This image was getting quite a bit of Internet play yesterday, sparking three separate conversations on social media just within my circles. I imagine there were A LOT more, like, in the world.

Consider:

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(click to enlarge)

What do you think this side-by-side juxtaposition is trying to say? These are some of the possibilities I came up with:

1A. Look how tasteful the porn stars are relative to their mainstream counterparts!

1B. Look how tasteful the (white) porn stars are relative to their mainstream (women of color) counterparts! (I can’t really tell who the woman in green is on the far right.)

2A. Look how trashy all these women are!

2B. Look how lovely all these women are!

3. If a porn star wore one of the right-side dresses, she’d be scoffed at (because of her job?), but it’s ok for Bey (because of her job?).

4. The sexualizing pressures of the mainstream entertainment industry are even greater than the sexualizing pressures of the adult entrainment industry, in spite of the fact that one industry is literally selling sex. (The other is just using it to market.)

…or a combination of these? Something else entirely?

Also, I greatly enjoyed the heart-warming implication that the people on the left aren’t “influential” relative to the people on the right. I totally beg to differ – they’re all influential.

The idea that this image pits women against one another is also troublesome to me. This point was raised during one on my aforementioned social media discussions. All of these women are professional entertainers, so why are they being set against one another? The wider gender, work-related social class, and social-structural implications of *that* are also huge.

Finally, as much as I hate to reify her juggernaut, there’s the issue of Kim K. If you wanna get right down to it, exactly which side of the divide should she be on? (yes, yes – ignore the inherently problematic dimensions of a divide in the first place) Though her start didn’t come from conventional porn, her start totally came from conventional porn… Hmmm

I hate that I’m talking about this, as I feel like I’m falling for some sort of media trap, but to ignore the significance of one teeny tiny little side-by-side image is also to fall for some sort of media trap.

What do you think?

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