Feminist Porn Puts Women on Top


sexy couple women pornMaybe we have Cameron Diaz to blame. Since mouthing off about her penchant for porn, it seems a stale debate has been resurrected. Several news sites have been reporting on the amazing, mind-boggling phenomenon of "Women vs. Porn!" They ask gripping questions like, "Do women watch porn?! What kind of porn? Is there porn FOR women -- BY women??? OMG, there is!?"

There IS. But I really don't get why this is big news all of a sudden. Or why the writers of some of these stories act like this is the first time in the history of the world that women have shown interest in enjoying adult entertainment. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, in 2007, approximately one in three visitors to porn sites was female. In the same period, nearly 13 million American women checked out porn online at least once a month. And I wouldn't be surprised if the actual stat was a lot higher than that ... 

Because if this is self-reported data, it seems like most women tend to downplay just how horny we are, for fear of coming off like a ho. And therein the problem has lied.

Maybe this isn't the first time women are watching porn, but maybe -- finally? -- it's coming out that women are admitting to enjoying it? The stigma surrounding women enjoying porn isn't as strong as it used to be? I hope so, but I'm not sure.

At the same time, there's a new generation of female porn directors who want women to know that they're making a type of porn that's less "intimidating" because it's made for women/by women. Hence, an article that ran in The Guardian this week, profiling several female porn directors.

One of them, Erika Lust, explains where she's coming from in making porn exclusively with women in mind:

It is a prejudice to say that women don't like porn. Sex images make you hot, but pornography has been made by and for men. In mainstream porn everything is about male pleasure and women are objects. Oral sex for men can last forever, but when women's turn comes it lasts 10 seconds. Female orgasms are not an issue in most of the films. And women are shown mostly as prostitutes, which is sad.

I get what she's driving at because the majority of mainstream porn could probably be described that way. By contrast -- and I can't speak for Lust's work -- it seems like the alternative, the "by women, for women" porn, tends to err toward lesbian-only, artsy-fartsy, or overly romantic/sentimental (think Fabio/HBO softcore/drawn-out kissing and cheesy storylines) crap. And that, to me, is almost more annoying than the machismo, male-centric porn. It's patronizing

There will always be types of porn that appeal exclusively to men, i.e. filled with in-your-face closeups that are filmed in a "reality" style where women are, honestly, objectified in a dehumanizing way. The kind that makes us cringe, not sweat. And whatever, let them have that. I'm not of the old-school feminist belief that we should shut that down (as long as everything's safe and consensual) because there's an audience for that, too.

But what I do think more porn directors should aim toward is making skin flicks that are just HOT -- plain and simple. (It already exists; it just seems to get overshadowed sometimes by the almost freaky-extreme-style porn.) Because I really don't think women and men are all that different when it comes to what turns us on visually. Men don't NEED the extreme "gonzo"-style porn all the time, and likewise, most women would probably enjoy porn that gives both sexes equal screen/pleasure-time.

Maybe the best solution is that more women follow Cameron Diaz's lead and admit they like porn in the first place, so they can start figuring out what exactly they like. So they can enjoy that on their own and/or with their partner. Hey, you know -- it could be as empowering as it is a turn-on.

How do you feel about porn made specifically for women? Do you think it's patronizing or could be more enjoyable than what's already out there?

Image via Polina Sergeeva/Flickr

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Jenni... JenniferDawyn

I haven't really seen porn FOR women.  The website I use lets me narrow it down to hardcore, and I just pick out the ones that look ok.  (You know, the ones with ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN.)

nonmember avatar Mike M

My personal view about porn is that it should feature people who truly love each other rather than actors and actresses. For me at least there's simply no comparison between the two (i.e., love is a thing of beauty while nearly all porn just features sex and bad acting. And there's also the fact that in a lot of porn guys typically treat women as though women are simply there for the pleasure of the guy(s) - that selfishness is something that I find to be completely abhorrent: I strongly feel that women should be worshiped by men rather than taken advantage of). Project_ISM, IFeelMyself, and beautiful agony are a few web sites I've come across that are run fully (or mostly) by women that I feel have fairly decent content (the first two sites don't have that much content that includes men [but when they do it's typically loving couples], and the men on beautiful agony are alone) and do not contain ads for other, unrelated sites. (I personally do not like nearly all porn because of the selfish nature of men, and because there's so much focus on physical pleasure that they leave love out of the equation. I do love seeing people who are deeply in love with each other and love to share their feelings of affection with each other.)

nonmember avatar Ms Naughty

I've been creating porn for women online for ten years so this is not in any way "news". I make stuff that I myself enjoy. This includes both hardcore porn (cunnilingus, anal) and soft-focus romance. You might consider the latter patronizing but I know plenty of women who like it.

I know that not all women like the same thing. Some like softcore, some like rough sex, others are into BDSM. There IS a growing diversity of adult content that seeks to cater to women, be they straight or queer.

If you want harder stuff, try the films of Anna Span. Erika Lust's movies are hot but distinctly well made. Petra Joy is very female-focused and indie. Tristan Taormino puts a feminist spin on traditional gonzo porn.

Google "porn movies for women" and see the large diversity of films out there.

I also know plenty of men are tired of the cliches, sexism and over-the-top sensibilities of mainstream porn. There's a growing independent movement seeking to create more positive porn. Give it time... and support those companies/filmmakers/sites that are trying to do it differently.

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