Archive for political correctness

Why Porn Critics Got It All Wrong

Posted in Posthuman Perversion with tags , , , , , , , on May 16, 2009 by Bonni Rambatan

Porn critics love to say that pornography speaks so much about the misogynistic society we really live in. What they do not know is that by saying this they are masturbating harder (plus-de-jouir) than the simple innocent guys who fap (jouir) in front of their computer screens at home. Is not this “misogyny of the Other” — not the sexual act in porn itself — the ultimate fantasy offered by pornography today?

For whom is this violence staged?

For whom is sexual violence staged?

I get tired of all the sex-negative, porn-negative views that my intellectual colleagues like to prattle on, about society’s true misogyny, and so on. Frankly speaking, I have not met a single person who both watches porn and is a misogyny. All the porn consumers I know (myself included), respect women, supports feminism, is more open to the various ways women think and feel, and so on, while all the misogynists I know hates porn and constantly complains about the degradation of our society. What is going on here?

I remember telling a couple of friends a while ago that I do not believe a single bit the thesis that “porn is the theory, rape is the practice,” telling them that it is essentially a bad name that comes out of the mouths of irresponsible assaulters who are so chicken they need to put the blame on other objects for their actions that the conservative media are only too keen to appropriate for their anti-porn propaganda. Being good young adults, they argued otherwise, although they do watch porn themselves. I asked them whether they have had a single intention at all to rape a women after watching porn, and of course their answer was no.

“Then why do you still believe the theory?” I asked. One gave a perfect answer: “Well, of course, if it is us educated, well brought-up people, it is OK. But imagine how those uneducated people who have never known about sex! No doubt they would go on a raping spree!” It was an a-ha! moment for me. I realized it was not about misogyny after all. The ultimate fantasy in porn turns out to be not a sexual fantasy, but that of class struggle. It was that ancient notion of civilized people versus barbarians all over again.

(A disclaimer before we go on: first, I acknowledge the existence of cases where people gang rape young teens after watching porn, but only as much as I acknowledge young teens go on school shooting sprees after watching war movies. They are exceptional cases and I perceive the excuses as retroactive constructions. Second, I am not talking about extreme fetishes of the long tail market variation.)

Case example. So we watch a porn video of this young girl being degraded, humiliated, violated, and so on. And, to a certain extent, even female-respecting guys enjoy it — why? Precisely because we know perfectly that it is just an act, because the porn stars are getting paid well, and so on. If that fact is obvious, to whom, then, is the drama staged? To none other than he who the porn stars are looking at when they stare straight at the camera — not you or I miserable, individual guys, but the abstraction of our collective being, the Imaginary Other.

The porn critics are wrong when they criticize violence as though it is staged for the enjoyment of the empirical audience. Violence in porn is instead staged for the Other to act as an empty fantasy screen in which the audience can project their true surplus-enjoyment beyond sex (that there exists someone out there who degrades women, is a racist, and so on). This is why, even when we know a “reality porn” is fake, scripted, etc, we not only tolerate but expect the producers to claim authenticity. Appearance is all the more crucial, because when we are no longer allowed to engage ourselves in sexist, racist, etc enjoyments, we need an Other to enjoy for us.

We need an Other to enjoy, like the snowman

We need an Other to enjoy, like the snowman

We come to a paradoxical conclusion: the existence of the (staged) degradation of women in pornography reduces the degradation of women in real life. The libido is already invested out there, in pornography and all its fantasmatic space, so that we can in turn, in real life, be more open towards women.

Thus, the porn critics actually did not get it all wrong: there indeed is a repressed sexism in society (along with racism), of which pornography is a symptom in which it returns. However, precisely qua symptom, its function is to keep at bay its true, traumatic form — raw, unrepressed hatred for the Other. I would even go as far to say that violent pornography is the price we have to pay for political correctness, as the true violence that sustains it. (This is also why it is absurdly easy to find racial stereotypes in pornography, such as “monster black cocks” and “submissive asian sluts”.) To say it in another way: when we have political correctness, we face a longing for violence at its purest.

Then, my obscene advice to countries with high misogyny rates that we think ought to have a better sense of political correctness would be: make more violent porn!

Semen Cookbook and the Symptom of Political Correctness

Posted in Posthuman Perversion with tags , , , , on November 23, 2008 by Bonni Rambatan

I guess I will continue this month to talk about the meaning of life qua posthuman, that spans already over several categories, posted here and here. What I am going to talk about this time may bring either a “WTF!?” laughter or a lost lunch, or perhaps an erection and appetite gain, depending on your taste. As for myself, I had a shock when I came across this news this afternoon:

Natural Harvest - A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes

If you ever feel like eating cum.

Yes, this picture is the front cover of a real cookbook, which you can buy here. Be sure to read the comments.

So, what are we to think of future food ingredients? Meat grown in labs on one hand and freshly ejaculated semen on the other? Of course, pardon the bad taste and a seriously disgusting joke for most of us. But I asked the question to point to a more serious question; the fact we should address is a much more fundamental one.

The activity of eating, of course, does not happen only at the biological level of need — it works as well on the Symbolic order; we only need to recall animal sacrifice rituals and eating taboos for proof. So, the main question we should ask would be: how is this event possible at all? What are our coordinates of the Symbolic today, in regards to our notion of the self and the meal, that enable this transformation? Of course, beside taste, there is all the defense that semen contains a lot of protein, etc. But the taboo, the disgust, of course, lie in the fact that semen is is a product of a human being. Is eating it not a form of cannibalism, then? Of course, I am here not talking about the sexual context since people do it all the time in sex. But the fact of someone making an entire cookbook out of it proves that semen-eating has taken on a totally different discourse.

How does this shift happen? I think it has a lot to do with our image of the human today. Are we not, practically, with all the information saturation in the media, becoming more and more a being of tolerance and multiplicity rather than a being of flesh? Is it so wrong to eat something we produce ourselves, when we do it already all the time in sex? Is there an objective negative answer to this in the coordinates of our expected ethical stance today? The radical transformation of the state of science and political correctness, our disintegrating coordinates of nature and culture, are all crystallized into a symptom of perversion: the semen cookbook.

There are a couple of curious things to take note of. First, in the book, the entire notion of semen is already radically desexualized, made into a positive fact rather than an embarrassing secret. The injunction behind this is the same as the one driving all the porn-positive and sex-positive arguments: the imperative to make more mainstream a previously deviant idea. The second is how, in the comments, people relate this phenomenon to the “crisis” and the “love for nature”. This book is all the politically correct ideas crystallized into one — what could be a better political correctness than letting a group of energy-saving, nature-loving, sex-positive minorities have their say in the wider world?

Thus, the cookbook is not simply a disgusting artifact, a deviance of culture, a perverted idea of a bunch of sick people. It is rather the opposite: the semen-based recipe cookbook is our politically correct, nature-confused culture at its most elementary.

NOTE: via Digg, the submitter says, “WHAT THE F**K!! THAT’S F**KING DISGUSTING!!” — I say, “Isn’t that what they said about anal sex several years back?”

A Plea for Intolerant Politics

Posted in Political Focus with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2008 by Bonni Rambatan

Just yesterday there was the sad news of a beating and sexual harassment of Nong Darol Mahmada, an activist of the Religious Freedom Association (AKKBB) and Facebook friend of mine by the Front for the Defense of Islam (FPI) in a courtroom in Jakarta during FPI’s trial for the “Bloody Monas” incident. And I ask myself a question: have we not had enough?

Everybody today talk about how we must teach the “false/militant/anarchist/fascist/terrorist” groups of Islam to have more tolerance, to know how the real cultural politics of the world works, how today we should all be modern and adapt the liberal politically correct stance of freedom and tolerance. Some, like the JIL, etc, choose to engage in verbal criticism of militant Islam. Others take the softer side of flaunting how beneficially peaceful it is to adapt a fashionable Zen-Buddhist style of spirituality in Islam. Both strive for only one thing: to right the wrongs of a militant Islam and bring them towards the romantic dream of a politically- and spiritually-correct tolerant Muslim utopia.

But why is it all conceived as a problem of a lack of tolerance from a perverted religious belief? Do we not dare to say that this is a problem of a severe flaw in our democratic legal system, a very real political problem instead of an abstract, spiritual one? There are very few things that I think are more miserable than the idea of suggesting a spiritual healing and liberal democracy lessons for such actors of violence. One of them is the idea of preserving these minority militant groups in the name of justice: “Let us tolerate their violence because everyone deserves a chance to speak out!” Is such stupidity not the ultimate proof that all these romantic discussions of religious difference and tolerance do nothing but blur and displace of from the real question: that of politics?

What about restoring the dignity of democratic politics without cultural tolerance? Do we not dare to admit that there are certain limits of democracy, of liberal freedom, that can never be crossed? Why are we today very afraid to admit that liberalism, multiculturalism, pluralism, etc. are actually far from benign sunshine-and-daffodils utopias of universal equality, but itself consist of inherently superior attitudes to those of fundamentalist people? The correct lesson to learn from Derrida is not the common one that strives for more equality by means of deconstruction, but instead an honest one in which one is willing to realize the boundaries of deconstruction and celebrate the hierarchic opposition when it is politically not possible to accept the Other.

We have had enough lessons of tolerance and all those stupid spiritual-correctness. What we need today are strict legal codes of discretion and protection of our citizens. I would be personally severely disappointed if no legal action is taken to defend Nong in her courtroom incident this past Monday. If there is a past that I am missing right now, it would be the past in which the authoritarian ex-president of Indonesia, Suharto, can easily ban organizations at his will. Would it not be nice if the same banning happen right now to all of the anarchist Muslims?