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Feminism, from an Ex-Glamour Model’s Perspective

Not sure what a LBFM is? Then you need to read this.

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For most of my adult life, I worked in the glamour modeling industry. For those of you who don’t know what glamor modeling is, I can summarize it by telling you that it’s an extremely objectifying, sexualizing subset of modeling. Glamour models pose not for brands and the women they target, but for men and their leering gazes.

During my time doing this type of modeling, I was exposed to a myriad of masculine abuses. This experience became the catalyst –the rock-bottom– that ignited a determination to journey into the world of academia. As the legacy of hundreds of years of feminine oppression and misogyny reverberated into my psyche, I became motivated to enact change.

Last night I watched the film Suffragette and shed a tear more than once. For those who don’t know, Suffragette depicts the plight of the women who fought to get us the vote a century or so ago. The conditions for first wave feminists were tough. The cramped urban areas steeped in poverty coupled with the strain of family life meant that the women of this movement really had to get their hands dirty. There was nothing inevitable about it. It took guts.

Feminism, from an Ex-Glamour Model’s Perspective

A scene from Suffragette

The irony that women had no legal right to be heard even though we lived in a democracy, was not lost on them. The lack of vote was just one in a list of many symptoms of our general subordination at large. This was perfectly encapsulated by the bullying factory boss in the movie, played by Geoff Bell, who exemplified industrialized sexual abuse through his persistent low-level mistreatment of the women workers. In short, he treated them as disposable and sexually available fodder.

The confined status of the women of the first wave of feminist uprising meant that they found it near impossible to break out from prolonged cruel treatment – because of vital needs such as keeping a roof over their family’s heads. Much of this cruelty was at the hand of men in superior positions — such as bosses who were in charge of their wage packet. The persistent touching, the groping, the raping – perfectly okayed, and derived from essentialism, which excuse men as ‘just being that way’.

Feminism, from an Ex-Glamour Model’s Perspective

It’s easy to see ourselves as far different from these women – especially when we take in the period costumes and disparate living conditions which contrast to our comfortable lives today. We have our nice jobs and active social lives, but I suggest our oppression has only metamorphosed, which brings me to…

Pornography…

This highly visual genre depicts human beings as sexually explicit objects who engage in sex for the purpose of entertainment. Nothing wrong with that, you might think, and in general I’d tend to agree. It’s when one gender is depicted in a completely degrading and objectifying manner, while the other is humanized and powerful, that we start to run into problems.

I have a quick exercise for you: take an hour and flip through some of the most popular porn on the Internet. You’ll witness the following: it’s the male who engineers the scenes, sometimes even talking to the camera, smiling as if to a friend. The female? Actively taking orders and being degraded, which she somehow appears to enjoy. I urge you then to have a browse and watch a few more and you’ll see a pattern forming. She is always the spectacle. The audience, the camera, and the male are buddies in this. They all together watch the woman taking it from every angle. We see her do her very best to please, to service; the same old story over and over again.

Feminism, from an Ex-Glamour Model’s Perspective

Illustration by Luis Quiles

This is shown in the titles of these films: MILF; LBFM’s which stands for ‘Little Black Fucking Machines’, girl on girl, pregnant, gaping, schoolgirl, foreign slut, big tits, squirting. One might think we were cattle.

In a pornographic scene that I recently watched, two men were having intercourse with a well-known porn actress. They had sex in the ‘spit-roast’ position while they talked and took pictures from their mobile phones of her ‘deep throating’ while they shared a joke.  They regularly reposition her as they want her – with her then ending up on her knees as she smiled broadly and pretended to love having two big penises slapped hard around her face before her entire countenance, including her opened eyes, were smothered with ejaculation.

The late Andrea Dworkin, a radical feminist thinker stated, “Pornography, by definition, is the graphic depiction of whores – which is a trade in class of persons who have been systematically denied the rights protected the First Amendment and the rest of the bill of rights” (1981). Many will sneer at Dworkins’ comments as being ridiculous and dated and I’ll tell you why: In the current climate we have been lead to believe we’ve reached a utopia. Some of us think that, in Western culture, feminism is no longer needed. After all, we have comfortable enough lives. The commodity culture is at our fingertips; holidays abroad, education, all very lovely. But, to me, Dworkins’ words seem even more frighteningly fitting in this digital age.

Some of us even think that being a part of this vast sexual market equates to empowerment for women — as if it’s truly empowering that we can shout about our sexuality in contrast to the burkha-clad Muslim. But it’s not our sex to shout about. Consider that we are being lied to. That we are grossly and doggedly anchored to these oppressive representations. These views of women are being spoon-fed to our children and shaping the new generations, who unconsciously look at each other in an altogether fresh perversity. The word ‘slut’ has become a meme ascribed to young girls who wears make-up and sports the ‘sexy’ look.

Feminism, from an Ex-Glamour Model’s Perspective

Illustration by Luis Quiles

The selfie predominantly carries connotations of porn chic. You only have to trail through a timeline of a ‘popular’ teenage girl on Facebook to witness the effects on our young, what with her cleavage-baring photos, pouting lipsticked ‘duckface’ lips and sexualized poses. Look around – at the children, who value themselves on their sexual offerings. Imagine if you grew up on a diet of animalistic sex available at the touch of a button, witnessing women pressing giant dildos into themselves and getting gang banged by groups of men. How would it have affected you, or can you not even imagine it?

I believe that women today are blind to their oppressors, who are as strong as ever. Fourth wave feminism is the backlash against the representation of women as fodder – screamingly alive through the ubiquitous graphic display of feminine sexual abuse in the digital age. Speak out, or forever shut up.

Want to take action? Check out Pornography Harms or Anti-Pornography for further reading, and share your comments below.

Vikki Dark is a British writer and academic whose oeuvre spans erotica, biography and transgressive fiction. Her latest book, about an adult film star, focuses on contemporary feminism relevant to cyber culture and sex.

Reader Discussion: 50 Comments

  1. david whitey

    i think a lot has to do with the media and the messages that are directed right at young girls… but males in general need to stop sexualizing women so much. As A guy i catch myself doing just that sexualizing every woman i see. I can probably blame instinct or social norms but i digress. people in general, not just men not just women but both have to evolve past these basic human instincts… but this world is populated by idiots who can’t see that less moral people are using fear and shame to control them. I wish i could start a colony or new state that completely changes the game. but for now ill try and be an optimist.

  2. Cheryl Angle

    Reading you Vikki is such a pleasure. Thank you for bearing witness to “the industry” and for bettering yourself through education so that you can speak with alacrity and authority. Yours is one of the strongest voices – most articulate – on this topic. You don’t speak like an academic, but you have that grasp. After decades of seeing the backlash to women, and the stealth launch of online porn into society – your writing makes me feel hopeful for the human race.

    Many women have stories of harm from porn. Not all just insiders like you. Bedrooms are infected with porn and it has caused so much suffering in its wake.

    I remember when online porn was seeping into male lives. There was a new visible public male smug, the undressing of me in elevators, a new boldness of derision and collective male “gotcha” jokes and palpable collusion. I didn’t know the hold it had over former men in my life. I didn’t know what he wanted for pleasure was another notch in his porn playbook. I’m grateful for the anti-pornography dot org and others like yourself revealing this secret world. A secret world, with beautiful women available to ALL men. A lie. A big fat profitable lie.

  3. Dear Vikki,Thank you so much for this brilliantly written, very honest and true depiction of the porn industry. I applaud your bravery in speaking out! Pornography is such a destructive and pervasive force, that not just exploits vulnerable young women,it affects mens and children’s lives.Pornography is in essence, prostitution and harbors innumerable victims who have experienced child sexual abuse and/or rape. Are drug and/or alcohol dependent or have escaped the oppression of a strict and often religious backgrounds.Most sex abuse victims display high-risk sexual behaviors, including self abuse.Also many young girls don’t realize what they are getting into and are enticed by this hypersexualised culture that we live in. Porn is glamorized and celebrated, but it’s far from that. The most popular porn is amateur/aggressive teen/gagging/anal and choking. This is not’Sex’This is legalized sexual offending. No-one can really know what it is,that they are actually viewing. There are many women like myself who was trafficked and forced into pornography at the age of sixteen. There are domestic/partner abuse victims who are forced into pornography. There is revenge and covert pornography etc…I myself would not object to pornography if I could find an ethical pornographic company, in which certain criteria would have to be met, to ensure that no performer was coerced or abused etc. Please see my blog and links here- http://theartofsuzzanblac.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-porn-proposition.html

    Thank you again Vikki for speaking out and helping to combat this highly abusive industry and reclaiming respect for women who have suffered at their despicable,exploitive and abusive hands.

  4. Well done, Vikki, for having the courage to speak the harsh truth about the harms of pornography! Your voice of experience and your wise insights are urgently needed and should be carefully heeded by all. We support your efforts 100%. Please continue! What you are doing is life-saving for all women and girls in the entire world.

  5. Graeme

    Great article. Like many of todays problems, pornography as described above is a symptom of larger issues. The adult or porn companies are meeting a demand and that demand comes from the consumer! They make what their audience will buy and this will not change. At least, not until society as a whole (both men and women)are better educated into the realities of what they are instigating. More in depth exposures of these realities, much like this article presents are paramount. Education rather than castigation.

  6. Shannon Bradley

    A lot female porn stars will state that they feel empowered by starring in a porn. Notice I said porn stars, and not amateurs just doing it for quick money or drugs. But is it degrading? As already stated, porn is geared towards men for the most part. These women are basically *owned* by whoever pays them for whatever they’re told to do.

  7. Celine Carter

    Although I have nothing against porn or people watching it, I find it doesn’t turn me on that much for this exact reason ~ that I find it a bit degrading to women. And a little tacky sometimes.

  8. Leslie Williams

    Porn is one of few industries where the woman is paid more than the male, but it’s extremely humiliating and degrading. I don’t think it’s worth it.

  9. Amanda Roberts

    I didn’t know all the hitting and violence was all real. I always thought it was just an act. I’m honestly in shock and very upset.

  10. Pearl Nguyen

    As a woman from Asia, I couldn’t agree more. If you saw any Asian porn, then you know what I mean. It’s all about violence, women getting raped, tortured, even killed, although it’s just playing dead but it’s still sickening. If that is what men enjoy seeing, then I don’t want anything to do with men, hence why I’m a lesbian.

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