21 Nov New Sexualities: From Pornetration to Illicit Erotics
Mireille Miller-Young (Feminist Studies, UCSB)
Monday, Nov 21, 2011 / 12:00 PM
Crowell Reading Room (6028 HSSB)
This talk explores how discourses of sexualization–and particularly pornification or pornetration–obscure critical differences in the ways that “women’s” sexuality emerges in modern popular cultures and social relations. Women of color are uniquely situated in transforming economies of desire, identity, sociality, and labor within globalizing, neoliberal sexual culture. As historical signifiers of sexual degeneration and excess, women of color have long symbolized the costs of hypersexuality and the limits of feminist theorizing about gendered exploitation in media. Yet, these women are also actors in changing sexual regimes who mobilize illicit eroticism for their own needs and desires. Looking specifically at African American pornography performers, this talk provokes important questions about the capacity of current feminist frameworks to account for the work of racialized sexuality. Vulnerable to a range of constraints, stigmas, and abuses, African American women in pornography labor on the front lines of sexual commerce. At the same time, however, they activate important critiques of racial sexualization and assert novel mechanisms for revaluing their work, images and lives. This productive tension between exploitation and agency embedded in today’s new sexualities offers feminist critics and activists a tremendous opportunity to move beyond lasting divides.