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Speculative Fiction, Intersectional Feminism, and Dirty Jokes
If you’ve listened to our Episode 65, you’ve heard someone refer to our podcast as “more political” than some people would necessarily feel comfortable. At the same time, our friend Jessica from Web of Queer said we were more “educational” and she enjoyed that. You also heard my reaction; I giggled.
Hopefully, this was not seen as dismissive. I really never mean it to be but hearing people say that I’ve made them either slightly uncomfortable (but in an enjoyable way) by what I’ve had to say or that they’ve learned from it: this is what I live for.
Hello, my name is Shana, I’m a poet and recovering straight-identified Queer femme. Today, a friend of mine shared a link to pornstar, Queer icon, and sex positive activist Jiz Lee (from her bio):
In the absence of comprehensive sex education, people use porn to learn about sex — what sex looks like, who gets to have it, and what it means to be sexy. On its own, that’s fine. But a limited example of what porn is has the danger in dictating what’s ‘normal’, raising issues in our understanding of sexual health, and also our sexual psyche. Diversity in porn lets us find ourself in the erotic landscape, proving we are ALL capable and deserving of love.
– Jiz Lee
What does that have to do with Doctor Who? What does it have to do with television?
When we watch television we’re shown relationships, characters, and worlds from which we learn about life. Even eras of Doctor Who that I find incredibly problematic I can learn from; we as viewers learn about relationships even those that are fantastic and fictional. We can talk about Sarah Jane as a representation of her period of feminism. We can look at Rose as a (IMO) multi-dimensional and complicated version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
What do we have today? What do we learn about relationships and who people are from Doctor Who. Yes, this requires us to think a little longer about our entertainment.
I was lucky, not that long ago, to take part in a learning community while in grad school. The entire point of these communities was to make the school a better place. “What does better mean?” I hear you ask; let’s start with this idea:
We are always participating in something larger than ourselves, and if we want to understand social life and what happens to people in it, we have to understand what it is that we’re participating in and how we participate in it. In other words, the key to understanding social life is neither just the forest nor just the trees. It’s the forest and the trees and how they’re related to one another.
– Allan G. Johnson [http://www.agjohnson.us/glad/arent-systems-just-people/]
Sometimes you have those ideas that just don’t leave you. Doctor Who has awakened moments in my life, deep feelings, amid laughs and criticism. The talk I got to have with Johnson is part of a conversation that was largely about (some of you will wince) patriarchal structures and how they reinforce themselves. Yes, that means that there was a portion of the “academic elite” that sat down and asked: what do we look like? How are we represented? How does that help/hurt how this university achieves its goals? Notice we’re talking goal-oriented changes. The answer, well, I’m simplifying but the answer was that we (everyone, on a daily basis) must walk the slightly less comfortable path, to face those uncomfortable moments, and recognize that we are all part of changing what is ultimately a global conversation, or narrative if you will.
Yes, we all must work to change the narrative.
Does porn make me view sex differently? Absolutely. Do I recognize it as a fiction? Absolutely. What challenges that is seeing queer porn produced by queer individuals with intent to subvert that fictional sexual narrative and display what actually makes them enjoy sex and their bodies. Lee and others like Courtney Trouble, and queer porn sites are working to use porn to promote sexual health, diversity in bodies and gender representations, and to literally take images that may bring to mind sexual violence and change them to encourage sexual empowerment.
If porn wants to change its narrative, is actively recognizing its role in perpetuating unhealthy expectations of sex and bodies, is actively reaching into educational and academic realms, if porn, a genre which can be explained away just as easily (perhaps more) as other entertainment for it’s “value” to distract and entertain, if porn can try to do this…
Is it too much to ask that a genre all of its own, Doctor Who, a show rooted in Science Fiction and history and education as represented through a television program, and that has long been a parallel marker of popular culture, relationships, respect… Is it too much to ask that Doctor Who values it’s audience as much as Jiz Lee values happy sex in porn?