International Exposure: Perspectives on Modern European Pornography, 1800-2000 Paperback – Jan 3 2005
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"This collection makes an important and pioneering contribution toward demonstrating the historically and culturally specific nature of pornography and erotica."-Lesley Hall, founding editor of H-Histsex Discussion Network for the History of Sexuality"
About the Author
Lisa Z. Sigel is a visiting assistant professor of history at DePaul University and the author of Governing Pleasure Pornography and Social Change in England, 1815-1914.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In an examination of obscenity laws in the German states in the first half of the nineteenth century, it is disconcerting to find few German works on the wrong side of the law that we would consider anything close to pornographic now. Books that had sexual themes even without descriptions of physical intimacy were considered obscene if they depicted an unstable social world or women who were seductresses unworthy of a man's trust. One chapter traces how the image of the flogged slave was used by abolitionists, and since the image was sadder (or more arousing), the slave was generally a female. This sort of BDSM play is very common; that it might be directly related to the slave trade is something I doubt many participants acknowledge. Sigel's own chapter is on pornography that depicted incest in Edwardian England, and gives a brief history of incest laws and the philosophy behind them. Novels on the theme proved to be a charade about the family, with mothers restricting sexuality, daughters as both eager tempters and victims, and fathers as otherwise fully respectable gentlemen. The paternal perpetrator in the charade was freed from responsibility and any taint of violence. In the chapter on the Hungarian pornographic film industry, we learn that stag films were first turned out as early as 1899; pornography has so often spurred communication technology that elsewhere Sigel says that "it has become a clichéd claim that pornography spearheaded the growth of Internet technologies." Hungary was exporting stag films by 1910, but was displaced as a center for production by other countries. Budapest has recently risen as "the center of the porno world," with filmmakers from around Europe coming to Hungary to make "Budaporn." One observer wrote, "Pornography is an industry for Hungary, not a tragedy."
The tone of each chapter is serious, with plenty of references and footnotes, but given the subject matter, there is wit on display; in discussing "shemale" porn, for instance, there is reported a climactic surprise unveiling "as the beautiful `girl' with feminine curves and soft skin is dramatically revealed to be genitally and often priapically male." I have only mentioned here the chapters I found most interesting, but each of the ten throws its light on aspects of a large subject that no one can doubt stirs a deep human interest. There is little titillation here, much intellectualizing, and lots to think about.