International Exposure: Perspectives on Modern European Pornography, 1800-2000

By Lisa Z. Sigel | Go to book overview

Ideologies of the Second
Coming in the Ukrainian
Postcolonial Playground

MARYNA ROMANETS

The postindependence period in Ukraine (since 1991) has become a time of liberation from different forms of totalitarian and colonial oppression, the systematized social repression of the body in the sterilized Soviet society, in which the domains of "pleasure" were prescribed and thoroughly sanitized by the state, being one of them. Having been implemented through militant moralism and prudery promoted by the state for its own political purposes, with Communist Party committees as sole custodians and caretakers of "a communism builder's moral code," this repression became epitomized during one of the first USSR-USA TV bridges at the dawn of Gorbachev's perestroika in the 1980s in an already proverbial vox populi declaration, "There is no sex in the USSR." This inhibition of the body has resulted in profound erosion, in the sphere of representations that constitute social identity, of any comfortable sense of the body. While theorizing the body in postcolonial terms, however, Homi K. Bhabha points out that "the body is always simultaneously inscribed in both the economy of pleasure and desire and the economy of discourse, domination and power."1

As a counterreaction to totalitarian constraints, after the breakup of the Soviet Union there occurred an astounding eruption and incorporation of sexually explicit imagery and iconography into diverse popular cultural forms. Along with these changes came the rise of a new social identity shaped in accordance with a changing societal structure in Ukraine. Therefore, an inquiry into the pornographication of Ukrainian mainstream might be instrumental in delineating some of the aspects of contemporary cultural production aimed at resisting imperializing systems and, thus, could become essential for further developments in Ukraine's postcolonial cultural politics. I intend here to examine a phenomenon, which has become pervasive in the West, in an essentially different context of a peripheral European culture that is experiencing manifold "posts"—postcolonial, postcommunist,

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