political pornography

Political Pornography

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October 7th, 2014

5ish years ago, during the Obama-McCain election season, an artist friend-of-a-friend created a brilliant website called “Political Pornography” to express her dissatisfaction with how women are disempowered by the political process.

First she situated “political” and “pornography” within our cultural lexicon, culling definitions from traditional dictionaries. These are the ones that grabbed my attention:

po·lit·i·cal (pə-lĭt’ĭ-kəl)
Of or relating to your views about social relationships involving authority or power; “political opinions.”

pornography /pɔrˈnɒgrəfi/

Obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, esp. those having little or no artistic merit.

I’d also like to add this, less biased one, to the mix:

pornography (pɔːˈnɒɡrəfɪ)

Writings, pictures, films, etc, designed to stimulate sexual excitement.

Then, she wrote a poetic mission statement for her concomitant project.

This is a project born out of frustration.
A suburban child of the cul-de-sac,
I know this emotion well.

Unfortunately, once I got past these teenage rites of passage,
President Bush was elected.
Or rather, Al Gore worked really hard and won the popular vote,
and George W. Bush was sworn into office.
Then I realized, oh no, its not just about being a teenager.
No, power just doesn’t play fair. Okay. Fine.

We all remember the past !!! years of government corruption.
We can all relate to the stagnation of America.

It’s time for change.
Make the vulnerable strong.
Subvert the scientia sexualis.
Empower an emphatic expression of personal politics.

Legally speaking, America is still a democracy.
A nation powered by the people.
But only when the people take advantage of this right.
We are privileged to live in a country that gives us
The power to vote freely and without fear.
To speak our minds. Let’s do this.

Finally, she posted the “meat” of her project, i.e., nudie pics of her with cheeky political statements scrawled across her sprawled out body, reframing catchy pop-culture phrases. Eventually she unposted those, abandoning her endeavor at least in the public sphere. Not sure whether she lost her nerve or lost interest.

The following e-mail exchange is pertinent to a lot of ideas I’ve been tossing around in my head recently. Concerning whether one can create text and images simultaneously intended to arouse physically (sexually and emotionally) and incite intellectually. Whether such works are valueless in the censorious eyes of society. Whether the prospective hazards to one’s career are portentous enough to be prohibitive instead of progressive.

Will people look the other way out of disappointment or disapproval, or because they are scared stiff of being discovered guilty by association? To what extent can one transgress before tipping the boundary between being edgy and falling over the edge? Is sexual something that we as “professionals” are only allowed to know self-consciously and not experience sensually? Are we so far gone that natural impulses are subversive?

I am jealous of artists and their freedoms. To create. To explore. To err.

Five years later and still no impressive degree. At age thirty my body has already betrayed me.

FYI, Karen didn’t give me the link to her blog, our mutual friend did. So when I emailed her out of the backlit blue it was a “Surprise, I’ve seen you naked and I’m into it—but not like that!”

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January 16th, 2009

Me:

i leave my fluffy wuffy daughter unattended for five minutes, and there she is surfing the interweb and viewing pornography!

Busted!

Busted!

 

January 16th, 2009

Karen:

cats are devilish aren’t they?

i’ve been thinking it needs to be updated…

 

January 17th, 2009

Me:

i was thinking what pictures i would contribute if i didn’t have a career to ruin 7 years from now when i finally have an impressive degree.

photo set number one: picture of me fully clothed in clueless-era preppy clothing (thick-framed teacher’s glasses and argyle knee socks included), suggestively chewing on a pencil, behind a desk strewn with women’s studies books and psych text books. the caption would be “scholar.” followed by picture of me lying nearly naked on pile of said books, with “dumb slut” written on my body in fuck-me-red lipstick.

photo set number two: me lying in my girly bed innocently, fucking a barbie in a wedding dress (legs only), with “faux-lesbian feminist” written on me in pretty pink lipstick, the tube of lipstick lying next to me evoking lipstick lesbianism. followed by a pic of of me in a vest, boots, and lesbian pins (i have a “rainbow for hillary” pin), lying next to a pile of dildos, with the caption “straight but not narrow” (nothing like a little slut humor).

[NB: “Not narrow” is a reference to loose vaginas, which ignorant people believe sluts to have. I personally am tight as fuck from my well-toned dildo-fucking muscles.]

i’m pretty sure that academia loves artistic freedom and if i were ever seriously a professor of women’s studies-oriented psych, i could write-off political nudie pics in a feminist essay.

i’m a huge fan of your website. my reaction:

me: um, i love the “what do you do with ur smarts?” ingenious!

smart people like being naked too!

Daria: it’s true

me: i like the “what we do with our power matters” pic too

me: i’m sort of in love with karen’s mission statement

Daria: nice

me: the marriage of politics and sexual empowerment, awesome. let’s be emphatic about our freedom of speech by getting naked publicly! a public declaration of frustration over the political process, by means of exercising one of the rights we still have. way to stick it to the man!

oh, how i envy artists

and their freedoms

i wonder how i can get naked with a message without ruining my career

oh what it would be like to be naked and self-righteous

Daria: it might be okay

me: maybe if i actually became a therapist my clients could get off to me and i wouldn’t even need to have red hair

or a soothing voice

[NB: This is a reference to the therapist I had when I was 16. As many are, I was devastated when she mentioned her real family. In my case it was because then I realized she was straight, or at least straight enough to be living the New England equivalent of a bicoastal picket fence lifestyle.]

I like Karen’s line “A nation powered by the people. But only when we take advantage of this right.” it seems to delineate the difference between power and being empowered.

Daria: I like that too

feminine wiles are powerful, albeit not taken seriously. way to intellectualize them or, at least, use them for something intelligent.

 

January 17th, 2009

Karen:

I love (love!) both of these ideas.  Thank you for making me think more seriously again about how this sight needs to be updated.  You inspired me last weekend to start think about this again and I started the political pornography blog

[M]y original intention of political pornography was to connect the political act with the person, and underline that political ideals are reified (and defied) on a personal level. Ultimately, any one of these politicians could have been put in the position to make decisions that will affect me the individual.  I was thinking that to express my own personal political argument, in the loudest and most obvious way possible, while implicitly blatantly ignoring any social logic dictating the ways in which I present and express myself, would an interesting and thought provoking (if not just plain provocative) project.  That said, yeah, its not usually the first thing that I shout out about myself.  I’m generally okay knowing people have seen me naked, that said, its hard looking people in the eye when you know their thinking, what the fuck is this girl thinking?  And then I remind myself, fuck them…
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October 7th, 2014

Ah, to be naked and self-righteous. Or, more simplistically, to be naked and invulnerable. If only exploration didn’t risk exposure didn’t risk exile. In the United States of Godbless America.

On the enemies of the United States, the Axis of Evil: “They hate our freedoms—our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”—W

If only we had the sovereignty to make decisions about our bodies. If only we were free to speak about our bodies, to express ourselves with our bodies, without being penalized.

Forever frustrated!

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