I've been listening to current debates about pornography - most recently about young children watching it - and it got me thinking. For feminists, pornography is one of those particularly contentious issues, along with prostitution and the other sexual industries. Really, anything with a sexual element is quite a contested terrain.
For me, being a feminist is about respecting women's choices, whatever they may be. If a woman over the legal age requirement wants to voluntarily participate in the porn industry, that's fine. If she doesn't, that's fine as well. Young women like 'Lauren A', Duke University's freshman porn actress, are being publicly shamed for exposing their bodies on camera. It seems like the idea that a woman could have full control over her body is still shocking to some. When people accuse her of taking part in an industry that 'degrades' women, they don't realise their comments are degrading in themselves, as they refuse to acknowledge her individual voice and bodily autonomy.
Female pornstars can't win: they are labelled victims, and if they try to defend what they do for a living, this is taken as proof of just how 'oppressed' they are. According to SPC and Object, their voices are not worth hearing. This is why we are protesting outside the SPC conference from 3pm on Saturday 15 March.
Having spent most of my formative years getting riled up over the fact that my ovaries reduce my pay packet in comparison to my male peers, it's hard to get turned on watching something which is grounded in the idea that women exist for the sexual gratification of men. However, as much as I'd like to claim that I selflessly stopped watching porn because I'm a committed feminist, that's not strictly true.
I suppose I fit the criteria for a typical 'user' - I'm a single 20-something male, with no long-term relationships to my name, and I spend most nights alone in my room with my flatmate hurling abuse through my bedroom door that I'm 'using all the bandwidth', but I assure you that is because I'm writing and editing my sketches and radio-interviews, and not wasting the odd three hours perusing the darker side of the internet's super-highway. Honestly.
When I asked my little brother if he thought Page 3 should be removed from The Sun, I was shocked and saddened by his uncompromising response of, "Well no, there are two sides to it; you have to respect that it's what men want". I was shocked that he knew full well the content of Page 3, and I was saddened that this misogynistic attitude was already deeply embedded.