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Response

Normative Porn: the rise of pornographic snapshots.

In something of a throwaway comment within a broader discussion, Catherine Zuromskis situates amateur, domestic pornography as an “alternative” snapshot practice, in the same league as other “misuses” of snapshot material available to us (61). This makes sense in the context of her argument, that primarily deals with material, family snapshots, and the regulatory discourse that reinforces social normativity via traditional snapshot praxis. While domestic porn was being produced well before the pre-photographic eras, the practice was by no means acknowledged in general, public spheres of social engagement. With the advent of pervasive camera technologies and self-curation online, amateur pornography has emerged as just one common (if precarious) element of technologically-abetted social rituals.

The issue here isn’t so much the perniciousness in the exchange of sexually explicit snapshots online, and via smartphones. There are certainly numerous cases detailing how the privacy, agency, personal feelings, and psychological well-being of individuals have been attacked, exploited, and disregarded via the theft,or non-consensual, sharing of private pornographic snapshots. Moreover, as Zuromiskis points out, preexisting hierarchical antagonisms – male/female, public/private – that underpin ideology continue to find some articulation in the current conventions of domestic photography (62). This is evidenced by the potential pressure on individuals to risk their dignity in the production and sharing of amateur pornographic images, and the subsequent victim blaming that occurs when these objects are exposed without consent.

And yet this dimension is one of many that comprise the rise of “casual” pornography accompanying communications platforms like Snapchat. At the risk of making a sweeping generalization, people are now constantly producing self-authored pornographic material to be shared with significant others and, sometimes, with larger sex-positive communities. Any correlation between sex-positive attitudes and domestic pornography is a slippery slope, but it should be acknowledged that a “general” practice of personal pornography and sexual expression have entered in the nomenclature and consciousness of digital culture.

Some scholars have argued that digital technologies are not so much altering domestic photography as they are “enhancing” or speeding up the process (Rose 83). But this implies a mere transferral of implicit expectations and discourse which inform photograph practice. I think Shove et al make the compelling case that the digital does interrupt and “reconfigure taxonomies of photographic opportunity, and associated concepts of quality and competence” (88). Pornographic snapshots are no longer alternative, but normalized.

Ironically, this has led to projects that revise “traditional” photographic criticism in the context casual porn snapshots, where the pornographic subject itself is tangential.


Works Cited:

Rose, Gillian. “How Digital Technologies Do Family Snaps, Only Better.” Digital Snaps: The New Face of Photography. eds. Jonas Larsen and Mette Sandbye. New York: I.B. Taurus, 2015. 67-86. Print.

Shove, Elizabeth at al. “Reproducing Digital Photography.” The Design of Everyday Life. Oxford: Berg, 2007. 71-92. Print.

Zuromskis, Catherine. “Intimate Exposures.” The Lives of Images. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013. 19-65. Print.

Baker, Katie J.M. “Concerned About Your Dick Pic Skills? Here’s a Website for You!” Jezebel. 25 Oct. 2013. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. http://jezebel.com

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About Stem #selfie Research

uWaterloo Graduate Student. Herbivore. Sophist. Videogamer. Comics devotee. Bleeding-heart socialist. Sonically-inclined materialist. Sex-positive feminist. Cook. Dork. Researcher. LGBTQIA ally. Newfoundlander. DIY carpenter. Book hoarder. Queergendered pansexual. Awkward Duck. Pretend-adult.

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