Sasha Grey: Porn's Postfeminist Postergirl

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
June 15 2009 11:30 AM

Sasha Grey: Porn's Postfeminist Postergirl

Meghan : After watching Steven Soderbergh's call-girl movie, The Girlfriend Experience , starring adult film star Sasha Grey, you ask: "Can Sasha Grey really liberate herself-and other women-through porn?" My answer? Um, no?

But first things first. I thought the movie was great. I liked it more than most, who, like you, found it to be relatively cold and distant. (Although, frankly, I'm not sure how much you liked it or didn't? Anyway.) I thought it was an intriguing, sometimes sweet, occasionally disturbing, and frequently funny peek behind the curtain at the business of sex. I thought his gently mocking, sympathetic portrayal of the men who pay for it was pretty spot on. I think he didn't quite "get" Grey, or her character. It's hard to understand what it's like to sell sex for a living, especially if the seller is a woman, and the voyeur is a man. Penises have a tendency to get in the way.

Advertisement

Like you, I guess I see Grey as more of a self-constructed body politic than, well, genuine . But that's sort of the nature of the beast, and this business, isn't it? It's all simulacra.

Ultimately, while I get what you're saying when you ask about women's liberation and porn, it's a bit of an oxymoron of an idea-or, well, a head-on collision of irreconcilable concepts. Earlier this month, a female adult performer tested positive for HIV . Most adult movie producers don't require adult performers use condoms, and most performers don't use them. For a lot of reasons. Mostly, the practice is born out a spoken and unspoken theory that condoms kill fantasies. They're "too real" of an intrusion into a world that is totally unreal. Condoms are boner-killers, or so the thinking goes.

Which is too bad in an industry where the issue becomes a very real matter of life or death. Liberated? No. Screwed? Yes.

  Slate Plus
Slate Archives
Nov. 26 2014 12:36 PM Slate Voice: “If It Happened There,” Thanksgiving Edition Josh Keating reads his piece on America’s annual festival pilgrimage.