Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Pornography and Silence: Culture’s Revenge Against Nature is a provocative and poetic study of the chauvinist mind. Susan Griffin argues that “the other,” whether woman, black, or Jew, has been excluded from society by the split between nature and culture. Pornography is the mythology of this chauvinist mind, which sees in opposites. Through her focus on six lives damaged by pornographic culture, Griffin examines the results of misogyny and racism. The historical figures she spotlights are the American novelist Kate Chopin; Franz Marc, a German painter; the Marquis de Sade, a French pornographer; actress Marilyn Monroe; convicted rapist Laurence Singleton; and Holocaust victim and diarist Anne Frank.

Griffin uses each of these lives as an “emblem” to illustrate some aspect of the chauvinist mind. In “Sacred Images,” her first chapter, she examines the lives of Marc and Chopin—two artists who censored themselves because of society’s outraged reactions to their honest depictions of sensuality. She regards the female body and sensuality as victims in both pornography and religion, which demand a deadening of feeling. The necessity for exerting control over feeling is explained further in “The Death of the Heart,” in which Griffin examines ancient mythology, popular culture, and modern novels that focus on women’s death as the price paid for male vitality and freedom. Men’s fear that women will trap them, Griffin argues,...

(The entire section is 467 words.)