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Gloria Steinem and a disagreement on Porn vs. Erotica and on Transsexualism

Posted by 綺麗な氷, 24 December 2009 · 1372 views

Gloria Steinem says many good things on many different issues. But many of them are flawed.

Quite obvious is her trying to separate "erotica" from "pornography". Is just a way to specify a term that is inherently vague.
There is no difference between porn and erotica. And both are very vague terms, moreso the word porn, though.

And her argument that porn is about that, porn is something about dominance, dominance of women. Which is ridiculous.
The problem is, as most feminists note, the current state of the industry, which upholds male dominance norms.
The problem is not of definition and type, this is a mistake near as bad as those who are anti-porn feminists.

It's the STATE of an industry. There are all just several different words to either describe filmed sex and/or nudity.
It's the pro-sex feminists who truly have it right because they realize that sex is something that needs to be reclaimed and not shunned.
The state of the industry is indeed something that upholds values of male superiority. Attack that.
Making meaningless distinctions between porn, erotica, and filmed nudity and sex, is pointless.

Now onto her opinions of transsexuals.
Her statements about Renée Richards are ridiculously transphobic. She is indeed right about questioning Transsexualism, and how they man, sadly and strangely enough, work in ways to perpetuate a much greater evil, gender roles. But her words on the matter are still highly insensitive to transsexual people.

And here's one more disagreeable statement. She basically calls into question Sarah Palin because she doesn't represent women's interests.
Who cares about who represents women's interests? That's like when someone represents "black people's interests". A very backward statement for a many times right on spot feminist. Feminism is not something that is actually not supported by most women, it is a countercultural ideology, that in the end seeks what it believes is best for both women and men. While it's true that there is a women's long term goal in feminism is something pro-women(as well as pro-men, depending on the thing), feminism is far too countercultural to be supporting of the majority of women's views. And that's what her statement oddly sounds like.

Sarah Palin is a fool and a non-feminist indeed. But please, most women, at least in this country, agree with her a lot more than Gloria Steinem.

I don't know who Gloria Steinem is, and I don't really feel like looking it up now (you know, Christmas and all, I have better things to do today <3) but there is something I disagree with you about, and I felt like commenting:

I don't think that making a distinction between porn, erotica, filmed sex and filmed nudity is meaningless (and I don't know in which context this Gloria Steinem made a distinction between those, so I'm not gonna say I agree with her, I'm just gonna give my point of view, as a counterpoint to yours).

You see, there is a HUGE difference between these genres. That difference is called "art". And that changes everything. Because the audience is going to be different. And what does a different audience mean? Different sales.

- Your common porn film will be badly shot, with poor lighting, poor cinematography, poor "actors" (well, they're only there for one "thing", not to "act" anyway), a poor story, no character background, etc. The target of such films are men ranging from 18 to 45 yrs old, I'd say. Most likely single. The goal of these films is clearly to turn on the viewer. They act as a surrogate for non-existing sexual intercourse, most of the time. They can lead to addiction. (I'm not making a generalization here, since some famous directors have given a go to porn films {but more as an experiment, so it was artsy in some way} but I'm talking about the "common porn film").

- An erotica film is very different. First of all it's not just a product, like a porn film, but it's an artistic object, directed by a "real" director, with proper cinematography (in every form, even experimental), a story, real actors, etc. A very famous example are Nagisa Oshima's films In the Realm of the Senses and In the Realm of Passion -> for which Oshima was rewarded with the Best Director award in 1978's Cannes' Film Festival (it was also Japan's submission to the 51st Academy Awards for the award for Best Foreign Language Film). As a result, the audience is very different than your common porn film: it's going to be mainly men and women from 25 to 65 yrs old, with an interest for cinema as an art form (and not just an entertainment industry). The goal of the film is thus different too: the viewers will watch these films not for the pleasure they could procure (although some will, I'm not denying it) but for the controversy such films bring on, or just for their artistic depiction of the act of making love. Erotica is the artistic porn, to make it clear.

- Filmed sex is still another thing. We have many examples in the italian neorealist cinema of the 60s and 70s, with Federico Fellini's Satyricon or Amarcord for instance, or Ettore Scola's Ugly, Dirty and Bad. The european cinema in general doesn't fear to show the act of making love in a film that is, by every other aspect, not pornographic at all. Even unconventional sex, like in Christophe Honoré's Ma Mère for instance. It's merely to serve the story and depict a character. The audience will be male and female from 18 to infinity (and even younger since censorship in Europe is not as strict as it is in the US with motion pictures showing the act of sex). The goal is totally not to arouse pleasure, but to serve the story or a certain way of wanting to tell a story.

- Filmed nudity is common, I'm not gonna make a whole paragraph on that, it's evident that the goal is not to arouse pleasure, so there is no targeted audience.

So, why am I making all these distinctions again? Because of the audience. Audience = sales. Sales are what makes the film industry go round.

So there is a meaning in making a distinction between porn, erotica and filmed sex. First of all because it's like there are actually 2 separate industries: the classic film industry (erotica, filmed sex) and the porn industry. The majors don't invest into porn films. It's usually much smaller companies who do. As for who makes more money, I suppose it's still the classic film industry, otherwise we would have quality porn films, which rarely (if ever) happens (in my point of view). The porn industry is indeed governed by male dominance norms. But as for the other genres, we can't say the same. As a film director/cinematographer, and female, if I were to put an erotic scene or film sex in a movie, it would be to serve the story or to make a point, and there wouldn't be any males telling me how to do it.
And second of all: it's not the same audience, so it's not the same market. And yes, of course ppl don't belong to just one group and a great majority of people has at least once seen a porn film and/or erotica as well as filmed sex/nudity. What I mean is that it's not because you see something that you will buy it. Because you have to appreciate it. That's where the difference is. Not everyone appreciates porn. I for instance much prefer erotica (cause I hate the bad cinematography/directing/acting of porn movies and I don't find it arousing at all).

Why generalize and put all these genres into the same basket? I don't understand you. What are you trying to say? What is your point? I'm not against sex in films. If I see a reason for it to be there, then it's all good. And erotica and porn have a reason to exist too. But you can't put them all in one, imo.

(btw, when writing this I used my conceptions of what porn and erotica are, but I think it's the general conception also, otherwise I don't remember where I took that from, lol).

PS: possible grammatical/spelling mistakes, bare with me I'm not from an english-speaking country. And if I misunderstood what you meant, pardon me too. I just responded to what I understood, aka that you think it's pointless to make a distinction between these genres.

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