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Bad Girls: Pornography, Fantasy, Sexuality

Bad Girls: Pornography, Fantasy, Sexuality

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Published by Katie Freund
Slides for a guest lecture in sociology on feminism, pornography, and fantasy.
Slides for a guest lecture in sociology on feminism, pornography, and fantasy.

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Published by: Katie Freund on Apr 26, 2010
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05/12/2014

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Katharina Freund

Yes, everything in this lecture is filled with innuendo and latent homoerotic sexual tension.

Overview
What is pornography?  Pornography & feminism

 Second-wave, anti-porn

 Sex positive feminism
 Third-wave/Post

Female sexual subcultures & “bad girls”
 “Slash”  “Boy‟s love”

 Violence and fantasy

What is pornography?
Pornē = “prostitute”; graphia = “written description or illustration”  Explicit sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual excitement  “Desire is elusive and subjective. It refuses to confine itself to particular acts, people, objects, imaginary sites or rooms in the house.”

 Catharine Lumby, 1997, 95

US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, 1964

Pornography in Context

Contentious: often seen as a social problem (obscene) Almost impossible to gauge size of industry…
 Estimates from one to tens of billions of dollars US,

not including online porn  About 15,000 films released per year

…or size of audience
 Shame and stigma prevents accurate data


 

Porn is diverse and varied is content Million different reports on its effects, positive or negative (Source: Pappas, 2004)

Second-Wave Feminism
Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975)  Psychoanalytic approach to film studies  Hollywood films inadvertently structured on the ideas and values of patriarchy  Male gaze:

 Spectator is active, masculine  Woman is passive, object of desire  Image of woman controlled through

mechanisms of fetish and voyeurism

“She is isolated, glamorous, on display, sexualised. But as the narrative progresses she falls in love with the main male protagonist and becomes his property, losing her outward glamorous characteristics, her generalised sexuality, her show-girl connotations; her eroticism is subjected to the male star alone. By means of identification with him, through participation in his power, the spectator can indirectly possess her too.” – Laura Mulvey 1975, 21

Second-Wave Feminism and the Anti-Porn Activists

Radical feminists in 1970s and 1980s
 Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon

Pornography defined as “graphic sexually explicit materials that subordinate women through pictures or words” (MacKinnon 1993, p. 15)  Anti-pornography Civil Rights Ordinance, 1983

Anti-Porn Activists continued…

MacKinnon
 American legal scholar  Groundbreaking work on sexual harassment

 Pornography: ○ should not be protected as free speech as it prevents gender equality ○ condones sexual violence against women ○ causes men to behave in sexually violent ways  Rejects pornography as fantasy

Anti-Porn Activists continued…

Dworkin:
 Pornography: ○ is objectification of women by men ○ is an act of violence against women ○ eroticizes domination and abuse of women ○ has extremely negative social consequences

 “We will know that we are free when

pornography no longer exists.” (1981, 224)

Catharine MacKinnon (quoted in Lumby 1997, 104)

“They Like To Watch”

   

Lumby, 1997 Charges of sexism commonly laid against advertisers Questions reading of nude/suggestive images of women as automatically sexist Why can‟t sexualized images of women be positive? Censoring sexual images “protects” women: implicit in this is idea that women are weak, sensitive

“Why insist on reading images…as demeaning to women? Why teach women to read images in a way that makes them feel bad about themselves? Why not encourage them to make creative readings of images and to appropriate and reinvent female stereotypes to their own advantage?”
 Catharine Lumby, 1997, 8

Critiques of Second-Wave

     

Misandrist Pro-censorship Links between media and effects not so clear-cut Promotes a conservative, essentialist, and negative view of sexuality Ignores women‟s choices or agency Assumes all women are victims Women who do like porn feel guilty, are “bad feminists”

“But when a woman is portrayed as a victim, even when she is not, and certainly does not feel like one, you not only insult her but you alienate her as well. The idea that a sexually active and interested woman is merely fulfilling a man‟s fantasy, and therefore to serve him, is outrageous.”
 Havana Marking, 2005

Sex Positive Feminism
Also known as sex-radical feminism  Pat Califia, Susie Bright, Tristan Taormino  Women‟s sexual pleasure and masturbation as central to gender equality  Anti-censorship  Diverse expressions of sexuality

 LGBT, BDSM, etc.

Sex Positive Feminism

“Pucker Up”: http://www.puckerup.com/EN/home/
 Education

 Consensual, ethical pornography
 Open discussion of sexual practices  Sex-ed porn

3rd Wave / Postfeminism
Complicates generalised view of “the female” common in 2nd Wave  Feminism intersects with antifoundational movements (postmodernism, etc.)  Addresses issues ignored in 2nd Wave: ethnicity, sexual difference, class  Influence of Foucault: Reject idea that power resides in monolithic institutions, interested in everyday life

The “F” Word
Movement characterized by its most radical members  Alienated other women  Term “feminist” makes women uncomfortable

Further reading:
 SMH: Who says feminism in dead? 12 April

2010, Nina Funnell  http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/whosays-feminism-is-dead-20100412-s3ei.html

“Porn for Women”

Cambridge Women‟s Pornography Collective, 2007.

“Porn for Women”

http://xkcd.com/714/

Porn Today
More common for women to watch porn  Moved almost entirely online  Segal:

 US: 40% of porn tapes purchased by

women (Time Magazine)  “Yet it still remains predominately men who produce most of the sexual images of women: continually repositioned, passively, as object, icon and fetish of male desire…” (2004, 60)

Who is the audience?

http://www.Pornhub.com , 26 April 2010

Feminist issues tangled in representations of women
 Complex, individual, political

Some women want to watch porn, but avoid the politics Here‟s what happens:

“Why is Queer as Folk making straight women wet?”

Video: “Sexy Back”, by dayln03; http://www.fabmagazine.com/features/womenwet/index.html

“Slash”
Genre from media fandom  Homosexual relationships between male characters from television and film  Kirk/Spock, Sam/Frodo, Holmes/Watson, Harry/Draco…  Expressed in fanfiction, video, art  Written by women, for women (generally)

Supernatural…

…with slash goggles

“Please”, by Melissa

Yaoi & BL


 

Japanese genre Yama nashi, imi nashi, ochi nashi Boy‟s Love: generally PG13 Yaoi: explicit sex Popular subgroup of anime fandom in the West

Dousaibo Seibutsu, Sumono Yumeka, 2001.

“Bad Girls”
“Especially since, like, girls aren‟t supposed to like, know about it [sex/gay sexuality], we‟re not supposed to find a lot of things hot or whatever, and if we do people look at us weird, but I don‟t care, really, I mean, I think they‟re repressed.”

“Bad Girls”
Q: Why do you like yaoi?

I can be as filthy as I want. It seems more intimate when two guys have sex because of the issues of women‟s place in society.

Overcoming social taboos.

It‟s just really sexy!!

“Bad Girls”
 


 

Subversive Female-dominated fantasy Active female spectators – objectifying male bodies Role of community “I still find it incredible writing to people and being able to talk about „slash‟ and use all those words that polite Catholic girls are not supposed to know…”
 - Slash fan in Green,

Jenkins, & Jenkins 1998

Violent Fantasies
Slash & yaoi often contain violence  Can engage in S&M, rape fantasies without guilt as not gender-identified, free from [anti-porn] feminist thinking

 (Green, Jenkins, and Jenkins 1998)

Exploring the darker side of relationships  Space for fantasy

Violent Fantasies

Jones 2005 Japanese pornographic women‟s comics Reconciling submissive / masochistic desires Consuming these comics is an active, conscious act Transgressive
Image: Final page of “Bachelor Party”, Yayoi Watanabe, 2000.

Why slash?
Lack of complex female characters  Desire to identify with heroes (male)  Most complex and enduring relationship in media usually between men  Alternatives to traditional masculinity  Source: Green, Jenkins, & Jenkins, 1998

“What they [slash writers and readers] do want is sexual intensity, sexual enjoyment, the freedom to choose, a love that is entirely free of the culture‟s whole discourse of gender and sex roles, and a situation in which it is safe to let go and allow oneself to become emotionally and sexually vulnerable.”
 Joanna Russ, 1985, 89

Why yaoi?
Secretive – “girls aren‟t supposed to know or talk about sex”  Safe – fantasy of sex without the politics of feminism  Exotic – “something I‟ll never be a part of, fascinating”  Sexy! – “Why do we need a reason?”

Problems
Lack of complex female characters in the media (role models?)  Politics of representation too overwhelming  Women unable to identify with their own gender  Is leaving women out of fantasy misogynist?

In conclusion…
Feminist thinking has provided many different ways to think about pornography  Female subcultures of “bad girls” based on sexual content: consuming porn that appeals to them  Violence is prevalent in many types of porn for women  Core issues of representation, gender equality, cultural expectations, and fantasy

Thank you for listening!

References
   

  


Brooks, Ann. Postfeminisms: Feminism, Cultural Theory, and Cultural Forms. London: Routledge, 1997. Califia, Pat. Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex. Pittsburgh: Cleis Press, 1994. Dworkin, Andrea. Pornography: Men Possessing Women. New York: The Women‟s Press, 1981. Green, Shoshanna; Jenkins, Cynthia; and Jenkins, Henry. “Normal Female Interest in Men Bonking.” Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture, and Identity. Eds. Cheryl Harris and Alison Alexander. Cresskill: Hampton Press, 1998. Jones, Gretchen I. “Bad Girls Like to Watch: Writing and Reading Ladies‟ Comics.” Bad Girls of Japan. Eds. Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005. Lumby, Catharine. Bad girls: the media, sex and feminism in the '90's. St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1997. MacKinnon, Catharine. Only Words. London: HarperCollins, 1993. Marking, Havana. “The Real Legacy of Andrea Dworkin.” The Guardian. 15/04/05. Accessed: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/apr/15/gender.politicsphilosophyandsociety Mulvey, Laura. Visual and Other Pleasures. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. Russ, Joanna. Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans and Peverts: Feminist Essays. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press, 1985.

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