Perils of The Punch

I’m going to start this blog by saying I like reading The Punch. I think the editorials on the site cover a wide range of contemporary issues and their contributors are just as vast.

However in recent times I have stopped reading the comments after each article. They are full of vitriol with authors, who hide behind first names and pseudonyms, expressing views I swear they would not dare say to someone’s face.

Something I learnt the hard way last week.

In the past when I did read the comments I too would add something here or there. When I have done this there has been the odd comment back asserting an opposing view. Nothing harmful, just some healthy debate.

Perhaps it was this healthy discourse that lulled me in to a false sense of security when I decided to break with tradition and comment on an article on feminism and pornography.

The article was pro-pornography and my comment was;

“As a feminist I believe a woman’s body is hers to own and control. While you see pornography as empowering for women, you have negated to talk about the women who do not have this control in your industry.

Pornography also places unrealistic expectations on all other women to be ‘porn stars’ when in bed.”

First I would like to note I raised two points here. The first that not all women who partake in the sex industry are there by their own choice and do not necessarily come off looking as liberated as the columnist.

No one commented on that point.

What was commented on was my second point about the unrealistic expectations about sex pornography creates. I wrote this after only days before reading a very well informed essay in The Monthly by Cordelia Fine called The Porn Ultimatum: The Dehumanising Effects of Smut.

Stupidly I expected my fellow readers to not only perhaps know of this but to at least acknowledge that I had an informed opinion. How wrong I was. While many men took outrage at my comment, the very personal attack on my sex life and physical appearance should never have passed the site’s moderators.

By no means am I naïve; I have always thought the internet was where racists bigots, homophobes and every other ‘un-pc’ thinker came out to play. I suppose I never realised how vial it could be until it was targeted at me.

Now while shrugging it off and moving on I could not help but laugh only days later when editor in chief David Penberthy wrote in an article criticizing the Friends of the ABC that QandA had “succeeded more in mobilising an army of shrill dickheads across Twitter, from Left and Right, not to listen politely and reflect on the points the guests are making, but to cheer on the people they already love and abuse the people they already hate as if at a vaudevillian play”.

Now that felt like the pot calling the kettle black. I wonder if he is realises those ‘shrill dickheads’ are commenting on his own website.

1 Comment

  1. Hmm. truth hurts, perhaps those commenters were just stopping by to read the news on their way to a bit of harmless e-porn, and instead found your comment to get them all ‘hot and bothered’ ; )
    My two cents: pornography is just a mirror of the general social trend to see all others as less valuable than the self; the elevation of self-gratification (sexual, material, etc), enabled by control over others, has become promoted in many spheres of life as the ultimate value. It’s a dog f**k dog world out there, and half the dogs are told it’s all for their own good, if only they would just let go and start *enjoying* it. If there was greater compassion in the world then the very idea of reducing the soulful thing act of lovemaking to nothing more than a high to be got at the expense of others would be repulsive. As it is, it’s tolerated. I think Men come off badly here too, by the way, because they too are being schooled into being sex machines – destined to hurt the women they love, and robbed of the chance to experience real intimacy. Girls are taught to take it and pretend to like it, regardless of how bad it feels (lie back and think of england, 21st century style). Boys are taught that to put on a performance in the bedroom is the way to please a woman – boys are being conditioned to ignore the needs of women at this most intimate moment for ‘their own good’. Put those two worldviews together in a bedroom and you can understand why something like 34% of women experience sexual violence at some point in their lives [Intl violence against women survey]. Critical analysis of porn (eg: zoo weekly) and sexual education that goes beyond the physical to address the emotional needs and responsibilities of sexuality (esp. consent), needs to be part of the senior school curriculum if this problem is going to be addressed. But in the current climate, I won’t be holding my breath.

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