LONDON—Who is Harriet Walker, you ask, and why is she be weighing in on porn in an opinion piece in The Independent? She's a fashion writer for the paper, of course, so why wouldn't she pen a column titled "Porn and violence? I can see a link"? When it comes to porn, after all, everyone's an expert, even if they demonstrate that they know nothing at all about it. Case in point: Harriet Walker, who, building on Raquel's Welch's comments last week, has felt the need to lament "the hordes of women up and down the country who choose to look, more or less, like adult entertainment extras."
But it's not just "the look" that has Walker concerned about the direction of the culture. Yes, another lament about the culture!
"So how will the history books characterize the indoor sports of our time," she asks, before answering. "With all the angry crashing around that is freely available online to anyone who cares to look, featuring synthetic women with synthetic hair having unpleasant things done to them by synthetic men."
Oh dear. Has this woman never heard of Ron Jeremy, perhaps the least "synthetic" male ever born? Is she not aware of James Deen, whose non-synthetic appeal is precisely the quality that has made him the newest mainstream pornthrob? Like her fellow Brit, Gail Dines, it seems the woman doth protest too much about material of which she is woefully ignorant.
And yet, she is sure there is a link between porn and violence against women. "Of course this affects the way women are treated in modern culture," she states, as if one would have to be idiot not to see it. "Of course men see us differently because of it. Not, I hasten to add before all the perverts start contacting me, that I feel women ought not be viewed as sexual creatures, but precisely because they must be. As sexual creatures who take an active part in their sex life, rather than the passive Barbies that have all manner of everything inserted everywhere while they check their false nails and reposition their perspex stilettos."
Yes, all the plastic Barbies. Get this woman some 21st century porn!
"But it isn't natural to want to see women brutalized and humiliated, or plasticized beyond recognition, or engaging in things that are just about as far from a healthy sex life as it is possible to be without shagging a horse. Although that's a popular genre now, too," she adds, flashing her porn street cred before launching into the requisite explanation where it's all leading us. "Porn is dressed up in the positive regalia of sexual freedom, gender equality and a more liberal society—but it's none of those things. It's social poison: it makes men think that women enjoy things they don't; it equates those who like sex with a whole new class of unrealistic hyper-sluts in men's eyes; and it makes women feel like they're doing it wrong if they don't make enough noise or aren't interested in some of the more outré practices."
Perhaps pricked by the realization that she has extended her argument too far, Walker steps gingerly back from the precipice at the end, admitting, "Does porn encourage violence against women? There is no definite correlation, and it's as simplistic as blaming Grand Theft Auto for crime rates to say that it does."
But that was never her real agenda, anyway. She just needed to jump on the bandwagon to say that she, too, feels threatened by porn that "hardly shows women in their best or most empowered light, and it has become intrinsic to the maturing male sex drive."
The real problem with her entire argument, however, is that she thinks all porn does that, and in that regard she is simply wrong. If Walker wanted to check out some porn that clearly doesn't fit her preconceptions, she need look no further than the product put out by Wicked Pictures, Girlfriends Films, Filly Films, New Sensations' Romance Line, Digital Playground's Cherry series, Adam & Eve Productions, Mile High's Sweet Sinner, Sweetheart Video and Sweet Sinema lines, not to mention most of Nica Noelle's product, to name just a few. But no; Walker has weighed in on something about which she knows less than nothing and has not even bothered to inform herself about the subject, because, really, one cannot expect a "liberated woman" such as herself to actually get her hands dirty, like all those synthetics.