I sell porn and adult novelty items for a living. I feel weird about porn. Yet I still watch porn sometimes. Watch me try to process my feelings! (NSFW for vocab, in case your work checks for that.)

In theory, I'm okay with porn. I don't think that there is anything offensive about people having sex on film for money. I don't think that porn as a concept is inherently damaging. So long as everyone is consenting and being appropriately compensated for their time, energy, and the health risks that are some times involved, I have no issues with porn. So why do I feel gross when people bring porn up to the register? Why do I shudder a bit while sorting the new DVDs we got this week?

Porn as it exists today embodies everything I stand against as a feminist: objectification, misconceptions about female pleasure and anatomy, racist stereotypes, depictions of violence against women, heteronormativity and transphobia, etc etc. But I think that porn has the potential to be an amazing force for self-discovery and sexual empowerment. As disgusting as I find most porn to be, I don't think that attempting to police it will be an effective way of attacking misogyny in our culture. As the UK proved earlier this week, censoring porn tends to mean censoring expressions of female and queer pleasure. I think that as more women (of all body types and races and gender expressions) and LGBTQ people start acting in and directing porn, porn will become a more friendly place.

When will that happen? Will it ever overtake the market to where the majority of porn isn't horrible and offensive? I don't know. I would hope so, but my optimism doesn't stop the harm being done by porn right this very second. The Border Patrol porn series is proof that porn reflects our culture as much as it shapes it. That's what makes it both dangerous and potentially transformative. If porn as an institution could get its shit together and end the problematic themes and practices, I could get behind it. While individual production companies and actors and directors are trying to move porn to a more egalitarian and anti-racist place, I don't think that I trust the entire industry to follow their lead.

If I truly believed that porn is the sex-positive socially conscious utopia that's just working out the kinks, as the industry attempts to claim that it is, I wouldn't have these reservations. As it stands, I think the industry is full of shit.

Advertisement

This was a lot of words saying nothing, to be honest. I'm still conflicted about porn. I still hate having to dust rows and rows of racist, misogynist, disgusting porn DVDs at work. I still feel gross after watching porn (and confused as to why I continue to do so). I don't know if I believe that porn can change with the way our society is at this point. I'm sick of talking about porn and feminism, but I do it anyway. This is just something that I think about a lot at work while I'm stocking the shelves.

What are your thoughts, GT? Is anyone else on the fence about porn? Or have you made up your mind? Tell me about it!