Nice Internet pornography revisited .. Britt Peterson, sexsomnia, Rachel Marsden, etc.Jun 5th, 2007 | By Citizen X | Category: Entertainment
The world is what it is. You can’t get around it.
The editors here have been pressuring me relentlessly to revisit the most widely visited article in the short and happy life of this online magazine – a piece I did called “Nice Internet Pornography .. the gentle eroticism of Voyeurweb.com,” posted quietly way back on Sunday, October 16, 2005.
I was finally inspired to succumb by the recent news that Britt Peterson at the New Republic – “a modest lady editor from good New England stock” – has appeared as “an extra in an erotic film called The Fold.” Then further intelligence on “sexsomnia” hit the local papers. This somehow led to Rachel Marsden – sometimes said to be “Canada’s Ann Coulter.”
And then I returned to Voyeurweb.com itself, to see if it has changed over the past 20 months. (And to see whether Ms. Peterson is right, when she says that America has now “been swamped by a black tide of raunch.” And if so is this good or bad – and which is better anyway?)
How come Britt Peterson does not take any clothes off in The Fold?
For those of us born as long ago as the 1940s (to say nothing of decades even before that), the extent to which increasingly explicit pornography has become increasingly easy to bump into over the course of our lives certainly is quite remarkable.
Ms. Britt Peterson’s article in the June 4, 2007 print edition of the New Republic, shows how the latest trends have been more remarkable still. The erotic film in which she appears as an extra, The Fold, “isn’t itself classifiable as porn since the sex scenes are simulated and the nudity is limited (albeit enthusiastic).” And she especially wants to reassure her parents that “I behaved with total propriety at all times and removed no articles of clothing.”
But The Fold apparently “bears an aesthetic resemblance to alt-porn, a new hipster genre chronicled, of course, by the Times in 2005 (wearing nothing but attitude’). And, as such, it represents a very timely shift in the way erotica is getting made. As the Times bemoans the smuttification of upper-middle-class life, the smut itself is becoming more upper-middle-class: urbane, ironic, self-aware, and intellectually as well as sexually titillating.”
Ms. Peterson ends her brief account of her own experience as a proper New England porn star (well extra anyway) with some final intellectually as well as sexually titillating remarks: “Susan Sontag wrote in 1966 that pornography is something one is for or against,’ in the way one is for or against legalized abortion or federal aid to parochial schools.’ If this is true, I’m probably for’ pornography in the way I’m for legalized abortion – with some private qualms (for instance, I’m not altogether convinced that alt-porn, despite its lofty goals, doesn’t end up replicating the misogyny inherent in its forebears). But the experience of being in The Fold does give one hope for a third way and perhaps even an antidote to all the panic over the spreading of raunch culture – light-hearted erotic art without too much to prove. It’s smut, in other words, that even a lady editor can enjoy.”
One question this immediately raises is does Ms. Peterson also know about Voyeurweb.com?
Before pursing this question more exactly, however, it seems that two other perhaps related matters deserve some attention.
Sexsomnia … just another tacky new excuse for bad behaviour (and/or behavior)?
I had just finished reading Britt Peterson’s stylish introduction to “alt porn” when I stumbled across a report on an alleged new medical condition known as “sexsomnia” – or related conditions known as “sexsomnias” – in one of the local papers.
Very quickly: “Researchers are seeking to formally classify a new family of abnormal sexual behaviours or sexsomnias’ that occur while people are asleep … Ranging from masturbation to fondling to unconscious rape, sleep-related sexual abnormalities need to be properly categorized and labelled so physicians will recognize them when they crop up, according to a paper published … in the journal SLEEP.”
So, it would seem, a young man could be sleeping but nonetheless go out and rape the girl next door, unconsciously, without being aware of it or even altogether responsible for his action? (Suppose she was sleeping on the front porch, on a hot night in summer, or something like that.)
One question might be: can sexsomnias be triggered even by “alt-porn”?
But more generally Dr. Chanth Seyone, a sleep expert, “says the sexsomnia field is still very contentious among researchers.” Which is hardly surprising of course. My own tax-paying legal view would be that if a young man rapes the girl next door he should be prosecuted, even if he claims he was asleep when it happened? (Unless the young lady has no memory of the event either – in which case who is to say it ever really happened, unless some anxious upper-middle-class parents have placed surveillance cameras on the front porch?)
To imagine otherwise no doubt only does lend further credence to the notion that, as Ms. Peterson puts it, we are currently being “swamped by a black tide of raunch.”
My discovery of Rachel Marsden …
From here, for some reason, my own Internet research on the subject unconsciously bumped into at least the cyberspace persona of Ms. Rachel Marsden – “best known as Canada’s answer to Ann Coulter,” and just recently let go from “Greg Gutfield’s semi-popular late night gabfest” on the FOX Noise channel.
I was vaguely aware of Ms. Marsden through her column in Canada’s Sun chain of right-wing tabloid newspapers. But I did not connect with her exact biography until I tried to find out more about Ms. Britt Peterson and her quasi-pornographic adventures at the New Republic. (Like so many others, I never watch FOX Noise on principle.)
In a way all this makes a certain amount of sense. Ms. Marsden’s alleged role model, Ann Coulter, you might almost say, has adapted pornography to political purposes. While not terribly attractive, some would argue, her dress and demeanor project a kind of raw sexuality – and this prospect is much more interesting than anything she actually talks or writes about.
(Canadians, e.g., are bound to remember that, until corrected under protest on air, Ann Coulter thought Canada had actually sent troops to Vietnam. As best as I have ever been able to make out, she is similarly ill-informed about a host of other issues on which she nonetheless fearlessly and stridently comments, in a loud sexy voice.)
A publicity photograph of Rachel Marsden in a tight black leather suit suggests a similar political-pornographic strategy. To some the same photograph might also suggest that Ms. Marsden is not wearing underwear. And this again is at least a more interesting thought than anything she writes about in her newspaper columns. Indeed, if you just know Ms. Marsden through what she has written you might wonder why anyone has paid any attention to her at all.
Here is what the young lady has to tell us about herself: “Born in suburban Vancouver, British Columbia, Rachel grew up listening to Jack Webster, who pioneered combative political talk-radio long before it ever spread to the USA … Rachel survived growing up in Canada during the socialist regime of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau …
“After ripping like a tornado through one of Canada’s most liberal universities (sciences, then criminology), she moved on to a broadcast journalism degree, then formal political journalism training in Washington, DC … Working in Canada, she spent her media career debating liberals in both of her native languages (French and English), and perplexingly, has no hint of an accent in either language … Having left Canada for New York City in 2007, Rachel is now a Fox News Channel Contributor” [well, she was until recently]. She is also “a political columnist for the Toronto Sun and other Sun Media newspapers.”
And here is what the leading newspaper in the city of her birth (not associated with the Sun Media chain, despite its name) has reported about Rachel most recently: “Right-wing pundit Rachel Marsden, best known in Canada for a couple of high-profile sexual harassment controversies, was escorted out of Fox News Channel’s New York offices by security guards earlier this week …
“The telegenic Marsden, 31, a political columnist at the Toronto Sun, was involved in a controversy at Simon Fraser University in the late 1990s when she accused a swim coach of sexually harassing her … The coach was fired from the university and then later reinstated after he contended that, in fact, Marsden had stalked him … In an unrelated case, Marsden was charged in 2002 with criminal harassment of a Vancouver radio show host and given a conditional discharge with one year of probation.”
And what, you might well ask, is the point of all this? Well, wouldn’t Rachel Marsden probably be more interesting if she focused her undoubted real talents on pornography more directly? If she cast aside her wild right-wing newspaper columns and so forth, say, and just started doing stories for Voyeurweb.com?
Would Britt Peterson like Voyeurweb.com?
Whatever else, via this somewhat circuitous route Rachel Marsden finally brings us to the heart of the matter for today. And I can finally start the action here by reporting that Voyeurweb.com – “the most frequented erotic amateur photo site on planet earth” – has acquired some new technical and I suppose even editorial features over the past 20 months. But in everything that seriously counts it is essentially the same as when I first wrote about it back in October 2005.
To cut right to the essential questions – does Ms. Britt Peterson at the New Republic also know about Voyeurweb.com, and does she like it if she does, etc? – I would just circumspectly point to a recent Voyeurweb artistic exhibit, entitled Anya: Just Before A Concert!
It begins with the following text: “More pictures of my best friend and roommate before she and I went to a concert. LOL…she was pretending to be annoyed when I ambushed her with my camera…but she’s rad and wild and it honestly doesn’t take much to get her naked! … I know….terrible! … After this she got dressed and we had sooooo much fun. This girl can drink too. Anya’s awesome.”
And then, beside a photo of Anya standing undressed, from the back (and quite reminiscent of e.e. cummings’s immortal “a pretty girl who naked is / is worth a million statues”), the photographer-roommate writes: “Anya has a trail of boys who worship her sexy little ass…its sad.” And then again, beside a similar photo, from the front: “Those poor boys are helpless….she’s dangerous!”
The most exact question I think I would put to Ms. Peterson myself is: how does any of this contemporary mass-market pornographic exhibit about Anya go anywhere near “replicating the misogyny inherent in its forebears.” Anya: Just Before A Concert! is all about worshiping women. And unless you very twistedly think that worshiping women is just some opposite side of the coin from hating them, where is the “misogyny” in this?
Surely, that is to say, Ms. Peterson must find that Voyeurweb.com can also “give one hope for a third way and perhaps even an antidote to all the panic over the spreading of raunch culture – light-hearted erotic art without too much to prove.”
Now, it is true that Voyeurweb.com is solidly mass market as well as culturally progressive. It is, in its own way I would say, quite “urbane, ironic, self-aware.” (Just consider Anya and her roommate, e.g.) But it is not really “upper-middle-class.” (Though many upper-middle-class people may well enjoy it for all I know. I would if I were upper middle class.)
So whether Anya: Just Before A Concert! is “smut … that even a lady editor can enjoy” must probably remain unclear – awaiting some eventual testimony from Ms. Peterson herself. (And you do get the feeling that if Anya were to play an extra in an erotic movie, she would very definitely be wanting to take off at least some of her clothes. Maybe the final point is just that Ms. Peterson needs to become a bit more adventurous – in her next porn-star outing.)
NB: As in the earlier October 2005 piece I note that Voyeurweb.com offers the following “legal advice” on its site: “The photos below may only be downloaded for your private pleasure. You may not republish them at another web site or anywhere else.” The photos that appear in this article above are not taken from Voyeurweb.com for this reason. The link in the article to Anya: Just Before A Concert! will take readers directly to photos on the Voyeurweb site – which would seem to fit the principles of the Free Speech Coalition that the excellent people at Voyeurweb so ardently support, protected by the free and democratic Constitution of the USA – or for that matter by Pierre Trudeau’s free and democratic Constitution Act 1982 in Canada (which Rachel Marsden may or may not have actually read as part of her journalistic training).
UPDATE JULY 2009, from Counterweights editors: Alas, a few years after this piece was first posted the link to Anya: Just Before A Concert! just takes you to the current edition of voyeurweb.com, which is interesting in its own right, but not necessarily quite as intriguing as Anya! There is, it seems clear enough, no way around such ravages of time on the world-wide web. Our apologies nonetheless.