Gregory, T. 2019. 'Arguing for the Work of Fake Orgasm in Settler Colonies' in The Art of Laziness, eds. Russell, F. and Attwood, D. Art + Australia (in Press)
Work is central to settler colonies. Every day the colony requires upkeep, maintenance and productivity. Symbolically and legally, it is colonial work alone that defines the settlement’s sovereign claim. The refusal of work has the potential to be a decolonial gesture. The decision to not work, to not reproduce (heteronormative, institutional, capitalist) structures is at odds with the justification and ideology of both the settler and the colony. However, anti-work gestures that accept the definition of work under settlement logics are not a-priori decolonial. The ambiguous relation between anti-work and pleasure, where pleasure can be either the resistance to work or the reward for work is an example of this complexity. The opposition between work and pleasure as represented in Australian pornography is the subject of this chapter. It critiques how pleasure is presented as a “natural” reward for colonial work. In particular it focuses on heteroporn’s claim to capture the authentic male orgasm in the cumshot, which functions as a collapsed image of work (the reproduction of the white settler) and pleasure (orgasm). Public colonial work constructs and maintains the settlement, and the imagery of this type of work is much venerated, but it is the hidden yet pervasive explicit claim of authentic orgasm in pornography that seeks to justify the violence of the settler’s daily colonial claim. This will be examined through examples of Australian heteroporn in the 1990s and in recent commercial Australian antinormative porn. The different pornographic strategies of representing pleasure and orgasm can be positioned within larger neo-colonial strategies that silence Indigenous desires, agency and futurity. The complete absence of Indigenous porn actors, directors and distributers indicates how Indigenous people are restricted from using pleasure and anti-work strategies as part of demonstrating sovereignty. While hetero and queer strategies in settler porn differ, the outcome is the same—namely, an insistence on the possibility of authentic experiences for the coloniser on stolen land. However, examination of the heteroporn cumshot reveals that it is not what it appears. Visual analysis demonstrates how it is “faked” and yet relies on a notion of indexicality and authenticity that the image cannot support. What happens when the cumshot is understood as fake—when pleasure is revealed as just more work? Does this offer an opportunity to critique the co-productive logics of heterosex and settler colonisation?