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Getting Off

Pornography and the End of Masculinity
by: Robert Jensen

July 10th, 2008 · post by Fred Goodsell · Make a comment

ISBN number: ISBN: 978-0-89608-776-7

Publisher: South End Press

The topic of sexism is often ignored if not regularly suppressed in many of our everyday social situations. Many are happy to believe the women’s liberation movement to have ended in 1928 when women won the right to vote (Women over the age of 30 had been able to vote since 1918 however this was changed to 21 in 1928). In ‘Getting Off’ Jensen illustrates a world in which women are still suffering indefensible exploitation and tribulation at the hands of a misogynistic and patriarchal dominant culture.

getting-off.jpg‘Getting Off’ starts by taking a critical look at the production and consumption of pornography in our society . Jensen makes the point that pornography, like all media, embeds a message in our minds that can effect how we translate thought into real life experiences. In the case of pornography this means how our desires, relationships and sexuality are formed. A troubling thought I’m sure for those of us who aspire to loving, respectful relationships.

Jensen uses scenes created by established pornography producers as case studies. These are all mainstream titles that depict hardcore sex scenes. I found myself shocked by some of what is described, not simply by the acts themselves but more so by the attitudes and dialogue of those involved. The male performers clearly see themselves as the controlling force in the on screen “relationship” and each act they perform reinforces this underlying theme. In the mean time the female is submissive to point of accepting physical pain upon her body both on and off screen. Such an imbalance of control in any other social situation would horrify most people and more than likely lead to those at the receiving end of this imbalance revolting in some form.

He then goes on to explain how everyday social roles (taught from birth) and even the concept of masculinity itself  mirror this abusive power structure to create a “rape culture” in which  we live.

Whilst his damning analysis of key aspects of our culture is hard to contend, at times Jensen’s personal stimulus for the subject leads to several harsh presumptions as well as some questionable conclusions. Despite this, the majority of the books content is factual and well considered, putting forward a very strong argument or at worst actting as a starting point for much needed debate on the subject.

Comments OffThis entry belongs to the following categories: Book reviews · Reviews