Arise, feminist porn


Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Contents -

Yep, it’s a thing – and it’s set to change the porn in­dus­try for­ever. Mor­gan Rear­don meets the fe­male film­mak­ers, ex­perts and rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies putting their plea­sure – and ours – first

while in bed with a boy I liked. At first, I was ex­cited; it felt naughty and sexy, but just 30 sec­onds af­ter he hit ‘Play’, I felt the com­plete op­po­site. In it, two young ‘col­lege’ girls – with boobs so big I in­stantly felt in­ad­e­quate with my mod­est C­cups – were hav­ing sex with up to 15 ag­gres­sive ‘frat guys’. In­stead of feel­ing turned on, I felt nau­seous. These girls aren’t en­joy­ing them­selves, right? I thought. A few more at­tempts over the years didn’t prove much bet­ter. In fact, I felt more ex­cited by a screen­ing of Fifty Shades of Grey than any­thing that was rec­om­mended on RedTube, so I’ll ad­mit I was a lit­tle du­bi­ous when I heard about ‘feminist porn’.

Put sim­ply, the genre fo­cuses on fe­male plea­sure and cel­e­brates dif­fer­ent body shapes and sizes – in a nut­shell, ev­ery­thing main­stream porn is not. Not heard of it? Get ready to: many women in porn are sick of be­ing seen as mere play­things and are grab­bing the in­dus­try by the balls (par­don the pun).

Lead­ing the way is Erika Lust, a Swedish porn di­rec­tor who made her first short film, The Good Girl, in 2004 while study­ing po­lit­i­cal sciences, fem­i­nism and gen­der stud­ies. The flick, told from a fe­male per­spec­tive, sig­ni­fied a change in the way porn could be made – women had sex­ual de­sires, too.

Since then, she’s made more than 100 short films – think soft light­ing, ac­tual sto­ry­lines and no de­grad­ing lan­guage – and scooped a hand­ful of awards at the Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto. In short, she’s ba­si­cally the Steven Spiel­berg of in­die erot­ica.

‘When you look at porn’s his­tory, it was born as the lib­er­a­tion of sex­u­al­ity,’ says Lust when she calls me from her Barcelona stu­dio. ‘The peo­ple mak­ing it were vi­sion­ar­ies. Then, with the rise of tech­nol­ogy, it turned into a busi­ness driven by peo­ple who weren’t in­ter­ested in sex­u­al­ity or cin­ema, but quick money. Soon, any pimp or strip­club owner with a video recorder was mak­ing porn and the videos got more and more ex­treme – women with big­ger tits, pun­ish f*cking, racism.’


Thank­fully, times are a­changin’ and it’s about time, be­cause guess what: ladies watch porn, too – a lot. In Porn­hub’s 2017 Year in Re­view, ‘porn for women’ was the top trend­ing search, up more than 1400 per cent com­pared to the year be­fore*. In Aus­tralia, 28 per cent of the site’s vis­i­tors were women (up 14 per cent from 2016) and our pre­ferred porn star was Kim Kar­dashian West. Con­sid­er­ing Kim­mie K’s

‘movie’ is of the home­made va­ri­ety, it says a lot about what we’re look­ing for in a porno.

‘Women are re­al­is­ing the porn they are watch­ing isn’t even close to real,’ says Lust. ‘We know there are very few of us that or­gasm just from pen­e­tra­tion; al­most ev­ery woman I know needs to touch herself to make it hap­pen, so I’m not afraid to show that.’


Speak­ing of re­al­ness, in 2013, Lust started XCon­fes­sions, a sub­scrip­tion web­site that crowd­sources ideas from view­ers who anony­mously sub­mit their own fan­tasies. Lust then picks her faves and turns them into short films: girlon­girl, sleep­ing with your hot­tie boss/ neigh­bour/food­truck worker/male es­cort… even pe­riod sex!

‘Feminist porn is about cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive and re­al­is­tic view of what sex­ual ac­tiv­ity should be like,’ says sex­ol­o­gist Isiah McKim­mie (Isi­ahm­ckim­ ‘It’s help­ing women be­come more con­fi­dent in them­selves, in and out of the bed­room, as well as em­brac­ing their bod­ies in­stead of feel­ing self­con­scious about their fig­ures. For so long, main­stream porn has been in­stru­men­tal in cre­at­ing a very nar­row view of what women’s gen­i­talia ‘should’ look like, lead­ing to an in­crease in gen­i­tal cos­metic surgery. Feminist porn can shift that.’

And it’s not just film that’s get­ting a makeover – print me­dia is tak­ing se­ri­ous strides in a fe­male­pos­i­tive direc­tion, too. For­get those sala­cious mag­a­zine cov­ers bar­ing photos of women with tiny waists, watermelon­sized breasts and bleached but­t­holes, and en­ter

Math Mag­a­zine with its unas­sum­ing, plain red cover. The pro­gres­sive porn mag was founded by Amer­i­can MacKen­zie Peck, who was fed up with the un­re­al­is­tic sce­nar­ios and bod­ies she was see­ing in main­stream porn. ‘Some­times I’d find my­self in ar­eas of the in­ter­net where I didn’t feel great about what I was see­ing,’ Peck ex­plains from Math ’s HQ in New York. ‘I wasn’t sure if I could be a feminist and also be OK watch­ing women in these in­tense sce­nar­ios. But it turns out I could by open­ing up the con­ver­sa­tion about how our porn is made and who’s mak­ing it.’

‘I SAW MY FIRST PORNO WHEN I WAS 23 ‘I hope ideas we pro­mote be­come the new norm’


What sets Math apart from the porn your brother used to hide un­der his bed is the feminist view­point that runs through­out ev­ery is­sue – you’ll find ev­ery shape, size and race cel­e­brated.

‘Rep­re­sen­ta­tion mat­ters,’ says Peck. ‘When folks don’t see peo­ple who look like them in these ide­alised sex­ual sce­nar­ios, they start to in­ter­nalise the idea they aren’t wor­thy of af­fec­tion. Or, if women only see fe­male per­form­ers in vi­o­lent scenes, they start to think it’s nor­mal. I hope the ideas we pro­mote be­come the new norm and that peo­ple recog­nise that there’s no shame in look­ing at porn – or mak­ing it.’

To do that, we need more women in pow­er­ful po­si­tions. It’s an idea not lost on Lust. ‘The en­tire porn in­dus­try is man­aged by men, so it’s only ever their vi­sions com­ing through,’ she says.

In an ef­fort to bridge the gap, Lust put out an open call on her web­site ask­ing fe­male porn di­rec­tors to sub­mit ideas, pledg­ing to fund 10 films. She re­ceived ap­pli­ca­tions from all over, prov­ing women world­wide like porn – and have a lot to say about it.

While the feminist move­ment is see­ing a shift to­wards more eth­i­cal porn, Lust says it shouldn’t just rest on fe­male film­mak­ers’ shoul­ders, and that we all should be more re­spon­si­ble when it comes to porn con­sump­tion. And, for any­one say­ing you can’t be a feminist and make/ like/watch porn, women like Lust, Peck and their fans are proof you can be.

‘Fem­i­nism and en­trepreneuri­al­ism are a pow­er­ful com­bi­na­tion,’ says Peck. ‘To be a strong, smart woman who is con­fi­dent and com­fort­able with her sex­u­al­ity is some­thing to be honed and hon­oured.’ Ain’t that the truth!




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