Monday, February 15, 2010

The Female Body is a Semiotic War Zone

Australia is insane. Via Boing Boing: "Australian Classification Board (ACB) is now banning depictions of small-breasted women in adult publications and films. They banned mainstream pornography from showing women with A-cup breasts, apparently on the grounds that they encourage paedophilia, and in spite of the fact this is a normal breast size for many adult women. Presumably small breasted women taking photographs of themselves will now be guilty of creating simulated child pornography, to say nothing of the message this sends to women with modestly sized chests or those who favour them."

The fascism of "Normality". This pathologises women for not adhering to 'morally' dictated codes over biology, and what is worse, pathologises both these women and those who love them.

I'm not pro- or anti- porn, as I don't have a strong understanding of the theoretical discourse surrounding it (and it tends to be mechanical to the point of farce), but this imposes even more stringency from the signifying regime that already governs value imposed on the female form from outside.


Kate Zambreno said...

here here...this is america one of the most famous porn actresses sasha grey is quite small-breasted...why do I know this? I watched lots of porn for a project I'm working *is* mechanical to the point of farce.I like that. Reduced to grotesque graffiti, a stick and a hole (to reword Angela Carter in The Sadeian Woman).

Cy Mathews said...

"Australia is insane"

It sure is! After reading this story, I was surprised to discover that any form of explicit pornography is already illegal in most Aussie states. And I'm not sure how they're going with setting up the "Great Australian Firewall," but there seems strong official support for internet censorship.

I was also surprised, a while back, to discover that NZ has a rating system for books as well as visual media. I'd seen Ellis's American Psycho wrapped in plastic with a "restricted 18+" sticker, but had always assumed it was just a marketing ploy.

Sobering to see how frail our civil liberties really are. . .

Rachel Fenton said...

I was waiting for the punch line - I guess that, as a small breasted woman, I'm it.

When is a woman not a woman.....lots to ponder here - thanks for posting this, Ross.

Ross Brighton said...

Kate - have you read Ariana's Couer De Lion? That Carter quote reminds me of her talking about porn.... all my books are packed up so I can't find it though.

Cy - Jesus, imagine a censor's reaction to Gouytat.... And I'm going to have to buy a copy of Eden Eden Eden for my research this year.

Rachael - maybe the question is when can a woman be a woman, and control the semantic value of her own body? but then everyone is forever overloading everything. Dueleuze and Guatarri weren't just talking about art when they said that "interpretosis is the disease of our age" (this is from memory, so not word for word. "On Several Regimes of Signs" in A THousand Plateaus)

Jenny Enochsson said...

I doubt that there will come a day when the hairless torsos of grown-up men will be censored because of their possible appeal to female pedophiles.

I live in Sweden, which is supposed to be one of the world's most equal countries. Here any male who wants to be a kindergarten teacher is looked upon as a potential pedophile. So screwed up.

Ross Brighton said...

Jenny -
Sorry for the late reply. I agree totally, unless maybe in gay porn - the whole thing is about power, and policing normancy. It is an attempt to regulate the semiotic value of the body, when what would be better would be attempting to destroy the power imbalances invovled when the body is commodified. Or, like Tracy Emin or Lydia Lunch (or Genesis P Orrige) weaponise the body. This I think is one of the important tropes of the Gurlesque: especially with the use of fashion and performance (Submit yourself to Maximum Gaga!)