4. Gender, Feminist, Queer, Sexuality, and Porn Manifestos
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4 GENDER, FEMINIST, QUEER, SEXUALITY, AND PORN MANIFESTOS G E N D E R , F E M I N I S T , Q U E E R , S E X U A L I T Y , P O R N • 325 . . . Manifestos played a key role in the development of feminist, queer, and sex-positive film culture, especially in the 1970s. These developments were part of a larger movement of finding new, nonpatriarchal languages to write about gender inequalities in books such as Hélène Cixous’s The Laugh of Medusa (1975). In the late 1960s, manifestos such as Valerie Solanas’s influential SCUM Manifesto (1967), the Redstockings Manifesto (1969/70), and Valerie Export’s “Women, Art: A Manifesto” (1972) postulated radical new conceptions of the role of women in society, their marginalization under patriarchy, and means by which to break free of it. Andrea Dworkin’s Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1979) and Intercourse (1987) also played a key role, especially for antiporn feminists . Queer manifestos such as Carl Wittman’s A Gay Manifesto (1970), the action now!/ act up “Montreal Manifesto” released during the Fifth International AIDS Conference in 1989, and the Lesbian Avengers’ Out against the Right: The Dyke Manifesto (1992–1994) emphasized the need for queer visibility and voices in the public sphere. Donna Haraway ’s “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, technology, and Socialist Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” (1991) radically reimagined deterministic and fixed conceptualizations of gender identity. These were in no way new developments. Historical feminist manifestos targeting representational and political attitudes include Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) and the suffragette movement’s “Manifesto of the Women’s Freedom League,” published in Britain in 1912. Valentine de Saint-Point’s “The Manifesto of Futurist Women” (1912), in which the author argues for an über-woman (sur femme) and against the misogyny of Marinetti’s manifestos, was published shortly after her common-law partner Ricciotto Canudo’s early film manifesto “The Birth of the Sixth Art” (1911). In all of these cases the manifestos postulated ways not just of redefining gender and patriarchy but of reimagining the public sphere and the representational practices associated with it. Therefore, more so than other manifestos, feminist and queer film manifestos have been greatly preoccupied with the public sphere and its transformation. This makes sense given that so much of second-wave feminism and emergent queer theory was concerned with questions of visibility and the possibility of finding a new feminist voice to combat patriarchy. Perhaps these goals have been best defined by Nancy Fraser. In her attempt to update the notion of the public sphere and infuse it with a sense of feminist principles and a realpolitik, Fraser outlines the criticisms that can be leveled against Jürgen Habermas ’s classical model of the public sphere as a piece of masculinist ideology and analyzes what would be required of a model of contemporary, late-capitalist publics. Fraser begins by pointing to some of the elisions in Habermas’s work, specifically ones concerning the lack of roles for women in the public sphere, and the new hierarchy that was put into 326 • G E N D E R , F E M I N I S T , Q U E E R , S E X U A L I T Y , P O R N place by urban men gathering to form a “public” that eventually gained power in Western European society. She then contends that four of the key points in Habermas’s model of the public sphere are highly contentious and need to be rethought if an adequate model of the public sphere in an “actually existing democracy” is to be developed. She states that the points of contention in Habermas’s model are (1) that one’s societal status is “bracketed at the door”; (2) that the existence of many publics dilutes the democratic strength of one public; (3) that discourse in the public sphere should strive for the “common good” and not examine private interests; and (4) that the public sphere only functions when there is a sharp distinction between the state and civil society. In response to these positions Fraser retorts (1) that “bracketing” is not enough and that one must eliminate social inequality; (2) that a multiplicity of publics allows for a greater range of publics to engage in debate and therefore to effect the “actually existing democracy”; (3) that what is deemed “private” is often masculinist in...