The porn that I was originally going to bring to class was a paragraph from Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. But then I decided that the love scene between the two women wasn't pornographic enough. It is descriptive, but not explicit or 'dirty'. I have since changed my mind again. I think that anything, classic art, high-quality literature, playboy magazines, etc, can be pornographic. The problem is that WE give pornography a negative connotation. Without that connotation, I think that porn is anything a person experiences that is not something done physically to their own bodies and that evokes sexual feelings. In my opinion, this includes visual art, written words, songs, etc. But I think this means that I'm ignoring the category of 'erotica' and just lumping it all together as pornography.
The only 'fear' that I think I had about looking for porn was that I didn't want to see something that I would find disgusting. I understand and accept that porn depicts acts that some people find sexually arousing, and I think it should be legal. But personally, I don't WANT to see pictures of huge penises, or people having sex with animals. This is similar to the fact that I don't like scary movies. It doesn't mean I think that they should be illegal, but I, personally, don't like them.
I agree that as long as the people in porn are acting, it should be legal to show any actions. But I have problems with saying that people acting out rapes should be allowed to create that for other people to get off on. That is extremely disturbing to me. But can we say people can't show rapes for sexual pleasure as long as we still let people show them for entertainment in mainstream movies? Which is worse? Rape as entertainment or as pleasure? I guess in my opinion, pleasure is worse, but I don't think that there is enough difference to draw a legal distinction between them.
Every year the women's center and Rainbow Alliance throw a Pornagra-tea. Now the idea may sound odd, but usually entails women sitting in a room watching porn, coloring in pictures from The Cunt Coloring Book, eating, and making arts-and-crafts projects with condoms. I remember freshmen year this whole idea baffled me...and i was so concerned that someone would label me if i ended up going (living a rather sheltered adolescence, i was quite curious). So i didn't go...then last year...i went. and oh my goodness....i think it was the first non class credit, group sponsored activity i went to where there were like 50 women at...i was blown out of the water. I mean the whole concept is so odd and new to us....in a room watching porn with other people, not even in the privacy of your own home....and i remember talking with people afterwords, like some people are totally into it, while others are like gagging in the corner of the room, and yet others are laughing hysterically...the reactions of everyone i feel were more culturally driven then one may think initially. Everyone was reacting this is true, but how many were reacting the way they did, because they didn't want their roomate next to them to think they were gay (by enjoying the gay porn) or their Hall Advisor to think they were "sick." Everyone was there for presumably the same reason, but at the same time....there was an overall sense of fakeness in the air...
what if someone saw me look interested? what if i didn't look interested? what if i squeamed? would that make me somehow less a woman? what if i laughed cause thats what everyone else was doing?
maybe i will write my thesis on this...hmm...
Should porn be legal or illegal? Hmmm.. well let's face it, anyone has access to porn. I mean look at all the porn websites online and there is a possibility that older boy siblings share with their younger brothers (Middle school/high school age) even though they are not of age to buy porn. I know that porn is for pleasure and there is nothing wrong with having pleasure. Who doesn't want to be pleased? Even though I agree with these, I personally feel that porn should not be legal. Yes, I am outgoing but still a conservative at heart. I don't want porn material being used in teachign sex ed to my children. I mean if it is legal or if it is not legal, that does not bother me at all. But if I had a choice, I would not want it legal for the sake of children.
I told my boyfriend today about our class and he was appalled! He could not believe that such a class existed. For some reason he sounded uneasy when I spoke about porn. So I just dropped the subject. I think people should be more open with this because it's not like it doesn't exists.
Anyway, I was speaking with one of my housemates about our porn discussion, about how we remove "porn" from all other forms of media, regardless of it's presence in so many forms: art, literature, photography, cartoon, and film....I made the decelaration that when I had my own little space complete with television & VCR, I planned on having lovely feminist porn right there on the shelf with Forrest Gump, Amelie, and Strictly Ballroom. Why censor it and tuck it away in some dark little closet? Perhaps my collection could serve as a conversation piece during dinner parties...If I have children, I'm not going to encourage them to watch it, but if my 12-year-old is curious, who am I to say no?
One of my housemates [not in our class] made the point that by hiding away images that we connect to, we hide a part of ourselves that we find shameful. And one should never be ashamed of what she loves, any more than she should be ashamed at who she loves....If you need to hide that person, or that part of yourself, perhaps it's time to turn around and take a good long look at what it is that you are afraid of and how you came to be where you are.
chew on that for a moment...
In the last four generations, physical love has been redefined, from terms of eroticism to terms of sexuality. Victorian eroticism involved social relationships, sexuality involves personal identity. Eroticism meant that sexual expression transpired through actions--of choice, repression, interaction. Sexuality is not an action but a state of being, in which the physical act of love follows almost as a passive consequence, a natural result, of people feeling intimate w/ each other...because of the way ideals of intimacy color the modern imagination, there has also been a reaction against the idea that physical love is an action people engage in, and like any other social action might have rules, limits, and necessary fictions which give the action a specific meaning. Instead, sex is a revelation of the self. A new slavery is therefore substituted for the old.
Sexuality we imagine to define a large territory of who we are and what we feel. Sexuality as an expressive state, rather than an expressive act, is entropic, however. Whatever we experience must in some way touch on our sexuality, but sexuality is. We uncover it, we discover it, we come to terms with it, but we do not master it. That would...put sexualtiy on an equal footing with emotions we attempt to mold rather than to submit to. The Victorians, who viewed sex in this latter way, could therefore speak of learning from their erotic life...We do not today learn "from" sex , because that puts sexuality outside of the self; instead, we unendingly and frustratingly go in search of ourselves through the genitals.
Think, for instance, of the different connotations of the 19th Century word "seduction" and the modern term "affair." A seduction was the arousal of such feeling by one person--not always a man--in another that social codes were violated. That violation caused all the other social relations of the person to be temporarily called into question; one's spouse, one's children, one's own parents were involved both symbolically through guilt and practially if discovery of the violation occurred. The modern term "affair" tamps down all these risks because it represses the idea that physical love is a social act; it is now a mater of an emotional affinity which in esse stands outside the web of other social relations in a person's life. It would seem illological now for a person conducting an affair, whether inside or outside the bounds of a marriage, to see it innately connected to parental relations, so that whenever one makes love to another person one's status as someone else's child is altered. This, we would say, is a matter of individual cases, of personality factors; it is not a social matter. Among freer spirits the same argument would be made of an affair in relation to a marriage. The very word "affair"--so blank, so amorphous--indicates a kind of devalution of sexuality, as an image which can be socially shared through speech. In rebelling against sexual repression, we have rebelled against hte idea that sexuality has a social dimension."
Furthermore there are parts of her argument where she uses snuff films as an example of something that has been protected under free speech. Her arguments here are blatantly misleading and in this case outright wrong. As for porn that borderlines simulation of rape for pleasure... is this really legal? I'm not going to take catherin mckinnon's word for it since she also seems to think that snuff films are legal. I'm not sure how i feel about rape porn. Although i would like to point out that i do think it is very different from a rape scene in a movie. In a movie the rape would usually be placed in the context of a storyline, there would be develped characters involved, and it is likely that in context the movie would show the rape as damaging or immoral or in the very least use it to make some larger point. In rape pornography the rape would be showed purely to illustrate that rape is a pleasure-filled experience and would be generally out the context of the two people's lives. Of course there are likely exceptions these generalizations, but i believe that on the whole they are accurate.
that's it, i hope that we can spend at least a few more minutes discussing this article.
She read excerpts from "A Lesbian Appetite," which is a story in her book Trash. All four of us in the class echoed that the story reminded us of Nia's example of describing sex through food.
So, I recommend that if Nia or any one else wants to read further on this subject, Allison's story serves as a strong example of how people describe sex through food or sex using food (you'll see what I mean).
Also, there is a book about this subject in our library. It is called Carnal Appetites: Food Sex Identities by Elspeth Probyn. Here is the description from the book jacket (that can also be read on Tripod) and the call number: (enjoy!)
BD450 .P635 2000
"Probyn moves from analyzing eating as a social concern to eating as a new way of looking at power." "Why is there a new explosion of interest in authentic ethnic foods and exotic cooking shows, where macho chefs promote sensual adventures in the kitchen? Why do we watch TV ads that promise more sex if we serve the right breakfast cereal? Why is the hunger strike such a potent political tool? Food inevitably engages questions of sensuality and power, of our connections to our bodies and to our world." "Carnal Appetites uses the lens of food and eating to ask how we eat into culture, eat into identities, indeed eat into ourselves. Drawing on interviews, theory, and her own war with anorexia, Probyn argues that food is replacing sex in our imagination and experience of bodily pleasure. Our culinary cravings and habits express the turmoil in gender roles, in families, and even in the world economy, where famine coexists with plenty. Probyn explores these dark interconnections to forge a new visceral ethics rooted in the language of hunger and satiety, disgust and pleasure, gluttony and restraint."--BOOK JACKET
I won't be in class today so i'll let you all know what is going on with my field placement. Orgionally i was at the attic but then i heard that the red light project (through prevention point) needed more help. I'll be working with lauren and katherine, doing research to put together information and eventually a hotline for sex workers in north philly.
Have a great break all!
The bed is now as public as the dinner table and governed by the same rules of formal confrontation.
Angela Carter (1940-92), British author. The Sadeian Woman,"Speculative Finale" (1979).
I just read an article on yahoos' oldy enough section (they usually have very amusing short stories). This article was about the effectiveness of using lemon juice to kill sperm and the AIDS virus. I don't know how much I trust the info (personally I'd do a lot more research before I started using fruit juice as contraceptives). But the article also mentions that historical lemon juice has been used as a contraceptive and I was thinking that this is an interesting idea that either the people in history or anthropology group could look into. What did people use a contraceptives before modern medical contraceptives? (How effective were they or were they just "wives tales"???)
Here's the link to the article...
Sex with a Twist ... Lemons Provide Protection?
"she has established 4 frameworks w/in which people could imagine sexuality 'from a distinct cultural perspective.' ... a vernacular tradition rooted in oral culture; an evangelical Christianity suspicious of sex; a 'reform physiology' committed to spreading accurate information about sexual functioning, including birth control; and a view that 'placed sex at the center of life,' and whose proponents ranged from Mormons to women's rights leaders--became the basis of furious debates, scandals, witch hunts and crusades."
The reviewer's "only real disappointment is that Horowitz gives such a sketchy sense of what her research has led her to think about the ways in which these 19th c cultural battles still reverberate in our ears." Something for us to talk/think about....
while holding Emily's amazing invitation in mind!
Have a great break--
But absolutely condemning porn is a band aid. Let attack poverty. Right on.
****the following contains descriptions, not meant to offend, but may, so use descretion*****
the room dark. the birthday girl in the chair. the blond flowing hair stripper comes in with silver glittery heels and a red, white and blue, american flag thong and bra are soon revealed. the stripper mounts above mentioned birthday girl, making her touch her all over. hands rubbing up and down the strippers body. eventually this whole ordeal leads to the stripper taking off everything at one point or another. Such activities included what may be deemed strong acts of foreplay, definately meant to arouse the birthday girl. included the touching of breasts and genitals to say the least...portions of the activity included spectators putting money on body parts of the birthday girl they wished the stripper to pay attention to...at one point a dollar bill on the mouth of the birthday girl was followed by the stripper rubbing her vagina on the dollar which served as a barrier during the action (makes you wonder about where money has been...)
this brought me to question several notions about sex, power and money.
1) i found it amusing that there was a male escort, who escorted the stripper making sure she was taken care of. He was responsible for picking up the clothing that had been taken off (as well as handing it back to her when he thought appropriate), collecting the money as it was offered during the course of the evening, and i guess making sure the crowd was under control. I guess this would be important if the crowd was all men, i didn't seem to think a bunch of girls was a huge threat, but i could see where it may be. I thought it interesting to think of this guy watching night after night, this woman stripping for others and "performing."
2) the transference of money during the course of the evening, is just interesting to talk about. Money used as a barrier from actually performing oral sex on the stripper, a cultural message that sex/women's bodies, for the right price, may be purchased.
3) i was kind of expecting a rules or introduction, what was allowed what wasn't. But as far as i could tell, everything was "free" game. At what point is a stripper a stripper and not a prostitute. If the 1$ had slipped and the girl ended up making contact or penetrated the genitals, was the stripper then a prostitute? Such sexualized practices lead us to question what is sex REALLY? who decides?
I am doing a survey for another class of "freshmen's attitudes towards sex" and one question asks them to indicate which women are virgins lesbians using sex toys, straight couple vaginal penetration, blow jobs, cunnilingus, hymen broke by horseback riding, woman who masturbates ect. I am still in the process of going through my findings, but preliminary, so far every woman taking part in those sex acts has been indicated as being a virgin. It is thus clear that such terms as virginity and sex have become much more fluid in todays society then it has been in the past.
Not sure how others feel, if others have had similar experiences or not, but i think it was rather interesting to be able to look at the situation from an educational perspective and thought it might spark interest in others...
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