For #MeToo to truly be a reckoning for male sexual entitlement and cultural norms of sexual harassment, abuse and assault, we need to talk about porn.
In fact, it seems rather extraordinary that pornography hasn't figured much in the current #MeToo moment. We've heard a lot about how pop culture shapes harmful sexual scripts, but ignoring the role of porn in shaping pop culture is faintly ridiculous.
Pornography is ubiquitous. While more than three-quarters of Australian men report having watched pornography in the last year, younger cohorts are even more likely to consume pornographic material and use it habitually - on either a daily or weekly basis.
The increasing accessibility and acceptability of pornography have been mutually reinforcing.
A smart phone is now the dominant way in which (mostly male) consumers access online porn, thus moving pornographic content from the private realm of the home to virtually anywhere in the public sphere - including workplaces.
The workplace connection is more than mere speculation. Many online porn sites show their traffic is highest during standard working hours, suggesting access to pornography while at the office is relatively unremarkable. Which reminds me of an aside made by a sports journalist, some years ago, about a fellow colleague in the press box:
"tabbing between his match report and a constant stream of hardcore pornography ... The thing that initially staggered me was the sheer audacity of it, that the presence of both female and male colleagues, who were sitting metres away with clear views of his screen, hadn't been enough to deter him and that he felt perfectly comfortable doing it in full view. Welcome to Blokesworld."
The #MeToo movement has shown that we are quite capable of understanding the way movies, music and the mainstream media are implicated in shaping social norms of sex and sexuality. If we can manage this, then surely we can understand that the material most men masturbate to also deserves scrutiny.
So, for all the men who have been asking what they can do in light of #MeToo, here's a place start: stop linking your sexual arousal to women's sexual subordination. Stop watching porn.
“Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.”
Seth McFarlane's Oscar quip wasn't funny in 2013, but at the time it was met with dutiful Hollywood laughter. Now, after revelations of Weinstein's alarming reported history of sexual harassment, the line is being recycled as further evidence of Hollywood's best-kept secret. But it's also evidence of how the industry treats such behavior: as a joke.
Since the studio era, the "casting couch" has been the subject of both humor and lore—an alliterative term used to polish the noir memory of old Hollywood, and to punch out a take-my-wife laugh. More often than not, it was also used to shame and denigrate successful actresses. (For reference see Marilyn Monroe's persona, the term "blond bimbo," the movie Bowfinger, or this oft-repeated one-liner: "There's an actress so dumb she slept with a writer.")
The idea that such sexual misconduct was a secret up until now is patently false. Everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Judy Garland has detailed horrifying accounts of sexual harassment and assault, though many of those accounts were once relegated to celebrity biographies and listicles. That's to say, nobody took them seriously.Read more