Pornography and Liberation: Understanding Cultures of Violence

  • Karen Gabriel St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi


Drawing from select South Asian examples, this paper argues that pornography is an economically, socially and culturally significant phenomenon that must be understood as falling within the domains of representation and of commercialised sex. To ignore the understanding of it as purchased sex and as sex work, is to misread the phenomenon and to expose the already precarious and gendered labour to the risks of an unregulated workplace. It further argues that the rapid transnational spread of porn is a consequence of several factors that include the Internet boom, technological changes, convergence, capitalist entrepreneurship, and the ease with which the (sexual) labour of women is commodified and devalued. Finally, it argues that the neoliberal ethos, current economics and capitalist logic and cultures are deeply imbricated in emotional and intimate lives, and ascribe value to subject-bodies and the labour they perform. These subject-bodies also become the sites on which the tensions of intersecting identities of gender, race, class, nationality and ethnicity are staged, eroticised and sold. The understanding of porn as a liberatory phenomenon is thus, an incomplete one at best.

Dec 31, 2017
How to Cite
GABRIEL, Karen. Pornography and Liberation: Understanding Cultures of Violence. Kairos: A Journal of Critical Symposium, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, p. 109-120, dec. 2017. ISSN 2581-7361. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 19 feb. 2019.