Reading Analysis #5

Reading Analysis: Feminism and Pornography

 

I decided to examine Karen Ciclitira’s article “Pornography, Women and Feminism : Between Pleasure and Politics” Two themes Ciclitira focused on within this writing are how the feminism movement altered the way western women think about pornography and  the harmful effects of pornography. In the 1970’s Andrea Dworkin lead the Anti-pornography campaign in America. Dworkin, along with many other self-identifying feminists believed pornography was hurtful because it showed underage children and violence/ sexual abuse against women. Another reason pornography is said to be dangerous is because it creates unrealistic expectations of one’s own and other bodies. Additionally, pornography provides us with social scripts about what a sexual encounter should entail, where it should happen, who should instigate it etc.

 

Is there room for feminism within pornography? Gail Dines , professor of sociology and Women’s studies has this to say: “ Anyone willing to feed off women’s bodies and use them as raw materials to make a profit has no right to call themselves feminists” ( Thebridgehead.ca ,2017). Swedish adult filmmaker Erika Lust feels differently. Lust , who studied gender and political sciences, felt that the porn industry was doing a disservice to the sexuality of women. She’s won many awards for her artsy short erotic films that are based on confessions from real women of different cultural backgrounds, race and sexual orientation. More and more women directors and actors in the pornography industry are pushing back and putting power and personal choice back into their own hands. Considering this, is it possible for feminism and pornography to exist together?

 

In this interview Lust speaks to the common misconception that all workers in the adult industry are sleazy and lack self- respect:

http://www.refinery29.com/2017/10/171251/erika-lust-feminist-porn-director-interview

 

References:

Ciclitira, Karen. “ Pornography, Women and Feminism: Between Pleasure and Politics’ Sexualities 7 (3) p 281-301

 

https://thebridgehead.ca/2017/06/21/the-great-porn-debate/

 

Reading Analysis #4

Narcissistic Identification in Rap Music 

Rachel Frymire 

 

Steve Neale’s article “ Masculinity as Spectacle”  puts forward two main themes of masculinity in film from a psychoanalytic perspective. He focuses on the topics of identification and voyeuristic spectating.  Identification as quoted by Neale “involves both the recognition of self in the image on the screen, a narcissistic identification and the identification of self with the various positions that are involved in the fictional narration.”  Neale’s belief is that men  not only look to the main male character to identify with , but also other characters including the villain, the love interest, the father etc.  

“Narcissism and narcissistic identification both involve phantasies of power, omnipotence, mastery and control.” I looked up the term omnipotence to understand this statement a little bit better. Omnipotence refers to having unlimited or god like power. Immediately my mind was drawn to music and how I’ve seen this theme play out time and time again in predominately rap music. Music is a main form of socialization and feeds humans socially constructed definitions of ideal male characteristics.  Mainstream pop/rap artists such as Kanye West, Jay Z and Asap Rocky sport lyrics that boast about their godly status, and having the most or the best of everything ie. money, women, cars, drugs. I searched through Kanye West’s albums and numerous song titles refer to power and control. Here are a few examples:  

– Stronger 

– Can’t Tell Me Nothing 

– Power  

– Gotta’ Have it  

-Who Gon stop me 

-Illest MotherF*cker Alive 

-I am A god 

-I Love Kanye 

 

Are these narcissistic and power hungry lyrics affecting how young men view themselves and what they’re entitled to? 

Here are a few other articles of relevance to this subject… 

https://gendersociety.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/masculinity-and-fidelity-in-pop-music/ 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/294106412_Tuning_Gender_Representations_of_Femininity_and_Masculinity_in_Popular_Music_by_Black_Artists  

 

References: 

Steve Neale; Masculinity as Spectacle, Screen, Volume 24, Issue 6, 1 November 1983, Pages 2–17 , https://doi.org/10.1093/screen/24.6.2 

 

Reading analysis 3

Reading Analysis #3 Subjects of Sex/Gender and Desire

Butler’s article “Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire” touches on feminism, the gender binary and how gendered language

In particular, Butler describes how binary language splits and distinguishes female vs male genders. The article stresses what feminists theorists also claim- gender is socially constructed.  What are problems that arise from living in a binary society? Intersex individuals are completely ignored.  Secondly, individuals who express a gender identity different from their assigned gender are subject to harassment and violence.  However, the gender binary is not only harmful to those who don’t identify with it. It restricts children from living their lives authentically and to their true and full potential.

Are there efforts being put forward to deconstruct the gender binary? In recent news, major clothing department store John Lewis decided to opt for only all –inclusive gender neutral children’s clothing. Do you think measures such as this are overshadowed by the powerful presence and influence of the media and socialization? Will we ever fully deconstruct the binary? What are the benefits to continuing on with this system? 

Gender neutral bathrooms have also been a topic of controversy over recent years.  The New Yorker (2016) highlighted some of the frequent arguments against opting for gender neutral bathrooms in public spaces. Many people claim gender inclusive bathrooms will increase cases sexual assault. Others speculate that such bathrooms will host consensual sexual encounters which children may be exposed to.  Here is a link to the article: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/whos-afraid-of-same-sex-bathrooms 

Do you think that there are more pressing issues that need to be addressed? Or is the introduction of gender neutral bathrooms a step in the right direction?

Reference:

Butler, J. 1990. “Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire” Gender Trouble p.1-46

The New Yorker. 2016. “Who’s afraid of Gender Neutral Bathrooms?” The New Yorker

Reading Analysis #1 Body Image and the Media

Susan Bordo’s (1997) article “Never just Pictures” highlights the correlation between media and body image in women. Bordo describes how, from a shockingly young age, children learn to distinguish desirable body types from others. Fat and overweight body types are shamed and discriminated against. Bordo examines how the fashion industry has influenced society’s perceptions of beauty and the ideal woman’s body. Although this article was published in 1997, models for high-fashion runway shows still appear “waifish” and undernourished in 2017. Eating disorders can arise from a number of causes including social expectations brought upon by media depictions.

I found the mention of the “heroin chic” look to be disturbing. This look romanticizes depression and appearing “zombie-like” or on the verge of death. I’ve seen this trend appear many times in the media in recent years. In my own experience I have seen people sporting clothing that portrays depression and other mental illnesses as trendy and glamorous. Here are a few examples:

 

PlaidZebra (2014)

This article sparked confusion in me of why we like to romanticize unpleasant ways of being, disorders, and situations. One I often see play out in person and on social media is the stereotype of the “struggling university student”. Why do we glamorize over-exhaustion and over-exerting oneself?

References:

Bordo, S., “Never Just Pictures,” in Twilight Zones: The Hidden Life of Cultural Images