I’m writing some draft articles for a passionate and talented young woman who is starting a webzine. For Christians like my Catholic friend who just wrote this http://vox-nova.com/2013/03/15/im-right-here-see-me/ So the first article I sent in was about porn. I present this soon-to-be-rewritten draft to you:
Art: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
Is pornography art?
Once I would have answered this question with a disgusted and emphatic NO! In fact, I did a presentation on the dangers of porn for one of my University classes. I presented this, with bible verses, to youth events in our church. I thought I was qualified because I had managed to grow up innocent of pop-ups or racy magazines. I even closed my eyes when Disney characters kissed. I was a porn virgin and proud of it.
All of my ‘research’ came from books like Every Man’s Battle and Focus on the Family’s website. I became terrified of pornography, erotica and even cartoon kisses. I was convinced that pornography was evil simply because God said so, or at least, Fred Stoeker and James Dobson said so. When I found I no longer believed the bible was inerrant or even inspired by divine power, I was still afraid of porn.
Without the appeal of authority my fundamentalist Christianity gave me, I had to learn the process of morality. Even so, I had yet to apply it to pornography and still unquestioningly believed that all porn was inherently degrading. I was convinced that watching it would ruin relationships and make people unsatisfied with their own bodies. The words “porn” and “addiction” were firmly coupled in my mind along with “run”. Art? I would have sooner called cocaine food.
As my morality has matured, my views have changed. Much of pornography is degrading and does reinforce harmful views of people, especially of women, homosexuals, trans-people, ethnic minorities and people with non-conforming body types. People can be addicted to anything and addictions can be harmful. Issues of exploitation must be addressed! There are toxic messages that need to be changed. However, saying that all porn is harmful can be just as ignorant as saying all porn is good.
While still firmly convinced I knew everything about porn, I ended up taking a class with a small chapter on the history of the anti-porn movement. The textbook had two websites we were supposed to compare.* I decided to actually go into one of the sites and see things for myself.
I was transported into a sunshiny Eden-like page. This particular site only had clips of women pleasuring themselves alone. The women controlled everything- the camera, the scene, and how it was presented. Instead of feeling degraded, I felt strangely empowered. Seeing other women giving themselves permission to enjoy their bodies did not cause me to disrespect them or myself. My first thought was “beautiful”.
To my surprise, I had witnessed art.
*This was an optional assignment with no penalty for not taking part. Also, the web addresses were not the porn sites but the G-rated covers with strict warnings that only those over 18 could enter.
- art. 2013. In dictionary.reference.com Retrieved March 11, 2013, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/art
- Image from: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/03/atheists-urge-to-trade-bibles-for-porn.html