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Jane Ward is associate professor of women’s studies at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of Respectably Queer, as well as several articles on queer politics, transgender relationships, heteroflexibility, the failure of diversity programs, and, most recently, queer motherhood. She teaches courses in feminist and queer studies , and is also an amateur parent, an angry low-femme, and a baker of pies. G iven that I am a feminist dyke and a professor of women’s studies, I recognizethatitisabitofaclichétosaythatIamambivalentabout porn. Academics are arguably ambivalent about everything, and most feminists are keenly aware of the gendered and racialized forms of violence and exploitation that undergird much of the adult film industry, even as they oppose censorship, support sex workers’ rights, and enjoy the porn they enjoy. Most queer feminists I know, myself included, also make sexual self-determination and the pursuit of our own orgasms the highest goal when it comes to engaging porn. Lucky are those whose arousal results from homegrown and independently produced feminist porn cast with gender-variant people of various races, body sizes, and abilities. But for some of us, mainstream porn—for all of its sexist and racist tropes and questionable labor practices—still casts its spell. What does it mean to have a queer feminist relationship to porn? Most efforts to answer this question presume that the answer lies in the means of production (Are films produced by and for women or queers? How are performers treated and compensated? Are all sex acts safe and consensual?) or in the visual content of adult films themselves (Are we viewing genuine orgasms? What kind of bodies, desires, and subjectivities appear? Is the film directed and shot in a way that invites a queer and/or feminist gaze?). Consider, for instance, this excerpt from one queer kid’s inspiring ode to queer porn, which has gone viral on the (queer) Internet and takes the form of a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”: Queer Feminist Pigs: A Spectator’s Manifesta Jane Ward Porn This Way Lyrics1 It doesn’t matter if you love hir, or capital H-I-R Just turn that volume up and watch queer porn, baby. Society told me when I was young about various normative sexual scripts I rolled my hair and put my lipstick on And then tore those scripts to bits There’s nothing wrong with wanting what you want You know desire is a social construct So when the lights are on, the cameras rolling That’s when we all start getting fucked It’s beautiful when you say, “Can I touch you there?” “Yes you may!” We’re on the right track to make some hot queer porn today Don’t eroticize bodies of color Respectfully eroticize one another We’re on the right track to make some hot queer porn today Oh there are so many ways to make queer porn worthy of praise Let’s make some hot queer porn today You’re not an object—you are the subject You’re not an object—you are the subject You’re not an object—you are the subject You are! Let every lick melt heteropatriarchy Every bite—right into white supremacy Porn that humanizes is so hot, you’ll want that shit on DVD Having the sex you want is not a sin Believe capital H-I-R Your body is your own so you can say What really, really turns you on . . . I like porn this way! Queer porn this way! We’re on the right track now let’s queer porn today! queer feminist pigs 131 This creative reworking of Gaga’s song exemplifies some of the persistent tensions and challenges involved in efforts to “queer porn today.” On the one hand, there’s nothing wrong with wanting what you want because desire is socially constructed (queer principle number one). This principle has arguably resulted in the dominance of a kind of queer laissez-faire position on porn; no card carrying queer radical is going to tell anyone what should or shouldn’t get her off. And yet, on the other hand, we recognize that not all porn is created equal, and the differences matter. We must, for feminist reasons if not for queer ones, distinguish between the impact of films that capitalize on heteronormative rape culture (that is, films marketed to older straight men who fantasize about raping teen girls), for instance, and those marketed to dykes who...


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