Well. It’s been another hard week. So, on to a couple of things from a while ago.

Rejecting The Gender Binary In Fashion » Sociological Images

This new-to-me post strikes close to home because it's a much louder example, visually speaking, of my own clothing preferences.

why are department stores separated in clothes for women and clothes for men? Why is there no clothes section? […] Kasmeneo is a guy who decided that the entire department store is for him. Accordingly, he buys and wears what he wants regardless of the section it is in.

Bravo for that. I've long done the same thing, wearing ostensibly "girls'" tops and jeans, which—despite being biologically male—still tend to make my ass look better than jeans made for guys. In fact, so-called mens' clothing tends to hide male-bodied people's bottom halves, which I've always been supremely disappointed by, since I really enjoy asses, female or otherwise. Also, Kasmeneo says point-blank that equal rights includes a right to clothing choice. I like that.

The Obscene, Disgusting, and Vile
Meese Commission Report

Recall that in 1970, Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Presidential Commission on Pornography” presented its conclusions to then-President Nixon that “research indicates sex offenders had less adolescent experience with erotica[, an] indicator of atypical and inadequate sexual socialization.” The report was widely rejected by Congress and in the 1980’s, Reagan appointed a new commission to study the very same things, but with a mandate to return the opposite results. And that is what they did. What’s interesting to me is the parallel between the Meese Report of 1986 and contemporary anti-pornography crusaders like Gail Dines. This essay by Pat Califia neatly demonstrates the similarities.

Here are some choice excerpts from Pat’s essay that I think draw clear parallels to the contemptible way contemporary anti-porn activists treat the same subject:

In a 1985 press release, the Meese Report’s commissioners said:

the content of pornography has radically changed, with more and more emphasis upon extreme violence.

In this exemplary 2010 article, Gail Dines said:

Boys and men brought up in the internet age have very different tastes than their fathers […] Today, access is unlimited anytime anyplace, from computer screens to cellphones, and this cheap, anonymous accessibility has sent demand soaring. […] As boys and men click around today’s popular sites they are assaulted by images of body-punishing sex that pushes women’s bodies to their limit.

In 1986, two of the commissioners, Judith Becker and Ellen Levine, complained:

The visuals, both print and video, were skewed to the very violent and extremely degrading. While one does not deny the existence of this material, the fact that it dominated the materials presented…may have distorted the Commission’s judgment.

In 2010, the same technique of skewing the material—of showing the extreme stuff and claiming that’s most of what porn is today—is used by Gail Dines, garnering her the same critiques over, and over, and over again.

Echoing the conclusion of the 1970 Report, in 1986, Edna F. Einsiedel, whose writings were excluded from the Meese Report, wrote:

No evidence currently exists that actually links fantasies with specific sexual offenses; the relationship at this point remains an inference.

In 2010, anti-porn activists jumped down the throat of Jason Goldman when he showed the very same thing, writing:

[The] data suggests very strongly that pornography is not a direct cause of aggression against women; rather, pornography moderates the relationship between sexual promiscuity/hostile masculinity and sexual aggression.

In 1986, Califia writes of the Meese Report:

The Commission made skillful use of a vague and ever broader definition of “child pornography” to smear material that depicts and is intended only for the use of adults. Any sexually explicit material which adults might show to children to teach them about sex or seduce them into sexual activity was referred to as “child porn.” […] Commissioners coined a new phrase–“children between the ages of 18 and 21”–who presumably need as much protection as prepubescents.

As if on cue, in 2010, economics professor and anti-sex activist Margaret Brooks advocated for a radical return to pre-1960’s era doctrine for all college students (i.e., children between the ages of 18 and 21) when it comes to anything sexual, writing:

It is clear that many people and organizations claim to be experts in the field of sex education and are eager to gain access to the hearts, minds, and yes, perhaps even the bodies of our college students.

(Emphasis mine.)

And I could go on, but I think you get the point: anti-sex crusaders are an ass-backwards, ideologically-driven set of memory-challenged individuals straight out of the puritanical era whose ideals of government, academia, and public policy have more in common with folks from the 1980’s or, in some cases, the 1960’s, than many folks of today. What’s shocking is that their decades-old ideas are somehow touted as “new” or even worth listening to. They’re really, really not.