Murray Davis' Smut, Erotic Reality/Obscene Ideology
In the book Smut, Erotic Reality/ Obscene Ideology , by Murray Davis (1983), the author expresses the idea that the best source for studying human sexuality objectively is "soft core", rather than "hard core" pornography. (Davis p. xix). The purpose of this paper is to critique Davis's claim and to study what understanding of human sexuality someone might have if they used some other resource that is available today, in this case the Internet. Davis argues that , "hard core pornography is usually more abstract and less explicit than soft-core pornography". (Davis, p. xix, 1983). Davis doesn't go on to explain how hard-core pornography can be less explicit than soft-core. However he does explain that hard-core pornography is more abstract in that, it depicts the sex act only and not the emotional or personal characteristics of the people involved in the act. (Davis, p. xx) He believes soft-core pornography is describing "a sexual experience", which conveys characteristics of the participants that are not described by hard-core pornography. Hard-core pornography describes "sexual behaviour" which involves more of the act of sex rather than the characteristics and feelings involved with sex. (Davis, p. xix) Although Davis admits that the vocabulary of sex is changing (Davis, p. xxv), he also states that hard-core pornography uses considerably more vulgar terms that are associated with lower-class activity, such as, "prick, fuck, and suck" (Davis, p. xxiii). Davis believes that hard-core pornography, induces imaginative behaviours by using these lower-class, four-letter words. The stories use phrases such as "First we sucked, then we fucked."(Davis p. xix, 1983), to allow the reader the tools to imagine the scene actually taking place. The reader is lead by the author through the story by using words that may be more understood or common in the readers' everyday life. He also accuses hard- core films of being "behavioristic" and "abstract" because they often fail to "fully inform the audience about the characters personality types and social categories."(Davis, p. xx, 1983) Soft-core pornography, on the other hand, often depicts "the subtle phenomenological effects that result when a character's sexual behaviour clashes with his or her personal and social characteristics." (Davis, p. xx, 1983). In short, he study's literature or films that involve characters with personalities that are developed and conveyed to the audience. In these stories the characters will have sex, but the sex may or may not be the main focus of the story, but rather something that is bound to happen when personal and social characteristics clash.
I believe that Davis is somewhat correct in assuming that soft-core is a more objectively reliable source for studying human sexuality. When I hear the words soft-core pornography, I tend to think of Playboy, or films and movies that depict a story about a person or group of people, and within that story the characters engage in sexual activity. This sexual activity is shown or described to the reader/viewer but is not done in a graphic nature. That is, the actual sexual penetration is not shown or shown very minimally.
Hard-core, on the other hand, is shown or described more graphically. The dialogue usually includes, as Davis states, four-letter words. The story seems to have less of a plot and less character development. The main purpose of the work is to show or describe sex. So it is in this sense that I agree with Davis.
However, I firmly believe that there is not one single resource that is the best method of studying human sexuality. There are many sources which are helpful when studying sex and human sexuality. They can range from textbooks, entertainment magazines, television programs, to movies and novels. In my opinion the most reliable and important resource for studying human sexuality is personal...
References: Davis, S. Murray. (1983). Smut erotic reality obscene ideology.
University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
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