160 of 189 people found the following review helpful
I wish I had this book when I was teaching undergraduate Women's Studies courses! Jensen uses the topic of pornography to cover the most pressing issues facing feminism, and society at large, today. He has built upon the work of radical feminist scholars in regards to applying feminist theory to pornography. He looks at how the industry, its violent content, and access to pornography through new technology, has changed since writers like Andrea Dworkin first tackled the problem of how porn turns violence against women into a vehicle for sexual pleasure. Jensen is successful at attacking the problem from every angle. You can tell he is an experienced lecturer by the way he addresses the typical, and also atypical, arguments that are thrown at feminists in regards to pornography, sexuality and gender. He also approaches the topic autobiographically, (a very feminist approach) and his arguments are stronger and more poignant because of it. Because of this autobiographical angle, his tone is not just analytical, but also one of remorse and sadness about the state of sexuality and masculinity in today's world. But he offers up a new vision, one which I believe male readers will be receptive to.
I wrote my thesis for my Masters in Women's Studies on sex work, so I can wholeheartedly say I've read most literature on pornography. Getting Off is one of the best books on the subject, and he brings the feminist argument against pornography into the 21st century. I admire and appreciate that he does not merely copy the work of female scholars, but rather builds upon them all the while showing how they paved the way for his analyses. I highly recommend it for course reading material for college instructors. This is an excellent text for anyone interested in understanding power, gender and sexuality.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2011
As a radical feminist I found Robert Jensen's book validating. I have read a lot of material on pornography addiction, pornography, growing up in a sexualized culture, etc. Gail Dines "Pornland" is also excellent but I found the insight into the male experience of pornography that Jensen addressed, incredibly helpful on a very personal level, particularly the chapters he addressed specifically to men. As a woman it enabled me to better understand why men cannot see the pain, degradation and humiliation of pornography, not just to women but to humanity. I have also read a lot about sex-trafficking and there are some very strong connections between patriarchy, pornography, men's sexual attitudes towards women/children, and sex-trafficking. It was helpful to me to see that there are men out there who have the same emotional reaction to pornography as I do. One of Jensen's anecdotes struck such a deep cord because it could have been describing my own experience. If you ever listen to some of his lectures on Youtube, you can hear his depth of sadness. I too carry this sadness. The personal impact of this book aside, I believe many will find it thought-provoking at the very least. I agree with arguing against pornography from a "harm" perspective more helpful than a "censorship" perspective which is somewhat futile. His talk of "masculinity" being culturally defined (and femininity too) is helpful for both sexes to think about and try to understand. When we define ourselves in such limited terms, we ignore the core of who we really are. Humans with the same basic needs, wants, and desires - one of which is to be equal. Thank you Robert Jensen for your brave and valuable contribution to these sensitive issues. You have given me hope where there previously was none. I too have cried "I don't want to live in this world." (Jensen, p.45)
Be warned that there are graphic descriptions of pornography in this book and it definitely should not be read by anyone under the age of 18.
69 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Every person should read this book. It will make men better human beings, and enable them to imagine a masculinity that isn't rooted in domination over women as a source of sexual gratification. Jensen analyzes pornography from what seems to be every possible angle. His conclusion - masculinity is toxic, and must be reconfigured. He writes, "The call to go beyond masculinity to a new humanity asks people to imagine something for which there is no model. It is frightening but like most things that spark fear it also opens up the possibility of finding something deeper, richer, and more satisfying." Men will not be put off by the book, but rather will be comforted by Jensen's honesty about his own journey as a man in a culture that dominates women. Jensen's tone will put readers at ease, because he is so honest and brings his own story into an otherwise analytical text about culture, gender and sex. This personal touch makes the book easier to read, since a lot of the violence described is hard to witness. Jensen seems to cover it all, and peppers the book with interesting facts about the impact of porn on society. For example, who knew that in the 80's Betamax probably went to the grave because the porn industry chose the VHS format? Getting Off will enlighten all readers, and it isn't just about pornography. It is a book that gets to the root of how dominant cultures function and thrive through the normalization of sexual violence.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2012
When I bought this book, I wanted to better understand the mentality and the motives behind the consumption of porn. Never did I think that it would change my perception of sex, improve my relationship, and completely transform my partners attitudes towards porn and women. I especially loved the section that discussed what role sex actually plays in our lives, I became more conserned with intimacy and affection during sex as opposed to mere friction or the superficial aspects of sex. the result is that me and my partner are having more sex (sometimes 3 times a day!but definately 7 times a week) we are more open and less insecure, and our new found level of intimacy during sex has spread from the bedroom to every aspect of our relationship.
My partner stopped watching porn after reading this book, he says it made him question why he ever watched it in the first place. It inspired him to start writing about feminist subjects and he has adopted a more empathetic, and less gender biased attitude towards all people. I never expected one book to create such a dramatic effect on him! I think that in jensens description of the "king of the hill" games that boys play in childhood pressured him to adopt a persona that fit with society's perception of manhood. This was something my partner could relate to and it helped him to better understand himself and the true reasoning behind his porn consumption.
For me the book showed me the reasoning behind the fetishising of dominance over women which is a recurrant theme in porn. I am thankfull for Jensen's graphic, and informative descriptions of scenes and sex acts in porn, alongside the disection of the apeal of such acts to men. when i first saw porn I thought men where monsters, seeing titles such as "use my daughter.com", the tones of male supremacy, and ridicule directed at the actresses. I couldn't even begin to understand why men would enjoy this. Jensen's explanations made a lot of sense to me, and helped me to resolve my relationships with men, without this book I would never be able to look my male friends, family and coworkers in the eye again. Its not that Jensen excused the cruelty in porn, it's that he described the real reasons that it appeals to ordinary men. And it's these attitudes that I don't agree with, but I can understand.
All in all it was a terrific book, which profoundly resonated with me and my partner. It put our sex lives and our conseptions of gender into perspective. truely ife changing I would recomend it to anyone.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2014
This was a difficult read. Very well done, very direct and utterly non-sensationalist. It must have been an absolute horror to research and write and I commend the author for tackling this subject.
Jensen identifies himself right at the get-go as a feminist, and I must say, I was glad to see that, as it brought a thread of sanity to the rest of the book. Jensen brings to this study not only a great deal of street-cred, being male, but also a tremendous sense of dismay on behalf of women and girls. And compassions.
Lots of what's in this book is downright ugly. Very ugly. The porn business, the descriptions of the films, the lives of the "actors" and the visible results of increasingly more and more depersonalized and violent films. Jensen calls it the "rape culture" and after reading about the real-life results of filmed and distributed sexualized violence, particularly among younger people. . . it will make the reader think for a very long time. Especially if you have young adult kids. Especially a daughter.
Don't read this if you think you are going to 'get off' on the descriptions. You won't. In fact, beware in general about the graphic and sad nature of this study; it's not for the faint of heart.
Jensen approaches this social phenomenon as thoughtfully as I imagine possible, tracks its history, plots out its likely future and shines a glaring light on the financial underworld of the porn industry and its measurably destructive results. Sobering.
I recommend it for anybody who has an interest in social history, human behavior & group psychology, feminism, sexual violence, sociopathology, or kids.
But NOT for kids.
60 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2007
As a biblical Christian, I have quibbles. But Jensen identifies what pornography is really about and ties it to its larger context in American culture. There is a reason that pornography is becoming both more mainstream and more violent.
Jensen accurately locates this in the lack of relationship in pornographic sex, which means that substututes must be found for that emptiness. Among these substitutes is the thrill of violent domination, expressed by O'Brien in Orwell's 1984 as "a boot stamping on a human face forever."
I think any honest reader can recognize himself or herself here. Jensen is extremely frank about his own history, which makes that essential insight easier for the reader.
214 of 296 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2008
I found this book problematic also, but I am female, advocate feminism, and study feminist theory. I don't think the positions that critics of this book lay out as mutually exclusive (feminist v. pornography) need to be so divisive. However, it is the rhetoric of this book, and books like it (Dworkin, for example), that encourage polarized views of sex, sexuality, and pornographic media.
In my opinion, both masculinity and femininity are constructed, and in ways that are damaging for both sexes; women, however, have been oppressed more considerably over history. Nevertheless, I found Jensen's rhetoric infuriating, and as someone who writes about pornography using feminist theory (and I am neither "pro" nor "anti" pornography - I find some pornography progressive, interesting, smart, and highly enjoyable; some pornography I find racist, sexist, unpleasant etc. I think pornography, just like everything else, is constructed in ways that replicate sexism, racism, classism et al, but that does not mean it is lacking in cultural value, or even feminist value) - but I do not condone censorship in any form, and I don't find Jensen's approach useful.
His "analysis" of the women in pornography I found to be particularly offensive. In fact, what was ostensibly a book about male consumers, and I chose to read it for that reason, turned into the usual rant about the degradation of women in pornography, without considering what the female performers might experience in their chosen line of work - or, rather, presenting it as though there is no choice, and that women pursuing pornographic careers are a result of false consciousness. His only "evidence" in this regard consisted of a curious "reading between the lines" of behind the scenes footage, where he drew conclusions from a brief look in a performer's eye. I found this to be absurd. What about male performers? What about women in other lines of work? Are they exploited?
Furthermore, as I have come to expect from extremist writing of any kind, there is no attention to genre, no content analysis, and even though he claims to randomly select the most popular movies, the more interesting and subversive popular movies were conspicuously absent. His analysis of a Wicked movie, for example, shocked me - it bore no resemblance to the overwhelming majority of Wicked movies I have seen, in terms of violence/degradation.
I'm not saying that all of Jensen's positions are incorrect, or that I think all pornography is great; I am saying that the obsession with women in pornography is grounded in sexism, and the belief that the ultimate exploitation of women is rooted in sexuality is a cultural belief repeated again and again, with a lack of attention to why we believe this to be the case. It's an extremely complex issue, and one that should not be reduced to these black and white treatments.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2013
If you've ever struggled with pornography or sex addiction I recommend you read this book - cover to cover - objectively. You will be triggered and tempted to stop reading and may likely want to put it down but I challenge you to complete it. Robert Jensen's book provides us an explicit and honest look at the pornography industry and it's impact on our personal psyches as men and it's devastating impact on women and children as well as our humanity.
Anyone with a soul and a shred of empathy who has used pornography or currently uses pornography, after reading this book, will never be able to view it the same or 'get off' on it in good conscience. It might just be the missing component to your sexual sobriety. You want to break your addiction to porn? This book is your answer to "getting off" for good.
Thank you Robert Jensen! You are a brave Soul.
35 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2008
In my opinion, there were good and bad apects of this book.
In any critique of pornography, descriptions of the recorded acts are necessary-- otherwise, it's just euphemism and it is easy for readers to assume that it's "not that bad." Jensen describes a number of mainstream films and includes quotations from the films themselves and from interviews with the performers. The sections were very difficult for me to read, but Jensen certainly made his point-- porn is extremely hateful towards women. I am not sure he could have made him point without including these excerpts, but they were very unpleasant.
Jensen is such a radical feminist that he thinks the entire system needs to be overhauled; it's not enough for men to "protect" or esteem women enough to stop looking at porn-- they must reject the entire concept of masculinity, because Jensen interprets the patriarchal system as essentially creating a "rape culture." I am not sure that I agree with this completely, but reading the book did make me realize that seemingly innocuous comments and behaviors (extreme competitiveness, for example, or even phrases like, "*Real* men don't eat quiche") do contribute to the idea that "real" men are macho and perhaps rightly given to violence as a way to prove their masculinity. I don't know what to make of this, really, and I don't think that Jensen himself gives a convincing account of an alternative.
Finally, I think Jensen is really limited by his moral perspective. In his discussion "What is sex for?", for example, he refuses to even consider the argument, "For procreation," because that would disenfranchise gays and lesbians. This was when the book broke down for me-- if Jensen is not even willing to consider the main purpose of sex in his discussion, then I don't think he's dealing in reality. Sex simply does produce children, and that must be taken into account even if it makes us uncomfortable about issues of sexual orientation. His explanation ("to produce light rather than heat") is very silly, and even in context it doesn't mean that much.
I thought Pamela Paul's *Pornified* was a better researched and more reasonable account of the porn culture.
32 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2008
I have been struggling with the ideas and issues that this brilliant book discusses for years. I am genuinely thankful that this exists. It reaffirmed many of my current beliefs, helped me further understand why I feel the way that I feel, and offered me new knowledge and more importantly, hope.
Read it. For the love of humanity, read this book.