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Joseph J. Image: duncan c. Tumblr Porn Remember the Internet, vol. The line between erotica and obscenity is always moving and historically classistand something that gets you off might seem quaint or silly to me. This is a welcome development, should it legitimize and humanize a wider range of erotic labor. Porn work is both exceptional and excruciatingly ordinary, the most insecure of gig economies but also rife with possibilities for appropriating the means of production.

The difficulty with defining pornography—and the political and litigation wars waged over its meaning—makes it unsurprising that four recent books about pornography have wildly different methods, perspectives, and objects of analysis. Valens recalls with yearning yet critical affection the queer, feminist, and kinky erotic imagery that circulated on the social media platform Tumblr before it banned adult content.

And yet there is a common denominator to these four books: all emphasize that contradiction is at the very core of pornography and its political economy. Anyone unfamiliar with how scholars write about porn—which is to say the billions who prefer getting off to porn rather than reading about it—might greet that thesis with skeptism because contradiction presupposes complexity. What could be any less contradictory, any less complex, than watching people fuck on your screen?

On the other hand, work sucks. In Porn WorkBerg wants porn audiences and porn scholars to consider what it is like to be a worker when your job is having sex on screen. Among the four authors under review, Berg most explicitly embraces the idiom of contradiction. It often sucks to be a sex worker, specifically, but more generally it sucks that work, any work, is necessary for survival.

So the big question for Berg—and for the performers and producers she interviews—is whether the pleasures and innovations of porn work offer insight into what a post-work world might look like, even as capital gobbles up Boston women Boston cock it can make profitable, including pornography. The contradictions accumulate from here. Contrary to the stereotype, porn does not pay well for most performers, so nearly all of Boston women Boston cock hustle in porn-adjacent industries such as dancing and escorting.

But the hustle dampens porn wages, since producers assume their performers hustle. Meanwhile, the ease with which porn actors can become porn producers and directors—often out of financial necessity—undercuts the potential for class solidarity within an industry that, counterintuitively, denigrates sex work and sex workers. That feminist porn typically also pays less makes its claim to the high moral ground in the porn industry yet one more contradiction. Porn performers and erotic content creators have often wrested far more control of their time and labor conditions than, say, adjunct professors.

To combat the precarity of their labor conditions, porn actors have come up with some ingenious solutions. For example, porn companies now rarely provide actors with a wardrobe for shoots, so they have to provide their own. In response, they will invite their online fans to buy and mail them underwear or other lingerie items to be featured in a scene. So porn performers transform porn production austerity into a profitable enterprise. Berg points out that, contra famed feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon, porn performers and erotic content creators have often wrested far more control of their time and labor conditions than, say, adjunct professors.

Porn renovates itself to fan the desires it ignites and then, by overexposure, extinguishes. This can be a fabulous, sensual phenomenon, or it can be gross: with each reinvention, porn gets more misogynistic and violent. Escoffier explains too that we learn from porn, and that the now-typical sequence of events in gay porn oral, rimming, anal, ejaculation —along with the rigidity of top and bottom roles—may instruct viewers in how to perform their own sexuality.

Although the educative power of porn can be restrictive, it can also be expansive.

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And porn is obliged to endlessly introduce new content since viewers bore easily. This can be a fabulous, sensual phenomenon, wherein people discover new pleasure and sensations with themselves, their partners, and their screens—or, as Barton notes in The Pornification of Americait can be gross: with each reinvention, porn gets nastier, more misogynistic, and more violent.

Escoffier never fully answers the question of why so much gay porn eroticizes masculinity, muscularity, and hetero manhood, but he flirts with the obvious if oversimplified answer: if gayness has been historically associated with inversion and femininity, and femininity, in men especially, is scorned, then dude- bro-next-door -type porn think the popular gay porn site Sean Cody, which specializes in wholesome, straight-seeming college-age jocks sells the fantasy that gay sex does not upend what it means to be a man.

Pedantically and not incidentally, I suspect that gay men who identify exclusively as tops just lack feminist consciousness.

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There is no greater embodiment of contradiction, at least for Escoffier, than the ever-present figure of the gay-for-pay, a straight-identified man who performs gay sex acts for money in porn, but also sometimes as a dancer or escort. Escoffier is enthralled by this character, a puzzle of great challenge and consequence.

I found this appeal to sexual scripting less illuminating than Escoffier hopes. Inafter several go-go boys at a gay club in New Orleans hit on both me and my female cousin, I asked one lithe, long-haired dancer if he and his coworkers were gay. If gayness has been historically associated with inversion and femininity, bro-next-door porn sells the fantasy that gay sex does not upend what it means to be a man. Of course, Berg would reply that the mania and misery of late capitalism means workers in all kinds of employment vectors medicate to get by.

But Tumblr Porn is also a call to arms for queers and other sex radicals to create and defend user-generated sexual content as a source of community and coalition-building, as a countermeasure to the stifling norms of mainstream porn, and as a wellspring of funky, weird eroticism.

Valens time travels with her readers to the hot queer universe of pre-ban Tumblr, when the platform made space for queerness not just as a social identity but a sexual one too. Tumblr was a lifeline, a portal to an erotic world that affirmed all kinds of marginal sexual identities and fantasies.

If, for Berg, feminist porn is hypocritical in its labor practices and if, for Barton, feminist porn is so negligible in the universe of porn as to be an ideological distraction from, or even cushion for, misogyny, for Valens, the feminist and feminist-adjacent porn she discovered on Tumblr was a lifeline, a portal to an erotic world that affirmed all kinds of marginal sexual identities and fantasies.

I learned about giantess and yiff porn from Valens, for example. Valens reveres the trans and female erotic content creators she followed on Tumblr. I never knew that women could be just as thirsty as men and could solicit sexual interaction just for the sake of it. So why then is Tumblr a site of contradiction? But virality also meant piracy, and so erotic content producers and performers were robbed of their profits. Anti-ness flattens others into objects, deracinating sexuality into obscenity and trashing a diversity of online erotic content as damaging, usually to minors.

The antis then went after Valens herself for publishing an article about how the antis came after the artist! Were the antis righteously battling the sex and sexualization that Barton warns is ruining the United States? Can raunch culture be cancelled? These are the wrong questions, in part because anti culture is cut from the same cloth as raunch itself. Anti-ness and raunch operate by flattening out or instrumentalizing others into objects, deracinating sexuality into obscenity and libelously trashing a diversity of online erotic content and online sex work as damaging, usually to minors.

Of course, the Internet and social media are as pornographic as they ever were, but now that porn is just more misogynistic, less diverse, and less interesting. Fearing they might be held liable for sex trafficking, sites such as Tumblr, Craigslist, Xtube, Pornhub, Twitter, and, most recently OnlyFans although it has since reversed course have preemptively censored escort advertisements and various forms of sexual content, or been Boston women Boston cock to by various kinds of corporate censorship such as when Visa and Mastercard stopped processing payments for Pornhub.

The cascade of self-censorship by social media platforms that has followed the passage of FOSTA-SESTA has cruelly coincided with the COVID pandemic, which has made sex work more difficult and digital sexual content more necessary to the mental health of quarantined people everywhere. Instead, sex workers are made more precarious, their revenue sources kiboshed, and they are forced once again to depend on pimps, third-party managers, and street work. And so the NSFW Tumblr ban that Valens laments probably did little but wipe out the erotic content posted by queer and trans artists and sex workers.

Instead, sex workers are made more precarious, forced once again to depend on pimps and street work. If we cannot wipe away sexually explicit imagery without trammeling upon the lives, lusts, and labors of queers and sex workers, might we be more successful if we were more surgical, censoring or at least condemning imagery that is not just sexually explicit but also sexist? And in a sex-unequal world, how might we tell the difference? Barton argues that something counterintuitive and grave is happening: as our culture becomes increasingly sexualized, it is actually becoming less sex-positive.

In other words, the more unsolicited dick pics in cyber circulation, the less pleasure Boston women Boston cock is for everyone, especially women and nonbinary people. These include numerous advertisements and stills from Boston women Boston cock and music videos that depict, with little variation, girls and women nearly naked and, perhaps more importantly, passively configured and constricted in such a way that each could be reasonably captioned, Put your penis in or on me. An unembarrassed superhero-flick dork, I and many others have been miffed by the pornification of the still-too-few women heroes and villains.

Why would the otherwise savvy Wonder Woman, Lara Croft, or Harley Quinn wear so little clothing to fight their heavily armed enemies? I would go so far to say that raunch culture is the glue that holds his administration together.

Barton provides scant evidence to substantiate either argument.

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But blaming porn for Trump is easy and insufficient. Recall that the only good thing about March was masturbation. Barton is insightful too about the shortcomings of a culture that upholds consent as the best and too often Boston women Boston cock way for girls and everyone else to articulate their feelings about sex, sexual desire, and sexual attention. Barton interviews a woman named Alexis who, while competing on her high school debate team, received a torrent of unsolicited dick pics and jerk-off videos from her teammates and other boys.

How many people enthusiastically consent to their shitty jobs, anyway? It would be easy to miss that all four authors, of different and sometimes opposing political positions, share another commitment besides their embrace of contradiction: their agreement, explicit or implicit, that state and corporate censorship will not solve but only exacerbate the social ills they diagnose. And yet our response to phenomena such as revenge porn and deep fakes —what we might think of as jagged outcroppings of raunch culture—cannot be libertarianism either.

In the middle of Tumblr PornValens argues that legislators going after sites like Craigslist and Back for the alleged bad behavior of their users is like holding park rangers able for the bad behavior of park visitors. But the analogy teaches the opposite lesson Valens wishes to impart: if a park visitor sexually harasses or assaults another visitor over and over in front of a do-nothing park ranger, then we likely want to hold the ranger or at least the public authority able.

See Facebook and the past two presidential elections. So the progressive answer should not be all regulatory oversight is badbut instead we must consider, queerly and collectively, which forms of oversight enhance erotic flourishing and which quash it.

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