Pornwars! A New Left Project debate with Gail Dines

[Edit 15 September 2014] I no longer consider a liberal approach to pornography and sexual labour to be compatible with the liberation of women from male violence and coercion. There’s a more detailed explanation of this development in this piece at the New Statesman.

This week, New Left Project has been running a debate between me and Pornland author Gail Dines, “the world’s leading anti-pornography campaigner” and “a highly regarded academic” (according to this profile by Julie Bindel). Parts one, two and three have been published, with Dines’ final response due to appear shortly. The initial invitation from NLP arrived in November 2010, meaning that this conversation has been rumbling away for over a year, and the result is neither very illuminating on its ostensive subject nor particularly flattering to Dines’ academic credentials.

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My year in books 2011

When I decided I was going to write a review of my reading year, I had a bit of an anxious moment: totting up my annual literary consumption, it seemed that I hadn’t read very much at all. I was wrong, it was just that I’d blanked out the 4,576 pages of George RR Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire sequence that dominated my recreation hours between March and September. My original plan was to read just the first novel, then pick up the second after the second TV series, and so on. I did not do that.

Instead, I became a dragon-fevered fantasy obsessive for a season, tugged along from book to book by some downright cynical plotting – Martin breaks the story up into various POV chapters, and he exploits this constantly to withhold information and generate cliffhangers. As much as I couldn’t stop reading, I’m not sure if I’d definitely recommend to anyone else. For one thing, at least two books’ worth of plot points are invented just to be whimsically annihilated later on. For another, the story still isn’t finished, meaning there’s an outside chance that I could be cheated out of an ending even after reading all those pages. Continue reading