Response to beyond vanilla

The issue of consent has been a controversial topic for the past several years and there are a lot of people who have strong opinions on what the true definition of “consent” really is. On one side of the spectrum, there are those who believe that consent is nonexistent and that there is no actual word or gesture that corresponds to giving or not giving consent. On the other end, the majority believe that consent does exist and can be executed by simply saying “Yes” or “No” to a person in situations that involve sex. In the article “The ethics of extreme porn: Is some sex wrong Even among consenting adults”, the author Conor Friedersdorf is asking his readers a specific question which is “are some kinds of sex degrading or immoral even if they are consensual?”. Many people will have different reactions to this question and will probably not know how to respond to it since the topic of sex may be very sensitive to them. While reading this article, I couldn’t decide whether to answer the question with a simple yes or a simple no based on the arguments that were being made. In his essay, Friedersdorf incorporates all the pieces that were written towards Emily Witt’s “What do you desire” and in his text, he refers to his question by giving an example of a “couple consenting to chop off one of their arms to receive pleasure and excitement” which is what ultimately convinced me into saying yes to his question. Yes, I personally believe that some kinds of sex are immoral even with the presence of consent. Just because a person consents to being dehumanized and mistreated for someone else’s arousal, doesn’t mean that it is acceptable or moral to do any of these things. When I think of immoral actions, I think of abuse, rape, slaughter, and anything that involves physically or verbally harming another person with or without consent. When you incorporate immorality into sexual activities, anything that is not accepted by today’s society in my opinion is considered unethical. Friedersdorf describes his viewpoint of immorality as “disgusting” or “gross”. He says that he “doesn’t trust his disgust instinct” and that he was extremely surprised when he came to realize that he doesn’t agree with the actions of committing vile sexual acts. I personally don’t think that the violent actions that are committed in some sexual acts should be referred to as sickening or gross, but they should more so be viewed as harsh or cruel. Any kind of violence is unacceptable, but when violence brings pleasure to another person or a group of people, that is just cynical. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just sick in the head and is the primary reason as to why porn shoots of this kind are becoming increasingly profitable and popularized. 
 To begin with, the first few paragraphs gave me no trouble and were very easy to get through; However, the future paragraphs made me extremely sick and brought me close to vomiting. What I am referring to with such little enthusiasm is to Emily Witt’s interesting essay “What do you desire” which is an essay that should come with a forewarning before reading it in its entirety. Every inch of my body felt uncomfortable while reading Witt’s experience. I applaud her for having the courage to witness such a sinister event. When I read about the anal fisting, choking, abuse, and humiliation that was being implicated on the participant, I instantly felt extremely terrible for both her and her parents since they will one day stumble upon the video and witness their daughter being brutally beaten. No parent wants to witness their child being humiliated or horrible acts being done to their child, and no parent should ever have to. What angered me the most was the fact that the “Test subject” or “porn star” had no regret in attending the shoot. When Witt asked penny after the shoot if she felt “any moments of genuine pleasure” throughout the abuse that she was receiving, Penny replied with “Yeah. Like the whole thing” which really boggles my mind(Witt). How can anyone receive pleasure from being brutally beaten and manipulated by random strangers who you don’t even know? How can anyone gain pleasure from watching someone getting “zapped on their tongue” by Taser and getting “penetrated with a beer bottle” (Witt). If anyone thinks that any of this is ethical, even if consent was given, has a very sick and filthy mind. What if something went terribly wrong and the willing participant passes out and dies from shock or disbelief. What if in the process of making the film, the crowd who has the ability to “poke, fondle, and finger the model” get slightly out of hand and do something to the model that ends up harming her or causes bodily injuries? (Witt). Now would the public disgrace shoot be considered immoral or unethical? Any of this could’ve happened, but luckily none of it did. Even if it didn’t happen, it still isn’t humane to watch someone get molested and tortured the way Penny Pax did in the Public Disgrace Shoot. Even the multitude watching and participating in the porn shoot even had their doubts about doing any of the stuff that they were told to do since they “were worried about breaking the taboos of touching and insulting a woman” (Witt). No human should ever be treated the way the Porn star was treated. Giving permission doesn’t take away from the fact that all of the things that were done to the subject were absolutely degrading and disgusting. Anyone with common sense can tell you that the way Penny was treated was wrongful for many reasons, even if an agreement was signed.

Moreover, I was surprised to find out that there are a few people who somehow think that the porn shoot in Emily Witt’s essay is just a micro piece to what the whole meaning of the essay really is about. In his response, Noah Millan applauds Emily for her “outstanding description and observation skills” and for her ability to use expression as a way to captivate others. I was confused by this part of his essay and was wondering if he actually read the same essay as I did. Did he miss the part where an innocent being was being “Smacked, verbally and sexually abused, gagged, and stripped in front of a whole nation? (Witt). The truth is that porn videos are made specifically to gain profit and the directors like Donna, gain from having an abundance of viewers watch her content. Instead of mentioning the inhumane and cruel activities that Witt experienced, Millan detaches his readers from the public disgrace shoot and states that “Emily Witt’s real goal in writing this essay is to share her experience with the world”. He goes on by saying that, “the pornographic video that Witt attended the shooting for is something that viewers at home don’t experience physically” so why should the actions that are being done in the video concern them? He also implies that there’s “A One-way mirror between us and them”, them referring to the actors in the public disgrace video (Millan). Basically, he is saying that we have the ability to decide what we want to watch and nobody is forcing us to watch videos in which uncivilized humans partake in. I understand his point and I get the whole part about not having the same experience that Witt had which makes it hard for us to actually criticize her or any of the participants involved in the film; however, I do believe that it isn’t necessary to witness something in person to label it as uncivilized. If I read about someone being degraded in the same way Penny Pax was degraded, I would still label it as immoral since there’s nothing moral about disrespecting another human being. On another note, Allan Jacobs and I view things in a very similar way since we both “felt sorry for Emily Wiit who seemed to know that the acts she observed call for a moral response”. Allan Jacobs and I are both on the same page since we both believe that people who act like princess Donna, Penny, and Roman are pursuing degradation and are devaluating sexuality in the process since they are disrespecting themselves and others, and go against civilization. Being civil means to be well-mannered and polite which are two things that the people mentioned above lack. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if penny consented to being a part of Donna’s revenue plans since, what was being done in the film is extremely graphic and goes against any ounce of humanity left in our society. Either way, with consent or without consent, the sex that Penny and the entire crowd in the video had is very disturbing and immoral, and it takes away the true feeling of love and happiness that should be felt between two people. Why would someone want to consent to have sex that will eventually traumatize them and leave them feeling unwanted and worthless? Someone else who responded to the essay is Pascal- Emmanuel Gobry who assumes that we all “crave power, domination, and possession” and we receive all of this from BDSM. Which is entirely false since he has no idea what everyone craves, except himself. He goes on by saying that everyone involved in Witt’s story, including Witt, lack the concept of treating people differently and with respect. I agree with this statement because it’s true. Everyone involved in the film had no sense of courtesy what so ever and were focused more on the money that they would receive rather than on the human being that was being maltreated. 
 Overall, sex that involves hitting, verbal abuse, humiliation, and degradation is immoral whether there’s consent or no consent involved, especially if the sex is being broadcasted for the whole world to see. Any type of sex that involves any of this is immoral and unethical since our society doesn’t view this as normal or ideal. We have our own ideas of what sex should be like, and all of this goes against what our idea of “Standard sex” should look and be like. When we look for love, we look for someone who will treat us with respect and will treats us as a human being. Sex that involves any form of bullying is not what we want to associate ourselves with since it’s unpleasant and unwanted. Making someone feel worthless is never okay, and doing so on a platform for the world to see is one hundred times worse. The kind of sex that makes another person feel ashamed is degrading since ultimately, no one wants to feel like a “worthless cunt” (Witt).

Works cited:

Friedersdorf, Conor. The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
Gobry, Pascal Emannuel-. “An Ongoing Review of Politics and Culture.” Consider The Fist And Other Essays. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
Jacobs, Alan. “In Which Noah Millman and I See Things Very Differently (For a Change).” The American Conservative. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
Millman, Noah. “Conforming To An Idea.” The American Conservative. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
Witt, Emily. “What Do You Desire?” N 1. N.p., 2016. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

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