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Description - Bound and Gagged by Laura Kipnis

In a book that completely changes the terms of the pornography debate, Laura Kipnis challenges the position that porn perpetuates misogyny and sex crimes. First published in 1996, Bound and Gagged opens with the chilling case of Daniel DePew, a man convicted-in the first computer bulletin board entrapment case-of conspiring to make a snuff film and sentenced to thirty-three years in prison for merely trading kinky fantasies with two undercover cops. Using this textbook example of social hysteria as a springboard, Kipnis argues that criminalizing fantasy-even perverse and unacceptable fantasy-has dire social consequences. Exploring the entire spectrum of pornography, she declares that porn isn't just about gender and that fantasy doesn't necessarily constitute intent. She reveals Larry Flynt's Hustler to be one of the most politically outspoken and class-antagonistic magazine in the country and shows how fetishes such as fat admiration challenge our aesthetic prejudices and socially sanctioned disgust. Kipnis demonstrates that the porn industry-whose multibillion-dollar annual revenues rival those of the three major television networks combined-know precisely how to tap into our culture's deepest anxieties and desires, and that this knowledge, more than all the naked bodies, is what guarantees its vast popularity. Bound and Gagged challenges our most basic assumptions about America's relationship with pornography and questions what the calls to eliminate it are really attempting to protect.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780822323433
ISBN-10: 0822323435
Format: Paperback
(230mm x 154mm x 18mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Duke University Press
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publish Date: 23-Dec-1998
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Bound and Gagged by Laura Kipnis

Book Reviews - Bound and Gagged by Laura Kipnis

US Kirkus Review » Despite the suggestive title, this collection of well-argued essays on some of the socially constructive roles in which pornography can be cast would be more at home at an MLA conference than in an adult bookstore. Pornography "distill[s] our most pivotal cultural preoccupations," says Kipnis (Northwestern Univ.; Ecstasy Unlimited, not reviewed). She asserts that when it comes to porn and what it tells us about ourselves as individuals and as a society, we would do best to take a long, hard look, since the porn industry (whose profits, she says, rival those of ABC, CBS, and NBC combined) is not going away anytime soon. Kipnis takes issue with both anti-porn feminists and conservatives, and argues for the politically and personally transgressive potential of fantasy as expressed through porn's forbidden images. She contrasts porn with what she sees as more genuine social evils like classism, deprivation, hypocrisy, repression, and conformity. She begins with a discussion of Daniel DePew, a gay man into S&M who was sent to prison for discussing - though never acting on - a plan (devised by undercover cops) to make a snuff film; for Kipnis, this case demonstrates what pornographic fantasies are not about (actual violence and crime). The author then focuses on what they might really be (a mirror of society's deepest desires and fears). She maintains that the more publicly reviled something or someone is, the more fertile a site for intellectual inquiry. Then, concentrating on printed material, she surveys transgender porn, "fetish" subcultures, and class-conscious porn (specifically Hustler magazine). While she is not likely to dent the armor of anti-porn crusaders or to inspire the dawning of a new era of pornography studies, the author provides a succinct, thoughtful, and lively case for porn as a significant contemporary cultural form. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Laura Kipnis

Laura Kipnis is Professor of Radio-TV-Film at Northwestern University. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts for filmmaking and media criticism. She is the author of Ecstasy Unlimited: On Sex, Capital, Gender, and Aesthetics.

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