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Naked Ambition by Carly Milne

Porn Valley- The working women of porn tell their side of the story. [Full title of the book is: Naked Ambition : Women Pornographers and How They Are Changing the Sex Industry] Few industries have worked as hard to overcome the essential unattractiveness of their business as pornography – er, ‘adult entertainment.’ The biggest hurdle that porn has to overcome, the charge of sexism, is a hard rap to beat, but this jeremiad makes an admirable try.

Milne rounds up a wide spectrum of women who work in all aspects of the biz – from performers to businesswoman – to talk, with varying degrees of honesty, about what they do. The commentary by porn journalists, many of whom seem to have fallen into the industry by accident, is surprisingly unenlightening. An exception is adult-video reviewer Violet Blue, who dives right into the war between the autocratic men running the industry who assume they know people`s desires and the feminist academics who attack it all as evil; neither side, she argues, has a clue about what women actually want.

There`s a shade of backlash here: Some of the porn actresses and writers (especially actress Tera Patrick and men`s-magazine sex columnist Laura Leu) take the rote anti-feminist position that it`s all just good clean fun and everybody who thinks different is just an uppity bluestocking. More interesting are e-businesswomen like Hester Nash, who runs a vintage adult-photography website, and Joanna Angel, whose tales of her deeply personal punk porn site Burning Angel are neither celebratory nor condemnatory but somehow illuminating. (‘I was naked on the Internet and no one in their right mind wanted to date me,’ writes Angel.)

While quite daring, the book does not live up to its subtitle: It illustrates clearly how women work in porn, but at no point does it show how women are actually changing the industry.

A reasoned argument for withholding judgment.

 

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