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Our Porn, Ourselves
by Sally C. Pipes 9/27/07

There are doubtless some alarms going off at Focus on the Family, but nobody should call for a new Meese Commission to deal with Porn for Women. This new book is indeed revealing, but in a way not intended.

The title leads one to expect the sort of thing that now floods the internet, only with males in the prominent role. That might have tricked some unsuspecting book buyers, but the cover gives the game away up front. It shows a 20-something man wearing blue jeans and a long-sleeved shirt and wielding a vacuum cleaner in a stylish flat that looks absolutely spotless.

Sally C. Pipes
[Courtesy of Pacific Research Institute]

Sally C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute [go to Pipes index]

As for the author, well, there isn't one, at least in the conventional sense. Porn for Women is the product of something called the Cambridge Women's Pornography Cooperative. This group has a mysterious side. "CWPC members," the back cover explains, "have opted to keep their membership roster unpublished out of concern that our colleagues in academia, medicine, and the media may still have underdeveloped senses of humor. We hope this book will change that."

Not likely. The CWPC, the jacket note adds, "was created by women for women in 2005 to define the way we look at pornography." The Cooperative wants to recover that term from "the gold-chained, hairy-chested, leisure-suit-wearing, mouth-breathing knuckleheads and reclaim it for the rest of us."

According to some reviews, the "rest of us" is a group of overachieving women who meet in a bar near Harvard. A pitcher of martinis supposedly inspired the ladies to produce this slender 89-page book. Most of it consists of male models, some of whom seem better suited for a different line of work, photographed in house-cleaning situations, accompanied by quotes such as: "I know, let's take you shoe shopping." One chap is ironing and matched with this: "Breakfast's on the table. I'll have your outfit ready in five minutes."

See how funny it is. The profiles of the models make the same attempt, likewise the multiple choice "Pornometer" at the back, just before the footnotes, in case anybody missed all the scholarly profundities. One reader apparently commented that it might have been funny in 1962, but that person was being nice. Porn for Women isn't even sophomoric and the whole thing looks like a mistake that somehow got published, which could very well be true.

There can be little doubt that the Cambridge Women's Pornography Cooperative is a loose conclave of Boston-area feminist academics and activists. There could well be some overlap with the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, the group of feminist activists who published Our Bodies, Ourselves, supposedly the first book written "by women for women," the same phrase found in the collective author description of Porn for Women.

This is more evidence that the academy is an isolation ward, and "women's studies" departments even more so. The hard-line brand of feminism has never been known for a sense of humor, and Porn for Women only confirms that reality. It was published by Chronicle Books of San Francisco, not a major house but instructive nonetheless. The publishing world is so favorable to feminist gambits that fluff like this can gain a book deal. The media is also favorably disposed.

To be sure, the debates surrounding feminism could use a touch of humor but Porn for Women doesn't deliver. It should come as no surprise that nobody wants to take responsibility for it. CRO


copyright 2007 Pacific Research Institute




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