Becoming Pornography: White Women, Voyeuristic Surveillance, and Image-Based Sexual Abuse
This dissertation examines the gendered and racialized discourses that inform how we understand the problem of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) in the West. Specifically, it traces out the role that whiteness, and white femininity in particular, plays in the valuation of the non-consensual sexualized image. The centring of the young, white, middle-class, cis-gendered, heterosexual, able-bodied female in discourses of IBSA is a function of the cultural, social, financial, and political economies within a contemporary capitalism that is deeply enmeshed with cinematic and surveillant ways of “seeing.” Through a range of case studies (including film, documentary, advertising, and cultural moments) it is argued that the different ways in which the non-consensual sexualized image comes to have social, cultural, economic, and/or political value must be understood as emerging from the context of contemporary capitalism – a capitalism that is deeply entangled with surveillance culture and economies, the affordances of digital networks and technologies, cinematic practices, pornography, gender, race, sexuality, and sexual violence. The dissertation argues for understanding the non-consensual sexualized image as a social technology that (re)produces particular social outcomes, the importance of considering these images in terms of their uses and valuations rather than their content, and the need for more research into how IBSA affects other demographics.