Dr. Linda Williams – Pioneer of Pornography Studies

She writes about Sex Wars, Hard Core, and Enables New Perspectives on Pornography Today – Dr. Linda Williams is a special kind of professor.


Meet Dr. Linda Williams

Dr. Linda Williams is considered to be the pioneer of pornographic research. She stepped up 30 years ago to subject hardcore pornography to feminist criticism. It is particularly exciting that pornography is not only viewed from the perspective of scientific film research, but is also examined psychoanalytically. For Williams, pornography goes together with melodrama and horror in so-called body genres, i.e. in films that can induce a physical reaction in the viewer.

                             dr. linda williams 

Image from: Department of Film and Media at UC Berkley 

Pornography Studies

At first this is not surprising, but it does offer a new context in which to approach the topic of pornography scientifically. The result is a more complex picture of pornography; her publication “Hard Core – Power, Lust and the Traditions of Pornographic Film” from 1989 is particularly well recognized. In it, Williams describes the so-called Feminist Sex Wars. Never heard of them? Then it’s about time !

The Feminist Sex Wars describe a phase that peaked in the late 1970s to the 1980s, and continues even to this day. Intensive and controversial discussions between anti-censorship feminists and anti-porn activists deal with the question of whether it is even possible to produce female-friendly pornography – among other things-. So here, the question about the degradation of women arises again. Back then, mainstream pornography was typically produced by men for men, and this is still the case in most of the industry today.

In addition to these extensive topics, “Hard Core” contains detailed and exciting descriptions of the beginnings of pornography in general. If you’d like to find out more about this topic, we recommend Williams’ 2004 anthology “Porn Studies”. Here you will find many unusual contributions to gay and lesbian pornography.

Dr. Linda William’s publications were the first, and an important milestone and step in a now almost booming cultural and social science occupation to do with pornographic films. Opening up this field was crucial in order to open up new avenues for pornography – just as it can open up new paths and new audiences today in a sex-positive and artistic form.

Linda Williams is now 73 years old and continues to teach, her contact at UC Berkeley can be found here .

If you are interested in reading more on porn studies then check out our article on Madita Oeming.


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