Sj7g09's Blog

What, exactly, is unartistic about porn?

Posted on: December 15, 2010

The first line from the video in the previous post has really captured my imagination. To paraphrase, it’s Gail Dines asking what exactly can be considered artistic about a woman having a cock forced down her throat, and gagging. And I would argue, what exactly is not artistic about that? It makes the viewer feel something – whether this something is arousal or disgust or something in between. It raises so many issues on boundaries between high and low culture and what can be considered ‘art’. It also challenges free speech – that if free speech is worth anything, it must be that people can make material like this, even if it offends people, because that is their right. Free speech cannot just be for the people we agree ‘deserve’ it. Pornography illicits so much more of a reaction, I think, than gallery art. It is such a contentious issue at the moment, and is very tied to free speech, body autonomy, and reflecting, or challenging, mainstream norms and values, depending on your position on this. Like, one of the arguments Gail Dines uses against pornography is that it’s unimaginative and restricting peoples’ sexuality… therefore we should try to minimise pornography, like that isn’t restricting the sexuality and rights of people who want to use pornography… Anyway, I’ve never understood this argument, which has also been implemented by people at my school – that pornography is so completely mainstream and doesn’t challenge anything about society. Then why is there such a furor about pornography if it’s so mainstream? Why is it that people have to fight for their free speech to express themselves in this way? Also, that people tend to think of pornography as one set thing – tanned, blonde plastic young women – and therefore it doesn’t challenge mainstream values at all. But what about all the pornography that doesn’t fit these mainstream standards and is conveniently disregarded in debates – for example, pornography using models that are overweight, old, not fitting gender binary, etc. ? And does no one find it at all interesting how exaggerated the portrayals of ‘femininity’ have become in pornography that they come across as parody?

I think that mostly the point I want to make from the Gail Dines quote is that, in my opinion, a woman with a cock down her throat is certainly art. It may not conform to the aesthetic and coded language of high art, but it deals with the same sort of themes, and probably provokes more response and debate than a piece of ‘high’ art. And I dont think that these debates necessarily have to be just about porn – unfortunately pornography isn’t viewed in the same way as art is. If you see a high art painting of a naked woman, the implicit symbolism within art means that it could mean anything, could make comments on all manner of things, but if you have a ‘pornographic’ picture of a naked woman, it is just literally a picture of a naked woman. I think that pornography has so much to say about gender roles, free speech, the nature of capitalism, body autonomy, and a lot of other issues also, and that it’s missed because of it’s form. So the temptation is to convert these ideas from pornography into a more palatable form, conforming to the aesthetics and codings of high art, but why should it be necessary to do this when it’s quite possible that pornography itself is the best way of illustrating and commenting on itself and the issues around it?

At least it’s made with feeling – whether that feeling from the woman involved is pleasure or discomfort. The main point I want to argue is that even if people involved in pornography or modelling or erotic dancing, or any ‘sex industry’ umbrella term, hate what they’re doing, that shouldn’t mean that the way this is dealt with is to take away their right to do it, or the right of others to do it. Also, something that is very rarely pointed out is that it’s completely insulting to insinuate that porn models, dancers, etc. have no skill, no talent – that what they are doing isn’t artful, that anyone could do it. I think that people completely disregard that there are other skills required in order to excel in these jobs – confidence, assertiveness, independence, social skills – and it’s not just a case of “you have the right sort of body, you’re in!” This may sound a little silly, but why is it that sexual skills are devalued? I realise that they’re probably not much good in other areas of life, or other possible careers, but that if you’re a porn model, then it is skillful and a talent that you are able to perform certain acts. And time for a slightly reactionary comment that I’m sure will come out wrong, but I think perhaps Gail Dines should attempt having a cock put down her throat in front of a camera, then say whether it’s artful or not.

(Funny how violent that sounds when an act like that is applied to someone who clearly would object to it, when it’s not the act itself that is violent, it’s the reaction or perceived reaction. ‘I wouldn’t want to do it, because I think it’s universally violent, so no one else will want to, or should want to, or should be able, to do it either!’ sort of thinking.)

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  • fred whitacre jr: they don,t have any sex invaled why are we so againce children being nude in pictures because of alll the sick fucking rapetist out there children
  • fred whitacre jr: she only 12 but it is not porn at all it is nude only only a sick person would want to fuck her not me but i will tell you the true she is a very hot
  • fred whitacre jr: i see noghting wrong just a nude girl no porn that would be wrong with a child but not worng with a grown up only nude pics of children is ok if no se
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