All Pornographers Are Puritans
And they are preaching a deadly dogma
“All pornographers are puritans”, says Isadora Zelda in the Fear of Flying. Before this sentence, I was in awe of Erica Jong’s chutzpah. Through Isadora’s search for the zipless fuck, she was effortlessly upending pews in the synagogues that denied women’s sexuality. When I read this sentence though, I began wishing the author was my sister so I could call her every weekend and imbibe her insight. Because with this one sentence she illuminated the profound problem with porn — it is founded upon fear.
I’m sure if I suggested to a porn master that he was a puritan, he would laugh in my face (both mockingly and dramatically I suspect) and suggest I was crazy to think his sexual adventures could be equated to religion in any form. Of course, we think of puritans as religious zealots, largely because of their role in condemning the liberties introduced by the Church of England. But let’s take the more generalised definition, where a puritan is:
“one who practices or preaches a more rigorous or professedly purer moral code than that which prevails.”
Porn Preaches A Deadly Moral Code
You may argue that porn is free from morality, or go further to claim that the violence it portrays against women is the antithesis of virtue. And you would be right. However, if you consider that a moral code is simply a standard of behaviour, then porn expounds a moral code in every single movie. With each viewing, it preaches that it is right and just for women to be submissive and it is justified and righteous for men to use and abuse women for their pleasure.
But how is the moral code porn portrays purer than societal norms? Simple. Because the scenarios that play out in porn are free from anything that vitiates the primal power of men. There is no resistance, no challenge to the brutality, and no suggestion that the women involved may have desires of their own. Instead, victims of the violence display pleasure or responded neutrally to the cruelty . The porn masters have stripped away anything that may weaken the sick story of satisfied submission they are selling. And if what you are peddling is poison, then the purity does not make it better, it just makes it more deadly.
The excruciating reality for women is that the pure moral code advocated in porn does become deadly. The National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children admits that pornography reinforces stereotyped sexual attitudes and contributes to harmful sexual behaviours. Pornography normalises brutality, oppression and possession, all of which are precursors to domestic violence.
“Ah, permissiveness — the puritan’s key word.”
During a debate on the train, Isadora hears her opponent’s concerns about permissiveness in education, and at that moment, she knows he is a puritan. Puritans see permissiveness as a deficiency, as it reduces their level of control. And puritans must maintain control. Why? Because they are scared shitless about what will happen to their power if they don’t. What if the female porn actors were permitted to break the script and play the scene as they would like? What would happen if they started to reject the orthodox acts of buggery, ridicule the dogma of dominance, or refuse the sodomy and suppression that is at the core of porn plots? Permissiveness would mean the end of porn as we know it, and so discipline and submission of the female must prevail.
Porn Is A Product of Patriarchal Fear
Porn then is a product of patriarchal fear — fear of the largely unknown and unexplored female sexuality. Fear of the loss of power, and fear of not being able to perform if the tables are turned. You see this is where men are at a distinct disadvantage. They have a very obvious display of sexual virility, and so it must be a constant fear for many that they will be publicly shamed by a limp dick. By controlling the narrative, and the situation, they can maintain power through their penis.
And so it is this sexual stereotype and incompetent relationship role modelling that our youth are learning. In this way, the porn puritans are incredibly successful at distributing the doctrine of dread, debasement and denial of feminine sexuality. They are proficient at mass pussification.
Independence and Evolution
As Isadora (via Jong) so wisely points out “genuine permissiveness promotes independence”. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have our boys and men thinking about the types of sex and relationships they want, and not be prejudiced by porn propaganda? Wouldn’t it be delightful if our girls and women permitted themselves to explore their sexuality and define their ideal relationships without the influence of patriarchal puritanism? Wouldn’t it be a revolution if we all began thinking for ourselves, instead of letting the loud voice of fear and violence scare us away from seeking our potential? And wouldn’t it be a miracle if there was more support for those who write stories showing the fullness and complexity of the human heart and the role of sexuality in its evolution — people like Erica Jong, and people like Missy Jubilee?
Missy is a protagonist of genuine permissiveness and a poster girl for the individuality and independence that it brings. The Future Sex Love Art Projekt unravels the simple poisonous code that porn proliferates and exposes the truth — that the female body is a beautiful piece of art and that feminine sexuality is precocious, playful and powerful. Her award-winning film Beautiphul illustrates the painful outcome of puritanism — perpetual persecution. It is no wonder that the puritans of porn, Patreon and their paymasters try to suppress her work.
This article written with great thanks to Erica Jong. Fear of Flying was published when I was one year old, but it is only now in my 50th year that I have had the blessing of its discovery. I am deeply saddened that I find myself so often in the same dilemmas as Isadora. And yet I celebrate your writing as a catalyst for self-permission. I thank you for your honesty, your bravery, and the catapult you crafted to Isadora’s self-compassion. Through hers, I am finding my own. I honour you with every alliteration!
 Jong, E. (2003). Fear of Flying (Reprint ed.). Berkley.