Yesterday I wrote a piece about a petition that has been launched asking The Sun newspaper to remove Page 3 where they always feature a topless female model. In the piece, I outlined how the comments being left on the petition by many who were signing it indicated that they were not well informed about the alleged links between porn and behaviour.
Many who were signing the petition were signing it because they thought that a woman posing naked contributed to misogynistic attitudes throughout society, and although perhaps the way The Sun presents the topless model is tacky, the issue of objectification of women in porn is a tricky subject that many simplify while forming an opinion on how it harms women. I pointed out in the post that instead of liberating women from objectification, clearly uninformed attitudes like the ones being displayed by those signing the petition can often result in sex workers being dehumanised, insulted, and disempowered.
After writing my initial post on the subject which soon attracted a lot of attention, I continued to do more research on the petition and found the website of the woman who had started it, Lucy Holmes. On the ‘about‘ page of her website she describes how she wants to ‘make sex beautiful’ and asks what we’ve done to sex to make it so “ugly”.
It’s naive to suggest that sex should be beautiful because sex is a personal thing and what works for one doesn’t always work for another – to suggest that those who prefer rough or dominant sex are doing an ugly thing is really uninformed and perpetuates a damaging stigma against those who act on their sexual desires that happen to involve such activities. Some people like to be dominated, some like to play rough, some like to be humiliated. Others don’t. As long as all involved are consenting adults there isn’t a problem.
Don’t roll your eyes, feel smug, and descend to the comments to tell me what the problem is because I know what people believe is the problem – that rough or dominant sex treats women as an object which is misogynistic – but if the woman (or women) involved have made an informed decision to be in that situation then it isn’t our place to tell them they’re wrong and that they’re being objectified by a society that has become blinded to ever present misogyny.
There was another thing I read on the website of Lucy Holmes that really, really didn’t sit well with me at all. Lucy writes
If you type in ‘beautiful sex’ or ‘how to have beautiful sex’ on Google you get search results which include a 13 minute video of a lady in lap dancer shoes, who could really have done with brushing her tongue, giving a man a blowjob while he kindly holds her head held down.
It’s fine if Lucy doesn’t find that scene to be something that is beautiful, because many wont. However some people do, and that is entirely natural and not at all ugly.
This quote does more than demonstrate how sexual preferences are different from person to person though. It also demonstrates how easy it is to forget that the woman involved in the pornography is just like other women. She, a sex worker, is a woman just like those the petition is trying to liberate from the sexist attitudes of society that create ugly sex. By Casually remarking that she could have done with brushing her tongue, which hints at the idea that this woman is dirty, Lucy has dehumanised this sex worker.
This is the problem with the page 3 petition.
To the very core.