In “The Law of Pornography: John Rechy and Samuel Steward” I compare the works of two late twentieth-century writers to show how they turned to genre to understand sexuality's relation to the law in other than purely repressive terms. I suggest that they complicate Michel Foucault's contemporaneous critique of the law in The History of Sexuality, volume 1, while indicating the law's continued relevance for attempts to theorize sexuality and power in terms of a productive relation. Each writer's experience in the sexual underground provided him with an awareness of the historical antagonism between the law and urban queer subcultures. Each writer also saw this antagonism as linked to the cop's privileged place in the conventionalized representations of gay pornography. Rechy maintained that men's cop fetish revealed the ways the law set punishment as the enabling condition for enactments of homosexual desire. In partial agreement with Rechy, Steward nevertheless insisted on differentiating between real-world police and the cops of fantasy. Through his pornography, Steward suggests that in the context of fantasy the figure of the cop enforces not juridical law but genre, which prevents desire's arrest and ensures a proliferation of bodily pleasures.

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