“The digital porn guy wants a fantasy that doesn’t exist, but the postfeminist girl wants one as well”

Our dearest Anne Helen Petersen has a great post up at her blog on Don Jon and the “digital porn dystopia,” a smart counterpart to the idea of “postfeminist dystopia” that she’s written about both here and elsewhere. About the double bind that both Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character find themselves in:

Her pleasure is faked; his pleasure is never what he wants it to be. Lose, lose.

Jon tries to quit porn, but soon discovers that porn surrounds him: the objectified, fetishized female body has become so normalized that even women’s magazines, exercise videos, and fast-food restaurants use it to sell products. Again, this isn’t anything new, but it’s amplified with each passing year.  How can Jon give up porn and the sexual dynamics it promotes when seemingly every piece of media invites him to continue the practice? The anti-porn feminists used to say that “porn is the theory; rape is the practice.” That’s powerful rhetoric, and I’m not sure I entirely agree. But I do think that the idea of “porn as theory” is incredibly compelling, especially given its current ubiquity. It becomes the de facto guide for how you should treat a woman in the bedroom,which consciously and unconsciously dictates how you’ll treat women outside of the bedroom.

[…] But that’s not even the real problem. The real problem is that porn, and the mainstream “children” of porn, tell you to behave one way — and another strand of media tells you to behave another. It’s like the virgin/whore complex, only for men: let’s call it the prince/dick dichotomy. A guy must both be what women want him to be (kind, respectful, willing to be a stay-at-home Dad, generous in the bedroom, takes up half of the household chores, a feminist) and what dominant, porn-influenced says he should be (aggressive, disarticulated from the domestic, selfish in the bedroom).

For AHP, Don Jon is noteworthy because it “so clearly interrogates porn, which usually goes unnamed in depictions of contradictory contemporary masculinity. Instead of shying from it because it’s dirty or unacceptable, it faces it head on. In that way, it’s a spectacularly honest film, which is part of the reason I can forgive it its various faults.”

[Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style]

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