Male gay porn
Coming to terms

by Richard Dyer

from Jump Cut, no. 30, March 1985, pp. 27-29
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1985, 2005

The main suggestions I'd like to make in this article about gay male pornographic cinema are quite brief and simple. Broadly I'm going to argue that the narrative structure of gay porn[1] is analogous to aspects of the social construction of both male sexuality in general and gay male sexual practice in particular. But before getting on to that, it seems necessary to say a few things by way of introduction. Pornography has recently become a Big Topic in left cultural work,[2] and what I'm going to say needs to be situated in relation to this.

First, a definition — a working definition, the one I'm going to be working with here, rather than a statement of the correct definition of pornography. I want some definition that is as broadly descriptive as possible. Discussion about porn tends to start off by being either for or against all porn and to be caught up in equally dubious libertarian or puritanical ideas. I don't mean to imply that I believe in the myth of objectivity, that I start off utterly neutral. I'm a gay man, who has (unlike women) easy access to porn and can take pleasure in it,[3] but who feels a commitment to the more feminist inflections of gay male politics. I'm also a socialist who sees porn as capitalist production but does not believe all capitalist cultural production always all the time expresses capitalist ideology.[4] I'm constantly looking for moments of contradiction, instability and give in our culture, the points at which change can be effected, and want to start out with the possibility of finding it in porn as anywhere else. So the definition I'm going to use is that a pornographic film is any film that has as its aim sexual arousal in the spectator.

This definition makes porn film a familiar kind of genre, that is, one that is based on the effect that both producers and audiences know the film is supposed to have. It is not defined (or I am not asking to define it here), like the Western, gangster film or musical, by such aesthetic, textual elements as iconography, structure, style and so on, but by what it produces in the spectator. It is like genres such as the weepie and the thriller, and also low or vulgar comedy. Like all of these, it is supposed to have an effect that is registered in the spectator's body — s/he weeps, gets goose bumps, rolls about laughing, comes. Like these genres, porn is usually discussed in relation to a similar, but "higher" genre which doesn't have a bodily effect. Thus, weepies (melodramas and soap opera) are compared to tragedy or realist drama, thrillers to mystery/ detective stories (based on intellectual, puzzle-solving narratives), low comedy (farce) to high comedy (comedy of manners), and porn to erotica.

I'd like to use porn as a neutral term, describing a particular genre. If one defines porn differently, then the kind of defense of porn as a genre (but emphatically not of most porn that is actually available) that I'm involved with here is not really possible. Current feminist critiques of pornography[5] rightly stress the degradation of women that characterizes so much heterosexual porn, and these critiques in fact define pornography as woman-degrading representations of sexuality. Although feeling closer to some of those feminist articles that take issue with this hard line anti-porn position,[6] I do not feel as out of sympathy with, say, Andrea Dworkin's work as do many people, and especially gay men, that I know. Although in relation to gay porn, Dworkin is in some respects inaccurate (e.g. in stressing gay porn's use of socially inferior — young, black — men in "feminine" positions, whereas similarity between partners is more often the case) or out of date,[7] her rage at what so much of porn consists of is fully justified, and especially so because she effectively defines porn as that which is degrading and outrageous. But I'd like all the same to hang on to a wider notion of sexual representation, and still use the word pornography precisely because of its disreputable, carnal associations. (Maybe the feminist debate means that I can't use the word like this — but I don't want to fall for the trap of substituting the word erotica.[8])

The fact that porn, like weepies, thrillers and low comedy, is realized in/through the body has given it low status in our culture. Popularity these genres have, but arbiters of cultural status still tend to value "spiritual" over "bodily" qualities, and hence relegate porn and the rest to an inferior cultural position.

One of the results of this is that culturally validated knowledge of the body, of the body's involvement in emotion, tends to be intellectual knowledge about the body, uninformed by experimental knowledge of it.[9] Let me try to be clear about this. I'm not saying that there can be a transparent, pure knowledge of the body, untouched by historical and cultural reality. On the contrary, all knowledge is culturally and historically specific, we do not transcend our material circumstances. We learn to feel our bodies in particular ways, not "naturally." But an intellectual or spiritual knowledge about the body is different from experiential knowledge of the body. Both are socially constructed, but the latter is always in a dynamic material and physical relationship with the body, is always knowledge in and of the body. Intellectual or spiritual knowledge on the other hand divorces social construction from that which it constructs, divorces knowledge about the body from knowing with the body. (Certain types of discourse analysis — but by no means all — clearly fall into the same idealist trap.[10])

Moreover, the effect of the cultural status of intellectual/spiritual accounts of the body is to relegate experiential knowledge of the body to a residual category. Of course idealist discourse accounts do not allow any such category at all.[11] Thus experiential knowledge (except when sanctified by the subjugation of the body in most forms of "physical education") is allowed to be both inferior and just a given, not socially constructed,[12] to be just "experience," not socially constructed experiential knowledge. By valuing the spiritual, the bodily is left as something natural, and sexuality as the most natural thing of all. What is in fact also socially constructed (experiential knowledge of the body, and of sexuality) is not recognized as such, and for that reason is not reflected upon, is allowed to go its supposed own way until it meets up with spiritual censors. Even gay and feminist theory have been notoriously reluctant to think through the social construction of the body without lapsing into the Scylla of Lacanian psycho-analysis (where social construction does not construct anything out of any material reality) and the Charybdis of both gay liberationist let-it-all-hang-out (where sexuality is a pure impulse awaiting release) and the implicit sexual essentialism of radical feminist ideas of masculine aggression and women's power.[13]

A defense of porn as a genre (which, I repeat, is not at all the same thing as defending most of what porn currently consists of) would be based on the idea that an art rooted in bodily effect can give us a knowledge of the body that other art cannot.

Even now porn does give us knowledge of the body — only it is mainly bad knowledge, reinforcing the worst aspects of the social construction of masculinity that men learn to experience in our bodies. All the same, porn can be a site for "re-educating desire," [14] and in a way that constructs desire in the body, not merely theoretically in relation to, and often against, it.

To do that though means rejecting any notion of "pure sex," and particularly the defense of porn as expressing or releasing a sexuality "repressed" by bourgeois (etc.) society. This argument has gained some ground in gay male circles, and with good reason. Homosexual desire has been constructed as perverse and unspeakable; gay porn does speak/show gay sex. Gay porn asserts homosexual desire, it turns the definition of homosexual desire on its head, says bad is good, sick is healthy and so on. It thus defends the universal human practice of same-sex physical contact (which our society constructs as homosexual). It has made life bearable for countless millions of gay men.

But to move from there to suggest that what we have here is a natural sexuality bursting out of the confines of heterosexual artificial repression is much more of a problem.

This is certainly the way that Gregg Blachford's article "Looking at Pornography"[15] can be read, and seems to be the contention behind David Ehrenstein's article "Within the Pleasure."[16] The latter argues that porn movies, unlike mainstream films that imply sexuality but don't show it, give us the pure pleasure of voyeurism which lies unacknowledged behind all cinema.

"The pornographic is obvious, absolute, unmistakable — no lies or omissions or evasions can hold quarter in its sphere."(p. 65)

Porn is the "abandon of everything to the pleasure principle" (ibid), conceptualized as pure drive (the more usual appropriation of Freudian ideas than the Lacanian version so influential in academic film studies circles). Porn itself operates with this idea, and the view clearly expressed in the introduction to Meat,[17] a collection of writings from the magazine Straight to Hell. The magazine, like the book, consists entirely of personal accounts of gay sexual experience sent in to the magazine by gay men. I have no reason to suppose that the accounts are not genuine both in the sense of having actually been sent in (not ghost written) and describing real experiences. But this "genuiness" is not to be conflated, as book and magazine do, with the notion of an unconstructed sexuality — raw, pure and so on. A reading of Meat, or a look at gay porn, indicates really rather obviously that the sexuality described/ represented is socially meaningful. Class, ethnicity and of course concepts of masculinity and gayness/straightness all clearly mark these gay pornographic productions. Indeed the very stress on sexuality as a moment of truth, and its conceptualization as raw, pure etc., is itself historically and culturally produced.[18]

What makes Meat and gay movie house porn especially interesting and important is the extent to which they blur the line between representation and practice. Meat is based on (I think largely) true encounters that really happened. Watching porn in gay cinemas usually involves having sex as well — not just self-masturbation but sexual activity with others, in a scenario brilliantly evoked by Will Aitken in his article "Erect in the Dark."[19] In principle, then, gay porn is a form of representation that can be the site an occasion for the production of bodily knowledge of the body. In this definition, porn is too important to be ignored, or to be left to the pornographers.


I'd like now to turn to one of the ways in which the education of desire that porn is involved in is manifested, namely its use of narrative.[20]

It is often said that porn movies as a genre are characterized by their absence of narrative. The typical porn movie, hard core anyway, is held to be an endless series of people fucking, and not even, as Beatrice Faust notes, "fucking" in the normal physiological order hat Masters and Johnson have "recorded."[21] Gay porn (and indeed what hetero porn I have seen), however, is full of narrative. Narrative is its very basis.

Even the simplest pornographic loops have narrative. In those quarter-in-the-slot machines where you just get a bit of a porn loop for your quarter, you are very conscious of what point (roughly) you have come into the loop, you are conscious of where the narrative has got to. Even if all that is involved is a fuck between two men, there are the following narrative elements: the arrival on the scene of the fuck, establishing contact (through greeting and recognition, or through a quickly established eye-contact agreement to fuck), undressing, exploring various parts of the body, coming, parting. The exploration of the body often involves exploring those areas less heavily codified in terms of sexuality, before "really getting down to/on with" those that are (genitals and anus). Few short porn films don't involve most or all of these narrative elements, and in that order.

Usually too there is some sort of narrative detail — in MUSCLE BEACH, one man (Rick Wolfmier) arrives on the scene (a beach) in a truck, the other man (Mike Betts) is already there sunbathing. Wolfmier walks by the sea for while. There is quite a long sequence of shot/ reverse shot cutting as they see each other and establish contact. Self-masturbation precedes their actual physical contact with each other. After orgasm, Rickmier drives away again in his truck. Already then minimal character elements are present, of not inconsiderable social interest — the iconography of the truck, the looks of the two men, the culture of the beach and of bodybuilding, and so on.

Even when the film is yet more minimal than this, there is still narrative — and essentially the same narrative, too. Some gay porn loops simply show one man masturbating. A rather stylish version of this is ROGER, which just has the eponymous star masturbating. The music is a kind of echoing drumbeat. There is no set to speak of. The lighting is red, covering the screen in varieties of pulsating hue. The film cuts between long shots and medium shots in a quite rhythmic way, often dissolving rather than cutting clean. It will be clear that there is something almost abstract or avant-garde-ish about the film, as the cinematic means play visually with its solo subject, Roger masturbating. Yet even here there is a basic narrative — Roger enters, masturbates, comes. (Where you put your quarter in might mean that you start with his orgasm and run on where he comes in. But you'd know and be able to reconstruct the proper narrative order that your quarter has cut across.)

Even in so minimal and abstract a case, there is narrative — ROGER is a classic goal-directed narrative.[22] The desire that drives the porn narrative forward is the desire to come, to have an orgasm. And it seems to me that male sexuality, homo or hetero, is socially constructed, at the level of representation anyway, in terms of narrative; that, as it were, male sexuality is itself understood narratively.

The goal of the pornographic narrative is coming; in filmic terms, the goal is ejaculation, that is, visible coming. If the goal of the pornographic protagonist (the actor or "character") is to come, the goal of the spectator is to see him come (and, more often than not, probably, to come at the same time as him). Partly this has to do with "proof," with the form's "literalness," as Beatrice Faust puts it, with the idea that if you don't really see semen, the performer could have faked it (and so you haven't had value for money). But partly too it has to do with the importance of the visual in the way male sexuality is constructed/ conceptualized. It is striking how much pornographic literature, not a visual medium, stresses the visible elements of sex. (Most remarkable perhaps is Walter, the Victorian narrator of My Secret Life, with his obsessive desire to see into his partner's vagina, even to the detail of seeing, for instance, what his semen looks like after he has ejaculated it into her vagina.) Men's descriptions of their own erections seldom have to do with how their penises feel, but with how they look. The emphasis on seeing orgasm is then part of the way porn (re)produces the construction of male sexuality.

Could it be otherwise, could sexuality be represented differently? So dominant are masculine-centered definitions of sexuality that it often seems as if all representations of sexuality (pornographic or otherwise) are constructed as driven narrative. But there are alternatives, and one that struck me was the lesbian sequences at the end of JE TU IL ELLE, directed by Chantal Akerman. (As Margaret Mead pointed out in her work on sex roles in anthropology, you only need one example of things being different to establish that things can be different in the organization of human existence and hence that things can be changed.) The sequence itself is part of a (minimalist) narrative; but taken by itself it does not have the narrative drive of male porn. It starts in media res. There is no arrival in the room, the women are already making love when the sequence starts (though the previous shot has, perhaps ambiguously, established that they are going to make love). There is no sense of a progression to the goal of orgasm. Nor is there any attempt to find visual or even (as in hetero porn?) aural equivalents for the visible male ejaculation. In particular, there is no sense of genital activity being the last, and getting-down-to-the-real-thing, stage of the experience. It is done in three long takes. There are no editing cuts across a sexual narrative (as in gay porn — see below). The harsh white lighting and the women's white bodies on crumpled white sheets in a room painted white, contribute to the effect of representing the sexuality as more dissolving and ebbing than a masculine thrusting narrative. Let me stress that I am not talking about what the women are doing. For much of the time their actions are far more snatching and grabbing than, for instance, the generally smooth, wet action of fellatio in gay porn. My point is the difference in narrative organization, the cinematic representation of sexuality. [23]

I am not suggesting that this is a better representation of sexuality, or the correct mode for representing lesbian sexuality. Also I want to bracket the question of whether the difference between the two modes of representation is based on biological differences between female and male sexuality, or on different social constructions sexuality, or on a combination of the two.[24] All I want to get over is the difference itself, and the fact that male porn, whether homo or hetero, is ineluctably caught in the narrative model. (This is particularly significant in hetero porn in that it is predominantly constructed around a female protagonist, who is attributed with this narrativized sexuality. However, I am not about to get into whether this is a gain — a recognition of female sexuality as desire — or a loss — a construction of female sexuality in male terms.)[25]

The basis of gay porn film is a narrative sexuality, a construction of male sexuality as the desire to achieve the goal of a visual climax. In relation to gay sexual politics, it is worth signaling that this should give pause to those of us who thought/hoped that being a gay man meant that we were breaking with the gender role system. At certain levels this is true, but there seems no evidence that in the predominant form of how we represent our sexuality to ourselves (in gay porn) we in any way break from the norms of male sexuality.

Particularly significant here is the fact that although the pleasure of anal sex (that is, of being anally fucked) is represented, the narrative is never organized around the desire to be fucked, but around the desire to ejaculate (whether or not following on from anal intercourse). Thus although at the level of public representation gay men may be thought of as deviant and disruptive of masculine norms because we assert the pleasures of being fucked and the eroticism of the anus,[26] in our pornography this takes a back seat.

This is why porn is politically important. Gay porn, like much of the gay male ghetto, has developed partly out of the opening up of social spaces achieved by the gay liberation movements. But porn and the ghetto have overwhelmingly developed within the terms of masculinity. The knowledge that gay porn (re)produces must be put together with the fact that gay men (like straight men but unlike women) do have this mode of public sexual expression available to them, however debased it may be. Like male homosexuality itself, gay porn is always in this very ambiguous relationship to male power and privilege, neither fully within it nor fully outside it.[27] But that ambiguity is a contradiction that can be exploited. In so far as porn is part of the experimental education of the body, it has contributed to and legitimized the masculine model of gay sexuality, a model that always implies the subordination of women. But rather than just allowing it to carry on doing so, it should be our concern to work against this pornography by working with/ within pornography to change it — either by interventions within pornographic filmmaking itself.[28] We might do this by the development of porn within the counter cinemas (always remembering that the distinction between porn in the usual commercial sense and sexual underground/ alternative/ independent cinema has always been blurry when you come to look at the films themselves). Or we may develop a criticism that involves audiences reflecting on their experience of pornography (rather than by closing down on reflection by straight condemnation or celebration of it).

So far all I've been talking about is the most basic, minimal narrative organization of (gay) male pornography. However, gay porn is characterized as much by the elaborations of its narrative method as by its insistence on narrative itself. Though the bare narrative elements may not often go beyond those described above, they are frequently organized into really quite complex narrative wholes. Often there is a central narrative thread — two men who are in love or who want to get off with each other. But this is punctuated by almost all of the devices of narrative elaboration imaginable, most notably flashbacks (to other encounters, or previous encounters of the main characters with each other), fantasies (again, with others or each other, of what might or could be), parallelism (cutting back and forth between two or more different sexual encounters) and so on. All preserve the coming-to-visual-climax underlying narrative organization, but why this fascination with highly wrought narrative patterns? To begin with, of course, it is a way of getting more fucks in, with more people.[29] There is even perhaps an element of humor, as the filmmakers knowingly strain their imagination to think of ways of bringing in yet more sex acts. But it is also a way of teasing the audience sexually, because it is a way of delaying climax, of extending foreplay. In parallel sequences, each fuck is effectively temporally extended, each climax delayed. More generally, the various additional encounters delay the fulfillment of the basic narrative of the two men who are the central characters.

(For example, in L.A. TOOL AND DIE the underlying narrative is Wylie's journey to Los Angeles to find a job and his lover Hank. Wylie and Hank are played by the stars of the film, Will Seagers and Richard Locke, so we know that their having sex together must be the climax. But there are various encounters along Wylie's way, including memories, observation of other couples, incidental encounters with other men, and even inserted scenes with characters with whom Wylie has no connection, before arrival at Los Angeles and finally making it with Hank.)

There is a third reason for this narrative elaboration. Just as the minimal coming-to-visual-climax structure is a structural analogue for male sexuality, so the effective multiplication of sex acts through elaborate narrativity is an analogue for a (utopian) model of a gay sexual lifestyle that combines a basic romanticism with an easy acceptance of promiscuity. Thus the underlying narrative is often romantic, the ultimate goal is to make love with the man; but along the way a free-ranging, easygoing promiscuity is possible. While not all gay men actually operate with such a model of how they wish to organize their affective lives, it is a very predominant one in gay cultural production, a utopian reconciliation of the desire for romance and promiscuity, security and freedom, making love and having sex.

It is worth stressing how strong the element of romance is, since this is perhaps less expected than the celebration of promiscuity. The plot of L.A. TOOL AND DIE outlined above is a good example, as in NAVY BLUE in which two sailors on shore leave seek out other lovers because each doesn't think that the other is gay, yet each is really in love with the other (as fantasy sequences make clear). Only at the end of the film do they realize their love for each other. Or take WANTED, a gay porn version of THE DEFIANT ONES, in which two convicts, one gay (Al Parker) and one straight (Will Seagers), escape from prison together. Despite Seagers' hostility to Parker's sexuality, they stick together, with Parker having various sexual encounters, including watching Seagers masturbate. The film is a progression from the sadistic prison sexuality at the start (also offered, I know, as pornographic pleasure), through friendly mutual sexual pleasuring between Parker and various other men, to a final encounter, by an idyllic brookside, between Parker and Seagers which is the culmination of their developing friendship. Some men I know who've seen the film find this final sequence too conventionally romantic (which it is — that's why I like it) or else too bound up with the self-oppressive fantasy of the straight man who deigns to have sex with another man. It can certainly be taken that way, but I know when I first saw it I was really moved by what seemed to be Seagers' realization of the sexuality of his feeling for Parker. And what particularly moved me was the moment when Seagers comes in Parker's mouth, and the latter gently licks the semen off Seagers' penis. Here it seemed was an explicit and arousing moment of genital sexuality that itself expressed a tender emotional feeling — through its place in the narrative, through the romanticism of the setting, through the delicacy of Parker's performance. If porn taught us that more often …

One of the most interesting ways of making narratives complex in gay porn is the use of films within films. Many gay porn films are about making gay porn films. Many others involve someone showing gay porn films to himself or someone else (with the film-within-the-film then becoming for a while the film we are watching). The process of watching, and also of being watched (in the case of those films about making gay porn) are thus emphasized. This is done not in the interests of foregrounding the means of construction in order to deconstruct them, but because the pleasure of seeing sex is what motivates (gay) male pornography and can be heightened by having attention drawn to it. (There is a whole other topic, to do with the power in play in looking/being looked at, which I won't get into here.) We have in these cases a most complex set of relations between screen and auditorium. On screen someone actually having sex is watched (photographed) by a filmmaker watched (photographed) by another invisible filmmaker (the one who made the film on screen), and all are watched by someone in the audience who is (or generally reckons to be) himself actually having sex. Gay porn here collapses the distinctions between representation and that which it is a representation of, while at the same time showing very clearly the degree to which representation is part of the pleasure to be had in that which it is a representation of. Porn (all porn) is, for good or ill (and currently mainly for ill), part of how we live our sexuality. How we represent sexuality to ourselves is part of how we will live it, and porn has rather cornered the market on the representation of sexuality. Gay porn seems to make that all clearer, because there is greater equality between the participants (performers, filmmakers, audiences)[30] — which permits a fuller exploration of the education of desire that is going on. Porn involves us bodily in that education. Criticism of porn should be opening up reflection on the education we are receiving in order to change it.


1. I'd like to thank JUMP CUT editorial collective for their helpful and also very enjoyable involvement in the editing of this article. Since first writing it, I have incorporated not only many of their suggestions but also much of the useful discussions on pornography and gay macho in the Birmingham Gay Men's Socialist Group. Many thanks to all these people then — but I'll still take the blame for the finished article.

For the rest of the article, gay porn will always refer to gay male porn.

2. For a general introduction to this, see Julia Lesage, "Women and Pornography," JUMP CUT, No. 26, pp. 46-47, 60, and the bibliography by Gina Marchetti in the same issue, pp. 56-60.

3. This access is not actually so easy outside of certain major metropolitan centers, and the recent anti-pornography legislation in Great Britain has hit gay porn far more decisively than straight.

4. This argument is developed by Terry Lovell in Pictures of Reality, London: British Film Institute, 1981.

5. For example, Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women (New York: Putnam's, 1981); Susan Griffin, Pornography and Silence (London: The Women's Press, 1981); Laura Lederer (ed), Take Back the Night (New York: William Morrow, 1980).

6. For example, Kathy Myers, "Towards a Feminist Erotica," Camerawork, March 1982, pp. 14-16, 19, reviews of Dworkin and Griffin by Deborah Allen and Gavin Harris in Gay Information No. 9/10, pp. 20-27, and by Janice Winship in Feminist Review No. 11, pp. 97-100, and B. Ruby Rich's review of NOT A LOVE STORY in Village Voice, July 20, 1982.

7. See Allen and Harris above, p. 22.

8. "Because it is less specific, less suggestive of actual sexual activity, 'erotica' is regularly used as a euphemism for 'classy porn.' Pornography expressed in literary language or expensive photography and consumed by the upper middle class is 'erotica; the cheap stuff, which can't pretend to any purpose but getting people off, is smut." Ellen Willis, quoted by Mick Carter in "The Re-education of Desire: Some Thoughts on Current Erotic Visual Practices," Art and Text No. 4, pp. 20-38.

9. An example of this is the role of the representation of the body in Christian iconography. At one level, the body of Christ could not be a more central motif of Christianity, most notably in the image of Christ on the cross. But the tendency remains to stress what the body means at the expense of what it is, to highlight transcendence over the body. In the Christian story of Christ as the Word made flesh, it is the Word that ultimately matters, not the flesh.

10. The magazine m/f is the leading example of this.

11. For a critique of idealism, see Terry Lovell, cited above.

12. The one area of cultural work that has been concerned with body knowledge is dance, but the leading exponents of Modern Dance such as Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis have been influentially committed to notions of natural movement. See Elizabeth Kendally, Where She Danced, New York: Alfred Knopf, 1979.

13. See Elizabeth Wilson, What Is To Be Done About Violence Against Women? Penguin, 1983.

14. See Mick Carter, cited above.

15. In Gay Left No. 6, pp. 16-20.

16. In Wide Angle Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 62-65. I am conscious that because this article, in a manner of speaking, attacks things I have written — and even attacks what it infers from them about my sexual practices — that I may here treat the article rather unfairly.

17. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1981.

18. See Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, New York: Vintage Books, 1980.

19. In Gay News, Winter Extra, December l981/January 1982, pp. 15-20.

20. This is only one element of any full analysis. One of the major elements not discussed here, and that needs work doing on it, is the role of iconography — of dress and setting, and especially performers, the male types that are used, porn stars' images and so on, all drenched in ideological meanings.

21. Women, Sex and Pornography, Penguin, 1982, p. 16.

22. See David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art, Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1979.

23. For further discussion, see Angela Martin, "Chantal Akerman's films: A Dossier," Feminist Review, No. 3 pp. 24-47.

24. For a discussion of this difficult nature/nurture debate from a socialist feminist perspective that does not discount the contribution of biology altogether, see Janet Sayers, Biological Politics, London: Tavistock, 1982.

25. See Dennis Giles, "Angel on Fire," Velvet Light Trap, No. 16.

26. See Guy Hocquenghem, Homosexual Desire, London: Allison and Busby, 1978.

27. See Michele Barrett, Women's Oppression Today, London: Verso, 1980, Chapter two, for a discussion of the relationship between male homosexuality and women's subordination.

28. For some consideration of this, see Paul Alcuin Siebenand, "The Beginnings of Gay Cinema in Los Angeles: The Industry and the Audience," doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, (Department of Communications), 1975.

29. Cf. Same Mele and Mark Thirkell, "Pornographic Narrative," Gay Information No. 6.

30. This is a question of degree — producers and audiences are not equal in their power of determining the form that representation takes, and especially in a field so fiercely colonized by capitalist exploitation as pornography. At the psychological level, performers and audience members are not necessarily equal, in that performers are validated as attractive sexual beings to a degree that audience members may not be. But the point is that they are all gay men participating in a gay subculture, a situation that does not hold with heterosexual porn. See Siebenand, cited above, and also Tom Waugh in the article in this issue of JUMP CUT.