“… if you’re going to talk about how far we’ve come when it comes to porn, if you’re going to posit Paul “Max Hardcore” Little as the latest victim of the Bush administration, if you’re going to lament one more strike against your First Amendment rights, you should bear witness as to what a porn star drenched in vomit looks like.”

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That’s a quote from (link is to a NSFW site) Susannah Breslin, in her response to a Salon column by Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald sets up a false dichotomy between the DoJ’s prosecution of pornographer Max Hardcore, and governmental performance and perpetuation of torture. After making the fairly obvious point that torture is wrong, Greenwald repeatedly asserts that Hardcore’s actions are “fictional” and says that “no real pain was inflicted.” Yet Breslin says the following about Hardcore’s ouvre:

In Max Hardcore movies–”Anal Agony,” “Hardcore Schoolgirls,” “Max! Don’t Fuck Up My Mommy!”–women are verbally and physically degraded in an unprecedented myriad of ways. They are choked, slapped, throat-fucked, penetrated with fists, given enemas, pile-driven, urinated upon, vomited upon, and in some instances instructed to drink from glasses the money shots that have been delivered into their rectums. Most of the time, Little as Hardcore is the perpetrator of these acts. Not infrequently, his scenes are fraught with pedophilia themes, beginning when he stumbles upon his subjects in playgrounds, where they sit alone, in pigtails, talking baby-talk, and sucking on lollipops. Mostly, the sex scenes end with his latest costar a mess and Hardcore triumphant.

Breslin also observes:

According to Jezebel’s Megan Carpentier, we’ve come a long way, baby, when it comes to porn. “Say what you will about pornography, objectification and exploitation, the growing legitimization of the pornography industry–which led to much more government- and self-regulation–also led to a significant decrease in the kind of exploitation described by those performers as well as increased opportunities for women to participate in the higher-earning aspects of the production.” Where Carpentier came upon her theory regarding the current state of the adult movie industry is a mystery. One would have to assume her research didn’t include watching this NSFW series of video clips, in which a young woman is gangbanged, instructed to crawl across the floor on all-fours while stating repeatedly, “I’m a fucking whore,” and then directed to drink the contents of a dog bowl, the side of which reads “SHIT-HOLE,” into which her costars have ejaculated. The video wasn’t directed by Little; these days, extreme porn is everywhere you Google.

[You will need to go to Breslin's blog, Reverse Cowgirl, if you want to follow her embedded links other than to the Jezebel post. I'm not comfortable hosting them here.]

Obscenity law is deeply problematic, to say the least, and in no way is this post a defense of the DoJ’s obscenity law based approach to regulating pornography. It is aimed at protecting an ill defined “community” from some uncertain and indefinite category of images. It offers nothing to the women who were abused and injured by Hardcore. I have read, but so far been unable to adequately substantiate, claims that women who asked for justice from law enforcement were rebuffed, because as pornography performers no one would believe their accusations against Hardcore. This wouldn’t be surprising given the Bush administration’s view that sex workers are subhuman.

At the same time, it couldn’t be more clear that Greenwald couldn’t care less about the real women who were harmed by Hardcore’s pornography production. By dismissing what happened to them as “fiction” he is promulgating the view that pornography performers are lying whores who deserve whatever bad things happen to them. Torture is only wrong when it happens to men, apparently.

–Ann Bartow

ETA: Jeebus, this reporter has characterized me as sympathetic to Little. Way to miss the point, dood.

This entry was posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Sexism in the Media, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to “… if you’re going to talk about how far we’ve come when it comes to porn, if you’re going to posit Paul “Max Hardcore” Little as the latest victim of the Bush administration, if you’re going to lament one more strike against your First Amendment rights, you should bear witness as to what a porn star drenched in vomit looks like.”

  1. Glenn Greenwald says:

    You have this exactly backwards. You’re the one who is drowning in misogyny and contempt for women.

    These are ADULT women appearing in these films. Nobody — not them or even the Government — claims they were forced to do anything against their will. In fact, the article I linked to included this: “The person that was involved in the conduct sat [in court] with a smile on her face and wrote your honor a letter saying, ‘Judge, this was a beautiful part of my life.’”

    I have enough respect for adult women that I think they are entitled to make choices for their own lives without my interfering and trying to condescendingly tell them that I know better than they do. I don’t need to see the films precisely because nobody claims that the films either (a) involve minors or (b) involve acts against anyone’s will.

    These are adults engaged in consensual acts with one another, and I don’t need to watch what they choose to do to pass judgment on it and decide if they made the right choices. I think adult women are free to make those choices for themselves. That’s what “respect” means. Where women are concerned, it’s obviously what you lack.

    You think women are fragile little creatures who have no autonomy and need to be protected from themselves. That is pure contempt for women and I don’t share it.

    If you believe that women are too weak and confused to make decisions for their own lives, then that’s your right to think that. But don’t pretend that you have respect for women, or that those who do respect and believe in their freedom to choose for themselves are somehow the misogynistic ones.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    To start with, let me ask you two questions: How do you KNOW that those women consented to those acts? Or that the men in the torture photos did not consent to those acts?

  3. Glenn Greenwald says:

    Those women SAY that they did it consensually. Do you presumptively believe that adult women are lying or confused when they claim they chose to do something that you think they shouldn’t have done? Apparently. Therein lies your misogyny and complete lack of respect for female autonomy.

    Not even the Government — which is trying to put him in jail — claims there was a lack of consent. If these women didn’t consent, then he should be charged with rape, kidnapping and assault, to begin with, and put in jail for the rest of his life — not tried for obscenity and given 3 years and 10 months. The fact that NOBODY involved claims there was a lack of consent is pretty good evidence that there was none.

    As for the detainees in American custody who have been tortured, again — NOBODY claims they “consented” — not the detainees nor the captors. That’s called “evidence.”

    Are you under the impression that these are serious questions? How do you know that someone isn’t holding a gun to my head forcing me to write this comment? Why aren’t you calling the Police and asking them to come and make sure I’m not being coerced? The answer: because there is no evidence of coercion — because I’m telling you I’m not being coerced: same with the adult women in those films.

    Your law school probably teaches that before we put people in jail or assume their guilt, this thing called “evidence” is required. I assume these women participated consensually because all the “evidence” suggests they did and none suggests they didn’t.

  4. Ann Bartow says:

    You say “In fact, the article I linked to included this:”The person that was involved in the conduct sat [in court] with a smile on her face and wrote your honor a letter saying, ‘Judge, this was a beautiful part of my life.’”

    You mean this link? http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/oct/03/040216/judge-sentences-porn-producer-46-month-prison/
    That quote came from Hardcore/Little’s lawyer! Where’s the substantiation from a neutral source? Or the trial transcript?

  5. Ann Bartow says:

    Where is YOUR evidence that the government even contacted the women?

  6. Ann Bartow says:

    Readers here know that one women who goes by the name “Neesa” has asserted at this blog and in many other Internet venues that she was raped and abused by Hardcore, see comments here: http://feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu/?p=3635

    See also comments by Neesa appended to articles published online by the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times. Believe them or not as you choose.

  7. Eric says:

    Apart from the source of the quote, there’s a further reason to be skeptical about the assertion that this particular woman was really a willing and happy participant. It has nothing to do with assuming women to be weak or confused, but everything to do with the inherently unequal power relation between a porn actress and a porn producer. This is generally true, of course, for any employee and any employer. But the specific features of the porn industry make the employees even more vulnerable than those in other industries. It isn’t necessary to assume someone is weak or confused to believe that they might say something they don’t really believe for fear of finding themselves out of work.

    So, while I’m quite willing to believe that some people, male or female, may willingly and happily participate in films of this nature, and not object to acting out violent and repulsive scenes (though the fact that there are evidently people actually turned on by vomit is as horrible a confirmation I could imagine of my adage that “the world is full of freaks”), I am much less willing to assume that is so in this particular instance, especially when the only evidence is based on the say-so of the producer’s lawyer.

  8. Kathy Stanchi says:

    Thank you Eric. (and Ann)

    Mr. Greenwald, Ann and I, and other feminists, know that there is a woman’s agency argument out there in support of porn. You don’t have to educate us. But, come on now, calling a woman who objects to the filming of another woman being vomited on for men’s sexual pleasure misogynist because she questions the meaningfulness of the consent? Give me a break.

    You bring up law school — so let me tell you something about it. There’s a whole world of legal thought about the subtlety of voluntariness and consent that has apparently escaped you. As just one example, consider the jurisprudence on voluntary confessions by criminal suspects. Somehow, when liberals question the voluntariness of behavior by criminal suspects (most of whom are economically and socially trod upon, see where I’m going with this?), there is no concern about agency. I wonder why?

    Doesn’t it perturb you at all that it frequently seems to be women in these movies who “consent” to these degrading acts? Why do you think that is? Are we just a more freewheeling gender? Willing to do anything for money? What is it? Where are all the men being vomited on at the movies? If it’s all so beautiful, why don’t you hear more about guys doing it? I don’t think you adequately address this core (and vexing) question.

    So, quit throwing words like “misogyny” around. You’re entitled to your opinion, even if it is simplistic. But, when you try to cloak yourself in feminism to defend women’s rights to be puked on so men can jerk off, that’s when you lose me (and lots of other people).

  9. Ann Bartow says:

    Thanks, Eric and Kathy. I appreciate your input tremendously.

  10. thebewilderness says:

    Are you trying to argue that tortured people do not lie, or only women who are tortured do not lie? That is silly on it’s face. That is why they are tortured. To make them lie.
    All tortured people are fragile creatures. That is what torture does. Damages you both physically and mentally.
    I do not think you have not thought this through.

  11. thebewilderness says:

    An another thing, Glenn.
    If you expect to be taken seriously, you will not tell women what they think so you can then tell them that they are wrong to think it. That behavior is a major red flag to every woman over the age of six.

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