Sunday, March 27, 2011

Planet on a Plate

Q15: Is it possible to meet present global demand for animal products humanely and sustainably? If so, how? If not, what should we do?

0-5min: NEWS
-- Vegetarian Debate

First, each team will take turns summarizing their paper in 5 minutes. Next, there will be 20 minutes of open debate. Finally, you will have 20 minutes to record and analyze the results of the debate. The last 20 minutes of class we will all reflect on the debate and animal unit.

You are not arguing for or against vegetarianism per say, so much as arguing *as* the author of your paper. Don't make arguments that s/he wouldn't. Each team is required to make an outline of their reading (i.e. a one-sentence thesis and a paragraph summary). Your guilds will be assessed on a) your knowledge of and loyalty to the readings, b) the clarity and conciseness of your presentation, c) the strengths of your defenses, and d) the generosity and thoughtfulness of your responses

--power point

Over the last 50 years, the method of producing food animals in the United States has changed…[and] has come at a cost to the environment and a negative impact on public health, rural communities, and the health and well-being of the animals themselves.
--Pew Commission (2008)
CAFOs (i.e. “factory farms”)
  • Replaces small, sustainable farms
  • Contracted into massive debt
  • Lung disease & Nausea from smell
  • Toxic contamination of ground water
  • Decreased property values
  • Human rights violations
  • Exploitation of migrant laborers
  • Among the most dangerous jobs in USA
  • High turn over rates
  • Destruction of community
  • Increased violence within communities
Other Health Concerns
  • Livestock compete with world’s hungry over staple grains
  • Increased bacterial food contamination
  • Breeds “superbugs” (resistant to antibiotics)
  • Source of heart disease and cancer
“The Livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every scale from local to global
--UN’s FAO 2006

  • Severely depletes groundwater / aquifers
  • Contributes to the eutrophication of rivers and dead zones in the Gulf Of Mexico
  • Potential collapse of world fisheries by 2048
  • 90% of large predatory fish pop. Depleted and most fisheries fully or over-exploited
  • Large numbers of unwanted fish killed as by-catch (Only ½ of fish caught in nets are eaten)
  • Deep water trawling destroy ancient marine habitats (like clear-cutting a rainforest)
  • Shrimp farming destroy coastal forests
Conversion Ratios (protein output : input)
Over 95% animals in the USA are from CAFOs
  • 1:2 chicken
  • 1:5 pig
  • 1:10 cows
Over half of fish now come from fish farms
  • 1:3 salmon
  • 1:5 cod
  • 1: 20 tuna
  • Occupies 33% of arable land, 70% ag land
  • Responsible for 55% of land erosion in USA
  • US diet uses 20x more land than vegan diet
  • Responsible for 70% of Amazon deforestation
  • Eradication of wildlife (i.e. wolves and bison)
  • Livestock sector contribute 18% of global anthropogenic GHGs
  • US diet : vegan diet // SUV : compact car
  • Ammonia emissions major cause of acid rain

15-40min: MOVIE
--Animal Factories in Michigan (see below)

40-60min: WORKSHEETS
Discuss the questions for the readings in small groups (10min each)
--write your names at the top!

Q1: What would the following ethicists' positions be on producing and consuming animals in the context of today's readings on animal agribusiness' impact on animal welfare, social welfare, and the environment? (Please give an explanation of only one sentence):

  1. Immanuel Kant (Deontologist)
  2. Peter Singer (Utilitarian)
  3. Upton Sinclair (Socialist)
  4. Greta Gaard (Anti-colonialist Feminist)

Q2: After reading the articles and discussing the ethical positions above, what ought to be done to produce and consume animals sustainably on a global scale?(Consider the questions below. You MUST justify your answers with today's readings)

  1. Are people eating too many animals and animal products? If so, how much is too much?
  2. Are there certain animals we ought not to eat? Which ones? Why?
  3. Should certain people eat less or more animals? If so, which ones? Why?
  4. If you had the power, what agricultural policies would you write for the USA?
  5. As individuals in the USA, what actions ought we take in regards to eating animals?
60-80min: DISCUSSION
--Discuss the questions above with regards to today's readings.

PBS FRONTLINE: Polluted Waters (Chesapeake Bay Chicken Farms)

SIERRA CLUB: Living a Nightmare: Animal Factories in Michigan

POP TECH 2009: Gidon Eshel on the Impact of Food

Gidon Eshel: The Impact of Food from PopTech on Vimeo.

TED: Mark Bittman on What's wrong with what we eat

The Sexual Politics of Meat


InGame Now: Vegetarian Eats Bacon in Bacon Bikini

PETA: Superbowl Ad 2009


New York Times: "Where Only the Salad is Properly Dressed"
(Frank Bruni 2007)

New York Daily News: "Wall Streeter sues employer over vegetarian taunts"


Suicide Food: Sexy

Burger King
I am a Man

Cheat on Beef a

Cheat on Beef b

Carl Jr's
Paris Hilton

Padma Lakshmi

Ms. Turkey

White Castle
BBQ Pulled Pork


Taylor Mali "On what teachers make"

Monday, December 6, 2010

America the Porn Queen

In last week's class we watched another interesting documentary on media and body image. Most of the documentaries in class I really enjoyed, but little of the content had been all that new to me. When I saw we were going to watch yet another documentary on body image, I was anticipating just more of the same. We had already watched one on sexual stereotypes, women in advertisements, and two on masculinity (which and one on Disney that discussed every angle on gender and media representation I expected to see in the class, but America the Beautiful was different. It was less an education film than a documentary, a narrative with characters you loved to watch or loved to hate.

Darryl Roberts' documentary was a refreshing look that was more investigative than agenda driven. Certainly there was some craft with how the story would be told, but overall the film felt more like an exposure to a culture with fascist beauty standards perpetuated by top media firms and the fashion industries. I was surprised to learn that one reason designers show off very thin models is in order to save costs on fabrics. On the one hand, this made sense--there was a logic to it, but on the other, the logic was perverse! The only costs being taken into account are monetary, with all social and emotional costs for millions of little girls being externalized and marginalized. (And I thought it was exclusively to sell a standard in which very few could attain and thus people would perpetually be spending money on all kinds of projects which only the wealthiest could ultimately keep up with and thus achieve the ideal and make it all the more prestigious. According to one report, to upkeep a diva appearance, the average woman would spend approximately $450,000 in her lifetime on beauty products and procedures!)

Also interesting, a couple men of possibly the lowest common denominator in society were interviewed including one guy who could care less about women as anything more than fuck object and servant and another who would have won at evolutionary psychology bingo. According to this one doctor(?), humans had evolved to prefer lighter skin so that they could spot diseases further away--something that makes no sense since it would be to assume genetic determinacy and would be irrelevant to explaining how skin color is a cline that varies by latitude, not so much genes. It was almost unbearable to watch how offensive he was to one woman of color who sought his help, making her skin five shades lighter to make her more "objectively" beautiful, then getting ubber upset and defensive when she left, calling her a "loser" just like the Amerindians who continue to live on reservations. She also, according to him, had no more excuses for her status since she had never been a slave like her ancestors. I really wanted Roberts to sock him in the face, even though I'm usually opposed to violence. This was one man who was never going to "get it."

Most interesting of all was the whole narrative that tracked Gerren Taylor's rise and fall as a supermodel, from "the giraffe" to the "obese." As one interviewee noted, Gerren had not so much self-esteem from modeling so much as an inflated ego, an ego-enhancement. From my own personal experience and observation, ego is often the utmost detriment to self-esteem. And so we saw how true this was, as Gerren crashed and burned because she was neither thin nor white enough by European standards. It was audacious to hear how many people had called her obese. I'm assuming this was done out of spite and/or jealousy. The extend to which Garret and the other girls in the video really believed they were "ugly" was extremely disturbing. How odd that someone could have so much certainty about something so subjective!

On pornography

Somethings I would have liked to see more of in this class are positive and subversive and alternative media. Too often we have to hear about all that is wrong with the media that it makes us progressive folk sound like a bunch of whiners--I'm guilty of this in my class too, of course. I feel that showing some scandalous and creative forms of media expression would be more empowering to people in the class showing that there are still ways to resist cultural hegemony and disrupt the meanings and identities we have inherited.

Besides that, I would have also liked to see less focus on gender and more on sexuality. Yes, the two are very related, but we left untouched one of the most powerful social forces in the media over the last several decades--pornography. Pornography is quickly creeping its way into every mainstream outlet including corporate advertisements (i.e. Carl's), cable television (i.e. Nip/Tuck), and video games (i.e. Grand Theft Auto). Very little of class was devoted to discussing sexual identity and politics other than the one day on GBLT in the media--which was one of the most educational days for myself. When sex work was discussed in videos, it generally painted women as victims and objects, rather than agents. I think it would have been great to have more discussion over how sex workers are portrayed by the media for it seems very few people really take the time to listen to their voices and instead opt for speaking for them.

Sex worker politics aside, pornography has had such a radical shaping of people's sex life ever since porn became freely accessible to anyone with a web connection. I recently watched several documentaries on pornography and had a hard time swallowing some of the statistics (no pun intended). For instance, the porn industry racks in more dough than all of major league sports in the country combined. One documentary was about an experiment to see what effect pornography would have on one's perception if one were to watch it everyday for a month. Both men involved had significantly less happiness with their current partner and belief in commitment and found themselves less sexually disciplined. After a month of recovery from the exercise, their opinions rebounded back to where they were before. In another documentary, the filmmakers followed Anabelle Chong, who became famous after breaking the world record by sleeping with 251 guys in 10 hours. It was pretty sad, given that in the end word gets out when she visits her family in Singapore that she isn't so much an artists as her teacher and other expected to be but a porn actress. She leaves them shamed and returns to the US promising all that she will bring them honor again, but ends up returning to the industry--probably because of finance issues since she was never given $10,000 from her infamous gangbang even though she had risked her life.

My favorite documentary was Pornography: The Secret History of Civilization. It is a six-part series that discusses erotic art from ancient Rome through the middle ages and renaissance up into Victorian England and the sexual revolution, concluding with an analysis of video and internet porn's influence on both technology and sex life. I recall watching Gail Dines give a talk on pornography and its collusion with capitalism via Playboy, which helped sell a new lifestyle after the war as well as a new persona. I've heard both positive receptions of Kinsey and Hefner in promoting sexual liberation, but also heavy criticism over their methods and exploitation. In either case, it cannot be undone, and for better or worse, if it weren't for porn, VHSs victory over beta may not have been secured. In addition, broadband internet and cybersecurity Dines claims were the products of enormous demand for high quality and quantity porn.

The perfect vagina from heather leach on Vimeo.

As was seen in America the Beautiful, a surgery on the rise is vaginal correction, in which women are unhappy or embarrassed about their labia minora wither because they are asymmetric or enlarged compared to the pornography they or the men they are interested in are used to. Recent studies even tell us that men are influenced to mimic acts in the films they see such as choking women and ejaculating on their bodies. Dines believes that porn, at least the porn industry is a threat to healthy and private sex lives, especially now that the person next to you can be looking at it next to you on his cell phone or that any child could accidentally stumble across it, typing in the most innocent of searches such as white house. Porn is no longer less impossible to avoid than it is impossible to censor.

Tough Guise, Weak Personality

Tough Guise
After watching a documentary by Jackson Katz, Tough Guise, a week before, I requested to show a video about Linda McMahon's run for senator of Connecticut. I had just watched a couple minutes into the video when I realized that ti was mad by the same director. I hadn't anticipated showing all ten minutes of the segment, especially since I hadn't even watched all of it myself, but no one had cut me off. So we all bared witness to some of the most disturbing footage all class, as female wrestlers were bullied and humiliated in front of thousands of screaming and taunting men and women.

Nearly everyone in the class was extremely dismayed by what was just seen... well, at least all the women and the feminist dudes (that being me). As far as I can recall all the other guys in class said either nothing or were apologetic of the WWE, the that produced this crap. While none of them were saying it was acceptable or no big deal, several of them acted defensively in regards to their past relationship to it as boys. It was an awkward spot to be placed in, I suppose--being surrounded by several dozen upset women and a heinous wake up call what they previously enjoyed as children. A couple of the guys responded by saying that they were no longer interested in the show after they found out it wasn't "real." Professor Everbach laughed, and asked them if they would only enjoy this scene if it were real. They said "no!" and that it was only make believe and that the women participating did so on their own free will and made a lot of money.

Their response was right out of oppression bingo (I don't think one made a card for it yet). One by assuming any occupation someone takes is purely a matter of free will; second, by assuming they didn't pressure these women into doing things they felt uncomfortable with as they were under contract; three, that as long as they get paid, that makes all else acceptable.

Of course, the biggest fallacy of all was the naive divide they established between "fantasy" and "reality." I tried to explain to the best of my tired-ass ability that the distinction between fantasy and reality breaks down if we are to follow the social theorists like Erving Goffin and Judith Butler who argue that gender identity is a performance, not an essence. That is, gender is performed in a society that recognizes certain acts as signs of one's gender, that register as one being of such and such a gender simply by playing the role of that gender. That these wrestlers were "just playing" is oversimplifying the phenomenon. When people watch, whether they recognize this is "just play" or not, either way they are recognizing certain roles as masculine and others as feminine, and are in some way being instructed on how to play these parts.

The fact that there are thousands of real people cheering and sympathizing with Vince MacMahan and others as they "fake" humiliating and sexually assaulting women seems to me that something more than innocent fun is taking place. People are enthralled and impassioned by this narrative and in interviews express no uncertainty about the justness of such acts. The guys in class called these people "stupid," as if only less intelligent people would take enjoyment out of misogyny, as if wealthy and/or educated celebrities would think this behavior too low brow. But really, they would just as likely eat this up in a different context--perhaps in a scene at the theater. What happens is that they end up projecting their own anxieties over their ambiguous relationship with misogyny onto Others, displacing responsibility.

Finally, to take the cake, a couple of them came up after class after they had heard one of the students was crying on the toilet because she had been so upset by what they were saying--feeling that there was no hope for the world--and attempted to purge themselves of fault. Perhaps they wanted to be reassured that they had done nothing wrong, but even so, their attitude was a gain to displace responsibility and guilt by falling back upon the dictum of personal responsibility. AS long as they hadn't said anything wrong, and they didn't think they did, they were off the hook. There was no need to apologize because they were right in their opinion and it had harmed no one. Little did they think of the collective responsibility they shared in being men in a patriarchal culture or by being part of a mosaic of unpleasant opinions.

Sex and Gender in Video Games

Female video game characters tend to verge on the extreme opposites of sexuality, neither of which are particularly flattering or accurate. On one end of the spectrum, there are women who are portrayed as helpless damsels that lounge around in long pink dresses, waiting to be rescued by your typical hero, and on the other end you have self-reliant, empowered women who risk endless sexualisation from video game developers or the gaming community as a whole
* Men fear strong, empowered women because these women make men feel weak. Sexualising these characters portrays them as having a weakness (i.e. sexual hunger) that can only be cured by men, thus returning the male to an alpha position.
* Video game developers felt that games featuring independent women in the title role would alienate traditional male gamers so the characters were sexualised to entice players.
* Men are so shallow that every woman they see offers the opportunity to create a vacuous sex object in their heads. Video games (and the internet) have offered society the opportunity to share these musings.
* Female characters with large breasts and little clothing sell more games; we’re in a shady business after all.[*]
History of Female Game Icons
The first video arcade, Pong (1972), was released by Atari in the early 1970s, later to be released on the first home console, the Atari 2600 (1977). Four years after the first game console and nearly a decade after the invention of popular video games, gamers would be able to play the first female protagonist, Ms. Pac Man (1981).

But just as quickly as the empowerment of female characters entered the picture, so did their degradation: the damsel in distress and the sex object. A year later, Nintendo's Donkey Kong (1981) would introduce the precursors to Mario, Bowser, and Princess Peach--Jumpman, Donkey Kong, and Pauline--, based off the Popey-Bluto-Olive Oyl triad. Pauline and her successor Peach would become the archetype of the damsel in distress character. On the other hand, you also had the release of three of the most mysoginistic games of all time by a developed named Mystique. In 1982 they released three a trilogy of disgusting including Custer's Revenge, in which your objective as Custer is to dodge Amerindian arrows so you have sex with (rape?) a woman named "Revenge" tied up to a cactus, Beat Em' & Beat Em' in which you control two naked women who must ingest the ejaculate from a man on a roof, and Bachelor Party in whcih you control a man who must bang a two lines of falling women.

While the damsel in distress was a motif that has persisted long in video game history, the release of eroticism on videogame counsels would be very rare (at least within American and mainstream markets). The female protagonist returned in the late 80s and early 90s, including Chun-Li in Street Fighter II (1991) and Sonya Blade in Mortal Kombat (1992), in addition to female characters in Role Playing Games like Final Fantasy III (1990) and the protagonist, Terra, of one of the most popular one's, FFVI (1994). The largest female role of all since Ms. Pac Man would come in the form of Samus Aran in Metroid (1986), a space bounty hunter whom you did not discover until a secret ending was actually a woman. Samus would become the most beloved female lead in gaming (a topic I'll discuss later).

Samus's popularity, however would subside since the sequels Metroid Prime II (1991) and Super Metroid (1994) were not to be followed up by another, Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion (2002) for another 8 years. Meanwhile, Lara Croft, the star of Tomb Raider Tomb Raider (1996) and the "girls" of Dead or Alive (1996), a fighting game in which the 3D characters' breasts jiggled, became the new face of female game characters. While the Both Lara and the DoA girls were tough, the DoA girls were more eye candy compared to Lara who at least had wit and personality and could figure as an empowering, although increasingly sexualized female game character.

Frustratingly, as one saw the presence of more female game characters, they were either regulated to "girl games" or manufactured as pure eye candy and sex objects. This trend was perhaps anticipated or set a new bar with Grand Theft Auto III (2001), in which one could purchase sex from prostitutes (and murder them to steal the money back). While GTAII was critically acclaimed despite its violent nature for allowing gamers to have one of the most liberating worlds in any game, a host of other games to follow were so bad that they used sex to sell, at least some have argued. These games include BMX XXX (2002), in which topless women riding around nude on motor vehicles, Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball (2003), which centers around oogling at buxom women, and Rumble Roses (2004), a wrestling game with scantidly clad women with jiggly breasts.

The year 2004 was a a paradox for female portrayal in video games. On the one hand, it introduced some of the most powering female character yet. Samus returned in her second fifth-generation game, Metroid Prime: Echoes, as well as two of what are considered the strongest and most admirable female roles in video games: Jade in Beyond Good and Evil (2004), Alyx Half-Life 2 (2004). However, this was also perhaps the sexiest year in gaming history since Mystique's gruesome trilogy in 1982. Of this lineup included Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (2004), in which you play a supersenior in college trying to lay as many women as possible, Playboy: The Mansion (2004), in which you play Hugh Hefner trying to make a buck, the Guy Game (2004) in which the hetero-male player must guess what a videorecorded woman will answer to a trivia question in order to see her breasts. (There is also another game I can't find, that was the first dating simulator game that allowed players to choose homosexual--but not bisexual--characters).

In many of these games, sex was implicit and nothing more than nudity and heavy petting made an appearance. Yet, some content had been cut from the game but not removed form the code, as it was discovered to be the case in the Hot Coffee scandal of the GTAIII sequel, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004), in which there was an unlockable sex game. The following year, another game, God of War (2005), included an un-hidden sex mini-game. Five years later ,sex and nudity has become a regular in major games, perhaps reflecting not only an older audience but also greater graphical capacities and a more sexualized media.

The Sexualization of Samus?

Although last year was no stranger to sex controversies in video games, in August of 2010 the issue of gender representation ingvideogames would jump front and center with the release of the much anticipated, next generation Metroid game, The Other M. While Samus had kicked-ass across the galaxy in at least six previous titles, her reconceptualization (by Team Ninja, the same folks who brought you DoA) was perceived as a step backward to several reviewers. In her review, G4 reviewer Abbie Heppe writes
Yes, that’s right. The woman who in the first five minutes of the game gives the squad access to the ship by using her missiles is restricted from using her abilities... until a bland male character dictates it to her.
In short, you're asked to forget that Samus has spent the last 10-15 years on solitary missions ridding the galaxy of Space Pirates, saving the universe and surviving on her own as a bounty hunter. Instead, Other M expects you to accept her as a submissive, child-like and self-doubting little girl that cannot possibly wield the amount of power she possesses unless directed to by a man.
Interestingly, Heppe's criticism focused little on Samus' appearance and more on her personality. Samus' tight skin zero suit she wore throughout the last couple games, and not her vulnerability, was the target of others criticism.

But Samus had been a sexual object form the beginning, it seems--from her very first "striptease
" in which her gender was revealed. After all, the revelation was a reward for completing the game quickly and little more than a last minute twist in production. Adam Sorice of Nintendojo raises the question whether the gamers were witnessing in the original revelation "the birth of a feminist icon or just another sex object?"
Another commentator reminds us
Modern gamers may not think much of a bikini clad 8-bit image of a woman, but this was probably the most provocative image to appear in a mainstream NES game
Yet, no one can deny that regardless of intent and origins, both male and female fans have attributed their own meaning to Samus' gender. As one blogger writes:
The largely male (and largely very young) demographic of NES players tended to be surprised, “Hey, I kicked ass, and I’m a girl!”, suggesting a the potential for a kind of gender equity for video game warriors and that little boys might think of women’s roles as warriors in a slightly less traditional way.
and another
As for Samus, when I was little, playing the game, and saw the ending of Samus in her skin-tight outfit, I didn't mind. I was a little girl, and the thought of another girl doing something as awesome in a game like Metroid...

Heppe's review of Other M, triggered serious discourse not only within the gamers' community, but all the way up to the editors of major gaming media sources, such as Tae Kim of GamePro:
It dawned on me that if Abbie hadn’t pointed it out, I would never have thought of Other M that way. I simply didn’t have the necessary perspective to see the larger implications of the narrative decisions Team Ninja and Nintendo had made. I began to wonder how differently GamePro’s review would’ve turned out, had I assigned the game to a woman instead of doing it myself.
reading Abbie’s review and talking to the lone female member of our staff, News Editor AJ Glasser, about this issue makes me wonder if I should start factoring in gender – both of the game and of its reviewer
While games are, first and foremost, a form of entertainment, they’re rapidly taking on the same sense of cultural weight and significance as established art forms like cinema and novels; this is why it’s important to discuss these issues and wonder how things like gender, race, class, and religion can affect our perceptions of the games we play.
Kim, I believe, is spot on. The game industry, especially the media needs more critical reviewers to address questions of sex, race, and gender, among other things, not only within their practice, but also within their hiring. If Heppe did not have the position she did, her voice and criticism would not have reached so many ears and eyes and Kim would never have been conscious of his oversights. More critical reviewers can put greater pressure on the industry and make gamers likewise more aware of problems in gaming. This is critical, because as Kim recalls, gamins has tremendous cultural significance and outperforms even Hollywood financially.

Virtual Sex Sells: The Consolidation of Soft core Porn & Mainstream Game Media

The same year
Playboy released their first major console video game amongst the many other sexy titles, their September 2004 issueannual feature, "Girls of Gaming," in which video game companies submit a nude version of one of their characters. In a USA Today article, Scott Alexander, Senior editor of featured, what is now an Playboy, explained the logic:
Hopefully the purists won't get too bent out of shape. This is just the next version of the pinup [...] We treated these women just like they are celebrities[...] We treated them real, as if they had turn-ons and turn-offs [... ] There's a funny kind of almost paternal feeling that a lot of these game creators have about their creations [...] Are you going to let your little girl pose in Playboy?' is the question we were asking. But a lot of them saw the benefit, both aesthetically, and ... hey, sex is part of life.
While such a maneuver may be celebrated by many gamers as "getting to know" the female character better, being an acknowledgment of the gaming community, and the transcendence of a fantasy world into a real magazine, the inclusion of video game women in the spread confirms that these women have truly become sex objects. The sex object status of these female characters, however, goes deeper. There aren't women who are choosing to be in the spread whether because of financial, prestige, or fun, but rather these are images of wholly virtual women who are little more than their representations--whom have no agency at all apart from their male engineers. They do not occupy an agency all of their own.

This is yet further evidence of pornography's increasing acceptance and integration into the mainstream. Other examples are Burger King's "Singing in the Shower" promotional campaign--being advertised as "The world's first guilt-free shower cam"-, the coverage of a new automated sex doll that can have political conversations by CNN, a reality tv show--the Family Business--about the porn industry, and the use of porn star Sasha Grey to "sell" animal rights messages. Yet these again are not women with some level of agency, some level of control over their representation. Instead, the image of women are increasingly being determined by "experts", becoming increasingly artificial in the virtual sense through technologies like photoshop.

Even porn, which is already criticized for being "artificial," has become even more farcical as photos have been doctored to cover up all "imperfections", so as not for readers to look at women, but merely images of women. As the blogger at Jezelbel comments,
the message is clear: even after a genetic bounty, all-but-certain plastic surgery and dieting, good lighting, a pro-photographer, and dozens of shots, even the fantasy woman is not fantastic enough. Ironically, it's that mentality, and its cookie-cutter sexual sensibility, that's helped make Playboy irrelevant in the years since.
Women have become mere raw material, inspiration for these shoots as they get replaced or cleaned up by the virtual. Women become increasingly absent, yet ever more present. Without representation in the videogame and sex industry, there may be a future in which male heterosexuality is possible without actual women, yet women still must deal with the real consequences of such sexual subjects. Some men, surrounding themselves with virtual porn and sex robots whose form is that of "woman," are but virtually objectifying women as the real objects are no longer female subjects.

What would such a future be like where "woman" has been completely dissimulated into virtual commodity? Will this technological performance function to substitute or marginalize women further, or may it also free female subjects from the supposedly "natural" category and role of "woman"? What role do women and will women have of creating new subjectivities in such a space without returning to a so-called more originary and authentic position?