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Richard Roeper Blog

Porn actress acts with non-actors in real movie.

Sasha Grey is a porn actress. She is short. She is cute. I’d never heard of her until she was cast in “The Girlfriend Experience,” which is not a porn film at all but a small-budget project from Steven Soderbergh, who loves to alternate between ambitious films with big stars, and experimental works shot for a million bucks or so.

If you turn off the SafeSearch mode on Google and type in “Sasha Grey,” you will see this young woman engaging in all manner of hardcore fare. It’s not particularly sexy, but it’s more than a little depressing. I’m not Mister Anti-Porn Crusader, but you watch even a minute of this stuff and you think: what happened to this girl that made her want to do THIS at the age of 18? Grey considers herself something of an intellectual. She says her hardcore porn scenes are “performance art.” No, they’re hardcore porn scenes. There ain’t an ounce of art in the room my dear.

In “The Girlfriend Experience,” Gray plays Chelsea, a fashion-conscious, emotionally detached sex escort in New York City in the fall of 2008, when everyone was talking about the election and the economy. (Now we just talk about the economy.) At first I thought the film was going to be a thinly veiled take on Eliot Spitzer and Ashley Dupre. Gray bears a slight resemblance to the briefly famous escort, and in some early scenes in the film, we see her recording her mundane thoughts and doing an interview with a journalist.

But “The Girlfriend Experience” isn’t about plot. Shot digitally and running for just 77 minutes, it’s a rambling, slice-of-life docudrama that jumps back and forth within a brief time period as get to know the escort, her live-in boyfriend and about a half-dozen of her clients. Although the movie is about a sexual escort and it features a porn star, Grey is clothed for nearly all of the film, and the sex scenes aren’t much raunchier than the love scene in “Wolverine.” I suppose that’s one of the reasons Soderbergh was intrigued with casting Grey: you can see her on the Internet doing everything imaginable (and some things you’d probably never imagine), but here you see her—-or at least the character she’s playing—when she’s NOT ‘on the job.’ Anyone with a stack of cash can have their way with the escort, but only a select few ever get to see what she’s like when the workday is done.

All of Grey’s co-stars are non-actors. The film critic Glenn Kenny is hilarious as a skeezeball who writes reviews of escorts for an influential web site. A journalist plays a journalist. A personal trainer plays a personal trainer. And so on. The end result is a film that often seems like a documentary—and sometimes plays like a poorly acted film shot on a very low budget.

As for Ms. Grey: she is not a good actress. She photographs well. She does a decent enough job of hitting the on/off switch in her eyes when she’s feigning interest in a man—and when she’s tired of his narcissistic ramblings. (Like almost all johns in the movies, these guys have at least as much interest in talking about themselves as they have in the sexual act itself. Some don’t even consummate with Chelsea. It’s the old cliche about the man who pays a woman for her time so she can give him oral, but also because she HAS to listen to him go on and on about his problems at work, etc. She doesn’t have the girlfriend/wife option of saying, “Will you PLEASE just shut up!”) But her line readings are flat, and a pivotal scene in which she has to display authentic emotion rings false, especially because it’s shot mostly from a distance, as if Soderbergh knew Grey couldn’t handle too many close-ups on her face. Faking an orgasm onscreen is one thing; conveying true heartbreak is something else.

I like most of Soderbergh’s experimental journeys. I’d rather experience something uneven but ambitious such as “The Girlfriend Experience” than sit through another trite rom-com or standard-issue actioner. But I doubt this is the vehicle that will enable Sasha Grey to make the leap from porn star/pop culture novelty to genuine mainstream actress.

41 Responses to “Porn actress acts with non-actors in real movie.”

  1. Chris M. Says:

    Not one single porn star has been able to make the jump to mainstream media. The pornstar label follows them where ever they go. Traci Lords, Marilyn Chambers, Ginger Allen, Ron Jeremy, just to name a few. I watched some of her videos and there is no way you can walk away from THAT! She seems like a bright girl, but yeah how did she figure porn to be a wise career move instead of say, going to college? And to think she’s somebody’s daughter.

  2. Marj Says:

    She has called herself a feminist and tries to come off as an intellectual, like some kind of crusader for sexual freedom. I think she just needs to wake up and realize she’s just another porn star. Just like the ones before her, and the ones that will follow.

  3. John Stern Says:

    “If you turn off the SafeSearch mode on Google and type in “Sasha Grey,” you will see this young woman engaging in all manner of hardcore fare.”

    Richard, my friend, welcome to my daily world.

  4. Chris M. Says:

    She claims to be a feminist? Is this before or after she allows men to ejaculate on her face? I don’t mean to be crude…

  5. Richard Roeper's Two Cents on Sasha Grey's Debut Film Performance in The Girlfriend Experience Review | Shabooty.com Says:

    [...] She doesn’t have the girlfriend/wife option of saying, “Will you PLEASE just shut up!”) But her line readings are flat, and a pivotal scene in which she has to display authentic emotion rings false, especially because it’s shot mostly from a distance, as if Soderbergh knew Grey couldn’t handle too many close-ups on her face. Faking an orgasm onscreen is one thing; conveying true heartbreak is something else. (via) [...]

  6. Richard Roeper’s take on Sasha Grey’s “acting” debut | Daily Actor: Self Promotion & Marketing For Actors, Actor News, Columns, Videos Says:

    [...] From Richard Roper.com As for Ms. Grey: she is not a good actress. She photographs well. She does a decent enough job of hitting the on/off switch in her eyes when she’s feigning interest in a man—and when she’s tired of his narcissistic ramblings. (Like almost all johns in the movies, these guys have at least as much interest in talking about themselves as they have in the sexual act itself. Some don’t even consummate with Chelsea. It’s the old cliche about the man who pays a woman for her time so she can give him oral, but also because she HAS to listen to him go on and on about his problems at work, etc. [...]

  7. Marjorie Says:

    Hey, newsflash, Chris M! Enjoying a facial now and again and being a feminist? Not as incompatible as you seem to think. I do so love when dudes glom onto silly, dated, Second Wave feminist principles and then try to convince girls who like sex– nasty, filthy and– whoa, get this– even submissive sex– that we’re “complicit in the patriarchal paradigm” or some dumb crap like that. Guess what? Part of being a feminist is getting to decide for ourselves what we find empowering, without having to take heed of dudes trying to tell us what they think SHOULD be empowering. Because, um, a lot of times, you’re just wrong. So, for my money, the point at which a woman can own the fact that a guy coming on her face turns her on is the point at which she owns her sexuality. To say otherwise is retrogressive and stinks of rancid prudery.

    Oh, and PS: That interview and this post are quite possibly the most patronizing things I’ve ever read and viewed. Despite Sasha Gray’s clear articulations, the interviewer and this blogger both seem scarcely able to contain their mirth at the mere notion that a sexworker dare ask to be taken seriously as something other than a vapid imbecile. Now *that*, my friends, smacks of anti-feminist sexism if anything does.

  8. Allen Says:

    Richard: You’re my favorite movie reviewer, and generally we are entirely sympatico in the political realm, but this is a bunch of tripe–still beholden to Victorian-era pseudo-values ™ I see. (The trademark is just a joke–while I invented the phrase, I haven’t actually trademarked it ;-) ) Check out “Defending Pornography” by Nadine Strossen, which not only defends it legally, a point you’re not arguing I know, but also defends it morally. But previous noter Marjorie says it intelligently and succinctly. As for, “I’d never heard of her until…”, I’ll turn to Shakespeare when he wrote: “Methinks the [gentleman] doth protest too much.”
    Marjorie: Amen!

  9. Matt Says:

    “I’m not Mister Anti-Porn Crusader…”

    Really? Because you seem to be doing your best to sound like one.

  10. richard Says:

    Interesting comments, folks. Thanks for sharing and for giving me much to think about.

    A few things…

    Matt: An anti-porn crusader favors censorship. That is SO not me. I defend Ms. Grey’s right to participate in any and every form of sexual expression she desires, as long as it’s not illegal and it doesn’t involve anyone minors or anyone being forced to do anything they don’t want to do. I’ve written for Playboy. I’ve done radio shows with porn stars as guests. I’ve written countless columns in favor of free speech. I once had an hilarious email exchange with a famous porn star. But when I watched a few clips of Sasha doing her thing, I found the experience to be depressing and about as far from erotic as one can get. If others want to view her work as empowering, multi-layered performance art—or just really hot porn—so be it.

    Majorie: I wasn’t expressing mirth at Ms. Grey’s expense. I’m quite certain many sex workers (and porn stars) are intelligent, educated individuals who are doing what they want to do. She seems like a bright young woman. It might be interesting to see her debate someone like Catharine MacKinnon.

    Allen: If I’d heard of Ms. Grey, I would have said so. If I’d been writing about Jenna Jameson or some other porn star I’ve heard of, I wouldn’t have pretended to be unaware of her. What would be the point of doing that on my own web site? As the immortal Popeye put it, I am who I am.

    I think “The Girlfriend Experience” is a provocative and interesting experiment. I still don’t think Sasha Grey is an interesting actress. But if she crossed over to mainstream success, I wouldn’t for a second judge any of her performances based on anything she’s done in the past. The work is the work, and I’d relate to each performance on its own merits.

    Best,

    Richard

  11. Chris M. Says:

    Marjorie: I have absolutely no problem with women or anyone else having satisfying and healthy sexual relationships. As long as no one is being hurt or taken advantage of, I’m all for it.(can I get your number?) What I object to is hypocrisy. I don’t know what videos of Ms. Grey’s you’ve watched, but the ones I saw showed a young woman being dominated, debased and treated with about as much respect as a used condom. And doing it for money. How does that advance feminism? What kind of message is this sending to teenage boys? Hardcore porn is different people doing the same shit over and over for the last 35 years. And hers is no different no matter how much Nietzsche she’s read.

  12. Marjorie Says:

    Once again, Chris– Who are you to decide whether being dominated and debased is within the realm of what makes any given woman feel most powerful– or gets her off, for that matter? Yes, I’ve seen a smattering of Grey’s oeuvre and, by and large, I find lots of it compellingly hot because she actually seems to be doing things that might give her orgasms, unlike a lot of porn, which cheats out to the camera so you can see stuff, but is generally incompatible with female anatomy. My point here is that she has chosen this line of work for herself as a sentient, rational person. As far as I’m concerned, the goal of feminism is not to protect women from the big scary predatory man-monsters (a depiction, by the way, which is as derogatory as any weak, victimy image of a woman could be), but to provide us a world in which we can choose not only this line of work, but the kind of sex we find most arousing. If you’re actually interested, I can provide you with loads of links to writings about sex-positivism and feminism. My blog (though not my phone number ;)– sorry!) is linked through my name. But for starters, you might want to read this brilliant essay that says it better than I could: http://kristinalloyd.wordpress.com/my-twisted-mind/female-fantasies-of-female-submission/

    Oh, and as for what teenage boys can learn from Sasha Grey’s porn? How about the angles it takes to make a girl come? And that’s a PROBLEM? I shoulda been so lucky in high school!

  13. Chris M. Says:

    Touché

  14. Allen Snyder Says:

    Richard: Thanks for your replies. I thought I’d included a smiley on the Shakespeare quote (misquote, actually) to indicate I wasn’t entirely serious. If anything, I’ve noticed over the years that men who defend pornography often get accused of defending it simply because they’re addicted to it (and women who defend it often have to go out of there way to indicate that they DO like it–yet another double standard); so I was trying a little bit of what I’ll call “reverse satire”.
    Still miss you greatly on At the Movies, by the way, although I’m coming to like Ben and Ben. I still trust your reviews, few though they may be, more than anyone else’s.

    Marjorie: Once again, amen!

  15. tyler Says:

    Hey everyone,
    I saw the movie at Tribeca, I actually wrote a review for my site. here’s the link: http://www.wildclementines.com/?p=1880. if you look around the site, there is a post called “the porn experience” which has a very interesting interview with grey, as well.

    Richard: I disagree with you about Grey’s performance and really your opinion of the movie in general. I did like Grey’s scene of “heartbreak” I thought she handled the whole role quite well. Haha not too much more to say about that. When you talk about this movie it is automatically a jumping off point for a discussion about the merit, morality, legality, ect. of pornography.

    Marjorie: I agree with you for the most part. I’ve spent a lot of time studying feminist philosophy and women’s studies so many of your comments are on point. However a common misconception is that “if a woman wants to do porn or be dominated or debased, then it is okay, it’s her choice” is a sound argument. But if this were so, then children who want to work in sweatshops should be allowed to. Maybe there are just certain things that are inherently degrading. And maybe those things can be reclaimed… or maybe not. Now I’m not saying that I disagree with pornography, I just think we have to look at it on a macro level: You talked about being “complicit in the patriarchal paradigm” and that being in porn, to simplify your comment, does not mean you are a victim to that, but who says your not? Take a look at Foucault and Bartky and the “women’s panopticon”, they may argue with that.

    The question of pornography is not so simple. Autonomy, in the pornography debate, is not really the issue here; it is patriarchy, it’s effects on women and men alike, as well as capitalism (Which is what I felt the movie was about). And I am by no means a relativist but who says porn is not sexy and that what Sasha Grey does is not art? Take a look at Penis feeding (In New Guinea, I think). Is that wrong, most people in America would say it is, but do ethics cross cultural boundaries? And art can be indicative of culture as well.

    I find many of Sasha Grey’s interviews as well as public addresses to be quite intelligent. And she seems to be mature, smart, and an overall interesting person. Obviously the pornography business is a hard one to stand up for, just because of the base emotional response most people have to it, which is disgust or pity. Most people are so quick to take a side when really the issue is so much more. I think Grey is a fine actress, a little rough around the edges, I called her performance in the film “almost perfect” and I stick by it, and I hope that she has a long mainstream (and/or adult) career to prove it.

    Thanks Richard, whether or not I agree with you, it was another great article.

    best,

    Tyler

  16. tyler Says:

    Hey everyone,
    I saw the movie at Tribeca, I actually wrote a review for my site. here’s the link: http://www.wildclementines.com/?p=1880. if you look around the site, there is a post called “the porn experience” which has a very interesting interview with grey, as well.

    Richard: I disagree with you about Grey’s performance and really your opinion of the movie in general. I did like Grey’s scene of “heartbreak” I thought she handled the whole role quite well. Haha not too much more to say about that. When you talk about this movie it is automatically a jumping off point for a discussion about the merit, morality, legality, ect. of pornography.

    Marjorie: I agree with you for the most part. I’ve spent a lot of time studying feminist philosophy and women’s studies so many of your comments are on point. However a common misconception is that “if a woman wants to do porn or be dominated or debased, then it is okay, it’s her choice” is a sound argument. But if this were so, then children who want to work in sweatshops should be allowed to. Maybe there are just certain things that are inherently degrading. And maybe those things can be reclaimed… or maybe not. Now I’m not saying that I disagree with pornography, I just think we have to look at it on a macro level: You talked about being “complicit in the patriarchal paradigm” and that being in porn, to simplify your comment, does not mean you are a victim to that, but who says your not? Take a look at Foucault and Bartky and the “women’s panopticon”, they may argue with that.

    The question of pornography is not so simple. Autonomy, in the pornography debate, is not really the issue here; it is patriarchy, it’s effects on women and men alike, as well as capitalism (Which is what I felt the movie was about). And I am by no means a relativist but who says porn is not sexy and that what Sasha Grey does is not art? Take a look at Penis feeding (In New Guinea, I think). Is that wrong, most people in America would say it is, but do ethics cross cultural boundaries? And art can be indicative of culture as well.

    I find many of Sasha Grey’s interviews as well as public addresses to be quite intelligent. And she seems to be mature, smart, and an overall interesting person. Obviously the pornography business is a hard one to stand up for, just because of the base emotional response most people have to it, which is disgust or pity. Most people are so quick to take a side when really the issue is so much more. I think Grey is a fine actress, a little rough around the edges, I called her performance in the film “almost perfect” and I stick by it, and I hope that she has a long mainstream (and/or adult) career to prove it.

    Thanks Richard, whether or not I agree with you, it was another great article.

    best,

    Tyler

    *Sorry if I submitted it this twice, my browser quit on me when I submitted it the first time.

  17. Scott Holm Says:

    Tyler and Marjorie, your posts were the some of the most interesting and intriguing that i’ve seen in weeks! Everyone should go back and read their posts!

  18. Kristina Lloyd Says:

    Tyler, the difference between women in porn and children in sweatshops is that a woman, as a adult, can give informed consent. A child cannot. It’s a fairly insulting comparison! But I think you’re trying to make the Dworkin-esque point that, in an unequal society, women as victims, as the oppressed, aren’t in a position to give full and free consent, even if it’s the subtle sway of ideology rather than, say, the trap of economic dependence or having a six year old’s brain which limits them. Or at least, you’re asking Marjorie to consider that position. (Am not sure that Foucault ever talked specifically about ‘women’s panopticon’, btw. Pretty sure he didn’t. Maybe you didn’t mean that.) But you’re suggesting we pursue a whole other philosophical debate about free will, one which can’t be applied solely to women (and children). When a man chooses to eat chicken and chips over catburger and chips, is his a free choice or one affected by Western cultural ideas about cats, food? etc etc

    I believe women can make intelligent, informed decisions and are not mere victims duped by the patriarchy. And consequently, “if a woman wants to do porn or be dominated or debased, then it is okay, it’s her choice” – well yes, absolutely, if doing that dirty filthy stuff floats her boat. And for me, that isn’t down to some postfeminist notion that women can do whatever the fuck they want and hey, that’s cool cos we’re women. It’s about women owning their sexuality and pursuing their desires, something that’s been denied us since, uh, forever. I do think a lot of the arguments against women and degradation stem from a belief that women can’t *possibly* like it like that; that they *must* be being coerced in some way. And underlying that belief is the longstanding one that women don’t actually like sex, period. It’s something men enjoy and women endure.

    Which of course is utter bollocks!

    Chris M, ‘healthy sexual relationships’ are surely those where both (or all) parties are fulfilled and happy. Being dominated, debased and getting a face sprayed with come makes me fulfilled and happy. I am supremely healthy. Oh, and a feminist.

    Marjorie, thanks for linking to my essay! Much appreciated.

  19. Marjorie Says:

    So, as much as I hate weighing in on comment threads, I do feel duly ensconced in this one.

    Firstly, Kristina– thanks for your comments. I often refer to your essays, and to Susie Bright’s essay “Rape Scenes” (http://susiebright.blogs.com/susie_brights_journal_/2006/09/rape_scenes.html) when I’m trying to explain to people the power of erotic degradation in the female sexual imagination. Both, I think, are useful entrees into the subject. So, please, please, don’t ever take yours off the internet! It is amazing how often I find myself making this argument and I don’t know what I’d do without my source materials.

    And now, Tyler– Oof. “…being in porn, to simplify your comment, does not mean you are a victim to that, but who says your not?” Um, I would think this should be obvious but I think both Kristina’s and my points here are that if I(!!) say I’m not a victim, then I’m NOT. Yes, it really is that simple. OK, so I don’t appear in any porn (uh, to my knowledge), but it’s not up to men or a more amorphous entity of “patriarchy” — or even other women, for that matter– to decide how I define the parameters of my victimhood. It’s up to me. That is, in fact, the whole crux of this discussion.

    Beyond that, I could not agree more with Kristina when she points out that your analogy that compares women doing sex work to children in sweat shops is BEYOND insulting. I can’t believe this still has to be said, but women are not children. We do not need Big Daddy Government or even Big Daddy Sanctimonious Moralizer to tell us what to do with our bodies and what kind of sex we’re supposed to like. To me, allowing this thing we call “patriarchy” (a thing, by the way, that is really so removed from the way I live my daily life (aside from the fact that I know my paycheck is not commensurate with those of less-qualified male colleagues) that I have trouble even acknowledging that it has any power over me at all, despite my self-professed predilections for playing submissive when the lights are low) to delineate the terms of my victimhood is actually what would make me a victim. Screwing around with consensual degradation? That’s all in a day’s fun!

    Instead, I stubbornly insist upon taking Sasha Grey at her word when she clearly states that she does not feel exploited by any of the work she’s done. Why? Because to deny her agency to define her sexual behaviors irrespective of whatever social constructs exist to corral her and to insist that, because she likes to fuck on camera, something must be terribly amiss in her psyche (i.e., Roeper said, “what happened to this girl that made her want to do THIS at the age of 18?”– which is what started this whole conversation, because Roeper’s question implies that, for a woman (although he calls her a girl, even though she’s well beyond the age of consent) to be sexual, she must be fucked up on an epic level, rather than just, you know, horny) would, indeed, turn her into a victim. And that’s the aspect of the patriarchy in which I refuse to be complicit. And that’s why I feel compelled to write diatribes like this one, rather than leave well enough alone. But I just can’t, in good conscience, sit idly by while men call a woman operating on her own terms a victim– by their own arbitrary standards– when, in reality, she’s about as empowered as a person can get– BY HER OWN ESPOUSALS.

    And as this post was originally about the film, The Girlfriend Experience, which I recently downloaded, I can say that I do think Grey’s performance was nothing short of astonishing. She creates a rather gut-wrenching portrait of the practice of compartmentalization of the sexual self that’s relevant to nearly every woman’s life, not just that of the whore. Her mercurial face transitions between fragile and ironic with barely a flutter and she is never anything short of utterly self-possessed. Roeper calls her line-delivery flat, but even that, well, I think her naturally highly moderated voice played well to the intense sense of containment inherent in the character. She’s unflappable. Not boring. There’s a difference.

  20. Tyler Says:

    Kristina and Marjorie. (When I say “you” in this comment it refers to whichever one of you made the comment I am referencing, I don’t mean to unfairly group you together it just makes it easier for me write).

    The first thing I want to say is that I am not completely for or against pornography, S&M, or the sex industry. I feel there is too much grey and too much we don’t understand about it to make an absolute decision. However with that being said I think there are certain issues we have to question and look into.

    For one, both of you misinterpreted my comparison to sweatshops. The same comparison could be made if the people working in them were 18. The reason for the comparison was to pose the question of: Are there not just some things that are degrading (in the form they are currently in) whether or not consent is given? When you talk about “full and free consent,” I am not of the opinion that just women cannot give full and free consent but that no one can. No one has full and free consent; there is no such thing, unless we live in a vacuum. Both of you seem to be quick to say, “I” can do this, “I” am not oppressed or a victim; and you don’t necessarily have to be a victim but everyone is influenced and shaped by society. Patriarchy is not an amorphous entity; it is a combination of societal, sexist, and situational constructs. How can you be so sure that your desires stem solely from yourself? After all does society and history not fully or partly determine what is erotic, and even degrading to a certain extent? If you do not accept the fact that outside influences shape your actions and perceptions, then when you see a poor person you might say, “They are poor because they are lazy”. To the same: Einstein was a genius but would he be the same genius if he were born in Africa or the inner city? You have to acknowledge that not everything is innate. Advertisements are a good example of this. There is a reason that the ad people for McDonalds ask psychologists how they should write and pose their ads.

    The desire to be degraded wouldn’t mean the same in a post-patriarchal society. Society and context gives meaning to things that may not be inherently meaningful. To say that you are removed from patriarchy is absurd. You cannot remove yourself from history and society. To understand it and acknowledge it, is to reclaim, in some ways, the power that was taken from you. The first rule of the oppressor is to make the oppressed feel free.

    It seems as if both of you believe that, if you do it, porn in this case, of your own volition then it is not immoral. It seems to me that you are taking a relativist platform and I doubt either of you are relativists. The truth is we are all moralizers and we have to be.

    There were African-American slaves who believed they were not oppressed. Some believed they either deserved the punishment they were enduring, or it was their duty to serve their masters. However, almost everyone today knows that those women and men were in fact oppressed. To take a more recent example: There have been black women who straighten their hair, when asked why they responded because they wanted to. However after examination, it could be concluded that part of the reason was because they wanted to look “whiter”. Something as base as beauty is a construct of culture and society. Why after all do women shave their legs? Or wear make-up? You weren’t born with those desires, at least I wouldn’t think. Also I am not trying to say that all women are “duped” by patriarchy I am merely saying that we must all acknowledge its’ effects on society and on our lives as humans. Saying you are a not a victim does not always change the status of your’ “victimhood”. So Marjorie, no it isn’t really that simple. And, I don’t agree with everything Richard said about Grey. I also take her word that she doesn’t feel exploited by what she does, but again, that doesn’t mean she is not. We have to look and question before we just assume feelings have the final say.

    Also I would never assume that women don’t enjoy sex or can’t. I hear that argument all the time and, you are right, it is ludicrous.

    It comes down to my belief that all actions and desires are political and they have ramifications. It isn’t so simple of an argument. Not everything in porn is wrong or right, there are shades of grey that have to be considered. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the inherent nature of porn but I do have a problem with it now. Why must most of the popular pornography videos consist of men calling women, whores, sluts, bitches, and why does the film end with the man climaxing (and sometimes on the women’s faces)?

    *Kristina, you are right Foucault never talked about the Panopticon, I was referring to an article written by Bartky called “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power” (I think). I just couldn’t think of the name, sorry.

  21. Kristina Lloyd Says:

    Tyler, as I said, if you’re arguing *no one* can give full and free consent, that’s a distinct philosophical debate applicable to all of humankind across the ages. You seemed, however, to be applying that line of reasoning selectively to women, the suggestion being the impossibility of free will invalidated their sexual choices. It smacked, rather, of allegations of female false consciousness (from the privileged POV of an ‘outsider’).

    And, yes, I totally get ideology and how we’re products of our culture. I don’t believe I ever said my desires stem solely from ‘myself’, whatever that might mean. Trust me, I’m no essentialist! In the essay of mine Marjorie linked to, I fully acknowledge the impact patriarchy has most likely had on shaping my desires. But I’m not going to then reject those desires because of the dirt they were grown in. I’m having my femsub fun, my sexual fulfilment, my share of cock, thanks very much – and in doing so, I’m implicitly rejecting aspects of a patriarchal culture which for centuries has denied women their sexual agency and autonomy.

    And yeah, I agree with you – a most porn sucks and that’s a shame!

    Marjorie, you rock. Thanks again. Ours isn’t an easy argument to make but I think it’s an important one. Female desire ain’t as neat and nice as many would wish. Cheers!

  22. Tyler Says:

    I apologize, I never meant to apply that line of reasoning selectively to women; as I hope I made clear in my previous comment. And I don’t think the impossibility of Absolute free will invalidates sexual choices, it just may narrow them from a moral or greater moral point of view. And I do think that there can be women who are victims of “female false consciousness” just as anyone can be victims of multiple kinds of false consciousness.
    I just think maybe one has to reject “those desires” first, in order to change gender roles and eradicate, to the best we can, patriarchy; and then have those desires in a time when they aren’t grown in dirt. There maybe a fine line between reclaiming those desires and feeding into a “corrupt system”.

  23. Kristina Lloyd Says:

    No, no, no. I will absolutely not deny my sexuality in order to defeat patriarchy. I will not wait for utopia to fuck the way I want. And I know I’m speaking for thousands upon thousands of women there.

    Imposing restrictions on female desire, blaming women for perpetuating the ills of society, castigating and shaming them for having sexual needs will not – as the last few hundred years have shown – lead to gender equality. However, accepting that women have a right to desires which may be as kinky and twisted as any man’s is a significant step in the right direction.

  24. tyler Says:

    I cannot speak for society, but I’m not trying shame women for having sexual needs. And I’m not letting men off the hook either. Women have the right to desires, no question. But as I spoke about before: Black women have the right to straighten their hair and slaves, back in that time, hypothetically, have the “right” to work for white men. They may say, I want to work for them, I have the right to work and imposing restrictions on my desire to work for these people won’t lead to equality. However as we know not working for them makes a statement that they won’t deal with this oppression and racism. Accepting that women have the right to kinky desires just as men do, is definitely a good thing; but what is the ending? If women have these submissive desires, hypothetically why do men have to change their ways then?
    And do you not want patriarchy to be defeated? If making a statement by not playing into patriarchally constructed desires would help defeat patriarchy or even move in that direction, would you not do it? Women shouldn’t have to take the path you have chosen for the rest of history. This argument may well be coming down to the question of reclaiming what once was, or what once was in different context, degrading and can one reclaim those things?

  25. Kristina Lloyd Says:

    Tyler, perhaps I’m not explaining myself clearly enough: Yes, I would dearly like to see the end of patriarchy – and I believe women owning their sexuality, in all shapes, forms and kinks, will contribute to its demise.

    I know your argument. For many years I lived with misery, guilt and shame, believing my sexual desires were in conflict with my feminism and therefore must be quelled. But listen up: female sexual fulfilment *is* part of feminism.

    My argument doesn’t stem from irresponsible individualism on the lines of ‘I’m a woman so I can do whatever I want and fuck the lot of ya!’ I believe widespread female sexual autonomy would significantly impact upon the way women are perceived and positioned in our culture. Currently, female desire is viewed as being primarily responsive to men’s, as passive and obliging. Women are sexualised left, right and centre, our bodies displayed on billboards, in art galleries, movies, glossy mags, ad infinitum. But woe betide us if we actually start claiming our sexual desires because then we’re nothing but sluts or victims. Women are allowed to *be* sexy (and who benefits from babes in bikinis on the sides of buses – why, men of course!) but we’re not allowed to *want* or *have* sex – or at least, the amount and type of sex we want and have must be limited if we wish to avoid censure.

    When it’s understood that women can own their sexuality, that we have diverse and *active* desires (and hey, that we might even like to see hot guys in boxers on the sides of buses), maybe then we’ll see a reduction in the pernicious objectification of women; maybe then there’ll be a decline in the way women are judged primarily for their sexiness; maybe then women will be able to escape the gender roles which work to oppress them and keep them in a position of socio-cultural inferiority. And who knows, when a women asserts her sexual preference, maybe she won’t be dismissed as someone who’s been ideologically hoodwinked; maybe she won’t be regarded, as Sasha Grey has been in this thread, as damaged, unhealthy, misguided and dumb, as a woman whose actions inspire contempt and revulsion. It’s a radical proposition, but maybe she’ll be believed and respected.

  26. Kristina Lloyd Says:

    Incidentally, to compare a sexually informed, self-aware woman choosing to have the kind of sex that pushes her buttons with a black slave failing to recognise his own oppression and servitude is (again) insulting, patronising and staggeringly crass!

  27. Tyler Says:

    Alright, I don’t know what to say besides, again you misinterpret the meaning of the comparison. You can find any comparison I make to be insulting if you look hard enough; you are missing the whole point in trying to refute me and make me look insulting. If you still think, after all my comments, that I think women are like children or that all women fail to recognize their, possible, oppression, or that I somehow think men are superior to women, then I haven’t done a good enough job expressing myself. I could compare kobe bryant to michael jordan which in almost all cases would be a great comparison and one that kobe himself would be proud of, but someone could take it out of context and say it was insulting because michael jordan had a gambling problem. The comparison is merely used to point out the fact that, yes, it is possible for some women, and men, to believe that they are self informed and aware, when they are actually being manipulated and history, in regards to slaves, and some different women and men, backs me up.
    As far as sasha grey goes, I have nothing but respect for her, I’ve never met her so I can’t speak about her personality, but I do not think she is unhealthy, dumb, damaged, ect. And again I am not saying that every women is unaware, I am merely presenting the argument that it is possible that some are and that claiming sex in the way you are arguing may not be the best way to take a step forward.
    All I’m saying is I just don’t see how women being more openly sexual and doing the things you are suggesting will help them, in this society, to be more respected, accepted, and honored, to me it just doesn’t make sense. Your argument seems to be stemming from an emotionalist point of view, where as I am trying to make the most logical argument I can. Your argument about women owning their sexuality, which is something I would love to see, at this day in age it just doesn’t seem like the logical step to helping end patriarchy or even move forward; and if it is a step forward it looks like it would have extremely harmful ramifications because of the society we live. And I know your last comments suggest that you won’t play for society and suppress your desires… but for the betterment of women?… I might. Also I am not denying that you may be right; what you are suggesting may be the way to fight patriarchy and take a step forward for women everywhere, but I can’t accept that until there is some sort logical argument for your position. The general objectification of hyper-sexual women and the objectification of “the media’s” lesbians seem to suggest that what you are saying isn’t the most logical way to women’s equality. To be blunt and crass, why respect and honor women when they are doing what you want them to do on their own volition?
    What you are suggesting may be a step forward for women but in relation to women AND men, it may be a step backwards.

    And, ” But listen up: female sexual fulfilment *is* part of feminism,” yes I agree with that, but that doesn’t mean it is right for feminists’ at all times.

  28. Kristina Lloyd Says:

    Haha! My clearly presented, well-reasoned arguments are ‘emotionalist’ while yours are logical? I think you just called me hysterical. Classic!

  29. tyler Says:

    I said, “they seem to be stemming from an emotionalist point of view”. Not that they are ‘emotionalist’ or that you are an emotionalist. And I have NEVER said anything that would lead you to believe I am calling you hysterical. The beliefs of an emotionalist are not hysterical.

  30. Andrea Sorvig Says:

    We tell ourselves what we must in order to do the things we find ourselves doing. When a young woman has more financial need than pride, choices are made that others easily question.

    Sex workers are women and men that have been manipulated for another person’s need for profit or dark personal desires.

    Living in denial is a happier locale than in the ugly truth. Allow her the empty refuge of her denial.

  31. Marjorie Says:

    Incidentally, I finished reading Daniel Bergner’s book The Other Side of Desire not long ago. Therein, he quotes some mental health professionals whose research suggests that all paraphilias (such a foot fetishes, dominance, submission and even pedophilia) are of a biologic nature, rather than growing out of environmental influence. There are, of course, studies that say the opposite. But, interestingly, virtually all studies on both sides of that coin say that submission is the most common kink among women. But regardless, the biology-based paraphilia studies suggest that it IS possible that some women would still enjoy being having their hair pulled and being shoved into walls even if we DID live in a world that had never found need of a word like “patriarchy.” So, there’s that, too.

  32. tyler Says:

    I actually have been thinking about the biological argument for a while. And it is definitely strong. The only couple things I could think of were:
    It could be that those desires stem from patriarchy, sort of like a biological adaptation… just a thought. I don’t even know if that’s possible but maybe.
    The second thing is while the biological argument eschews responsibility it still could be reason for making an “ought” from an “is”.
    But I will definitely have to check that book out. Thanks.

  33. Marjorie Says:

    Incidentally again, and to actually pick on Kristina just a little bit, Bergner’s sources all say that the SECOND most common kink among women is exhibitionism… which might shine a little light on why so many women want to BE bikini-clad and on the sides of buses. And yeah, an argument can be made that women want to be looked at because of their complicity in the patriarchy, too… but we’ve already been there and hashed that out, haven’t we?

    Also, I did post another longer comment before my last one, but it seems like, when I spew forth with any volume, it takes a while for my comment to post. Stay tuned.

  34. tyler Says:

    Yea wasn’t trying to rehash the old argument, just wondering essentially if you can have mental biological adaptation, which I assume you could, but , I’m not sure.

  35. Adult Torrent Says:

    Sasha Grey is really cute porn star, but her face is a little big, if smaller i will follow her.

  36. Logs Says:

    Feminist? Interlectual? Yeah, right! I do understand that one has the right to have her openion but I find her openion to be so damn insulting! There are real feminists out their and behind bars, risking their lives for their cause. Please DO NOT insult them.

  37. Gillin Kleitus Says:

    Hey, great article! I will bookmark this one! Thanks

  38. Parsifal Says:

    In the end all comes down to the fact that no man will ever be forced to do sex by a woman. (and probably there’s no or little women wanting to do this) And all men KNOW this very well… that’s why they will always feel free and secure towards women, while the women will always feel insecure towards men – for you cannot eliminate each and every rapist from society (even when using affirmative actions). It has nothing to do with patriarchy – which is merely a natural consequence. (tiger claws need a tiger conscience in order to fully operate). Besides, women exhibitionism is a mild form of courage (show-off) against men. Women – although they can use the same means as men – are used to (because of the same biological argument and patriarchal societal inertia) employ sex a means to sublimate men will to overcome women (this I cannot say if it’s testosterone-driven or acquired through “patriarchal education”). Of course most women will never admit this use and always say they enjoyed every ounce of decision (which was – mind you – always hers). Maybe some day in the future women will feel as free as men do. Dunno what changes need to occur to get this result, though.

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  40. Morgan Parker Says:

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