Cultural Pathologies of the Body: When Porn Stars are Post-Feminist Icons, Yoga Must Embody Rebellion.

Via on Jan 3, 2011

Well, you know, when you’ve got some spare time and are poking around on the Net, one thing leads to another. This post is a product of that process, clicking on links on the Web (and in my mind) connecting Buddhism, “post-postmodernism,” feminism, porn, and – ultimately – yoga.

OK, so here goes. Let’s start with the Buddhism.

Right now, I’m reading Stephen Batchelor’s Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist – a brilliant, fascinating book that came out last spring and is very – and I mean very – controversial in Buddhist circles. Knowing this, but not fully understanding why it triggers such strong feelings, I went online to read some reviews and blogs about it. (There’s plenty out there.)

And thus I stumbled upon the blogazine Beams and Struts, “An Integral Inquiry into the Post-Postmodern Age.” Hmmmm, interesting, I thought, . . . is that like Integral Yoga – or are they devotees of Ken Wilbur – or it is just more generally dedicated to Integral Psychology – and WTF do they mean by “post-postmodern”?

Hooked, I started exploring the site (which, BTW, is largely written by Canadians – why, I wonder, is so much of the writing that I’m interested in these days coming out of Canada??). One title grabbed my attention: “Pop Culture, Porn Stars and the Mis-Guided Revolution: A Window into the Rebellion of Postmodern Young Women.”

OK, moving on from Stephen Batchelor for the moment – what’s this??

As someone who grew up in the shadow of 1970s feminism, was a young adult during the feminist anti-porn crusade of the 1980s (and even taught a bit of Catharine MacKinnon during the mid-90s), and then watched from a distant disconnect as a new generation of 20-something women starting making a name for themselves as provocative “pro-sex feminists,” this looked like a new iteration of an ongoing debate that at this point, I pretty much know nothing about.

Porn Star as (Post-) Feminist Role Model?

My intuition was right. This post opened my eyes to an entirely unprecedented phase in the controversies that have been swirling around issues of women’s empowerment and sex all my life.

But, sadly to say, it’s not a pretty sight . . . except perhaps on the most hollow, soulless, and superficial level, where all the old tropes of the beautiful young female body are being hammered without mercy. But underneath that façade, well . . . I may have morphed into an old fuddy-duddy, but it feels nothing short of tragic to me.

Author Vanessa Fisher starts outs explaining the context of feminism today:

Six centuries after Joan of Arc was burned alive at the stake at the age of nineteen for standing up for her cause, and only 60 years after Freidan wrote her groundbreaking book, The Feminine Mystique . . . we find ourselves at an interesting, and somewhat confusing, juncture in women’s history. The young women of my generation now live in what is often deemed a “post-feminist” world, where freedom of access and unprecedented options are increasingly at our fingertips . . . We have also grown up in a media-saturated postmodern consumer culture where nearly all spiritual depth has been stripped away in favor of superficial and easy to swallow sound bites, and where the role and importance of the individual consumer—including all our personal desires for freedom and fulfillment—have been raised to an all new altar of the sacred. Within this climate, where words like morality, duty, higher purpose and obligation have become largely outdated relics of the past, the young women of my generation find themselves birthing a whole new image of what it means to be an empowered, rebellious and fearless female at the beginning of the 21st century, and she is truly unlike anything we’ve seen in recorded history.

So far, so good. All this is familiar and makes sense to me. But then comes the kicker. “There is perhaps no young woman who embodies the many diverse and often contradictory values of postmodern female empowerment more potently and starkly,” Ms. Fisher continues, “than the 22-year-old porn-star, actress, model and rising starlet, Sasha Grey.”

Who the hell is Sasha Grey? Certainly, I’ve never heard of her.

To read the rest of this post, connect to Think Body Electric by clicking here.

About Carol Horton

Carol Horton, Ph.D. is the author of Race and the Making of American Liberalism, (Oxford University Press, 2005) and Yoga Ph.D.: Integrating the Life of the Mind and the Wisdom of the Body. With Roseanne Harvey, she is co-editor of 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice. Carol blogs at Think Body Electric, and enjoys social media via Facebook and Twitter.

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5 Responses to “Cultural Pathologies of the Body: When Porn Stars are Post-Feminist Icons, Yoga Must Embody Rebellion.”

  1. Excellent article, Carol. I encourage everyone to read the rest of the article on Carol's blog. Great discussion there, too.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  2. Kaoverii Weber Kaoverii says:

    I love your blogs Carol – so nice to have some intelligent thought here – sorry that it gets lost in the porno-fluff.

  3. lucid says:

    Feminism=Sexism.

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