Jude Roberts has recently completed a PhD at the University of Nottingham on the Culture novels of Iain M Banks. Jude teaches at Birkbeck College and tweets at @tangendentalism.
Jude recently appeared on Newsnight as part of a panel discussing pornography. A full clip of the show is featured at the end of this post. She writes here on pornography, sex and being labelled Jude Roberts – porn user.
I’m happy to be labelled a ‘porn user’. I am a user of porn. Although the connotations of the word ‘user’ are somewhat unnecessary. I use porn in the same way I use other forms of culture – for stimulation and entertainment. These, after all, are what culture is for. And make no mistake, porn is a form of culture, just like any other. Just like TV, films, books, computer games, theatre and the visual arts, porn reflects and reflects on the ideas, concerns and attitudes of the culture in which it’s produced.
So why do we treat it so differently? Porn is held to a far higher standard in its representation of women in particular than any other form of cultural expression. Much of the representation of women in porn is incredibly poor, misogynist and cliché and in no way whatsoever do I defend it from those who say that that is unacceptable and must change. Similarly, much mainstream porn is utterly, unbearably racist and this too is intolerable and must change. But these criticisms, so often directed at porn, could so easily be directed at other forms of culture too. The representation of women in so-called ‘torture porn’ films like Hostel and Saw involves precisely the same objectification of the suffering female body and rather than ending with the objectifying ‘money shot’ end with women’s bodies literally cut up into pieces.