Phyllis Chesler calls herself a Second Wave feminist, whatever that is.
From that perspective, she has posed twenty questions about pornography, and asked readers to answer them.
Before answering them, let me say that I still struggle occasionally with pushing those buttons, but there are much more important things-- much more purposeful--to do while online.
Phyllis writes in her article about feminists having common cause with conservatives and Christians on these sexual issues. Well, I am a Christian--just how conservative is a laughable issue--and we shall see, as I answer her twenty questions, just how much commonality we uncover.
Western civilization, in the context of Judeo-Christian heritage, has had a history of conflict on these problems. Basically, it always comes down to disagreements between propriety and permissiveness. These days, the argument has shifted to a worldwide scope, encompassing the controversial rigidity of Islam prurience.
As a Christian, I must say--thank God for the Muslims. We need some of their propriety. But of course it's not really that simple; they've got some seriously questionable baggage packed in their sharia.
I won't grind that axe now, though. Let's get on to Phyllis' questions:
1. Is pornography “work” or is it a violent crime? It is not work, nor is crime. But its influence can lead to crime, sometimes violent.
2. Is pornography “free speech” in action or is it a violent, often murderous crime? It is free speech. Sometimes its influence can lead to murderous crime, just as hate-speech can lead to pogroms.
3. Is pornography really a “victimless” crime? There are some victims.
4. Are pimps, johns, traffickers, and landlords being victimized? If so, why are they not complaining? They are victims, primarily, of their own sin; secondarily, of the the sins of other. You see my antiquarian Christian context coming through here. Those "victims" are not complaining because sin is fun for awhile until its grip on you becomes lethal. Then radical deliverance is required, but it cannot come through human law.
5. Are the people, mainly men, who buy and watch pornography being victimized? If so, why are they not complaining? Is anyone forcing them to consume pornography? No one is forcing them. They are making poor choices, manipulated by insidious servitude to corrupt popular culture.
6. Are the seductive, taunting, smiling, naked girls and women who are being paid “good” money–victims? If so, why don’t they complain, leave, find some other job? That's an appropriate question, but I don't know the answer. Go ask them, and tell them to fill out a resume while you're at it. Good luck with that project.
7. Isn’t working in pornography a job just like any other job–like any other acting job? No.
8. Aren’t pornography actors there of their own free will—for the easy money, the attention, the “stardom?” Probably.
9. Isn’t our right to see and read whatever interests us essential to our fundamental liberty? Yes.
10. Doesn’t the First Amendment guarantee us this right? If we criminalize one kind of “free speech,” where will it end? Who will decide what information or images we are allowed to see? Won’t state or religious censorship chill our rights, even our very thoughts? Censorship should be personal, or parental. If it is guided by moral sensitivity, then it is beneficial for society as a whole.
11. On behalf of “free speech,” and privacy rights, didn’t Second Wave feminists avidly collaborate with pornographers to ensure that pornography remained a civil right? I don't know, but if they did, this demonstrates the problem of unintended consequences which renders much of human law ineffectual.
12. Didn’t Second Wave feminists launch the battle against violence against women, which included sexual harassment, rape, incest, domestic battering—as well as the most serious battle against pornography and prostitution? Weren’t they vilified for collaborating with Christians and conservatives on the issue of pornography and prostitution? I don't know, but I'm willing to learn more about whatever happened.
13. How many women from wealthy and prominent families, or with advanced educations, “choose” to work in pornography or as prostitutes? You tell me.
14. Did you know that, by definition, pornography is that which has to do with “prostitutes.” “Porne” in Greek is a “prostitute.” The so-called actresses in pornography are treated as if they are–and usually soon are–also “working” as prostitutes. I didn't know that, but it seems, generally, like an accurate assessment to me.
15. How different is being a prostitute from being a stripper, massage therapist, or a nurse? I wasted many a beerish hour watching strippers in my youth. My wife of thirty years is a nurse. I can tell you there is a huge difference. As Dean Martin once sang, he wishes that "every boy could find what I found in your heart." What we all seek ultimately is true love, whether we ever realize that dream or not. Thank God we did.
16. How many prostituted girls and women are actually free to leave, walk out, give it all up? Under the influence of God's message of salvation to all humankind, many prostitutes will be free to leave it behind. See John, chapter 8. I suppose there are other motivations too, by which those bondages can be overcome in a woman's life. More power to them if they can make the transition. The search for true love is the main compulsion of human existence.
17. Where might they go? Where might they call “home?” Who will help them get off drugs and alcohol, restore their ravaged health, support them as they deal with the sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, with which johns have infected them? This is what churches are intended to do. Certainly, we Christians are lax in this, and guilty of neglect and insensitivity. But we do have problems of our own to deal with in this life, and there is only so much time and energy. That's why we're advocates of grace instead of law.
18. Do you have any idea of what the average age of a pornography actress/prostitute is? 27?
19. How long a shelf-life does a “working girl” (prostitute, pornography actress) actually have? We all have less time than we think we do.
20. Why does pornography “turn” people on? Pornography is a demonically-inspired counterfeit of a natural, God-ordained human urge to love and procreate. The chemistry between man and woman is as essential for life as that between hydrogen and oxygen. Porn is on a shoddy synthetic of a natural compound.
Thank you, Phyllis, for posing these timely, important questions.