Porn and erotica come to Northampton.
Despite heavy local opposition it appears inevitable that a porn shop is opening on King Street in Northampton. In fact the building, formerly a car dealership, now has a sign up.
I'm an absolutist when it comes to the First Amendment, and oppose any restrictions on expression, whether it be porn, campaign contributions or whatever. I do not advocate censoring pornography or anything else. But on a personal level I despise porn. I think it's degrading and exploitative for both the participants and the consumer while fostering unhealthy attitudes toward sexuality.
Of course there exists a field of art that deals with human sexuality that is not considered pornographic called erotica. Although there is a little fuzziness around the margins, it is usually pretty easy to distinguish between the two. According to the website NoPornNorthampton these are some of the major distinguishing features.
Here are some characteristics we associate with porn:
imbalance of power
lack of consent
taking without permission
actors not proud of product
actors disdain audience
Here are some characteristics we associate with erotica:
balance of power
Perhaps ironically, just down the street from the new porno palace is a good example of erotica in the form of the sculptures of Andrew DeVries now on display on the lawn of the Northampton Courthouse. According to the Hampshire Gazette:
A new set of 12 bronze statues, some lifelike, some abstract, have just taken up a yearlong residence on the lawn of the old Hampshire County Courthouse on Main Street.
Installed Tuesday and Wednesday, they've been making some passers-by do double-takes - perhaps not just for their style and expressiveness. While some figures wear skirts, others go nude, fig leaves not included.
The statues were created over the last 15 or so years by Andrew DeVries, a Middlefield resident with a studio in Lenox. He said he's excited to have an installation that allows people to walk right up to the artwork.
I must say, it is nice to see such liberated expressions by a government building. People are usually not anywhere near this carefree at the courthouse!
Indeed, dealing with any governmental entity can be like trying to break through walls!
This headless nude appears in sharp contrast to the nearby memorial to Calvin Coolidge, the former mayor of Northampton who was the only resident of the Pioneer Valley ever to be elected to the Presidency.
Calvin Coolidge is one of our greatest presidents, but like most people of his era, I think he was pretty uptight where sexuality was concerned.
The artist isn't all about nudity though, as this beach babe shows.
The erotic sculptures will be up for only a month or so, but expect the controversy over the King Street porn shop to continue for a long time to come.
Tonight in Northampton in front of a house near Smith College I stumbled upon the first pumpkin I've seen this season . And it's a doozy!
Unfortunately it also means that Fall is here.