Explicit Utopias

Rewriting the Sexual in Women's Pornography

By Amalia Ziv

Subjects: Pornography, Women's Studies, Gender Studies, Literary Criticism, Cultural Studies
Paperback : 9781438457086, 312 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438457093, 312 pages, August 2015

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Pornography, Subjectivity, and the Reinscription of Fantasy
1. Between Sexual Commodities and Sexual Subjects: The Feminist Pornography Debate Revisited
2. The Phantasmatic Gay Man: Cross-Identification in Women’s Pornography
3. Refiguring Penetration
4. The Phallus and Its Vicissitudes
5. Sexuality beyond Gender: Gender Performativity in Lesbian Pornography
6. Female Sexual Subjectivity in a Queer World
Coda: Pornographic Pedagogy, Explicit Utopias, and the Future of Female Sexual Subjectivity
Works Cited

Provides an incisive account of women’s porn and queer porn of the 1980s and 1990s.


Explicit Utopias explores a problem that has long haunted feminist, lesbian, and queer critics: the obstacles to imagining women's desire and sexual agency. Pornography is one arena in which women have actively sought to imaginatively overcome this problem, yet pornography has also been an object of passionate feminist contention. Revisiting the feminist sex wars of the 1980s, Amalia Ziv offers a comprehensive and thoughtful reassessment of the arguments and concerns of both camps, tying these early debates to the contemporary surge of concern over the pornification of culture. She also sets out to rectify the lack of critical attention to marginal sexual representations by examining the feminist, queer, and psychoanalytic literature on several key issues, including fantasy, the phallus, identification, and gender performativity.

Amalia Ziv is Lecturer in Gender Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.


"Presenting a new take on decades' old research, the book … forges new ground by rigorously examining pornography in text format … a refreshing addition to the literature. " — Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Book Reviews

". ..a welcome investigation into the possible value of alternative sexual representations for women and feminism. " — hypatia