Writing this honours project is like PULLING TEETH. So I’m going to post my pages as I write them, unedited. I will also post as I edit. This may be horrifically tedious but I want to document the process and I want to have a place to put my writing where people can see that it is (or isn’t) actually happening. Here are the three pages I wrote at my Friday writing session. (I didn’t do any writing over the weekend. It was a tumultuous weekend in non-academic ways. My mental health is… teetering.)
* indicates where I gave up on a thought and moved on. This is an attempt at just getting words onto the page, which is not how I normally work. But words need to happen. So. Read the mess after this –
HONOURS PROJECT! RAWR!
Writing about feminist approaches to performance studies, Jill Dolan states that it seems “important to take a stand and to state it at the outset of one’s writing” (Dolan Feminist Spectator x). This seems particularly important when writing about a topic as contentious and divisive as pornography. Impartiality on the topic is, as Isabelle Barker notes, incredibly challenging. The debate has, from its beginnings in the 1980s ‘sex wars’, been framed as one in which feminists “would need to choose sides, … either for pornography or against it” (Barker 643). Though I cannot claim impartiality as a researcher, this research project attempts to inhabit the challenging liminal space between sides. I believe that pornography is, as
Courtney Trouble’s film Nostalgia provides an ideal opportunity to engage with the impact of antiporn feminist arguments and the emergence of feminist pornography and pro-porn feminist scholarship on contemporary queer feminist pornography. By reimagining the very scenes that caused critics such as Andrea Dworkin, Catherine MacKinnon and Robin Morgan to (FREAK THE FUCK OUT), it’s possible to identify some of the changes that have happened over the intervening 40 years. It is critical to recognize that this analysis is neither a comprehensive articulation of the state of contemporary feminist pornography, or an analysis of the changes in pornography as a whole. In fact, one outcome of this research is a clear understanding of the fact that there is no monolithic ‘pornography as a whole,’ just as “feminism is not a monolithic discourse with a cohesive party line” (Dolan Feminist Spectator 3).
It is a telling indicator of their dominance of early anti-pornography feminism that of the 8 essays in the “Anti-Pornography Feminism” section of Feminism and Pornography, 6 are by Andrea Dworkin or Catherine MacKinnon.
The rage expressed in antiporn feminist writing makes sense when taken in context of the pornography of the time. Woman Hating was published in 1974, into a cultural context that included the (PHENOMENALLY PROBLEMATIC) films Deep Throat, Behind the Green Door and The Devil in Miss Jones (CHECK TIME LINES FOR THIS). (INCLUDE SOMETHING FROM THAT BOOK.)
Those three films, often referenced as the triumvirate of porno chic (FIND CITE), comprise three of the four reimaginings in Nostalgia. It is relevant, then, to examine the critiques made of those original films and determine whether Trouble, in Nostalgia, answers those critiques. The goal of feminist pornography, as articulated by (SOMEONE FROM THE FEMINIST PORN BOOK) is to (SOMETHING THAT PERSON SAID).
The goal of this research project is to look at Courtney Trouble’s film Nostalgia as a representation of queer feminist pornography and as a response to both antiporn feminist critiques of mainstream pornography and the problematic content of the pornography being critiqued. This is a three-part analysis, and will be approached in the following manner.
First, an examination of anti-porn feminist critiques emerging in the 70s and 80s in response to the rise of “porno chic” (DEFINE AND CITE THIS) will provide the basis for the framework against which Nostalgia will be measured. The four films that are reimagined in Nostalgia will be incorporated into this examination of anti-porn feminism’s critiques, in an attempt to analyze and understand the cultural context into which these critiques were issued.
Next, the trajectory of feminist writing about pornography will be examined in a focused literature review. This review will look specifically at writing on the topics of ejaculatory imagery, orgasm and gender performance. These three areas are critical points of divergence between the original films and Trouble’s film, and a comprehensive understand of feminist responses to these specific issues will be useful in understand how Trouble’s film does (or does not) perform feminism. This literature review will provide nuance and focus to the framework laid out in the first section.
Then, a close-reading of Nostalgia will analyze Trouble’s film using the framework articulated in the first two sections of this thesis. This close-reading will include a discussion of the “queerness” of Trouble’s film, and will situate queer feminist pornography within the larger category of feminist pornographies.
Finally, I will analyze the possible meanings and interpretations of Trouble’s use of the word “nostalgia” as the title of her film. What is she nostalgic for, and what does this nostalgia mean for queer feminist pornography as a genre?
Barker, Isabelle. “Editing Pornography.” In Feminism and Pornography. Ed. Drucilla Cornell. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
Dolan, Jill. The Feminist Spectator as Critic. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991. Print.