Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasyin America

Laura Kipnis, Author Grove Press $22 (226p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1584-3
Kipnis (Ecstasy Unlimited) argues in five loosely connected essays that just about everyone-from the religious right to militant feminists-misunderstands and misjudges pornography, which she considers a form of fantasy that is an end in itself and not the cause of something else, such as rape. The individual essays deal with a homosexual sadomasochist who made the mistake of discussing his fantasies on the Internet with an undercover cop and was entrapped and sentenced to 33 years in prison; America's fat phobia and how it is reflected in fat pornography; transvestite pornography, focusing on the revealing photographic self-portraits featured in drag publications; and the rise and fall of Larry Flynt and Hustler, with an emphasis on the magazine's populist political philosophy. The disjointed concluding essay, ""How to Look at Pornography,"" tries, unsuccessfully, to pull all this material together, touching along the way on subjects that range from masturbation to Andrea Dworkin's alleged misreading of pornography as a feminist issue to Jeffrey Masson's legal battles with Janet Malcolm and others. Kipnis's individual essays make a stronger case than does her book as a whole, but she is a lively and engaging writer who argues, often convincingly, that we would be better off simply thinking of pornography as just another form of science fiction. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1996
Release date: 06/01/1996
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