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Dirty Pictures From a Revolution


Desire, it turned out, could provide only piecemeal liberation, especially once people — men, mostly — discovered how to monetize it, a shift that fostered the “porno chic” of the late 1970s and the mainstream distribution of sexually explicit films. In the second episode of Season 2 of “Minx,” the magazine hosts the West Coast premiere of the real pornographic film “Deep Throat.” The movie is billed as a celebration of female sexual empowerment. But it also looks a lot like exploitation.

One character, Doug Renetti (Jake Johnson), inspired by Viva’s publisher, Guccione, defends the film as feminist. “It’s about a woman searching for an orgasm,” he says.

Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond), the editor in chief of Minx, disagrees. “Which she finds with a clitoris conveniently located inside of her mouth?” Joyce says.

Related debates within the feminist community (often referred to as the porn wars or the sex wars) fragmented the movement, making it vulnerable to attacks — attacks that “Minx” has dramatized, from both the political left and the right. As the ’80s dawned, Ronald Reagan was soon to be elected president, evangelical Christians held new sway and the Equal Rights Amendment had been defeated, leaving many of the liberating promises of the 1970s unfulfilled.

“I don’t think the sexual revolution ultimately happened. It started and then devolved,” Nona Willis Aronowitz, a cultural critic and the author of “Bad Sex: Truth, Pleasure, and an Unfinished Revolution,” said. “Ever since, we’ve tried to claw our way back to some of the most utopian ideas and we haven’t gotten there.”

Sexual liberation has real political dimensions, as the personal is only rarely apolitical. But faced with the work still incomplete — a wage gap, though narrowed, remains, and protections against domestic and sexual violence are still lacking — a focus on female pleasure can seem frivolous. So can a show and a podcast centered on a skin magazine for women.

Content Source: www.nytimes.com


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