Amateur Porn

New media critics say that new media technologies turn consumers into producers. Nowhere is this more true than in amateur porn production. An article in Wired gives this as an explanation for why the porn industry is feeling an economic crunch. The porn industry is posting losses from the endless free supply of amateur porn. Of course, despite the losses, the porn industry is still thriving, but it makes me think of the relationship between amateur and professional porn.

The whole idea of amateur porn raises a host of uncomfortable issues about women’s autonomy and subjectivity. All the feminist arguments about exploitation, victimization, hate speech, and objectification become more complicated within the context of amateur porn.

1. One can say that in amateur porn, women have choice and even control (though the notion of choice is always problematic, and choice is always constrained by compulsivity). Women are producers of pornographic texts.

2. In amateur porn, women aren’t working, so the Marxist analysis of women as exploited sexual labor falls flat.

3. Who is the audience? Who are the consumers of amateur porn? Amateur porn certainly challenges Laura Mulvey’s arguments about women having to cross gendered subject positions to identify with the subject (and I use that word on purpose) of pornography.

4. And a question: How do new technologies shape the “pleasure and danger” of amateur porn?

As Zabet Patterson writes (in “Going on line: Consuming pornography in the digital era,” from Linda Williams’ Porn Studies):

We will never understand internet pornography as long as we consider the networked personal computer as a mere tool through which we access the sexually explicit graphics, for in so doing, we miss the ways in which our sexual desires are being mediated through the pleasures of the technology itself, and the particular fantasies it has on offer.

These are fascinating issues. In fact, I’d love to do a study of Redtube.com, but I really don’t want to wade through hours of amateur porn to make the arguments. Maybe I really just want to read someone else’s study.

4 Comments

  1. Why is hegemony both disturbing and hot?

    ~S

  2. I volunteer to wade through all that amateur porn and conduct a content analysis. Reckon we could get a grant for a joint project?

  3. What about the latest trend of sexting? I have heard of girls my daughter’s age in her school, one in particular who does it a lot, who send increasingly pornographic images of themselves on request it seems to boys in their age group, which get shown around. (14 y.o.) effectively child porn. Will this mean that the child porn industry will then suffer? No, because it doesn’t get to the organised cp consumers? Or could it be creating new consumers of cp amongst teenage boys? This blog post has brought up many related questions.

    1. Author

      Indeed. The whole sexting thing is interesting and difficult to think through. It’s all bound up with our puritanical fear of adolescent sexuality on the one hand, and our very legitimate concerns about the dangerous nature of child porn on the other. I imagine that even in sexting there’s a double standard for boys and girls. So does that mean that girls are empowering themselves when they send self-produced porn to their friends? It’s hard to say. I imagine as new technologies propagate this stuff exponentially our thinking about porn will never catch up with its production.

      Thanks for raising the point.

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