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

By Lisa Z. Sigel | Go to book overview

Walking on the Wild Side
SHEMALE INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY

JOHN PHILLIPS

Academic interest in representations of sex in film, television, and print media now has a relatively long history and, indeed, has attained a measure of respectability that it may not have possessed as recently as the early 1990s. Numerous studies have been published to date, many by gay and feminist scholars, on the nature and effects of such representations, particularly in so-called pornography. Very little attention, however, has been focused by scholars on the Internet, perhaps because it is still a relatively new medium but, above all, I think, because, in spite of the recent expansion of cultural studies in universities and the readiness of researchers in that area to analyze any and all social and cultural objects, including those from popular culture, the Internet remains an unordered and chaotic space, Internet material defying definition, challenging conventional categories of authorship, genre, and form. Such a space can appear daunting, its contents lacking the specificity required for critical investigation. Internet sites have increasingly appeared in the bibliographies of our students, despite warnings that most of their content is unauthoritative and unreliable. It is understandable, then, that many in the academic community would seek to avoid any contact with the Internet, even as an object of study in itself. The view is often heard expressed among colleagues—and in many respects it is a legitimate one—that Internet material is unoriginal and unexciting in both form and content and thus unworthy of critical interest. What little attention has been devoted to Internet pornography concentrates on images of men and/or women who can, broadly speaking, be described as "straight" or gay, engaged in activities associated with these binary sexual identities. The few who have turned their critical gaze to Internet porn have shown little if any interest in Internet sites representing transsexuals.1 As far as I know, the only critic to date to have devoted any serious effort to the subject of transgender in pornography is Laura Kipnis,

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