Change and disclaimers

I’ve been blogging at this site for more than seven years; my archives go back to January 2004. And though my views on many issues have remained unwavering, there are a few topics about which I’ve had a fairly profound shift in recent years. Particularly around pornography and sex work, I’ve moved from a fairly traditional, hostile view to one that is far more nuanced. As anyone who reads through my archives will notice, there’s a fairly big shift that takes place in my writing around 2008.

Of course, people still cite some of my older work, and recently this post about the Suicide Girls reappeared, quoted both approvingly and critically. And I re-read it for the first time in a while, and I winced. I don’t repudiate the spirit of what I wrote, but I squirm at the reflexive paternalism I sense now. This post from last fall better reflects where I am now.

My views on my own sexual relationship haven’t shifted at all. I still call myself “Eira-sexual”, still working with a calm certainty on directing all of my sexual energy towards my wife. Even in prolonged “dry periods” (as when we had first become parents), I sent all of my sexuality towards that relationship. Not out of guilt, of course — but out of a sense that this kind of unidirectional sexuality was and still is the best path for my own growth. But I’m more leery than ever of extrapolating universal truths from my own experience. No one needs a smug puritan.

It’s no accident that my views on sexuality (including porn and sex work) became substantially more liberal when I became a Dad, something I’ve touched on before and need to touch on again.

But for now, the question is this: do I need to revisit everything I wrote about porn and sex work before 2008 and stick a disclaimer on it? Do I take the older posts down altogether? Thoughts welcome.

13 thoughts on “Change and disclaimers

  1. Pingback: think of the perverts! | Feel the Love

  2. Leave ‘em up. Even if people stumble upon them and get triggered, you can always lead them back here or to your more recent posts. It’s good to leave a visible growth trail for both ourselves and others. I’m sure there’s all kinds of things lurking in my archives that would make me cringe reading them now. But it was my truth then, so I leave it up, regardless of my position to it now.

  3. I already expressed to you how important I think your archives (and archives in general) are, but I figured I’d stop by and say it here, too: seeing a shift in others’ writings are really powerful second-hand educational experiences, to borrow a dangerous metaphor.

    Also, as the possible cause of your recent ambivalence since I cited your work from 2005 in this post published on the 2nd,, let me just say that I never intended to co-opt whatever point you were making, doing my best to excerpt the pieces I thought were most relevant while maintaining the integrity of your own message as I had read it. If I was wrong in my interpretation, that’s on me, not you.

    Thanks, in any event, the willingness to be nuanced. That is a dangerous but necessary road.

  4. Whether or not a disclaimer is needed may depend on how radically your views have changed. I’ve read some (but by no means all) of your old posts, and haven’t found anything there that seemed to be outright damaging.

    Allowing others to observe your own history of change & growth can be really powerful. You are quite honest about other mistakes you’ve made in the past; what is the harm in letting people see how your positions & beliefs have developed as you’ve matured? If anything, it proves that people (men especially) can and do change. That’s a real signpost of hope.

  5. Leave them up and tag them with links at the top to your updated beliefs.

    The Suicide Girls piece was interesting. It invites the question of what matters more, that a woman be “empowered” as judged from an outside observer’s perspective or that she have the subjective experience of feeling herself empowered. Is there an objective standard of empowerment and if so, how might we recognize it?

  6. I ask that you please not take them down entirely. I very much appreciate reading about your shifts in perspective, and changes of opinion. I’m definitely of the mind that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” and evolution of thought is important and necessary, and speaks to how honestly self-reflective you are. It is a brave thing to do, to change your mind, and I appreciate getting to hear about the process you go through.

  7. I wouldn’t take them down. It is fascinating to trace profound personal transformations as they happen over time. Just seeing the end result is never as helpful as being able to observe how a person’s way of thinking went in small steps from one point to another. Your personal journey is very interesting to many people, and I have no doubt that the absolutely majority of your readers is capable of understanding that people change, and it’s a good thing. Who would want to read a blog of somebody who says exactly the same things for a decade and never budges an inch?

  8. “It’s no accident that my views on sexuality (including porn and sex work) became substantially more liberal when I became a Dad, something I’ve touched on before and need to touch on again.”

    I’m confused. I am not a father myself, but it’s been my experience that if anything people become more conservative – tough on crime, censorship of sexuality/violence in media, etc. – when they become parents.

  9. Hugo:

    LEAVE ‘EM UP! People change, grow, their opinions shift and become more complex…and hiding past views seems silly (to me anyway). If anything, maybe make a new tag for ‘em.

  10. As someone who has only begun reading your blog relatively recently, I advocate for keeping them up. It is perfectly well and good for me to be able to read your thoughts as they are now (which I appreciate), but it also helps me get to know you and your thinking by being able to see how it has evolved over time. What that I had this opportunity with my current professors.

  11. I would say, leave the archives, with addenda where needed saying “I no longer feel this way, I feel this other way now” and linking to a more recent post on the topic that more accurately represents your current views.

    Sarah Jane:

    Whether or not a disclaimer is needed may depend on how radically your views have changed. I’ve read some (but by no means all) of your old posts, and haven’t found anything there that seemed to be outright damaging.

    It’s important to know if he’s had the Jewish sort of road-to-Damascus experience too.

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