Wednesday, February 29, 2012

a space for women to explore and define sex on their terms

With my book now soon to be published, I've been fretting a bit over the title. The thing is, I really want to reach out not only to those who already have an interest in good, progressive, feminist sex films, but also to women and men who are critical to porn but have a genuine interest in gender equality and women's rights. I want to show these readers that progressive porn can be a positive space for women to  explore and define sex on their terms. An empowering and inspiring medium for the filmmaker and the viewer to claim her sexuality against a sexualized culture. An actual positive counterweight to pornified media and porn as it’s been known. A visual landscape that presents us with positive ideas and role modeling, shining the light on how we can all break free from traditional gender roles and shatter erotic conventions.

The problem is, of course, that "porn" has such a bad rap in our culture, and for good reasons too. Which brings me to my question: should I leave "porn" out of the title?

As I've explained before in this post, several of the female (porn) filmmakers whose work I look at in my book stay clear of the “porn” word lest they turn their target audience away from their work.

But others refuse to allow men free rein in defining porn, and therefore claim the “porn” word as a way to subversively change its meaning — to change what porn is all about.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

let's talk about the effects of porn

"Las tres Gracias" by Pedro Pablo Rubens, 1630-35
So I have a problem with people who're unwilling to address the potentially negative effects of porn, because if we can't acknowledge those, we also can't acknowledge the potentially positive effects of any visual imagery and narrative. Tell me: have you never been moved by an image or a text? Haven't you ever felt particularly empowered and inspired after looking at an image, or soaking in a narrative? I know I have. Countless times. And including from the transformed porn by women I write about in my book (forthcoming this fall from Zero Books).

Anti-porn feminists have for fear of censorship for decades refused to address the potentially negative effects of porn. At the same time, much time and money has been wasted by researchers trying to determine a causal link between porn and violence. No research has been able to back up anti-porn feminist Robin Morgan's infamous slogan "pornography is the theory, and rape the practice." (With the exception of a small "at risk" group of audience where violent porn does seem to be the final spark of fuel to ignite the fire.)

But what about research investigating the positive effects of porn? In my book and in various posts (for a starter, see here and here), I have written about porn that has empowered and inspired me. Porn that has encouraged me to take charge of my body and self-image: to claim, own, enjoy and explore my body and sex on my terms.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

my "after pornified" book has a publisher

Finally: I have a publisher for my book, After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters. The publisher is Zer0 Books, a UK-based publisher with a transcontinental focus: half of its authors are based in the US. I'm really excited to be joining their team of authors whose discourse is "intellectual without being academic, popular without being populist." Zer0 Books is the Culture, Society, and Politics imprint of John Hunt Publishing, which has several other special focus imprints in addition to their General Topics imprint O-Books.

I'll be busy in the weeks to come with finals edits, additions, and formatting, so I might not be quite as active online. But I won't go away either. Stay tuned!

Update: The Guardian ran a feature on Zer0 Books shortly after I posted the above, describing Zer0 Books as "One of the most exciting radical presses at the moment. ... Zer0 titles are commissioned, edited and published quickly – and that energy and velocity carries through to the writing itself. Zer0 writers share an ability to write passionately, avoiding the clunky prose of academia and generating new lines of inquiry rather than just regurgitating critical clich├ęs." This feels like a good fit to me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

what my kind of porn can do for you

Some pornographers are marketing to women.
Author Stanley Siegel claims that your favorite porn says a lot about who you are. I'm sure that's true, but the way he presents his case about those who watch porn makes me as one who watches porn feel like his claims and statements about porn watching people has nothing to do with me.

Siegel is a psychotherapist with an "unconventional and tradition-challenging approach to psychotherapy." What interests Siegel is a specific porn user for whom porn is an opportunity to reenact traumatic emotions from his or her childhood. For instance, if you grew up being shamed, you might want to reenact that shame in your erotic feelings, positioning yourself in the position of one who is being humiliated while making the experience into a sexually pleasurable one. Or, on the contrary, by "sexualizing the idea of becoming the aggressor, perhaps delving into themes of incest or other extreme sexual behaviors to attach pleasure to unthinkable acts."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

new anthology on porn, sex, and politics: submissions invited

I am definitely sharpening my pencils for this one and hope many others among you will do to! Deadline for submissions of complete articles (5,000-7,000 words) is July 30, 2012. I include the official call for submissions in the below.


Call for Submissions: New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law, 2 Volumes

Edited by Lynn Comella, PhD and Shira Tarrant, PhD

Deadline: July 30, 2012

Co-editors Lynn Comella (University of Las Vegas, Nevada) and Shira Tarrant (California State University, Long Beach) are seeking submissions for a two-volume edited collection under contract with Praeger.

Description: New Views on Pornography is a two-volume collection of the most current scholarship on pornography.
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