Feminist Friendly masturbation (self.SRSMen)

SRSMen

24 ups - 9 downs = 15 votes

Hey SRS, I am a 17 year old guy who has recently become a feminist. I am trying to be aware of my privilege as a SWACSM, and I have come upon a question.

I in the past used porn to masturbate but I have since read articles and read posts here about how seedy the whole industry is, so I have been avoiding it since. However when I do so without it, I often find myself using the male gaze and using images of people I see in my life to do it, and I am starting to disgust myself.

I wanted to ask: is this a valid feeling, or am I just overthinking it?

42 comments submitted at 22:05:42 on Dec 3, 2013 by feministboy

  • [-]
  • fifthredditincarnati
  • 26 Points
  • 22:46:45, 3 December

You might be overthinking it.

Not all feminists are opposed to all porn. Only some sex-negative strains of radical feminism are.

The problem with porn isn't that it sexualizes women. Sexual objectification of women is only a problem when it happens in contexts where sex ought to be irrelevant, like putting near-naked women in car ads or people making sex jokes at female coworkers in the office. Sexualizing women in porn is not inappropriate, it's the point of porn.

A problem with porn is that the industry very often exploits the women who work in it. A great solution to this problem for individual consumers is to seek out amateur porn which the performers have clearly consented to performing in, who are in control of the whole process and its from independent nonindustry sources. The /r/GoneWild subreddit or other similar subreddits on here are actually pretty good for this as long as the no doxxing and no unauthorized distribution rules are enforced (which I think they are).

  • [-]
  • feministboy
  • 4 Points
  • 23:25:15, 3 December

I understand that things like Gonewild are better. But I just feeling like I am exploiting my male privilege sexualizing someone I know nothing about in such a sexually loaded environment.

  • [-]
  • probablynotahorse
  • 18 Points
  • 23:45:26, 3 December

Consuming porn (assuming it's produced consensually and ethically) is not exploiting your male privilege - you are not objectifying someone who consensually participated in sexualizing themselves; as fifthredditincarnati said, it's the point of porn! If you are uncomfortable even consuming ethical porn because you feel like it too closely resembles more abusive male consumption of female sexuality, well, okay. But that's not being a feminist, that's just you.

  • [-]
  • memumimo
  • 12 Points
  • 02:14:00, 4 December

The other answers here lay down the sex-positive feminist view very well. I'd also add that you're misapplying the idea of the "male gaze" a bit - it's not wrong to use the male gaze if you're a male engaging in sexual activity (alone or with consenting partners). The male gaze is wrong when it's applied everywhere all the time for all audiences by a male-friendly entertainment industry to hype up the content. But male sexuality is fine in its own time and space, and it's prudish and stifling to try to get rid of it entirely or view it as disgusting.

But you might be looking for something else - you would like to avoid sexualizing people in general, which is a cool impulse because you're trying to treat others more humanely. The desire to sexualize someone is normal, especially during puberty, but that doesn't mean you can't consciously control it - and most people learn to manage it better with age. You probably have to think of your own ways not to reduce people you know to objects of sexual desire - either pick people you don't have to personally interact with or stick to fantasies that are more elaborate and less focused on base sexuality so that the people you're imagining remain complete human beings in your mind.

You will probably have an easier time when you enter into relationships of your own, where you'll get to experience sex as an act negotiated and enjoyed between two people...

  • [-]
  • 2718281828
  • 11 Points
  • 23:46:24, 3 December

But the people on r/gonewild aren't being exploited. They choose to upload their pictures knowing exactly what they're being used for. The intent of the subreddit is explicitly clear and they decide to participate (and not through economic coercion either). You're not forcing sexualization on them. They're doing it themselves in a context they control.

  • [-]
  • HumptyDumptyDoodle
  • 5 Points
  • 08:07:18, 4 December

FYI some of the pictures on that subreddit are posted without the individual's consent.

  • [-]
  • 2718281828
  • 1 Points
  • 08:44:55, 4 December

Yeah, sadly that doesn't surprise me. It looks like they have a verification system which is nice, but I guess I can't claim that it's 100% above-board and unproblematic.

  • [-]
  • spectralconfetti
  • 3 Points
  • 05:48:11, 4 December

You're thinking about it in the wrong way when it comes to r/gonewild. The people there don't get paid for it, really they're doing it because they get a thrill out of people online seeing their pictures. You don't have to feel guilty because you're simply doing what the users on there want you to do. There's no bullshit or anything tricking users into submitting, it's all very upfront. Kind of ironic that the best option would be on reddit.

  • [-]
  • TheEvilSloth
  • 9 Points
  • 07:55:17, 4 December

>Not all feminists are opposed to all porn. Only some sex-negative strains of radical feminism are.

I'm sorry but that's just factually incorrect. There are plenty of anti-porn liberal feminists - in fact probably the majority of academic liberal feminists are opposed to pornography per se, but don't support State censorship. Notably, some consider pornography to be itself a rights-violation and therefore objectionable on liberal grounds.

Plus, being anti-porn doesn't mean being 'sex-negative' - you can be perfectly comfortable with sex and still object to the institutionalized misogyny of commodified pornography. Feminists, of liberal, radical and various other strains can object to porn and not be 'sex-negative'. Intriguingly, some can claim to be sex-negative and at least agnostic on the question of pornography - http://www.xojane.com/issues/im-a-sex-negative-feminist

To wit, there are feminists of all ideological stripes, liberal, radical, cultural/difference, whatever who are anti-porn, and being anti-porn doesn't make you sex-negative.

  • [-]
  • fifthredditincarnati
  • 3 Points
  • 14:13:45, 4 December

If porn is defined as any media produced for sexual titillation purposes, then only sex negative feminists can be said to oppose all porn.

You are probably using a different definition of porn though, which is fine, but I think porn is commonly understood to be what I postulated above, so for the purposes of this OP's discussion, I think my statement stands.

  • [-]
  • BlackHumor
  • 7 Points
  • 09:06:28, 4 December

Except... it kind of does.

In addition to the reasons for being pro-porn that have to do with supporting sex workers, there's also just the fact that any attempt to ban or restrict porn is ultimately just reinforcing the patriarchy's odd and arcane restrictions on sex and sexual imagery.

It's not hard to imagine why someone would be against the porn industry as it exists now, but to be against porn itself you have to hold fundamentally anti-sex beliefs that boil down to believing that somehow filming people having sex is fundamentally different than filming anything else.

  • [-]
  • TheEvilSloth
  • 2 Points
  • 09:14:52, 4 December

That's just a straw-man, though. I've never heard any feminist argue that filming naked people per se is the problem. The problem is always a combination of the genuinely horrific conditions in the industry, the insidious male gaze, the rape culture mainstream porn engenders, and so on and so forth.

I have literally never heard an anti-porn feminist claim that the problem is being naked on camera. The problem is all those awful things that separate filming two consenting adults fucking and 'porn'.

  • [-]
  • BlackHumor
  • 5 Points
  • 09:22:08, 4 December

Ah, so I take it you're one of those "porn is separate from erotica" anti-porn feminists?

My response to you is that that definition makes your argument absolutely meaningless. Of course bad porn is bad; you could have said that no matter what.

Using "I define porn as bad" as an excuse to be against porn is at best arguing a moot point and at worst using equivocation in order to sneak your anti-sex attitudes past people.

  • [-]
  • TheEvilSloth
  • -3 Points
  • 09:39:37, 4 December

If by 'porn is seperate from erotica' people you mean literally every mainstream anti-porn feminist academic in the world, then yeah.

When I say porn, I don't mean 'pictures of people naked'. I don't think anyone on earth equivocates between the two. Given how notoriously difficult porn is to define being anti-'porn' but not anti literally every pictoral representation of sex/nudity is hardly arguing a moot point.

I'm not trying to sneak anti-sex attitudes past anyone. Subject to some criticism of the notion of 'consent' as a trump card in a patriarchy which by its nature undermines the capacity to consent, I don't care who fucks whom, nor the manner in which nor frequency with which they fuck. In fact, a society more open to sexual expression would probably be a freer, more equal society and it's no surprise that more genuinely liberal countries have much more liberal attitudes to sex.

But the idea that taking that position means I have to support the commodification and fetishisation of sex that pornography necessarily entails, that I have to be cool with the expression of sexuality in a way specifically designed to oppress women is nonsense.

Or are you one of those pro-porn feminists who is pro 'good' porn, while glossing over the fact that nothing in mainstream pornography - and let's be honest, even the overwhelming majority of non-mainstream pornography - could sensibly be described as 'good porn'?

  • [-]
  • mangopuddi
  • 4 Points
  • 15:46:59, 4 December

Oh please. Your posts in this thread fits the sex-negative definition perfectly. Why the big problem with being labeled as such? It's a valid stance.

That every mainstream anti-porn feminist academic in the world distinguishes between porn and erotica is such bullshit. Dworkin herself thought it was complete rubbish. I agree with you that you can separate the two, but only if you are being very specific and what you mean when you say "porn" is "large parts of the mainstream porn industry". There is actual abuse happening to actual people, which does warrant attention, but if your anti-porn stance is an ideological one then it is necessarily sex-negative.

  • [-]
  • TheEvilSloth
  • 6 Points
  • 17:09:26, 4 December

I think the confusion arises out of the historical development of the terms. We had anti-porn feminism, like MacKinnon/Dworkin (then Kendall, whose work on an anti-porn position with respect to male gay pornography is groundbreaking), then as a response to anti-porn feminism we had sex-positive feminism. The backlash against sex-positive feminism has led to sex-negative feminism, whose work is typified by the likes of Ariel Levy. The argument I'm hearing here is that sex-negative feminism is the only feminism that is down on porn. But even putting aside the problem of defining porn it's just untrue to claim that anti-porn positions are solely the domain of sex-negative (radical) feminists. I mean to take the most obvious example Steinem is a) clearly a liberal, rather than radical feminist, b) draws a clear pornography/erotica distinction (her reciprocity/domination paradigm), rejecting the former and c) I doubt would accept the definition of sex-negative.

Sex-negative isn't coterminous with anti-pornography. Sex-negative is a critique of sex-positive feminism, and in particular a reaction to the notion that consent (which is at best a narrow, legalistic definition of human interaction with marginal usefulness outside a courtroom, and at worst a disingenuous smokescreen by which we excuse some of the worst excesses of patriarchy) acts as a trump card to potentially problematic sexual interactions and/or the idea that the adoption of contemporary, patriarchal sexuality tropes can be at all liberating. You can be anti-porn and reject those basic aspects of sex-negative feminism.

As an aside, I'm thinking that a lot of what got my back up about the comment was the way in which it linked anti-porn feminism and radfem as though the two went hand-in-hand, coupled with the fact that I see a lot of anti-radfem sentiment on SRS. And when it's being directed at the TERFs, then I'm all for it. But there's been this bleed over into the assumption that all radfem is problematic somehow (which is particularly weird since most of SRS' discourse is utterly radical). And so when I read 'only sex-negative radfems are down on pornography', I mean, firstly that's simply wrong insofar as there are plenty of anti-porn liberal feminists and secondly vaugue radfem is problemativ so sex-negative feminism is too vibe I got from it set me off. But re-reading that aspect of it might just be sensitivity on my part.

(And I'm not even a radfem! I love liberalism! At least, on all of the days I'm not completely furious and fed up with patriarchal bullshit I'm not a radfem... )

  • [-]
  • mangopuddi
  • 1 Points
  • 18:13:30, 4 December

Radical Feminism is embraced in the Fempire. TERFs are a poisonous small subset and acknowledged as such. I have noticed a small effort to conflate the two, but not from any long-standing posters, and when it happens people are quick to correct the poster.

  • [-]
  • BlackHumor
  • 0 Points
  • 19:52:11, 4 December

By the old definition of radical feminism, sure, but the old definition of radical feminism is embraced by all feminists.

What radfem has come to mean definitely isn't embraced in the Fempire, and I'd argue for good reason.

  • [-]
  • BlackHumor
  • -1 Points
  • 19:49:35, 4 December

>When I say porn, I don't mean 'pictures of people naked'. I don't think anyone on earth equivocates between the two.

Except I do, and every sex-positive feminist does, and in fact I would say that everyone BESIDES anti-porn feminists do.

I don't like arguing by dictionary definitions, but here's the dictionary definition if you don't believe me:

>1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement

>2 : material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement

-

>But the idea that taking that position means I have to support the commodification and fetishisation of sex that pornography necessarily entails

Huh? What? It doesn't "necessarily" entail that at all. You might as well say that movies in general "necessarily" entail sexism.

>Or are you one of those pro-porn feminists who is pro 'good' porn, while glossing over the fact that nothing in mainstream pornography - and let's be honest, even the overwhelming majority of non-mainstream pornography - could sensibly be described as 'good porn'?

Only in the same way that nothing in the mainstream film industry could sensibly described as free from sexism. It's not a surprise that porn is shitty, because nearly everything is shitty, because the culture is shitty at a fundamental level. That's not a reason to condemn porn specifically.

  • [-]
  • WritesBadFanfics
  • 12 Points
  • 22:40:47, 3 December

So, it seems like you've got issues with masturbation for two main reasons:

  • You used to masturbate to porn which was generally problematic.

  • Without porn, you fantasize about people that you see and/or know, and feel guilty about it.

I mean, there's supposedly a growing collection of feminist porn out there. Have you considered masturbating to that?

  • [-]
  • feministboy
  • 2 Points
  • 23:21:39, 3 December

Yes and No. I mean, I get hat it is a less exploiting version of porn. But viewing the pleasure of others for one's own just seems skeevy to me.

  • [-]
  • NowThatsAwkward
  • 8 Points
  • 02:25:40, 4 December

>But viewing the pleasure of others for one's own just seems skeevy to me.

This is all just opinion, but I don't see that as skeevy in the least. In fact, a pretty big factor in great sex is that you're really into how much pleasure you give your partner(s)- and vice versa.

Seems to me that if you're reasonably sure the people participating in the video (or real-life voyeurism, like in sex clubs) are enthusiastically consenting, it's a-ok.

I mean, one of the worst problems in mainstream porn is that it often promotes getting off to the degradation of women (There can be consensual ways to positively play that kind of fetish out in a supportive environment for people who are into that, but it's not something I'm knowledgeable about). Getting off to the participants pleasure and genuine enjoyment seems about as far from that as you can get.

You can also remember that the great thing about consensual porn and well-ran (ie rule-heavy) sex club rooms is that the participants want to be there, and want to be watched -thats a part if the participants sexuality.

If you're ever unsure if someone's freely consenting, then definitely steer clear. But I can't imagine the harm in consensual voyeurism.

  • [-]
  • krylea
  • 2 Points
  • 16:04:00, 6 December

OK, I want to take a moment to respond to this because I think this is super important and i am kind of disgusted with a lot of the other posts in this thread. Just for context, though I think it will become clear, I am definitely a sex-negative feminist, and I am very critical of sex-positivity for a number of reasons. Sorry, this is super long. I had a lot of feelings about this post.

I am a trans woman, and my personal experience of being a trans woman and transitioning I think is super relevant to this question. I would like to stress that this is just MY personal experience and most trans women do not necessarily experience things the same way as me with respect to this, so don't take this as any kind of a general statement. Back when I was sufering under the delusion that I was a cis dude, I watched a lot of porn. As I transitioned and my sexuality changed I slowly stopped watching it, partially because I didn't enjoy it as much due to hormonal changes, but also because I started to become very uncomfortable with it. Having thought I was a dude and having enjoyed porn as a dude, then looking back again at it as a woman I think gives me a unique perspective on this. When I look back at the things I enjoyed in porn and in sexual fantasies, I become very personally uncomfortable and very disgusted with myself because I can see the degradation implied in my own former sexual desires. It has actually taken a lot of work and time on my own part to unlearn the unhealthy components of sexuality that my time having a non-feminist straight male sexuality inflicted on me. I would say NO, you are not overthinking it, you are absolutely right. Pornography and the male gaze are virulent and destructive and do inherently involve an element of objectification and commodification of women that is unavoidably misogynist. There is good porn out there that does not do this, but it is almost impossible to find and I am not confident that it is possible to enjoy it in a non-problematic way as a straight dude, given the attitudes towards women straight dudes are universally taught to hold. I see other people here posting that objectifying women is okay because it is porn and that is the point of porn, or other posts along similar lines. This is NOT TRUE. Objectification of the form that 99.99% of straight porn encourages, even the so-called "good" and "feminist" stuff is not part of healthy sexuality. It is destructive and encourages misogyny. Healthy sexuality is about mutual attraction and desire. It is not about the sort of fetishization that straight porn of all varieties teaches you to enjoy. I would strongly urge you to stay away from porn and male-gaze-y fantasies if you want to be a real male feminist. I know that is hard to do - we are inundated with them and they can quickly become a dependency - but I think it is a necessary part of confronting your male privilege. There are ways to enjoy sex without objectification - women do it all the time. You can learn to too. There are a bunch of really good articles on this called The Prude's Progress over at radtransfem, you should go check them out. https://radtransfem.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/the-prudes-progress-part-i/ If you need more reasons why porn is harmful, take a look at these links. They are kind of TERF-y, which sucks, but they make their point well: http://elkballet.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/porn-users-explain-why-porn-is-healthy-part-1/ http://elkballet.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/porn-users-explain-why-porn-is-healthy-part-2/

  • [-]
  • Duke_of_Fedoras
  • 2 Points
  • 23:23:25, 7 December

Is there any feminist-sanctioned porn that isn't problematic? Maybe Femdom or something?

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • 1 Points
  • 03:41:23, 8 December

[deleted]

  • [-]
  • Duke_of_Fedoras
  • 1 Points
  • 04:54:57, 8 December

What do you mean?

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • -3 Points
  • 23:03:25, 3 December

[deleted]

  • [-]
  • feministboy
  • 7 Points
  • 23:23:08, 3 December

No I am not, and have not yet been in a relationship. I believe I am not yet mature enough to take on the consequences of that yet, given that I have so much more to learn about feminism and life.

  • [-]
  • Dakayonnano
  • 11 Points
  • 01:40:07, 4 December

By admitting that you aren't mature enough yet, you're more mature than you think.

  • [-]
  • Furfaidz
  • 5 Points
  • 04:40:39, 4 December

You can find people who are open to sex and/or you can watch porn. There's nothing wrong with that, women do it too (yes, most of us watch or have watched porn at some point). Humans are still animals and animals still have an instinct to have sex and it feels great, so why not?

The problem with topics like porn isn't the porn itself, it's when people assume things about women based on things like porn. For example, big breasted women aren't "sluts" (sexually active, but society perceives it inappropriate for women only) by default. Big breasts are a genetic trait and can't be helped.

It's all about common sense, and when kept within context it hurts no one.

Btw thank you for your diligence!

  • [-]
  • WritesBadFanfics
  • 3 Points
  • 22:13:01, 4 December

If you're 17 years old and you sincerely admit that you aren't mature enough to handle a relationship, then I think that you're on the right track. Hell, I'm 22, and I think I'm still not mature enough for a relationship!

I assume you've been keeping an eye on the discussions in these threads, almost all of which have brought up good points about porn, masturbation, and the varying viewpoints on these topics in feminism. I can't speak for everyone here, but I'm pretty sure that we'd be willing to listen if you want to PM any of us.

  • [-]
  • ChristopherLane
  • 2 Points
  • 02:26:04, 4 December

I would really encourage you to seek out healthy relationships and not worry about the porn or how you masturbate.