The “Good” Misogynists

Alright, sorry folks, porn is on the table again for a second straight day. I would like to apologize to all my friends out there that are working to get me taken seriously, but really this is a serious subject, even if it is hard for us to view it as one. Really, I won’t be talking too much about porn itself so much as this country’s, and possibly the world’s, two most famous purveyors of such: Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt.

I want to revisit, for the first time in the blogosphere, something that has bothered me in the past. I have never quite understood how people with moderate attitudes about pornography, those that see it has problems but don’t think it should be banned and/or those that are not regular viewers but also do not pretend to have no interest, have held Hefner up to be the more pro-women of the two. Leaving aside the fact that both men are involved with an industry that has had a leading role, though as I mentioned yesterday it doesn’t have to, in the objectification of women, what could lead anyone to make a judgment on that regard comparing the two?

Neither man is without taint but neither are they vehemently anti women. They have both come out in support of reproductive rights. They have both come out, though not strong, on the issue of discrimination in the work place. Yes, they both sell porn. Yes they contribute to some of the unhealthy attitudes about women and sexuality that I pointed out pornography continues to have a problem with. Why then is Hef safer?

A very smart friend of mine brought to my attention that Hefner has better PR, and I am sure that has a lot to do with it. I do not, however, think that is all. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Hustler is “hardcore”, showing actual sex acts and <gasp> fluids! It is silly but I really think that has a great deal to do with it, which seems funny to me. Might it make it more vulgar or less artistic? Sure, but that does not mean it is any more misogynist.

Really, not comparing the men but the pornographic content of their publications, Hustler seems less misogynist to me. The women in Hustler have a variety of attitudes about their own sexuality, crossing orientation (which really isn’t that big a deal considering the straight males fascination with lesbianism) activity. Some are submissive while some are aggressive. Some are conventional while some are kinky. Some have no real ambition while some are artists or thinkers in their own right. In Playboy you get a vacuous list of likes and dislikes and a woman served up as a trophy to be had, not a partner to have fun with.

Which is not to put Larry up on some pedestal as the ideal male feminist. His personal attitudes about the feminist movement, his overly dismissive treatment of those that call out the objectification of women in porn and his allowing some seriously misogynist pieces of garbage contribute to his magazine (especially in regards to the always equally annoying and amusing Men’s Rights Movement) cast a not too flattering light him. The same can be said of Hefner’s patronizing attitude toward women though.

I know this is ultimately not that big a deal, but I think it is something worth reflecting on, if only briefly (actually briefly would probably be best) to ask ourselves why we have the attitudes we have. We have a strange love-hate relationship with sexuality and our own bodies, especially women’s bodies, in our culture and I think we need to work on that, to make our selves safer, healthier and happier.


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