Photoshopped porn and labiaplasty

We’ve mentioned the policies of the Australian Classificatory Board before (there in relation to films). And we’ve mentioned (thanks Monkey!) Betty Dodson’s online Genital Art Gallery.

There’s an interesting and depressing video here, which suggests that the classificatory board’s requirement for any genitals shown (in magazines at least) to be ‘neat and tidy’ is partly responsible for the photoshopping of pictures of labia, which in turn creates the strong and unrealistic norms of appearance – in this video a connection is suggested with increasing requests for labiaplasty surgery.

Also, it seems that new restrictions on genital images have lead to a temporary suspension of Betty Dodson’s Genital Art gallery. More details here.

7 thoughts on “Photoshopped porn and labiaplasty

  1. I don’t know how autonomous the classificatory board for film or magazines are, so perhaps my mention of both of them in this post is unhelpful.

  2. If the problem is simply one of anonymity, not accuracy of representation–as in lopsidedness and all– why doesn’t Dr. Dodson just set up a new gallery with pictures of people who don’t mind their info being handed over to a gvt. regulatory body?

    I’d offer up a photo to help traumatized women get their self esteem back, if I knew it was some secret government database that had my info, and not 10 bazillion people on some hot twat or not site. She can call me Crinkled Cookie, it’s good enough for me :)

    The “neat and tidy” crap will not pass. Smut regulators have no jurisdiction over scientific texts. How tidy is a diagram of a colon? Doctors perform surgeries on everything from crossed eyes to tumors the size of watermelons on tv every day and THAT is not neat and tidy.

    Can anybody who’s familiar with Australian law back me up? There must be some loophole that protects qualified medical practitioners from the type of censorship that porn distributors are subjected to, some bit of legalese that assumes that the former intends to commodify sex, while the latter doesn’t.

  3. I just checked out that release form. Let me emphasize my increasingly hypothetical IF I knew this were anonymous and helpful to traumatized women… The site seems to be asking for more info than I’d be willing to share. I’m not really comfortable with the others’ comments, either. It sounds more like porn than therapy, but I’ll have to take a closer look at this when I don’t have an audience. Wouldn’t want anybody at the library to think I’m weird…

  4. Many thanks for bringing this up. Prompted by the post on Simone de Beauvoir and the other post linked from it, I had also just discovered that Betty Dodson’s gallery is on a moratorium currently. It’s a real shame, it was a wonderful tool to help counter precisely the kind of horrific pressure that makes people opt for such surgeries, or just to help them feel better about themselves just as they are.

  5. Hi Xena – interesting point; ‘neat and tidy’ considerations seem to be playing a role in contexts of sexualised presentation of genitalia, whilst such considerations are clearly not in play in other contexts, or in relation to other body parts.

    As for the issue of Dodson’s gallery and anonymity: this issue was a separate point, linked by the fact that her site attempts to counter the ‘neat and tidy’ norm set by airbrushed porn (and it is on her site that the video was found). It seems that anonymity was an important part of her project, in the absence of which her project is made significantly more difficult (for example, of all the anonymously donated pictures, she cannot now show them unless the donors fill in the relevant identifying forms).

    Catarina: I think it is a shame too! This post was prompted by a friend of a friend worrying about her labia (her partner had made some off the wall comments about them not looking like those he’d seen in pornography (really, WTF?!)) and she was put at ease by some of the material on Dodson’s site. It seems various restrictions are working for misrepresentation and against reassuringly realistic pictures!

  6. Yes, Stoat. I think that was what was so uncomfortable about the images and the comments I mentioned in #3. I didn’t find comments rude or off-putting, just the total lack of privacy that would have been required to explore the site. And the wording–it kinda made me feel like I was asking to pay an escort on credit or something. They have to change that. It’s not a wife swap MILF factory. This site was designed to help, not cause further embarrassment.

    It is a shame that gvt. regulations have turned Dr. Dodson’s site into yet another way to make women feel creeped out and abnormal. I hope she wins her case.

  7. I have finally gotten around to watching the video. I think it makes a very good case for the correlation between a certain aesthetic pattern for female genitals on soft-porn magazines and the recent high rate of genital plastic surgery. What is not entirely obvious is whether this aesthetic pattern is indeed coming only from the Classificatory Board or whether it is just a much more widespread phenomenon (I suspect, and fear, the latter). Presumably, this soft-porn aesthetics prevails also in countries where it is clearly not a top-down thing (it might not even be necessary to make it top-down…).
    Ironically, when it comes to hard-core porn and films, things seem to be different, i.e. more ‘variety’ so to say, if nothing else because it must be exceedingly difficult (though not impossible) to photoshop on film.

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