Porn for women. Feminist-style (Pics SFW)

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Feminism and porn. Unlikely bedfellows? Maybe not, says Louise Lush who has been blogging about porn and running adult websites since 2000. She’s also been busy making erotic films for straight women since 2008. One has to question how porn, well mainstream male-dominated porn, could have anything to do with empowering women? A hell of a lot it seems.

It’s no secret that women watch porn. And no, not just with their boyfriends. Women are growing tired of the same testosterone driven fantasies. We have our own sexuality too and it would be nice to be able to find without having to troll through video after video of poor quality and let’s face it, poor taste. The vast majority of explicit films are made for a male audience; at best it is degrading, and at worst it is physically harmful to the women featured in it.

The porn culture, especially since the rise of internet, has changed our attitudes towards sex. Gone are the days of sneaking through copies of Penthouse or Playboy, now all you need to do is Google your fantasy and you’ll have over a million results. Many of those including videos of it acted out. Depending on what it is and how comfortable you feel in your relationship you might try to play out the fantasy in the bedroom. Or you may dabble in it on your own to find what makes you tick. I’m not ashamed to admit I do this. Often. I’ve always believed it’s healthy to explore your sexuality, whether that be with a partner or solo. What I’m not comfortable with is the increasing level of violence in mainstream porno flicks, or what most refer to as gonzo. Censoring porn, though, is not going to fix this problem but educating young people will.

Feminist porn filmmakers are a breath of fresh air as the industry itself starts to resemble cheap beer and stale cigarettes. Male porn is predictable. It may push the envelope from time to time but it’s fairly standard. Most men don’t need foreplay to get aroused. Most women do. Men know this but some pretend not to care. This is generally the role the male plays in traditional porn. With an exception or two, which I’m sure most ladies who enjoy porn from time to time have safely bookmarked.

Male porn is made for a male audience to enjoy and pleasure themselves. It is not specifically made for women. Which is why it is refreshing to see women-only porn making progress in an industry saturated with a male-orientated view of what constitutes good sex.

Indigo Lush describes it best “some people assume since [it’s porn for women it’ll] have a soft focus or romantic erotica, designed not to offend”. If you Google ‘porn for women’, images of men doing housework is the result. Funny, yes. And truthful for some but mostly it just saddens me.

I realise that the overwhelming majority of porn viewing is by men, but I believe this is because most women are watching male-orientated content because that’s what’s available to them. If male content wasn’t so mainstream perhaps more women would watch or incorporate it into their sex lives. It’s also about “the female gaze – explicitly assuming the viewer is female rather than male” says Lush. 90% of the content available on the net assumes the viewer is male. This is just part of the problem.

Women are tired of seeing other women objectified. It is important for women to explore their sexuality too but why should we settle for a male targeted porno flick to get us off? Surely there must be something better – tasteful, even, that explores fantasies with the right amount of respect given to all those involved in the film. The focus isn’t just on how large the man’s penis is or how many holes a woman can be “stuffed” with, it explores how both sexes get turned on. I don’t know about you but there’s nothing worse than watching a porno flick and the woman has a blank expression on her face; or she’s in pain – that’s not sexy. And it has no place in the future of the .xxx domain.

From a feminist perspective some may say there’s no place for porn. There are a lot of academics (Gail Dines, Melinda Tankard-Reist) who argue porn is detrimental to our health. And while I agree this can be the case, I believe it’s more about what is available to us mainstream, not exactly the idea of pornography. The industry itself does not need to be banned or filtered, the content needs to be challenged.

I argue there is a place for porn in our society and it will never go away, just like the war on drugs. Feminist porn and porn for women is a step in the right direction. Feminism for me is about equality, regarding men as our allies; not our enemy. It is empowering for women to explore their sexuality without any stimulation from their husband, boyfriend or lover. This is no shock; women’s magazines have created an empire in Australia since the 1970s and been responsible for women no longer feeling guilty or shameful if they pleasure themselves.

Reconstructing the landscape of porn is a challenge. People hold very strong views on porn “hijacking sexuality and destroying men” as Gail Dines, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston wrote in Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.

Porn for women is a niche that Indigo Lush and many other filmmakers are trying to create for women to show they are heard. Feminism has come a long way from our right to vote, own a property or be our own boss. But we still have a lot of work to do.

Would you watch feminist porn? How do you feel about porn and your sexuality?

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  • brigibabe

    I agree with everything you’ve said here Rose!
    I believe that if you can’t beat porn, we must compete with porn and that’s what i love the most about feminist porn. It acknowledges the fact that women actually care about their sexuality and encourages them to enjoy sex.
    I’m an visual person myself, but mainstream porn just doesn’t cut it for me. Yet alone turn me on, as it’s become so predictable.
    Plus i don’t find the porn stars to be very attractive because they look the same.
    Feminist porn actually promotes diversity and natural beauty! What’s not to like about that?
    As a proud sex positive person, i believe that sexual desire is natural and nothing to be ashamed about. Besides, women don’t talk about masturbation enough and feminist porn can be our starting point.

    Another point i’ll mention in support of feminist porn is from Liandra Dahl, a producer and performer of her own feminist porn at http://www.liandradahl.com/

    ‘I make porn based on my credo of freedom of expression and sex positivity. I want to make porn that shows real sex and real sexual and emotional connections. however I find it just as important to go to battle against the ‘victim mentality’ of some feminist thought regarding the sex industry. That attitude is repressive and doesn’t recognise women or their sexuality as equal to mens. Such a line of thought sees sexual woman as a mere object (just like the kind of porn they criticise) which must always be exploited by the industry. They lack the foresight of seeing the growing number of women thriving in it, who may be leading and defining the sex industry someday very soon. There have been, and still are, many male dominated professions where the working conditions for women are prejudicially hard and the opportunites for women to get to the highest levels in that career are few and resented or dismissed, but it is only in the sex industry that this line of anti-porn feminist thought asks you to admit defeat by claiming women can never be anything but victims. As though women can not be voyeurs and consumers of porn, let alone producers and willing empowered participants in the industry. It also fails to recognise the sexual pleasure in being watched in a public domain. Well I am a mother of a daughter, a woman, a feminist and one of the most empowering things I ever did was to make porn. Its effect on me was almost equal to that of becoming a mother. It helped me accept and love my body from every angle, it improved my sexual confidence and it blasted away those last dregs of residual shame this culture tries to instill.’

    • Rose Russo

      Thanks Brigitte. Liandra Dahl definitely has another fan now!

      Feminist porn is the way forward for positive and enjoyable sex, with or without a partner. As this is an issue I strongly believe in I’ll be writing about for some time yet.

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