A story about this — 6 years ago
We examined exerpts of this book in a class I took about media and gender. I thought that seeing the book in its entirety would help me understand it and all the fuss the book got back in the 90s. I’m not sure it did.
For a book about sex, titled Sex, it’s not an erotic piece. The photos are all obviously staged. I think Madonna had a point— and was trying to do several things with this book; I’m just not sure I got it.
There was one aspect that I did find interesting. I noticed that all the men in the book are either clothed or their parts obscured when naked. The edition I have is Asian, but I’m assuming this was the same in all the printings. I think the question Madonna was asking here was “why does a naked woman equate degredation?” She writes at one point that she does not believe pornography is degrading to women. Perhaps she meant it does’t HAVE to be degrading to women because she then illustrates her point by showing women naked and having fun throughout the book. This is juxtaposed by the fact that the men are clothed and often dominated in many scenes. She seems to be pointing out how our conception of women-as-dominated in contemporary pornography is a constructed reality saying more about our society than about sex. There’s probably a point about pornography versus art here too, but what hasn’t been said about that by now…