A story about having the same conversation about pornography over and over with men.

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By Sam Berg, excerpted from here:

Published in Rain and Thunder: A Radical Feminist Journal of Discussion and Activism

Winter 2010, Issue #45

“Hi: I’m a writer at The Oregonian in Portland, working on a story about the sex culture in Portland and Oregon. I’m trying to find someone who can talk a bit about the anti-porn movement in the region.”

Three hours later we began a tense conversation. In between his email and the agreed-upon time for me to call I jotted down a few bullet points, then promptly forgot to reference them once our conversation found a lively cadence.

He began appropriately enough by probing my credentials. A true radical, I hold no pornstitution-specific degree and work an unrelated day job. His dissatisfaction oozed through the phone. As usual, I referenced loved ones whose lives were ruined (some lives ended) while intimating a reluctance to go into grisly detail and reiterated my years doing on the ground activism.

His first question took the well-worn,”See, she likes it”approach in which a local stripper celeb of the alternormal weekly scene was mentioned and I was asked to catfight respond to Viva Las Vegas’s porn approval. Fortunately, I don’t need bulleted notes to keep men’s demand for pornstitutes front and center, so I flew over Vegas with a prelude about not caring if every employee of Fox News loves their job when the social content of their media is harmful.”Viva Las Vegas”, I said,”is a rational actor making the best decisions for herself. Men who take her picture and choose to caption it,”Dumb cumslut whore”are irrational.”

That’s unprintable in a daily newspaper. The portion of my answer I presumed might make it to print was,”It’s easy to talk about sex, everyone wants to write and talk about sex and the results are all around us. People don’t like to talk about rape for very understandable reasons.”

Moving on from me countering one woman’s opinion, he tells of the time he covered a BDSM conference and spoke to lots of women attendees. He wanted to know what I thought of that. What I thought was he had stopped talking about pornography and was asking me to judge women’s private behavior. From his first question to his second, the logic was a woman-centered loop where so long as some of three billion women can be found to disagree with some other of the three billion women then postmodernist subjectivity wins over the historical miasma of misogyny.

But what people do in their bedrooms is very different from the content and effects of public masturbation media. Once pornographers film, package, market, and put those images into my world I have a responsibility to engage the messages they send.

As if he didn’t hear me, he went on describing how women lined up around the corner for one of the BDSM workshops and when he talked to them they unanimously claimed to love it. Politesse went out the window as I tried to pop him out of his man-invisibilizing rut,”Did you ask any men attending the conference why they liked BDSM?”A slight pause, then a quiet”no”whispered into my ear.

I continued,”Did you ask any man, ‘Why, when you call a woman a bitch, does it give you an erection?’”He guffawed with thick aspiration at the preposterous question, and I kept clinically serious as I drove though his nervous laughter to remind him that BDSM relies heavily on gender-based insults as abuse.

Here he interjected that he has read some Dworkin, and I gave kudos for going where few men are bold enough to go. Dworkin was his segue into devil’s advocating that maybe sex is supposed to be about letting go of conscious thought and giving in to politically incorrect instincts. I made a joke about unexamined lives and the purported quality of living them before sliding into a somewhat froufrou answer about whole person integration and ethical responsibility not ending at the bedroom door. My aim was to give an answer affectedly pretentious enough to squeak into the final article.

By this point nothing unpredictable had occurred. Nothing unpredictable would continue. …

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