PVV – perception, reception, and disconnect

No doubt you’ve heard the old adage “There are two sides to every story,” and certainly you’ve heard something along the lines of “Perception is nine-tenths of the law”… right?

Confession time: in my professional opinion, as a person and a sociologist, these little cliches are actually pretty dang true.

Think about it… You and twenty other people witness a fight or watch the same TV show. The likelihood of there being even two versions of what happened in the fight and/or the show that are exactly – exactly – the same is slim to none. Actually, forget the “slim” – the likelihood is “none.”

But the mechanics of the fight are the same no matter the spectator, just like your average TV show doesn’t have multiple versions for multiple viewers, so why so many different versions of reality?

The reason is actually quite simple – everyone is different. Even identical twins with tricky parents who don’t tell them who is older and who is younger that have really really similar names like Tera and Tara, they’re different too. We all bring with us a unique series of cumulative experiences that frame the way in which we see a particular situation. We all have our own set of “experience glasses,” if you will, through which we regard the wider social world. The wider social world includes both fights and TV.

This is not to suggest that we don’t have anything in common with others – of course we do. Tera and Tara surely share many interests and proclivities. This is also not to suggest that society doesn’t shape individual experiences in particular ways that are actually collective – of course it does. Both Tera and Tara were likely “twinned” by the wider social world; and unless they were separated at birth, they also share social class.

So it’s not to suggest people have no commonalities and/or that they aren’t impacted by similar social forces, but it is to suggest that, because no two lives are identical, no two perspectives are exactly the same. Simple enough, I would say.

Sometimes though, differences in perception, which are linked directly to individual reception of information, can result in disconnects that range from rather unfortunate to downright catastrophic. Someone tells their story to another who, for whatever reason, does not listen or hear. You say something you honestly perceive to be innocuous around a person who is honestly hurt or takes offense. A sociologist is interviewing a person who is sharing their story, but the facts may be completely distorted because of the sociologist’s training and/or individual perspective. And on and on.

I believe an example of such disconnects occurred recently in the adult-related press.

A reporter for the San Francisco Bay Guardian Online (SFBG) named Caitlin Donohue wrote an article entitled “Queer and boning in Las Vegas” (2/7/12). In the piece, Caitlin quotes and mentions a number of folks influential in queer porn production, including Courtney Trouble and Tina Horn. Caitlin also has a quote from XCritic.com founder and editor, Chris Thorne. He said:

“‘The biggest growth category for adult film right now is lesbian sex on film,’ he said. ‘Hands down. Girl-girl porn has three dimensions right now. On one side, it’s a male fantasy, on one side you have girl-girl porn that appeals to females and straight males, then you have queer porn that is lesbian porn. The lines on all three of those are not clear. That middle part is where there’s a huge growth.'”

This quote segued the discussion towards the “middle” type of girl-girl content, with an emphasis on Juicy Pink Box founder Jincey Lumpkin, Esq. Caitlin includes much discussion of Jincey in the piece, including many direct quotes from “the lesbian Hugh Hefner”…

…to which Jincey hotly protested. Not 24 hours after “Queer and boning in Las Vegas” was posted, the Juicy Pink Box camp itemized a series of issues they had with the piece. These issues were also listed in the second comment following the original story…

…to which the SFBG then responded!!

This is very very VERY interesting – is this a case of “Caitlin said, Jincey said”? Did Caitlin misunderstand Jincey? Did Jincey misunderstand Caitlin? Did Caitlin take Jincey’s comments out of context? Is Jincey really the heteronormative lesbian queer dismisser that she’s made out to be?

I don’t know the answer (only Caitlin and Jincey do), but I do know that this seems to me to be a clear example of the disconnect that may happen when two sets of “experience glasses” collide.

It’s interesting to think about how often this sort of disconnect happens in and with adult content – what’s hott to you is not to someone else (and vice versa), what looks like pain may be pleasure (and vice versa… and simultaneously), what is happiness or sadness or any number of other things at Point A may be wildly different down the road at Point M.

It’s interesting to think about how often these disconnects occur in porn, and it’s also interesting to think about how often they happen in daily life.

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Original posting of “Queer and boning in Las Vegas” (2/7/12).

Original response from Juicy Pink Box (2/8/12).

SFBG’s response to Juicy Pink Box (2/8/12).

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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from PVVOnline/Porn Valley Vantage, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”

PVVOnline – Critical Commentary on Adult Production