A New Step for the RC Communities

The 2013 World Conference agreed to an additional requirement for being certified as an RC teacher: RC teachers are now expected to take a stand against pornography and make a commitment to discharge the related distresses. This is an important step forward for the RC Community. It can also have an impact on the larger society. 

Intelligent, deep connections and partnerships between women and men are basic to any rational human society. Pornography is a significant obstacle to rational human relationships. In pornography, sex is connected to violence and cruelty and becomes an inhuman act.

Pornography is increasingly widespread and normalized. Greed and the opportunity for huge profits underlie and fuel this. Pornography is one of the largest money-making businesses in the world today. It is now widespread on the Internet, in the media, and in pop culture, advertising, magazines, movies, hotels, the beauty industry, and the military. It is oppressive to everyone—both oppressed and oppressor groups. We have yet to fully grasp how damaging it has been to human beings. 

Sexual exploitation and male domination are basic to pornography. Pornographic images most often target women and girls. Racism and classism are also involved. The images often sexualize people of color, particularly women. And working-class and poor women are recruited by the industry to play pornographic roles. It also targets men (Gay men, young men, men of color). It reinforces many oppressions, including the oppression of men.

Pornography restimulates and manipulates pre-existing sexual distresses and violent recordings. It can also install new distress recordings, particularly on young people. 

SEXISM AND MALE DOMINATION

An oppressive relationship between women and men has been integral to class societies since their beginnings (as part of the more general exploitation of all people). Men subjugated women. They exploited women’s bodies and work. Women were the “property” of men. Women’s role in reproduction was the pretext for women’s oppression and for male domination. 

Female oppression and male domination have taken many forms throughout the history of class societies. Sexual exploitation was part of female opression from early on. It took the form of rape and other sexual violence; prostitution; and male control of sex, in and out of marriage. It continues in some of these forms along with newer ones. Today women are pressured to have sex for men’s pleasure and to conform to objectifying sexual images (look like Barbie dolls,1 undergo plastic surgery, wear sexualized clothing, and so forth). They are sexually abused, harassed, and assaulted, including in their homes and workplaces.

The sexual exploitation of women has been a part of every oppression, and the sexualizing of women has led to the sexualization of all oppressed people. There has been a long history of sexual violence during slavery, in times of war, and in connection with colonization and genocide.

Although female sexual practices have been more varied than is generally recognized, female subservience in sex has been considered the norm. It is common in pornographic images of both opposite and same-gender sex. Female sexuality outside the norms of sexism and male domination has not been widely accepted or supported. 

The women’s movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s challenged the most basic forms of women’s sexual exploitation, at least in the Western world. Freedom to use birth control, legally terminate pregnancies, and experience sexual pleasure challenged past norms and practices. 

However, the beautification and sex industries have turned earlier advances into contemporary forms of sexism. Women’s “sexual freedom” is now often substituted for actual human liberation. Images of violence toward women and of their subjugation and objectification are now often considered “liberated” and desirable. 

 “Sexual freedom” is often defined, particularly in the media, as having sex “like a man.” This means sex based on male patterns and male frozen fantasies. Women, particularly young women, are encouraged to enjoy sex without any feelings of love or connection and, in some cases, to act out the oppressor role in sex. “Sexual freedom” and “free choice” now mean that sexual practices based on pornography are seen as “normal” for everyone. People feel that if they want to use pornography, they should be “free” do so. Many feel that no limitations should be placed on the industry. 

New markets for pornography are being developed daily, targeting increasingly younger people. More and more spectacular and restimulating depictions of violence and exploitation are being devised. Images of violence and rape are increasing and are often viewed as “not a big deal.” At the same time, there is more and more evidence that the use and prevalence of pornography deeply affect people’s sexual, as well as non-sexual, lives. 

MEN'S OPPRESSION AND MALE DOMINATION

Although an increasing number of women are using pornography, men are still its biggest consumers. Men are especially vulnerable because of how they themselves have been oppressed. The underlying basis of men’s oppression is the early and brutal denial of access to the discharge process and to close, thoughtful, warm physical human contact. There is also evidence that a majority of young boys are sexually abused.

Men are taught that they can only be close in the context of sex and, at the same time, that they do not need closeness to have sex. (Unfortunately, many women have also adopted this perspective in an effort to gain male “privileges.”) Men are oppressed in such a way that their preoccupation with sex, and their frozen feelings of desperation and loneliness, seem only to be “answered” by sex. Men are also subjected to violence, including in military service, and harsh competition. They often act out the resulting hurts in the form of domination, particularly of women but also of other men. Pornography serves as a training ground for turning them them into sexual exploiters. And with the glamorization of pornography, and its rapidly increasing appearance on the Internet, it’s almost impossible for any man not to use it.

At some level men feel deep shame, guilt, and humiliation for having distresses that pull them to harshly mistreat the people they care most about, and this adds to their difficulty in contradicting and discharging on pornography.

COUNSELING RESOURCE

With access to the theory and practice of Re-evaluation Counseling, people can free themselves from distress recordings, including those connected to pornography. Some good work on pornography has already been done at early-sexual-memories, Gay liberation, and women’s and men’s workshops. Still, the RC Communities lack sufficient resources to fully and effectively counsel people on pornography. All of us, and particularly RC leaders, need to develop our counseling “muscle” in order to build the necessary safety and skill.

MEN'S WORK ON PORNOGRAPHY

In working on pornography, the starting place for men is to realize that no man (or woman) deserves condemnation for using pornography. It would be hard for any man born after 1970 to not have had some experience with it. No one is to blame for using it. However, we can all take responsibility for freeing ourselves from the related distresses. 

If you are a man, here are some ideas you might try for working on pornography:

• Discharge on male goodness and your own goodness.

• Notice and discharge any shame, embarrassment, or guilt about using pornography. 

• Discharge on early sexual memories.

• Remember the first time you saw pornography. What were the circumstances? How did you feel?

• Work on your pornography history. 

• Ask yourself how pornography has affected your sexual life. Discharge on and face the fact that if you are using it, you are acting out sexism. (Pornography largely    consists of sexist images of women.)

• Discharge on rationally appreciating women’s bodies.

• Appreciate yourself for every step you take, no matter how small it feels. The goal is full awareness of and respect for women, and a commitment to end any use of  pornography, and this can be a long-term project.

 • If you use pornography, talk about it to people who care about you. Users of pornography typically hide their activity and how they have been hurt by it. They are also  often unaware of how damaging it is to others. It can be helpful to tell your RC teacher, Area Reference Person, and Co-Counselor that you use pornography. And you may need more than one Co-Counselor in order to work on it effectively and efficiently. It can also be important to tell your sexual partner(s) of your use and that you are committed to freeing yourself from it and from the related distresses.

WOMEN'S WORK ON PORNOGRAPHY

We RC women have the opportunity to work on pornography in such a way that safety is established both for ourselves and for men. At the same time, we need not “jump over” our distresses to counsel men—we first need to work on our own distresses. We all benefit from discharging on our histories connected to sex and sexism.

It is not useful to “take care of” men. Instead we can be proud of ourselves and take charge. We can expect men to join us as full partners in ending sexism, male domination, and pornography. 

If you are a woman who has not used pornography, here are some questions that might help you work on it:

• How has pornography affected you? What is your relationship to it? Your history with it? 

• How do you feel about pornography? Horrified? Numb? Relieved that you’re not young anymore (common for older women)? Like you want to avoid the whole topic? Such feelings are likely connected to your history of sex and sexism. 

• How do you feel toward men who use pornography? 

• What would it be like to ask a man if he uses pornography? What would you need to face and discharge in order to do this? What would you need to work on to be a resource for a man who uses pornography? Think about offering assistance to a man in your life, or a male Co-Counselor, for giving up his addiction.

• Are you “hiding”? Many of us hide our sexual fantasies, particularly those in which we are a victim or have exchanged roles and are the oppressor. We can discharge about hiding and being secretive, including any embarrassment or shame. 

• What is the content of your sexual fantasies? What “attracts” you to pornography? You can discharge on any feelings you have that being attracted to it is inappropriate for you as a liberated woman. 

• What are your victimized feelings? Women understandably feel victimized by pornography. 

If you are a woman who has used pornography, here are some suggestions:

• Use many of the ideas above for women who have not used pornography, and for men.

• Work on your goodness. Work on being fully female. Discharge on early sexual memories and sexual fantasies. Discharge on your history with pornography, including the first time you were aware of it and what that restimulated.

• Women are usually portrayed as victims in pornographic images. Discharge on any experiences these images might restimulate. Notice your feelings about the images in which women are in the dominating role. 

• Talk about how pornography has affected your life. 

FOR BOTH WOMEN AND MEN

We can create the conditions in our Communities for effective work on pornography. To this end, we need to avoid gossiping about anyone who uses pornography. We cannot use anyone’s name or any other identifiers, whether the person was in our past or is someone we know in the present. 

When writing articles for RC publications about our work on pornography, we must use pseudonyms or write anonymously. 

Several RC leaders have pioneered in working on pornography. I want to express my appreciation to Joan Karp, “David Nijinsky,” “Jeanne D’Arc,” and Teresa Enrico.2 We now have the opportunity to extend their work throughout the RC Communities. 

The challenge to end pornography and its effects gives us yet another opportunity to fully regain our integrity. We can use it to reclaim our rightful partnership as men and women, and our full humanness.

Diane Balser
International Liberation

Reference Person for Women
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA 

With thanks to Anna van Heeswijk,
K Webster, “Jeanne D’Arc,”
“David Nijinsky,” and Barbara Harwood
for their support and good thinking


1 Barbie dolls are a brand of dolls that resemble extremely slender young women, with large breasts.
2 Joan Karp is the Regional Reference Person for Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts, USA. “David Nijinsky” is the Assistant International Liberation Reference Person for Gay Men. “Jeanne D’Arc” is the International Liberation Reference Person for Lesbians and Gay Men. Teresa Enrico is the International Liberation Reference Person for Pacific Islander and Pilipino/a-Heritage People.


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07