I’ve been hoping and waiting for this video to be posted since the moment that Tristan Taormino and Susie Bright stopped speaking because they were both so awesome! Now you can enjoy their talk along with me! (FYI: These videos are probably not safe for work, unless you work somewhere as awesome as I do.)
If you’re looking for more click through to the poster’s YouTube channel for a few more short clips from this talk.
I agree with Gail Dines on quite a few levels. The way in which women and men are currently depicted in the media is often terrible. Women’s bodies and sexuality are often used to sell products, to the point where female sexuality is turned into a commodity by the mainstream media. I don’t have to get into this – Dines does a good job of introducing the topic in the talk posted on the Ramapo Women’s Center blog .
Instead of going through the ways in which I agree with Dines, I want to talk about the places where I disagree in order to give voice to an opinion that has not gotten airtime yet on this blog. My disagreement comes when we start to talk about where these negative portrayals come from, and what needs to be done about them. In my opinion, at least, this isn’t the problem of a porn-infused society so much as the problem of a society that has co-opted female sexuality as a means of selling things to people, thus turning women (and their sexuality) into objects. Its the problem of a society that has deep roots in racism (that much of Dines’ speech I agree with) that we are not willing to examine, which leads to us sexualizing women of color in even more dehumanizing ways than we do white women. This isn’t the problem of porn, though. The horribly racist, misogynistic, violent, scary porn that is out there… that’s just a symptom of a larger cultural issue; just as the racist/misogynistic/generally awful non-pornographic movies and books and television shows are symptoms. Basically: the medium is not the issue, the message is. I believe that if women and people of color were treated as equals in our society and our media then the representations of these groups would be better across the board – in magazines, television, movies, and yes, even porn.
I am aware of the fact that violent porn exists, I am aware that people who perform in these movies are sometimes treated poorly… but I am also aware that we live in a world full of shades of gray. At the same time as there is misogynistic, terrible porn out there, there is also awesome, inclusive, feminist porn.
Before this weekend all I really knew about Burlesque was that it was a form of performance art that combined dance and taking off one’s clothes. I knew some people feel that it is awesome and empowering, others feel that it is degrading. Basically I knew very little, mostly because I was too intimidated to seek any more information out on my own.
Luckily for me Momentum offered the opportunity to attend Sense & Sexuality: How Taking it Off Empowers the World with N (“The Only Letter in Burlesque”) and Lillith Grey. I was a little nervous at the start of this workshop, but as soon as we started discussing glitter and its many, many (endless, really) uses, I knew I had found my people. The session passed quickly, with stories shared about burlesque history and legends, how-to books and samples of props (like boas and hats and pasties) passed around… it went by so quickly, in fact, that I found myself entirely unprepared towards the end of the workshop when N declared: “I’m going to do a little performance for you now!” (Lillith was injured and, thus, sadly unable to perform as well.)
Uh-oh. N moved a chair to the middle of the room, as I quickly tried to understand the feeling of anxiety shooting through me. You have seen naked bodies before, I reminded myself. This is not a big deal. N tossed on a dramatic mask and a blonde wig, getting read for the show. She does this all the time, this is her job, she enjoys doing it… there is nothing wrong with being in this audience. N told the intern to turn the music loud. Before I had time to deal with my strange gut reaction there was a real live burlesque performance happening not three feet from my face.
I had no fucking clue what to do.
10:40am: Now I am in No Homo: Prejudice and Homophobia Within the Gay Community with Brandon B,who used to be an improv actor back in Los Angeles! He does a lot of things bit one thing he does is write the Inqueery, a website that reviews sex toys and things for male-bodied people and sneaks in safer-sex information and sex positive information! He has glitter on his eye, so he’s already cool in my book!