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Adults growing sideways: Feederist pornography and fantasies of infantilism
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Cinema Studies.
2011 (English)In: Lambda Nordica: Tidskrift om homosexualitet, ISSN 1100-2573, Vol. 16, no 2-3, 128-158 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article examines images of feederism, the practice of sexualized weight-gain, in online pornography and two documentaries: the British Big Love: Fat Girls and Feeders (2003) which focuses on heterosexual scenarios, and the Canadian Hard Fat (Frederic Moffet, 2002) exploring gay male weight-gain settings. Feederist imagery is argued to draw its ability to arouse as well as shock from its eroticization of infantilism in adult bodies, and from the challenges it poses to gendered norms pertaining to body size, subjectivity and adult–child binaries.  Contemporary western tendencies towards both idealization and pathologization of adult infantilism, along with the cultural fear of fatness and its threat to clearly distinguishable age and gender categories, are explored as key dynamics to feederist porn. Furthermore, the notion of “growing sideways” as opposed to growing up is used to illuminate lateral and queering connections between “adults” and “children” (Stockton 2009:11–13, 20–22). If the child has traditionally represented the not-yet-subject, the infantilized adult growing sideways in feederist pornography can be seen as an aspirational no-longer-subject: simultaneously defiant to subjection and rejected from subjectivity.

The article compares popular weight-loss imagery, such as reality TV dieting series, to images of feederist weight-gain. Despite many visual similarities, weight-loss imagery relies on desirability of “adult” self-control whereas weight-gain imagery draws on the forbidden sexualization of infantilism and fetishized parent-child dynamics. Moreover, links between pro-anorexia and feederist porn are analyzed, as both sexualize extreme and culturally hidden bodies that have come to connote both infantilism and death. Feederist desire and pleasure can be seen as queer in a similar sense as pro-ana imagery: the distribution of sexual focus over the whole body and theoretically unlimited temporality suggest polymorphous, infantile freedom from (hetero)normative “adult” sexuality. But watching feederist imagery raises also ethical dilemmas: the images often reduce the sideways growing adult body, especially female, into a fetish object infantilized to the point of disappearing subjectivity. Still no body can completely lack agency, when agency and subjectivity are understood as not necessarily tied to each other. Feederist imagery as eroticized adult infantilism concretizes the leakiness of the category of the subject by blurring boundaries between normative adult embodiment and infantile pre-subjectivity, while it also maintains some starkly gendered and sexualized power structures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 16, no 2-3, 128-158 p.
Keyword [en]
pornography, fat studies, subjectivity, infantilism
National Category
Studies on Film
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-71204OAI: diva2:484072
Available from: 2012-01-26 Created: 2012-01-26 Last updated: 2016-09-08Bibliographically approved

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Kyrölä, Katariina
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