During the 1980s US feminist sex wars, pornography edited its own history, leaving a distorted record both less problematic and less queer than scholars have yet recognized. Academic inquiry into pornography coincided with home-video boom years, and research often took place in adult backrooms, necessarily because pornography was so poorly archived. Yet even as access has shifted from VHS to digital, the field has yet to reckon with how its interpretive frameworks were shaped by a material history in which the films that scholars watched were often altered from the versions patrons had seen in theaters. Gone from both straight and gay films were many transgressive sex acts that had frequently been staples of the genre, affecting the perceived oeuvre of nearly every hardcore filmmaker of the era. This article recovers the lost history of sexual media editing, arguing for a more carefully historicized interrogation of the commercial sources of our porn archives.
Sanitizing the Seventies: Pornography, Home Video, and the Editing of Sexual Memory
Whitney Strub is the director of the Women's and Gender Studies program and an associate professor of history at Rutgers University-Newark. He is the author of Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right (Columbia University Press, 2011) and Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression (University Press of Kansas, 2013) and coeditor of Porno Chic and the Sex Wars: American Sexual Representation in the 1970s (University of Massachusetts Press, 2016).
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Whitney Strub; Sanitizing the Seventies: Pornography, Home Video, and the Editing of Sexual Memory. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2019; 5 (2): 19–48. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2019.5.2.19
Download citation file: