Quantcast

Video games and porn in Guyland warfare

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, September 12, 2008 23:23 EDT
google plus icon
 
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

I’ve had a weirdly intense week, and so I’m pretty tired. So while I was going to post on more Republican evil shit, I don’t have the moral stamina. But I do want to highlight this interesting post Hugo put up on Michael Kimmel’s new book Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, which made me want to read the book. There’s a lot to chew over, but what I found really interesting is a description of the sort of hostility towards women that’s common now in porn, and has made me question if the porn market is really driven by innocent and non-misogynist lust, as is wishfully claimed often. It just seems that misogyny is the selling point of so much of it.

Kimmel notes the ubiquity in contemporary porn of deception scenarios: in pseudo-documentary style, a group of men invite a woman for a modeling gig, promising all sorts of potential rewards. The young woman is then coaxed into first removing her clothes, and after being offered increasing amounts of money, has sex with one or more of the men. At the end, the men either escape without paying, or break the news to the model that the whole thing was a scam.

I’ve tried to talk about this before, but this description gets to it better. If you’ve watched any of these productions, which are immensely popular, the thing that really jumps out and grabs you is that it’s a rape fantasy with just enough kinda consent registered so the view can tell himself he’s not watching rape porn. But without coming out and saying it’s rape porn, the idea of rape is implied by using common cultural touchstones that reference sexual harassment and assault. A lot of these videos spend time showing the male protagonists following a woman around in the car, who acts bothered and only reluctantly gets in after offered money. Obviously, the car following scenes reference real life situations where women are followed and harassed by strangers in cars—harassers don’t have to verbalize or acknowledge rape to use the reality of it to make their targets fearful so that they can get sadistic pleasure from women’s terror. Once the woman gives some kind of consent to go with the men, she’s shown in situations where she’s stranded and a lot of men are around her. Yes, she said “yes”, but the blocking indicates that her ability to say “no” depends utterly on the generosity of the crowd of hostile and horny men around her. Deception is used, as described. The terms of consent are violated, so we can’t say that even the reluctant consent given was actually given. In many states, obtaining consent through deception is considered rape, so in that way, and the heavy use of disclaimers at the top of these movies indicates that the producers are well aware that they could be percevied as violating criminal codes if anyone thinks this is real.

The popularity of this porn fantasy doesn’t mean all porn is bad or that all men who consume porn are bad, and I’m not interested in the meta-discussion of porn itself. I’m mostly grateful to Hugo and Michael Kimmel for laying out exactly why this particular genre (call it “trick the bitch”, I suppose) bothers me so much. It’s so angry and hateful.

More from Hugo:

Men’s Rights Activists, I’ve noted, tend to fall into two groups: older, usually divorced heterosexual men who feel victimized by family courts, and younger men still in the Guyland phase, convinced, as Kimmel writes, that they have been disenfranchised and exploited by the bitches who have all the power. The older men offer the younger men cautionary tales about grasping wives, ungrateful children, and biased judges; the younger men grow even angrier and more cynical as they realize the stunning disconnect between what porn and video games promise and the world the way it really is.

The idea that women have “all” the power is an obvious rationalization—in my memories of those years, such guys realized that as a rule, they ruled over women their age, who had to jump when they said jump if we wanted any social esteem at all. Hugo beautifully details out the way that porn, video games, and other accouterments of young manhood are used to avoid young women, with their unseemly human needs and desires that have the ability to inconvenience a young man. What I recall from those years, and from talking to other women who went through it, too, was how much these things were used not just as an escape, but as a weapon to show you that demands-making and inconveniencing were a one-way street. Video games were too absorbing to remember meetings scheduled, and porn wasn’t a fun thing to look at to get turned on by, but something you—a miserable flesh and blood young woman—failed to live up to. Not that every woman I’ve talked to about being that age had this experience, but most. The good news is that, for a lot of people, that gets left behind for some reason. Maybe it’s that women get more power with age and don’t put up with that crap anymore. Maybe it’s men grow up and start to see reality a little better and don’t want to dish it out as much. Who knows? Maybe it’s a combination. And god knows that the routine degradation of women continues to be the dominant theme of heterosexual relationships and socializing for a lot of people for the rest of their lives.

By the way, I want to reiterate: Video games and porn are not inherently evil things. I play lots of video games, and don’t feel like I’m getting neglected by my boyfriend due to them or anything. And “porn” is too broad a category to make sweeping generalizations about. But it’s fascinating how these things turn into weapons to be used against women over and over for young men. Why video games and porn? Why not something else?

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.
 
Google+