Rebecca Saunders Bodies Of Work: the labour of sex in the digital age
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When we talk about porn it’s invariably about what effects it causes. What is it doing to our sexualities, what is it teaching kids about sex, and blaming it for hacking into and hijacking our desires. More interesting is to look at porn in culture just as we might look at any other media such as social media industries and streaming platforms. What kinds of active relationships might we have with it, and it on us, on an individual and also on a cultural level. What is the relationship that porn has with capitalism? Looking at porn has gone from being a frowned upon unproductive activity, to a still frowned upon but now productive activity for capital. With the major porn streaming sites being as popular as other streaming media, they have managed to turn viewing into labour. They keep viewers attentive, but also distracted, with the seemingly endless opportunities to view and click elsewhere. The data from the viewer is used to inform the production of porn (which is also owned by the free streaming sites). In an age where work has become dominant and also valorised, the content itself has gone from representations of desire to the representation of hard work. Performers are finely tuned athletes paying constant attention to both their appearance but also to ensure that they are fit enough to do such demanding work. Often this hard work is punishing, exploitative, and unethical - just as with other modes of production. How has ethical or feminist porn responded to this and in what ways are these just valorizing another kind of labour? But also can anti-capitalist porn provide us with an exemplar of labour in post neoliberal capitalism, and perhaps also a gentle reminder of the ‘labours of love’ that are necessary for the erotic to become. I’m delighted to be joined by Rebecca Saunders to talk about her book Bodies of Work - the Labour of Sex in the Digital Age.
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