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More responses to the invasion of the bunnies August 23, 2005

Posted by Winter in capitalism, pornography.

Volsunga has an absolutely excellent post on this subject. Ms. B takes a socialist feminist perspective on the creation of the market for Playboy goods, reminding us that markets do not simply appear from nowhere. She puts it a lot better than I could so I’ll quote:

“It is also naive to make the argument that the porn industry is simply targetting a market that is already there. Billions of pounds are spent each year creating markets for all sorts of products we don’t need through advertising, something bourgeois feminism has no problem realising when it comes to companies that promote the beauty myth to exploit female consumers. When it comes to porn, however, apologists for the industry claim that it is simply a mirror of male sexuality (as if there is one simple condensed version of this) rather than a carefully created and targetted product.”

“But were porn simply a reflection of a market demand, surely the huge rise in extreme “gonzo” porn would be a symptom of something drastic having changed in men’s appetites in the last ten years? I don’t buy it; I think that kind of porn is being bought because it is there, men are watching it because they can, not because they conceived of it in the first place. Whilst we demand nothing from the industry, never protesting the sexism inherent in porn, we cannot expect to change anything. I wholeheartedly disagree with those feminists who suggest brutal porn is a male malaise; it is a capitalist malaise, and the fault lies with those who produce it, and a system that allows anything to be sold, even women’s bodies, dignity and pared-down palatable versions of our sexualities.”

Damn straight!

Her article has made me think a bit about my own approach. I agree that we need to include an analysis of free market capitalism in our protest. Ms. B refers to the hypocrisy of people who want companies such as WHSmith to display some morals while refusing to critique the role of capitalism. I certainly don’t expect companies to have morals, but like many feminists involved with pressure groups such as Object, I often argue that they should show more social responsibility. We try and push them to behave better, to remove the offensive product, to put the Lads’ mag porn up on the top shelf etc. I’m not sure what else we can do really, but I’m aware that it’s treating the symptom not the real problem. With regard to porn, companies are clearly combating this approach by trying to normalise the material by convincing people that lads’ mags and Playboy toys for kids are harmless and just a bit of fun. “No need to make a fuss people, it’s natural for men to want porn. And Playboy bunnies on kids stationary? They’re just a fashion statement, they don’t mean anything, honestly, you crazy feminists are always reading too much into everything!”

Not everyone is buying it. The Guardian online have published a selection from the “barrage” of emails they’ve received in response to Rachel Bell’s article. I don’t agree with all the perspectives but it’s pretty heartening stuff.



1. Branwen - August 23, 2005

Stumbled across this blog only this evening (directed from the F-word), and have just spent over an hour reading all the articles. ‘Mind the Gap!’ is now in my favourites – keep up the good work!

2. Winter - August 23, 2005

Why thank you! That’s really nice.

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