Monday, December 1, 2008

Event Write Up #2

Screening of ''The Price of Pleasure” and Talk by Robert Jensen.

I had big, BIG problem with this film and the talk. While the problem of increasingly violent and misogynistic pornography is real and should be reformed, the argument provided by the film and the speaker had many flaws. Firstly it promoted an impractical solution. While individual restraint from consuming pornography is a good thing and should be promoted, it is impractical to think that this small measure is going to solve the issue. Furthermore, an abolitionist approach to pornography will only worsen the problem, causing the production of pornography to be forced underground and removing the little legal protection that performers have currently. It's not so much misled as downright dangerous.

Moreover, the film and the talk seemed to re-enforce an extremely narrow minded and heteronormative view of sexuality and pornography. There was no answer to how this “feminist” critique would approach homosexual, particularly male homosexual, pornography. It presents an extremely singular view of sexuality: one-man-one-woman performing in consensual and socially acceptable behavior. It seems the whole room was content in passing moral judgment on people who may genuinely enjoy consensual “devious” sexual activities such as bondage and sadomasochism in their private lives. That is my problem with this supposed feminist critique of pornography: it is content to simply pass moral judgment and then do nothing.

Even the idea of feminist pornography was simply brushed off as impossible or unlikely. I agree that feminist pornography today isn't perfect, particularly due to it following the aesthetic procedures dominated by the male gaze. However it is a start and it is a process. Feminist film did not simply come out of the annals of patriarchal narrative cinema as a perfectly formed idea. There are trials and errors but discounting it completely leads to a lack of reform. If feminists aren't going to support feminist pornography then who is?

Mr. Jensen kept referring back to patriarchal capitalist framework of society as the main problem that perpetuates the violent and horrific pornographic scenes in shown in the film, and I agree. But how does this repentant personal abstinence from pornography solve the situation, or even make it better for that? As much as he tried to distance the “feminist” critique of pornography from the conservative critique, I kept seeing similarities: heteronormativity, narrow views of sexuality and sexual expression, abstinence from consumption and a grandiose rhetoric of what porn is teaching to young children.

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