JESUSLAND—One might think that a 55-year-old college professor would know the difference between what goes on in real life and what happens in movies, mightn't one?
Meet anti-porn crusader Gail Dines, who recently posted an article on Counterpunch.org taking the Sundance Film Festival to task for allowing James Franco to screen his documentary Kink for festival audiences ... and Kink.com itself for allegedly violating international laws prohibiting torture.
"A bit of fantasy never hurt anyone, because fantasy happens in the head, not the real world, right?" Dines asks rhetorically. "Tell this to the women (and a few men) on the Kink.com website whose bodies are displayed in agonizing contortions that would not be out of place in the Spanish Inquisition: stretched out on racks, hogtied, urine squirting in their mouths, and suspended from the ceiling while attached to electrodes, including ones inserted into their vaginas. Finally, taking a cue from Dick Cheney’s playbook, women are submerged into a tank of water until they start to cough and choke."
Wow! Pretty serious stuff, right? Those "women (and a few men)" must be filing lawsuits all over the place over the rotten treatment they received from Kink.com's other employees!
That's right: "other employees"... because all those women (and a few men) who get tied up, suspended, waterboarded and "suffer" through all the other stuff that's done to them are also Kink.com employees, acting out scenarios that they themselves or someone else writes for them, and for which they are paid to act out—and often paid to make those scenarios seem as horrific and/or terrifying and/or painful as possible. Hence Dines' inability to comprehend the press release on Kink that states that the movie depicts a "charming band of outsiders full of humor and insight working in a fantasyland of graphic sexual imagery."
Yeah; "fantasyland." Like in "fantasy." Like in "fictional characters acting out a script."
But no; as far as Dines is concerned, the folks at Kink.com are committing war crimes ... every day!
"Kink.com is in violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture," Dines asserts. "The International Council for Rehabilitation for Torture Victims states: 'Some of the most common methods of physical torture include beating, electric shocks, stretching, submersion, suffocation, burns, rape and sexual assault.' These are the very acts showcased on the Kink.com website. They are not mere simulations: the women are clearly bound and in contorted positions, and many are grimacing. This is not a fun, fantasy place run by a charming band of outsiders, but a group of savvy businessmen who missed their calling at Abu Ghraib."
Ermahgerd! Actresses (and some actors) are being tied up in positions Dines herself probably couldn't get into, and they're making faces at the camera! Quick; someone call the FBI and let them know that some people are being paid to make content for a website!
And Dines is just itching to make a federal case out of it:
"The usual defense of Kink.com is that the women signed a contract and hence agreed to the acts," Dines claims. "But as attorney Wendy Murphy of the New England School of Law argues, 'torture doctrine is not hampered by concerns about consent because, as a matter of law and policy, one cannot consent to torture.' And anyway, what does meaningful and informed consent mean to the women subjected to these degrading and painful tortures, which are designed to break the body and the spirit? Even the intelligence services acknowledge that information gained from coercive methods is unreliable."
So let's get this straight: Gail Dines seriously thinks that actors tying up other actors on camera and whipping them or suspending them or delivering electric shocks to them or, yes, waterboarding them is meant to extract "information" from them?!?!?!?!? Does she not understand that simply because she sees what appear to be violent acts in a movie or on a website doesn't necessarily mean that the participants in that content are being hurt by it, that in fact they're being paid to suffer whatever pain is administered—or that some people even like being made to feel pain as part of their sex play? And they let this woman teach college classes?
Of course, Dines' whole thesis is that everyone involved in making sexually explicit or BDSM content is so damaged that they really can't consent to what they're being paid to do, as she alluded to in her recollection of her visit to the Adult Entertaiment Expo in (we're guessing) 2009—so it's hardly surprising that the article repeats her oft-stated misconstructions of what happens in the industry.
"The women, like others who enter porn, are young and often don’t know the full extent of what will happen on the set, and cannot anticipate the lasting psychological and emotional effects," Dines claims—or rather, pulls out of her ass. "The ultimate lie of Kink.com is that it claims to do candid interviews with the women at the end of the scene so they can show how much they enjoyed the 'sex.' This is like asking sweatshop laborers to talk about how happy they are to be working for some multinational corporation as the CEO films the interview."
It's true that many performers are none too happy with their directors and producers after having been on set for 12 to 14 hours straight—not a common occurrence!—but what Dines refuses to understand, no matter how many people say it, is that bondage and domination and submission and whipping and electrical stimulation and, yes, nearly being drowned are sex games that some real people play and enjoy, sometimes in the comfort of their own homes and sometimes at parties in full view of the guests... and sometimes on websites. And no matter how much she wants to make a connection between consensual BDSM porn and what CIA officers, on directions from the vice president of the United States, did to ordinary non-consenting Iraqi and Afghani citizens, the two are just not comparable.
Wouldn't one expect a college professor to know all this? And wouldn't one think that Wheelock College President Jackie Jenkins-Scott (200 The Riverway, Boston, Massachusetts 02215; 617-879-2000) would want to know what kind of ignoramus she has teaching sociology and women's studies for her?
Just food for thought ...