The Evaporation of Anti-porn Politics: a Response to POLITICO

For most of the summer, many of the posts on this blog centered on challenging society’s prevailing narratives about sex, sex work, and the adult industry. With the imminent release of Accounting for It All, however, our focus has since shifted to the novel’s debut.

You can imagine how my interest was piqued, then, when I encountered this article on POLITICO—“How the GOP Gave Up on Porn”—which rejuvenated my desire to write about the topics on which this blog originally focused.

In the aforementioned article, Tim Alberta provides an in-depth, historical overview of the narratives surrounding pornography as they entered into and shifted within mainstream American politics over the course of the last four decades.

I’ve written about the politics of porn previously, but the level of detail Alberta provides is extraordinary, and for that reason alone, I certainly recommend reading it. Be aware, though, that there are a couple of dubious, unsupported claims stitched into the article as well, particularly when he argues “there is also consensus that [porn] has, in plenty of cases, contributed to abusive relationships and the fracturing of families.”

This is a topic I, too, have broached in previous posts—and much more thoroughly, I might add, for those who might be interested in exploring this angle of the topic in a more substantial way.

Despite this and a few other spurious statements in Alberta’s piece, I was also pleased to see it touch on the schisms that exist not only between left and right politically, but within these factions as well. In fact, he quotes Gail Dines—another name I’ve mentioned on this blog—as saying “For us, [the battle over porn] is still all about gender equality. You can’t pick and choose. You either believe that women and men have the right to the same political, social and cultural respect, or you don’t.”

Dines’s comments here also raised my eyebrows in that this is the same individual who has seemed to position herself as an anti-porn feminist in the past. In the context of Alberta’s article, it’s unclear what the intent behind this quote is. One would think if you do “believe that women and men have the right to the same political, social and cultural respect,” then one would support an individual’s decision to participate in pornography as either a consumer, producer, or actor.

This interpretation, however, appears incongruous with past statements from Dines, and Alberta’s article does little to clarify what, specifically, Dines meant about this vis a vis the anti-porn versus pro-empowerment factions within the left’s views of pornography and sex work.

Where the right is concerned, Alberta chronicles individuals working directly in the world of politics as well as the church to fuel the culture war over pornography. On this blog, I’ve written about statistics that detail the increase of consumption of pornography among both men and women have been used to prop up moralistic anti-porn narratives both on the web and abroad.

Interestingly, Alberta points out the challenges both politicos and those on the pulpit face when attempting to broach the subject with their constituents or congregations. With porn consumption on the rise across demographic groups, these community leaders risk alienating themselves if they take up an anti-porn stance, which is another salient point in Alberta’s favor.

So the question is: do I still recommend others read “How the GOP Gave Up on Porn?”

Yes, though with the caveat that one be mindful of the occasional tendency toward upholding society’s prevailing narratives of pornography and the adult entertainment industry as a whole.

It is a worthwhile read for its historical perspective, but where its treatment of prevailing and countervailing narratives of pornography are concerned, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. This isn’t especially surprising as the author’s intent wasn’t to do the latter, though he does seem to dabble in it editorially at times.

With the release of Accounting for It All slated for November 19th, 2018, I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s received by folks within these disparate factions.

If you’d like to weigh in on this or on the book itself, you can reach out to me on Twitter, or nab yourself a copy of the novel over on Amazon.

Thanks for reading.

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