March
30th 2014
Shorter Margaret Wente: porn fine by me, just leave it unexamined.

Posted under: American history, art, bad language, Bodily modification, Gender, GLBTQ, Intersectionality, O Canada, students, the body, wankers, women's history

craftmasterHere’s my brief summary of Margaret Wente’s predictable, by-the-numbers shot at the academic study of pornography:

Provocative lede!  Bad puns.  Academics write only jargon-filled articles that no one will ever read.  Also:  the stupid feminists used to be against porn, but now they’re pro-porn, but they’re still stupid (duh).  Irrelevant academics can’t even make porn interesting.  But you should be very alarmed by this trend!  Academic research on porn will take over our universities!  This research is trivial and therefore all higher education is unworthy of public support.  All college students should watch porn, just not for college credit.

I don’t carry any water for porn studies here, but I also don’t think it’s the most irrelevant thing ever studied in an academic setting.  (Because the internetIf you need any more reasons, see Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs:  Women and the Rise of Ranch Raunch Culture.  Also, see all of the women with breast implants and other plastic surgery in your town.  It’s a pornified culture–we just live in it).

These articles by anti-intellectual right-wingers are about as original as a paint-by-numbers kit.  (But I’m sure she opened the press kit all by herself!)

10 Comments »

10 Responses to “Shorter Margaret Wente: porn fine by me, just leave it unexamined.”

  1. j on 30 Mar 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    I think you mean “Raunch” Culture not “Ranch” Culture in the title! I spent about 5 minutes trying to wrap my head around what that could mean – a reference to dude ranches? Something about being split-level?

  2. koshembos on 30 Mar 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    Is it wrong to read Margaret Wente’s short blurb as diatribe against academics and, may be, intellectuals in general? Porn being just the foot in the door.

  3. Melissa on 30 Mar 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    As a Torontonian and subscriber to the Globe and Mail, I have always wanted to write in and ask why they waste space with Wente’s editorials…

  4. Janice on 30 Mar 2014 at 6:23 pm #

    I wonder who she, erm, repurposed this story from. . . .

    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/09/24/globe_disciplines_margaret_wente_over_plagiarism_accusations.html

  5. Indyanna on 30 Mar 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    A lot more citations, and maybe even a bit more calm curiosity, in a _New York Times_ review piece today on porn and kids/teenagers, which labels the state of research on the impacts “shockingly equivocal.” The takeaway line on the academic side (social sciences) is from a research psychologist: “a lot of review boards see this kind of research as a ticking time bomb…”

    The term itself has been sort of shanghaied to refer to over-the-top or obsessive interest in almost anything, and here too the _Times_ is on the story with its weekly serving of Manhattan and Brooklyn-based “real estate porn.” There must be some way of applying that analytic to academic administrative discourse, with the penchant for administrators to see “cutting edge[s]” on even the most mildly-divergent examples of disciplinary inquiry.

  6. Historiann on 30 Mar 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    j: A-hahahahahaaaa! You are so right. All I can say in my defense is that I wrote and published that post from Steamboat Springs this afternoon, almost in the shadow of the Billy Kidd statue. So, “ranch” and not “raunch” was on my mind. I’ll make that correction now.

    And thanks for the comments from the Great White North. I will follow Janice’s link as soon as I make my correction.

  7. Profane on 31 Mar 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    My one encounter with porn in an academic setting came when I had an excellent student choose to do their final project in a seminar on historical films on Caligula. With the direction the project went I had no choice but to watch some internet porn. . .I recall disgust absent the least bit of titillation.

  8. Historiann on 31 Mar 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Caligula!!!

  9. Wogglebug on 31 Mar 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Indyanna, you see “### porn” being used to describe obsessive interest? I see it being used to describe the production and distribution of unrealistically glossy and expensive images, presented for people to aspire to as their everyday conditions. Thus the overpriced, uncluttered, elegantly decorated “real estate porn” and the elaborately prepared, carefully arranged “food porn” line up neatly with the surgically implanted, airbrushed “sex porn” as images to make people chronically dissatisfied with the attainable.

  10. quixote on 03 Apr 2014 at 11:20 am #

    This is tangential to the academic study of porn, but the use of the term to describe anything beautiful annoys me to hell and gone. I’ve even heard people talk about “landscape porn.”

    No.

    Porn is selling bodies, human bodies. (Although I understand that in the nether reaches of the internet they’re not speciesist.) That makes it a form of slavery by definition. Selling people. Slavery. The fact that the physical people involved are at the other end of a long electronic pipe and that they’re being briefly rented for pennies or to place advertising doesn’t change the fundamental transaction at the core.

    Selling food or real estate, on the other hand, is okay. So selling human porn is not remotely the same as publishing appealing pictures of food. Using the same term (as an attention-getting device I’m guessing) just helps people stay lulled into acceptance of what porn is.

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