25 October 2011

New Front of Resistance against Global Porn

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Big Porn Inc CoverA compelling and confronting new book, Big Porn Inc, was recently  launched in both Melbourne and Perth. The publishers, editors, some of the Australian contributors and those endorsing the book spoke of the launch of this book as a “landmark publication”.

“Big Porn Inc: exposing the harms of the global pornography industry” (published by Spinifex) is a sharply up-to-the-nano-second analysis of and protest against the “colonization” of the world’s markets, cultures and interpersonal relationships by exponentially violent, dehumanized and dehumanizing pornography.

The book has been edited by the social commentator and writer, Melinda Tankard Reist (Collective Shout) and the Perth-based social justice academic, Dr. Abigail Bray. The editors have gathered together into a persuasive and unified front, 40 diverse contributions which include commentary, research, strategy and moving first-hand narrative from those hurt by porn.

Big Porn Inc. includes papers from a world-wide and multi-cultural array of men and women, activists, sociologists, political scientists and psychologists who pursue the trail from brutality, trafficking, child abuse, female objectification, self-harm, and a tidal wave of misogyny back to electronically pervasive and industrialised porn.

At the Melbourne launch, women’s researcher and Spinifex publisher Dr Renate Klein commented upon the parallel “pornification” of mainstream fashion, music and advertising cultures with the explicit degradation of women, children, teenagers, boys and animals in porn influenced behaviour.

Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University, added his strong commendation of the book. He said that much of the contemporary media, advertising industry and “huge industries who are considered respectable” are collaborators in the perpetration of the “dark desires” which are wrapped around the “look, the style and the attitudes” of porn. Pornography, he said “brings prostitution into every home.”

“Stella” whose personal account of her life as a stripper is included in the book under the title “Dancing Porn” also spoke at the book launch. She spoke of the harrowing experience of working as a stripper in her earlier life. Not only was she enlisted to dance the steps of porn but, to swallow that myth that she was empowered sexually in doing so though “…moments later groped, pinched and forced, that illusion is quickly broken.” She recalled that gyrating before a predatory audience of men “was like being part of my own lynching every night.”

The Australian researcher and contributor, Dr Meaghan Taylor, warned that “sex therapy” itself had been infiltrated by the “disempowering and disembodied” extreme pornography. Professor S. Caroline Taylor, who was also at the launch events, highlighted the way porn is used as a grooming and instruction “handbook” for interfamilial rape.

Melinda Tankard Reist ended the launch evenings by highlighting the important (and hope-restoring) fifth section of Big Porn Inc. This takes the reader beyond the shattering sense of disgust, anger and despair induced by the evidence of the book to accounts of increasingly vocal and creative anti-porn alliances and their successes in resistance to “the pornification of culture”. Details (and contact information) of effective national and transnational activism and organisations include: Stop Porn Culture!; the Women’s Support Charity; OBJECT (Women not Sex Objects); the AntiPornMen Project and Australia’s own Collective Shout.


A version of this article was first published in The Record, WA, 5 October 2011.