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Can porn empower women?

Posted at 12:09 on 5 Mar 2015 by Pandora / Blake

Last Sunday I participated in a debate at the Women of the World festival entitled "Can porn empower women?" In my three minutes I didn't have time to go into the full complexities of that question - so I'm going to do so here.

Debating "porn" is difficult because the word means different things to different people. Some people use it to mean "sexy media I don't like", and the word "erotica" to mean "sexy media I do like". So I want to start out with a definition: porn is media that is intended to sexually stimulate the viewer. It doesn't necessarily have to involve nudity, or sex (whatever THAT means).

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Tags: Fairtrade porn, feminist porn, Feminist Porn Awards, Gender politics, labour rights, Politics, Porn Film Festival Berlin, sex work, Sex worker rights

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The porn debate

Posted at 17:23 on 13 Mar 2015 by Pandora / Blake

I've been doing a lot of advocacy work recently. A couple of weeks ago I was invited to participate in a Woman's Hour debate on whether "porn can empower women" (click to read my deconstruction of the myriad ways that question is unhelpful) hosted by the Women of the World festival on the South Bank. The two hour recording was edited down to 38 minutes and broadcast a week later on Radio 4 - you can listen to it on BBC iPlayer here. (I haven't listened to the broadcast. When we were chatting before the recording, Dr Clarissa Smith and Sam Roddick advised me "never watch your own press".)

The week before it went out, I dreaded an unsympathetic edit. The debate audience had been dominated by members of feminist groups such as Object and Stop Porn Culture, who are vehemently opposed to the existence of pornography and consider any woman who willingly participates in it to be either an abused victim or a gender traitor. Sitting on the stage, I was all too aware that the first few rows of audience members were very hostile towards me - not only towards my political position, but towards me personally. There was a lot of jeering, heckling and yelling, and from where we were sitting the atmosphere in the room felt very tense. When the debate opened to the audience members, individuals from these groups seemed to spend twice as long on the mic as the rest - and some even started preaching, delivering emotive impassioned rhetoric which felt very out of place.

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Tags: empowerment, gender politics, in the news, media, sex worker rights, SWOU, Woman's Hour

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Teaching porn in schools

Posted at 20:53 on 20 Mar 2015 by Pandora / Blake

On Monday a Guardian article entitled "Porn belongs in the classroom" made waves in the UK. I got home on Monday afternoon to several journalist interview requests, and an invitation to discuss the topic on BBC Newsnight (which I politely declined because seven hours notice really isn't enough for that sort of thing, although apparently it's standard). This idea has clearly made waves.

Prof Christian Graugaard of Aalborg University has called for pornography to be shown to older teens in schools to kickstart discussion and education that will help them become "more conscientious and critical consumers".

“My proposal is to critically discuss pornography with 8th and 9th graders [age 15 – the legal age of consent in Denmark – and 16 respectively] as part of a sensible didactic strategy, carried out by trained teachers,” he told the Guardian.

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Tags: ethical porn, feminist porn, gender politics, in the news, media, politics, sex critical, sex education, sex positive, young people

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