Image: Linda Nylind for the Guardian
The Radisson Hotel in Bloomsbury is hosting the XBIZ EU conference this weekend – a digital media summit for porn industry executives. The event has attracted criticism from feminist groups who have stated that pornography is degrading to women and likened it to a meat market, articulating their point by dressing up as butchers and protesting outside the venue.
On seeing the protests, Claire Wigington, head of marketing for Television X (purveyor of edifying fare such as ‘Entry Level Whore’ and ‘Freddie’s Tattoo Tarts’) responded by saying their argument was ‘simplified’ and ‘women in the porn industry know what they’re doing’.
Is it worth giving that tired old cliche another pummelling?
When you’ve had forty odd years to come up with a valid counter argument to feminism’s claims about porn, ‘they know what they’re doing’ seems a little lame. Particularly from a woman in a high profile job in the porn industry. You would imagine that someone like Claire Wigington would have received enough stick to have spent some time honing her retort into something a little shinier.
In truth though, the porn industry can only survive if it perpetuates the myth that it’s product doesn’t adversely affect people’s lives. That it is merely a bit of fun that adults can enjoy as part of a normal, healthy sex life.
But this only makes sense in a world where the term ‘porn’ means a few well thumbed magazines or pictures being passed between sweaty hands. As it did until the internet happened. To put this into some sort of context, today porn ‘terms’ account for 25% of global internet searches per day. That’s sixty-eight million, in case you don’t have a calculator handy.
A lucrative bit of fun for some. And it makes any protestations that porn hasn’t had a transformative effect on the way women (and increasingly, men) are perceived by the world utterly redundant. Couple that with the advertising profession’s swift realisation that sexual imagery sells practically anything, and the notion that human beings stand a chance of making rational decisions about their appearance, their self-perception and management of power was doomed from the start.
Claire Wigington doesn’t have to offer us a decent retort to the blood soaked, cardboard cleaver wielding feminists protesting outside the XBIZ conference. Pornography has actually changed our perception of human sexuality to such an extent that ‘women (in porn) know what they’re doing’ IS a valid argument in a world like this.
The porn pushers have already won.