Apr 23, 2013

Madeline O. on Kinsey films, Zapruder film, Guerilla Manifesto

There is a certain degree of empowerment at the end of Linda William's "White Slavery Versus the Ethnography of Sex Workers" essay, in which the famous feminist film scholar gains access to films made exclusively "for private consumption by prurient men." We do have a history of sexuality, whether we bury it or try and bring it to the surface.

If the Zapruder film--on the on-air execution of Vietcong operatives--are "allowed" to exist in the popular consciousness, why is there censorship of sex? If there was an "art" pretense to these films would they be actively exhibited?

The Kinsey archive should have less restrictive access policies, contingent with the ICA's standards of access: the public has a right to access these artifacts. Films are meant to be seem, and these films reflect as much a part of the American landscape as the violent narratives and images that have shaped this nation. Even Linda Williams' discussion of the horrible KKK rape film reveals compelling historical tensions between race and sexuality. Feminists of color have spoken expansively about the conflation of slavery and sexual exploitation, and the myth of the inherent sexually lascivious black women persisits to this day. With this particular film, this theory is immediately apparent--white patriarchy used sexual abuse as a means of reasserting their dominance over racially "inferior" women....the women's complicity in the film can be seen as a potent example of that myth making.

Limiting the archive to "qualified researchers"  smacks of the exclusion Aaron Swartz spoke of in his "Guerilla Manifesto." While I think you could call Swartz naive, you cannot argue that his ideas are baseless. AFter all, this is what curating is about: the spread of information; making the public understand the importance of the archive and the significance of its holdings. This exclusion establishes who is "capable" of handling/understanding such material. The influence of capital (through education) in this circumstance cannot be ignored. I say, open the archives for anyone who wants to see these films, regardless of class or status.

Madeline Ostdick

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