Author Camille Paglia Defends Porn’s Important Role

Camille Paglia is an intellectual firebrand. Her arms twirl, her eyes brighten, and the ideas pour out of her mouth almost faster than she can articulate them. Best known for high-minded works like Sexual Personae, Paglia is also famous for a contrarian streak that puts her at odds with many of her contemporaries in academia. While feminist theory usually decries pornography, Paglia sees the adult industry in a more favorable light. She addressed the question with typical zeal in a recent discussion sponsored by The Mill Series at Lafayette College.

“I am pro-pornography — not just tolerating pornography, I am pro-pornography, because I believe pornography is not a distortion,” Paglia told questioners when they asked about the current role of adult entertainment. For Paglia, porn offers a window into the “primitive force” of our sexuality and plays a pivotal role in society as a result.

Continued Paglia: “Pornography occupies the realm of imagination that art does. It deserves the same respect as art. You look to pornography [to see] what is on the human mind today. What is sexy, what is erotic in pornography of a certain historical moment involves the violation of a taboo. You discover what the taboos are in any culture by looking at pornography. It will tell you what is forbidden. The heat is in the violation of the taboo. All pornography contains social information.” (This goes a long way to accounting for the surging popularity of the interracial and family roleplay genres.)

Despite her support of the idea of pornography in general, Paglia is not a big consumer of porn and thinks that most porn designed for women has failed. “Women are not interested in pornography,” she noted. “They’re not particularly excited by visual images. They’re more excited by situations. There has to be a storyline involved with it.”

Check out Paglia’s full comments, including her take on prostitution, Playboy vs. Penthouse and more:

Featured image: Taboo: The Mothers Edition