Rubis shines with its bevels that reflect the pleasure of the body. Ze is translucent so that we can see through to the surroundings behind it. Ze says that everything is an image or symbol to manipulate. Ze proclaims that sex does not occur without the diaphanous context of which ze consists. Ze declares that the multiplicity of its faces are as much narration as the tales ze whipers. Ze expresses that desire has hir polyhedral form, that hir edges are impulses. In the palms of the spectators ze murmurs desires, ze awakens their impulses, electrifies their skin, sets their fragile fingers in motion, sharpens their voyeuristic appetites, lights their incandescent pupils, ze shakes their jerky breaths, heightens their instincts and stimulates their organs, ze evokes their pleasures, ze exalts their satisfaction after having intensified their passions.
In this sense you see, Rubis is pornographic in legal terms, defined by an intention to excite, to provoke the sexual reaction of the spectator, and even to urge them to masturbate. But when ze thinks about it, ze says to hirself that this legal categorization is based on a fallacy, and that it is difficult to determine what may excite the spectator or contrario to look for it, since it depends precisely on the reception of the artistic work.
Would pornography be deemed pornographic according to a shifting scale depending on the observers’ perspective? Obscene, outrageous, immoral, ze sees in it the look on the work more than an intrinsic reality. If pornography is defined by the way it is viewed and used by its spectators, how do we know if something is or not pornographic? Ze can easily imagine the wide variety of desires, the multifaceted fantasies, and thinks that everything can be eroticized or pornographed. You might be wondering if porn is the object that makes the viewer come, or is it the act of watching a work for the purpose of reaching orgasm that makes it pornographic? In other words, what is called pornography is not just explicit sexual images but also involves the consumer of the work, a history of cinema, criminal law, censorship, economic policies, societal changes, and the relationship to the intimate, in short, a dispositif. In France, there are laws in cinema to protect films containing explicit sexuality from being classified as pornographic if their approach, their aesthetics, and their narrative process, make them a piece that is not solely sexual. You understand then, that the problem of the legal categorization of pornography is that it segregates genres. It draws an insuperable line between what is deemed as pornographic and what is considered art. Thus, under pressure from legal categories, they argue this is not art, it is pornography.
So ze wonders finally, why not call hirself erotic? An erotic portrayal that goes beyond the purely sexual aspect, with pleasures inspiring a transcendence, where lust for carnal love becomes something other than solely satisfying an appetite. Eroticism is a passion that expresses itself through bodies but transcends the body itself, whereas pornography is sexuality without virtue, ennobled by no one. Ze wonders if the representation of sexuality can be purely sexual without any other quality. How could it be? In every film process, from the most amateur to the most professional, the selection of the set, a scene, and what is happening behind the scene, is created through the framing of the shot, an aesthetic that seems to influence the degree of veracity or the emotion transmitted, represented characters who do not undress by removing their clothes from their intrinsic specificity, the signifiers they convey, symbols they carry in them. Ze says that the difference between the two categories is love, a paramount virtue. What also comes to hir mind is Gayle Rubin’s sexuality pyramid, the moral entrepreneurs, and the fact that sexuality is a social construct as is the concept of love.
Ze remembers that one day, someone said “pornography is the eroticism of others,” and then changes hir mind. Was the original sentence not “the eroticism of the poor”? Ze reflects that in every word, every category, and every conventional manner of thinking, there is the effect of a power structure. Moreover, was pornography not constructed by the inquisitive eyes of rich white men in order to protect the working class, especially women, who would not be able to take their representations seriously? Have not they invented pornography as a legal category to shield those others who are susceptible to being softened by onanism, perversion and lust? Ze thinks then that this paternalism is old-fashioned, obsolete, archaic, and that the expression and representation of sexuality should no longer be taboo, discredited or despised. Ze says to hirself that ze will leave the task of defining whether hir films are pornographic or artistic to the censors and the judges. Ze would like to be both. Ze claims that we should rise against this system that builds pornography, that we should destroy the category pornography, its architecture, its geography, and its infamous temporality. Nevertheless, ze wants to be called pornographer and hir films pornographic. Ze will not attempt to blot hirself in a hypocritical gesture by calling hirself erotic, but ze will proudly wear the infamous label to empty it of its meaning, and to show that its intrinsic substance has nothing shameful, licentious, or degrading.
When ze formulates these thoughts, ze feels strongly about an inheritance. Ze thinks ze’d like to belong to this lineage of artists who have made explicit sexuality an ode to pleasures, Mathew, Da Silva, a feminist missile, Despentes, Engberg, a takeover, Lust, Sprinkle, an object of introductory knowledge, Ovidie, Clark, a work of art, Genet, Cocteau, a political gem, Soukaz, an aesthetic expression, Bidgood, Alejandro, an alternative representation, LaBruce, Lambert. Do not be fooled, ze does not invent a single thing, but ze brings hir own look, hir subjectivity. And then, ze thinks with joy the etymology of pornography. If it is a question of representation of the prostitutes, then ze does not see anything offensive or defamatory, ze feels refreshed.
Yet ze sees on hir screen through large accessible platforms, media objects that have the same generic name as hir films. Ze does not see much of familiarity from it. Mechanization of the carnal act under the effect of repetition, standardization of bodies, actors and actresses reduced to their attributes’ metonymies; the tag as an identity. However, the structure looks similar, the underwear is removed and a visible orgasm marks the end of the ball. Ze will not enter a debate about good and bad pornography, but ze will begin to say pornographies, in plural. Ze will keep within hirself a bitter vision of the ultra-liberalism and the uberisation of sex work under the impulse of tube’s large platforms. And from this observation, ze reaffirms the will to make a different pornography, where the context is put back to the center of the representation of sexuality, where the narrative is part of the pleasures, where the sex workers are treated with respect, where the part of desire and pleasure is not simulated. Was there not a blatant contradiction between the fact that, on one hand, the porn industry was decimated into an empire at the hands of MindGeek (pornhub, youporn, xtube, seancody, webcam.com, men.com, sextube, tube8 …) making porn more accessible than ever, and, on the other side, a policy of drunkenness, an ever stronger control over the representation of sexuality and nudity through the social networks’ giants: facebook, for whom Courbet is no longer art but obscenity, Instagram, that closes accounts without even a trial, under algorithms or by user’s reports, tumblr…? It seemed legitimate to ask if censors and broadcasters did not work like a diptych, walking hand-in-hand, sometimes overlapping, referring to one that has been taken from the other, continually rising. While Godard declaimed us that “it is the rule to want the death of the exception,” it became central to understand where the rule was to understand which exception was put to death.
Ze has said that ze will resist to any category or ideological reduction by creating points of resistance to power. Ze is said that ze would write hir manifesto by thinking of Foucault, by freeing hirself from the authority of sex to keep only the bodies and the pleasures of it, and of Wittig, because of her radical positions and as well the power of her style.
Ze was thinking about some lines of feminist rhetoric who made “pornography” its battlefield, because it was seen as a system of women’s oppression. Ze sometimes saw, feverishly, some alliances between this thought with the conservatives and the religious right wing. Ze wanted to understand, instead of relegating the criticism made to hir kind to the rank of bigotry. Rubis wondered how “pornography” could be presented as a danger? Finally, rid of the sin of flesh and the beliefs of the past century on the onanism caused pathologies, how could a masturbatory equipment involving the enjoyment of its spectators be reprehensible? Ze found the answer interesting. What was condemned was the effect that pornography has on the audience. More specifically, eroticizing women in a submissive way was seen as capable of enhancing male dominance and sexism. You tell yourself that all pornographic works don’t showcase women in a submissive way and you are right.
Others say that wanting to ban pornography, regulate it, censor it, would be a breach of the freedom of speech. Hir creations focused on sexualities between men that easily escaped the public vindictium because of a moral battle today based on the necessary equality of sexes. It was amusing to see that gay pornography served as an argument to some opponents of this so-called conservative thought.
But the heart of this debate’s problem was the renewal of stereotypes and its dangers. And ze couldn’t avoid this question. Gay pornographies are not immune to the renewal of stereotypes of gender, race and class. It is not ineffective to recall that the dominations are plural, that the power games are transversal, and that all forms of structural and institutional dominations are to be proscribed. But if “the pornography” could be accused of renewing power relations, it did not create them. “The pornography” is not responsible for our society’s inequality system. Some pornographic films can eroticize women’s submission for male pleasures. Some pornographic films can renew racial stereotypes, class stereotypes. This is true for any artistic work. And then, ze did not believe in this rhetoric of the effects of an object regarded as lewd and its consequences on a spongy public, deprived of any level of abstraction between fiction and reality. In the end, you see, ze finds that this current of thought is far-fetched. How could the censorship of explicit portrayals of sexuality lead to the anti-porn thinkers’ professed goal? Censorship can not solve the problem of sexism, homophobia, racism or class violence. We will not be able to change the stereotypical images of sexual roles and the eroticization of a power domination by making the representation of sexuality a taboo, but by proposing other forms of representation, other narrative modalities, other bodies, other sexualities.
Ze could not help but think otherwise that this positioning deflected the feminism of which it claimed, in the sense that hammering a moralizing discourse on the sex-work was able to make the stigma to be worn more and more for those who had made the choice. The question of the choice denied to sex-workers was moreover central in the argumentation. What possible consent in an economically unequal relationship? Ze would say that capitalism should be attacked, not sex work. And what about male domination, the eroticization of women’s submission, the propagation of the rape culture? Ze would answer that we must eradicate patriarchy, sexism, gender norms, not sex work. Nevertheless, ze found it interesting to note that perhaps, the argument reflected more the representations of women’s bodies, on the sacredness with which they would be invested, on the reactions of reprobation, disgust, pity that arises from the commerce of their bodies for themselves, for others or for society, and that finally, this reading of the women sexuality contained a form of sexism.
Finally, ze retold anti-porn critics the important role of all artistical works in the reproduction of stereotypes to which ze will try to escape as a queer and feminist precious stone. Hir position was clear, if ze didn’t have a condescending glance on the social body, ze was nevertheless conscious of the influence and the performativity of words and things. In the same way that ze didn’t use racist, transphobic, homophobic or sexist insult, ze saw it as a matter of course not to repeat stereotypes based on structural effects of domination in hir films. Ze knew that hir gesture came from ancient mythical figures, that between the written lines that became sensitive digital and analogical frames hid Parrhasios, that the graphem transmuted in pixel had the form of mimesis.But make no mistake, no more need for a mask to create a distance with the audience, for catharsis to be exercised through fiction. Rubis didn’t believe that the eye of the beholder is the one described in a condescending stupefaction of moral panic. Ze believes that the faculty of abstraction and distancing is not the prerogative of the ruling elite who, under the pretext of protection, denies them the faculty of thinking, criticizing, appreciating certain objects.
Ze does not believe in censors who say that pornography and art are antithetical, that pornography and politics are antithetical, that pornography and philosophy are antithetical.
From these different observations, emerged the intention of proposing a pornography that could be all that at once. Hir will came in the first place from a lack of offers of what ze was looking for, a lack of representation of what ze wanted to see. Ze was tired of falling indefatigably on the same content that ze couldn’t find that exciting anymore. You will still have to understand that in the history of hir sexuality, pornographic images had been of major importance. Ze imagines that still today, for many boys discovering their attractions for people of their sex, gays pornographies is revealed as one of the first representations of their hidden desires. In this sense it appears as essential in the legitimization of a minority sexuality still often stigmatized, as an object allowing the materialization of their desires, the crystallization on the screen of a veiled phantasmagoria, an exploration of what appears to be criminal in a hetero-normative society.
But today, ze didn’t find hirself in the majority of pornographies ze met. Ze uttered no excitement without context, ze said that hir desires arose from a surrounding to the act, that hir fantasies and hir fetishes were nourished by moments of nothing, a mole on a cheek, the hairiness barely sketched at the neck of a shirt, a smile, eyes of pleasure, a moan. And not just the close-up of an impersonal penetration. Ze persisted in thinking that the mechanization and calibration of bodies by the current pornographic industry was not inevitable, that the hegemonic representation was not necessarily what the public expected, and hirself in the first place.
Of all hir thoughts, ze made a commitment to set out to demystify pornography and to make the representation of explicit sexuality, including in hir masturbatory use, an object of which we have the possibility of speaking, which could have the eloquence of a political speech, the strength of a work of art, the universality of poetry, the beauty of sincerity. In this sense, ze will participate in decompartmentalizing the genres, so that a film remains an artistic creation even if it would present non simulated sexual relations. Ze will devote hirself to going beyond the moral shackles to allow free speech on sexualities, that they can be discussed and represented without shame. Ze will work to combat the monopoly of the tubes and their rhythms by restoring a central place in the context of sexuality, creating stories behind the fleshly act. Ze will attach to not create films renewing discriminations or dominations based on biological naturalization of social fact. Ze will try to create works that don’t hurt but make come. Ze will work to ensure respect for sex workers, to defend their interests, to try to break down the stigma that they will bear together. Ze will tell the readers and spectators that they will have to be patient, that ze will make mistakes, but ze will try again, again.