Tagged: gender

Love vs. Porn

Jane Caputi in, The Pornography of Everyday Life (video link above), declares pornography as “a habitual mode of thinking”, that underpins our everyday discourse, supporting oppressions like sexism, racism and homophobia. It makes us see a man possessing, overpowering, threatening, using, humiliating and abusing women as ‘manly’ and ‘sexy’. She argues that pornography is not about arousal – it is about objectification, desensitization and dehumanization. These negative mass representations of sexuality is a public form of psychological abuse that limits or ability to imagine alternatives.

rape culture

Cindy Gallop, founder of makelovenotporn.com and makelovenotporn.tv has first-hand (no pun intended) experience with the effects of mainstream pornography, the sources it seems for many people – her young male lovers in particular – for learning their bedroom techniques, which she says,  makes them inconsiderate lovers. In an era where all types of pornography (Rule 34) are more freely and widely available than ever before. She believes, parents and sex education teachers still give too little guidance about how to develop healthy, sex-positive relationships – so toward that end Gallop created makelovenotporn.com and makelovenotporn.tv

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so that young men don’t think that’s always the normal way of behaving in the bedroom and their girlfriends don’t have to pretend to like it

Gallop aims to re-educate people via the internet with #reallifesex filled with type of passion and intimacy distinctly missing in the typical commercial mainstream porn flick. Gallop’s model is new – anyone can ‘share’ a video (ie: their own production) that meets the positive sex guidelines (plus “no poo, children or animals”) and collect 50% of the rental fee that others pay to watch it.

This is a good example of what Feona Atwood, in No Money Shot? – Commerce, Pornography and New Sex Taste Cultures (2007) would refer to as ‘a community of exchange’ where members of the website (free to join) participants as both vendor and consumer typical of our  technology enabled participatory culture. One could also argue however, that it is an ingenious way to make money off of amateur pornography, as such videos are usually posted online in various forums.

In my opinion, ‘ordinary’ folk accessing ‘realcore’ like Gallop’s site or altporn available on Nerve.com or SuicideGirls.com can be a positive experience and influence on mainstream culture as it can open the door to more (& positive) sexual exploration outside of vanilla, monogamous, hetero-normative intimacies and into realms like polyamory, bisexuality, and BDSM. That said however, I think that it can also have a negative impact such as sex-positive empowerment narratives being perversely translated into mainstream commercialism with works like “Fifty Shades of Grey” by authors who have only experienced (and understand) the tiny tip of the iceberg of these alternative communities, and cherry pick concepts that fit into their hegemonic frameworks of male dominance and female submission.

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Representation and SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification)


I find I am quite exasperated reading academic work on gender or sexual representation.

There is much discussion about male and female representation in medial culture, in addition to homosexuality or heterosexuality. Everything in neat binary categories.

One category if you have certain chromosomes, a penis and testes and another if you don’t. One category if you are attracted to the same sex and another if you’re not.

And all the while lamenting on the ‘marginalized’ of society and how communication and cultural studies should seek to emancipate individuals from oppression.

Isn’t this a little hypocritical when in reality there is an entire spectrum of sexualities and genders that are not being acknowledged in academic discourse? isn’t that oppressive?

Indeed even the language used in such discussions “opposite-sex attraction” implies a binary.

When we are born we are defined as ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’ on our government paperwork that will be used for the rest of our life.

When we are in public spaces, we have to make a decision on whether it is more acceptable to use the ‘men’s’ toilet or the ‘women’s’

When we are given forms  we are asked to tick one of TWO boxes: M or F.

When we are in social situations, if we are not attracted to a member of what could be perceived as the ‘opposite-sex’, it will be assumed that there is only one alternative.

It is endless…

Media culture representation discourse focuses on men or women, gay or straight and discusses the aetiology of these artificial social constructs, but not the continuum of alternative possibilities.

Gender has nothing to do with binary categories or medical dictionary definitions and sexuality is far more complex than just “who “you are attracted to, or if indeed you are attracted to anyone at all.

Our society needs some additional constructing apparently, because the limited binary role models we currently have are not adequate or inclusive.

Who we are, who we identify as, is affected by our biology, and our environment. Our gender and sexuality reflect the complexities of these relationships that two simple categories do not adequately encompass.

Fotoshop by Adobé by Jesse Rosten (2011)

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Filmmaker Jesse Rosten has created a great satire on the common beauty ad with funny one-liners like: “Just one application of Fotoshop can give you results so dramatic they’re almost unrealistic” and “Brighten eyes, whiten teeth, even adjust your race!” – check it out on Vimeo

Counter-stereotype Women in Media

Political & Celebrity Public Figures:

  • Sandra Oh
  • Margaret Cho
  • Jenny Shimizu
  • Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Lucy Liu
  • Fann Wong
  • Aishwarya Rai (Bachchan)
  • Sheetal Sheth
  • Gong Li
  • Kelly Hu
  • Shu Qi
  • Devon Aoki
  • Grace Park
  • Joan Chen
  • Lynn Chen
  • Karin Anna Cheung
  • Kieu Chinh
  • Tamlyn Tomita
  • Jessica Yu
  • Michelle Krusiec
  • Hiep Thi Le
  • Lisa Ling
  • Marie Matiko
  • Ming-Na (Wen-Zee)
  • SuChin Pak
  • Chandra Wilson
  • Michaëlle Jean
  • Dana Owens (Queen Latifah)
  • Naomi Campbell
  • Iimaan Maxamed Cabdulmajiid (Imam)
  • Pam Grier
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
  • Tyra Banks (?)
  • Carol Diann Johnson (Diahann Carroll)
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Halle Berry
  • Michelle Obama
  • Jada Koren Pinkett Smith
  • Maya Rudolph
  • Shanaze Reade
  • Raven-Symoné
  • Roasario Dawson
  • Nikki Blonsky
  • Rachel Ray
  • Suzy Chaffee
  • Natalie Portman
  • Emma Watson
  • Keira Knightley
  • Lisa LaFlamme
  • Claire Martin
  • Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (Lady Gaga)
  • Ellen Degenres
  • Nikki Yanofsky
  • Adele Laurie Blue Adkins (ADELE)
  • Alecia Beth Moore (Pink)
  • Mariska Hargitay
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Wendy Mesley
  • Mary Walsh
  • K D Lang

Behind the scenes:

  • Joan Sauers (script editor)
  • Deepa Mehta (film director)
  • Temple Grandin (author)
  • Lubna Hussein (journalist)
  • Wajeha al-Hawaidar (author)

0ther suggestions:

  • bell hooks
  • Arundati Roy
  • Lisa Nakamura
  • Sherene Razack
  • Sunera Thobani
  • Sook-Yin Lee
  • Alice Dreger
  • Lera Borditsky
  • Sonya JF Barnett
  • Heather Jarvis
  • Faith Gemmill
  • Monica Vela