Porn and Feminism – The Story of Annabel Chong

I just finished reading a really interesting interview with Annabel Chong, a woman famous for starring in the world’s largest gangbang (251 sex acts with 70 different men over a period of 10 hours). Pulling off such a stunt (which, by the way, resulted in the best selling porn film of all time) most certainly leads all of us to certain assumptions about what type of woman Annabel Chong might be. For some who feel that porn is inherently oppressive to women – the Andrea Dworkin types – there is a probably a feeling of pity; maybe even of disgust. For those who subscribe to more a pro-porn feminist philosophy, certain anti-sex sentiments socialized into all of us from a very young age are probably subtly resulting in negative conclusions about Chong’s quality of character or intelligence.

Would you have expected that Annabel Chong graduated from USC with a 3.7? That she is an extremely articulate, socially aware, self-proclaimed feminist?

Putting the feminism/porn debate aside for a second, I think it’s important to remember that female porn stars are still autonomous agents capable of making active decisions about their life (this is of course not to discout those women who are forcibly coerced into the sex business – that is a different matter entirely). But women like Annabel Chong, I think, serve as an important reminder that women can still be activists, even when engaging in acts that traditional feminism frowns upon. Being a housewife, being a porn star, being a mom, a teacher, a nurse – all of these things do not necessarily negate feminism. And yes, sometimes women end up becoming these things because they are socialized to believe that they have no other choice… but sometimes they don’t. And maybe that distinction isn’t always entirely clear. But who are we, as feminists, to generalize all women of a certain profession or lifestyle as helpess non-agents supposedly being victimized by choices that they, supposedly, could have no way made based on their own desires?

I guess what I’m trying to say, in a more concise manner, is that automatically assuming that all women who make stereotypically “un-feminist” decisions are doing so because they have been too oppressed to know any better completely denies those women their agency – a pretty “un-feminist” move in and of itself, in my book anyway.

Anyway, I totally didn’t mean to get into this discussion – I was really just planning on posting the link to the interview! I really recommend that you read it, if you get the chance. You can find it here:

http://www.nerve.com/Dispatches/Goodman/chong/index.asp?page=1

* Trigger warning for some discussion of rape on the fourth page.

Check out the last page in particular for her discussions on feminism.

“[…P]eople usually think of porn stars as the exact opposite of feminists. I would say that I would like to be known as a porn star feminist. It’s like, either you’re a porn star or you’re a feminist, but you can’t be both. So, being a little punk I’d like to be both. [Laughs]” – Annabel Chong

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