The Porning of America: The Rise of Porn Culture, what it Means, and where We Go from Here
From the popular Bratz dolls to the infamous photos from Abu Ghraib, The Porning of America reveals that porn has become the mainstream—and the mainstream has become porn. Carmine Sarracino and Kevin Scott argue that porn has seeped into and been absorbed by every defining aspect of our culture: language, entertainment, fashion, advertising, sexual behavior, even politics. Cultural absorption is so complete that we no longer have to purchase pornography to get porn because we increasingly live porn on a daily basis.
In tracing porn’s transformation—from the Civil War to the golden age of comic books in the 1940s and 1950s to the adult film industry’s golden decade of the 1970s and up to today—the authors illustrate that what began in the dark alleys of American life has now emerged as an unapologetic multibillion-dollar industry. In this astonishingly comprehensive book, Sarracino and Scott profile such “porn exemplars”—those who have been pivotal to the mainstreaming of porn—as Russ Meyer, Snoop Dogg, Jenna Jameson, and Paris Hilton; they document how mainstream advertising uses porn culture to sell commercial goods now to an even younger, “tween” audience; and they pose crucial questions: How has porn shaped the way we view our own and others’ bodies? Sarracino and Scott examine porned advertising of everything from Clinique to Orbit gum to Old Spice. How has porn influenced our relationships and how do current sexual behaviors, such as the “hookup,” mimic porn? The authors look to MySpace and Craigslist for answers. And how does porn shape our identity, as individuals and as a nation? Sarracino and Scott argue that the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib exposed our porned sensibilities.
Not an anti-porn diatribe, The Porning of America is resolutely pro-sex. Sarracino and Scott contend that, to make the most of our hard-won sexual freedom, we must thoughtfully—and honestly—evaluate what might be liberating about porn as well as what might be damaging. Nuanced, timely, and urgent, The Porning of America will change how you see the world around you.
“This fascinating, provocative book had me glued and makes a great crack at unraveling the mysteries of today’s pornography. If you’re questioning how to think through the vast array of porn that is now available, The Porning of America has great information and fresh insights that will enhance any debate. I’ve been involved in the sex industry for over three decades, and yet I learned a great deal from Sarracino and Scott’s current research.” —Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D., porn star turned sexologist
“Whether it’s the sexualization of girls, a pimp lifestyle, or Abu Ghraib, there’s no dismissing the influence of pornography . . . In this smart, provocative book Sarracino and Scott tease apart the dark, debasing forms of pornography—that ‘cultural toxic waste’ polluting the social body—from the sensual, pleasurable part of us that yearns for expression. This brave, nuanced book tells a story we don’t want to know but can’t, for the life of us, ignore.” —Lyn Mikel Brown, founder of Hardy Girls Healthy Women and coauthor of Packaging Girlhood
“As someone whose business has been pornography for decades, I’m thrilled with The Porning of America. Sarracino and Scott show a real understanding of the development of porn, and make a convincing argument that porn has become mainstream—and that the mainstream has become porn. Comprehensive and thought-provoking, this is a must read if you want to understand porn and our culture.” —Al Goldstein, founder and former publisher of Screw magazine and Midnight Blue
“Sarracino and Scott—dads first, professors second—open our eyes to the porning of America. Readers are given the history, the politics, and the psychology of porn today. With straight-talk but nuanced arguments, the authors take us on a fascinating and sometimes alarming ride through comic books, pop culture, the Internet, soft-core porn, and on beyond XXX. This iss simply required reading for anyone interested in girls’ and boys’ development and for all of us who care about promoting a sexual ethic of mutuality and care.” —Sharon Lamb, professor, psychologist, and coauthor of The APA Task Force Report on the Sexualization of Girls
“This bold book is both pro-sex and pro-feminist. A critical and comprehensive examination of the misogyny and racism that are alive and well in porn and mainstream society, it nevertheless manages to celebrate sexuality.” —Jessica Valenti, author of Full-Frontal Feminism
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