Over at Infinite Thought, warning explicit images (via Crooked Timber):
What would humanist pornography look like? Chances are that even the most adamant defender of the charms of adult material would struggle to find much evidence of compassion or affection in today’s relentlessly lurid output. Contemporary pornography informs us of one thing above all else: sex is a type of work, just like any other. What matters most is quantity – the bigger the better. It is not for nothing that one of the most successful sex videos of all time, starring Annabel Chong, features 251 sex acts performed with approximately 70 men during a ten hour period. Contemporary pornography is realistic only in the sense that it sells back to us the very worst of our aspirations: domination, competition, greed and brutality.
The pornography industry itself is a veritable juggernaut, generating an estimated $57 billion in annual revenue worldwide. It makes more money than Hollywood and all major league sports put together. 300,000 internet sites are currently devoted to its propagation, and 200 new films are estimated to be made every week. Almost any genre and type of sexual taste is catered for, just so long as you aren’t looking for anything as recherché as sweetness or wit.
On one level, we might say, so what? Pornography serves a certain practical purpose, why expect anything more from it? If you want romance, go and read Mills and Boon! Alternatively, we might side with anti-pornography feminists and argue that the genre is so irredeemably associated with violence and misogyny that we should steer well clear of it, and perhaps even campaign for its abolition.
But what if there was another history of porn, one that was filled less with pneumatic shaven bodies pummelling each other into submission than with sweetness, silliness and bodies that didn’t always function and purr like a well-oiled machine?