Monday, May 17, 2010

Gail Dines on Playboy and How Pornography Hijacked Our Sexuality

This is the cover of Gail Dines' most recent book:

What follows is from CounterPunch, *here*. But first, a photograph of the author.

[photo of Gail Dines is from here]

May 17, 2010

"Then the Shutter Falls, You See All In 3D ... "

Not Your Father's Playboy

Playboy’s June issue features a 3D centerfold - complete with the requisite geeky 3D spectacles. This latest gimmick, just a few months after their Marge Simpson feature, speaks to desperate times for the magazine. Hollywood certainly got a boost from Avatar’s 3D experience, but Playboy’s circulation has plummeted from more than 3 million in 2006 to about 1.5 million today, and is never going to be a favorite with the younger porn crowd. Playboy’s trademark soft-focus images, even in 3D, of women wearing coy smiles and little else, are no match for the industrial strength porn that is now all over the internet. Boys and men brought up in the internet age have very different tastes than their fathers, whose own access to porn was limited by the amount they could pilfer from their fathers or older brothers. Today, access is unlimited anytime anyplace, from computer screens to cellphones, and this  cheap, anonymous accessibility has sent demand soaring. 

When Playboy first came out in 1953, many thought that Hefner was on his way to prison and the magazine was destined to die a quick death. Instead, Hefner became a media celebrity and Playboy was such a success that it helped to lay the foundation for a multi-billion dollar porn industry. What made it a success was the willingness of companies to advertise in Playboy. While skittish at first about placing their ads in a porn magazine, within a few years of publication Playboy was seen as a perfect environment by corporations to advertise products aimed at the upwardly mobile middle-class male. Flush with ad dollars, Playboy seemed untouchable in the 1950s and 60s as it built an international empire. 

In 1969 a full page ad appeared in the New York Times featuring a bunny in the crosshairs of a rifle. The caption read “we’re going rabbit hunting.” This was an ad for Penthouse magazine, which would hit the newsstands later that year. The next few years saw Playboy and Penthouse battle it out to see which one could be the best selling porn magazine in this country. Their theater of war was the female body, with each trying to produce the more sexually explicit magazine. In August 1971, Penthouse carried its first full-frontal centerfold and in January 1972 Playboy did the same.  

The real winner of this conflict was a strip club owner from Ohio. Always the savvy businessman, Larry Flynt saw that the Playboy and Penthouse war had pushed the envelope on what was considered acceptable mainstream porn imagers, and Hustler was born in 1974. Known for its explicit imagery, its tasteless humor and its overt contempt for women, Hustler set a new standard for the porn industry that ultimately helped open up the hardcore market. By the time the internet hit, these three magazines had laid the economic, legal and cultural groundwork for the images that now make up much of the mainstream porn industry. 

What is out there today may shock many not familiar with porn websites. As boys and men click around today’s popular sites they are assaulted by images of body-punishing sex that pushes women’s bodies to their limit. Gone are the coy smiles and in their place are women saying they love it and begging for more. But if you look carefully, some are grimacing, others crying and many look uncomfortable as their body is penetrated, pummeled and pounded by any number of men as they call her a whore or a slut. This is available to anyone who can turn on a computer. 

Called Gonzo by the industry, it is not your father’s Playboy. It is cruel and brutal and it creates a taste for harder and harder porn. One Gonzo producer told Adult Video News that “One of the things about today’s porn and the extreme market, the gonzo market, so many fans want to see much more extreme stuff that I’m always trying to figure out ways to do something different.” This is a real problem for the industry because it has done just about everything you can do to a woman’s body. When I interviewed producers at the Adult Entertainment Expo held every year in Las Vegas, they told me that this was an industry fast running out of ideas. This particular producer’s latest movie showed a woman being anally penetrated as she lay in a coffin.

In this world, Playboy seems rather quaint in its sexism.  It is a throwback to a bygone era when men had their porn delivered in brown paper envelopes. Playboy helped pave the way for today’s porn and during the process, made itself obsolete. 

Gail Dines is a professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Wheelock College and chair of American Studies. A nationally known lecturer and author, she is a founding member of Stop Porn Culture. Her new book, Pornland: How Pornography Has Hijacked out Sexuality, will be published in July by Beacon Press.  She can be contacted at

I Spit in the Global White Man's Eye: Dr. Patrick D. Hazard Apparently didn't get his Doctorate in Literature or, even, Reading Comprehension

  [This poster is from here]
(I can think of many people I'd place much higher up the Rampant Egomania List than Barry Manilow, Celine Dion, and Rick James. Bill O'Reilly, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Donald Trump, to name but four.)

I'll own right away that I've rather had it with white male academic blowhards. Forgive the redundancy in the moniker. Academic blowhards inevitably means white men of a certain "station", in my experience of them. The "station" they seem to get off at or collective move to is Egoville, which is a traveling town perpetually roaming around somewhere in the white, white West.

I recently had an interaction with a Men's Studies dood that confirmed most of what I know to be an unfortunate consequence of a life spent with one's head up the Ass of The Academy. And let me be clear: I don't mean all college or university education when I speak derisively of The Academy. T.A. has specific meaning for me; it is the social place, among the self-appointed intellectual elites, where white male supremacy is maintained and self-promoted as Intellectual Greatness, Brilliance, and Genius. It is the educational sphere and network, where back-patting and psyche-stroking are taken to the most aptitudinally nepotistic levels. (Go ahead and check it, you PhDs of Presumptuous Phuckery. "Aptitudinally" is a word in the English lexicon.) You aren't "anybody" unless you're read "so and so". And "so and so" is inevitably someone who was deeply profoundly, influenced by a "great" dead white man.

The Men's Studies prof had the nerve to argue in his own "profeminist" favor by quoting Rousseau. Because, well, only Great White Men uttered anything worth quoting about "The Human Condition". I called his ass out on it, and he got about as miffed and defensively offensive as anyone I'd encountered who is supposed to be able to engage on "a more disciplined intellectual level". Alas, those letters after the name, or the prefixes before it, do tend to fall away as soon as someone calls you on your flagrant use of bare-naked privilege.

But let us return now to the one living "Dr." Patrick D. Hazard, who is obviously eager to toot his own academic horn and poof up his über-privileged white male supremacist feathers by dredging up his own writings from decades prior. As you'll see, he is clearly capable of English speaking, if not English comprehension. He resides, when not traveling the world after he "took early retirement" (the smug fuck), in Weimar, Germany.

This is a biographical sketch of him I found *here*. One imagines he might feel a tad too much like the emperor without attire should his name get mentioned without some academic letters before or after it.
Dr.Patrick D.Hazard was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he was found in an abandoned Kellogg’s Corn Flakes carton. His Ph.D. (1957) is interdisciplinary in American Civilization: two fields in Am Lit, his specialty; Am Art and Architecture, Am Philosophy and its European antecedents; Am Economic History.

    He has a special interest in the humanities and mass media, for which he held a Ford Fellowship  in New York (1955-56),where he became radio TV editor of Scholastic Teacher 1955-61), Carnegie Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania 1957-59 to create a new course on “The Mass Society” for the Department of American Civilization (1957-59), wrote the first curriculum of the Annenberg School  of Communications at Penn (1959-61), where he taught the history of mass media, until appointed first director of the Institute of American Studies at the East West Center, U. of Hawaii, Honolulu (1961-62), and taught Am Lit, film, and media at Arcadia U,1962-82, after which he took early retirement to begin a second career as a cultural critic.

    He has written for newspapers in Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Butte, Salt Lake City, Santa Rosa, San Francisco, Oakland, Tokyo, and London. His work has appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, American Heritage, Variety, Asahi Evening News, and The European. He has done radio for NPR, advised Time Life and Encyclopedia Films which BBC films to distribute in America, and wrote a quarterly summary for Contrasts, the TV magazine of  British Film. He has appeared on two TV series for University of the Air, WFIL-TV,Philadelphia.

    For the past ten years he has lived in Weimar, Germany, where he has a German wife, Hildegard, and a 17-month-old son, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Hazard. He has just finished a book on Walter Gropius, Bauhaus: Myths and Realities. He is now working on an autobiography, Dumb Irish Luck: A Memoir of Serendipities, and an anthology of 50 years of his thinking, Hazard-at-Large”: A Humanist in Mass Culture, 1955-2005.

I'll admit right away to having exceptionally (and fortunately) limited exposure to his apparently massive (or is it bloated) intellect. This swollen, turgid intellect, on display in a blogpost copied and pasted below, shows off his stunning levels of ignorance and arrogance: the conjoined twins of the social dominants' collective consciousness. Such a combination does nothing to assuage those of us who have known HaShoah survivors that the Good Citizens of Germany have learned much since their parents and grandparents murdered millions of people. Then again, this man isn't German. He's an ex-patriot of the U.S. I'll wager that the Germans have learned more than have U.S. white male citizens about our own fathers', grandfathers', and great grandfathers' atrocities, committed on far greater and grander and deadlier scales, both in the past and through to this day.

While there are, no doubt, some academically trained U.S., German, and other non-euro white men who care deeply about both the arts and humanity, who demonstrate a reasonable commitment to fairly discussing members of oppressed classes as fully human, deep thinking people--perhaps even capable of greatness, brilliance, and genius--Dr. Patrick D. Hazard is not among them. I conclude this based on how he obnoxiously presents himself and describes others below (him).

Pat Hazard seems to care far more about putting down some feminists while getting terribly excited about obstrusive human female nipples and magnificent representations of "the vulva". Men, in increasingly bizarre ways, seem to be obsessed  with parts of women's bodies and oblivious to the harm done to women of only discussing women as if they were a body part here or there. What a waste of a "higher" education.

Dr. Patrick D. Hazard has this to say about himself:

"I read, write, and roam from my villa in Weimar where I live with my Ossi Frau Hilly and my three year old third son, Danny."

His blog is called "My Global Eye" and you can find the post I'm responding to *here*. The post follows. And after that, a response from... guess who?

Monday, 17 May 2010

A Kook's Tour of St. Paul's Art

In the melioristic tradition of "if you're stuck with lemons, make lemonade," St. Paul turns both frozen cheeks each end of January and stages an icy Winter Festival (Jan. 24-Feb. 4--phone 612-297-6985). I was recently spying there to see what the chicken-hearted, hot-blooded indoor types like myself could do to get in out of the cold. Here's the thaw plan.

The Minnesota Museum of Art has three irresistible shows on view for the temperature-timid. Begin at the Landmark Center, that floriously recycled Romanesque old Federal Building kitty-corner from the St. Paul Hotel on Rice Park. Benjamin Thompson's Ordway Theatre and Music Center and a beaux artsy Public Library complete the neighbors on the square at Fifth and Market.

Both the SPPL and the Landmark Center are prim pickup points for the free weeklies and other cultural orientation materials that distinguish St. Paul as one of the grandest self-promoting cities in the country.

The Landmark has (until January 28) a perfectly splendid show on one of my favorite sculptors, Gaston Lachaise, under the randy rubric, "20th Century Venus: Sculptures and Drawings by GL." Man, was that guy into nipples and labia. With one fell swoop of his pen his establishes the most erectile nipples in the long and often aroused history of femininity. The labia and monses also positively throb with a sweet sensuality.

I learned from the captions that this Paris-born and -educated genius (his woodworking father moved to the capital from the Auvergne) fell in love with a Canadian woman ten years his senior in the Luxembourg Gardens and lusted after her as far as Boston, where his money ran out.

He soon met and became the main aide of Paul Manship--he of the Rockefeller Center-sans Golden Prometheus. e.e. cummings, that funky poet who wished he was a better painter than he was, touted GL's early work in the influential Dial magazine. Lachaise did reliefs for the RCA Building in 1930, large plaster reliefs for Chicago's Century of Progress in 1932, reliefs for Rockefeller Center's International Building in 1934. Hell, while most American artists were on WPA relief, he sculpted reliefs for more than good dough.

The Philadelphia Art Alliance enjoys the distinction of giving the Deco-dent relief picturer his first one-man in 1932. MOMA in New York gave him a retro in 1935, the year he died. The Minnesota Museum of Art has the neat idea of getting its patrons to kick in enough dough (the museum is free) to buy a cast of his "Dolphins" (c. 1922), one of an edition of six, on display courtesy of the Kraushaar Gallery. I hope they make it.

Men who love women and their bodies we will always have with us, despite temporary aberrations like Andrea Dworkin and her fear-of-fucking cadre. ("Thou shalt not penetrate me," Ms. Dworkin moans, abusing herself selfishly.)

To prick her illusion, she should gaze at GL's "Dynamo Mother" (1933), which is all vulva, an expressionist romp over the woman's greatest blessing to man's kind: her capacity to nurture a fetus to term. Who cares about penis envy? GL's sculpture gave me instant vulva envy. Hey, if GL's love affair with the female body doesn't give you the esthetic hots, you deserve to die of the cold in St. Paul's exterior darkness.

Down the street, overlooking the river (yes, you geographically illiterate Americans, St. Paul is on the Mississippi), is the lovely Deco original Minnesota Museum of Art Jemne Building. It offers a great-view "Deco" restaurant on the fourth floor. Do a powerless lunch there. It also has two more first class art exhibitions.

"The American Landscape," a chrestomathy from Minnesota collections, has the usual national suspects, plus some unknown (to me, who is more than happy to have his ignorance relieved) locals--such as Mike Lynch (1938-  )--whose blue-pink cast "Elevator--29th and Harriet" (1988) is more than a Sheeler updating, it's local color, colored locally--and John Moore ("Quarry," 1987).

And by all means don't miss James Daugherty's "Will Canfield's House." Its Oscar Blemner-like composition and ominousness is delicious.

Wait. There's more. "The Silent Language of Dress" is the kind of show that takes only an attic-full of clothes from all over the globe and an energizing curatorial vision. My fave is an Ainu kimono, not like the first Aino kimono I ever saw--in the Batchelder Museum in Sapporo, Hokkaido, woven of elm bark!--but on the same track, of heavy hemp cloth. Oh, those Ainus were aesthetically hairy creatures, taking the delicate traditions of their Japanese Conquerors and goosing them up most lovingly. They flattered by weirdly misimitating.

And save some time for building inspections. Like the centennial-celebrating St. Paul's Building at Fifth and Wabasha. It's Richardsonianized red sandstone. How I love the aura of that era! 99% of American architecture since has been a precipitate drop into the pits of speculation and peculation. Yucko.

And don't fail to have breakfast at Mickey's Diner, a National Hysterical Building--although its cuisine is better. I always have the "twos" when I drop off the Greyhound across the street: two eggs, two sausages and two pancakes.

Down the street is the headquarters of Minnesota Public Radio, where you can buy Garrison Keilloriana by the freight carload. That's the World Trade Center across the street, and emblem of former mayor George Latimer's ambition to position his blue-collar city in the international markets.

A good cheap, central place to stay is the Civic Center Motel, kitty corner from the Civic Center, except when rock concerts or dog shows (I often confuse the two) prompt them to raise their $40ish rates. The airport is straight out that street, where a $12 cab ride will get you into a bed. A city bus will do the same a little slower for 75 cents.

And don't miss the Ramsey County Court House across the street from MMA/Jemne. In it is Carl Milles' greatest statue, the soaring Mexican onyx Peace Indian.

I love St. Paul, and not just because my granddaughter Sonia lives there. She's just the latest, sweetest frosting on a basically great cake. Other attractions are the Science Museum, the Minnesota Historical Society (and its James J. Hill house), Cass Gilbert's State Capitol, and much more.

Reprinted from Welcomat: After Dark: Hazard-at-Large, January 24, 1990

Blogger Julian Real said...
Men who love women and their bodies we will always have with us, despite temporary aberrations like Andrea Dworkin and her fear-of-fucking cadre. ("Thou shalt not penetrate me," Ms. Dworkin moans, abusing herself selfishly.)
To prick her illusion, she should gaze at GL's "Dynamo Mother" (1933), which is all vulva, an expressionist romp over the woman's greatest blessing to man's kind: her capacity to nurture a fetus to term.
And you appear to be all dickhead, the white man's unkindest manifestation of P.R.I.C.K.dom.

You're silly description of Andrea Dworkin's work and perspective comes from what readings and interpretations of her own writings? Are they your own? Or do you satisfy your intellectual lack-of-curiosities by only skimming secondary sources? You really come across as extremely ignorant, the way people in the U.S. do who spout off what they heard on Fox News as Gospel Truth. The way perpetually hungry consumers of pornography do when describing what feminist antipornography activists allegedly did in the 1980s to try and "censor" pornographers. (As if.)

Are you trying to sound so ignorant? Or do you usually only have crickets chirping in lieu of readers to call you on the ridiculous stuff you publicly say? Oh, yes, you do admit this is "a kook's tour". You've certainly got that part right.

Do you also ridicule Foucault, Chomsky, and Churchill for their philosophical-political views--and in such a sloppy manner? Or do you just make a point to focus in an inanely critical way on feminists whose work you either haven't read at all, or don't or can't comprehend because of your own intellectual ineptitude?

Can you summarize what the major points of analysis are by Dworkin of James Baldwin's novels and non-fiction essays in the "Communion" chapter of Intercourse, for example? (I doubt it, but I thought I'd at least offer you an opportunity to show that you are capable of reading and accurately assessing the meaning of her work.)
17 May 2010 09:25