complaints, musings, poor judgment, YouTube

What happened to Britt?

I’m having some trouble coming up with a fresh topic this morning. I’m not sure why that is… Maybe it’s because I don’t want to write about what’s really on my mind today. Let’s face it. Things are kind of dark these days. It’s especially depressing to read all of the embarrassingly unscientific whining I’ve seen from people I used to think were really smart. But anyway, today’s post is kind of on two themes that are sort of loosely connected. I am all for freedom of expression and airing of opinions. Sometimes they lead to deep thinking and good conversations. And sometimes, they lead to head shaking and scratching.

For instance, there’s a guy I knew in school who went to an excellent university and went on to become an architect. Obviously, science and math are strengths of his. But yesterday, he shared a post about how Southwest Airlines’ pilots deliberately called in sick as a protest to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Um… I don’t think so.

I did consult Snopes about this post. Snopes says this is bullshit. Stop and think about it for a moment. A whole lot of people in the airline industry were laid off in 2020. Now, things are opening up again, and airlines, like a lot of other would-be employers, are scrambling to hire people. Moreover, SWAPA, the union for Southwest Airlines’ pilots, had this to say…

Hmm…

I find it particularly interesting that the author of the first post I screenshot cites that “80% of Southwest’s pilots are ex-military” (in my experience, there’s no such thing– that indoctrination doesn’t wash out in most people). Anyone who has served in the military knows that when you join up, Uncle Sam owns your ass, and you WILL be taking any and all vaccines that are required, unless you have a damned good and mostly medically based reason not to. That’s just how it is. Those who refuse the vaccine will likely end up discharged or they’ll get a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand, or GOMOR, which is usually a career killer.

At least for part of any servicemember’s time in the military, there will be indoctrination and a temporary loss of freedom. It’s hard for me to understand how so many people in the military are so politically conservative, when their jobs basically require them to submit to the government and all of its requirements for service– everything from staying at the right weight and health standards, to not mouthing off at your boss, to going wherever in the world Uncle Sam sends you (and sometimes your family).

Aside from that, the military offers quite a few programs that, if you think about it, are pretty socialist… especially if you happen to live on a military installation. Maybe a few pilots or staff members are striking over vaccine mandates, but I don’t think this is a widespread thing… and even if it is, the writing is pretty much on the wall worldwide. The vast majority of people are most likely going to have to be vaccinated if they want to be employed.

My husband has had to prove he’s gotten the vaccine, as have all of his co-workers. His company even stated that anyone who doesn’t want to get vaccinated will have a tough time moving to another company, because all of the contractors are requiring that employees get the vaccine. Why? Because the government is also requiring it. The U.S. government is my husband’s company’s client, and they want everyone to get the shot(s). So everyone is either getting vaccinated, or looking for new work.

I know that’s not what some people want to hear, but it’s the way of the world. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I suspect that if COVID-19 isn’t under control soon, people who refuse to cooperate may find themselves in the same situation that many people who don’t cooperate with tuberculosis vaccines and treatments are in… basically detained, so they can’t spread their sickness to everyone else.

Someone else I know shared this post…

This lady’s mom was my chemistry teacher. She also taught my sister. Apparently, my friend and her mom, a science teacher, are against the vaccines, even though they evidently complied.

My friend had COVID-19, and posted that it was horrible for her. She writes that she had to go to the ER more than once. And yet she evidently thinks that the vaccines are solely about making money. I am as skeptical about the motives of Big Pharma as a lot of people are, but so far, the vaccines have been offered to the general public (at least in the USA) for free. Yes, the pharmaceutical companies are charging governments for the vaccines. Someone has to pay the cost of employing scientists and the materials that go into making the vaccines. And I also agree that natural immunity certainly has its place… although when it comes to COVID, people didn’t have natural immunity, which is why so many have gotten very sick and/or died.

I might have been alright with taking my chances with COVID-19 before the Delta variant came along. At this point, count me among those who are glad there’s a vaccine.

Anyway… on with the title of this post. I promise, the first paragraphs relate to it.

Three years ago, before all of this COVID crap started, people were mostly talking about Brett Kavanaugh, who is now a Supreme Court Justice. I was one who was against his confirmation, mainly because I didn’t think he was worthy of the job. Donald Trump was talking about how “scary” it was to be a man in 2018. In response, a singer-songwriter named Lynzy Lab wrote a cute song called “A Scary Time”.

She’s got a point.

Somehow, I found a woman named Britt’s response to Lynzy Lab’s ditty. Britt was young and pretty, and she made a video on YouTube about how Lynzy Lab’s song was mostly fallacious. Her overall point was that all of the things Lynzy claimed she can’t do because she’s a woman were, in fact, things she could do if she wanted to. Britt did allow that some of the things Lynzy sang about were things that might be riskier for a woman to do, like walk alone at night. But yes, if Lyzny really wanted to, she could walk alone and likely wouldn’t be accosted.

Of course, we all know that when it comes to doing things like walking alone at night or leaving a drink unattended or getting a little drunk, women are statistically at a higher risk of being victimized. Lynzy was simply pointing out that Donald Trump and his ilk had no business complaining about being “scared” to be men, when guys like Brock Turner can rape an unconscious woman behind a Dumpster, get sentenced to just six months in jail, and then be released before the six months had passed!

I noted in my post about this subject that Judge Kavanaugh was outed for being a drunken boor in high school and college, but he still gets to be a Supreme Court Justice. He has a sweet gig for the rest of his life, even though there’s compelling evidence that he has hurt women in the past. It’s not such a scary time for Kavanaugh…

And Donald Trump, who is a well-known and admitted abuser of women, got to be the President of the United States for four regrettable years! People STILL want him to be president, even though he has publicly stated that he admires dictators and would happily kiss, caress, and grab beautiful women by the pussy, because he’s entitled as a “star”. Not such a scary time for him, either, is it?

I guess the one thing these guys all have in common is that they’re all privileged white men with access to money and political connections. And at no time in U.S. history has it been “scary” for privileged white people (especially the ones with penises). That includes people like the ones I posted about above, who feel quite free to lament the COVID-19 vaccines because they think the pandemic is a bunch of hooey. These are people who, statistically speaking, will probably fare better if they’re wrong about COVID. They’re more likely to be able to access medical treatment and have adequate support as they recover. Although sadly, even some of those who are privileged are still dying of the virus.

So anyway, about the YouTuber named Britt. I initially didn’t want to listen to her video in October 2018, because I disagreed with her, and found her singularly unlikable. But back then, I was glad I heard her out, because some of her comments, at least on the surface, made some sense. I used to be more like her when I was much younger. Or, at least I had similar political views, even if I wasn’t as camera ready. What can I say? I grew up in a small, southern town in Virginia, and the vast majority of people there are southern conservatives. Most of them are basically good people, but they have deeply ingrained views about politics and religion, and they don’t trust alternative perspectives. They see no reason to change their views, which to me, now seem pretty limited. I will admit, though, that there was a time when I was with my southern conservative friends and neighbors. It took getting out of that environment to change my perspectives.

This morning, I noticed that Britt’s rebuttal to Lynzy’s song was no longer available, so I visited Britt’s channel. I see that even though she still has over 83,000 subscribers, she currently only has three videos available to the public, with about 16 more that are now private. All three public videos are basically about how women have unrealistic expectations about dating. She also doesn’t like fat acceptance, and she evidently thinks women in America need to stop embracing body positivity when they’re “fat”.

I disagree with Britt’s take on overweight women, and how she apparently conflates body positivity/fat acceptance with feminism and being “unattractive” (see today’s featured photo, which appears on Britt’s channel). But I will agree that obesity can exacerbate health problems and can cause or worsen a lot of mental health issues. People should try to be as healthy as possible, and for a lot of people, that means that weight loss is a very desirable thing (as is vaccination). I just don’t like the way Britt presents her message, which is just offensive, snarky, and shitty. I can see that Britt is very young and pretty, at least circa 2016, and I remember she was still young and pretty when she made her video about Lynzy Lab, back in 2018. I seem to recall she was in college at that point. I wonder how Britt will feel when she’s a bit older and life kicks her in the ass a few times.

I also wonder where the rest of her videos went. Obviously, she was once a very popular v-logger. She has a link to Instagram, too. But I see that her Instagram is now completely defunct. What happened? Maybe she migrated to Parler? Maybe she got sick or fat? Maybe she ended up with COVID? Hard to tell… but I do remember that back in 2018, she stated that Democrats need to be “voted out” of office. Why? So we can have more misogynistic, power hungry creeps like Donald Trump running things?

I don’t disagree that sometimes feminists and, in fact, people on the left, go a little too far. Personally, I’m much more of a political moderate than a liberal. I don’t embrace all liberal concepts. I do, however, believe that compassion is severely lacking in today’s society. I think Britt’s content lacks compassion and understanding, and while I can see that she was popular before her channel’s content got so severely reduced, I notice that many of her followers are spewing the same mean spirited and unkind things she says.

I remember being young and cocky. I agree that a lot of young people, at least until today’s current weirdness, were probably a bit “soft”. On the other hand, I think we should try to be kinder and more understanding to each other, whenever possible. A lot of people are hurting… even, and maybe even especially, young people like Britt, who appear to have everything to live for. Just this morning, I read about how the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has canceled classes today, because one person on campus committed suicide and another attempted it. Things are looking bleak for many people.

Britt probably ought to thank a feminist for the fact that she was able to go to college, and can now publicly present her conservative, feminist shaming, and fat shaming opinions on social media. If Trump and his ilk had their ways, women would be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, listening to Trump supporting guys like Reid Baer singing songs like this to them…

Jesus Christ!

I will close this post the same way I closed the last one I wrote about this particular YouTuber…

I hope Britt wakes up and smells the “covfefe” soon… (but maybe she has, since most of her videos are either private or gone…)

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complaints, family, healthcare

Repost: No, vasectomies are NOT totally reversible!

I am reposting this article I wrote in September 2018 because I keep seeing memes promoting (in jest) forcing men to get vasectomies because they are “totally reversible”. Unfortunately, Bill and I know from personal experience that that’s not always true. Besides, I don’t agree with pressuring anyone– male or female– to have elective surgery. That should be a personal decision made by the person having the surgery and forced to live with the aftermath of it.

Yesterday, someone in the Duggar group posted this article, based on tweets by a Mormon mom of six who lays out why she thinks men are responsible for every “unwanted” pregnancy.  The mom, name of Gabrielle Blair, reminds everyone that women can only get pregnant for a couple of days every month, while men could theoretically get different women pregnant thousands of times per month.  Because men are so easily able to impregnate women, she believes they should be more responsible about birth control.  In fact, she thinks the onus should be on men to prevent “unwanted” pregnancies.  They should be more willing to make birth control accessible, affordable, and available to all women.  And they should also be much more willing to wear condoms.

Gabrielle Blair refers to “unwanted” pregnancies, but that’s not a term I’m comfortable with.  I once used it when I was getting my MSW and was corrected by my field instructor, who told me the right term is “unintended pregnancy”.  Although I do think a lot of unintended pregnancies are also unwanted, I decided that I liked the word “unintended” better.  Sometimes women find themselves unexpectedly pregnant and later decide they’re glad about it.  So, in this post, I will refer to unintended pregnancies instead of “unwanted” pregnancies.

I agree with many of the concepts Blair discusses in her tweets.  Although birth control has never been an issue I’ve personally had a lot of concerns about, I did used to work in maternal and child health, back before I was an overeducated housewife.  I have seen the aftereffects of what happens when a woman has a child she isn’t ready to nurture.  I do think we need to make birth control readily available so that there is less of a need for abortion.  I would much rather see a woman prevent an unintended pregnancy than have an abortion.

The one thing that I don’t agree with, however, is the idea that vasectomies are totally reversible.  Blair tweets this concept, after just having suggested castration as a penalty for men who cause unintended pregnancies.  Of course she realizes that castration as punishment for a man who accidentally impregnates a woman would never happen.  So then she “jokingly” suggests required vasectomies for boys at the onset of puberty.

It’s really not that simple.


Before I get too cranked up with my comments about this, let me say that I know that, just like the castration law Blair suggested, forced vasectomies for pubescent boys would also never happen.  Maybe if we only had female lawmakers who were also extreme feminists with a cruelty streak, something like that could possibly be considered, but even then, I really doubt it.  The United States would have to turn into a completely matriarchal society with a hefty dose of The Handmaid’s Tale thrown in for good measure.  Blair’s suggestions are very sci-fi and interesting to ponder, but completely implausible and highly unlikely to happen in my lifetime.

That being established, I will agree that microsurgeries have come a long way and a lot of men are able to successfully have their vasectomies reversed even years after the vasectomy was done.  However, I can also speak from personal experience that not every reversal will result in a man regaining his fertility.  I know this because my husband had a vasectomy reversal that was technically successful.  He had 90 million “swimmers” after he underwent a 4 hour operation to reconnect his junk.  And yet, here we sit, still childless. I know we aren’t the only ones who had this outcome after a reversal, either.

Now… it’s entirely possible that the reason we didn’t have children could be because of something other than Bill’s vasectomy reversal not working.  For all I know, I didn’t get pregnant because something is wrong with me.  However, even if that were the case, the fact remains that not every vasectomy reversal will result in pregnancy.  The Mayo Clinic reports that reversal surgery can be anywhere from 30% to 90% effective.  A lot depends on the conditions the surgeon has to work with.  The reversal surgery has the best chance of working if it’s done within a few years of the vasectomy, the patient is young and healthy, the vasectomy was done with a minimum of scarring, and the surgeon has mad skills.

In Bill’s case, it had been about eleven years since he’d gotten snipped.  At first, his surgeon told him that he might have to do a more complicated procedure, since it had been so long since his vasectomy (done in 1993).  In the end, they did a less complicated procedure.  A couple of weeks later, a different doctor– not the one who did Bill’s surgery, because that guy got deployed to Iraq– told Bill that he needed to be careful where he pointed his “thing”, since he was firing “live ammunition”.  They’d found 90 million sperm in his sample.  Sadly, not a single one was able to penetrate any of my eggs, despite multiple attempts at the right time of the month.

After a couple of years, we quit trying, deciding that we’d rather not go through other methods of trying to conceive. Our decision about that mostly had to do with finances, and my realization that I didn’t want to be a parent badly enough to go through all of what becoming a parent in a non-traditional way entails.

I don’t know why I never got pregnant.  We did try.  There were a few things beyond our control that got in the way of conception, not the least of which was Bill’s own adventure in Iraq.  However, even if I had gotten pregnant, I still would never agree that reversals are 100% successful.  That wouldn’t be true.  Although many men can regain their fertility after having a vasectomy reversal, at least for a time, the fact is, sometimes men aren’t able to get it back.  Their bodies start seeing sperm as something foreign that needs to be destroyed or there’s too much scar tissue.  

Aside from that, reversal surgery is expensive, delicate and involved, and requires time off work.  In our case, Bill was able to have it done for free, courtesy of an Army urologist who needed to maintain his skills.  He also got plenty of time to recover, thanks to his understanding Army bosses at the time.  But most men won’t have the opportunity Bill had to get that surgery for free.  Reversals are also a hell of a lot more involved than vasectomies are.  They take much longer, cost a lot more, and are riskier.  Those who do get reversal surgery will also need to be able to take the time to recuperate.  

I totally agree with Blair’s main points that birth control is important and should be easier to get.  She’s right that men should be more willing to do their part to prevent unintended pregnancies.  However, I think it’s wrong to promote sterilization surgery as an easy fix for anyone, especially with the irresponsible comment that vasectomies are “totally reversible”.  They’re not.  

Vasectomies are intended to be permanent sterilization.  Any man who gets one should do it with the knowledge that it will possibly permanently end his ability to father children the easy way.  If they’re alright with that, fine.  But no man should ever have a vasectomy believing that someday, he can simply have it reversed and father children without medical intervention.  It doesn’t always work out that way, and it’s irresponsible of Blair to promote the idea that it does, even if her comments were really intended jokingly as sort of a “modest proposal”.

I made a comment about how vasectomy reversals aren’t always successful in the Duggar Family News group and immediately got a ration of shit from a couple of the members who wanted to argue with me about it. One woman said that in her hospital, 95% of reversals are successful with “swimmers”.  I called bullshit on that.  I don’t know that woman from Adam, and have no idea what her background is, but it’s a well established fact that reversals don’t always work, even if the surgeon is a superstar.  I would be very skeptical if any medical professional claimed that success rate, because not every candidate is going to get those results, regardless of the quality of the facility and the skill of the staff performing the operation.  

Another woman commented with some tripe about how I should be more sensitive to the women who have to deal with preventing pregnancy.  I AM sensitive to the women.  I DO agree that birth control for both partners is a good thing and both people are responsible.  I simply don’t agree with the idea that forcing boys to have vasectomies is a good idea, even if the idea is presented in jest.  

I would be horrified if anyone suggested tying the tubes of pre-pubescent girls, rationalizing that they can later have the operation reversed.  I am just as horrified by the suggestion that we should be giving vasectomies to boys to prevent them from knocking up girls.  That’s an extreme and unethical solution, and even as a joke, it’s really not funny in my opinion.  But what really prompted me to write this morning is the idea that a decision to be permanently sterilized is easily undone.  It’s not, and reputable medical institutions confirm that it’s not. We should be more respectful about every person’s right to make personal decisions about their own bodies without pressure or interference from other people.

That being said… although I always wanted children, I now think it’s a blessing that I don’t have them, and am mostly at peace with not being someone’s mother. I do sometimes wonder what a child between Bill and me would have been like, though. Then, after I fantasize about it, I realize I wouldn’t wish today’s fucked up world on any child of mine. Also… I wonder how in the world Gabrielle Blair can be a Mormon and be as much of a feminist as she is. She’s either simply a cultural Mormon or she has some serious cognitive dissonance going on.

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book reviews, family

Reviewing In My Mother’s House by Kim Chernin…

I just took a lovely nap. It commenced after I finished reading Kim Chernin’s book, In My Mother’s House. Kim Chernin, born Elaine Kusnitz, died recently, which is probably how this book came on my radar. She was 80 years old. She was a lesbian, a feminist, a much regarded author with a doctorate, and the daughter of a famously communist mother, Rose Chernin. She was survived by her daughter, Larissa, who was her only child, born in 1963 while Kim was studying at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Married and divorced twice, Kim took her mother’s surname after the second divorce, as did her daughter. She is also survived by her wife, Renate Stendhal.

Kim Chernin died in December of COVID-19. Her only sister, Nina, had died when Kim was four years old. Kim owed her life to Nina, because when her mother got pregnant with her, she reportedly told Nina, then an adolescent, that she wasn’t sure she should have the baby. At the time of her pregnancy, Kim’s famous mother, Rose, was thirty-nine years old and very busy with her career as a left-wing activist. Nina reportedly promised their mother that if she would have the baby, Nina would take care of it. Sure enough, Kim was born in May 1940, and Nina took care of her. Of course, no one knew at the time that Nina would get very sick with Hodgkins lymphoma, which would kill her in 1944.

At the beginning of her book, In My Mother’s House, Rose is visiting Kim and Larissa, who was a young girl at the time. She’s asked her daughter to write a book about her life as a labor organizer and Communist Party. Kim Chernin, who was nationally known as an expert on body dysmorphia and eating disorders, agreed. It took her seven years to finish the book, which was originally published in 1983. The result is a multi-faceted book about one woman’s unusual and riveting history between two super powers, Russia and the United States. Rose told Kim about her life– quite a lot of which had already been lived before Kim was born.

Rose Chernin and Paul Kusnitz, Kim’s parents, were Russian Jews. They were born at the beginning of the twentieth century. When Rose was about thirteen, her mother moved her and her sisters from Russia to Waterbury, Connecticut. Rose became politically active as a young woman, dedicated to the idea of communism. She joined the Communist Party in 1932, three years after officially becoming a United States citizen. That year, the family moved to Moscow for a couple of years before returning to the United States. Kim’s father was an engineer educated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, so he helped develop the Moscow Metro (subway) system. The family returned to the United States in 1934, six years before Kim was born.

In the ensuing years, Rose Chernin was very active in promoting communism in the United States. Kim Chernin grew up hearing about the wonders of the Soviet Union, which her mother promoted as a more humane society. Kim read works by Marx and Lenin from a very young age.

In 1951, Rose Chernin was arrested for conspiracy to overthrow the government under the Smith Act of 1940. The Smith Act of 1940 set criminal penalties for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government by force or violence, and required all non-citizen adult residents to register with the federal government. Rose spent a year in jail, in part because her bail was set at $100,000, which she could never hope to raise. The Immigration and Naturalization Service tried to deport Rose, but were unsuccessful because of a 1957 ruling that the Smith Act was unconstitutional.

I was initially drawn into the story about four generations of women in Kim Chernin’s family because of the richness in which the story was written. Kim was a very intelligent and expressive writer, and I got the sense that she and her mother had a complicated yet loving relationship. Kim grew up attending communist rallies with her mother, who was very much a supporter of worker’s rights and tenant advocacy and an opponent of racism. Naturally, Rose’s ideas ran contrary to the ideas promoted by the U.S. government. But there was a time when Russia and the United States were allies, as both powers fought against Hitler’s regime.

Kim also went to Yiddish school, although she rebelled against the teachings there. And yet, in reading her book about her mother, I can tell that the experience in Yiddish school left its mark on her as she weaves her mother’s voice in to story. Kim had a complicated relationship with her mother, and they are said to have fought “bitterly”. However, Kim also clearly adored her, and that loving quality is liberally injected In My Mother’s House. Rose Chernin lived a very long and productive life. She died in 1995 of Alzheimer’s Disease. She had just turned 94.

I’m glad I read this book. I promise, it’s not the book that sent me into afternoon slumber. Rather, I think it was because Arran woke me up at 4:30am and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I have always found the Soviet Union and Russian history very interesting. I also find Kim Chernin interesting because of her work as a feminist and expertise in the subject of eating disorders. Her trilogy about eating disorders, Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of SlendernessThe Hungry Self: Women, Eating and Identity, and Reinventing Eve: Modern Woman in Search of Herself, put her on the map as a writer. However, In My Mother’s House, is a loving and fascinating tribute to her mother, who was quite an amazing woman. It also offers a glimpse at Kim’s grandmother, a woman who never could adapt to life in the United States and was later sent to an institution, where she wrote beautiful letters.

Kim Chernin managed to impart her mother’s wisdom as she wrote in Rose Chernin’s voice, “You want to fly? Grow wings. You don’t like the way things are? Tell a story.” Words to live by… although I’m not sure I’m as good at following Rose’s advice as Kim was. May she rest in peace.

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book reviews

Repost of my review of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality

And finally, another review I originally wrote for Epinions.com. I wasn’t a fan of this book, but sex sells, so here are my thoughts. This review was written July 5, 2011.

I’m always up for a good book on social sciences, especially if it’s also about sex.  That’s why I sat up and took notice when fellow Epinionator telynor wrote a review of Gail Dines’ 2010 book Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.  I have to admit that I find the subject of porn interesting.  I was exposed to it at a very young age, thanks to a creepy neighbor who used to show me his stash of mens’ magazines.  I also had parents who didn’t pay much attention to what I was watching on television, so I saw many films that were not intended for young eyes.  Though my childhood exposure to adult films and magazines probably made me more precocious about sex than I should have been, astonishingly enough, I came into my marriage with very little actual experience.  Maybe I was one of the lucky ones.

According to Gail Dines, my experiences seeing pornography as a youngster is no longer all that uncommon.  Apparently, many American boys have seen porn for the first time, on average, by age 11.5.  The parents of today have to contend with things that my parents never had to worry about, thanks to the Internet and cable and satellite systems that include hundreds of television channels.  Some parents are taking extreme measures to protect their kids from what they deem “inappropriate” images.  Not long ago, I ran across a posting on a public messageboard for moms written by an anguished woman who had decided to ban Amazon.com from her home.  Her reason?  The store sells underwear and has pictures of models wearing them.  Of course, plenty of other parents seem to be much more ambivalent about these so-called “porn images”.  According to Gail Dines, that’s a problem.  She claims that porn culture is very sneakily creeping into pop culture and desensitizing people against grotesque, violent, sexual imagery.

In her well-written book, Pornland, Dines explains the history of porn, starting with Hugh Hefner’s relatively innocent Playboy magazine of the 1950s.  Playboy eventually got competition from its somewhat raunchier competitor, Penthouse.  And then, along came Larry Flynt’s still sleazier Hustler magazine.  Dines notes that as these three magazines became more popular and earned more money for publishers, the pornography industry really took off, leading to video and DVD sales.  Mainstream publishers and advertisers realized that sex sells, so now it’s everywhere.

Dines argues that the widespread commercialism of porn is making Americans less sexually liberated.  According to Dines, the “hard-core, violent, sexist, and racist” images that Americans are regularly exposed to, is a public health problem that requires attention.

Besides being a public health issue, Dines points out that porn is also a religious and political issue.  Mitt Romney is a well-known Mormon who attempted to run for president in 2008 and is now bidding for President Barack Obama’s job in 2012.  The LDS church is famously anti-porn, so many voters would expect Romney to be anti-porn in alliance with his religious beliefs.  However, Mitt Romney served on a board for Marriott hotels from 1992 until 2001.  Marriott hotels, like most other major hotel chains, are major players in the porn industry, making on demand pornography available to hotel guests and picking up millions of dollars in revenue.  According to Dines, the LDS church pressured Mitt Romney to put a stop to selling porn at Marriotts, but the powers that be at the hotel chain refused to cave.  Consequently, Marriotts still sell porn.  Interestingly enough, Marriott was founded by J. Willard Marriott, who was a prominent Mormon.  Mitt Romney eventually tried to distance himself from the Marriott hotel chain, but when he lost his bid for the Presidency in 2008, he quietly rejoined Marriott’s board.

Dines also writes about pseudo-child pornography (PCP), which is porn that depicts women who are legal adults, but appear childlike.  Dines worries that the violence depicted in porn can lead to more sexual assaults and molestation, by feeding inappropriate fantasies and leading to crimes against women and children.

My thoughts  

Gail Dines is a feminist and an academic.  She writes well and I learned a lot from reading her book, which I felt was well-researched and included some compelling arguments against porn.  That being said, I don’t agree with some of Dines’ arguments.  It’s true that some people can get into trouble with pornography, but people can get in trouble with just about everything.  What’s more, what constitutes porn is subjective.  To one person, an Amazon.com underwear ad is porn.  To another, porn is a very specific genre with images much more graphic than underwear.  To some people, porn is offensive and gross.  To others, it’s exciting and fun.  Who gets to determine what porn is and whether or not it’s exciting or offensive?

Dines is also very graphic in some of her descriptions of porn.  Some readers might be turned off by some of her lurid accounts of the pornography she encountered while researching this book.  Readers who might be offended by frank descriptions of sex acts and raw language might want to steer clear of Dines’ book.

Overall  

I’m not sure Dines managed to convince me that porn is hijacking sexuality in America.  In fact, I think there are a lot of people out there, particularly women, who use the concept of “porn addiction” as an excuse to demonize, control, and shame men.  A lot of people, women included, enjoy viewing porn.  That doesn’t necessarily make them sick, violent, or criminals.

I can’t say I really “enjoyed” reading Dines’ book about pornography, but I can say I learned new things from it.  I want to thank telynor for alerting me to this book by writing her fine review.

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