Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity
By Robert Jensen, Ph.D.
Note: parts of this review are graphic and may trigger PoSAs (Partners of Sex Addicts).
|Undoubtedly, Getting Offis the best single volume written about the entire topic of pornography. Porn is rightly portrayed as an extension and tool of the prevailing patriarchy; its hidden purpose, its use; its vile creation and its effects upon the porn user and those around him. Jensen pulls no punches in telling the whole story of the porn industry and its marketing aims.|
|Note:||This reviewer makes a Jungian delineation between male and masculine and between female and feminine. Each gender has both feminine and masculine aspects regardless of the apparent gender. Female is not always feminine (to wit: Margaret Thatcher) and male is not always masculine. Some of the most egregious patriarchs come housed in female bodies.|
|Nonetheless, we live in a patriarchy and women suffer directly and in distinct ways. Men suffer as well, but the damage is more subtle and not the point of this review.|
So Why Would a PoSA Read Yet Another Book on Pornography?
Because Jensen provides a social context for exactly what pornography is and is not. Those of us that have been hurt by the industry can more fully understand the enormity, power and sheer duplicity of this heinous, pervasive and powerful industry. Just understanding that it is an industry is important to PoSAs. Knowing pornography’s real intent (use) towards women is critical information.
Because Jensen’s book provides implicit counterarguments to the porn industry’s/users’ justifications for porn usage, which are usually a variation on the following themes:
- Porn is a first amendment/free speech issue
- It isn’t cheating/it’s just pixels
- It isn’t dehumanizing/objectifying
- I’m exploring my fantasy life “safely”/I’m able to discern the difference between fantasy and reality
- All guys use porn/boys will be boys
- God made me this way/it is natural for men to need variety
- The women in porn choose to do that work/performing in porn is more empowering for a woman than a low wage job
- I love women, I am just admiring their beauty
- Well, you are not always in the mood/don’t like to (fill-in-the-blank)/aren’t here/gained weight/gotten out of shape
- It relaxes me/I need my “me” time
- There have always been pornographic images throughout history
- It’s free, I don’t waste money on paid sites/in strip clubs/with hookers/cavort with “actresses” on interactive sites
Need more whys?
~Because Jensen wrote a book about pornography that only a man could write. He deftly debunks the prevailing male insistence that women do not understand the very fundamentals about what it means to be a man.
~Because Jensen goes on to further expose the essential dishonesty of the justifications above. Jensen rejects the accepted masculinity that can objectify, dehumanize and use women for the pleasure of men.
~Because Jensen rigorously investigates the porn industry and then implicates the porn consumer as part of porn creation—creating the demand and profitability. Jensen puts the onus of pornography upon the users and creators and off of PoSAs. Amen.
Masculine: Mature and Immature
The masculine that views pornography is a very immature masculine, emotionally and empathetically hampered, deeply dependent upon hierarchies and seeking power-over, conquests, if you will. I will come right out and state that I believe that men who use porn hate women, albeit their hatred is eroticized and not as easily identified as hatred. Which is exactly the point. The hatred is meant to be hidden—the process of eroticizing emotions is well discussed elsewhere. For example: http://www.markdanner.com/articles/show/121
The mature masculine stands beside the feminine in mutual reverence. The thought of ejaculating onto her face is utterly repulsive to the mature masculine. Is this the last hurrah of the immature masculine or is mature masculinity a pipe dream? The results hang in the balance, it could go either way.
Masculinity is not inherently bad, it is the immature masculine with the full power of the patriarchy behind it that creates and promotes pornography. Jensen rejects this immature masculinity while taking full accounting of the damage the porn industry does to women, all women.
Choice is Not a Toggle Switch
The chapter (pp. 79–95), on the topic of choice, Choices, His and Hers, is truly enlightening and provide a strong response to the oft-heard porn defenders’ “well, those girls chose to be in porn.”
Choice is not a toggle switch of yes/no or on/off. Choice is much more nuanced than the simple final result. Frequently, coercion is disguised quite cleverly; sometimes-blunt force is used; sometimes the bruises are upon the spirit; and sometimes the bruises are around financial survival. Jensen’s examination of choice is perhaps the most critical information in the book, affecting far more than the topic of porn. Viewed from the vantage point of the chooser, not the observer, the concept of choice reveals its complexity.
If for no other reason, this volume should be required reading for the more mature concept that choice is nuanced, rather than static and one-dimensional.
Parts of Getting Off are disturbingly graphic—actually, a lot of Getting Off is disturbing, revealing the inhumanity of the porn industry and porn users. This is not a feel-good book. This book educates and clarifies the truths about the porn industry and its effects on our culture. That is one very tall order given that the porn industry spends vast amounts of money spreading lies and distractions meant to disguise the real effects of its products all wrapped in freedom-of-speech wrapping paper. Oh, yes, pornographers are true constitutional patriots, just ask them.
I recommend reading Getting Off very slowly to integrate the magnitude of its information and message. Even re-reading it is difficult. Thinking of the real women who actually had to experience the acts in the porn films described made me nauseous both readings of this 196-page volume. Knowing that real men masturbate to this stuff and destroy real women’s hearts and lives with it broke my heart all over again.
The production and consumption of pornography affects real women. Pornography is about power and contempt—eroticized power-over hatred. Men do and women are done to. Men are the subjects performing the actions upon women, the subjects; this script is immutable, fixed. That set-up is exactly what the pornography industry is selling and does not want its dirty little secret to be well known. Ergo, the lies, distractions and objections which are meant to send partners and wives (PoSAs) into a defensive stance.
You may put Getting Off down feeling very discouraged. However, upon finishing it, you will understand exactly what porn is and the lies that the porn industry hopes you will believe. Also, you will know that some men understand what is being done to women vis-à-vis porn. Finally, you will be informed and able to take a stand when confronted with the porn industry’s rhetoric.
Getting Off provided much-needed light during some of my darkest hours, I am ever so grateful to Dr. Jensen for his unfailing truth-telling. Thank you, Dr. Jensen in a thousand languages. Lest we forget, this Hustler cover speaks for itself, starkly delivering the real message of porn:
Terre Spencer 2012