Monday, February 11, 2008

Is Porn Empowering?- Apologist Jonalyn Fincher responds to Porn Star Jenna Jameson

Please note, material discussed below may not be suitable for children.

In Bill O'Reilly's interview of porn star, Jenna Jameson, a millionaire who just sold her company to Playboy you can hear her state that "as a woman" she found porn" empowering" even "a positive influence" on people. "For way too long women have been suppressed. . .when a woman is sexually forward and comfortable with herself she is free.

So is sexual prowess empowering, does it breathe power and strength and freedom into women? I invite you to watch O'Reilly's interview or Judith Regan's interview of Jenna Jameson before reading my argument against her position,

Men are Needy Animals?

I disagree with Jameson's idea that men need to be treated as if they are needy, hungry animals. I’m afraid she’s been working for too long in a business that refuses to recognize the immortal, dazzling souls in women and men so she fails to see the irreparable damage done to the souls of men by her visual assault upon them. I think she finds that giving them an erection or sensory stimulation somehow makes up for how she’s lashed their appetites to her body and used their love for beauty to line her own pocket book. She's confused men’s need for beauty with her own ability to arouse their sex organs. If she was as good at fulfilling men’s needs as she claims, then they wouldn’t keep needing to come back for more. For true beauty inspires, soothes, stills and ennobles. True sexual intimacy satisfies and refuses to consume the beloved. And men, far from being needy animals are actually equal human beings in need of intimacy, love, dignity and respect.

Cleaning up the Porn Industry?
She claims that she's helped clean up the porn industry. By clean, she means that she is not doing drugs, but choosing to save money and eat well. But Jameson is assuming physical health means soul health. While the two are often intertwined and a vital part of every human, they are not identical. Even if her body is clean, her skin smooth, her breasts perky, her diet balanced this does not give her a free ticket to enter just any field and “clean it up.” It’s so ludicrous to me that she thinks a clean body can somehow purify a job based on preying on the weak-willed. It would be like a photographer claiming that his large bank account, good eating habits and clean drug record prove that he could clean up child pornography. The job itself corrupts souls and bodies of men (and women), regardless of the artist’s clean body record. And you can see that in Jameson’s face. Her very facial features are hindered from health. Notice her cheeks and her eyes, they have a hollowness, a used-ness, a plasticity that may be able to perform in a porn shot, but communicate no warmth or vulnerability or even range of emotions (this is one of the under-represented side-effects of surgical enhancements... they destroy subtle facial expressions).

How Free is She?
Jameson assumes that freedom from repression and oppression mean that you can do ANYthing you want. I could not disagree more. God is the most free being around and for him freedom means you are free to do EVERYTHING that’s good. Those who are “free” to hook up regularly (think in your mind of those you know who do that) are not free. They are not free to master their harmful desires, not free to be celibate, not free to turn their sexual desire into motivation for the good. It is true that sex itself spends you, you become spent on and in and with that person. As a man it focuses your energy into a laser beam and shoots it out of you.. and this is true of women, too. It is one way to spend yourself in the life of another, which is why real sex only happens marriage. A series of sex experiences creates a sex history, a manual of sexual ideas, preferences, fears, delights, concerns, a sex vocabulary that builds each sex experience upon itself. So that a woman who has been faithfully married for decades can know much more about sex (in all senses: positions, lingerie, how to love, and how she loves to be touched by him, her body, her needs, his needs), even about sexiness than Jameson can ever touch. In some ways Jameson has less, not more experience with sex. She knows so little. And the way she speaks about sex (in terms of photography, mass production, money exchange, empowerment, a symbol of releasing herself from oppression, a victory over men) reveals the poverty of her understanding. She knows how to make sex look good, but she does not know about real sex between herself and her love.

Leech Power
Any human who has to use another human’s sexual organs as a means for feeling power is unhealthy, i.e. she is sick in soul. Her willingness to use another's body for her own empowerment would make me wary of leaving her alone with any person in my life.

Aping the Men
She is a female picture of a woman aping fallen masculinity in order to assert her power. In the process she’s mocked herself and she’s lost the value of her uniqueness as a woman.

Dust Off Your History Books
Her knowledge of "female oppression" is proof that while she may know porn she knows nothing about women's history. Because she doesn't know history, Jameson is enslaved to a fairly recent past, women have not always been so sexually frustrated/repressed as she paints them. In Medieval times women used to brag about how horny they were and tell their sexual exploits (see The Decameron, 800 AD and The Wife of Bath (See "Sex and Lollardy") in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales 14th Century). Until the Victorian era women were believed to be sexually more promiscuous, more enslaved to their passions than men. Medieval jokes often ribbed men about how they could never give their insatiable wife enough.

Is Jameson Repressed?
As C.S. Lewis said, you don’t discover your power over something until you fight it. Jameson hasn’t battled the repression of women by showing how she has strength OVER her sexual appetites. She’s giving into the repression of women by falling into every desire (for money, for attention, for sex). She doesn't realize that she doesn’t have to stoop to these desires. Though she says it time and again, I don’t believe that she feels empowered, for you don’t have to repeat yourself that many times, if you really believe you are. The Queen of England, Condoleeza Rice, Hilary Clinton, Sandra Day O’Conner do not have to assert how empowered they feel… it’s already so dang obvious.

Woman to Woman-Body Language
She’s reacting. You can read it in her body language. She’s parroting someone else’s lines and she doesn’t even believe it herself. Watch her again say “It’s empowering to me” and notice how her eyes falter, how she stutters over “empowering” and how she cannot even maintain her eye contact with O’Reilly on national television. She’s not even a good liar for goodness sake. Ah, poor woman, poor na├»ve woman. She’s been hurt and that's driven her to her work (she was raised by a single father, lost her mother at a young age and began stripping in her teens) and her work has hurt her even more deeply, but she’s angry and fighting in the wrong place with the wrong tools. For more see Judith Regan's interview.

Not a Role Model?
She doesn’t think she should be a role-model. There’s a problem there. Why not? If porn is so empowering, shouldn’t all women do it? Shouldn’t even girls do it. Here’s where her argument breaks down. You cannot promote an ethical idea if it’s not universally good in application. If porn and sexual prowess are empowering for women, then you should be able to prescribe these for all, regardless or marital status or age.

Despising Those We Use
If she has to keep proving herself as an intelligent, honest, good woman who must be taken seriously, then perhaps that should be a clue that sexual empowerment is not the key to power and respect. In other words that a man, once he’s shoved himself into a woman, or masturbated to her movie, does in NO WAY admire her ability. He’s using her. Just as she’s using him for her millions. It reminds me of the way Amnon, King David's son, used his cousin, Tamar. When he asks to sleep with her, Tamar says,

“As for me, where could I get rid of my reproach? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you."

However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, "Get up, go away!" (II Sam 13:13-15).

Once he used her, he hated her.

I see Jameson as a woman who’s allowing herself to be raped again and again and she’s believed the Satanic (for so are all things that refuse to acknowledge the value of the soul) lie that she’s empowered, happy and chosen her career well. When she admits she must “turn a new leaf” when/if she has children, my heart hurts for her. I want to give her a weekend of soul care and good listening.

Pain in Her Eyes
She says she’s not hurt when people call her a slut. I think she’s lying because of the way she whips out, for the first time in the interview, that seductive smile and raised eye-brow. That’s a learned self-defense mechanism and it usually works on most men. But it doesn’t trick me. I can see that she’s trying to believe the lie she’s created that she’s happy with herself. I think it would be more accurate to say she’s happy with the attention she’s getting.. Someone needs to tell her that power and dignity are not synonymous with attention.

That said, I'm afraid most my remarks here are in the severe minority if CNN's polls of her book's success are true. Nevertheless, I still think it's worth getting these ideas out on the web, if for no other reason than that I believe Jenna Jameson can still choose to be an appropriate human. While she has breath, while there is time... for what does it profit a woman if she gain the whole world, but lose her own soul.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Wonderful Organizer

After getting off the phone with my horse-loving, dog-training, enthusiastic, honest, lovely friend Jen I thought of what she said about my blog. It was annoying for her to have to read the story of pregnancy BACKWARDS. That's when I explained the archive feature (scroll down to Previous Blogs and click desired month and then the post you'd like to read).

Today I discovered another helpful tidbit for those of you who'd like to read stories in their proper order. An avid blogger, Amy Sondova, has organized and posted "A Yellow Brick Road of Pregnancy and Loss" today with each of my pregnancy story installments easily clickable and IN ORDER. If you'd like to recommend or pass along this story, I suggest her posting for readability sake. Thank you, Amy for your work and kind words!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Is God Playing Favorites in Leviticus 27:1-8- Part II

In Lev 27 we learn that a person could choose to make a vow of dedication, but instead of providing their own life, they could pay the equivalent of their work's worth. For instance, I might want to dedicate my female servant to the temple, if so then I could keep my servant and pay a fee equal to her work. The fee chart worked like this; more money for men, less for women, more money for those who were in the "prime" physical fitness of life, less for the elderly and the young. (See previous post to read entire passage).

It's hard to read that women were "worth less" than men, without assuming women are "worthless." We bring a belief that money = power and that power = worth, both of which are suspect in terms of the kingdom of God. We wear our American glasses to this passage, when in reality (and in other cultures) wages are not proof of value or power. In some cultures value and prestige are not linked to wage earning (British titles, for instance, where one can be a lord or lady, but be relatively poor). Or in another case an orphaned, abandoned infant has great value but she is neither powerful or rich. So first things first, the monetary worth of a person's work is not always equal to their value or power.

If not, then the questions needs answering, "Why would a woman's service be worth less money?" In terms of service to the Lord in the temple, women could not do as much, not necessarily because they were the "weaker vessel" as Philip pointed out in the comment below, but because women could not be priests, could not be outfitted (Ex. 28), could not be consecrated (Ex. 29), could not make daily offerings (Ex. 30). Women were not permitted to be in God’s presence in the Holy of Holies.

But this male priesthood did not prevent God from interacting with all he loved, we know God interacted, communed, even anointed women as he did with Hagar, Deborah and Huldah. We know God even draws Gentile women, as he did with Ruth (See Carolyn Custis James' The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules). And since Jesus came, we know that God allows women to do all the work that had been limited to Jewish, Levite males. For instance, women are included in the priesthood of all believers, we are even able to "offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2:5). Women are dedicated for service as priests, outfitted to be priests, fellow ministers of the gospel with men (Eph 4:11-12). We can even enter the Holy of Holies. "Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus . . . let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb 10:19 & 22).

Therefore, this male dominated priesthood was only for a while, a shadow or type of the things to come, not a rule grounded in nature or creation. So why do we have this Old Testament period of male-priestliness? Not because women were less in value but because the priests had to be male to prepare the world for the Great High Priest, who came as a male. But why did God choose to incarnate as a male? I believe God wanted to come as the 2nd Adam not a 2nd Eve. So God set up a temple system with arrows all over pointing towards the way God would incarnate, as a male, helping people expect the Son in flesh.

I looked up Lev 27 in The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary a resource I'd highly recommend for hearing a woman's voice on Scripture. Dr. Susan M. Pigott (associate professor of Old Testament at Hardin-Simmons University) makes note that since only Levite males were allowed to serve in the Temple, people who wanted to serve had to donate money in the place of their physical volunteering. In contrast to other religious practices, this laid out rules preventing human sacrifice and provided a means to give in a really sacrificial way. By giving much money you were earning the privilege of offering your time and wages and essentially being a "living sacrifice." (Rom 12:1).

Even more interesting is Dr. Pigott's note that the value system outlined in Leviticus 27 is not chauvinistic. Notice that it is a combination of age+gender, not just gender (as one commenter also discovered-see comments for Part I). So a 1-5 year old male is worth less than a 5-20 year old woman. This makes sense. A 5 year old girl could do more work than a 3 year old boy. So males were not essentially worth more money than females, if they were a male of any age would always be worth more than a female of any age.

The point, Dr. Pigott writes, is that both men or women’s vows of dedication were accepted, a big deal in a patriarchal society. Both could give to the Lord. I see in this passage the broad outline for the future, when God tells us through Paul that he values both genders as unique image-bearers. "For there is neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ" (Gal 3:28). We are all valuable priests, living sacrifices, ministers and fellow-witnesses of Jesus.