For the last few years, Monday morning has been a bit of a write-off. I've pretty much spent the morning in a line to reserve a hotel room for the following year. The line to take reservations has always seemed like one of the least-efficient systems that I've even encountered. So imagine my delight that this year the hotel finally implemented an online reservation system for Wiscon. I had my room booked in a matter of minutes. On the Sunday, no less. So earlyish Monday morning, I went down to buy next year's membership, and then I had all this free time on Monday.
I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant (and had a bizarre experience with non-service), and just before I left the restaurant, I bothered Mary Ann to ask her a question about something she'd brought up in the Class panel. We had a brief chat that went in a few interesting directions, but then I went off to catch a panel.
Unfortunately, my plan was to get on the road by noon so I really only made it to one panel:
Porn Crushes the Patriarchy, the Sequel
Is it erotica, or is it porn? Or is yours porn and mine erotica? I posit that it's all in your point of view, and though most female readers feel it's acceptable to read "erotica" or "erotic romance," they object strongly to the idea that such fiction might be read solely to inspire sexual fantasy and to physically arouse, in particular if the literature doesn't include a love relationship. Are the majority of women still ashamed of liking sexual literature? If so, why? And what about visual erotica? Is it still stigmatized among women? Do women "not like looking?" Why is one format different from the other?
There were a lot of interesting elements of this panel. First, some quotations:
- "...and over here are these other people who live in a land of magic hooha"
- Susie Bright: "They like that you hate it"
- "I'm not sure that I have any non-problematic sexuality"
- "You can't leave your vagina at home"
- "There's a plausible argument that about 1/4 of all child porn is being distributed by police."
- "the id thrives on taboo"
One panelist (I feel suddenly uncertain about whether I should name speakers in the porn panel) made two good points in her introduction:
- A great deal of porn does not crush the patriarchy
- Porn can be an access point for truth. There is no real lying to oneself about whether or not what you just read got you hot.
One woman on the panel was a different flavour than the rest of the panelists. She came from a background in rape counselling and didn't seem to have much familiarity with many of the things that are common talking points at Wiscon: slash fic, for example. She didn't know the term. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did.
But because of her background, she was more often talking about the problematic aspects of porn and patriarchy-serving porn. And when people would talk about an example of patriarchy-crushing porn, she'd be unfamiliar with the topic. And sometimes she'd just say stuff that'd make me go, "um.... I didn't want to hear that".
There was a discussion about the role of rape fantasy in porn -- a large number of women were willing to identify themselves as survivors of rape and that they were into porn that depicts rape. Some people talked about that phenomenon as looking at a bad situation and spinning it and taking back control. One woman likened that to the difference between a rollercoaster and a plane crash.
At one point, the moderator asked for a show of hands about who in the audience sometimes enjoyed porn that they feel guilty about, and probably 80% to 90% of the audience put their hands up.
And toward the end of the panel, one panelist talked about a woman who worked in children's television who ended up getting fired because she took part in a parody PSA about vibrators. The panelist said: "I want to live in a world where vibrator PSAs are standard." Yeah.
After that panel, it was time to say my goodbyes. I did one last tour around the dealer's room, hugged a bunch of people and then I was off on a long drive back to Toronto.