A couple days ago, Sasha Grey did something “deplorable and scandalous.” She read a book to some elementary kids.
The outrage people expressed over her noble act left me thinking about this whole moralistic idea that some feminists, church folk, college educated and those who dub themselves residents of the moral high ground perpetuate. The idea that pornography exploits and oppresses women.
First of all, note that it's always about the woman being oppressed. Not once have I heard any of these people come to the support of the men. Some may say that's because pornography is designed to please men, that the women are exploited for the sake of feeding men's desires.
I personally think there's something counter to the message being sent here. That is that women need extra protection, need people to stand up and speak for them because they are too weak to do so themselves.
Not Sasha Grey. I have always loved her most famous quote:
"What one person sees as degrading and disgusting and bad for women might make some women feel empowered and beautiful and strong."
And that's really it, isn't it? Sure, some of the more predatory porn producers might actually be exploiting and oppressing the women they hire. But for many women in the biz, they do porn because they enjoy it. It’s a career choice. When it comes right down to it, the most potentially degrading aspect of making pornographic films is not the act or the viewing of it by others. The most degrading aspect of making pornography is the social stigma attached to it, the shame that those who have chosen to take a stance against pornography heap upon those who engage in it.
Nothing illustrates this better than all the hype about Sasha reading a book to first and third graders. Was she nude? No. Was she performing sexual acts? No. Was she introduced as a former porn star? No. Did she talk about pornography or try to sell the kids on it? No. She read them a book.
For some reason, the moral police feel that anyone's lips who have been filmed on genitalia and screaming encouraging sexual obscenities should not speak the words "one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish" to children. That somehow, her words are forever tainted by her past and contagious to the children in the room. That her mere presence will incite a room full of children to dream of becoming porn stars.
The real oppression of pornography comes not from those producing, performing in, and viewing it, but from those opposed to it.