The Pleasure Politics of Prison Erotica

  • Nicoletta PolicekEmail author


The focus of this chapter is on stories of prison and punishment as told in the visual arts. This chapter deconstructs the paradigm shift that calls into question both traditional perspectives and the influx of new perspectives on pornography and erotica set in female prisons. This chapter subsequently contends that Nietzsche’s proclamation that in punishment, there is so much that is festive (Die fröhliche Wissenschaft: “The Gay Science”, E.W. Fritzsch, 1887/1996, 50) paves the way for the carnivalesque understanding of punishment already depicted by Foucault (Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Peregrine, Harmondsworth, 1975). Yet it is not the carnal punishment, nor the spectacular execution, that constitutes the carnivalesque moment for Foucault, but rather the event of substituting the “punishment-as-spectacle” with what is perhaps best characterized as punishment-as-carnival. Moving away from Foucault, the concluding section of this chapter considers the act of sexualizing the prison cell, as the possibility, albeit not always through choice, that incarcerated women have of colonizing and occupying the space of the prison. The final glance is on the lesbian and heterosexual imaginary of prison erotica and the politics of pleasure and on how an adherence to a masculine, heteronormative “pornoscript” structures the possible ways in which sexual pleasure is enacted and visualized.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Associate Professor in Policing & CriminologyUniversity of Cumbria, Institute of Business, Industry & LeadershipCarlisleUK

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