Melissa Harris-Perry | July 07, 2012
>>> this is not a g-rated commercial break , but before the break i asked you which state is the biggest consumer of online pornography . and the answer is utah. in fact, the top ten porn consuming states, eight of them were red states in 2008 , state that is voted more john mccain . in 1964 the supreme court justice stewart wrote the, i know it when i see it, phrase of pornography deemed by the supreme court . now thanks to the internet we can see it all the time. porn is, forgive me, huge. it estimates place porn anywhere from a $5 to $12 billion industry and is a business that points up to $20,000 in san fernando valley , california, alone. the number of people involved in production of movies and clubs expands the industry exponentially. and as the product proliferates product may be in peril. online piracy and adult entertainment start-ups are diversifying and diluting the revenue of the multi-billion business. diane duke says revenue is down 50% since 2007 . so what does the business end of porn look like today? we have tristan teramino, zefer teachout and michael dyson . there's politics to pornography. we love the fact after president bush won the election in 2004 , red states saw a jump in porn-related internet searches but after president obama won in '08 it was blue states that had the big surge. apparently this is because when you win your testosterone goes up and you search more porn online. who knew?
>> i didn't know that.
>> so sometimes it's the blues, sometimes it's the reds, but i just said. okay, look, the profits are -- the profits are being harmed. if i'm a mom at home in wisconsin, i say, good, great, i'm glad the porn industry is not making money .
>> ultimately the question of whether porn is good or bad for women is the wrong question. it's like asking whether the novel is good or bad for money. it's a medium. so the question is, what are we doing with the medium? are there a lot of mainstream pornographe pornographers, i would like to have their bottoms harmed and eliminated, absolutely. but who is hurting first are the sort of marginal indy producers, like, for example, tristan.
>> but i would disagree with that. there is lesbian porn , porn for transgender people , but that's actually doing really well because they offer a really unique product to an underserved, underrepresented minority. so i think they are actually faring pretty well in the war on the internet. the big companies, including the one i work for, vivid entertainment , are not faring well because all our stuff has been illegally uploaded and pirated.
>> i want to talk about who profits from pornography for a second. because as we were planning this show, a feminist scholar and author gayle dines, very anti-pornography and clear about her position sent an e-mail to me saying you must not understand how bad the circumstances are, how bad violence is against women and that women of color are degraded and black men are humiliated and degraded and, for example, saying that white men, importance wants to look at white women having sex and that kind of thing. my sense was, okay, first of all, the idea that the only people profiting from pornography are the filmmakers, the fact is that hotel chains that show pornography are profiting from pornography. mitt romney through the marriott situation, but also, by the way, academics who wrou write about pornography and sell books for profit are benefiting. we know for certain there are bad things happening in porn in terms of sex trafficking , but the fact that all of us are come police it in it.
>> that's a great point. you talk about sex positive feminism . you talk about the agency of women . you can talk about who owns it. even if women are ahead of corporations that are sensitive to women 's respects, do men ultimately make their money, but throw this in and say power is distributed across the board so that the hotel chains are making money . so that the local niche porn is making money is an extraordinary move of affirmative action penetrating into the realm of pornography, so to speak.
>> and what the internet has done is make it possible for anyone to be a pornographer, exactly. if you have a camera or a cell phone, you can make porn and can control the means of production and you can profit from it without going to a big company. and that is one of the benefits.
>> the benefit of the agency.
>> some of the porn stars , for example, they make some movies and create their own website. they create the content and control the imagery. the money comes to them.
>> you sign up through a monthly fee or something like that.
>> exactly. the money comes to them and they are in control of it.
>> what the internet does is change the industry so substantially and separate out the concerns people have with pornography. one concern is how people are treated. in my own sense is with yours, it gives a lot more agency to those creating porn. another question is how does the proliferation of non-intimate sexual images affect and impact us. it is not just the content of porn but how much of it there is. and i think it is fair to -- i have some real concerns about as a woman how sexualized the culture is.
>> but i think we have to say, again, we need better stories in our porn. if you look at mainstream porn, the stuff flooded over the internet, most of it tells a story about male pleasure. the story ends when the male is done. have you seen a mainstream porn film where the male continues to pleasure his female lover.
>> yes! i make those movies. but my point is --
>> there at the moment, unfortunately, they are a niche of what's out there. and that tells us over and over and over again sex is not for women , sex is not about women . women are for men. what that does is makes women vulnerable because we internize the belief that sex is not for us but also on a political level that men get to make decisions about our sexual bodies.
>> and perhaps one of the hardest transitions i have had to make, i am now going to say, by the way, now it is time for a preview of "weekends with alex witt ."