Amoeblog

Downton Rapey?

Posted by Charles Reece, March 8, 2013 10:08am | Post a Comment
downton abbey series 1 episode 3 mary
Lady Mary Crawley

The porn debate is underscored by two fundamentally antagonistic views of the purpose of law in society. The first view, to which pro-sex feminists subscribe, is that law should protect choice. "A woman's body, a woman's right" applies to every peaceful activity a woman chooses to engage in. The law should come into play only when a woman initiates force or has force initiated against her. The second view, to which both conservatives and anti-porn feminists subscribe, is that law should protect virtue. It should come into play whenever there has been a breach of public morality, or a breach of "women's class interests.
-- Wendy McElroy, "A Feminist Defense of Pornography"

I recently watched the French documentary Mutantes: Punk Porn Feminism, which contains interviews with women who participate in and/or support what you'd think based on the title. One of the main points Virginie Despentes makes with her film is that much of the antagonism the sex trade continues to face is rooted in an old fashioned patriarchal control of women's bodies. It's as if the entire familial tradition would crumble if women were allowed to do with their bodies what they want, giving sex away for free or for cash. This same notion can be seen in pop culture in the way rape tends to be seen as the worst thing that one can do to a fictional female victim, not murder. The contamination of a woman's body, the violation of her "virtue" is too evil to face, rather just kill her and get it over with. And, despite how much I love the subgenre, the same might be said of rape-revenge films, even those with an ostensible feminist message (e.g., I Spit on Your Grave), as if the moral equation balances out with the quid pro quo of rape and murderous vengeance. But the feminist view here (at least the right one) is that a woman shouldn't have virtue forced on her, solely defined by others to have her live as they see fit. This is McElroy's quoted distinction in the two views of law, which accurately places certain feminists on the side of traditional conservatives.