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Abstract

On an episode of the Tyra Banks Show, Teens in the Sex Trade, international model Tyra Banks interviews an eighteen-year-old porn star. The episode introduces Sasha Grey with excerpts from her pornography: short clips of Grey wearing lingerie, preparing to go on set, and approaching the camera in a come-hither fashion. Proclaiming indignantly that Grey has done over eighty pornography films since turning eighteen, Banks equates her work to the “sex trade,” a connotation to human trafficking and ultimately sex without consent. Although Banks presents her intentions to be of genuine concern for Grey’s well-being, Michel Foucault’s theory of sexual discourse in the History of Sexuality can expose the power dynamic between the explicit and implicit of the talk show. Foucault asserts that procedures of confession and scientific discursivity have created a sexual discourse that has intertwined power and pleasure which overlap, seek out, and underpin one another. This is done through a clinical codification of the inducement to speak, the claim of a general and diffuse causality, the principle of latency, method of interpretation, and the medicalization of the effects of confession. Although Grey self-assuredly explains that her career is “sex positive,” a healthy and progressive approach to sexuality, Tyra Banks abuses the five techniques of the medical confession, seeking an ultimate causality in her actions.

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