Toronto
3 min

Return of the loonies

Feminists tell Supreme Court that gay & lesbian porn is evil

NO FREEDOM TO READ. A group called Equality Now tells Little Sister's what its customers can't see. Credit: Shawn Scallen

They’re back! Just when you thought it was safe to read what you want to read, radical feminists intent on censoring everything in sight are back before the Supreme Court Of Canada.



This time, it’s the Little Sister’s constitutional challenge to

Canada Customs. The Vancouver bookstore is arguing that the Customs rules – which allows border guards to unilaterally stop anything that they think might be too nasty for Canadians to see – violates the right to freedom of expression and discriminates against gay men and lesbians.



But according to a group called Equality Now, Canada Customs is right to seize much of the gay and lesbian material en route to Little Sister’s.



Because it’s pornographic. Because it degrades and dehumanizes women. Because it involves the representation of rough sex. Because it contributes to homophobia and the silencing of gay men and lesbians.



It is a return to radical feminism that defines pornography as “a social practice that subordinates human beings on the basis of gender through sexually explicit pictures or words.”



According to Equality Now, pornography is sex discrimination.



Anyone intervening in this case – to be heard in Ottawa on Thu, Mar 16, is hemmed in by the infamous Butler decision. It ruled that pornography which causes “harm” must be banned. Something that the court says would predispose people to act in an anti-social manner – whatever that is, but seems to involve women.



Little Sister’s argues that this harms-based approach should, at a minimum, be limited to heterosexual porn.



Equality For Gays And Lesbians Everywhere, the Canadian Conference Of The Arts and the Women’s Legal Education And Action Fund (LEAF) are all arguing that Butler shouldn’t be assumed to apply to same-sex porn.



According to Equality Now, gay and lesbian porn is every bit as dangerous as heterosexual porn.



“[T]his material advances and promotes self-hating, aggressive, violent, non-consensual sexual behavior as positive, normal, and liberating.”



What is this group? Who are these people? Equality Now describes itself “as an international organization dedicated to the promotion of sex equality,” committed to fighting against “pornography and other forms of sexual trafficking in persons.”



There is no information on a Canadian chapter of the

organization. The brief was filed by a recently hired York University law professor.



The website suggests that it’s a New York-based group, but there’s no real info about who’s behind it (http://www.equalitynow.org/).



It does not describe itself as an organization in any way concerned with gay or lesbian rights. And it does not appear to have consulted with the community in Canada.



But it sure does have some strong views about gay and lesbian sexual representations.



Equality Now believes that pornography is evil. “[G]ay male pornography contributes to the homophobic rejection of gay men and lesbian women, and their sexuality, by normalizing male aggression generally and encouraging the subordination of one individual to the domination of another.”



It’s an amazing twist to the Little Sister’s argument that sexual

representations are important – essential, even – in creating gay and lesbian identity, community and visibility. Equality Now argues that this will lead to more discrimination.



Glorifying dominant male sexuality is bad. Gay porn adopts “male dominant roles [which] ensures invisibility through assimilation, silencing gay male expression.” This is homophobic, “keeping lesbian and gay men closeted, and in the process, reinforcing rigid, dehumanizing gender roles.”



Consumption of pornography contributes to our own silencing, oppression, and even, gaybashing. “The pornographic glorification of the ‘masculine’ as power over others and the rejection of all that is ‘non-masculine’ or ‘female’… renders visible gay men who do not

attempt to assimilate or ‘change status’ by mimicking masculinity more susceptible to homophobic attack.”



I’m not quite sure how this works – since it would seem to require that straight boys consume the stuff, and then go out and find non-conforming gay men to attack….



Equality Now also takes aim at lesbian SM. “Materials that sexualize acts of coercion, violence, pain and domination between women are also harmful. These materials condition lesbian women to eroticize abusing, and being abused by, other women. The real violence that can occur in lesbian relationships is also minimized to the degree that women abused in lesbian pornography are perceived as enjoying that abuse.”



This makes SM sexuality a bad, bad thing.



“Sadomasochistic gay male and lesbian pornography replicates the socially pervasive male dominant model of heterosexuality in which the domination of one person over another is sexualized.”



So the sexuality of gay men and lesbian women is repressed and distorted in same-sex porn. The materials stopped at the border “present lesbianism as heterosexual dominance being acted out by women on women. Equality Now submits that this misrepresents lesbianism.”



The materials in question include stories and photos from On Our Backs – a lesbian sex magazine, photographed by lesbians, with lesbian models, having lesbian sex, for a lesbian audience. Yet it apparently misrepresents lesbianism.



Equality Now may be a newcomer to the sex wars in Canada. But, its views are the one that many in the gay and lesbian community have been raging against for years. It’s anti-porn, anti-sex, radical feminism run amuck.



It has refused to learn even the most obvious lessons of the sex wars – that it’s not nice to speak on behalf of people that you haven’t consulted with, and that censorship always comes back to haunt the least powerful, most marginal voices within any community.



And it’s just the voice that the Supreme Court Of Canada may want to hear, since it would once again give the justices a feminist discourse for censoring sexual speech.