Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wikipedia's curious visualizations of fetish porn

So sexual fetish porn is incredibly racialized and gendered*. This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. But what might come as a shock is the usually very reliable and politically self-reflexive Wikipedia's participation in the production of these, uh... representations. (I'm trying to be subtle because it's all a bit discomforting. You'll see what I mean.)

Here's one, and another, and one more.

It's not that it's weird for Wikipedia to attach R- or X-rated images to its entries. It seems pretty sensible for an encyclopedia to do that when they're covering porn or sex and they do it in quite reasonable ways on other pages. What's weird is that in cataloging the porn fetishes, they manage to also perpetuate those most problematic aspects of them. And that's just not cool.

Now anyone want to tackle the implications of these images being cartoons? (And quite realistic, though still obviously fake, cartoons?)

*And they're racialized and gendered both simultaneously and connectedly, since those racialized roles of fetish-play are always assigned gendered (masculine, feminine) values. Or you could read it in the reverse - that the gender roles in hetero fetish-porn are implicitly raced. Anyway - the point being that they're inextricable and mutually implicated.


James said...

Yeah, it seems like wikipedia gets more shaky the further you get out into the fringe - probably because the whackos with agendas are the only ones knowledgeable/interested enough to contribute.

I know this from trying unravel various bits of superhero continuity.

neilshyminsky said...

I think that the strangest thing about these entries, though, is that it's "shaky" without seeming "whacko". The entries are written reasonably well, but totally fail to actually explain or unpack the political ramifications of particular kinds of fetish porn. And then slap on incredibly stereotypical pics that seem designed to titillate without even explaining how/why.

Those superhero continuity folks, though? Man, I dealt with them when I spent a few weeks getting into editing various wiki entries. I decided to add little sections on the politics of various superheroes - Tom Strong, Promethea, the X-Men - that some people evidently found quite distressing. (Especially with Tom Strong - but people didn't seem to understand that that was the point of the book.)

James said...

I haven't read any Tom Strong, but Dr. Klock talks about it a bit in his book and... yeah. I can't help but chuckle when I read/hear people express their love for the series being "good old-fashioned fun".

neilshyminsky said...

I guess that it's not the comments on Tom Strong's politics, per se, that upset them but the implication that Alan Moore's Tom Strong is saying something about those old books that they enjoyed so much. And, by implication, saying something about them.

Streebo said...

Neil. . . why are you researching fetish porn on Wikipedia? ;)

neilshyminsky said...

Heh. I wish it was a good story. Unfortunately, it was only an argument over the exact definition of "bukkake". But we've all had that argument, right?