my hope for women claiming ownership of their sexuality. Specifically, the author of the email was referring to how I see the cover for my book so representative of the women's progressive porn movement; "women breaking through to claim ownership of their bodies and sex. And to seize the means of representation. To explore and define sex on their terms." In response to this, the author of the email wrote that "Given that sex is inherently connected to the body, it seems to me that we cannot 'own' it in any meaningful way. Our bodies, and thus sex, are essentially out of our control."
I agree and I disagree that our bodies are out of our control. For one, how we treat our bodies greatly affects their life cycles. Second, our individual minds and cultural norms greatly affect our sexuality.
When I write about ownership of our bodies and sexuality, I use ownership in the sense of who holds the ownership to explore and define the sex, as I in fact state in said quotation too. Because I believe how we define sex greatly affects how we practice and experience sex.
This goes back to what film scholar Linda Williams writes in Hard Core drawing on Foucault; that throughout the centuries, men are the ones who have speculated about and defined sex (at least since the entrance of Judeo-Christian morals with its Madonna/whore dichotomy). Women have been excluded from defining their own sex. Their voices repressed, their experiences have been repressed too. To quote myself:
I’m interested in the authentic porn made by women who show a sincere commitment to radically change porn, featuring female and male sexuality with respect and realism. Where porn becomes a vehicle for women to explore their own sexuality and define it for themselves. A new language, in fact not found elsewhere, to talk about sex. Presenting us with intriguing openings of more room for women, as well as men, to explore and expand our sexual play-field.
In fact, re-visioned porn by women shines the light on how we can all break free from confining gender roles and erotic conventions, attaining fluidity, democracy, and abundant space and possibilities in the ways we encounter our sexual partners.
I use the term "re-visioned porn" to highlight how radically different these films are as opposed to the revised lines of “couples” porn. I got the term from film scholar Linda Williams who in her landmark analysis of porn, Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the “Frenzy of the Visible” (1989) borrows it from famous poet and feminist Adrienne Rich. “The added hyphen,” notes Williams, “suggests the revolutionary potential of “the act of looking back, of seeing again with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction.”
Porn has traditionally been a “male genre,” by men for men. In fact, sex has historically been defined and discussed from men’s point of view. Men are the ones who have speculated about women’s sexuality; women have never had the opportunity to define it for themselves.
If re-vision is for women within a male dominated economy “a necessary ‘act of survival,’ in order to be able to create at all,” it is within porn, as Williams points out, “that the idea of re-vision is most compelling: ‘survival’ here means transforming oneself from sexual object to sexual subject of representation.” (p. 232)
The re-visioned porn films I have looked at have empowered and inspired me as a woman and as a sexual subject. They are films that feature women I can identify with. Mothers and daughters, single or partnered, younger and older, thinner or plumper. Women who confront culturally imposed sanctions regulating their behavior, and deeply felt issues shaping their lives. Women who reject the speed limits of desire enforced upon women. Women who refuse to be labeled.
Whether you’re into porn or turned off by it, my goal with my book is to show you the potential of re-visioned porn. How it can empower, inspire, inform, and reform. How rather than leaving men in charge of the production of grossly discriminating porn that is leaking into the pornified representation of ourselves in advertisements and popular media, re-visioned porn by women is transforming porn as we know it. In fact becoming a real counterweight to the negative sexualization of women (and men!) perpetuated by the entertainment industry and all other porn.