Friday, 14 October 2011

Anna Arrowsmith: So Open Minded My Brain Just Fell Out

My attention was drawn to an article in the Guardian online stating that porn is good for society. In it, the (female) writer argues that there is no evidence that porn causes any damage. I've just left my two pen'orth in the comments section for what it's worth, a little apprehensively (defenders of porn may claim to be in favour of free speech but in my experience they're never backward in coming forward to tell anyone who disagrees with their perspective to shut the fuck up - prude! conservative! do-gooder! frigid cow... you get my point) . I'm prepared for a backlash.

That the author, Anna Arrowsmith - a porn director - is likely to be a tad biased in favour of porn is hard to dispute. That she makes sweeping statements, as if of fact, as to the harmlessness of porn, is a little harder to swallow. And as a survivor of prostitution and pornography, I've had to swallow a good deal!

Of course, reading through the comments, her view is a popular one. Men and women who get off on using porn, without too much thought as to any consequences beyond their own orgasm are unlikely to thank anyone who draws attention to the damages caused by porn. Hell, it might take the edge off things or even make them feel a bit bad, and porn's all about feeling good after all, isn't it? Having a laugh, getting your rocks off, not too serious, no harm done.

As if.

Porn damages. Fact. In it, women are sex objects, a set of orifices to be bought, wanked over and discarded. Men who object to this view are seen as unmanly, women who object as prudish or jealous. Or anti sex. God, that makes me laugh, yeah, of course, I object to women being sold and abused to make vast sums of money for an industry that then discards them with their mental health problems and physical damage, so I must be an enemy of sexual empowerment and sex.


The arguments put forward by the sex industry are thin and reedy, when they are seen for what they are. Once we discard the fear of being called names for not supporting an industry that destroys women, we can begin to speak. But more than that, we can point out a few facts that unlike Anna Arrowsmith's wishful thinking are harder to dispute. The argument put forward by the industry is little more than hot air, a huge spin machine there to protect maximum profits for the business men behind it. The sex industry doesn't care about promoting a healthy varied view of sex, it cares about money! It is profit driven. The pimps don't care about the women's bodies, they care about new, ever more extreme niche markets. Double penetration? Double anal? Fisting? They all hurt. But they make money, push the boundaries, have an edge. Porn isn't free speech: since when did a vagina or anus have a voice? It's the very opposite, a muting of the voices of the women it uses and hurts. They can't say: this hurts! They have to say: I love it, I choose to be here, it feels so good, fuck me harder, or else not be paid or be hurt by the unseen pimps and coercers hidden in pornography at the other end of the lens.

I know: I've been there. The words I said weren't my words, they were the words of my ex, of the man who beat me and raped me and sold me for other men to photograph and film and beat and rape. Being forced to say I enjoyed being abused, wanted more of it, nearly killed me, and I'm not speaking figuratively. I've wanted to die even since I exited.

Women don't get into the sex industry because they're happy and sorted and well adjusted. We end up there through mental health issues, substance abuse issues, violence, past abuse... desperation. And once you get in there, it's all down hill from there on in. The trauma of being sold, of being used as pure entertainment, of being abused, being laughed at and hurt and fucked and told you deserve it, stays with you. If you're lucky enough to get out alive, and not everyone does, you are left so damaged, so scarred, that you feel you no longer fit in, no longer belong. You feel you belong back there, although you hate it, are terrified of it. It's the only place they'll welcome a fuck up like you. Everywhere you go for help they tell you that prostitution's just a job, that porn's harmless, they invalidate you, they judge you (you've got bad mental health now after all, you're easily dismissed, and a 'history' of substance abuse issues, of self harm) and they send you away. Even the so-called mental health professionals don't want to hear your story.

Mute then, and mute now. Disposable then, disposable now.

Because, as Anna Arrowsmith's article, and the majority of comments beneath it show, most people don't want to listen, don't want to hear the unpalatable truth. Society demands that the individual be able to use a woman, buy a woman, wank over a woman and then fold her back into the bedside drawer, with a box of tissues and a spotless conscience. This state of affairs will continue for as long as there is fear in speaking out. No one likes being called names. As for me, though, when I hear defenders of porn saying that people who are anti porn are closed minded, I say: it's ok to say that somethings are damaging. Porn damages. We have to draw a line somewhere. Otherwise we will continue to live in the situation in which we are so open minded, our brains have fallen out.


  1. Thanks so much for telling the truth.

  2. Great comment! I hope it rings true to some of the Guardian readers, even if, like you, they wince at the abuse if they say so.
    Martin Dufresne

  3. Excellent writing!! Great truth telling, thanks for putting such great words to this issue.

  4. Thanks for having the courage to speak the truth.

  5. Thank you so much for this. It's very damning that our society allows criticism of pornography to be seen as taboo. Your story is touching and very delicately told, I'm sure many will be grateful for this post.

  6. You're whole blog is great. You're very brave to speak out as a survivor. Thank you.