Champions of LGBTQ life and culture in Rochester, NY since 1973.
Thursday December 14th 2017

Insider

Archives

From Our Readers: Porn vs. pornoography; Topfree issues

To The Editor:

Thank you for interviewing me for your March issue and keeping Topfree and certain women’s issues in discussion.  I wanted to clarify the use of the word “porn” in my interview.

Language is not only interesting to me, it is paramount as a teaching tool. Topfree was a word created by me because I believe that topless has a direct correlation to topless bars and PornOGRAPHY.  I have never abbreviated the word pornography because it somehow makes it legitimate, distances me from my feminist core and infers acceptance in my opinion.

Sincerely,

Ramona Santorelli

 

To the Editor:

It was great to see an interview featuring lesbian feminist activist, Ramona Santorelli, in the March Issue. What was even better was that it brought three of us old school lesbian feminist activists together again for an evening of wine, pizza , analyze, criticize and rebuild. Its our favorite anytime activity; we are committed to the process.

Many issues arose and I want to share some in the spirit of feminist consciousness raising. First off, none of us were happy that the word pornography was shortened to porn, but we all had different reasons. I believe that saying porn instead of pornography is a kinda feel good word thing, whereby the actual sexual abuse of women, which is being photographed or filmed, to sell and ultimately to financially benefit some wealthy pimp or corporation, minimizes the reality of the sexual violence and the very real harm this does to all women living under white male supremacy. Another one of us believed that the abbreviated word contributes to the mass disassociation we seem to be experiencing as a culture around sexual violence against women and girls. We all agreed in the end to some extent on this point. It’s interesting to note that a recent issue of Ms. Magazine featured an article on sexual violence against women and repeatedly used the term porn. To be fair, I have never let Ms. Magazine guide my feminism.

We all strongly believed that the distinction between top free and topless was very important. Quite simply, top free expressed a freedom that individual women were asserting. The right to be be without a shirt in society, for no ones pleasure but the woman asserting that right. This in stark contrast to the word topless which brings to mind nasty rape culture “topless” bars, existing only for the male pleasure of having access to and control of women’s naked bodies for money.

The situation of activist and performance artist Holly van Voast needs clarification.

Obviously, the name published was an error, and she was an absolutely wild feminist woman. She did win a federal lawsuit against the NYPD because she was arrested (not for the first time) and taken in for a psychiatric evaluation after an action in front of Hooters, all for being top free .

We all agreed that it was not anger provoking, so much as truly sad, that the very same issues are present today as were twenty three years ago, with seemingly no growth in the way that mainstream culture views women’s breasts and also women’s right to live free from sexual violence. In the court case, New York State vs. Ramona Santorelli, it was for legal purposes that experts testified that the purpose of women’s breasts was to feed children. We hammered this out too, and we all agreed that in reality breasts are a part of a woman’s body. It’s our body. It’s our body, it’s our right to be free as women.

Lori Hertelin