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New Erotica for Feminists
"I hear a box truck backing up in my driveway. Tom Hardy steps out, wearing a tight T-shirt that says WILD FEMINIST. He politely asks my permission to step inside to fill up my whole refrigerator with free LaCroix and play with my rescue dog every Tuesday forever. I consent clearly and enthusiastically."
a:Brooke-Preston  a:Caitlin-Kunkel  a:Carrie-Wittmer  a:Fiona-Taylor  p:McSweeney's★★★  d:2018.02.06  w:1000  satire  pornography  gender  from twitter
6 days ago by bankbryan
How Feminist Porn Is Traversing the Mainstream - Rewire
Pornography and erotic film is a $25 billion industry that accounts for 30 percent of internet traffic. Because of its popularity, porn plays a vital role in shaping, and reshaping, culture. Porn acts as a means of sex education. For some, it is a vehicle for exemplifying what it means to have sex and what it means to be intimate.

Mainstream porn is a capitalist industry, meaning that exploitative measures are bound to exist, especially in precarious and vulnerable situations. But where mainstream pornography often ignores ethical values, feminist pornography aims to assure that everyone on set is consensually—and prosperously—involved in the scene.

Feminist porn unites sex-positive people through complex, visually astounding films in the form and genre of smart pornography. It also typically involves respect, proper pay, communication, safety, and consent for performers.

Erika Lust, a Swedish director, producer, and screenwriter, and her production company Lust Films are leading the way in producing feminist porn. For Lust, it’s important that women see their desires being met onscreen. “The most important message is that female pleasure matters,” Lust told Rewire. “Not because male pleasure doesn’t matter; it does too! It is because we’ve been watching for decades a type of porn that completely ignores women’s sexuality. I want to represent women who assert sexual agency, I want women to feel positive after they’ve seen my films.”

The Early Days of Feminist Porn

Feminist pornography began in the 1980s, around the time when porn stars like Candice Vadala decided to make their own films. Vadala founded in 1984 Femme Productions, a production company that aimed to have safer sex environments and granted women control on set. Vadala contracted other women who were interested in directing, but the rest of the porn industry was appalled by her cinematic approach.

Still, Vadala was a leader in ethical, and feminist, pornography. She wrote on her website that her films were, “more about the quality of the sex rather than how outrageous and violating it can be.”

The 1980s largely ignored feminist pornography, however. The Video Home System (VHS) contributed to easy and accessible porn shot on a very low budget. Renting or buying porn, instead of going to a theater, flipped the porn industry upside down—porn could now be found in the “comfort of their homes,” Lust pointed out.

Because of the technological boom in the ‘80s, porn’s cinematography suffered a great loss from the 1970s aesthetic, or the “golden age” of porn. Unfortunately, this has continued to the present day, where Lust noted, “The mainstream industry has downgraded the artistic potential of the genre itself and I have never understood why. Why do we have to watch sex on screen with zero cinematic values? Sex is key in our lives, it is the source of life. Why is it treated that way then? Why do we neglect the quality of the story, the cinematography and the narrative? Mainstream porn is more about gymnastics now.”

The decline of compelling cinematography, storylines, and plots, and domination of overt racism and sexism, have monopolized porn. Lust explained to Rewire, “It is a problem because this behavior is normalized by its ubiquity and suggests to the viewer that it can be repeated in real life.”

A feminist vision is still needed in mainstream porn. Pornhub, the leading website for watching online pornography, reports that 61 percent of its users are watching on their smartphones, rather than on their desktops. The screens, and budgets, for porn continue to grow smaller as companies such as Lust Films forge their way into the field.

This isn’t to say feminist pornography isn’t on the rise overall. The Feminist Porn Awards, platforms like, and performers like Chelsea Poe are continuing the dialogue about ethical porn, which was something that was just beginning in the ‘80s.

Feminst Porn Versus Mainstream Porn

Porn can serve as the lodestar for consent—for representing safe, communicative sex. Instead, mainstream porn is often representing scenes that encourage violence. A 2010 study found that 88 percent of the most popular porn videos included physical aggression and 48 percent of the videos included verbal aggression. Erika Lust explained that, “Too many times in porn, you see the woman being used as just a prop, a passive object that is acted upon.”

The study also discovered that in 94 percent of the scenes, most of the aggression was directed toward women. Moreover, young adults are exposed to erotica and porn as young as 10 years old—and many believe that what happens in porn is realistic.

Feminist porn does not eradicate violent fantasy, aural play, and bondage. In fact, it celebrates and encourages individuals to radically traverse their fantasies and indulge in them, explore them, and legitimately defend them. Feminist porn does not dismantle fantasy. Actresses are hog-tied; they can be submissive. Annie Sprinkle, the author of Hardcore From the Heart: The Pleasures, Profits, and Politics of Sex in Performance, said, “Sex doesn’t always look politically correct.”

So, what makes feminist porn different from mainstream porn? The performers typically choose their scenes. It is important to note that mainstream porn is often non-unionized and without benefits, which creates ground for exploitation.

Erika Lust explained that her production company provides an environmentally, emotionally, and physically safe space for everyone involved in production. She said, “Ethical porn is adult cinema that [is] guaranteed to have been made with the consent of all parties involved. In ethical porn, boundaries and personal limits are respected. This environment emphasizes safety and mutual respect.”

Feminist films also “make sure women are behind the camera and get to make active decisions about how it is produced and presented.” Lust explained that feminist sex scenes represent, “female sexuality, pleasure, and desires.”

Of course, feminists are not a monolith. The question of whether porn can even be feminist is still argued among differing groups of feminists. Anti-porn feminists, for example, believe that sex work and pornography is harmful, while pro-sex feminists see it as a person’s right to choose. Meanwhile, many feminists, who largely agree that mainstream porn is problematic in production and direction, believe that there is a gray area in between.

The subjective gray area of sexual fantasy—for example, rape fantasy—can even represent a feminist dilemma for the viewer.

The Feminist Porn Book reminds us, “In the midst of this dilemma, I think it is important to point out that porn is still a form of entertainment.”

“Feminist Erotic Heterotopia”

Celine Parreñas Shimizu, a Department of Cinema Studies professor at San Francisco State University, said that feminist pornography “opens up who and how we love and lust; opens up the ways we experience and understand our bodies.”

To that point, feminist pornography includes a variety of bodies, identities, abilities, and orientations, creating a challenge for mainstream porn to meet in standards of inclusiveness. “The more diversity there is in pornography, the more perspectives, the more the viewer can see there are other realities and open their minds to the huge range of different sexualities and identities out there,” said Lust.

Lust’s XConfessions, which Lust started in 2013, is a component of her production company where viewers can pitch ideas and stories for what they want to see in an erotic film. Each month, Lust picks two of her followers’ stories and turns them into erotic short films. “I have a commitment to diversity, so having a lot of different perspectives is priceless. They inspire me! It’s when the stories hold something really unique that they intrigue me and make me explore a kink that I have never even thought about,” said Lust about the project.

Released today, XConfessions Vol. 11 includes Lust Film’s first trans actress.

Porn is powerful. As Lust explained, it has the power “to make a statement, an idea, to express ideologies and values, and also opinions about sex and gender.” Porn’s power involves the boundless ability to say, “this makes me feel good,” and “move this way to achieve pleasure,” and “my god, remember foreplay.” Porn shapes erotic tastes.

Feminist pornography is heterotopia, a space where sexual exploration is demystified and celebrated. A feminist erotic heterotopia offers perspectives that extend beyond the viewer’s immediate gaze and on to the physical set of the film. It advocates for diversity within orientation, agency, ability, race, and size.

Like Naomi Wolf said in her highly criticized book, Vagina: A New Biography, “Porn puts people to sleep, conceptually and politically as well as erotically.”

Erika Lust is here to disrupt that assumption.

“I am aiming for the overall change in the adult industry to be made where there are more images of women owning their own pleasure and taking control of their sexuality,” said Lust.

Contemporary feminist erotic producers, photographers, directors, and performers are challenging mainstream media and introducing an image that isn’t entirely new—as Vadala’s legendary path proved in the 1980s—but is disseminating the power of sex, and the power of safe and enjoyable sex.
pornography  female-gaze  lesbian-gaze  feminist-pornography 
6 days ago by thegrandnarrative
Ross Douthat - #MeToo and porn
In many of them, you see a kind of female revulsion, not against Harvey Weinstein-style apex predators, but against the very different sort of male personality that a pornographic education seems to produce: a breed at once entitled and resentful, angry and undermotivated, “woke” and caddish, shaped by unprecedented possibilities for sexual gratification and frustrated that real women are less available and more complicated than the version on their screen.
10 days ago by xianoforange
Opinion | Let’s Ban Porn - The New York Times
"And indeed, I think the part of the #MeToo movement that’s interested in discussing sexual unhappiness and not just sexual harassment clearly wants to talk about pornography, even if it doesn’t quite realize that yet."

"So if you want better men by any standard, there is every reason to regard ubiquitous pornography as an obstacle"
nytimes  rossdouthat  pornography 
11 days ago by lsouzek
What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn - The New York Times
American adolescents watch much more pornography than their parents know — and it’s shaping their ideas about pleasure, power and intimacy. Can they be taught to see it more critically?
sex  sexuality  teenagers  pornography 
13 days ago by phillip.e.johnston
Douthat: Let’s Ban Porn - The New York Times
The belief that it should not be restricted is a mistake; the belief that it cannot be censored is a superstition. Law and jurisprudence changed once and can change again, and while you can find anything somewhere on the internet, making hard-core porn something to be quested after in dark corners would dramatically reduce its pedagogical role, its cultural normalcy, its power over libidos everywhere.

That we cannot imagine such censorship is part of our larger inability to imagine any escape from the online world’s immersive power, even as we harbor growing doubts about its influence upon our psyches.
Douthat  pornography  sex  sexuality  trump  MeToo 
13 days ago by phillip.e.johnston
Sex in Zero Gravity - Alastair Roberts reviews Regenerus' "Cheap Sex"
A sustained and frequently deeply perceptive exploration of the forces that give rise to our sexual landscape. His analysis is alert and attentive to human nature in ways that set it apart from many other works in the genre. His instinct for the human dynamics that give rise to larger cultural patterns can be seen in several interviews where his insightful yet gentle questioning elicits minor epiphanies for the participants.
sex  sexuality  pornography  contraception  monogamy  gender 
13 days ago by phillip.e.johnston
The female price of male pleasure
It would be grand if women (and men) were taught to consider a woman's pain abnormal; better still if we understood a woman's discomfort to be reason enough to cut a man's pleasure short.
sex  sexuality  pain  gender  pornography 
13 days ago by phillip.e.johnston
What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn - The New York Times
rew was 8 years old when he was flipping through TV channels at home and landed on “Girls Gone Wild.” A few years later, he came across HBO’s late-night soft-core pornography. Then in ninth grade, he found online porn sites on his phone. The videos were good for getting off, he said, but also sources for ideas for future sex positions with future girlfriends. From porn, he learned that guys need to be buff and dominant in bed, doing things like flipping girls over on their stomach during sex. Girls moan a lot and are turned on by pretty much everything a confident guy does. One particular porn scene stuck with him: A woman was bored by a man who approached sex gently but became ecstatic with a far more aggressive guy.

But around 10th grade, it began bothering Drew, an honor-roll student who loves baseball and writing rap lyrics and still confides in his mom, that porn influenced how he thought about girls at school. Were their breasts, he wondered, like the ones in porn? Would girls look at him the way women do in porn when they had sex? Would they give him blow jobs and do the other stuff he saw?
internet  pornography  sexuality 
15 days ago by verstehen

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