Academic Journal 'About Gender' Releases Special Report on Porn

Academic Journal 'About Gender' Releases Special Report on Porn

GENOA, Italy — Italian academic journal About Gender has published a special issue on pornography, titled, “Rethinking Gender and Agency in Pornography: Producers, Consumers, Workers and Contexts.”

The issue features an interview with Wicked Pictures’ contract star Jessica Drake and reflects a growing interest among researchers worldwide in taking pornography and its impact on social and economic life seriously.

“Academic research on pornography has the potential to expand our understanding about an extremely popular and profitable, yet often stigmatized, segment of popular culture,” said Lynn Comella, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who co-edited the issue with Italian scholar Mariella Popolla. “The articles included in this issue contribute in exciting ways to the growing academic literature on pornography by engaging with questions of gender, agency, and power in a variety of contexts, including Italy, Australia, the Czech Republic and the United States.”

“The result is a truly international collection of scholarship that examines how porn producers and performers navigate a rapidly transforming industry, one in which ideas about authenticity, agency, objectification, intimacy and personal branding are perhaps more important than ever,” Comella added.

The issue opens with the article “From Amateur Aesthetics to Intelligible Orgasms: Pornographic Authenticity and Precarious Labour in the Gig Economy,” written by adult star and legal scholar Zahra Zsuzsanna Stardust, a teaching fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Drawing upon interviews with Australian adult producers and performers, Stardust explores the challenges for performers to meet the expectations of producers seeking authenticity.

“In my article, I wanted people to really understand the gendered and sexual labor of porn performance,” Stardust said. “We exist in a world where consumers and companies are demanding greater access to our intimate lives. Everyone wants authentic realness and free content, and I wanted to show what that actually means for sex workers trying to pay our bills.”

The issue also examines how the changing adult entertainment landscape is impacting trans performers.

In the article “From Porn Performer to Porntropreneur: Online Entrepreneurship, Social Media Branding, and Selfhood in Contemporary Trans Pornography,” anthropologist Sophie Pezzutto, a researcher at the Australian National University, draws on 10 months of research in Los Angeles and Las Vegas to reflect on how trans performers are navigating the various economic, technological and social changes confronting the industry. This includes discussing how they harness social media to earn income from a diverse range of erotic and sexual services that are based on carefully crafted personal brands.

Adult superstar, humanitarian and sex education activist Jessica Drake is interviewed for About Gender in an insightful conversation with Comella in which she reflects on her career, award-winning instructional series “Jessica Drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex” and the ever-changing landscape of the adult industry and its impact on society.

“I am so grateful to have been included in this project. When researchers of pornography and sex work talk to the people who actually do those things, our lived experiences humanize us and create a broader understanding of our industry and in turn, dispel the archaic stereotypes that some people still hold,” Drake said. “This is truly history in the making and I thank Lynn Comella and Mariella Popola for making this a reality.”

Other featured articles include “Subscription Intimacy: Amateurism, Authenticity and Emotional Labour in Direct-to-Consumer Gay Pornography,” by David Laurin, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto; “Between Sexual Objectification and Sexual Agency: The Most Watched Porn Videos in the Czech Republic,” by Michaela Lebedikova, a researcher at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic; and “Playboys and the Cosmo Girls: Models of Femininity in Italian Men’s and Women’s Magazines and the Popularization of Feminist Knowledge,” by Dalila Missero, a researcher at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom.

The report is available here.

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