Monday, June 6, 2011

Who Will Transgender and Transsexual Activists Support in Men's War Against Women?

image is from here
I've written a great deal on this subject but few people appear to want to engage with these issues. Here's my latest attempt to generate respectful conversation and coalition building. For background on my position and political/structural location, see *here*. For now, I'll inform you that I am what is frequently termed "male-bodied" since birth; I am white and gay and have many white male privileges but not some of the ones that white het men have; I am intergender and asexual. I don't see myself reflected in either dominant media or in queer media. I don't hear many of my issues being raised by conservative and liberal trans activists. So I'll start with that. This post isn't about how to make me more comfortable. It is about how to make the world safer for women and girls.

There is a globalised patriarchal war against women, perpetrated and protected most powerfully by men. Among these two socially gendered groups in white-supremacist North America is a third and fourth, self-identified as transgender and transsexual. The distinction between the two terms is blurry and is set in motion, not in stone. The first, I would argue, is inclusive of the second: transgender refers to individuals who experience ourselves as not fitting into the binary: woman and man. It generally means people who don't identify strictly either of these groups of grown-ups, using English-language terms which has its own significant cultural and linguistic limitations:

Group 1: people raised to be boys, identified usually as male when medically or physically examined, and who now identify as men in adulthood.

Group 2: people raised to be girls, identified usually as female when physically or physically examined, and who now do not identify as women in adulthood.

The issue of who names us male and female is a tricky one--enough of us are intersex in many ways to make such labeling spurious, invalidating, and oppressive. Why do we need to distinguish who is allegedly one of two sexes, at birth--or before? So we know what color clothes to buy? To project our own stereotypes and selfish wishes upon the child? To begin the process of socialising the newborn as a heterosexual girl or a straight boy? In my experience those are the primary reasons there's such an obsession with the "sex" of one's fetus or newborn. I say skip the balloons--there's enough latex and rubber allergies already. And mylar isn't recyclable.

I'd say social dominants would be better off not knowing and determining the "sex" of our children, as science defines the term, unless there is a compelling medical-health reason for doing so. But I wouldn't make this same prescriptive statement about non-dominant people. More on this in a bit.

The science and medical knowledge of sex is confusing, complicated, and sexist, usually leaving out two groups: intersex people and transsexual people. Those of us who are transgender and intergender do not fit the birth-bill either. But, as a radical intergender activist, I don't want anyone telling me what that is unless they are socially positioned to be oppressed by me, or unless they are also intergender. Who, among adults, is structured or located to be oppressed by me? All female people, all intersex people, and all women. That includes some transsexual and transgender people as well. I'd like to remind the reader, if you're not female, a woman, or transsexual or transgender, that many transgender people are not transsexual, and many transsexual people do not socially appear to be transsexual--at least in ways that many non-trans people assume that "looks like". Many of us are not gender non-conforming or genderqueer, for example. Many of us are not seeking or desiring surgery or other medical interventions. To watch dominant media, you'd think "transsexual and transgender" people are all surgery-bound M2F and F2M people. We're far more diverse in our understandings of self and goals at achieving greater personal and social well-being than that.

For the last year or so, I have been understanding "intergender" as one of many ways of being transgender, but there's an argument to be made that transgender people might be under the umbrella "intergender"--if we can identify non-transgender people who are not women or men. I'm an intergender person who doesn't identify as a man or a woman, who doesn't and won't claim I should be included in woman-only and womyn-only spaces, who respects woman- and womyn-only spaces, including social service, cultural, and political and educational institutions--the few that exist.

In my view, it is dangerously conservative and misogynistic for white transgender and transsexual people to seek the identities most enforced in heteropatriarchal societies--"woman" and "man', in English. I can understand anyone wanting to fit it and not call additional attention to oneself, for all kinds of reasons. Assimiliation is one of many strategies for increasing opportunities for safety and survival. But while I can appreciate the need for it, I won't promote it as a radical approach across the board. Because in witnessing the conflicts that have emerged in the last twenty years, it appears to me that social change to radically transform the gender binary is not the goal of many white transsexual or transgender people; only seeking liberal forms of assimiliation and accommodation is.

Sex and gender are culturally and regionally relative and overlapping binaries in most places on Earth. Across the globe sex (and in some places, gender) is also also a means of maintaining a political hierarchy, a system of male supremacy and male privilege in which girls and women, and everyone else determined not to be a man, is oppressed structurally by men, and sometimes also by women. Those oppressed by women are lesbians, by het women, who endure interpersonal, cultural, and institutional abuse from het women, het men, and non-het men such as gay and bi men. Whites and the wealthy people--women and men, in many such systems--oppress women who are not white or who are poor and working class.

A few white-majority but not white-only situations have arisen in North America which highlight tensions and political struggles with regard to women and trans-identities. Social and cultural privileges, powers, and entitlements inhere in the identities that we are collectively assigned and seen to be--regardless of what we are. Other sets of privileges, powers, and entitlements come to those of us who adhere to socially compulsory and mandatory identities, regardless of how we experience ourselves.

At issue here, in this post: do people who were raised male, as boys, intentionally and deliberately retain their privileges and entitlements to name themselves, rather than be named by others? Do males or formerly labeled male people have the power to re-name themselves as women, and proceed to assimilate into spaces populated by women-only? Historically and currently, most woman-only spaces have been either controlled and mandated, or invaded and otherwise threatened by men. Is it reasonable to assume that another population of gendered activists might be regarded and experienced as unfriendly and unsafe by women? I'd say "Yes". Unequivocally, yes.

My experience is that this gendered group has an increasing number of allies in liberal and conservative queer communities, organisations, and institutions. And that those communities are anti-radical and anti-feminist. What I mean is that they are unapologetically misogynistic and antifeminist, as well as pro-patriarchal and anti-revolutionary. Many liberal and conservative activists and allies have some or a ton of male privileges and entitlements--usually unowned. In this respect, trans people and allies are just like men: patriarchal power over women is denied or minimised. Or worse: women are seen as the most oppressive gender.

I'd argue that when we discuss such things, we must, at the start, always acknowledge that we are living during a wartime. Not only a US and NATO war against Central Asia, but also a much older war, dating back before the genocidal slaughter (on-going) of Indigenous North Americans. I hear very little to no discussion among trans activists about the need to challenge and eradicate a very domineering and deadly Western Civilisation including US Empire. These malignant forces are increasingly globalised and infectious, carrying with them Christian patriarchal, white supremacist, and corporate capitalist values, institutions, assumptions, rituals, attitudes, and practices.

Those forces are designed to encourage and accommodate anyone who oppresses women. It is a system both of normalised and of extremist misogyny: of discrimination, violation, objectification, exploitation, degradation, destatusing, stigmatising, domination, and terrorism of all female and feminised people, who do not have the privilege and power and entitlement to name ourselves and have those names resonate accurately and be respected in the minds, actions, and institutions ruled by social dominants.Needless to say, transsexual and transgender people are not located so securely as either women or men. To white and otherwise privileged trans people: I'd argue we ought not seek assimiliation. I'd argue we ought to make social space for trans people, and not insist that we are 'either women or men'. Some of us are neither, after all.

In the last forty years, only one activist group--a very diverse and necessarily anarchistic one--has organised with the expressed political purpose of radically transforming this male-dominated, man-worshipping society. That group is radical feminists. I support their efforts to get patriarchy, pro-patriarchal activists, and their allies and apologists off women's backs.

In my experience, liberal feminists are usually organised to modify heteropatriarchy in various ways; and many modifications are needed to assist people in living in patriarchy with less unattended and unacknowledged misogynist and sexist harm. In the 1970s, for a time, it appeared that radicals and liberals might work together and in complimentary ways to achieve various goals. I don't see that happening any more, primarily because liberalism has bonded with conservatism, betraying and ostracising radicals in the process.

This has meant some very significant things for many non-dominant groups and cultures in North America. For one, it has meant that the emergence of transsexual and transgender issues and people has not occurred in an environment where radical feminism is thriving. Due to this, far too many liberal and conservative values and practices have taken hold in these communities, and in the minds of us who identify this way.

Dean Spade, a white progressive trans activist, defaults into liberal political perspectives when calling on society to use gender-neutral terms. (See *here* for more on that.) I appreciate his perspective very much. I have great respect for his work. But I see some of what is promoted there as a way to move forward as dangerous to women's effort to accomplish liberation. Efforts to pretend we don't live in a world of women and men further denies women, particularly and especially women without race privileges and power, the already comprised right and power to define themselves as they wish, including redefining what it means to be a woman as racist heteropatriarchal men oppressively define that term. Men terroristically enforce the parameters of that definition by violating women's bodies and visiting unending violence against women and girls. Again, this reality ought not be forgotten when we discuss and work for social justice.

This message might well be a broken CD, but more mutually respectful dialogue and discussion, as well as alliance-building and coalition work is needed, as we hopefully all work to radically transform a deeply racist, classist, and heteropatriarchal Western Civilisation. As you read what follows, ask yourself what the values and practices are that Tim Chevalier and Wellesley College officials are promoting. How do each support or undermine women's resistance to patriarchal atrocity? I'm not making a case that trans-identified people must be pro-feminist and supportive of radical activism as many feminists--of all colors and classes--define that term. I'm arguing for effective radical activism to thrive, it would be good for conservatives and liberals--trans or not--to support radical feminist projects, not harshly critique and otherwise attempt to subvert them.

What follows is from  AlterNet / By Cortney Harding

Please click on the title below to link back to the source website.
Tim Chevalier was told by his alma mater that he would not be allowed to interview prospective students because his male identity would be a distraction.
All Wellesley alum Tim Chevalier wanted to do was help interview prospective students for his school. What he ended up doing was sparking a debate about transgendered graduates and the meaning of single-sex education.

When an email went out from the Oregon Wellesley Club last year seeking alums of the women's school to help interview prospective students, Chevalier expressed his interest. After a few exchanges with the local alumnae coordinator, Chevalier, then a graduate student at Portland State University, set up a coffee meeting and gave the coordinator a heads-up: although he had used female pronouns and a traditionally female name while attending Wellesley, he had since transitioned and is now male.

What followed could be called as a comedy of errors, if the emotional stakes weren’t so high. In a series of blog posts from the fall of 2010, Chevalier wrote that he met with the school's coordinator, who informed Chevalier that he would not be allowed by the admissions office to do any one-on-one interviews, because of his transgendered status, though he would be welcome to participate in other alumnae events.
However, the meeting was followed by a phone call from Wellesley’s assistant director of admissions, who told Chevalier that there in fact was no policy against trans alums doing recruiting, and he would be allowed to conduct one-on-one interviews after all.

But then there was another about-face from the school: in January, the director of admissions told Chevalier, once and for all, that he would not be allowed to conduct interviews, stating that the focus of such interviews should be on students, and that Chevalier’s male identity would be a distraction.

An email to the Wellesley College Office of Public Affairs seeking comment was not returned; however, in a post to the internal Wellesley Official Announcements bulletin board, which was forwarded to Chevalier, the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid  wrote that he wanted “to offer some clarification in response to the discussion regarding a decision by the Admission Office not to allow a transgendered male alum to serve as an interviewer. The decision in this case was influenced by our tradition of having women serve as alumnae interviewers. The question raised in this discussion is whether this decision was based on a policy of not permitting transgendered alums to interview prospective students. The answer is: no, because no such policy exists.” Later, the dean followed up: “An important component of the admission interview is that a prospective student leaves with a clear understanding of the value of attending a women’s college. One thing we do insist on is that the interviewer strongly support and articulate the College’s commitment to being a women’s college.”

Chevalier argues that if he were to appear as the public face of the college, even in a limited capacity, it would draw positive attention to other male students and alums of Wellesley. “I know there are quite a few Wellelsey alums that have transitioned,” he told AlterNet. “There are two others in my class, and I’ve heard that between three and twelve trans students are currently attending Wellesley.”

How has Wellesly treated its transgendered students and alums in the past? A 2008 trans alum, Warren Kunce, was featured in a positive article in the college’s alumnae magazine, and other trans students at Wellelsley were included in a 2008 New York Times article, “When Girls Will Be Boys,” about trans students at women’s colleges. Bathrooms in many of the dorms are now classified as “Wellesley” and “non-Wellesley,” rather than “women’s,” “men’s,” or “co-ed.”

Elsewhere, the issue of trans students at women’s colleges remains a hot-button topic. Around the same time Chevalier started blogging about his experience, a transgendered Smith junior named Jake Pecht requested to be part of the college recruiting process by hosting a prospective student in his dorm. According to an essay he wrote for the Smith college paper, Pecht works as a campus guide for the admissions office but was not allowed by the office to let a prospective student stay in his dorm. He writes that he would have emailed prospective students and told them he was male and offered to find them alternate lodging if they were uncomfortable, but the admissions office refused to budge. According to the school paper, the issue has yet to be resolved, though a petition has gathered over 1,200 signatures, and many students are calling for a dialogue around the matter.

Smith’s official policy states that “Once admitted, any student who completes the college’s graduation requirements will be awarded a degree” – presumably meaning that if a student chooses to transition after starting school, and completes the necessary coursework, he or she would be allowed to remain enrolled at the school. An article about Chevalier in the Wellelsey News quoted a student who enrolled at the college in 2002, left after a year, transitioned to male, and then returned to finish his degree in 2008. He is scheduled to graduate this year.

Males are not an uncommon presence at many women’s colleges. Wellesley participates in a college exchange program with MIT that allows both male and female MIT students to enroll in classes at Wellesley (and vice versa) and has admitted male students as part of short-term, twelve-college exchange program. Women’s college campuses are certainly nothing like the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival -- a music festival that admits only “womyn-born womyn,” and operates a seperate “Camp Trans” for attendees who are not “womyn-born womyn”). Rather, men teach, work, and spend time on women’s college campuses on a regular basis.

Much like the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival has become a hotbed of debate about the “womyn-born womyn-only” admissions process, Chevelier says he sees the same thing happening at Wellesley. “I don’t know why a young person who transitioned to being male would want to attend a women’s college,” he told AlterNet, “but I could easily imagine a situation where a young person who transitioned to being female would apply to Wellesley.”

The college does not require students to undergo any sort of physical examination when applying to or enrolling at Wellesley, but Chevalier says he fears that a slippery slope of anti-trans attitudes might lead to “panty checks.”

On his blog, Chevalier quoted a Wellelsey student who stated, wrongly, that “All Wellesley students, to the best of my knowledge, are biologically female at the time of admission.” He pointed out the obvious flaws in this logic; namely, that “biologically female” is a transphobic term, and without invasive exams prior to admission, there is no way to tell whether a student has a certain chromosomal makeup.

Chevalier says that he’s not “asking for any change in college policy. I'm asking for honesty about the de facto policy that already exists, a policy that involves admitting men. And to me, honesty about that policy can't mean that the administration accepts the academic, social, spiritual, and financial contributions of male and genderqueer students while telling the general public that it's ashamed of them.”

Whether Chevalier gets that level of honesty -- or even merely clarity about the admission office’s rules -- remains to be seen. But there is no doubt that this incident has touched off yet another debate about what being a “women’s college” really means.
Cortney Harding is a former editor and reporter at Billboard Magazine and currently a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York.

An Open Letter to Leslie Cannold @ The Age about the Rape-and-Tape Industry (Pornography)

photograph chronicling the early years of anti-pornography activism is from here

Hi Leslie Cannold,

I've known many women across my life who have been negatively effected by pornography both inside and outside the industry. I found your comments about pornography startling in some regards. I'll note what was surprising or problematic for me below. You ask what motivates people: fear or hope? I'd first like to say that there are more choices than that. Hatred motivates some people. Desire to acquire power or to acquire more power--as they define it--motivates lots of people. So too does the desire to survive another day or night. Other motivators in my experience are selfishness, addiction, loneliness, desperation, need, compulsion, obsession, desire to not feel certain feelings, to not feel pain, and to not feel disconnected or isolated or alone.

As you probably know, most women in the pornography industry got there out of a need to survive, and to not be alone. A good friend of mine was taken off the street by a male pimp when she was fourteen. He seasoned her to be available to strange, much older men for sex--she was at least as young as many of the procurers' daughters. She was still on the street part of the time--working, but at least had a place to rest occasionally.

Her story would be "an anecdote" were it not for the fact that her age at the point of becoming a prostitute is the average one. This means that half the women in prostitution are fourteen or older when they start, and half the girls are fourteen or younger. Half. Do you want us to focus only on those fourteen and older in order to get us to feel more hope? Or ought we contend with the harsh reality of the fourteen and younger population no matter what it leads us to feel--even despair? I'll take the despair and the hope--and the fear--that comes from consciousness. The denial your article supports actually makes me feel far more hopeless than the facts Gail Dines brings to the public for consideration. I find activism inspiring, and efforts to shut down appropriate activism really disheartening.

Trafficking of girls as sex slaves and sexxx-things for consumers is globalised. Millions of girls are trafficked daily, as I hope you know. Every girl--a person with a future collapsed into getting through one more day--is made to endure some form of sexual abuse, or to withstand another rape, several times a day or night. To say the conditions are abysmal wouldn't be inaccurate.

This is the primary population of people who comprise the performers in pornography. And by pornography I mean the corporately produced material that is published by pimps for mass consumption that earns billions of dollars annually for those already rich-enough pimps. (I'm not talking, at all, about some heterosexual or gay or lesbian couple's sex tape, or individuals who have a web cam and decide to earn money letting people see into their bedroom as they masturbate or have sex with someone else. That stuff, quite honestly, isn't my concern. If people genuinely want to do that, then they will and they should. Nothing in my own political practice or that of any anti-pornography feminists I know will have any effect on their ability to earn money or to try and get other needs met that by performing sex in those ways. This is also to say, there's nothing the anti-pornography feminists are doing that will take away or "ban" any of your pornography of that of any else. Gail Dines opposes all efforts to ban porn: you didn't make that explicitly clear in your article.)

The primary population of girls and women who are raped and otherwise sexually assaulted as a requisite way of getting them into the industry, or to keep them there, means there's nothing only-anecdotal about the experience--it is common, usual, ordinary, and entirely status quo. (I accept that a few, more privileged women in the world "freely choose" to be in pornography, although when women are paid as much to do everything else, I'll find the words "free" and "choose" to be more socially and economically meaningful.)

Girls and women are being raped multiple times a day and some of them are photographed or videotaped and some of those images and films are sold. This is accepted, defended, protected, and accommodated in every country in which it is happening: the trafficking of girls is accepted, defended, and protected; the prostitution is accepted, defended, and protected; visually recording rape is accepted, defended, and protected. For most women--for most of us--to do it for any length of time, opiate and other categories of addictive drugs are usually needed. That's the norm, not the exception. It's easier to go after messengers of that unpleasant news than to really emotionally comprehend what that feels like.

So we have a large group of girls and women, many drug-addicted so they're not in the most empowered or liberated frame of mind, who have been raped countless times--dozens, at least; more likely hundreds. Do you really mean to pretend that there's no normalised harm in that industry? If so, I'd say that's a stunningly callous and pro-status quo position to hold.

Throughout your article, you phrase and frame the issue as if it is one of ideas only--with no rapes happening anywhere at all to the girls and women in the industry who are being photographed and videotaped while drugged. Do you honestly believe most of those performers are not experiencing routine sexual harassment and sexual abuse? If you do, please see The Price of Pleasure. You can find it free, online. (Note: I'm linking you to images that are pornographic, not trying to censor them.)

I would argue, based on the knowledge of pornography and pornographers you show in your article, that you're living an unusually advantaged life relative to most women on Earth. One kind of advantage is having the option to be unaware of the atrocities going on around the world in places you do not socialise or live.

I had some contacts in Tokyo after the earthquake hit earlier this year. Had I not, I wouldn't have known what was really going on there. The US media was not reporting most of what was happening that was terrifying--long after the tsunami destroyed so many people and so many other people's livelihoods and homes. I had to have those connections to know. (It's still a nuclear nightmare.) But being a US citizen, I wasn't required to have those connections. This is how it is with most atrocity that isn't happening to you or me, of course. Those of us who can afford to not know, generally won't take the time--or don't have the time--to find out.

If you were a girl in many cities across North America, in Europe, and in Asia, you would be far more likely not be able to not know what I've written above. You might find ways to block it, blunt it, or dissociate from it, but not knowing a thing about it would be exceptional to impossible.

Your article contains a few statements that skip over the atrocities I've identified above as socially existent and significantly and traumatically affecting the lives of millions and millions of female human beings--and plenty of male human beings too.

I'll excerpt a few below from your recent article for The Age.
Dines used her many festival and media platforms to contend that pornography degraded women. It did this by modelling Brazilian waxes and depicting women enjoying anal sex and men ejaculating on their faces. 
Have you seen a great deal of the pornography--the stuff produced by millionaire pimps? It appears from this statement you have not. Again, I hope you see The Price of Pleasure.
Dines asserted without evidence that boys as young as 11 were viewing this material, which she said was not only more violent than Playboy or Hustler but also apparently the snuff films of the 1980s that so outraged her hero, the American radical feminist Andrea Dworkin. 
Surely you're kidding. (Aren't you?) You don't actually think most eleven year-old boys with access to computers have never sought out images from that rape-and-tape industry? Do you seriously doubt that most eleven year-old boys have seen internet pornography that we used to call "hard core", and plenty of images depicting more degrading violence against women than that?

And surely you're kidding when you imply that today's pornography, overall, isn't any different than that from the 1970s. You don't see images ubiquitously on the internet that are more violent than Playboy and Hustler? You must not be looking. As I recall, those paper magazines were violent in many ways that people didn't readily see as such. Hiding the worst of what's done is standard practice for all major corporations. Why would the pornography industry be an exception to this rule? For example, with its own abuses, the pharmaceutical industry does a great deal of harm to animals, people, and the environment, but not in full-frontal view of those of us who purchase or are prescribed their allegedly safe drugs. To say any significant industry hasn't changed much in the last thirty to forty years is to not know much about what has and is going on there.
The minds of young Aussie boys would be deformed by this stuff, Dines conjectured, leading to a future filled with sexual assault, paedophilia and all forms of "economic, political, and legal discrimination" against women.
The minds of anyone who consumes anything at all--from sugar and sugar-substitutes, to McDonalds fast food,  to cocaine, to cell phones, to the exhaust from fossil fuel-burning cars, to pornography to television commercials will have their minds affected--that's the reason those things can be marketed and sold at all: surely you don't think they exist to actually meet our deepest needs or for our health. Or do you?
Dines's claims are vulnerable on almost every level.
They'd be more vulnerable if they were, in fact, just claims. But, as several commenters have noted at the article's website, her facts are backed by very solid research. That other researchers--often those hired by pimps--come up with other results that makes the industry seem not-so-bad, surprises me not at all: tobacco industry researches told us cigarettes were harmless for decades after they knew they were both addictive and damaging to our health.

So I'd argue Dines' assertions of fact are not vulnerable on the level of reality, if one cares enough to know what is happening there. Again, you'd have to be willing to leave the comforts of a middle class life to really find out. The pornography industry is many things: 'pretty' isn't one of them. Here's the first portion of what each of the two filmmakers of The Price of Pleasure--a woman and a man--have to say on beginning the journey into that largely hidden world:
Having grown up in Taiwan, I did not see my first porn film until I was thirty years old, when I came to the U.S. as a graduate student in Boston in 1990.
Contrary to many women being pushed to watch porn by their boyfriends, I had a shy partner who never had the courage to rent a porn video. The few times that I reached for the top shelf at the Video Smith in Brookline to grab a porn video, I had to endure the torturous journey – ignoring other men peering at me out of the corner of their eyes while I was cruising through this off limits section, holding the extra large video box with vivid pictures for everyone to see while I stood in a long check-out line, and then waiting for the clerk to slowly take the video out of its box and put it in a black box which everyone knew was for porn anyway. Although this journey made me descend from a respectable to a fallen woman, there was something thrilling and daring because I was against the constraints set by both Chinese and American patriarchy that disapproved of women's consumption of porn. I figured, if not being allowed to watch porn was part of the sexual repression, then rebelling against it must be liberating and even feminist. -- Producer, Director & Writer: Dr. Chyng Sun
When I began working on The Price of Pleasure over 4 years ago, I expected, more than anything, to learn the process of filmmaking. That the film’s topic was to be pornography was, at the time, of a secondary consideration. I had what can be considered conventional liberal beliefs about pornography and the contemporary pornography industry – pornography was free speech; pornography represented a liberatory sexuality, intervening in the repressive moral codes of religion, conservatism, and infantilizing protectionism; that pornography was a “free” choice, made by both consumers and performers who made their living by engaging in sex onscreen; and I had also assumed that the majority of the pornography out there looked very much the like the pornography I had experienced as an adolescent, or saw at bachelor parties during my career in investment banking – mostly “conventional” sexual practices, with a nominal degree of mutuality. -- Co-writer and Associate Producer: Robert Wosnitzer
They don't sound like fascistic anti-free speech people to you, do they? Their film is more speech on this subject, not less--isn't it?

You go on:
She confuses evidence with anecdote (talk of "my students" is the latter) and correlation with causation
Is someone referencing the experiences of people they know unethical to you? As commenters below your article remark, what backs up your arguments, besides anecdotes and possibly some well-funded research paid for by pimps to produce the outcomes that put them in the least criminal light? You offer nothing to bolster your speculations and distortions.
(does horrible violent porn turn healthy men into rapists or do rapists watch horrible violent porn?).
It might work for you to pose ridiculous-sounding questions as a strategy to discredit an expert speaker on a subject. I'll have a go at it:

Do cigarettes always turn smokers into lung-cancer patients who die an early wretched death? The answer is no. But the answer is also that cigarettes do substantively contribute, as one factor among others, to the normal maintenance of significant and grievous harm--people do lose their lives, and many lives are cut short. Many of us grieve our lost relatives or loved ones who died of smoking-related illness and disease. Someone arguing your points on this matter would come across like a shill for the tobacco industry. Do you intend to do that for the rapist pimps?

You also wrote:
She also wasn't averse to mischief

This is not to mention the irrationality of her basic proposition. Rape and misogyny pre-date hard-core internet porn by thousands of years. How then was turning off the tap of internet porn going to solve the problem?
Rape and other sexual violence against women pre-existing pornography doesn't mean pornography isn't tied to rape, Leslie. Your argument, put in other terms, might go like this: massive human suffering and death caused by plagues pre-dates the AIDS crisis by thousands of years. How then would curing AIDS stop suffering and death caused by disease? Do you get what's truly cynical, callous, and flawed, about the argument?

Unfortunately, it will probably work for most readers for you to use these words: contend, asserted, conjectured, claims, mischief, irrationality, to categorise and dismiss the work of a long-time human rights activist, professor, and writer. Regardless, I think it fair and reasonable to assume that she knows far more about the pornography industry and exactly how it is implicated in harm to human beings than do most people--except those who have worked in it and survived it. If you think Gail has never bothered to speak with many women who are in or have survived and gotten out of the rape-to-tape industry, you'd be just plain wrong. I say "survived it" because I'm not willing to make atrocity disappear; that seems like something Germans-in-denial wished to do during the era of Nazi rule. As a Jew, I object to that sort of evasion of difficult or inconvenient truths. And if the mass rape of girls isn't enough of enough of an atrocity to you, I'm worried about your conscience and your heart.

You continued:
But the big difficulty with the Dines approach is its cultivation of fear over hope. From the moment Dines set foot in Australia, she was beating the panic drum. Panic about the internet, about the developing sexuality of adolescent boys and the inevitable victimisation of poor, vulnerable girls. Don't forget about rape and sexual violence, girls, she seemed to be saying, or the complexity of pre-marital sex! Don't get too confident, or careless with your trust or your movements, the world is still a terrifying place. 
If we correct your misstatements and inaccuracies, and simply deal with the facts of the matter,  we are left with this question: what is the appropriate level of disregard and denial when confronted with news that is disturbing and upsetting because it involves actual human beings being treated inhumanely? Should we work hard to repress our anger about rape and gross sexual exploitation of girls and women--and boys and men and transgender and intersex people too? Should we try and shore up our false sense of security and delusions that the status quo works by not harming millions of people in dreadful ways?

If you are a white Australian citizen, I'm hoping you know about the genocide in your country, and the anti-Indigenous genocide in the US as well. Or do you think that because dominant media won't cover these atrocities, they aren't happening? Shall we feel hope in the face of mass denial and the corporate maintenance of delusion? Is disrupting the relative peace of the privileged, perhaps even to the point of generating some fear in those masses--or outrage, compassion, or a consciousness with which to do then work with others to effect social change--really something that is unwanted and unwelcomed by you?
I see it differently. When I look at the sexuality and values of young people, I feel hopeful of a increasingly gender egalitarian world. I read the studies and see the young men who populate my own world and feel confident that growing numbers of men understand the difference between healthy lust and sexual violence, accept their duty to share the work of home and children and respect women's rights.
Which world is that, Leslie? What part of the big, challenging world is that happening in? To whatever extent it is happening, great. But that doesn't mean that's all that's happening, does it? I mean if we have some promising research in cancer cures, does that mean chemical pollution of our bodies stops causing cancer, globally--at alarming rates?

Things can be (and are) truly awful--increasingly so for millions of people who are far less advantaged than you and me. These are the people who, so far, don't seem to be real to you. If you did, would you relate to, befriend, and believe them?
Yes, nasty porn is nasty and I'd certainly advise against watching it.
Once again you and Gail see things differently: Gail actually thinks we should be watching it--to know what it's trying to tell us about ourselves, our sexuality, and our society. So once again you're making stuff up and pretending it's a position Gail Dines takes. She doesn't. So why do you feel the need to lie? Why not just argue with the facts she describes? Are they too threatening to deal with? 
When it comes to sex, and all areas of life, I'd urge young women who don't want to do something to learn to say no. For a saner take on this issue Google Cindy Gallop's Make Love Not Porn TED video.
To learn to say no? So you want girls to say no to their fathers or step-fathers who rape them, who then grow up and have many problems with boundaries due to being told, incorrectly, that they are worthless or only exist to sexually please men? Do you want drug-addicted women living on the street, picked up by pimps, to say "no" and remain on the street--and to just say no to drugs too? Do you want the Indigenous, Black, Brown, and Asian girls and women who are enduring misogyny and racism to do what you're able to do because you're so advantaged? That's a callous and utterly compassionless thing to suggest to people, I'd say.

For the record, I like the Make Love, Not Porn website very much. And, it doesn't exist to help the privileged masses come to terms with the atrocities happening to girls and women around the world.
Yes, violence against women still happens and must be stopped but violence is not caused by porn.
How, Leslie, must it be stopped? I mean honestly and sincerely: how? Because it's very easy for liberal-minded white people to say things like "racism is bad" and "misogyny must end" without ever following that up with (or, even, promoting and supporting) decades of sustained activism actually working to achieve it. Someone once told me the definition of liberalism is that its practitioners make promises they have no intention of keeping. What are you, in your life, doing to stop the violence women and girls endure for being female not male, including in the pornography industry? Is attempting to discredit someone (who actually has been working to lessen racism and misogyny by showing it to people in such a way that they can't deny it's prevalence in our society, for decades) the best you can do?

Julian Real