Violence and the Pornographic Imaginary
The Politics of Sex, Gender, and Aggression in Hardcore Pornography
Routledge – 2012 – 246 pages
No cultural product reveals our collective fascination with sexual violence more candidly than popular heterosexual pornographies. They showcase scenes of intense sexual aggression and cruelty that are gendered in repetitive, patterned configurations—configurations that are designed to arouse. Purcell uses comparative critical analyses of popular pornographic movies to explore common fantasies of sexual violence and how they have changed over the past forty years. Adopting a thick descriptive approach, she moves beyond the mere observation and recording of instances of sexism and violence, elucidating the changing aesthetics, themes, and conventions of depicted sexual aggression and showing how they have emerged in specific socio-historical contexts. Purcell also draws from a range of industry publications and fan forums to examine the fabric and function of misogyny and violence in viewers’ fantasies and everyday lives. By documenting how popular pornographies have changed over time, this study sheds new light the evolving desires and anxieties of the genre’s growing U.S. audience.
Selected Contents: Introduction: Violence and the Pornographic Imaginary 1. "Just Fantasy": Rethinking the Pornographic, the Fantastic, and the Real 2. Golden-Age Assaults: Heat and Hostility in 1970s Pornography 3. Romance and Rebellion: The Two Faces of 1980s Pornography 4. Expressive Bodies, Intense Encounters: Realism in 1990s Pornography 5. Banal Brutality: In Search of Extremes in 2000s Pornography 6. Sex, Gender, and Power: Aesthetics of Arousal in Contemporary Pornography 7. Body and Soul: Pleasure, Pain, and Self-Revelation in Today’s Hardcore 8.Conclusion: Pornography, Feminism, and Tomorrow’s Sexual Politics
Natalie Purcell holds a PhD in Sociology from University of California, Santa Cruz and is currently a Presidential Management Fellow at the Department of Veterans Affairs.