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- review by Captain Jack
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Doctor of the Erotic Arts
11853 Posts
Posted - Apr 10 2016 : 1:19PM
I treated myself to the Taschen book, (best title of all time!).
This book is gorgeous--a true tribute to Vanessa the artist and icon. It is also incredibly explicit and HUGE. Below are a couple of pictures I took to give y'all an idea of what's inside.
I urge everyone to get this!!!
Edited by - Gore Gore Girl on 4/10/2016 1:22:23 PM
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pornography wasn't sex but fantasies of an impossibly hospitable world
17059 Posts
Posted - Apr 11 2016 : 3:02AM
Want it so bad but need to pick it up when I feel flush.
Doctor of the Erotic Arts
11853 Posts
Posted - Apr 12 2016 : 5:28PM
It is darn expensive. The original print runs at about 250+ bucks.
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pornography wasn't sex but fantasies of an impossibly hospitable world
17059 Posts
Posted - Apr 14 2016 : 1:25AM

A very interesting read, Bright clearly realizes that she has just missed the golden age of feature xxx and often spends her time talking about the 'old' movies of the 70s and early 80s. Her promotion of these films and early lesbian pornography, plus reviews of early BBW and a wide variety of kink (S&M, trans, bi) seems prophetic in retrospect. Her taste in films is impeccable too, Devil in Miss Jones, 3AM, V: The Hot One and other recognized greats all getting the praise they deserve.
Of particular interest is an article on racism and IR in the porn industry that wasn't ran at the time because it was considered too critical and controversial. Considering that as we all know from ADT that IR is still an issue that sparks a lot of discussion this is an insightful look at the beginning of IR and black-on-black porn.
I'm going to pick up the second half of this soon, which covers the 90s. A less interesting time for features outside of the work of John Leslie (whose debut Nightshift Nurses gets a short, negative review here) but I don't doubt Bright will have interesting and critical things to say about what happened in porn during that period.
I've been revisiting Dworkin's writing, most of which I read back in the late 90s and this collection really only addresses Dworkin directly in the opening essay (dealing with Dworkin's influence and late-life rape accusations) and closing essay dealing with her death. Bright actually has some very interesting and even generous things to say about Dworkin, something I don't think was ever returned by the often viciously hostile Dworkin, eg. Bright notes in the first essay that Dworkin actually called for her 'assassination' at one point. For instance, Bright has the decency to dismiss those who made fun of Dworkin because of her weight, supposed 'ugliness' and being loud.
She also recognizes Dworkin's skill as a polemicist and writer (although my recent re-reading of Dworkin also found her rather monotonous), even while disagreeing with many of her conclusions. Bright even credits Dworkin to a degree with the creation of a sex-positive queer feminism as her discussion of porn encouraged some feminists to actually look at and discuss porn, but instead of being as enraged and disgusted as Dworkin they saw that some of it was crafted and sexy as well as the potential for it to express a wider range of sexuality from S&M, to lesbian, queer and trans. She also notes the similarity in style between Dworkin and her bete noire Marquis de Sade, particularly in her fiction like Ice and Fire.
Bright's history of starting the lesbian pornographic paper 'on our backs' (a play on the prominent radical paper off our backs) is really fascinating. Including a great story of how issues of the paper were smuggled into Soviet-era Odessa.
Bright notes the typical outrage around the images in the paper, as opposed to the written stories. Supposedly 'radical' feminists reviving the old and familiar refrain of the power of 'images' over other mediums that we still encounter today in discussions about the supposedly horrific effects of internet porn. The role that lesbians like Bright and co., Pat Califa and others played in challenging the narrow sexual politics of second wave feminism is really inspiring.
As already mentioned, I've revisited several books by Dworkin, including Pornography: Men Possessing Women, Women Hating and of course her infamous magnum opus Intercourse. I'll write about those soon.

Edited by - BlackSix on 4/14/2016 1:30:27 AM

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Doctor of the Erotic Arts
11853 Posts
Posted - Jun 10 2016 : 1:02PM
^ I have been meaning to read the Dworkin book for ages.
I am currently re-reading (and teaching) THE SADEIAN WOMAN (1979) by Angela Carter. A lot to turn over in the brain, but the essence of Carter's argument is that whether intended or not, Sade offers a pornographic philosophy that can aid women. Pornography reveals the workings of gender oppression in extreme, sadistic fashion, with Sade the most provocative and original of this type of pornographer.
Stuff like this gets my goat though: "He was unusual in his period for claiming rights of free sexuality for women, and in installing women as beings of power in his imaginary worlds. This sets him apart from all other pornographers at all times and most other writers of the period" (41). Writing in 1979, Carter is either completely ignorant of porn or is willfully ignoring the complexities of porn in favor of crafting a more provocative argument about the most reviled pornographer of them all.
The book is still relevant, though, which is really saying something, and there are some fabulous, stylistic one-liners:
"The marriage bed is a particularly delusive refuge from the world because all wives of necessity fuck by contract" (10).
"Pornography is basically propaganda for fucking, an activity, one would have thought, that didn't need much advertising in itself" (17).
"A free woman in an unfree society will be a monster" (30).
And some stuff that, in hindsight, is quite amusing: "Linda Lovelace does not believe in the Women's Liberation Movement; how could she?" (20).
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pornography wasn't sex but fantasies of an impossibly hospitable world
17059 Posts
Posted - Jun 12 2016 : 4:27AM
I loved Carter's SADEIAN WOMAN when i came across it back in school. But then when I sought out her other essays I found she had a disappointingly conventional, mainstream second wave view of the pornography of her period. Which rather odd when you read her own violent, sexual fiction. Still a book with lots of food for thought. Dworkin actually addresses Carter's book in passing in her essay on Sade.
Doctor of the Erotic Arts
11853 Posts
Posted - Jun 18 2016 : 12:55PM
^ I find the book quite confusing. Sometimes she sounds like a rad-fem, other times she sounds like a sex radical feminist, and still other times she sounds libertarian feminist (essentially saying suck it up and stop being a victim). My students described it as "pro-porn" and "pro-Sade," but that's not quite right. Neither is describing her as "anti-porn." She seems to be a bit of both and at different times in the book. Sometimes I think she is more interested in a stylish turn of phrase than in a cohesive argument.
The wiki page, for example, says, "Carter sees de Sade as being the first writer to see women as more than mere breeding machines, as more than just their biology and, as such, finds him liberating." The article cited for that assessment, however, is the , which states, "Angela Carter's position is fierce, unaccommodating and aggressively stated: Pornography is a means of perpetuating the oppression of women because it conceives of sex purely in terms of power and thus reinforces men's pre-existing impulses toward the exercise of dominance. "
I guess everyone's confused?
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pornography wasn't sex but fantasies of an impossibly hospitable world
17059 Posts
Posted - Jun 19 2016 : 3:08AM
I think she recognizes that Sade is a misogynist (duh) but sees subversive potential in his female figures. I think she is much more comfortable and sophisticated in her reading of literary pornography but when it came to more visual and commercial forms of porn she was much more conventional and dismissive.
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Your other left
28335 Posts
Posted - Jun 20 2016 : 9:52AM
I'm dismissive of a lot of visual and commercial forms of porn. Of course, the same is true of other commercial forms of entertainment. which just goes to show that Sturgeon was right - ninety percent of everything is crap.
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13081 Posts
Posted - Jun 20 2016 : 6:39PM
Now I remember why she stirred my youthful loins.
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pornography wasn't sex but fantasies of an impossibly hospitable world
17059 Posts
Posted - Feb 13 2017 : 8:14AM
Promised to give my thoughts on re-reading Dworkin a while ago but didn't get around to it.
Women Hating: A collection of early essays by Dworkin. She is still clearly connected to the 60s counterculture here, even granting that pornography could have positive effects on American puritism! Later Dworkin would never be caught making such a concession.
Her essays on The Story of O and The Image deny any validity to female masochism and seems to deliberately ignore that the Story of O is clearly a story of surrealistic amour fou than any representation of actual male/female RL relationships. She attempts to connect both books to a reactionary Christianity as opposed to the French pornographic tradition that mixes the sacred and the profane for subversive frisson.
Of greater interest is her essay on Suck, an underground paper largely focused on pornographic stories. Her intro rather effectively calls out the counterculture for its unquestioned chauvinism, from Mailer to Cleaver and then critiques the sex stories in Suck. From her synopsis the stories sound like typical pulp pornography, the most interesting being the gay male porn stories which have that particular mix of hippiness, machoism, self-hatred and pervese hotness particular to the period. But some of the self-hatred, even quoted out of context, seems a bit tongue in cheek. Seems possible that Dworkin is missing the intended humour mocking blue-noses and self-hating gays.
She includes two essays based on historical sources, one on Chinese foot-binding, the other the gynocide of witches. The essay on foot-binding isn't so bad but I wonder about its accuracy as her essay on the persecution of witches is full of discredited 70s radical feminist ideas that the witches were actual matriarchal pagans (a fantasy invented whole clothe in the early 20th century). She even goes so far to claim as fact that 'fairy folk' existed as some kind of ancient race of short statured polyamorous matriarchs!
Still her essays here are at least clear and concise, this books doesn't suffer from the overwriting and repetitveness that came to mark so much of her later writing.
Of greatest interest today are her essays at the end of the book on androgyny, hermaphaditism and transexuals. We see here for perhaps the first time the self-righteous radicalism so disconnected from people's actual lives that Dworkin is so well known for and would expand into her magnum opus Intercourse:
I have defined heterosexuality as the ritualized
behavior built on polar role definition. Intercourse
with men as we know them is increasingly impossible.
It requires an aborting of creativity and strength, a
refusal of responsibility and freedom: a bitter personal
death. It means remaining the victim, forever annihilat-
ing all self-respect. It means acting out the female role,
incorporating the masochism, self-hatred, and passivity
which are central to it. Unambiguous conventional
heterosexual behavior is the worst betrayal of our com-
mon humanity.
That is not to say that “men” and “women” should
not fuck. Any sexual coming together which is genu-
inely pansexual and role-free, even if between men and
women as we generally think of them (i. e., the biological
images we have of them), is authentic and androgynous.

At first Dworkin has much to say about transexuals that was very progressive for the time, particularly among her stream of radical feminists who tended towards an extreme hostility to transexuals. For instance, she advocates for community support of sex 'change' operations. But then she ends the section with this: changing our premises
about men and women, role-playing, and polarity, the
social situation of transsexuals will be transformed,
and transsexuals will be integrated into community, no
longer persecuted and despised.
Three, community built on androgynous identity will mean the end of
transsexuality as we know it. Either the transsexual will be able to expand his/her sexuality into a fluid androgyny, or, as roles disappear, the phenomenon o f transsexuality will disappear and that energy will be transformed into new modes of sexual identity and behavior.

So in Dworkin's future androgynous utopia (arriving any day!) transexuals can look forward to their own disappearence. I'm sure they'll take comfort in that fact of their non-existence for the betterment of womynkind.
Not sure what to make of this statement regarding bestiality in the groovy future envisioned by Dworkin:
Needless to say, in androgynous community, human and other-animal relationships would become more explicitly erotic, and that eroticism would not degenerate into abuse. Animals would be part of the tribe and, with us, respected, loved, and free. They always share our fate, whatever it is.
Finally, reaching the furthest reaches of creepiness her feminist utopia starts to resemble the dystopian nightmares that some of the free love communes of the 70s degenerated into (cf. Children of God, Otto Muehl's cult):
The incest taboo does the worst work o f the culture:
it teaches us the mechanisms of repressing and internal-
izing erotic feeling—it forces us to develop those
mechanisms in the first place; it forces us to particu-
larize sexual feeling, so that it congeals into a need
for a particular sexual “object” ; it demands that we
place the nuclear family above the human family. The
destruction o f the incest taboo is essential to the de-
velopment o f cooperative human community based on
the free-flow o f natural androgynous eroticism.

As for children, they too are erotic beings, closer to androgyny than the adults who oppress them. Children are fully capable o f participating in community,
and have every right to live out their own erotic impulses.
In androgynous community, those impulses would retain a high degree of nonspecificity and would no doubt show the rest of us the way into sexual self-realization. The distinctions between “children” and “adults, ” and the social institutions which enforce those distinctions, would disappear as androgynous community develops.

If you've got any worries about disposing of romantic love or the family, or this all developing into something a bit too similar to NAMBLA, not to worry because:
The alternative to the nuclear family at the moment is the extended family,
or tribe. The growth of tribe is part of the process of destroying particularized roles and fixed erotic identity.As people develop fluid androgynous identity, they will also develop the forms of community appropriate to it. We cannot really imagine what those forms will be.

No worries then.
This is the kind of nonsense that is still recycled by the right today to discredit feminism. Most assume the claims that feminists want to promote pedophilia or destroy the family are purely the product of the fevered imagination of the far right, and it largely is, but 'radicals' like Dworkin and Ti-Grace Atkinson did their part to supply the amunition.
Edited by - BlackSix on 2/13/2017 8:24:05 AM
Doctor of the Erotic Arts
11853 Posts
Posted - Feb 18 2017 : 1:06PM
^ Wow, a fantastic little essay. I have been reading Dworkin with my students and they were, frankly, horrified by the hypocrisy and subjective nature of the analysis. They keep asking if Dworkin had watched "insert film we watched that week." I have to tell them I have no clue, because she and other antis rarely talked about any specifics.
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5279 Posts
Posted - Feb 18 2017 : 5:16PM
^^ I've never read much of her writing. I had no idea she was so disconnected from what the rest of us call "reality".
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pornography wasn't sex but fantasies of an impossibly hospitable world
17059 Posts
Posted - Feb 18 2017 : 8:27PM
Thanks I intended to write something shorter but got on a roll, lol. You're right about the vagueness with which she discusses pornography in her later books. Revisiting them I was surprised to find that she only discusses pornographic writing in any depth with examples, never films or even magazines. Odd as her arguments came to be used to try and suppress pornographic films and photos exclusively, books never enter into it.

Edited by - BlackSix on 2/20/2017 8:43:39 PM

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Doctor of the Erotic Arts
11853 Posts
Posted - Feb 18 2017 : 8:56PM
^ Precisely. Last week we watched ROOMMATES and they were really blown away. That was what prompted all the "did they watch this???" and also a lot of "I bet if they did, they would have said this was misogynistic." Oh's as if they have no literary training or nuanced understanding of art at all. Depressing.
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