Sexuality and Pornography

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Sexuality and Pornography

JA suggests anything sexual audiovisual / visual produced with the intent to arouse.
NA: porn is a masculine concept in this country.
IN: turned into something via capitalism. Capitalism and patriarchy together and for profit. In India there are porn temples; pornographic statues. There are equal opportunity- everyone is getting pleasured. It's not about degradation per se. Pornography can exist without that.
WH: Starting from the world we live in, where it has a very negative valence. It comes down to the circumstances and the modes of production.
Want to differentiate between pornography in general and shitty and degrading pornography.
NA: to clarify, when we say pornography in this cultural context, it has a negative context. Pornography as images has a whole set of meanings.
SO: Facebook conflates female nudity with obscenity. And put it on a spectrum as possible. All these terms are vulnerable to overwhelmingly patriarchal norms > Degrading, obscenity"
JA: Good porn / bad porn is not useful. It's like asking if a novel is good or bad, or if video games are good or bad. Porn is a medium and people do good things with it and bad things with it. We should be talking about means of production and labor issues in porn. For me, the problem is oversupply of one very narrow idea of what sex looks like, and I don't even think that one idea is a bad idea, it's just that the stuff that's free and easy and everywhere has a narrow idea of what sex is patriarchal and centered on male pleasure. Want to shift porn supply so that it's as equally easy to stumble across one idea as other ideas.
SO: But it's true of all media.
KA: To build on the point that Jaclyn was making, I feel as though in feminist criticism, in critique of pornography in general and in a lot of activism about porn, there is a sense that porn is special. It does not obey the structures and norms in other media. This is the same with sex talk around porn and anti-porn activism. Ideology about pornographic exceptionalism. When I look at porn, I can use the same techniques to understand tropes in porn and so forth. And what that opens up here is exactly what Jaclyn was saying. Some of it may be good and interesting, and some may transmit harmful ideas, and that is true of most media. At the end of the day, the notion that porn is special is damaging to sex workers, just as how sex work is deemed to special and that damages sex workers.
KE: Katherine said about everything I was going to say. Specifically speaking about production in porn. There are real and huge labor issues that we need to talk about. But sometimes when we talk about labor issues, we're policing... our dislike of pornography as a medium. Issues we bring up are issues never brought up in other industries. For example, artists who get paid . . . Can we define some of the labor tropes that get deployed with porn and sex work?
AL: when we try to make a new narrative, the type of porn we want to see, then we don't have infrastructure to put it online. We don't have the tools of mainstream pornography, one of the biggest industries in the world. No space to be hosted. It's shut down anywhere because of censorship. We are censored and shut down when we are doing our own pornography. I'd like to find solutions. That's why we are launching our own feminist server. This kind of porno is not for profit, it is activist porno.
WH: Two grey areas I don't know what to do with. The problem of when you produce non mainstream porn do you want to give it away because activism, or¦ ? How can you distribute indie porn more widely and also ensure that indie producers aren't starving? How do you really respect labor concerns coming from within / the you're exploited trope. We should make space for porn that's for amateurs. Finally the stuff that's not produced for pornography but it's used as pornography.
ME: I was thinking not of the porno industry, but news pornography. Even the serious, good newspapers and websitesthey use and exploit women¦ news porn: click and see what's happening, the body, how they case. Not a sex site, but a serious news site.
NA: used to volunteer on Redtube categorizing videos. It's very telling¦ the default is white porn. Black people have a category. Asian people have a category. There is a lot of ableism. There is a lot of work we don't do as feminists in this community because we don't want to engage with this community. We say, don't go to Redtube, go to feminist porn¦ but even on those sites, maybe there is work to be done with that industry. Maybe there is discourse to be had. There is so much before us?
Fantasy: the ultimate goal of porn is fantasy. Some have said that sex will never live up to fantasy. Pornography is meant to tickle those fantasies. I think the realm of fantasy is interesting¦ can we say feminist fantasies? There is no political correctness in fantasy. You can fantasize about a rape scene and not feel bad, as a feminist. We can fantasize about things you would never condone in real lifeand we don't do enough to explain this to the media, children, boys, men¦ we want to think about this realm of fantasy and how to deal with it.
You know the rape that's filmed on mobile? The video then gets uploaded to Redtube. The person who watches it doesn't know whether it's real or not.
CH: I have a particularly local approach to this. We're at Harvard Law School. HLS has gone through in the last few years, intense discussion about sexual assault on campus, what our punitive standards and ethical aspirations should be. And it comes to focus with pornography that one can distinguish from the entertainment industry and the education industry. On the education side we have men who are educated by pornography, they don't come with clear ideas of how to relate to women. The opportunity to think locally about norm-creation and norm-articulation within the grouping, and learn about sex¦ on this campus we were totally preoccupied about whether the standard should be unwelcome conduct or affirmative consent. There was zero interest in what the aspirational standard. What do we actually teach our children? Nothing has changed more in my lifetime than the exposure of young men to pornography. These kids come in educated not by their parents but by what they see on the net.
WI: I love the idea of the feminist sex server. I would like to host other things on there. So that it's not a ghetto, another separation.
KA: Mackinnon - Sex is to feminism as labor is to Marxism, that which most belongs to us and what is most taken away. The irony is that there is more overlap than she thought. Social alarmism about the naked female body¦ the sense of emergency¦ that any female nudity be sexual and must be censored. The naked female body is always seen as sexualized. Also extended to transgender women and genderqueer people perceived as feminine by majority cis. The visual rhetoric of a woman's body must always be sexual¦ because it is titillating¦ it's about taking things that are most intimate to us. Exceptionalism comes from: we must be protected from that sexualization. I think there is a lot of truth to Mackinnon's quote but not in the way she intended.
NA: Labor issues do they like their work? Instead of asking: Unfair contracting. Actual working conditions. One of the problems is that feminist porn is almost exclusively queer. Companies that survive, survive from making queer porn. Critique with feminist porn awards, race, treatment of trans women. The Facebook thing Oakland Say Her Name protest censorship.
SO: The regulation of nudity is an extension of property rights. Our bodies are treated as resources for men, that men are not allowed. At FB we started with breastfeeding, mastectomy, now we're started with artistic representations. But the category that's most important is obviously political speech. And getting that point made is difficult. The average age of a child seeing mainstream porn is 8 now.

We should take over childhood education.

Representation / autonomy so skewed¦ until we address those, nothing.
JA: I have a friend who has a sex work job, and she can't advertise on Facebook¦ she can't say We have condoms, you should use them because sex is fun. We should listen to the workers. As far as young people learning sex through porn¦ the reason, at least in the US, it's because sex ed is nonexistent. if we had a robust sex ed program centered on pleasure, porn wouldn't be education.
IN: I do have a feminist moral conundrum around porn. The spillover of mainstream porn into real life is not something to ignore. The most popular kind of porn consumed by Indians is actual nonconsensual porn which is a fundamental problem. Fundamentally we need to talk about what does this mean because of what is consumed the rest of the world because sex is talked about different there. This is the moral conundrum I'm constantly having. I want to be a sex-positive feminist but I have to wear a different hat in different contexts. In India, this kind of stance would be actively detrimentally. In India, no one should be consuming this.