“Shaming James Franco” or “How to Make a Living as a Science Fiction Academic”


To bring you up to speed, James Franco (whose book Dangerous Four Boys I just ordered) is being shamed in a recent article by Professor/Anti-Pornographer/Anti-Porn Star, Gail Dines. In her CounterPunch.com article, Where are the Protests Against James Franco’s “Feel-Good” Torture Porn?, Kink.com is “the Abu Ghraib of Porn”; Franco’s film kink is a celebration of “torture porn”. Sounds intense, right?!

According to Dines, the torture porn of Kink.com is akin to “the Spanish Inquisition: stretched out on racks, hogtied, urine squirting in their mouths, and suspended from the ceiling while attached to electrodes, including ones inserted into their vaginas.” And, “They are not mere simulations: the women are clearly bound and in contorted positions, and many are grimacing. This is not a fun, fantasy place run by a charming band of outsiders, but a group of savvy businessmen who missed their calling at Abu Ghraib.”

It’s thrilling and full of description!–James Franco has a “robust interest in porn”; Kink.com, Franco and Sundance are “getting away” with a “travesty”–yet… no interviews? No quotes, no evidence, no facts? What?! Just an emotional reaction?? No sex workers to gesture to who say, firsthand, “That is correct! I was a slave like those at Abu Ghraib!” What is this? Science fiction academia? I wouldn’t be surprised if the only time she quotes the voices of college students, they are her own students! …

Beth Brigham was Gail Dines’ understudy for a time and was interviewed for the anti-porn film The Price of Pleasure (review here). She states that the “diverse group of college students” from the film were Dines’ students. Damnit! I hate it when I’m right!

Drama aside, you can’t prove anything with fiction prose, even if it is well-written (or not). What of actual sex slaves? Dines’ bit of fan fiction is insulting to actual victims. I’m an ex-sex worker on various fronts, and I’m offended by these pseudo-pornographers speaking my mind for me; asserting my ability to “choose”; retelling my life story through dishonesty and the prism of their personal perversions. This level of hysteria and intellectual dishonesty is scarier than aggressive pornography. I worry for the youth whose education lies in their hands, but I wouldn’t try to outlaw education because some people wield their power recklessly.

Fortunately, intelligent people can see her research is as fluffy as a pastry: flaky, loaded with filler, lacking nutritional value.

Small except from Ronald Weitzer in Violence Against Women:

“In an earlier article in this journal, I critiqued a particular theoretical approach to prostitution, what I call the “oppression paradigm” (Weitzer, 2005; see also Weizter, 2010). The present review extends this critique to some recent books on pornography, both of which are ground in the oppression paradigm–a perspective that depicts all types of sex work as exploitative, violent, and perpetuating gender inequality. This paradigm does not hold that exploitation and violence are variables–present in varying degrees or absent in some kinds of sexual commerce–but are instead constants central to the very definition of prostitution, pornography and stripping. I have argued that those who adopt the oppression paradigm substitute ideology for rigorous empirical analysis, and that their one-dimensional arguments are contradicted by a wealth of social science data that shows sex work to be much more variegated structurally and experimentally (Weitzer, 2009).

I’m a compassionate human being. It may outrage me to see a meaningful conversation about sex and the sex industry reduced to one-sided rambling, but ultimately, I hope Professor Dines finds some resolution for her deep-seated anger issues. I hope, beyond hope, that all of the legal-age women and men who perform sex scenarios on camera for Kink.com are doing it because they want to. Their voices alone tell their own story.

However thrilling the adjectives and intense the delivery, all Gail Dines proves through this ridiculous shame article is that attacking consenting adults is a lazy, highly imaginative and lucrative way to make a living without doing any actual work.

*For an insiders perspective on Professor Dines, I suggest Beth Brigham’s blog; particularly her post, on the ex-mentor, Gail Dines (part 1).

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Author: Julie Meadows

Francophile, oenophile, French Scrabble advocate and future zombie apocalypse survivor.


  1. i love you lydia. her article is pure theatrics. i can send you photos of some others i have – i know where at least one is located, from the Boston Globe about Jewish women in film. it’s her specialty to write fact-free opinionated rants that somehow manage often to get peer reviewed (though she herself has admitted that her feminism is dying – and thank GAHD it is) …but, one thing i need to clarify love.

    it’s important to note that the Price of Pleasure wasn’t Dines’ project; she organized us really as a favor to her friend Chyng Sun. they crossed several lines and NONE of us were featured in the end because we took back our consent forms. Dines was really upset that when we emerged she found Sun had gotten so many of us shook up and she apologized to us and it was actually her suggestion that we demand our releases back. She was pretty angry and wanted to know what the hell went on and why we were so upset and I believe she spoke to Sun about it. So on that particular project, if anything, Dines demonstrated that she has genuine concern/respect for her students, at least on some level/s. Which only really makes the woman more perplexing; LOL

  2. and can i just say, i *hate* the way she credits herself as a professor of sociology & women’s studies when those departments don’t even exist at her school. they do at mine, but her title is professor of American studies. she doesn’t like he title well enough so she alters it to fit her. can i do that with my degree? Can i say my BA is in sociology perhaps, since women & gender studies is under that umbrella? rawr.

  3. Thank you for the clarification, Beth. Perplexing, indeed!

    Interesting, too, about her personal label. More of the fantasyland she appears to live? So complicated and strange.

  4. I was confused for a bit there. My confusion was because I misread the opening paragraph and thought that Dines’ complaint was about Franco’s book, “Dangerous Four Boys”. I haven’t read it but after reading this review I checked it out on Amazon. I read Dines’ article and understood what was going on when I read that she was talking about Franco’s other book “Kink”, which discusses the Kink.com website.

    I can’t believe……no, actually I can believe that she’d draw comparisons of BDSM to the Spanish Inquisition and Abu Ghraib. Unfortunately that comparison only makes sense to the ignorant and people that use such ignorance to fool people into thinking they are talking the truth. When she mentions grimaces on the peoples’ faces I couldn’t help but think that regardless of the pleasure derived from whips, electricity, slaps, etc, one would probably not have a big smile on their face; pain still hurts.

    I’m glancing at Dines’ article while I’m writing this and glanced at the last paragraph’s first sentence, “If Sundance were premiering a film about Iraqis, African Americans, Jews, or any other group other than women being tortured, would they be able to call it a ‘feel good’ documentary?”, and found it amusing because I could have sworn that there were Iraqi, African American, and Jewish women out there. From her question, should I assume that she believes that a film featuring women of these three ethnic groups being tortured could be categorized as a “feel good” documentary? (that doesn’t seem to read as good as I had thought it – oh well)

    I would also like to point out that Wendy Murphy’s quote that “torture doctrine is not hampered by concerns about consent because, as a matter of law and policy, one cannot consent to torture”, could easily be use to make the argument that the material on Kink.com is not torture as she claims since they gave consent to be in the film(s). Unfortunately for Dines, her beliefs are not the reality.

    Anyway, I learned something new, that James Franco is a writer. Very neat!

  5. Sorry, Brian. I am usually a bit clearer when I write. I suppose because I’m finding Dines too bizarre to take seriously after reading her and hearing her speak. Too. Bizarre.

    Haha!! Your point about women vs. “Iraqis, African Americans, Jews” is funny. That is part of her bizarreness. “Women” are always segregated from examples, even when the examples include them… Huh? lol Like, there can’t possibly be “Iraqis, African Americans, Jews” in combination within the movie?

    I think it’s just an art/photo book, but I’ll update once I get it. It was my way of showing support for Franco’s work in its various forms. :)

  6. Again, it was my reading, not your writing that caused the confusion. :D

    Bizarre is a nice way of putting it. I myself would say that my brain cells committed suicide due to Dines’ poor writing and reasoning skills. She’s a professor? Did she get her qualifications from a box of Cracker Jacks?

  7. Beth’s remark about the Boston Globe reminds me of the column Dines wrote complaining about the stereotypes of Jewish women in movies and TV. Dines totally ignored Will & Grace, which starred a sex-positive gorgeous Jewish redhead playing such a character (Debra Messing as Grace Adler), who marries a Jewish man (played by Harry Connick, Jr.).

    In one episode, Grace says that her favorite thing is free porn. No wonder Dines ignored it.

  8. No, but according to Beth (above), she creates her credentials out of thin air. lol Utterly laughable.

  9. Sheldon–lol

    I ran a search and found Invisible in Hollywood: Jewish Women.

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