Skip to content

The Slut-Shaming Kind Of Feminist

July 21, 2010

As a feminist, shouldn’t a little alarm bell go off if an argument becomes pretty much classic slut-shaming? The feminist blogosphere is not such a fan of slut-shaming. Even when people we like do it! Tina Fey got rather directly called out for it by Sady Doyle, here. Slut shaming? Not okay!

Yet there are folks who call themselves feminist, who do it pretty openly. A few months ago in the kerfluffle where a couple of anti-porn activists tried to smear Maymay for the open-door policies at the Kink For All series of conferences, I read up a bit on Donna M. Hughes, and I found out that she has some nasty things to say about women who disagree with her! She referred to Megan Andelloux, a sex educator with a graduate degree, as:

[a]tattooed woman, calling herself a “sexologist and sex educator,” … She is also a reporter for a prostitutes’ magazine called $pread. (I couldn’t make this stuff up!)

For more on that nasty business, see here, and here.

But Hughes is a creature of the political right, not the left. She has contributed repeatedly to The National Review, including a piece praising George W. Bush. I’ll leave feminist card-checking to someone else, but I think it’s safe to say that, unlike someone who is explicitly a progressive, we shouldn’t expect Hughes to be an ally across the range of issues that we understand to intersect with feminist struggle.

Sadly, among antiporn activists, she’s not alone in attacking women. I read Amanda Hess’s blog for the Washington Citypaper, The Sexist, today, as I often do — I have a soft spot for the Citypaper, which I once read regularly, and I am a big fan of Amanda’s work. Recently, she covered a Kink For All conference, an antiporn conference, and the federal obscentity trial of John Stagliano, which ended in a dismissal before the jury even got it because the judge held that the prosecution’s case was insufficient as a matter of law.

So this morning Amanda has up a post about antiporn activist Mary Anne Layden, Ph.D., a sociology professor at Wheelock College, who says that the more porn women watch, the more likely they are to get raped. Seriously, she said that. Here’s the quote, from the ultraconservative and Unification Church-controlled paper the Washington Times:

The more pornography women use, the more likely they are to be victims of non-consensual sex,” said Mary Anne Layden, professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston. “The earlier the male starts using pornography, the more likely they are to be the perpetrators of non-consensual sex.”

[Emphasis supplied.]

Empirical support for that? They don’t say. I’d be very surprised if there were any. Hess quotes a psychologist from Psychology Today debunking it as unsupported horseshit, dependent at best on taking a very tenuous connection through several steps and implying simple causation.

But the other problem with it is that it’s just another variation on the same old slut-shaming, victim-blaming line of shit. Are we now going to see articles attacking the victims of prominent rapists as porn-watchers? We might. Every story gets attacked.

The key paragraphs from Amanda Hess’s post are these:

Layden’s assertion is both victim-blaming and perpetrator-excusing. Pretending that porn is responsible for creating rape victims and perpetrators—that it robs men of “themselves” and robs women of consent—shifts the blame for sexual assault away from rapists (the few) and on to every man and woman who watches porn (the many). The implication is that the perpetrator and the victim deserve each other.

And since almost every man admits to looking at porn—and only some women admit to the same—the burden for avoiding “bad” behavior falls largely onto women. Notice how, in Layden’s statement, women are faulted for the quantity of porn they consume, whereas men are faulted for the age at which they begin watching porn. Presumably, a woman can control the amount of porn she consumes, but a man can’t control the fact that he was initially exposed to pornography at a young age.

Under Layden’s model, all men are potential rapists—but some women are good enough to resist making themselves into rape victims.

It smacks of “good girls don’t.” Over the years, it has become apparent to me that for some antiporn activists, stopping porn is not a means to reduce misogyny or lower rape, but an end in itself, and they’ll attack anyone who opposes that aim, not least women who stand up to them. And they’ll use the master’s tools to do it.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

About these ads
10 Comments leave one →
  1. Allika Patricia permalink
    July 21, 2010 10:28 pm

    Speaking of “slut shaming”… have you seen the article about Phoebe Prince on Slate? Forgive me please, but I have to vent somewhere, and stumbling upon the Slate article just after reading your blog post, well…

    According to Emily Bazelon, “What really happened to Phoebe Prince” was that she was a 15 year-old hottie who should have known better than to sleep with 18 year-old boys who were already taken. What happened was that the girls who bullied her to suicide by calling her things like slut and whore and telling her to keep her legs closed, stalking her and throwing soda cans at her, were understandably provoked, and responded as we can reasonably expect teenage girls to respond. That she, the freshman new-girl, had just as much, if not more, social power as the kids who bullied her – because she had sexxxual power, and she flaunted it! The 15 year-old temptress! Apparently, being sexually desired by boys and scorned by girls = power; and the author and many of the commenters see nothing challenge-able about that.

    Let’s shame the decedent victim, not the kids who tortured her or the school administration that was responsible for them and paid so little attention to the SO CLEARLY GENDERED AND FIERCELY MISOGYNIST bullying that was so un-noticeably common under their watch. By all means, the status-quo is not the problem here – it’s the attention-grabbing little girls who are too weak to carry its burden and too guileless to escape out from under it.

    Just so much is wrong here… End Rant.

    I think a lot of what goes into “slut shaming” is a consequence of ancient, archetypal notions of what it means to be a Victim – a “passive” victim or a “mere” victim or an “innocent” victim – a notion that comes straight outta the master’s toolbox. Maybe I’m just young and naïve, but has misogyny always been so invisible?

  2. marissa permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:32 pm

    Glad to know that no matter how educated I am, sexually repressive conservatives will still try to reduce me to my physical appearance (e.g., tattoos).

    Attacking a person’s physical appearance is always the last desperate attempt from a feeble mind.

  3. July 26, 2010 5:01 pm

    [Donna M.] Hughes … has contributed repeatedly to The National Review, including a piece praising George W. Bush.

    Oh, she’s done more than praise him. She’s actively supported and campaigned for Bush-era policies on the basis of (you guessed it) slut-shaming and, in many cases, with thinly-veiled distaste for men who, in her opinion, are pretty much the standard uncontrollable lust-crazed creatures. To wit, her analysis of the Bush Administration’s “ABC approach” to foreign policy to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa:

    If men more often chose to “keep it in their pants” (i.e. be abstinent [the "A" in "ABC"]), there would be less demand for women and girls for prostitution. If men more often chose to be faithful [the "B"], they would not contract HIV and transmit it to their monogamous wives, who are frequently identified as one of the fastest-growing HIV-positive subgroups. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that the ABC approach is good for women and girls.

    This is fundamentally different from the above situation with regards to Mary Anne Layden…how, exactly?

  4. mixtapesforhookers permalink
    July 28, 2010 4:15 pm

    Donna Hughes is a horrible person. Her fixation with and meddling in Megan Andelloux’s non-profit center is almost as offensive as the pretense that Hughes’ anti-trafficking organization has anything to do with trafficking.

    And of course she also presented at the anti-porn conference at Wheelock last month…

  5. Jamie permalink
    October 12, 2010 7:28 am

    Mary Anne Layden isnt a sociologist, she’s a clinical psychologist at Upenn. I know this because she was my therapist at one point. I am not going to enter into the whole discussion, because frankly I am tired, but I am reminded of one session in which in part of the story I was telling, she became quite angry about the fact that I had visited a strip club (I’m female). The whole session got derailed about people who do sex work etc, the abuse etc.

Trackbacks

  1. Women Who Watch Porn Have No Shame | Dangerous Women
  2. Beyond the Campus: Week 16 | Change Happens: The SAFER Blog
  3. ô saisons, ô chateaux ! « Godot não virá

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 955 other followers

%d bloggers like this: