taboos

Porn Wars: repost from Betty Dodson

I found this whole article VERY fascinating. One of the key points made in this below paragraph is exactly where today’s Western culture has  delivered us. We have fallen from a time where sex, sexual healing, and living according to one’s souls path was praised and respected to a time where it has been suffocated and masked by traditional dogmatic religions calling it a sin. We currently live in a world where the majority of women fake orgasms, only have sex out of duty and if they dress or speak out in any fashion regarding their sexuality and inner longings they are considered sluts. As mature women with families this labeling can be even stronger within in our own little societal boxes. Our once friends, neighbors or even extended family members may brand us as a slut, whore or husband thief if we walk proud and embrace our own sexuality.

Excerpt: “The next day I got out my dictionary and found the word pornography originated from the Greek pornographos: the writings of prostitutes. If society treated sex with any dignity or respect, both pornographers and prostitutes would have status, which they obviously had at one time. The sexual women of antiquity were the artists and writers of sexual love. Since organized religion had made all forms of sexual pleasure evil, no modern equivalent existed today. As a result, knowledge of the esteemed courtesans was lost, buried in our collective unconscious, suppressed by the authoritarian organized religions of mankind that consistently excluded women.”

There are countries where young girls are being forced to go through (pharaonic) clitoris circumcision’s. They are held down by the elders of their community (often) without any pain medications to be put through this horrible, humiliating, painful surgery. And why? Because it is believed in these cultures that women will not stray or long for sex except for procreation. The men of these societies have fallen to the way of extreme ego and have mandated such torture on the women they so love, because it is a sin for a woman to ‘enjoy’ sex or orgasm. In many ways women around the world have brutalized themselves in a similar fashion. Every time we choose to not enjoy love making, every time we cave in to our lovers so they can “get off” at our energetic discomfort and loss, we give away our own personal power and drive wedges of disgust into our intimate relationships. We make light of such a beautiful gift, of such a marvelous spiritual power. We sacrifice High Sex for fucking.

Porn Wars:

When it comes to creating or watching sexual material, we are still debating what is acceptable to view, create or to enjoy. The porn wars rage on while most guys secretly masturbate to what turns them on while too many women want to censor pornography. Most people will agree that sex is a very personal matter, but now that sexual imagery has become so prevalent with internet porn available on our computers 24/7, I’d say like it or not, porn is here to stay.

The fact that pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry and it was the engine that first drove the internet, that alone proves most people want to see images of sex whether they admit it or not. It wasn’t long after women’s sexual liberation got underway in the 1970’s that women turned against each other to argue whether an image was erotic or pornographic. Unfortunately this useless debate goes on to this day in spite of the fact that we cannot define or control personal taste.

My first attempt at drawing sex was a real eye opener. In 1968, I had the first one woman show of erotic art titled “The Love Picture Exhibition.” That experience raised my awareness of how many people enjoyed seeing beautiful classical drawings of couples having heterosexual intercourse and oralsex. Many drawings sold. It was my second show of masturbating nudes when all hell broke loose. Along with a media blackout, it ended my gallery affiliation and nothing sold. However, it was when I became aware of how repressed most Americans were about sexuality. My large six-foot drawing of a masturbating woman holding an electric vibrator next to her clitoris— an erect one I might add, caused women to be convinced they would become addicted if they used one. Most men felt competitive telling me they could do it better than any machine! That drawing might have been the first appearance of the clitoris in recent history. The year was 1970 when I set out to liberate female masturbation and electric vibrators.

I soon realized I needed words to go with my images and I began to learn how to write. Very quickly I was frustrated with the use of male pronouns exclusively. Friends insisted that the pronoun “he” was generic and included women, but that was Bull Shit! When anyone referred to “mankind” believe me, that’s exactly what they meant— men only. Male and female pronouns are extremely relevant.

A perfect example of this goes back in our earliest days as a new country. Abigail, John Adams wife, knew that the men drafting the Declaration leading to a new republic would explicitly define and extol the rights of men. She and several of her more educated girlfriends sent a letter requesting that the Constitution refer to persons, people, humans, or men and women instead of just men. Abigail received a response from John that was not what she had hoped for. He said she could rest assured that men knew better than to repeal their “Masculine systems.” Furious, Abigail wrote back saying if they didn’t pay attention to the Ladies, they were determined to rebel. However, it took 144 years before the brave Suffragettes finally got women the vote in 1920.

Here’s the kicker: the Equal Rights Amendment that says, simply and entirely, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” has been introduced into Congress every year since 1923 but has never passed, blocked in every case by male legislators. Our far from Supreme Court has given corporations the same rights as an individual person. This has allowed Republicans to wage an all out war against women as corporations funnel money to elect the conservative Jackasses we have in Congress today.

Okay, enough politics— back to sex. I’ve always made an effort to connect with as many different people as possible in order to learn about sex by doing sex. After I fully enjoyed America’s brief outbreak of sexual freedoms that began at the end of the sixties, my glorious group sex parties allowed me to realize how many women were faking orgasms. That’s when I designed the Bodysex Groups to teach women about sex through the practice of masturbation in 1971. It was sexual consciousness raising at it’s best as we went around the circle with each woman answering my question: “How do you feel about your body and your orgasm?” We also eliminated genital shame by looking at our own vulvas and each others. Finally we learned to harness the power of the electric vibrator with the latest techniques for self-stimulation during our all women circle masturbation rituals. Those groups continued for the next 25 years.

My last hold-out on sexual research was the SM community. In 1982 at the age of 53, I joined a support group of lesbian and bisexual women who were into consensual SM. Perhaps I avoided this small sub culture because I suspected there was something unhealthy about mixing pain with pleasure. Instead of finding sick confused women, I discovered a group of feminists who were enjoying the most politically incorrect sex imaginable. In my opinion, our first big mistake as feminists was to establish politically correct sex defined as the ideal of love between equals with monogamy.
For heterosexual women, PC sex put us in the age old bind of trying to change men by getting them to shape up and settle down. That meant men had to be sexually faithful— a project that has consistently failed for centuries. Most men are hard wired to have multiple sex partners while women who want children need a more lasting and secure relationship in order to raise a family. Those of us who wanted to expand the idea of feminist sex were censored by the media at every turn.

The night of my first SM meeting, I entered the small apartment and as I looked around the room, I didn’t see one familiar face among these younger women. My internal dialogue was like a broken record: “They’re probably all lesbian separatists and the minute they find out I’m bisexual, they won’t let me join.” I’d been discriminated against so many times in the past that the chip on my shoulder weighed heavily. As I sat there wallowing in my anticipated rejection, I visually fell into lust with every woman there. What a marvelous variety from stone butch to lipstick lesbians. When the meeting began, each woman introduced herself, then stated whether she was dominant or submissive and said a few words about how she liked to play. The closer they got to me, the faster the butterflies fluttered in my belly. When all eyes were on me, I defensively said, “I’m a bisexual lesbian who’s into self-inflicted pleasure!”

Several women smiled. One asked how I inflicted my pleasure. When I said it was with an electric vibrator, the room broke up laughing. A group of lesbian and bisexual feminists who were willing to explore kinky sex was my fondest dream come true and within no time, I was right at home.

There was a variety of consensual activities these women enjoyed: bondage, spanking, cross-dressing, piercing, tattoos, butch/femme roles, and putting on public sex performances. Along with traditional romantic sex when couples were alone and private. Everyone assumed a role based upon each person’s position of power as dominant or submissive without any judgments that one was better than the other. Women who played both roles were called “switchables.” They explained that new members didn’t have to be seasoned players because the purpose of the group was to explore the possibilities of fantasy role-playing with other like-minded women.

Gradually I began to understand that all forms of sex were an exchange of power whether it was conscious or unconscious. My focus had been on the exchange of pleasure in sex, not power. The basic principle of SM was that all forms of sexual activities between one or more adults had to be consensual and that required a verbal negotiation followed by an agreement between the players. All my years of romantic sex when we tried to read each other’s minds were basically non-consensual sex. By the time I was 36 and sport fucking, I’d learned to take control in partnersex by getting on top. But none of our sexual activities were ever openly discussed or agreed upon. As I looked at human sexuality in terms of this new power dynamic, it felt like I was waking from a deep sleep.

That spring, Dorothy, the founding mother of our group, invited me to join her at a conference put on by Women Against Pornography (WAP). Her commitment to feminism was contagious and she was on top of all the current happenings in the movement. I had been learning a lot from Dorothy, a thirty-year-old radical lesbian who had been trashed by other feminists based on her SM sexual preferences. As a post-menopausal hedonist in my fifties, I looked forward to my first public feminist forum in many years. The two of us trouped into the WAP conference arm in arm wearing boots and jeans with large silver studded belts under black leather jackets— high visibility leather dykes! We were sitting in the front row just to the left of the podium. While women glared at us signaling we were out of place, we wore our political incorrectness as a badge of honor.

At the time, I had difficulty taking this group seriously. After feminists had fought against censoring information about birth control, abortion, sexuality, and lesbianism, the idea that there was now a group that wanted to censor pornography seemed too absurd. Surely WAP was only a small percentage of feminists, but Dorothy said they were gaining strength and growing in numbers. Ms. Magazine had contributed money to WAP, and under pressure from members, NOW had approved a resolution that condemned pornography without defining it and several local NOW chapters supported WAP. Censorship was coiled like a rattlesnake ready to strike at our freedoms and poison people’s enjoyment of masturbating while looking at pictures of sex. Unbelievable!

The large meeting room at NY University was packed with women only— nearly a thousand had assembled. A red cloth banner with big black letters stretched across the back of the stage: WOMEN AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY. That had to cost a pretty penny. There was also a first rate sound system, along with expensive printed flyers— all done very professionally. This was no makeshift feminist conference where we had mimeographed handouts. Dorothy leaned in close and asked, “When have you ever seen a conference dealing with women’s issues that had this kind of money behind it?” We both agreed that WAP had most likely been secretly funded by the CIA, the Christian right, or both. The Good Old Boys were setting us up again— divide and conquer!

Drifting into a reverie, I thought about the 1973 NOW Sexuality Conference. I remembered how brave we’d been questioning sex roles and sexual taboos, exploring female sexual pleasure, and daring to create more choiced and better sexlives for women through information and education. We’d been so sex positive and filled with excitement knowing we would change the world. How, in just ten short years, could we have ended up against pornography which put feminists in the same bed as Christians preaching the Gospels?

There were many speakers. Each gave a brief, personal history, and nearly every one had a horror story of sexual abuse at the hands of a father, brother, husband, lover or boss. There were stories of rape, battered wives, child abuse, harassment and forced prostitution. Dorothy was busy taking notes while I sat their stunned by the realization that I was in the midst of an orgy of suffering angry women. Each speaker’s words and tears were firing the group into a unified rage. Emotionalism without intellect from victims without power was how lynch mobs and nation-wide hate groups were formed— the basic strategy of fascism, I concluded with a shiver.

It saddened me to hear how these women had suffered, and I would never deny that their pain wasn’t real. For most of them, sex had truly been a misery or a violent trauma. No sane person was for rape or incest, but this one-dimensional attack on images of sex was totally unacceptable. Blaming pornography as the sole cause for women’s sexual problems was ludicrous. Why weren’t they going after big problems like war, poverty, organized religions and sexual ignorance due to the total absence of a decent sex education in our school system?

An attractive blonde in her mid-thirties stood at the mike. With her rage barely controlled, she described her childhood sexual abuse. Every Saturday when her mother pulled out of the driveway to do the grocery shopping, her father got out his “disgusting, filthy pictures” and forced her to perform an “unnatural act.” She didn’t say what it was, but I figured it was probably a hand job. The audience was surely fantasizing an adult penis penetrating an eleven-year-old girl. The whole room was emotionally whipped up into a rage with their own private images of child rape while at the same time, reveling in the awfulness of it. The speaker went on to blame the entire incident on pornography! There was no mention of society’s denial of sexual expression especially ignoring masturbation. Maybe the father was a devout Catholic who knew he’d go to Hell if he took hold of his own penis. Why couldn’t the daughter tell her mother what Daddy was doing? How about the nuclear family taking some of the blame with its restrictive sexual controls and lack of privacy? But none of these other possibilities occurred to her. She was adamant that “dirty pictures” had been the sole cause of her incest.

The WAP meeting ended with an open mike, and within moments, emotional chaos broke loose. Women were crying and screaming hysterically, so we got out fast. Once outside, we took a deep breath to release our own tension. We both felt drained. Although we disagreed with WAP, they had a right to their opinions even though they didn’t respect our rights so we remained sexual outlaws.

The 80’s also ushered in AIDS and the Reagan government was slow to respond to this looming crises. How perfect! AIDS ended casual sex and sent people back into committed relationships and monogamy— the glue that binds. This was also when the abuse industry got underway as we jailed innocent people running day care centers. They were accused of child abuse with testimony from psychologists who created the false memory syndrome. Child abuse was everywhere while no one paid any attention to how poverty was really hurting our kids. Women also focused on sexual harassment in the office and on the streets. Our young men in colleges were told that if they were accused of rape, the authorities would believe the woman not them. Finally women were getting even but we were not getting ahead.

During that decade my workshops had women showing up who broke down into tears as they began to talk about being sexually abused. Each time, I would ask them to leave with the explanation that my groups were about exploring pleasure, not sexual abuse. They needed to see a therapist and then come back for a Bodysex Group later on. Some women accused me of having a hard heart, but I simply stayed on mission of liberating women’s independent orgasms so we could come back to life— actually.

The porn wars really heated up with Andrea Dworkin and McKinnon pushing to make sexual harassment a civil offense. At that point, feminism was done in. We were totally divided by all the in-fighting as we failed to define erotic vs. pornographic. Blaming pornography for sexual violence reminded me of the Temperance Movement of the 1920’s when Carry Nation went around busting up the bars. Although she attracted lots of supporters, it brought the quest for women’s rights to a screeching halt. Censoring pornography would not prevent rape any more than Prohibition had ended alcoholism. It just turned a lot of middle‑class people into criminals because they wanted a drink. Were feminists going to turn a lot of masturbating men into criminals by making porn illegal? No law was ever going to guarantee a woman she’d end up with a sober, monogamous husband! Sisters, please give it a rest!

I’ll never forget my first encounter with censorship in action. It was in 1971 when Evergreen Magazine published images of my erotic art. Organized religion never sleeps. My friend and former lover Grant drove us to Groton Connecticut where the DA was threatening to issue an injunction if they didn’t remove the magazine from the local public library. His main objection was my painting of an all women’s orgy as he pounded his fist on the page spewing out the words, “Lesbianism is a clear sign of perversion!”

When the meeting ended, the press descended on me. I don’t recall what I said except sex was nice and censorship was dirty, that kids were never upset by my art, but their parents often were. A few people complimented me on my words and art. One local woman said she found my art “disgusting and pornographic” but that I had every right to show it. Her comment was the most upsetting.

Driving home, I asked Grant how anyone could call my beautifully drawn nudes disgusting. “Why can’t people distinguish between art that’s erotic and art that’s pornographic?”

“Betty, its all art.” he said. “Beauty or pornography will always be in the eyes of the beholder.” He went on to warn me against making the mistake of trying to define either one. It was an intellectual trap that led to endless debates with no agreements. After thinking about it, I knew he was right! That night I decided to forget about defining erotic art as being superior to pornographic images. Instead I would embrace the label “pornographer.” All at once, I felt exhilarated by the thought that I could be America’s first Feminist Pornographer.

The next day I got out my dictionary and found the word pornography originated from the Greek pornographos: the writings of prostitutes. If society treated sex with any dignity or respect, both pornographers and prostitutes would have status, which they obviously had at one time. The sexual women of antiquity were the artists and writers of sexual love. Since organized religion had made all forms of sexual pleasure evil, no modern equivalent existed today. As a result, knowledge of the esteemed courtesans was lost, buried in our collective unconscious, suppressed by the authoritarian organized religions of mankind that consistently excluded women.

The idea of reclaiming women’s sexual power by creating pornography was a heady concept. Feminists could restore historical perspectives of the ancient Temple Priestesses of Egypt, the Sacred Prostitutes, the Amazons of Lesbos, and the Royal Courtesans of the Sumerian Palaces. Sexual love was probably what everyone longed for, so I gave myself permission to break the next thousand rules of social intimidation aimed at controlling women’s sexual behavior. I did just that and continue to this day. In order for women to progress, we must question all authority and be willing to challenge any rule aimed at controlling our bodies and our sexual behavior.

The 1990’s gave us a temporary respite with the Clintons in the White House. Meanwhile the religious right was gaining momentum as the GOP continued to plan way ahead in order to exert the control they have today. Clinton was set up to be impeached for a blow job while American kids asked, “Mommy, what’s oral sex?” Today the GOP is undoing all that was ever accomplished by the Democrats to help those who are less fortunate. A small group of rich people now have all of the money and power. Like Ralph Nader said, “Only the Super Rich Can Save Us.” Me? I’m betting on the ET’s. That is unless we wake up and save ourselves.

The 90’s also gave us the Vagina Monologues that was viewed as a bold feminist play. Unfortunately it was once again a ploy to lull women to sleep with the illusion we were making strides. The VM succeeded in misnaming a woman’s sex organ a “vagina” which is the birth canal that supports penis/vagina intercourse but leaves out the clitoris. I personally confronted Eve and to her credit she added the clitoris later on. The play also side tracked our progress by focusing on all the problems women were having in Africa with FGM. Meanwhile many young and older American women have never viewed their own vulvas, which is a form of psychological genital mutilation.

Yup, the Vagina Monologues was another brilliant distraction that had women thinking we were going to end violence against women while the most violent attack on the poor and middle class is currently taking place right before our blind eyes. Here at home we’re about to lose Planned Parenthood, birth control and a woman’s right to choose. None of this is an accident but the clever covert efforts of the Religious Right, the Super Rich and our very own government. As feminists we must take back our movement and push toward equality by acknowledging all aspects of human sexuality. So few people understand how sex has been used to separate people except the Church Fathers and our clever amoral politicians.

Personally I was saved by the Internet. When my first website went up in 1998, I had no idea what cyberspace was all about. However I quickly learned it was the first time in my long career that I was not censored. Every time I said “masturbation” it either sent folks into gales of laughter or embarrassed looks with a quick change of subject. My articles for magazines were canceled and interviews for television and documentaries always ended up on the cutting room floor. For some reason, the powers that be didn’t want me to say that the bottom line of sexual repression was the prohibition of childhood masturbation. This humble activity is the basis for all of human sexuality

Today www.dodsonandross.com is humming right along. My business partner Carlin Ross is a cyber geek who also graduated from law school— talk about the ideal arrangement! I believe that once Grant met her, he could leave his disintegrating body. He was running my website while classified as legally blind with a magnifying glass and his nose an inch from the screen. Still he made his 86th birthday and died proud with his boots on with the next up-loud sitting in his computer. I miss him terribly to this day. We had the most passionate love/hate affair and 43 year collaboration of the century.

My true love today is answering sex questions freely from all kinds of young, middle-aged and older women as well as boys and men. I’m learning about the concerns and sexual problems of Americans as well as people around the world. Let me tell you that sexuality is in a lot of trouble especially where any organized religion is in control. Young women today do not know what, when, where or how to have an orgasm. Most of them have grown up without childhood masturbation thanks to the resurgence of religion and the censorship of sexual information. One young American woman said she was sure she’d never had an orgasm because she’d never “ejaculated.” A very small number of women squirt when they experience an orgasm. Unfortunately the G spot has become the new name for vaginal orgasms. The majority of women need and deserve some form of direct clitoral stimulation during sexual intercourse. Grow up America!

Well meaning friends suggest that I should drop the word “feminist” and perhaps the entire concept because it’s so “Old hat.” Young women today have lost interest in feminism since they believe its anti-sex and we’re all man haters. That’s exactly what the powers that be want us to think and do. Forget about blaming the “Patriarchy.” We are in the midst of a class war! Many of the poor working class slobs believe they too will be rich some day so they vote Republican like my brother Bill did. He’s no longer with us, but in his heyday, he dressed all those rich oil men when he owned his own elegant Men’s store in downtown Wichita. Bill Dodson was as handsome as any movie star ever was and those rich dudes are drawn to beautiful women and handsome men because they think it makes them look better. Unless they start to pay their share of taxes, I say their days are numbered.

It’s time we learn to think smarter and be aware of how we brand our causes. The Republicans always beat us at this game. They came up with Pro-Life and that left us with Pro-Choice which is not as dynamic. I suggest we drop the term “pornography” and instead re-brand it as Sex Art. The point of art is that it’s always a personal vision of the artist and it cannot be judged except by personal taste. Some art will be viewed as good and some as bad. We must remember that either judgment will always be in the eyes of the beholder. Sex Art! I even like the way it looks as well as sounds.

When it comes to women’s rights, John Lennon was the only man who had the guts to say it out loud. “Women are the niggers of the world.” Or was he repeating what his wife Yoko Ono said to him? Well, we know what happened to Lennon and to the Kennedy brothers and to Martin Luther King. How come only the good guys get gunned down? Wanna hear my theory on that one? No? OK! I know when I’ve burned out my reader with too much political talk.
At D&R, We represent sexual diversity and orgasmic feminist theory with over two and a half million followers on our weekly You Tube series. We’ve also just passed a million page views which means when someone goes on our website, they stay awhile because we offer so much sex information as well as entertainment. Sex positive feminism is alive and well and we will change the world. It’s just going to take a bit longer than I expected. In the meantime it’s important to remember that a new Sexual Sisterhood is our ultimate power. Viva la Vulva!

Thank you Betty Dodson for this insight look at womens rights, porn and where our society stands when looking into the eye’s of the taboo of sex.