted for seven months before I lost so much respect for myself and felt so dissociated from my physical body that I began having suicidal thoughts. It was time to quit. I managed to rebuild my sense of self respect, but it took a few years to regain a connectedness with my body.
Fast-forward to my second husband, who had a closet porn habit - though knowing what I know now, I'd call it an addiction. Anyway, when I first discovered his little secret, I very calmly explained that I disapproved in a very personal way, and I told him why. He said, as seems to be common, that it was "no big deal" and he'd simply stop if it was that important to me. What he actually meant was that he'd take greater measures to hide it from me.
A few months later I once again discovered he'd been frequenting porn sites on the internet. I confronted him, this time not so calmly. After a particularly gruesome argument, I agreed to compromise with him and try to find some form of pornography that we'd both enjoy. No such luck, and as it turned out - he wasn't even remotely able to get excited by the porn if I was watching it with him; he preferred to go it alone, so to speak. Now, we DID have a mutually enjoyable sex life, and he maintained that his desire for porn only happened when he was feeling particularly unattractive, or self-conscious about his own sexuality. I, being a fool at the time, fell for his rationale and tried to make him feel as attractive and desirable as possible in order to keep him from wanting the porn. In other words, I somehow took on the responsibility for his porn addiction! And, when that didn't work, he used my past as a stripper against me, claiming that my sexuality intimidated him, so he sought porn as a means of regaining his confidence!
In the meantime, I became pregnant with twins, and after delivering them, watched my previous size 8 body settle in at a size 12. That, coupled with his increased 5AM internet and video porn excursions, caused me to feel as if I was a very undesirable, unattractive woman. My sex drive went into the trash along with the multitudes of diapers I was changing.
We separated after he beat the shit out of me one night when I found a video clip hiding in our internet history of a young TEEN girl being raped by 2 men - and I was a mother of a young teen girl. After our separation I finally had the opportunity to heal from this illness I'd so willingly internalized: objectification. I'm still healing.
The consequences of modern, misogynistic pornography can be insidious indeed, and the objectification being witnessed by the viewers can and does lead to violent behavior against women in many cases. I have seen and lived through both sides of the spectrum and feel I can offer some authenticity to my voice as an anti-porn advocate.
That being said, if we ever do attain gender equality in its purest sense, I would not be opposed to gender respectful forms of erotica - erotica that does not objectify the female body, but rather celebrates the joys of sexual union between any one (or more), regardless of their gender. Sex equals violence only when sex is used as a patriarchal tool, which is almost always in our current globally patriarchal world. Sex can also be a very spiritual, passionate, respectful and enlightening tool. Or, at least I sincerely HOPE so.
Are YOU an AntiPorn Star too? Send us your story and maybe we'll publish it here!