The Power and Politics of Pornography


Cindy Tang

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Michel Foucault once wrote that ?we will not be able to free ourselves from [the repression of sexuality] except at a considerable cost: nothing less than a transgression of laws, a lifting of prohibitions, an irruption of speech, a reinstating of pleasure within reality, and a whole new economy of mechanism of power will be required?. That day is coming and perhaps new ways of audiovisual communication through pornography can lead us there. Traditional social power structures administrate sex and facilitate the power dynamics of the taboo thereby creating a sex industry that is not a strategically essentialized community but rather a disparate formation of passively shamed individuals. However, emergent third wave pornography on the Internet acts to 1) blur the private sphere and the public sphere, 2) enable activism in its consumer, and 3) produce a diffusion of power amongst those policing and those partaking in sexuality. Free pornographic video sharing websites suchas YouPorn allow its members to not only watch the taboo media and connect with peers with sexual camaraderie, but also encourages consumers to create their own subversive text. This project proposes the argument that the rise of third wave pornography stands to both hold traditional social power dynamics in relief and offer up new structures that are both utopian and challenging in their realization due to its medium and propensities.


Broderick Fox




Ford Research Fellowship

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