See what I did there? <wink>
Pro Tip: if you don’t like porn, don’t read this. If you think porn is evil, don’t read this. If porn upsets you, don’t read this. I happen to like some kinds of porn and have found it helpful at several points in my life.
Could porn be better? Hell, yes.
And that is what this post is about.
The first time I ever watched porn was in college. With three guy friends (one was a boyfriend), I sat in a dark dorm room and watched some poorly scripted, vintage 80s, sex vignettes.
I remember being curious on both a sociological and sexual level. What would this be like? Would it be gross? Would there be giant penises? What does sex look like? What would their bodies do?
My curiosity overcame my fear.
Turns out, it was fine.
Normal-ish sized penises.
All kinds of sex.
From every angle.
Laughable ‘plot development.’
But something happened I wouldn’t be able to put a finger on until years later: I was sexually excited by the porn, but it also made me sad and confused.
Fast forward 17 years and I’m going through the Sex Surge. My inhibitions are lowered, my fantasy life has revved up, and I’d like to see some of those fantasies played out on the big screen. I turn to porn (and erotica, but sometimes I just want to see human skin, instead of imagining it, you know? Human skin is a great delight to me, turns out).
What I see is not 80s vintage stuff.
Some of it is really horrible and degrading.
Some of it is not exactly horrible, or exactly degrading- but it’s not enjoyable, either.
Nearly all of it is inconsiderate to women.
As Amy Schumer says, they all end up the same way, with the guy coming on the girl’s face. And all you can think is “poor her.” (For 99% of women, that is just a total turn-off. More cleaning. Goopy, smelly cleaning. The idea is a total shut-down on arousal.)
I still feel sad and confused about the porn.
Yeah, it’s my feminist values…. (porn isn’t feminist or female-positive*).
But it’s also that the women don’t get to come in most of the porn I see.
They get super close, several times, but mostly they are left with blue box (the girl version of blue balls).
It’s easy for me to see that porn has become even more male-centered.
Or, more precisely, entirely male-centered.
I stumbled upon Erica Lust’s TED talk a few weeks later (the link is NSFW). In it she talks about having a similar experience with porn in college. And she says, “my sexual self was very excited and turned on, but my feminine self was deflated.”
The feminine was missing from the porn.
More specifically, female pleasure.
So, Erica Lust did something about it.
She made feminist porn.
What’s feminist porn?
It’s very simple: everybody gets off.
Everybody gives and receives pleasure.
So, I watched some of it.
(I truly love that I get to write this off as a business expense.)
And it is very beautiful.
And damn hot.
And I finally feel like this porn is something that has to do with me.
Because women climax.
Because we see partners interested in pleasuring her.
And that her pleasure turns them on.
Because I can imagine being part of the interactions- all the way through.
This feminist porn is gorgeous and I finally feel like I can fully enjoy it.
Feminist porn is awesome.
Now, having said all this I want to point out some things:
*Porn is not woman-positive for the most part. (This may be a giant, “duh!” for some of you, but for others, it’s new.)
Porn has also seen the advent of more surgery to ‘fix’ and ‘improve’ lady parts than any other genre. Fixing boobs, bellies, legs, labia, and vaginas to name a few. Also, hair removal (which I am not a fan of). This is wrong and unfair; I don’t see dudes going out to improve their pecs so they can be ‘porn quality,’ you know? ‘Regular’ porn feeds negative messages about women and also feeds insecurities they may have.
Darker species of porn also hurt many different groups of people.
And that’s not okay.
I don’t care if you get off on it.
Pain without consent is not okay.
We could demand that porn go be made illegal for these reasons.
But, you know what? Porn will never go away.
People will always want to see other people naked.
Naked and having sex is a bonus.
(By the way, wanting to see other naked people is a totally normal, human desire. There is nothing wrong with this.)
It’s never going away.
And forcing porn underground just means we have less say about what it looks like and who it involves.
The only thing we can do is demand better porn.
Porn that is woman-positive.
Porn that is pleasure positive.
Porn that is body positive (some of Erica Lust’s stuff is not- and it needs to be).
Porn that is beautiful and aware.
Porn that is consent-positive.
I’m sure that some of this stuff is already out there.
But we need more of it.
And we need it to be the norm.
Just like anything, porn can be used for good (or evil).
It can be used to excite, to communicate, to explore, and express.
It can be used to climax, for goodness sake – and that is some serious good.
I believe that only in encouraging feminist porn will we see a reduction in the harm it can create.
Now- pardon me, I have some research to do.
Resources for suburban mothers and wives who might like porn
(or be curious):
These videos are made in tandem with a sex toy shop (I cannot recommend their Wedge highly enough. GET ONE.) that also has instructional videos related to the Kama Sutra. So, if you’ve ever wondered how to actually do the ‘Congress of the Cow’- they will tell you. It’s also tame as porn goes- a naked couple simulating positioning (no visible penetration), and obviously enjoying it, but no actual sex.
Erica Lust Films
Great stuff, as discussed in this post. The videos are lovely, but so are the trailers. I like the library tryst in XConfessions 2 (not so much with the foot fetish- that’s not my thing!). All my nerd-girl fantasies were fulfilled!
Want to see what it looks like when normal looking (non-porn) women climax? In these short films, women are filmed in black and white, fully clothed, reading a piece of literature as they are pleasured to climax. It is funny, but it is also really beautiful.