Ten Best Reader Comments of the Week!

Sex seemed to be on a lot of readers' minds this week, as you weighed in on Don Hazen's "Pornography and the End of Masculinity" and opined about the links -- or non-links -- between porno and war. In other news, and comments this past week, were Ahmadinejad at Columbia University, Bill O'Reilly's racial issues, and Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS. Onward to the comments:

After reading "Liberal Denial: The Link Between Porno and War," reader goeswithness shared her own experiences watching porn and the differences she sees:

I'm a woman, and I look for porn on the net from time to time. I haven't run across things that overtly abuse women. For one thing, I'm cheap; for another, I wouldn't go for those buzz words that would get you there. So I don't know what all is there to be found along those lines.


I go to X-tube. The only thing I enjoy there are the masturbating men. Look in the comments section there - they're mainly congratulatory, friendly, complimentary. It's assumed (and it's true) that they guys are there because they wanted other people to watch them get off, so they filmed it. There are occasionally comments about "too much shaving," or "your dick is too small," but overall, there is no condemnation about him as a person because he's there. Then go to the videos featuring women and read those comments. First, there's the issue of agency - it's assumed that she's there because she's being paid to be and somebody else is the one who put the video up. And in most cases, it seems true that she's not the driving force behind her appearance, so that detracts from any "empowerment" argument. And then, there it is again, the language: "slut" "whore" "bitch". Even at the same site, there is a completely different attitude about the stuff featuring men and the stuff featuring women, and women aren't getting the good end of it.

So I'm not talking about something as serious as violence, but let me tell you, it's still destructive as all hell. It is harmful to relationships between men and women. I don't mind being with a guy who just enjoys sexual films and images from time to time, like I do, but I have a real problem with a guy who can't understand why it's a bad thing that even regular porn has that kind of attitude attached…

Porn doesn't have to be that way, but it is. Since the whole industry is about giving people what they want, I find it difficult to believe that men, as a whole, couldn't change it if they wanted. It was certainly men who came up with the cliches and framework of the industry, and it's men who can end it.

If it were REALLY just about sex, people together getting it on, it would be fine. But it's not. To ignore the layer of attitudes that have grown up around it, the pornography "culture" that, indeed, views women as unequal partners, agents, and human beings, is just lying to yourself.

Pornography isn't the only way in which women are objectified, as another article, "Feminism Vs. Fembots," showed, Reader Cruella foundd the whole thing a bit off:

Strange. I mean the idea that women could be somehow replaced by robots pre-supposed that we are trying to design a world for men. Some of us are trying to create a better world for people. The idea of sex-bots which perform sexual functions for either gender (or indeed sexual inclination) is already a fact of life with vibrators and other electronic toys. What other function would you want your fem-bot to perform? Loving you, caring about you, engaging in interesting conversation, being a companion for you, doing household or other work? Maybe what these people are looking for is a real life woman.

The whole fem-bot concept is just odd.

"Girls Gone Mild: Are Feminists and Prudes Rebelling Against Slut Chic?" looked at how feminism has changed over the years. One reader, Luther Blissett, offered some insight:

[…] The problem here is that the capitalist patriarchy has completely defeated feminism. The ideas that women can be anything and do anything they want and that men shouldn't control women's bodies were bullets fired at the patriarchy. But they've been deflected right back at women in the form of thongs for preteens, among the other things mentioned in the article--because looking and acting like a sex object that exists only to pleasure men is somehow "empowering" […]

In response to "Polygamy and Forced Sex in the Name of God,". reader aislinnluv explored isssues of coercion and consent:

The point is not whether or not polygamy is "natural" or "biblically correct". The point in this case is whether or not the girl was raped, and if so, was jeffs an accomplice to this act? in today's society, with the concept of "date rape", it is not unreasonable to accept that a rape has been committed when the female does not agree to the sex act, no matter whether her refusal comes ahead of or as the act is being committed. this child, for child she was, at 14, was not a willing participant in her marriage. she did not wish to engage in sex with this cousin and was told by jeffs that she must submit. anyone who is at all aware of how the teenage mind works, particularly young female teens, knows that a girl is often eager to please and will go along with what she is told to do even when she does not wish to do so. in this case she was coerced, threatened with eternal damnation if she did not comply with the marriage, first, and sex, second. she did not even like the cousin she was forced to marry. when people are denied free will to decide their own futures it is a crime. in this case is is abusive and though it may be an "ill-fitting suit", i believe the charge of accessory to rape is not outrageous.

"What Bill O'Reilly Just Learned About Black People" got lots of attention. Reader pdxlinuxchix was unsurprised:

Why is anyone surprised by this? Look, I think that O'Reilly was taken out of context AND he was genuinely surprised that black folks can be civilized. Is there anyone here who is surprised by that? If so, what country have you been living in?

I'm a black woman, working in the physical sciences (evolutionary biology) and if I've learned nothing else about race in America, it is this: if you are black, you had best be prepared to be the best and brightest person in the room; every room, every time. If you do that you will be considered average for your efforts. Recognize this and move on with your life. White folks are going to say entirely ignorant stuff about black folks. Such as it is and such as it always will be. As long as it is not legal for these attitudes to become your problem (in other words, as long as you can still rent or buy a home where you wish, get the job you are qualified for, go to the school you are qualified to be admitted to) then there's not a lot else that *can* be done.

It's not that I think this is the way things *should* be, only that this is how things are. Let it go, folks. Every time liberals (and I am one) scream when some right-wing media figure spouts off some stupid statement or another we lessen the impact when it really IS a big deal. We should hold these reactions for when it's really necessary. This isn't one of those times, given the source. Like I said before, is there anyone surprised? If so, why are you surprised?

In response to the article, "GOP Says They'll Continue Voter Suppression Tactics" reader krayeski noted how little outrage the disenfranchisement of black voters cause:

Every time there is a racially motivated protest around Michael Vick, immigration, and/or the Jena 6, I am at a loss as to why there are not mass protests regarding voter fraud. Some of the information out there from Greg Palast and RFK Jr., have demonstrated how race plays a significant role in this country about who's vote counts and who's does not. Even the mainstream media has touched on the subject and the 2000 election was not that long ago.

What issue could be more important to equality than the fair and equal voice in elections. Why are there not protests by various community and religous leaders demanding that type of fairness?

After reading, "Why Does Everyone Bow Down to the Health Insurance Industry?" commentor argyle wrote about the problem with market-driven health care:

The problem isn't that 47 million Americans don't have health insurance. That's the result of the problem. The problem is that access to health care is a basic right and we treat it as a commodity.

If we decided, as a people, to commonly fund a well-audited professionally run health care system that didn't have to compete to cut costs, yet was overseen by a small army of fervent auditors, we could actually save money. Yes people will be temporarily out of work. But the overall value added to the economy by the decrease in spending (that money doesn't disappear) on inefficient private health care companies would provide an enormous economic stimulus.

The literal Elephant in the room is that not only would a commonly funded non-market driven health care system provide what in any basic definition of ethics has to be a universal human right: It would save us money while allowing us to pay workers that actually provide services to patients better, and instantly flood the market with available capital without inflation.

Foreign affairs entered the domestic sphere when Iranian President Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. Many readers reacted to the article, "Ahmadinejad's Speech at Columbia University Is as American as Apple Pie," including newtype_alpha:

He should know by now that the American Media isn't at all interested in what he has to say. No matter what he says in his speech, no matter what questions he asks, and no matter what answers he gives to the questions he IS asked, the Corporate Media will simply invent their own version of his responses and spoonfeed it to the American people for propaganda purposes. They've gotten exceptionally good at it, and the American people so used to it, that there is no doubt in my mind that three months from now even Alternet writers will STILL repeat the same idiotic "He denies the holocaust!" and "He says Israel should be wiped off the map!" bullshit.

I caught his speech two hours ago and was fairly unsurprised by the results. They asked him how he can deny the holocaust when all the evidence proves it happened; he said "I don't deny it. I asked why the Palestinians should have to pay for the holocaust, and I asked why European intellectuals are imprisoned for questioning historical aspects of it." The same answer he gave to Anderson Cooper a year ago, the same answer he gave to Christian Amanpour eighteen months ago, and exactly what he said in his original statements almost two years ago.

How many times is this going to happen before he gets it into his head? We don't care what he REALLY said, we only care what Rupert Murdoch says he said. And no matter how many times he repeats himself, the Corporate Media is STILL going to run his every word through a meat grinder and then splice it back together so that "I invite you to visit any university in Tehran and you will be respected 100%" is translated as "I dare you to invade us! Death to America!"

Speaking of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, peacelf responded to the article, "Will Blackwater Be Kicked Out of Iraq After Recent Bloodbath?" thusly:

In the minds of Bush, Cheney, et.al. the Iraqi civilian casualties are an unfortunate part of war to protect U.S. interests; it's not unfortunate that innocent people were killed. It's unfortunate that Blackwater got caught and there's an ensuing scandal from the massacre.

However, every great nation must face minor scandals when the empire chooses to colonize another nation that has resources the empire needs. Armed mercenaries play a small role in neo-colonization.

Honestly, Blackwater's murders are just a distraction from the bigger picture of empire building. Greenspan revealed the true purpose of the Iraq invasion: oil. Many of us knew it already, but to hear it from the former Fed Chair, the U.S.'s lead economist, ripped the mask off of the U.S. exposing our true identity as an empire.

Greenspan said the war was about national security, but ultimately about oil, because if U.S. foreign oil supplies run dry, it would "catastrophic" to the U.S. economy. In other words, we've reached the point in U.S. corporate power and profits that, without Iraq's oil, U.S. corporations' profit margins would take a dump and subsequently, deprived of oil, the U.S. economy and the american worker would ultimately suffer from withdrawal. I doubt it, but the corporate profiteers would surely suffer, and we can't have that.

The Iraq war was a desperate measure taken by desperate rich and powerful people, and a few massacres here and there are just part of the price to pay for expanding the empire. Does that sum it up?

Finally, Ex-Marine commented on "Dan Rather's New Courage: A Hefty Lawsuit Against CBS," pointing out that Rather's story on Bush's military experience was never actually proven to be false:

Funny, but a poster here suggests that Dan Rather lied about Bush's failed military experience but has anyone noted--especially Bush supporters--that no one from the Bush camp of prostitutes ever contested what was in the reports? They focused their attack on the font type. Folks, that miserable failure and sorry example of male gender has only one continued success: Failure! He's more than a three-time loser and he deserves nothing better than to spend the rest of his miserable life in a jail cell. I hope Dan Rather wins his case against CBS, and I ask that everyone start boycotting ALL advertisers of CBS stations. Most will have a web site, find it and fire off a letter of NON-SUPPORT to that advertiser.

Tune in next week, for more of the best of you.

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